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December | 2010 | Tech-Right Documentation Blog

The Main Site is Updated!

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December 28, 2010 at 12:09 pmCategory:Announcements

Phew. Finally. It’s a lot prettier now, and serves as a good foundation when I want to layer more fancy stuff on later.

I think fancy eye-popping sites are OK, but all I want to do is get my business info across.

The site looks way better in Chrome/Firefox because I am using some special CSS3 tricks that are only viewable in those browsers. It looks OK in IE, but I am showing a bias here in my design choices, I admit.

SVN Made Simple

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December 27, 2010 at 12:45 pmCategory:Technology

I use Subversion for source control at home. No real reason, except that I started with it many years ago and it is fairly popular.

I use git in other places, and git seems pretty good too. git is more lightweight, but I do like the TortoiseSVN Windows plugin for graphical goodness.

Anyway, I always get a bit confused when I first set up an SVN repository. Until I came across this. It’s a bit dated, but still a good summary.

Merry Christmas!

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December 25, 2010 at 11:04 amCategory:Personal Post

Here’s to a bold new 2011 filled with great opportunities for all us tech types.

Ummm, I don’t think so…

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December 25, 2010 at 11:01 amCategory:External Vendors

Somehow this marketing copy doesn’t fill me with confidence.

ebook? eBook? ebok!

Would you pay for this?

The Main Site

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December 18, 2010 at 10:50 amCategory:Consulting

Man, it’s an embarrassment.

I will plant butt in seat over the holidays and code like a madman to get it up to the year 2011. Right now, it looks like 1997 got hit with a green frying pan.

Then I can get in gear for the New Year and take the big leap.

Creative Commons

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December 18, 2010 at 10:42 amCategory:Writing

I love Creative Commons. Whenever I share anything on the Web, even a set of photos, I always slap a non-commercial CC license on it in plain view. (Well, not with close friends and family. I’m not THAT mean.)

Is it overkill? Let me turn that around and say, don’t you respect the work you do? Don’t you have some pride in it? Do you want someone claiming they never knew it wasn’t public domain?

Copyright is facing a lot of challenges in today’s world. I think Creative Commons is a good step in the direction we need to be heading with law changes around it. And that’s also why I do it, to spread knowledge about it. It’s also why I wrote this blog entry. 🙂

Well, You Think You’re Smart…

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December 3, 2010 at 3:24 pmCategory:Writing

I thought yesterday’s blog entry was topical. Then I saw this.

Curse you, Nikon! 🙂

 /via @arh on Twitter

Tech Writing Old Skool

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December 2, 2010 at 10:40 pmCategory:Writing

(This is my Christmas present to anyone who remembers using PageMaker for creating docs.)

Hist! Ho! Friends! Do ye long for days of past glory in technical communication? When ye were still called a “technical writer”, not this fancy-dancy “technical communicator” foppery? Said title change being only used to keep raises low?

Those days when you made or broke a product? When vice-presidents saluted when you walked by? When the CEO would stand by your cubicle, digging his toe into the ground, twisting his hat in his hands, but not daring to say a word so as to not interrupt your creative flow while you were finishing up the documentation?

Then, what happened? Everything went bad. Developers and product managers figured out how to build a (mostly) self-documenting interface. Applications got smaller: Web apps and then smart phone apps. As functionality got smaller in scope, so did the need for documentation.

Terror! From the darling of the executive suite, you fell to somewhere just above the janitorial staff. “A cost centre,” they muttered behind you. “Excess fat to be trimmed,” and then they smiled when you spun your chair around in your cubicle and looked at them standing right there. “Something wrong?” they asked. “Did you lose a font?” And then they walked off, arm in arm, laughing, while you in frustration and humiliation ran your spell checker again and again.

Do not despair, friends. Run, do not walk, to the nearest manufacturer of high-end digital SLRs (DSLRs) and apply for a job as their manual writer. Yes, you read that a-right. DSLRs.

The interface is the documentation? There are so many knobs and switch positions and tiny icons on the rather small body. Yes, they do have screens, but what kind of screens? Hint: not big ones. Limited functionality? Your average high-end camera owner wants all the functionality your tiny-fingered elves can cram into those electronics and optics.

So, DSLRs are very popular, and somewhat expensive, and (per above) complicated, which means your average buyer wants a lot of explanatory text in front of them. Which someone (psst, it’s you) needs to create. Your average buyer from anywhere in the world! Hello, localisation! Hello, huge project budget! Is that the CEO I see behind you, digging his toe in the ground and twisting his hat?

Yes, just get a job doing documentation at a DSLR manufacturer, and you will be back at the top of the IT heap. But don’t use PageMaker, they don’t make it anymore.