Month: February 2012

Tagging

Last night on Twitter I asked “Looking for a way to tag topics in an authoring platform. Not part of Author-it, does any app do it?” and a few helpful people gave me suggestions.

I later clarified and thought I’d expand on that here. My clarification was that “Re tagging: we want to tag topics in the authoring tool so whatever the output, the user can filter on tags eg, v1.0/email or v2.3/document”, it was at this point I realised I needed more than 140 characters to explain what I was looking for…

Our product is in the throes of moving to a modular/component delivery. We will no longer have one installer to install one big product with everything in it, instead you will likely (it’s still being figured out) get a core application which you can then enhance with additional modules.

The challenge to our team will be to document this product in a way that is useful to both the people who might use the application and to those people who customise the application for specific customer needs (which may or may not involve customising a module or creating a bespoke module for a customer).

One idea that may help us in this would be the ability to tag all of our content with module/component/functionality tags, and a version tag. There may be more tags required but we can figure those out later.

However, the authoring product we currently have, Author-it, doesn’t offer this functionality. We have looked into a way of manually doing it by hacking XML files but it’s less than ideal.

So what I was asking for, badly, on Twitter was a native application that includes tagging of topics on the authoring side, with the tags then available in the output. Ultimately we want to be able to build dynamic sets of information AND allow the users to change the view of the information based on the tag(s) they’ve chosen as well.

MadCap Flare comes closest as it at least has a notion of ‘tags’ in the product but not sure if that allows a dynamically built output, and Robohelp allows tagging of returned search results but no way of producing that content dynamically.

Does such a product exist? It  feels like it should, that it’s not a million miles away from what a lot of technical writing teams would want… but I don’t think it does. Prove me wrong!

Which way now?

I’ve been a wee bit ill the past couple of weeks, what started as a cold soon moved to my chest and, thanks to a bad chest/lung infection a few years ago, floored me for about a week.

Last night I thought I’d get back into the exercise habit, nothing too strenuous mind, and after 15 mins of jumping around infront of the TV (XBox Kinect: Your Shape Fitness Evolved) I was flat out on my back and hauling for air. May not be quite ready for the gym…

I’m determined to get my bike out again soon though, it’s been too long, and whilst I don’t mind the gym I much prefer actually doing something. I may soon be joining the guys at work for a game of basketball but I’m still a bit wary since the last time I played I broke my foot.

In other news, me and 4 of my mates are off to the Singapore Grand Prix in September!! Tickets, flights and hotels are all booked. WWAAAAHHHOOOOOOOOOOO!!!

On a related note, it’s amazing how much childish fun that can be had making up humorous ‘references’ as we transferred monies back and forth. Do banks check these things? Do their computer systems flag any words? If an amount was transferred to a bank account as ‘Return for Thai Bride’… that’s not dodgy is it?

Aside from that, not a whole lot else going on. but life remains good.

Onwards and upwards!

Dreams

I’ll happily admit to being a bit of a day dreamer. I quite like disappearing off into my own little fantasy world head for what I guess is now known as a ‘JD moment‘ (except I don’t tilt my head).

Mostly these day dreams take the form of ‘what ifs’ and play out in a world where I’ve won the lottery, no longer have to work, and am considerably more erudite and handsome than in real life (I know, it’s hard to believe right?).

Few of these day dreams have any connection, they are a simple means of escapism and whilst there is an element of common theme, for the most part they are an indulgence.

This is not true of my night dreams. I don’t recall many of them, but there is one theme that always comes back. In one way or another. I’m trying to remember when it first started, when that first instance happened but I can’t. It feels like I’ve always had this dream.

The premise is simple. In this dream I am asleep, lying in my own bed. I hear a noise. Someone is trying to get into my flat.

And that’s about it really, no big revelation, just a simple ‘every man’s home is his castle’ type scenario. Right?

The dreams all take different slants, sometimes it’s someone trying to attack me, other times it’s a burglar, but they all end the same way. I wake up suddenly, convinced it’s real, my heart thumping in my chest, fear pulsing through my body as I lie and try and quieten my breathing, desperate to hear where the person is, did they make it in?

This dream can spill over into the day as well. Right now I’m sitting at my computer, back to the door. What was that noise? Is someone at the door? Or behind me?

You can see why I don’t watch scary movies…

Last night I had the dream again. Except this time they made it into my flat. I chased them, they ran, I shouted at them asking how they managed to get in, do they have a key? No response.

Weird.

Resolved to be new

I lied. I know I wrote previously about not having resolutions but (as Blue Witch points out in the comments) I did have resolution. I am determined to make this year a good one.

However I’m very goal oriented so I did, quietly, set myself the following goals:

  • Read one book a month.
  • Take a photo everyday.
  • Lose at least 8kg (aiming for 95kg, just under 15stone).

Progress so far:

  • I’ve read one book (Tinker, Tailor, Solder, Spy), and halfway through a second (Oryx and Crake).
  • I’ve almost managed this one (the day I missed I remember but then forgot again! gah!)
  • I’m cheating a little, but over the course of last year, I’ve gone from 111kg to 103kg.

I’m quite happy with my progress and here’s the thing, I realised recently that I am prepared to fail at the first two; If I don’t read a book every month, that’s OK, so long as I’m making the effort to read more (which is actually about taking a small amount of time here and there for myself). If I don’t take a photo everyday that’s OK too, it was more aimed at getting me to slow down and look at the world around me.

Losing weight is, unfortunately, not something I can ‘fail’ at. However as that’s more about eating healthily and being more active, it too is something I’m learning to accept small failures in. If I put on 1kg over a weekend, then that’s ok, I just need to adjust over the following few weeks.

I’m enjoying eating more fruit and veg, enjoying the after effects of exercise although it can still be a struggle to get moving, and slowly the weight is dropping. And yes, I bought Withings scales (and the blood pressure monitor too as that’s the main driver behind my weight loss).

All of this is helping me be better at taking time for me, and that has in turn lead to some other discoveries about myself. Things that have always been there but have lain dormant, things that I am now starting to explore and question, everything from my sexuality, through religious beliefs and on to politics.

I am also much more confident in being honest. That will include here in time (it’s still one thing to tell family and friends, quite another to spill with you lot), but by now the people who need to know already know.

One thing I am carrying over from last year is removing as much negativity from my life as I can. I wasn’t the happiest person (particularly at work) in the latter half of 2011, but I’m rectifying that. I have so little to complain about I really should just get on with living my life.