Sunday, March 12, 2006

"Working Freelance & Wearing Sunglasses"

I received a letter today from a friend who is also doing freelance work from home - among other things, he reports:

"The job was supposed to have been finished by Friday, but I missed the deadline... so the editors probably won't hire me again, but it's their fault because they always ask for impossible deadlines.  I tried to tell them the quality of the artwork would be compromised with so little time but they don't care.  Everything is expected to be speedy and well done, with very heavy emphasis on 'speedy'!"

It's the same problem here with freelance translating and rewriting work.  I was recently offered a freelance rewriting job (they called it "checking", but that was disingenuous - most of the sample I saw needed to be completely rewritten!) of some really horrible English in a huge PowerPoint file.  Good thing I demanded to see a sample of the text, or I would have ended up getting stuck with an impossible project at a ridiculously cheap rate and with too little time to do it in.  I told the company that I would do the job *if* the rate was much higher and *if* I could have access to the author of the difficult-to-decipher English in the report in order to talk with them (in Japanese) and discover what they were trying to say.  The intermediary company refused (not surprisingly), as they would never want the cheap worker (me) directly talking with the client - they could end up being cut out of the loop that way... which they probably should be!  All the intermediary company does is: take the job, call or e-mail someone, dump a pile of work on them, and then send the result back to the client.  For this, they take half (or two-thirds) of the money!

Re: "I have to take pain pills because my eyes hurt from looking at the screen.  I'm definitely taking a small vacation after this!"

Ouch!  Be careful with your eyes!  Have you tried wearing sunglasses?  Seriously!  Especially when working late at night, the white light from a monitor is very bad for the eyes!  What you could do is take the sunglasses off for detail work, and then put them back on for other things.  Recently I don't watch much TV, but when I used to watch it late at night with the room lights off, I wore sunglasses!  It sounds a little weird, but after the first minute or two, it felt comfortable and then I could watch TV for an hour or two and not experience the eye strain I got from watching TV without the sunglasses.  I wonder... does anyone else do that?  The difference between direct light and incident light isn't something people seem to think about, but they should - looking at a white sheet of paper (reflected incident light) and looking at a white computer screen (direct light) are two rather different things!

Lyle (Hiroshi) Saxon

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