The problem with “screening” translators

An acquaintance who owns a translation agency was complaining to me the other day about the pool of freelancers who send him applications. He claims that he wants top-quality translators, but so many mediocre ones apply that he can't sift through all the noise. He keeps creating stricter screening procedures in the hopes of filtering […]

Converting kanji numbers to integers with Python

A question on StackOverflow about converting kanji numbers (e.g. "五十五") into integers in C++ got me interested in solving this using Python. The result is my kanjinums module, with a function kanji2num that will convert a string containing a kanji num to a Python integer. Download the source distribution ( Download the Windows installer (kanjinums-0.1.win32.exe) […]

Spammer beacons in blog comments?

This blog gets a lot of comment spam — sometimes as many as 100 per day. Fortunately, the Akismet plugin for WordPress catches just about all of it, and I've never seen a false positive yet. For the past six months or so, though, I've noticed a trend: an anonymous poster will leave an innocuous […]

“Translators shouldn’t earn more than $75,000/year”

One of the nice things about being a freelancer is that you can earn as much as you're worth, rather than what somebody thinks you ought to earn. Over on the Honyaku mailing list, however, "Captain Adam" doesn't think that translators should earn more than $75,000 per year: In my opinion, a good translator is […]

Translate in the field you enjoy

A lot of translators who are starting out, or who haven't yet achieved the level of income that they want, ask about what fields of translation have the highest demand. They choose a field of specialization based on potential income instead of interest. I don't agree with that approach. I prefer to translate in a […]

New site theme

If you were looking for the GITS blog, then yes, you're in the right place! Today I upgraded my WordPress installation to version 2.7.1, and while I was at it I switched to this cool atahualpa theme. I decided to upgrade after setting up my son's blog, and noticing how much cooler the admin interface […]

Toilet etiquette in Japan: The most shocking differences are the ones you don’t expect

The Japanese Me blog has a cool post that talks about things she's noticed since moving to Japan. Thinking back to when I first arrived on these shores a bit over 14 years ago, the things that really shocked me were the things that I had never thought about. I expected beer vending machines (now […]

New search engine for scientific words in context

Today, I found Exemplar, a new search engine that shows scientific terms in context. It searches 1,900 journals for the terms you enter, showing how they're actually used in peer-reviewed scientific publications. You can specify the subject, country, or even specific journal to search. This looks like a great tool to help make sure that […]

Funny errors in Japanese

I recently bought the book いいまちがい (Japanese Made Funny), a bilingual collection of funny errors made by foreigners speaking Japanese. One of my favorites was a guy who wanted a hamburger with no ketchup or other condiments. He calls up his Japanese friend, and asks him how to say "plain" in Japanese. The friend tells […]

Inno Setup: Determining the data directory at install time

Inno Setup is a fantastic and free application for creating Windows setup programs. It takes so much of the hassle out of the process that it's almost fun. I recently needed to extend Inno Setup with a custom code section: I needed to install the program's data to the Common App Data folder or the […]