Hitchhikers Guide To The Galaxy Tech Becomes Reality

On 4th October 2017 Google announced the launch of its new translation tech headphones, Pixel Buds, which it claims can simultaneously translate spoken language into the ear of the listener. There is much hype around this new technology.

Technology which reminds me of the Babel fish from Douglas Adams book, The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy, which excreted simultaneous translations directly into its host’s ear canal.

According to Google, the Pixel Buds can translate 40 languages using Google’s existing Google Translate technology.

But could this technology be more dangerous than useful, after all how can technology understand context, syntax, grammar, not to mention accents and dialects. Language is complex; there can be multiple ways of saying the same thing in another language, making the potential for mistakes, huge.

Have Google thought about this?

Googles Pixel buds use Googles translation software which is already available to use online and does not therefore take into account any of the above. So in order to prevent insulting a potential customer by translating any advertising or copy into a foreign language, I would still highly recommend using a real person who has good knowledge of the language to translate for you.

Even people that should know better get it wrong, take the team behind Donald Trump last year who at the Republican National Convention, attempted to combat the impression that he did not have a high approval rate amongst US Hispanics by having members of the crowd hold up signs that read “Hispanics for Trump.” In Spanish.

The campaign team utterly botched the translation. Out of the three words on the signs, the only world they got right was “Trump.” “Hispanics” should have been translated to Hispanos. And while “para” could be translated as “for,” it’s used in a different context. The sign should have said “por.” Going to prove that you can’ always rely on technology to get it right!

 

 

 

 

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What Tools Do You Need For Transcribing?

As with any career, not only do you need to be skilled in your profession you also need to ensure that you have the right tools for the job. After all you wouldn’t be a mechanic without having your own set of tools to be able to fix a car.

So we have broken down the tools that a transcriber needs to do their job into two categories: Need to have and Nice to have.

Need to have:

  • Headphones
  • A keyboard
  • A quiet space to work in, ideally an office or room where you are free from distractions
  • Word processing software
  • Good internet connection
  • Transcription software

Nice to have:

  • Noise-cancelling headphones, though not essential these can be costly which is why they are in the nice to have category
  • A transcription pedal, this will help you navigate through audio files with your feet. However if you just starting out in this career it would be better to invest in it later once you have ensured it is the career for you
  • Time tracking software, this will ensure accuracy of how long you spend on each audio file

How to select the right headphones?

Your headphones are probably one of the most important tools you will need, so it is important to select the right ones. If you have the budget for it then we would highly recommend noise cancelling ones as it will make a big difference.

  1. Comfort – As you will be wearing them for most of your working day, comfort is your number one priority
  2. Noise cancelling quality – Can you hear lots of noise from the rest of your environment, would the noise prevent or distract you from transcribing?
  3. USB Plug

Final thoughts

Remember, it is extremely important to have all the tools in place before you embark on you transcription career, after all you wouldn’t build a house without brick, concrete, sand, cement and all the tools that go with building.

 

Back to School: The Transcriber Essentials

It is that time of year again, when the shops are fully of sparkly new stationery items, the TV is full of adverts for school uniforms and back to school essentials. So, it seemed fitting to do a blog post on the Transcriber Essentials.

Here are our top five essential skills you need to be a good Transcriber:

  1. Good use of English language – having good use and understanding of English grammar and punctuation is essential to being a successful and good transcriber.
  2. Keen listening skills – This will ensure that you get the words and context right, after all, not all recordings are of good quality, speakers accents may change or be hard to understand.
  3. Know how to research – Whilst transcribing you may encounter words that you may never have heard of. This is especially true if you are dealing with a new area of transcription such as medical or legal. You may need to do extra research to understand the subject or to clear up any audio that might not have been clear initially.
  4. Typing speed – Now speed is not always everything, especially if some of the audio files are on complicated subjects, however the ability to type quickly is advantageous because you could be listening to very lengthy files, or have short deadlines that need to be met in turning around files for your clients.
  5. Excellent proofreading skills – Once you have transcribed the audio file, it is extremely important that you read back and proof what you have typed to ensure everything makes sense and that the tone and context are conveyed accurately.

This is by no means an exhaustive list of essentials but, the tip of the iceberg really.

