Next West of Scotland Area Group meeting

The next ISTC technical communicators’ meeting in Glasgow will take place on Thursday 13th October 2011, from 7.30 pm onwards. As it’s happening just after the conference, I will be presenting a (short) report from the Technical Communication UK 2011 conference. Come along to talk about latest news and trends in communication, or just to meet other communication professionals. The event is free and open to anyone interested in technical communication, such as technical authors, information architects, internal communication professionals, report writers, marketing writers, web content writers and graphic designers. Venue: Waxy O’Connors pub, 44 West George Street, Glasgow, G2 1DH. Please make your way to McTurk’s Room on the middle level.

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On yer bike!

At the start of Cycle Glasgow 2011, originally uploaded by Gordon. http://www.justgiving.com/gordonmclean Last year I agreed to take part in the Glasgow to Edinburgh cycle (mostly because my mate was nagging me to do it). I didn’t own a bike but it sounded fun. Then, early this year as you all know, my Mum had a stroke. She’s been through a life changing experience and is battling through the other side. It has changed her life, my Dad’s life (himself a heart attack survivor) and made me realise that you only get one shot at this thing called life. Your donation will help further the research in these areas, lessen the risk for us all, and better support the survivors, …

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Quick wins

At work I have a laptop running Windows 7 and every lunchtime, as I lunch away from my desk, I lock the machine. Except what I should do is pause iTunes, set my IM status to Away, and then lock it but I forget to do all that most days and just bash Windows+L. However, I’ve found two small, free, applications that will now allow me to do all that with one mouse gesture, specifically it will pause iTunes, set my IM status to Away/Idle, mute the laptop speakers and turn off the screen. Hot Corners handles the mouse gesture (and allows you set to other actions), and MonitorES handles the media player, IM and screen actions. Simple and effective. …

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Always learning

Next week the first of two new recruits joins our team. Both are graduates and whilst neither graduated from a Technical Writing based course they both have a good mix of skills, coming to the position through different routes. It’ll be a challenge for them, and a challenge for us, to integrate them to the team smoothly and successfully. I’m sure they will both do well, but to give them the best chance I’m preparing a few weeks of training for them, in various aspects of the job. I’m trying to anticipate what they need to know, and when they need to know it, and whilst I’m very wary of letting my own experience get in the way it does …

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In the mood

Right! Yes, right. I think, yeah I’m pretty sure, well as much as I can be, that my mindset is in the right place. I pick up my bike on Saturday (finally) you see, hence the change of mindset this week, in preparation. Hmmm, I’m waffling. Let me explain. For a long time, many many years, I’ve been overweight (clinically obese at times but what do doctors know!). I’ve dipped in and out of various fitness attempts and diets, with varying success. Play 5-a-side football, hit the gym at 6am, got down to 15st 10lbs at one point which is, as far as my ailing memory serves, the lightest I’ve been in my adult life, then put it all back …

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When is too many, too many?

When is too many, too many?, originally uploaded by Gordon. I may have a problem. In this photo there are 11 sets of headphones. 3 – Sony MDR-ED 21LP 1 – Apple iPhone set, with inline mic 1 – generic headset with mic 1 – Sennheiser PX100 1 – Sennheiser PX200 1 – Sennheiser EH1430 1 – Sennheiser PMX70 1 – Griffin Tunebuds 1 – a-JAYS Three I have a further 2 sets of generic iPod (white) headphones, and one set of Bose In Ear headphones which I use at work. That’s 14 sets of headphones. Fourteen. FOURTEEN! Update: I started writing this post mid-tidy up of some boxes full of cables, about 10 mins after publishing I’ve finished the …

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Ode

You are the quiet ponder behind a secret smile. You are the couple walking hand in hand, the girl giggling on the phone, the outfits in shop windows. In the coffee shop you are in the corner, legs tucked up beneath you, reading a book. In the newsagent you are the woman behind the counter with her hair pulled back. You are cakes on display, the puddles stepped round, the gentle rain caressing my skin. You are the slick, swirling colour of a passing umbrella, the click of heels on concrete, the curve of the banister, the smiles and laughter of a small child, the deep red of your lipstick echoed in the passing cars. Below the fading blue I …

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Where are the new ideas?

“Imitation is the sincerest of flattery.” It’s a fine line between imitation and theft but, looking around at other documentation sets recently, it’s interesting to see so many common items. Table of contents, numbered lists, signposts and so on. These things exist, and are common, for very good reasons but as we continue to learn about how best to anticipate the growing set of skills our users have when it comes to using information, I’m wondering what will become of these standard, common items we all include in our documentation sets. Case in point; Recently, whilst, looking at the Atlassian documentation we realised that there were a few nice touches that we could incorporate into our own documentation set. At …

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No mean city

Indestructible, the death dodging kids laugh as the bus driver rages. Shards of sunlight slice through buildings, blinding the strolling shoppers as they wander with vague purpose. A broken voice begging for change from behind dull eyes. An old man pauses to talk to the African drummer, rich timbre in shared laughter. A real connection amongst a thousand shifting eyes. The pigeon that walks but never flies, unhurried and unafraid. He knows this city from hazy dawn to blackest night, from pristine corporate headquarters to grime (crime?) soaked tenements. Through it all I walk. Surrounded by life in all it’s beautiful forms; the ravaged and unloved; the dirt and the shine, the filth and the smiles. Across broken tarmac and …

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Blog on TwitbookPlus

Apparently, according to something I read online over the weekend (so it must be true, right?) blogging is fast evolving into a niche activity thanks to the uptake of such fancy-schmancy websites like Facebook, Twitter and maybe even the new Google+. Given that when blogging started it was a fairly niche activity, and given that I’ve been blogging since about then, it feels comforting to know that my hobby is returning to its roots. Of course, in the intervening 12 or so years a lot has changed and blogging won’t ever really be the same maybe this is what it needs. I wonder if this something that other such social media type websites might follow in the coming years. For …

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