Meetings and Contacts

A quick reminder to those of you in the West of Scotland, there is an open meeting this evening to which you are invited. No agenda, just a chance to meet up with fellow technical writers. We are meeting at 7 p.m. in the offices of Sumerian in Glasgow city centre, at 19 Blythswood Square, Glasgow G2 4BG. Tea & coffee will be provided. Thanks Katja for organising this, I’m looking forward to it as it’s always informative and interesting to meet fellow professionals. As my career progresses (or perhaps just because I’m getting older) I start to understand the true benefits of, what has now come to be known as, networking. It’s the same reason I joined the ISTC, …

Continue reading »

Why am I fat?

I am fat (no, it’s not a photo you sickos, just a link to a previous post on this very topic). I am obese, overweight, chubby, big, heavy, and all the other words you associate with someone who is overweight (I’m discounting lardarse and fatso purely because no-one has ever had the gall to call me that to my face… er… yet). This is, naturally, by choice. I love food too much and disregard the health risks readily and I’m happy I’m fat because I choose to be that way. I do not have a medical condition that makes me fat, and I have a good enough education to know that being overweight is a bad thing. I know what …

Continue reading »

The black art of estimation

How long is a piece of string? It’s a common question and one I’ve occasionally used in reply when asked “We are building this new thing. How long will it take to provide some documentation for it?” Estimating the amount of time it takes to write documentation is tricky as it relies on many differing, subtle, factors and, for many people working outside of a highly regimented and heavily project managed team, it tends to boil down to a mixture of guesswork and experience. However, it’s not impossible to come up with a more reasoned estimate as long as you don’t mind doing a little planning. Although, to be frank, if you aren’t planning your work, you can probably stop …

Continue reading »

Eyes Closed

In case you don’t know, I work for a software company. I’ve always worked for software companies so I spend my entire day near or working on a computer. I do a lot of writing , both of content (my job is managing a team of technical writers, the people who write the software manuals and information that you really should read occasionally!) and general administration type work, emails, spreadsheets, reports and plans. It’s safe to say that I spend a lot of time on the computer, and the bulk of that time is spent typing on the keyboard. Many moons ago I took a basic typing skills class (SCOTVEC module) at school. The only thing I can remember, and …

Continue reading »

When you can't write…

… write. 12 days into 2009 and my first little hiccup. The weekend offers me nothing with which to grace this blog, unless you want the fascinating tale of the one time I ventured outside all weekend, to pick up our wheelie bins as they had blown over. This led me to have wet slippers and the discovery that the sole of said slippers is slightly tapered and the join between sole and upper is almost completely underfoot in the middle of the slipper, unlike a more conventional slipper construction which would have a solid sole all the way across the sole of your foot, the join being at the sides. Oh god. Am I really talking about slipper construction? …

Continue reading »

Writer River

I try and follow as many technical writing blogs as I can but beyond the dedicated blogs there are other good sources of information and ideas out there. Finding these additional articles can be tricky as they can be found in a huge number of different sources. To help with this Tom Johnson set up Writer River as a way to allow anyone (with an account) to post links to interesting blog posts and articles. The website has been running for a whlie now and continues to provide links to useful and topical articles. I monitor an RSS feed of the website and whilst that is adequate it does mean that I can go a week or more without checking …

Continue reading »

Dedication, that's what you need

If you wanna be the best, and you wanna beat the rest… Dedication’s what you neeeeeed. My personality doesn’t lend itself to dedication. I takes me a long time to make a habit that sticks and I’m terrible when it comes to starting things but not finishing them. So I have huge admiration for those people who do have this ability, regardless of how it manifests itself. There are those who take pride in seeing a job through to completion, and those who manage to sustain an effort over a long period of time. An excellent example of the latter would be the weekly “7 things I did not know last week” posts by bitful which has been running since …

Continue reading »

Backup

Over the past few months I’ve become much better at backing up the important stuff on my PC. Largely this is photos, music, any ripped DVDs and important House documents, license files and so on. So, if my PC dies a death then at least I’ve got the important stuff backed up. The rest, the downloaded freebies, fonts, software and so on can be downloaded again and, in a way, it’s a chance to re-evaluate things. Not that my PC is dying a death but it does, this very moment, have a virus. Not quite sure where it came from, as I’m very careful (having worked for an anti-virus company I remain somewhat paranoid about these things). All I know …

Continue reading »

What about MY God?

I’m a believer, sang the Monkees whilst pretending to play their instruments before venturing off on another “madcap” adventure. I loved the Monkees, and between them and the Banana Splits my weekend TV watching was a religious experience. Ok, maybe not religious but certainly regular. All of which is apropos of nothing to be honest but when I started writing this post and was revisiting some of the information that helped create it that damn Monkees track popped into my head. ANYWAY. Let’s talk about buses. Particularly the hoo-haa over the “atheist bus” which has had me laughing and shaking my head for two days now. I’ve been following the atheist bus thing on Twitter. The premise is that, as …

Continue reading »

Soundtracks

Prompted by the little fluffy kitten (as she is currently known), I’ve been pondering my musical habits of late and realised that, unlike the aforementioned little fluffy kitten, I currently lack a soundtrack for my life. I bought a few albums over the past couple of weeks, some that I missed through 2008 (Kanye West, Q-Tip, Emiliana Torrini) but none have stuck yet. In fact I think there were only two albums that really ‘stuck’ last year. The Seldom Seen Kid by Elbow, and Like Drawing Blood by Gotye. That’s partly down to the fact that most of my listening time is at work, and I recently wiped out my iTunes library to start over, losing the date the tracks …

Continue reading »