If you are interested in becoming a transcriber or would like to benefit from our services then please email us at: info@fingertipstyping.co.uk

 

The Dos and Don’ts of Copywriting

Writing good copy isn’t as simple as just putting pen to paper, otherwise everyone would be a fantastic copywriter.

Good copywriting can be hard to come by and takes an exceptional amount of skill and knowledge to learn.

At Fingertips we have a brilliant team of copywriters who produce great work, I asked them to tell me their list of what to do and what not to do when it comes to copywriting and this is what they came up with.

The Dos:

  1. Know Your Audience – You must know your audience so that you can talk directly to them, in their language and their voice. Never make assumptions that you know the audience ensure you do your research.
  2. Have a Clear Call to Action – While you are writing it is important to remember why you are doing it. Call to action is extremely important, what do you want your audience to do.If your call to action is not clear and noticeable, no one is going to do anything.
  3. Write for scanners – Writing for people online is different for writing for someone who is reading a book. Copy online is read vertically, not horizontally. Selecting the correct fonts, using headers, bold, italics, will create a trail for the eye to follow.
  4. Keep an eye on what your clients competitors are doing – If you have a new client,then before you even start writing, check out what their competitors are doing. After all you want to make sure that any ideas you come up with are unique.
  5. Remember proposition is everything – Differentiate your clients business, by making sure you create a distinctive brand and voice.

The don’ts

  1. Don’t forget to make a plan – Regardless of what you are writing it is important to make a plan. This will allow you to harness your ideas, highlight benefits and ensure that your copy is not jumping around all over the place.
  2. Don’t write for everyone – Not everyone is going to get you, it is a myth that having lots of likes on your Facebook page means you are successful. The best and most successful businesses write for a small subset of your entire audience, making it much more personal.
  3. Don’t create long sentences – This can be hard especially if you have something complicated to say. But long sentences will put off your readers. Ideally you should aim for no more than 10-15 words in a line.
  4. Don’t forget to spell check – A simple rule, I know, but you will be amazed as to how many people forget it. Spelling and grammatical errors make your work look lazy and unprofessional. So spend the few minutes it takes to run the spell checker!
  5. Don’t forget to proofread – Not only should you cast your eye over your text before submitting it, it is well worth getting someone else to have a look too, because sometimes you can be too close to the subject.

So all you need to do now is follow this list of dos and don’ts and you should notice that your copy improves and is more effective. Effective Copywriting is a skill that can be learned, but if you do not have time or do not want to write your copy, we can help you.
Fingertips Typing Services have a team of talented copywriters on hand to help create fantastic pieces of work, from adverts to brochures and websites. Contact us: info@fingertipstyping.co.uk

 

Five Foolproof Interview Techniques

Conducting an interview can be tough, you want to elicit as much information from a person as possible, whilst remaining as friendly and personable as possible. The more someone is at ease with you the more they are likely to open up and talk to you.

But, not everyone has this skill, which is why we have put together our five foolproof interview techniques which will help you get the most from your interviewee.

1. Location, location, location – It seems undos simple but you will be surprised how many interviews I have seen conducted in coffee shops! Find somewhere quiet where you can both talk openly without losing focus (and can actually hear something!).

The person you are interviewing needs to feel comfortable and probably doesn’t want every Tom, Dick or indeed Harry knowing their personal details.

If you haven’t got an office, then rent a space or room at a local hotel or business centre.

2. Know your ABCs of the person you are interviewing – I am sure you have all watched or heard a TV or Radio interview where the person interviewing has been misinformed by their researchers and asks a celebrity a question about something totally unrelated to them.

Know your stuff, don’t rely on someone else to give you the information go out there and look into it yourself. It shows respect to the person you are interviewing and allows you to ask specific questions about themselves.

3. Choose your questions wisely – Timing is everything after all depending on how long you have with the person you really only have minutes to gather all the information you needs.

So choose open question, ones that will give you more details and allow the person to elaborate more.

4. Take Notes – This is extremely important, after all you want to remember everything, but taking notes, listening and asking questions can be tricky. If you can have someone sit in on the interview and take notes, or even better use a recording device to ensure you don’t miss a thing.

5. Explain yourself – It is important that you explain yourself and the interview process, so that the person you are meeting with knows what to expect. This sets up the parameters of the interview and keeps you both focused.

These five foolproof interview techniques are just the tip of the iceberg, but if you follow them you will get the information you require and have a positive experience.

