Sunday, 25 July 2021

Working more efficiently with AutoHotkey (part 2)

AutoHotkey is a must-have tool that anyone (with a Windows computer) can use to improve their Windows experience. If you’re tired of constantly navigating menus or using multiple strokes to perform repetitive tasks and would like to simplify your work life, then AutoHotkey and the scripts below will be for you!

AutoHotkey has much more power than most people will ever use, but also offers very simple scripts. Its simplest scripts – typically just one line of code – could even turn out to be those that you'll find most useful in your day-to-day computing! 

 

A few examples: whenever I type tn, the AutoHotkey script will automatically enter the word translation. Or when I enter @@k, the script will automatically enter my email address. I remember that, before I started using AutoHotkey, it would always be a pain to constantly have to type the whole email address! Check out my earlier blog post about AutoHotkey to find out more about this.

 


Teaming up with an AutoHotkey accountability partner 

A couple of months ago I teamed up with Isabel Hurtado de Mendoza, an English-to-Spanish translator. We both had only scratched the surface of what is possible with AutoHotkey then and were keen to find out more about it. So we became accountability partners: we now report back (more or less) regularly to each other on our latest AutoHotkey discoveries and learning progress. 

Isabel and I identified AutoHotkey scripts that are particularly useful to translators as well as other computer users. We either adopted existing AutoHotkey scripts (many of which are readily available on the web) or modified and adapted them to our own purposes. You’re very welcome to adopt the scripts below as well!


Simpler AutoHotkey script editing with SciTE4AutoHotkey

I would previously edit my AutoHotkey scripts in Notepad, but recently switched to SciTE4AutoHotkey upon Isabel’s recommendation. SciTE4AutoHotkey is an AutoHotkey script editor, which provides helpful features such as syntax highlighting (to highlight any errors in AutoHotkey syntax), AutoComplete, interactive debugging and others. This might all sound very complicated, but it really isn’t!

 


Advanced AutoHotkey scripts for translators
 

The following AutoHotkey scripts are slightly more advanced AutoHotkey scripts. You’ll find a number of useful, simpler scripts in my earlier blog post about AutoHotkey.
 

Note that any text following a semicolon (;) below serves as a comment, reminding you of what the script means or what you need to do to trigger it. It won’t be executed by the AutoHotkey programme.


Launching programmes by pressing a combination of keys 

It is possible to launch any programme instantly by using a hotkey. For instance, you could set up AutoHotkey to launch Outlook and define, for example, WIN + o for this. In other words, when you press WIN + o, this will launch Outlook.


Here are some example scripts which could be used:
 

;>>>>>>>>>>>>>
; Programme ausf├╝hren/Run programmes
;>>>>>>>>>>>>>

; press WIN + o
#o::
Run Outlook.exe
return

; press WIN + f
#f::
Run firefox.exe
return

; press WIN + m
#m::
Run MicrosoftEdge.exe
return

; press WIN + c
#c::
Run calc.exe
return

Note: in AutoHotkey # designates the Windows key on your keyboard.


Creating a new file in Word or Excel

In the past, I always had to perform several clicks to create a new Word or Excel file. Now, I can create one instantly by simply pressing CTRL (or, to be more precise, Strg on my QWERTZ keyboard) + n to create a Word file and CTRL + SHIFT + % to create an Excel file, respectively.


Here are the scripts:

;>>>>>>>>>>>>>
; Neue Word-Datei/New Word file
;>>>>>>>>>>>>>

; press CTRL + n
^n::
Word := ComObjCreate("Word.Application")    
Word.Visible := True                        
Word.Documents.Add                          
Return

;>>>>>>>>>>>>>
; Neue Excel-Datei/New Excel file
;>>>>>>>>>>>>>

; press CTRL + SHIFT + %
^%::
Xl := ComObjCreate("Excel.Application")     
Xl.Visible := True                             
Xl.Workbooks.Add                             
Return   

Note: in AutoHotkey ^ designates the CTRL key on your keyboard.




Entering the £ symbol

I do a lot of business with UK companies, so I use the £ currency symbol all the time; however, since I use a QWERTZ keyboard, I don’t have a £ key on it. Thanks to AutoHotkey, though, I can enter it quickly by pressing CTRL + WIN + p.


Here is the script for it:

; create the £ sign by pressing CTRL + WIN + p
^#P::SendInput {U+00A3}  

Note: in AutoHotkey # designates the Windows key on your keyboard.

 



Creating message templates

AutoHotkey can be utilized to create message templates for use not just in an email client, but anywhere in your Windows environment, for example when writing messages in a web-based interface.


