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Ionic Column      in exile

by David Parry

Englishman David Parry lived in Tokyo from 1980 to 1994 and was a member of TPC from 1986. Currently based in Düsseldorf and working as a translator, he returns to Japan electronically via the BBS and the Internet. A frequent contributor to this publication, he was Newsletter Publisher from late 1988 to early 1990 and began the Ionic Column in 1992. This column even won a prize and an honorable mention back in 1992.

Sometimes the Chinese fortune cookie truisms that pop up when I win at Shanghai (a variation on mahjong) come true. Translated from the German, this particular little message announced that I could solve my problems if I applied myself to the matter. And a number of computer problems did resolve themselves, albeit with some help from outside.

Back on the network
O happiness. I now have my network up and running, so I can swap files between PCs to provide instant backup. Among other things, this avoids the need to transfer files on floppy or Zip diskette. The latter is necessary for bigger files, and the transfer speed is higher, but on my e-mail PC the Zip diskette has a habit of sticking fast in its drive if I push it in firmly. If the thing has stuck, I have to power down, open the case and poke in the back of the drive with an unfolded paper clip or the little prodder that came with one of my CD-ROM drives until I hit the right spot and the diskette releases. To avoid this kind of unwanted break from work, I now treat the Zip drive on that PC with the kind of delicate touch normally reserved for bomb disposal work. At least the drive does not tick.

There was more progress on the Trados front. The replacement parallel port dongle happily coexists with the big disk on my main PC and there is no need to swap back to the older and smaller hard disk just to use Trados. Before long I will reformat that disk and either use it on the e-mail PC or just copy the C partition over from the current drive, using PowerQuest's Drive Copy or Drive Image. In a sense, the only way to back up a hard drive is to copy it to a new one with a program of this type. I have all the bootable hard disks in removable trays, so this is an easy option. Given that most of the backup programs I ever used seemed to be just fine until you needed them in earnest after a real disaster, I much prefer this method, because you should have a fully functional system at once.

Special offer Late-breaking news, and probably too late for AJ readers: I downloaded the latest versions of Partition Magic and Drive Image at time of writing the final draft, since PowerQuest is offering reduced prices on these programs. The online store is at The upgrades are just $30, which is cost-effective from my point of view. While Partition Magic 6.0 has the advantage that it can handle Windows 2000, it also supposedly has some useful new features that will be useful when transferring boot drives. This is an important issue, as I am trying to replace the e- mail (AMD K6/400) PC with a clean installation of Windows which is currently located on a drive that I want to use later for data only. There is now a 6 GB IDE drive available after making similar changes on the Pentium II PC, and that will be just fine for the boot drive on the AMD. Once everything is done, I should have at least one of the smaller hard disks left over. I would feel more secure if I could have a backup copy of my e-mail PC on hard disk in case the worst happened.

Putting in the boot
Of course, I have to go into the BIOS on boot-up and change the IDE disk settings; I forgot that once and had an interesting time getting the BIOS to recognize the correct size of the disk. To repeat something that has been said before by many people, hard disks are not expensive nowadays. And this is a great way to use an older and smaller disk that is big enough to hold the C drive at least. I keep data on a second hard disk anyway, to avoid any problems when swapping the main system. It is also a way to have different operating systems available without using some kind of boot manager.

The CD-ROM gottcha
What other backup media are there? They all rely on a program that loads itself and then finds your backup data and then applies it to your disk - maybe. Another method is to put your boot system onto a CD-ROM, but you have to be able to boot the recovery program before you can do this, and Windows makes that excessively difficult. In fact you are better off doing that kind of thing under DOS, and I suspect that many of these programs do just that. But CD-ROMs are too small for mega-bloated C drives with Windows installed, and they also have a neat gottcha; the files are read-only. You need to use ATTRIB (a DOS program, if I have to remind you) or a file manager such as Servant Salamander to change the file attributes.

A mini-Trados?
Back to Wordfast. I quote from an online mailing:

The July issue of the Translation Journal is out.

Starting its fifth year, this month the Journal features:

Legal translation,
An Inexpensive Translation Memory Tool,

in addition to the well-known and popular Bottom Line (questions and answers) column, plenty of useful links, Translator Profile, Translators' Events, and much more.