 

 

 

Do you need insurance to work from home?

This question crops up a lot, after all, home working is growing in popularity because it is flexible, allowing employees to work hours that suit their family and lifestyle.

Advancements in technology, such as broadband, home PCs and wi-fi, means that people can work just about anywhere.

But, you shouldn’t think that just because you operate your business from home that your home owners insurance will cover a mishap. You must run through your policies with a fine tooth comb.

If you are operating a business, even as a sole trader then you must have liability insurance, which covers its legal liability for personal injury to employees while acting in the course of their employment.

If you are an employee then you need to check that the company you work for has employee liability insurance and that the cover extends to where the employee is working home. Public Liability Insurance is also recommended, which covers the legal liability of the employer and its employees for injury and/or property damage to third parties, covers situations where the employee is working at or from home.

So what risks could you face?

As soon as a client enters your house then you could be liable if anything untoward happens to them. They might not even cross the threshold. If they trip and injure themselves on that cracked front step you’ve been meaning to get fixed for ages then they might have a claim against you.

The bottom line is, the only way to protect you, your business and clients is to ensure that you are properly insured. If you aren’t then you could risk your reputation and your livelihood.

 

 

Six Essential Copywriting Tips

Good copy doesn’t just happen, it takes time, effort and skill to write a great piece of text.

I have so much advice to share with you, but for this post I thought I would keep it short and snappy, giving you the bare essentials to get you started.

Here are my six top tips:

  1. Use plenty of paragraph breaks – No one wants to sift through a large block of text, so embrace white space.
  2. Select the right font – Choosing the right font is important, selecting the wrong one can turn off any potential readers immediately. For example; I cannot bear reading anything in comic sans, I think it looks amateur and unprofessional.
  3. Use everyday language – This will ensure that you engage with as wide an audience as possible. Don’t try to be clever and if you can’t think of an appropriate word, keep thinking or come back to it, never use a thesaurus!
  4. Be emotional – By adding emotion you will make your writing more personal, giving your audience an insight into you.
  5. Become ‘The Master’ in punctuation! – Good copy has good rhythm, make your words flow with the expert use of punctuation, but beware of over using commas and explanation marks.
  6. Use Headings and Sub-headings – These will focus your readers attention and break up the copy (remember point one). It will also point out sections of interest, as we all tend to skim read. In addition headings and subheadings will really help with your websites SEO, so make the most of them.

Keep these tips in mind when you write, great copywriting is within your reach. Following these tips will improve your copy and ultimately make it easier for your readers to understand and respond to your campaigns.

 

A Brief History of Subtitles

Most TV programs and films, now have the option for Subtitles, in fact it is now very rare not to have the option. But how have they become mainstream?

This blog post explores exactly what Subtitles are and how they came about.

What are Subtitles?

Subtitles are the overlay of text explaining the narrative of film or to that is being shown on the screen.

When were they first used?

According to Wikipedia they were first seen in 1903 as epic, descriptive titles in Edwin S. Porter’s Uncle Tom’s Cabin. (The technique may have been invented by cartoonist and filmmaker J. Stuart Blackton.)

These were in fact Intertitles, which was descriptive text put in between scenes of silent films, to explain to the audience what is happening.

In 1927 the first sound film was produced, the audience could hear the actors, so the intertitles inserted between scenes disappeared. However many film producers found that making several language versions, or have the film post-synchronized (dubbed) in another language expensive, so still wanted to be able to overlay text onto the film. This became what we now call subtitles, since this technique is comparatively cheap.

On August 14, 1938, the BBC broadcast Arthur Robison’s Der Student von Prag in a subtitled version.

How were they created?

In 1930 a Norwegian inventor called Leif Eriksen, took out a patent for a method of stamping titles directly on to the images on the film strip, first moistening the emulsion layer to soften it.

Later, in 1935, a Hungarian inventor, O. Turchányi, registered a patent for a method whereby the plates were heated to a sufficiently high temperature to melt away the emulsion on the film without the need for a softening bath.

Both of these techniques produced erratic results, sometimes you were unable to see the letters.

In 1932 two separate inventors R. Hruska, in Budapest, and Oscar I. Ertnæs in Oslo took out patents on chemical processes.

It wasn’t until 1988 that a laser process was developed by Denis Auboyer in Paris and by Titra-Film in Paris and Brussels.

