End of a good day

I went to bed about an hour ago and was just laying there awake thinking of what I’d put in a blog post. So rather than think about it, I thought I’d get up and write something and see if I can purge myself of it all and get some sleep!

First off, the biggest news is that I finally got the translation of the archaeology book sent off today! I don’t think it has sunk in yet. Lorraine finished her proofread on Friday and I got tore into it today and got it all done. It’s by far the biggest freelance project I’ve undertaken and, although I feel like I’ve acheived something really worthwhile, it’s not something I’ll be looking to do again in a hurry. It was too much for me at the end of the day and I bit off more than I could chew. Still, I wasn’t to know that.

So, to celebrate having my work done, it was time to put in the 36 GB Raptor drive I bought on eBay a couple of months ago. I have two 160 GB SATA drives and one 200 GB IDE drive in my main rig. The IDE drive is all data in one big partition, but each of the 160 GB drives has partitions of about 25 GB at the beginning of the drives for operating systems. For some time now I’ve wanted to put XP on its own drive, and the small-capacity 10,000 RPM Raptor was the obvious choice.

I built my system to be silent as it can be, part of which involves suspending the hard drive cage inside the case with elastic. With the 3 drives in there it was hard to balance the drive cage and so I’ve been running with the side panel off for a few months now because it touched the side of the unbalanced suspended drive cage and negated any benefits of suspending it in the first place. Now with four drives in the cage, it balances a lot better. Plus the fact that this is the third time I’ve done it so I have more experience of what elastic works and how to go about it.

I also installed an Icy Box drive cage in an empty drive bay so I can slide in SATA drives straight into the empty slot for back-ups, etc. I bought a 320 GB SATA drive to back up my collection of FLAC files from the media server to keep off-site as I’m paranoid about losing all my music. I have about 250 GB of FLACs right now, all on a server that I can stream to my Squeezebox 3 digital music players (one in the living room hooked up to the amp and one in the kitchen with a pair of powered speakers.). It has revolutionised the way I listen to music. I also plan to put my CD collection into CD binders for storage and throw out the jewel cases. They take up way too much room. I will keep the back-up drive at my wife’s office I reckon. I’m looking forward to the day when storage is so cheap and reliable that I can do the same with my DVDs!

Anyway, back to the drive installation. I got everything up and running before midnight then went to install XP on the Raptor. It was then that I discovered that the product key was in the ring binder that I’d just handed over to my accountant to do this year’s tax return. D’oh! Thankfully I was able to connect to the server where I keep my Thunderbird profile using Windows through Parallels on my MacBook and found the e-mail that Microsoft sent with the product key when I went legit from my hookey version. Now I’m glad I decided to keep my T-bird profile on the server!

I still enjoy geeking out on my rig, although it’s not quite so exciting as it used to be. I was thinking back as I lay in bed to the very first time I reinstalled Windows 98 on my first laptop (Pentium MMX 266 with 64 MB of RAM and a whopping 4 GB hard drive that the salesman told me I’d probably never fill!). The first time I entered format c: was quite nerve-wracking and exciting. Now it’s just a matter of course really, but still slightly exciting I guess. I’m going to leave Vista well alone by the way, just as I did with XP until service pack 1 was released. I find that XP does me just fine and don’t fancy the performance hit of Vista on my now aging rig (AMD 3500+ w/ 2 GB of RAM).

And onto another topic completely – we decided to start potty training Freya as of yesterday. We took her shopping so she could choose her own new pants (she chose frogs, princesses and strawberries) and also to get a new toilet seat as ours has been loose for years and would slide off to one side if you weren’t careful. We got one that the lid won’t fall down on (it drops down gently) and a cusioned insert for Freya to sit on. Oh, and a footstool with a tiger on it for her to climb up on. At the end of day 2, she still hadn’t got the hang of it and had gone through all her pants and most of her trousers too. It should be fun to see how she gets on at the crèche tomorrow!

Right, maybe now I’ll be able to sleep so I’ll close with a nice picture I took today and bid you all goodnight.


Hamish has had rather a bad chesty cough for over a week now so we reckon it’s time that we took him to the doctor. He seems perfectly happy, but you hear scare stories about coughs turning into pneumonia and the like, so it’s better to be safe than sorry. Of course it means a long wait for Lorraine in the waiting room – it’s bad enough when you have an appointment, never mind when you don’t! And since I have to work, she’ll have to take Freya with her as well. Thankfully there are plenty of toys in the waiting room, but also plenty of infectious diseases too!

Lorraine took some pictures yesterday to use for our Christmas photo cards and we’ve been deliberating over which picture to use. I can’t attach one right now as I have some hard disk diagnostic checks running on the downstairs computer right now and, of course, I hadn’t copied the pictures up to the centre of operations. I’ll post them up later on today and maybe you can help me choose.

Translation wise, I have a mere 500 words to go of chapter 7 to go, and that leaves only chapter 8 and the conclusion, some 9500 words. The end is visible.

Oh, and I got the MacBook yesterday. It’s going to take some getting used to – being partial to keyboard shortcuts, it’s rather frustrating not to have them any more. I’m sure there are some shortcuts to learn, they’re just different.

