As I hinted at in one of my previous blog posts, this summer has largely been dominated by three projects I worked on: the book, Negocia Vende Traduce and… my dissertation. Over the past few months or so I was looking at how freelancers incorporate technology in their work patterns and what are the underlying tech developments shaping these trends. Cloud computing is one of those developments and I’m sure you’ve heard about it before, especially in relation to CAT tools working in the cloud. Very briefly, you’re using cloud solutions if you’re accessing data or using software that’s not installed on your computer but somewhere out there in a huge data centre.
What I wanted to talk about in this post is what tech resources you can use to run your translator’s office, including cloud-based solutions.
The biggest benefit of the cloud is that everything you need is available from wherever you are. I travel quite a lot and often end up spending a considerable amount of time in public transport, so it’s important for me to have access to my files and my resources on the go. But of course the cloud is great also for backup and in emergencies, when you lose internet access at home and you have to work from somewhere else (happens everywhere). Moving to the cloud can also help you in organising your office, or decluttering it, as suggested by Sara Colombo.
Having said that, there still are many obstacles and problems related to the use of the cloud. One of them is service availability, e.g. when Google doesn’t work for a few hours, I’m left without my email, calendar, and searches (happens every now and then). Data confidentiality is often raised as a concern and it shouldn’t be ignored. Data transfer issues can affect the use of Dropbox, or simply the lack of internet access can leave you crippled (I can’t even issue an invoice without access to my cloud-base service).
Here’s a quick overview of cloud-based resources that I use in my office:
- Feedly – an RSS reader that gives me access to all stored sources from any device, very handy for categorising all blogs and websites. I don’t have to worry I’ll lose track of any of the excellent blogs out there.
- Hootsuite – social media management tool that keeps all my profiles in one place and I can use it from my smartphone, too. It helps me see all new messages and I don’t need to browse through too many platforms.
- Google products – I’m relying on Gmail as my email client, and even though I tried a range of other tools, I always found Gmail to be the most user friendly, available and easy to configure of all. Google Calendar works wonders for me (I’m a bit obsessed with planning and time slots) and it’s synching between my desktop, laptop and smartphone. I can also create shared calendars for collaborative projects. Google Drive is excellent to work on some files at the same time at a distance; I used it to work on presentations. Hangouts prove sometimes more reliable than Skype (which has recently moved to the cloud, too, so you no longer have to wait for the other person to be logged in at the same time as you are to leave them a message, which really was a big pain).
- Dropbox – this is a bit like stating the obvious, but Dropbox is immensely helpful if you’re on the move. I store everything on Dropbox, apart from my archived projects. For example, I have access to all my dictionaries and glossaries when I’m out interpreting, or I can always send a file from my smartphone.
- FreeAgent – my favourite tool to manage estimates, invoices and payments. I can access it on the go to issue or modify an invoice and it’s linked with my bank account, automatically recognising and matching transactions. It really does save a lot of time. To run my personal expenses, I use Splitwise.
- Redbooth and Trello help me organise projects that I’m working on and run efficient to-do lists. Redbooth works well if you’re often collaborating and you need a good record of progress and changes within projects, while Trello is perhaps the most user-friendly to-do service out there.
- Capsule CRM – I use Capsule to streamline my customer relationship management and keep all existing and potential clients in one place. I can track my follow-ups and communications with them.
- Pocket – whenever I come across an interesting article that I can’t read in this very moment (happens every day), I quickly add it to Pocket. I can do the same from my smartphone, desktop and laptop and it all goes to one place. No article is ever lost.
- Audible and Kindle – even though I do like my printed books, sometimes you just can’t take everything with you even for a train ride to do some interpreting. Kindle app on my laptop is working wonders, and Audible gives me access to my favourite novels when my eyes are just too tired, or when I’m working out. Audible has proven to be a great choice to work on my French.
I’d love to hear about your tools, as well as your reservations and doubts in relation to cloud computing. I’ve designed a little survey (10 min max, promise) to help me analyse the results in relation to some theoretical frameworks you may also find interesting when I publish the results.
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