In the 1970s two systems were developed using a word processor. The first was based on teletext, the second used a computer-controlled character generator.

Why do we use Subtitles?

Subtitles are primarily used with the deaf and hard of hearing in mind, although many hearing film and television viewers choose to use them.

As well as allowing foreign films or TV programs to be shown in the native language.

 

What is the best way to deal with the media?

Dealing with the media can be a very daunting task. Say the right thing and your PR campaign will be hailed a massive success; say the wrong thing, like Gerald Ratner[1] and you can watch your stocks and shares plummet, your customers run to the hills and have a major PR and business disaster on your hands.

But exactly what can you do to ensure that you get the best press coverage and make you and your brand look outstanding.

Here is our list of dos and don’ts will assist when dealing with the media

Do:

  1. Have a well-organised media/press plan – To do this create an outline for whatever coverage you are planning, whether it’s a press conference, a product launch, or a corporate event.
  2. Aim, Shoot, Fire – It is important to know what your aim is. Are you looking for a feature story on a programme, an opinion or thought leadership piece or even a guest slot on a show.
  3. Have a designated media person within your organisation – This person is your go to girl or boy. They will be responsible for all media communications, they will work out who you need to connect with in the various media outlets and will make it easier for the media and press to connect with your organisation if there is just one point of call.
  4. Clear and concise messaging – It may sound clichéd, but it is important that every area of your business is singing from the same hymn sheet. The perfect way to communicate this to your wider organisation is to create an internal memo for employees to read. Make it as simple, clear and easy to understand as possible.
  5. Remain united – If you are having to deal with something unpleasant then it is always best to ensure that there is united front. Contrasting opinions can confuse and damage a company brand even more as your customers, potential customers and employees will not know who to believe.

Don’t

  1. Talk, unless you are comfortable – If you don’t know how to respond to a media question and you are not the main media contact then it is always better to politely decline their question and point them in the direction of your organisations media contact.
  2. Be surprised by misquotes – There are no guarantees in dealing with the media that what you say will be misinterpreted, so you may not get the results you were looking for.

Summary:

In order to move your business forward you will from time to time need to embrace the media and it can be a love/hate relationship sometimes, but ultimately you need to ensure a good working relationship with them in order to improve your brand exposure and trustworthiness.

 

[1] https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Gerald_Ratner

Top Five Questions to Ask a Transcription Service

If you are new to the transcription industry and have never used a transcription service before, but find that you have the need to, here are our top questions you should ask before choosing a transcription provider

  1. Who will be transcribing of your work? – Some transcription companies use software, others use multiple transcriptionists with different skill sets. If you are looking for someone who is knowledgeable in your field then ask for it, after all who is better positioned to transcribe your work than someone who knows it. Be wary of transcription services that use transcription software as it can lead to inconsistencies and poor quality.
  2. How much do they charge? Are there any hidden fees? – As with most things, it is important to read the small print. If it appears to be cheap or too good to be true, then it probably is. Think, does the rate they quote include everything you need, or will there be additional charges? Some service providers charge extra for; timestamps, fast delivery, extra time to transcribe because of poor audio. Make sure you know exactly how you’ll be charged and for what.
  3. Confidentiality and Privacy – What’s their privacy policy when dealing with your documents? Are they willing to sign a Non-Disclosure Agreement (NDA).This is especially important if your audio contains personal/sensitive or confidential information. Legally you need to ensure that the appropriate measures are in place to ensure it stays safe, secure, private and confidential. Work with a service provider that is registered under the Data Protection Act.
  4. How soon is now? – What is their turnaround time? If your transcription requirement is urgent it is likely to cost more than the advertised rate.
  5. Accuracy – This is an extremely important factor, as you want your work to be highly accurate and proofed. What is their accuracy rate? Is proof reading included as standard? If you are looking for a specific type of transcription such as medical or legal, then is the transcriptionist experienced in this area, as if not this can greatly affect the accuracy of your transcription.

As with any service, it is recommended that you get a few quotes from different service providers, where possible ask for a testimonial or case study from someone who has used their service and is in the same industry as you. This will give you a good understanding of their strengths and indeed weaknesses.

Here at Fingertips Typing Services we offer a wide range of transcription services and have transcriptionists experienced in industries such as: Legal, Medical, Academic and Insurance. If you would like a quote please email info@fingertipstyping.co.uk