The Translation Journal is available FREE OF CHARGE at, where all 16 back issues can also be accessed.

Over 120,000 readers can't be wrong. The Translation Journal is an essential resource for the working translator. Read it and recommend it to your colleagues.

I took a quick look at the site and was impressed. Tokyoites in the word-whacking business already know of JAT and SWET; I used to be a member of both while still in the land of Wa, and they are doubtless on the Web somewhere. The Translation Journal is a bigger and glossier version of those two excellent organizations. While in Tokyo I kept running into the same people at the SWET, JAT, ICA and TPC meetings, since the translation business is very much a computerized one these days.

Wetware problems
Back to the mysterious alter ego who has a more interesting life than my own one, complete with parcels from sex shops, brand-new household appliances and a trip to the Caribbean. Yes, the Internet prankster who placed orders and adverts on my behalf. Nothing new has happened since last month, and the payments made were refunded. I have my suspicions as to who did it, since an examination of telephone calls made from the office where I work (not from my own phone or my own office) revealed a large number of personal calls. Nothing conclusive in itself, but I suspect that a more computer-wise friend was given the information and let loose on the Internet. Unfortunately, it is difficult to prove anything. I did discover what was in the mysterious parcel that I declined to pay for, and I was right about it being something like a sex doll. Two of them, actually, plus some additional items to cater for all sexes and orientations and possibilities. I must say that it was most educational to see what modern science can do today to help the sexually-versatile. Or should it be: relationship-challenged? I believe in self-sufficiency, but evidently someone is taking the concept way too far.

On a more philosophical level, every advance in technology brings benefits and nuisances. The Internet is extremely useful, but it has spread spam and viruses around the world. Mobile telephones are a potential nightmare if you lose one and the finder makes lots of expensive calls before you can stop the account. Ear sex is not really all that much fun, and even less if someone else is listening in at your expense. I just wonder what will happen if in future we get electronic verification of identity for online transactions, probably in the form of a smart card or something like the USB dingle I had. It can be bad enough to lose your house keys, but a lost electronic ID could lay your financial world bare.

It always seems that in the computer world we could have done what we do now some years ago, if only we had got everything together. The Internet? A text-based Internet would have made a huge difference even in the days of 300 bps modems and Hercules monochrome monitors. If nothing else, the price. Of course, I mean that telephone charges were much higher then, and especially so for international calls. This bit hard when trying to get information or technical help, usually from a US-based company. The cheapest option here was faxing, but anything else required a direct call at the then-princely rates demanded by KDD. I had some fraught moments when braving switchboards to get through to a helpful techie, or even worse, watching a long download give up after half a very expensive hour and starting over. It would have been less of a Scotsman's nightmare, watching the expensive minutes tick by, if I could have done that at local rates. I don't know whether the Internet and Internet telephony have contributed to the worldwide drop in telephone charges, but the online revolution has certainly increased demand for telephone usage.

The golden age?
And the online providers have got cheaper. Much, much cheaper. I did not use the online systems such as the Source because of their high pricing. Nowadays the ISPs bend over backwards to be cheaper than their rivals, to the point where there cannot be any profitable business in their basic offering. However, we may be living in a golden Internet Age, where most things are still free. But will that last? Can it last? There is frequent talk of having to pay for Internet services, or at least, for better quality (= faster and more reliable) Internet services. The initial mad rush of advertisers willing to sponsor Internet sites is drying up as people discover the great truth that the Internet is merely a new form of business and follows the traditional business rules. Such as going bankrupt if you have no income.

Investing in HP
Back to a more tangible subject. I finally broke down and bought an inkjet printer to supplement my HP LJ 5 LaserJet. After looking at all the options, I stayed with HP. What was I looking for? High throughput, low running costs, reliability, good paper handling. The initial purchase prices are relatively similar for equivalent features anyway, and inkjet printers are very cheap in real terms. While I was looking, I noticed that the HP LaserJet 1200 would be ideal for my laser printing needs and would be my most likely choice if I need to replace the LJ 5. I don't plan to put out the money just now, but faster printing and better paper handling are the two things I would look for.

