Thanks for complaining

Ever get the feeling that no-one reads your documentation? It’s a frequent issue amongst Technical Writers and the general stance reflects the approach many take to make sure that, when someone finally picks up the documentation, they can get to the information they need as quickly as possible. Given that, there is little worse than to have errors reported in your documentation. After all, if they’ve only just started using it to help them solve a problem and one of the first things they spot is an error then it’s understandable that confidence drops and that they are less likely to go to the documentation in the future. Of course we all do the very best job we can, yet …

Continue reading »

An open letter to Journalists

Dear Journalist, I understand that at times it can be hard to find a good article, that deadlines must be met, and that you are under a lot pressure to deliver. I also understand that the internet is chockful of content, a lot of it of good quality, and that blogs in particularly lend themselves nicely to the provision of the “human side” of the story. I understand that, really I do. Unfortunately there seems to be a bit of an issue at the moment, with a few journalists pillaging blogs for content and the underlying view seems to be, “well, they are just blogs”. Now, I know (and I’m guilty of this in the past myself) that bloggers have …

Continue reading »

Back to reality

As Budapest fades into rose-tinted memory the mundane returns. Well it’s not mundane really, it’s quite exciting you know, getting up at 1am to save a little mouse from the clutches of our cat and then again at 4.30am to remove a dead mouse from the kitchen floor (different mouse, he’s getting good at this!). Elsewhere, there are still a few small jobs to do in the kitchen to finish it off, including a rather bizarre problem with the new light I fitted. We are using LED bulbs (like a halogen bulb but with 8 LEDs crammed into the same space), and when you turn them off they … well they aren’t on full but they are still on. It’s …

Continue reading »

Revision Control

Prompted by an excellent article – Subversion for writers – I thought it might be useful to offer a Windows view. Like most software groups, our development team use a version control system to manage multiple versions of the product; we have customers using many previous versions and all are maintained in the same system so we can patch fixes back through multiple versions. Our team of writers use the same system, although as we are using FrameMaker we lose some of the nicer features but the core reasons for using a version control system remain – files are locked by whoever is working on them, and we have a full version history of changes made, including when, who and …

Continue reading »

Memories of Budapest

On reflection I don’t really have the words to describe just how stunningly gorgeous the city of Budapest is, we ran out of superlatives very early on and the sheer number of photos I took (even when you discount several retakes) of random buildings and parks, statues and memorials, should provide some indication of how much beauty is crammed into the centre of the city. However it is a strange juxtaposition of ancient ornamental buildings alongside communist era concrete monstrosities and modern steel and glass constructions. Some of the older and more important buildings have been cleaned up, but throughout the city you can still see remnants of the 1956 revolution (and beyond), with bullet-marked buildings dotted around the sidestreets. …

Continue reading »

Snapshots of Budapest

It’s taken a while but I’ve managed to whittle the number of photos down to a manageable amount. There is a lot ‘missing’ and a lot of detail I’m still trying to recall (thankfully someone else was paying more attention). (click the photo to view the set) And before anyone complains, think yourself lucky, my family had to sit through twice the number I have posted to Flickr. Update: Our travelling companion has posted some of her photos as well.

Continue reading »

Less words, more actions

Back from a short break in Hungary (Budapest is a glorious city, if you ever get the chance you must visit it) I find myself wondering what to do next. I was looking forward to the trip and have been building towards it for several weeks now. I had planned my work around it, knowing what I needed to do before I left and with a rough idea of what I need to do when I go back. It’s a little different here on this blog though. I’ve just re-read my previous post (the big long one below) and it strikes me that while it may be interesting to some it suggests I may be at a point in my …

Continue reading »

Food and Friendship in Budapest

I’m still downloading and sorting through the.. ahem.. 1568 photos I took whilst wandering round Budapest (and two videos), and thought I’d take a moment to try and capture my thoughts about our trip. We were staying with friends in Solym├ír, which lies north-west of Budapest, right on the edge of the fantastic public transportation system, and you couldn’t find two more accomodating, generous and gracious hosts. A public thank you to them both, and of course to our intrepid travelling companion (herself a source of great merriment and generosity). I wasn’t entirely sure what to expect from Budapest, or indeed from Hungary in general. Remnants of Communist rule was the obvious theme in my mind but the truth was …

Continue reading »

Old habits

Louise and I commute to and from work. We get up in the morning, stumble out of the door around 7am and return home around 6pm. A quick coffee, dinner, and depending on what needs done around the house a quick tidy up or anything that needs done for the next day. After that, it’s either TV, computer or some other sedentary habit. However the cross trainer has been extracated from the garage and is back in the living room, and whilst I’ve still to venture near it, Louise has taken it for a spin a few times. The habit is the hard thing to break. I managed it when I started jogging a couple of years ago but as …

Continue reading »

Everything is connected

This post has been bubbling for the past year or so, ever since I started this blog. It’s a bit of a ramble but if I don’t publish it now I’ll just keep adding to it and it’s long enough as it is! I question everything. It’s part of the way my mind works, and is something I’ve embraced and believe it makes me better at my job as a technical communicator. That attitude has also helped me realise that there is a common thread that can be found across several different areas of our industry, which I (and others) are slowly pulling together. Convergence is the word that springs to mind, and as businesses clamber onto the social networking …

Continue reading »