Software translates words to other languages -- imperfectly

Help Line

April 05, 1999|By James Coates | James Coates,Chicago Tribune

We need to write our business's employee manual in Spanish. Is there a program to convert typing in English into Spanish?

Translation software is readily available, including Universal Translator by Language Force Inc. (, which handles 33 languages. You type in English using a word processor and then copy sentences to the computer's clipboard. The software translates the saved English to paste into a new document.

Keep in mind that even the best software falls down in translating nuances. A faulty translation might get you in legal hot water.

To get a feel for computer translations, go to the Web site and click on the icon at the bottom of the page for the AV Translation Service.

You type in English in one box and then a rough translation in whatever language you select appears in a second box. It's designed for quick e-mail exchanges but gives an excellent, free feel of the strengths and weaknesses of computer translation.

My mah-jongg computer game used to beep when a match was made. After I installed Quicken, the beep wouldn't sound. Yet, if I enter data in Quicken and close it, the sound will work again when I play mah-jongg. If I shut down and reboot without going to Quicken, the beep won't sound in mah-jongg until I activate and close Quicken. Is this solvable?

I don't know why your mah-jongg game is turning off the computer's sound, but I can tell you how to get it to beep without having to load Quicken and change your records every time.

At the bottom right of your screen you'll see an icon for a speaker with sound lines coming out of it. Click there and look for the box marked "mute" that comes up. Remove the checkmark in that box.

When we started our new computer with Windows 98, the icons were on the left side of the screen and the Start button was in the lower left-hand corner. Now the Start button appears at the top right-hand corner and the subprograms appear going right to left. How can we get this back to its original position?

Windows defaults to putting its Taskbar with the Start button on the bottom left of the screen, but it can be moved to any of the other sides. Move the mouse arrow onto an empty space on the Taskbar and hold the left mouse button down. Then sweep the cursor toward the next side of the screen and the whole thing will move to the next side. Do this until you're back where you started.

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