Back to work then…

Translation in the morning

I went to bed last night at 8.30; I was feeling kind of low and too tired really to concentrate on anything. I switched on the TV to watch some drivel and, as soon as I saw Laurence Llewelyn Bowen’s coupon on the screen, I knew the best thing to do would be to switch it off and go to bed. At least then I’d wake up early and be able to get some work done, rather than wasting time just because it was too early to go to bed.

But did I wake up early? Nope. I got up just after 8 a.m. and immediately started feeling glum about how I’d overslept and how much work I could have done.

But now I’m sitting at my desk and have translated a paragraph. I’ve got my 16 oz Starbucks cup filled with Scottish Breakfast tea from Taylor’s of Harrogate and the sun is just starting to peep through the skylight window (a big deal in the attic office as it’s usually dark enough to require lights on for most of the day). Having had plenty of sleep, I can see that my translation output is pretty good. My thought processes are working well and I should manage, if I can stop blogging for long enough, to get through my quota for today before the lunch-time rush starts. I can’t really work in the afternoon as I’m downstairs watching Hamish.

So, best foot forward and all that as I delve into today’s quota. Wish me luck!

Merlin Mann & Getting Things Done

Merlin Mann of 43 Folders often participates in the various podcasts that I listen to (basically the twit.tv suite of “TWiTcasts”). I decided on Friday that I would check out Merlin’s own podcast, so I downloaded them all and listened to the first 18 episodes on my iPod as I did the weekly shopping on Saturday morning. And man, what a great bunch of podcasts!

First of all, you should know that Merlin has a wicked sense of humour, so there was no shortage of chuckling as I pushed my trolley around the supermarket.

It was gratifying to hear that I’m not completely messed up though. I’m a translator by profession and the episode entitled First-time Sex & the Beauty of 1.0 also explained my working method, but this time from a positive perspective. This is about the idea of getting something out there, producing something, even though it might be utter rubbish and eventually be completely discarded. That’s the 1.0. That is how I deal with translation. I start by translating literally using what I call Russian English (basically English words and Russian word order). So when I get to the end, I’ve read the whole thing, thought about it some, done some research and am much better equipped to start from the beginning again with the experience I’ve gained. It’s a whole lot quicker than deliberating long and hard to get the perfect translation of each sentence.

In his later episodes, Merlin conducts a series of interviews with David Allen, author of Getting Things Done. I think I first hear about this book on a TWiTcast a while back; I’m not quite sure, but in any event I bought it on iTunes and tried to listen to it on a car journey one day. I found the style too dry and couldn’t really follow it. After listening to Merlin’s interviews (I’ve still got two to go), I tried again to listen to the book, but again found it too hard to get into. This might very well be down to the fact that I’d just spent the last hour or so listening to Merlin talking to David and was all tired out.

After spending some time today clearing my bills and what I refer to as my ‘admin’, I realised that, in my own way, I too am a GTD guy. I have a system that works and I only really get overwhelmed with my translation work when the deadline starts to loom (as it is now).

Translation wise, some of the technology that’s available now has made the process easy to breakdown. I use Wordfast, which is translation memory software that breaks the translation down into chunks. That helps to remove the scariness of having thousands and thousands of words still to go, eliminates any chance of missing bits out and, of course, gives you the power of memory and glossaries. I also have a spreadsheet into which I enter the daily work quota and it automatically updates to show me how much is left in percentage terms and how much I’ve done (which can be both encouraging and discouraging).

I do plan to listen again to the Getting Things Done book and see if I can get more involved with it. I do need to watch out that I don’t spend so much time learning about GTD and participating in discussions about it that I don’t actually get things done!

So, back to my translation. I’ve not done today’s quota yet!

My first blog entry… EVER!

So I’m a blogger now I guess. Although I suppose that having a blog does not make one a blogger. It is the act of blogging on a blog that makes one a blogger.

I’ve never done a blog before and, to be honest, am not sure about how it all works. I found my way to Vox after seeing Anil Dash of Six Apart on episode 36 of Cranky Geeks. It seems to have a nice interface with a similar feel to Backpack (a now defunct product that was run by 37 Signals, now Basecamp), which I love and is the only Web 2.0 service to which I have a paid subscription. (I do pay the $2 donation to Leo Laporte each month).

On the subject of Leo Laporte, I discovered podcasting about a year ago and it’s annoying that I don’t recall exactly how it came to my attention. I think that the first podcast I listened to was Steve Gibson’s Security Now podcast, co-hosted by Leo. It wasn’t long until I discovered TWiT and all the other TWiTcasts. The first TWiT I listened to was episode 24 (26 September 2005).

I guess I really discovered Vox on Inside the Net when Mena Trott of Six Apart was on there (episode 28), but I’m a bit slow to catch up with blogs and things.

Podcast Cover Art

I actually have my own podcast, called Wood & Steel and hosted at Big in Japan (which I also learned about on Inside the Net). I’ve only done three podcasts thus far, but plans are in the works. It’s going to be interviews of acoustic guitar players and builders. It’s available for subscription through iTunes and it should get off the ground in the new year when I finish translating the book I’m working on on Russian archaeology (currently 80% done of the first draft with 15000 words left to do by 15 December – yikes!)

I think it will be a lot of fun to keep this blog going and it will be useful for me to refer back to things. I’ll see how it goes.