Eclectic Less

You are what they eat, they say, in which case I’m mostly caffeine and potatoes. As for what you listen to, that too has an influence on who you are and, naturally, vice versa. With this in mind it is with some disdain that I find myself plumped among the masses when it comes to my music taste. Yes, I’m a snob. No, it’s YOUR problem. Whilst I have a fairly wide taste of music, and I continue to try and steer myself away from the mainstream (something that is easier to do these days), I only have to look back at the statistics gathered for me by Last.fm which, based on the 83,000 odd tracks I’ve listened to in …

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iTunes 8

I know a lot of you bemoan the fact it grabs huge chunks of memory, and that it has the audacity to organise your music into folders for you. I know this but, as I run on a nice chunky PC with plenty of memory and I don’t really care WHERE my music is stored as long as I can get to it all, then suffice to say I’m a happy bunny when it comes to iTunes. Even more so with the latest version. And, in particular, that little Genius button. I have a stupid amount of music in my library, a lot of which I rarely listen to as well as several Christmas albums which I don’t WANT to …

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UA Conference

Later on this week I’ll be attending the UA Conference in Edinburgh. Formally known as the “Online Help Conference” it’s a long running conference which I last attended back in 2001 when it was held in Copenhagen. That conference involved a dinner cruise on the canals of the city, followed by a couple… ok several.. ok ok.. far too many beers, which culminated in my missing the opening session the next day (the shame!). So, whilst it’s probably just as well I’m not staying over at this conference, it is likely I’ll partake of a beer or two. Casting my eye down the list of speakers I’ve spotted some familiar names – Joe Welinske, Tony Self, Matthew Ellison, Dave Gash …

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This is taking the…

Biscuits, originally uploaded by Gordon. Thanks to all who voted, as it stands the humble Custard Cream is out in front, but you can change that! Ohh and the photo here does not include the Ginger Snap as, it seems, they have been discontinued! Ohh noes!

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What do you write?

Most of my experience is based around software documentation. Whilst there are several levels to this, from task oriented User Guides through to highly technical API/SDK documentation, they tend to follow similar patterns making it easy for me to take my experience and apply it to new challenges. I’ve also been involved in writing up procedures and guidelines as part of an ISO quality system, a little whitepaper style writing, and even the odd product brochure. All of which require a slightly different approach but the same grounding in the basics of understanding the audience. However I’m aware that there are many other forms of technical writing, and I’m curious to find out what everyone else does? Do you write …

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Morning World

Time moves on and these days I tend to watch Saturday Kitchen as opposed to Soccer AM (blame the new Soccer AM bloke, he’s rubbish). So whilst I sup on my coffee, Ken Hom is stirring up some Pork and Pineapple dish and I’m salivating. Anyway, today I’m doing a little research after an interesting phone call yesterday, I’m updating my iPhone with the new software update (and filling it with a little more music), and then I’ll sit down with lunch and watch the Man Utd vs Liverpool game. Then it’s a few little chores, and deciding what to do for dinner before I head out to lose money playing Poker. OK, not really, I’m still learning so I’m …

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Break it to fix it

Work smarter, they say, so that’s what we are trying to do. In fact I’d hope that is what we are all trying to do but, like everyone else, it’s natural that once you have a process or a tool that works for you, you tend not to look about for a replacement. If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it, they say. But sometimes you need to break things, you need to reach the point where you know that accepting some pain, and possibly a small backwards step, will benefit you in the long run. So whilst it will be a wrench to leave our FrameMaker/Webworks based system, I firmly believe it will benefit us in the long run, and …

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Biscuit-iquette

Custard Cream or Bourbon? Digestive or Hobnob? With this being the internet there is, of course, a website dedicated to this topic. In the office we, on a somewhat random basis, get free biscuits. It’s a limited selection and, as I work with a large number of people who aren’t that long out of university, the supply doesn’t last long. The biscuits come in mini-packs of three, unfortunately not mixed but three of the same kind. We have the choice of Bourbon Creams, Custard Creams, Shortbread, Ginger Snaps, Digestives and (as we recently changed supplier), Jam Rings! Whilst I’m partial to a Custard Cream, I am trying to watch what I eat and really don’t want three biscuits with a …

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Just enough

When I first started out in this industry I received little direction other than “make sure you check everything” so a lot of my original ideas of how I should work and what documentation should cover were largely my own. I looked at manuals for a variety of applications and took ideas from them, adapting them for my own use, initially focussing on the structure and presentation rather than the content itself. It was this approach that was my downfall. Actually, that’s not true. Lack of understanding of my audience was my downfall but I didn’t realise that at the time. Instead I took the “ohh that’s neat” ideas from a variety of other sources and wedged them into my …

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Paralympics

Having watched some of the opening ceremony I finally got a moment to catch the Paralympic coverage on TV last night, and it’s well worth it. During the Olympics I mentioned that what draws me in isn’t necesarily a love of sport (although that is part of it) but the story itself, and it’s even more powerful in the Paralympics. To be frank I’m utterly astonished at some of the things I’ve seen, and whilst it is incredibly twee I’d quite happily give a gold medal to every contender simply because they made it to the competition. Best moment so far is easily the 13 year old gold medal winner, Eleanor Simmonds. As I said on Twitter: “13yr old gold …

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