Tracking Progress

Like most technical writing teams we are small in number. As such, monitoring and tracking both the work that needs done as well as the work that is in progress can be a challenge. So I’m currently casting my net far and wide to find a good way to keep a handle on this so that I’m always reasonably up to speed with where we are in the grand scheme of things. Forgive me if the following isn’t particularly well delivered, as I am thinking this through as I type it up. First things first, we need a plan. Actually we need two. One is a high level map of the documentation structure for the entire product so we always …

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When is just enough?

I’m currently scoping some work to provide a set of user guides for an application. The functionality is, mostly, split into two areas with one set for those administering the system and the other for those who use the system to complete their work. Previously it would have been a matter of doing some task analysis, which would drive a list of topics, which would then be grouped sensibly, all the while keeping the audience of the information in mind. However, that tends to lead to an exhaustive list of topics, often leading to areas of the product that are little used. To counteract that one thing I’ll be doing is initially limiting the scope to the production of conceptual …

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The impossible bike ride

My legs are pumping, sweat drips from my brow, trickling down my nose, my hands are slipping on the grips and through half shut eyes I watch the distance slowly rise. More! Faster! COME ON!! I silently urge myself, blocking out the slow burn of acid in my muscles, pushing myself on, adrenalin surging round my body whilst I gasp for air. The timer counts down, seconds to go, I know I won’t make it but I have to try, all the way, 100% until there is no time left, push push push, the pedals spin and my legs scream at me to stop. The timer hits zero, I sit up in the saddle and gulp down air. Huge mouthfuls, …

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The Picnic

It was a glorious day yesterday, wisps of cloud slowly meandered across the sky as the gentle breeze softly buffeted the long grass. Somewhere in Balloch Park a group of people were sitting on the grass, picking at various foodstuffs, drinking various concoctions, and chatting and laughing with nary a care in the world. We were there as a wee celebration for my sister-in-law gaining her degree. She was quite tipsy by the time we left and apparently went on to the pub afterwards too! It was a nice, relaxing day and I even found time to have a wee nap in the sun, dreaming of future picnics in the sun. All rather lovely.

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Author-it Hints, Tips, & Useful Info

The following are not in any particular order. Some are tips gleaned from experience, some are links to the knowledge being shared by others, all have helped us get us from a standing start to a full content conversion and production delivery in under 4 months. We started with ~2450 topics of imported content, and managed to keep pace with the development team as well as cleanup and backfill the imported content. Quite a feat! Working with Author-it As we were converting a LOT of content from FrameMaker to Author-it, there was a LOT of cleanup required. Being able to customise the styles toolbar, adding in the most common used paragraph styles for example, was a huge bonus. We ended …

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Smarty Pants

I wanted to mark today, specifically to mention here so I don’t forget it. My memory is lousy and no matter what the future may hold, I want to mark down today as a day I was inspired. My sister-in-law graduated today and now holds a degree in Dietetics. I’m not quite sure what letters she can now use after her name, I’m guessing BSc, but I do know she got the equivalent of a 2.1 (but they don’t state that as she isn’t doing her Honours). She’s not the type to make a big fuss over things, and chatting with her after the graduation ceremony she was quite calm and accepting of the fact. And why shouldn’t she be? …

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It's RIGHT THERE!

I almost shrieked like a girly girl. There it was, floating a metre in front of me, within touching distance, if I just stretched out my hand I could probably feel it under my fingertips. I wondered if anyone would notice and, glancing around, I saw the same look of wonderment that I could also feel plastered across my face. Yup, there was no doubting it. Floating in the space between my seat and the cinema screen, the Nickelodeon logo was slowly revolving and looking very 3D. Ohh sorry, very RealD. It was quite awesome. I wish I could find some better words but, like, seriously, it was AWESOME!! All very impressive and that was before the movie started. The …

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Guest Posting

A few weeks ago Scott, from the always relevant DMN Communications blog asked me if I’d be interested in writing a guest post. I immediately said yes then, after a short pause, I set the expectation that I wouldn’t be able to write one for a few weeks as I was coming to the end of a project. So, last week I finished off my guest post and I’m now waiting, somewhat nervously, to see how it will be received. The post goes live on Wednesday, so not long left to find out. It’s quite liberating, writing a blog post for another website (not done that for years), and it sparked a few ideas for this place as well. You’ll …

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Dump

A large chunk of the weekend was spent clearing out our garage. We’ve not done if for a couple of years and by god it needed it, full of crap it was. Pots of paint with only an inch left in them, some broken garden electrical equipment, and old tumble dryer, random bits of wood, and some garden rubbish and rubble all bagged up and left over the winter. Three trips later and I can finally walk from one end of the garage to the other without tripping over anything, quite a danger when said garage is home to various sharp and pointy garden tools. It’s the kind of job that is a real chore, especially on the first full …

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