Here’s an example script for it:

;>>>>>>>>>>>>>
; E-Mail-Vorlagen/Email templates
;>>>>>>>>>>>>>

; type jobno
::jobno::Dear XX,{ENTER}{ENTER}Thank you for your new enquiry.{ENTER}{ENTER}I am sorry I'm unable to take on the project as I’m currently fully booked.{ENTER}{ENTER}Kind regards,{ENTER}{ENTER}Elisabeth




Taking a screenshot

This is a script for effortlessly taking a screenshot using Paint, combining several steps. To take a screenshot, I simply have to press CTRL+ALT+1, and all that’s left for me to do is to save the Paint file (with the screenshot in it) on my hard drive (or another storage medium).


Here is the script for it:

;>>>>>>>>>>>>>
; Screenshot erzeugen und in Paint kopieren/Take screenshot and copy it to Paint
;>>>>>>>>>>>>>

; CTRL+ALT+1
^!1::                       
sleep, 100
send {PrintScreen}
sleep, 500
Run, C:\ProgramData\Microsoft\Windows\Start Menu\Programs\Accessories\Paint
Sleep, 1000
Send, #{Up}
Sleep, 500
Mouseclick, left, 250, 250, 5
Sleep, 200
send ^v
sleep, 500

Note: Isabel and I figured out that sometimes it’s necessary to write the whole file path in the script (such as C:\ProgramData\Microsoft\Windows\Start Menu\Programs\Accessories\Paint in the script above), rather than just write “Run Paint”!


Converting a short dash to an m dash


Entering an m dash should be easy, but for some reason it often isn’t! Using an AutoHotkey script can help make sure the m dash always is there when you need it.


I now use this script:

; press Alt Gr + -
<^>!-:: Send, –                

Note that similar scripts could be used for any symbols that you use regularly, for example a script that changes square brackets to curly brackets.

 

The simplest AutoHotkey scripts – typically just one line of code – could turn out
to be those that you'll find most useful in your day-to-day computing
(image by Gerd Altmann on Pixabay)

 




Copying and pasting text into an open Word file


Collecting data while I’m researching terminology during a translation project has become way more comfortable thanks to the following script in that I no longer have to jump around between windows!

These days I only need to have a Word file open on my screen, and any text which I highlight (e.g. on a webpage or in an electronic dictionary) will then automatically be copied to this file by the script. I’ve named this file notes.docx, which is why the lines IfWinExist, notes and WinWaitActive, notes are used in this script, as shown below.



To trigger the script, I only need to press CTRL+ALT+n.



;>>>>>>>>>>>>>
; Text in Word-Datei notes.docx kopieren/Copy text to Word file notes.docx
;>>>>>>>>>>>>>

; CTRL+ALT+n   
^!n::                       
Send, ^c
IfWinExist, notes
{    
    WinActivate
}
else
{
    Run winword
}
WinWaitActive, notes
Send, ^v`n`n
return





This blog post lists a number of slightly more advanced AutoHotkey scripts that are particularly useful to translators as well as other computer users. They are designed to save time and take the dullness out of performing repetitive computing tasks, for example when taking screenshots, writing messages or entering special symbols.  I hope you like them and they will make your life a bit easier!




Sunday, 27 June 2021

My 60-minute writing routine: 3 surprising takeaways

How to find the time? We all want to focus more on meaningful activities – especially activities that put us in the blissful, elusive state known as flow. But how much time do we allow ourselves to pursue our very own flow activities?

 

We all want to focus more on meaningful activities – especially
activities that put us into a flow state

 

One of my flow activities is writing. I’ve always enjoyed it, yet I’d always struggled to make enough time for it. At some point, I therefore decided I wanted to do more of it, and I established a writing routine.

I now spend 60 minutes on a Saturday and a Sunday morning on writing: to draft blog articles by hand. To publish a blog article, complete with graphics. To translate a blog article into German. To jot down ideas. Or to engage in other writing, such as writing an email that I feel a lot of thought needs to go into. An hour to myself – something that was initially hard to fit into a weekend. 

 

I’m not proposing that something similar might work for you, too, but would instead like to highlight a few surprising insights which I gained following the creation of my 60-minute writing routine:


1. Scheduling leisure time

I’m not advocating that we should plan every single minute of our leisure time, yet I’ve found it a surprisingly effective way to more effortlessly fit in activities that we enjoy doing. It’s a time management technique which I recommend. Scheduling leisure time meticulously does not mean you enjoy it less – on the contrary!


2. Deriving pleasure from anticipation

It’s been argued that the intensity of feelings of anticipation ahead of a pleasurable activity is similar to the intensity of feelings felt during the actual activity. This is a simple yet powerful insight: schedule an activity, and it‘ll give you something to look forward to! There’s pleasure to be gained from anticipation.


3. The correlation between time constraints and creativity

I have found the effects of setting myself a 60-minute time limit astounding. An hour goes by quickly; yet because I’m finding myself under self-imposed time pressure, I often come up with good turns of phrase and solutions to language problems in my writing more quickly. It is true that self-imposed time constraints can stimulate your creativity!



