The average man

He wanders through the streets, past the gentle glow of the houses, under dark and slanting drizzle. He has no purpose, no destination, and can barely remember where he started but this is all he knows, this is his life, his motion. He hunches forwards as another car drives past, plucking the droplets clustering on the edge of his hood and shining them like jewels. His motion is fluid and organic as he ambles over the pavements, lightly stepping on cobbles and kerbs. He has been here before, he knows, been round this place more than once. He knows it well, too well perhaps, but like an old friend he enjoys the comfort it brings, the familiarity that makes it …

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Ye olde blog

OK, perhaps if I head back to some previous “unblocking” techniques I might be able to kick start my blogging mojo. Remember when Referrer Searches were all the rage? Back when we all suddenly discovered that our blogs were being indexed by something called “Google” (weird name…) and that meant we could see how people came to find our blogs? Those were the days, eh!! So, aprop… ohh I’ve done that… So, without further ado here are the top 12 search referrals (slightly filtered): gordon mclean itunes stuttering my mother is an idiot how to make a cup of tea how to kung fu withdraw testicles jamie bulger email 37signals apps monitor rss start torrent recipes for chicken with red …

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Calling All Scottish Technical Writers

(OK, mainly aiming at West of Scotland) Following a recent discussion about ISTC local area groups, a few of us based in the West of Scotland have decided to try to set up a local group. Our first meeting will be on Thursday 15th January 2009. If you work in the area (or further away), please come along to meet other writers and talk about technical writing. We’ll meet at 7 p.m. in the offices of Sumerian in Glasgow city centre, at 19 Blythswood Square, Glasgow G2 4BG. Tea & coffee provided. If you plan to come along, please email me so we can get a rough idea of how many writers might be attending: gordon [DOT] mclean AT gmail …

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Apropos of… something..

I am not out shopping today. Mainly because I do most of my shopping online. That and the fact that we have a night out tonight and Louise is already off out to get her hair done so I’m stuck in the house unless I fancy walking… This moment I’m sitting on the sofa, the TV is tuned to… some food channel it seems… and there is a fresh pot of coffee gurgling away in the kitchen. I’m wondering what to have for lunch, but might wait until later as I slept in so still not that hungry. I’ve checked my email, updated Twitter, purchased a new app for my iPhone (Speed Dial, going cheap today, looks great) and a …

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Consistency of message

My role in our company isn’t strictly defined so, outside of my work with the Publications team that I head up, I also get involved with other areas of the company either because I can help, or because there is a vested interest. That brought about the creation of our development community website and more recently has seen me involved in a company wide information project. The main aims are to provide a consistent set of information to our customers, throughout their relationship with us. So from initial contact right the way through to rollout and future upgrades, we will have a coherent set of information that is updated accordingly and a clear idea of how it will all be …

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Shopping mode activated

No, not online. In real life. With all the mentals. The fear is already starting to build, deep in the pit of my stomach, a dull nervousness that refuses to leave. Soon I will be out there, blinded by the glare, dazzled by the tinsel and fairy lights and surrounded by a throng of buffoons. I’m not sure if that is the correct collective term, and frankly I’m still not sure why there are so many of the buggers wandering about the shopping centre. Shouldn’t they be… I dunno… in Africa? Gibraltar? I have developed tactics to deal with such occasions (they are rare), one of which is to constantly remind myself that you only need an IQ of 23 …

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The festive period

December the 24th is Christmas Eve. I mention this not as a startling revelation but because it’s the first of eleven days that I have off work. So if I discount the 25th and 26th of December, as well as the 1st of January as I’m Scottish and by law we are not allowed to go to sleep until at least 4am on New Year’s Day, I have approximately 8 days or so with nothing planned. That will, of course, change. I reckon, if I’m generous with my estimates, I’ll have five or six days to myself. I’ll say five just to be on the safe side. That’s five whole days in which I can, within reason, do what I …

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The butterfly

Flitting about, directionless but constantly in motion. The briefest of pauses, touchdown then takeoff. Another direction, different from the last, is explored and ignored in the almost the same instant. Nothing permanent, nothing sticks, everything else is more interesting, nothing is interesting. He closes his eyes. Dark folds in around him and his breathing slows. Seconds merge with days and soon he is out the other side once more. Emerging from the tunnel he blinks and casts around for the next thing to hold him, the next moment that will steer him to the shore to crash on the rocks. The sun splits through the sky and beyond he sees the stars and planets of another place, the twinkling of …

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The butterfly

Flitting about, directionless but constantly in motion. The briefest of pauses, touchdown then takeoff. Another direction, different from the last, is explored and ignored in the almost the same instant. Nothing permanent, nothing sticks, everything else is more interesting, nothing is interesting. He closes his eyes. Dark folds in around him and his breathing slows. Seconds merge with days and soon he is out the other side once more. Emerging from the tunnel he blinks and casts around for the next thing to hold him, the next moment that will steer him to the shore to crash on the rocks. The sun splits through the sky and beyond he sees the stars and planets of another place, the twinkling of …

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Versioning in Author-it

One part of the agenda for our day long “Author-it day” was to consider how we would handle multiple streams (versions) of documentation. As well as major versions of the documents (3.x) that continue to move forward, we also keep up with changes to maintenance releases (3.x.x). The overhead isn’t too bad, we rarely have to make changes for a maintenance release, but we do need to have the capability to do so and this is where we hit a stumbling block. Author-it offers the ability to version an object (a book or topic for example). You can have multiple versions of an object but only one can be active. So, originally, our thinking was to create the first (in …

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