Nothing better than the horizontal shuffle
From hazy recollection, the HP 1200 has horizontal paper handling, like a copier, as all the bigger and faster printers seem to do. And with good reason; I suspect that vertical paper feeding will never work as well as horizontal. In the shop I noticed a very cost-effective 4 ppm Samsung laser printer, which actually cost less than my DeskJet, but it too had vertical feeding. Anyway, the DeskJet feeds accurately and reliably, even with double-sided printing. And that was the feature that attracted me most.

The other choice would have been a Canon model, which are very similar to HP but are not identical. Epson is the best for printing photos, but you virtually have to buy a new printer if anything goes wrong with the printhead. Lexmark and Xerox had some interesting models, but the general impression from the salesmen was that they are not as reliable as HP or Canon. I don't know if I am doing those companies a great disservice, so I would welcome any comments from users.

Double the pleasure
The software setup for the DeskJet was a bit difficult, as it refused to believe that I wanted to connect it to a USB port, but before long I got it talking. The claimed 15 ppm for monochrome is more than a bit ambitious, unless I chose pages with too much text. The first thing I did was to print out my Trados manuals, all 800 pages of them, and this took up much of a weekend while working on a big translation at the same time. And to be fair, double-sided printing slows things down even more, since the printed page waits to dry off for a few seconds before it goes back in for side 2. That is printed in reverse, starting from the bottom of the page, which looks a bit odd when you see it re-emerge from the rollers, but it is irrelevant from a technical point of view. I thought that this would be a good idea that ended up in tangles of paper, but I have not had a paper jam yet. The printer does not get hot, so I have no qualms about letting it loose on a long print run. The LaserJet 5 is definitely not intended for high-volume printing. The paper feed seems to be able to handle used paper with no trouble, whereas the LJ 5 barfs on anything but fresh and carefully stacked paper. The ink seems to show through more than toner does, but the paper can be used nonetheless. The net result was that my Trados 5 manual fits into two folders instead of the three required for Trados 3.

When printing sleeve liners for CDs. I noticed that the DeskJet feeds the paper more accurately than the LJ 5, which was always a bit erratic due to the design of the width adjuster. The noise level in operation is pleasantly low, with a subdued clunking when the paper is being moved and a soft whirring during printing. Pictures take a while to print, but you do not get the errors that afflict laser printers with too little memory to build up the image for the entire page at one go. And color is nice.

The Trados manuals have cover pages with plenty of hues, a lot of screen shots with the familiar blue bar, and occasional dabs of color here and there. Screen shots look horrible when laser-printed, since the areas of solid tone become darker and often have a kind of stippled effect. The DeskJet surprised me with its ability to render blocks of solid tone well, and I am impressed at how much printer technology has improved. I printed out a couple of photographs onto ordinary paper, and was even more impressed. These days I get an increasing number of translation jobs in the form of PDF files and, and these often have color photos or embedded PowerPoint presentations with color overlays that print out as various shades of darkish gray on a laser printer. My general modus operandi is to print out files that I have received for translation, mainly to be able to have a reference source in case something goes wrong on my hard disk, but also for texts that I dictate. In the latter case the transcriber gets a printout with my notes on it. Apart from that aspect, there is also the issue of legibility. In some cases I had to resort to looking at the original file on screen to be able to distinguish colored text against a colored background or to pick out captions on a photograph. This should no longer be necessary.

Running costs? Higher for an inkjet if you buy the normal makers cartridges. I found a source for a refill kit, and that works fine, although the printer thinks that I have run out of ink. My guess is that the original cartridges are better if you want to print photographs, but for everyday printing my needs are much less rigorous.

Comments or feedback or more information? A chance to be quoted in print? Contact me on, or

© Algorithmica Japonica Copyright Notice: Copyright of material rests with the individual author. Articles may be reprinted by other user groups if the author and original publication are credited. Any other reproduction or use of material herein is prohibited without prior written permission from TPC. The mention of names of products without indication of Trademark or Registered Trademark status in no way implies that these products are not so protected by law.

Algorithmica Japonica

August, 2001

The Newsletter of the Tokyo PC Users Group

Submissions : Editor

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