Self-imposed time constraints often stimulate your creativity


 
If you’re looking for a new way to maximise your work and/or leisure time, this blog post will be for you. In it I describe noteworthy insights which I gained following the creation of my 60-minute writing routine.

 

 

A note to all blog subscribers:

Google recently announced that it would shut down some features of its Feedburner infrastructure, including the popular Feedburner email subscription service, in July 2021. Following the deprecation, the "Follow this blog by email" widget on my blog will no longer be working from next month.

If you wish to continue receiving email updates from me, please resubscribe to "The Minimalist Translator" using the new email subscription widget at the top of my blog.

Thank you for following my blog!


Saturday, 19 June 2021

Important message to all blog subscribers

Google recently announced that it would shut down some features of its Feedburner infrastructure, including the popular Feedburner email subscription service, in July 2021.

Following the deprecation, the "Follow this blog by email" widget on my blog will no longer be working from next month.

I have therefore integrated a new email subscription widget into my blog, using AddThis and MailChimp to set it up. The new widget will pop up at the top of the blog.

 

If you wish to continue receiving email updates from me, please resubscribe to "The Minimalist Translator" using this new email subscription widget.

Remember you can unsubscribe at any time by clicking the "Unsubscribe" link in the subscription email. Alternatively, you can always access my content directly at https://hippe-heisler.blogspot.com or by following me on Twitter.


Thank you for following my blog!





Saturday, 12 June 2021

Advanced googling for translators: WRG Take 5 Talk on 1 June 2021

How do translators go about finding correct and reliable words and phrases for use in their translations? This is where Google search operators can come in.
 

I recently gave a Take 5 Talk on advanced googling for translators to my local translators‘ and interpreters‘ association, the Western Regional Group (WRG), at its last online social on 1 June. The WRG has held regular online socials using Zoom since the pandemic took hold in the UK. The meeting on 1 June was hosted by Joint Social Media Officer Mariana Roccia.

 


To track down artificial intelligence terminology, you could use the intitle operator
to find webpages with either “glossary” or “dictionary” in the title




I shared insights into how I use Google search operators in my translations and my writing. Wildcards, the minus operator, site, intitle etc. are powerful tools which can be immensely useful: they help narrow down the hits returned by Google, extracting specific information that a less refined search query would not!

 


I shared insights in a Take 5 Talk into how I use Google search operators
to improve my translations and my writing




My talk was based on these two articles which recently appeared on this blog:

Must-know Google search operators for translators (part 1)
Must-know Google search operators for translators (part 2)

 

 



Friday, 7 May 2021

Do translators need to speak foreign languages?

“How many languages do you speak?”

“It must be amazing to be able to speak many different languages.”


 

These are remarks I frequently encounter when I mention I’m a translator. And I won’t tire of repeating: speaking languages isn’t something that translators usually do. Translators (unlike interpreters) do not necessarily have to be fluent, confident speakers of a foreign language.

 

“How many languages do you speak?”
It’s a question which I, as a translator, have been asked what seems like hundreds of times
(photo by Dylan Gillis on Unsplash)


 


Translators don’t speak many languages


Instead, the following skills are way more important – in fact, critical – to what translators do in their jobs:

- Translators need to be able to fully understand, capture and transfer the meaning, nuances and complexities of a text that has been written in a foreign language.

- Translators need to put their antennas out to sense the finer subtleties of any language around them, with the aim of exploiting language observations in their translations.
 
- Translators need to be skilled in writing well.

 

Translation work is written work

 

This means I’m a translator, but I don’t speak many languages. For example, I offer translations from Italian, but I admit I don’t speak Italian well. I can read and understand (and obviously translate from) Italian, but my spoken Italian is rusty, to say the least.

I’m also learning Swedish because I’m keen to be able to speak and understand it; however, Swedish is a language that’s never going to feature in my job. The basic Swedish speaking skills which I’ve acquired are worlds away from the highly specialised work required in professional translation.

 

Native language skills: a translator’s most important toolset

 

Translators don’t tend (or need) to jump at opportunities to speak, because written language is the tool that they predominantly work with. As a German translator, I therefore constantly work on sharpening my German writing skills. To this end, I routinely expose myself to language around me, by reading, listening to and observing language.

 

Translators don’t tend (or need) to jump at opportunities to speak,
because written language is the tool that they predominantly work with
(photo by Karolina Grabowska on Pixabay)


Finally, whilst the ability to speak a foreign language isn’t a prerequisite of the translator’s job, there’s no doubt that it is a beneficial additional skill that will stand a translator in good stead. The ability to strike up a conversation with a new business contact, for example, may help translators acquire clients of a wholly different calibre. 

 

“How many languages do you speak?” It’s a question which I, as a translator, have been asked what seems like hundreds of times, but which still leaves me stumped for an answer. Perhaps my answer should simply be: “I don’t need to speak much in my job. Translators produce written translations, and I translate texts from English and Italian into German.”