One for the men

I have been converted. It started as a bit of a whim, a bit of a ‘hey, I might try that’ but it’s already blossomed into a wonderful ritual and, quite possibly, the beginning of a slightly fetishistic obsession. I’ve started reading blogs about it, watching videos about it, and with each new piece of paraphernalia I discover I disappear down yet another rabbit hole of delight, a warren of wonder awaits. For many years, every since I started doing it when I was barely into my teens, I’ve not really given it much thought. You learn one way of doing it and go with the flow don’t you. Sure there are trends and new ideas that come on the …

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Ho Ho HOLIDAY!!

The festive season is upon us, cards have been posted, presents have been bought, and in a couple of hours I’ll head home, leaving work behind until early January. 2012 has been an interesting year. We started the year with a challenge, one of making the information we produce ‘findable’. Cutting across more than 20,000 topics of information, it was always going to be a big project, particularly as we still needed to keep up with product development. As the year draws to a close the final pieces of this mammoth project are falling into place and should, fingers crossed, be launched in the first couple of weeks in January. From my viewpoint, it’s been an excellent example of giving …

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Going Paid

Yes, I know, first world problems and all that, shut up… With the news that Instagram can now start selling my photos, something I didn’t agree to when I signed up, I’ve been looking at what services I use the most and wondering if I might be better to switch all my online/digital actions to only use paid for options. Don’t get me wrong, I understand the need for companies to make money and that offering services for free isn’t ever going to be properly scalable until you reach a critical mass (think Facebook and Google). What really irks me about the Instagram change is that I don’t have an option other than to stop using it and delete my …

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Stop the conversations

In the New Year we are instituting a No Talking rule in my office. If anyone has a question, they have to write it down and pass it to a colleague who will then write down their response. This should cut down on the amount of chatter and conversation that, obviously, is having a huge impact on productivity. There will be no more talking in our office, the conversations will stop! I am, of course, joking. What I’m actually pondering is how to extract the casual knowledge that currently exists in the heads of the development team. The little snippets of information that take seconds to utter when prompted by a nearby colleague, but which remain out of the grasp …

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Time to plant a tree

It’s already halfway through the month, my Christmas holiday is within touching distance (I finish up on Friday), and then it’ll be 2013. As I spent a lot of time last week in airports I did some quick (and very rough) calculations and realised that I’ve logged around 21,500 miles of air travel this year, and visited four different continents on the way. Holiday in Tunisia, holiday in Singapore, a flight to London, and a work trip to the USA. It’s by far the most air travel I’ve ever had in one year, at a guess I’d say in the past it’d have taken me several years to rack up that many miles but the fates (and monies) aligned this year …

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A New Normal

I’m currently cruising high in the sky above the USA, on my way from San Francisco to Boston. It’s part of a whistle stop tour of two of our offices here which have teams of software engineers, architects and product managers (no technical writers though) that are building part of the product we will be shipping early next year. During a chat with a couple of the product managers there was an interesting revelation. In describing the approach the team takes when it comes to writing documentation, the two product managers both smiled with relief when I said that we didn’t really spend much time on simple procedures, instead we try and concentrate on the why, on decision support information. …

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Everything is too much

For the last few months, the team have been rebuilding and restructure our content. We’ve ditched the idea of ‘guides’ for now (although we will revisit those early next year) and after a lot of hard work we are starting to build out new groupings of content. The process has involved a lot of analysis, and we’ve had a few nice little wins on the way, for example; we started using Mindmaps as a way to visualise the content and will be rolling them out as part of our normal planning in the future. This is the 1000 feet view of what we are building: And that’s not quite everything… It’s been a long journey to get to this point, …

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Stealth Mode

I don’t know about you but I’m getting fed up trying to make everyone realise the value of what we do. Technical Communicators of the world unite! Why is it so darn hard? Isn’t it obvious? We live in a so-called “information age” after all, so why is it such a struggle to get the message across? So, for the meantime, I’ve stopped. My team currently has a separate stream of work looking at how we get better at PR and whilst that runs its course I’ve decided to deploy a different tactic, one which has fallen into my lap. No more will I go cap in hand to department heads, no more will I try to coax, nudge and …

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Ho Ho Holy Shit… December

I am having fun. This must be true because time is flying, it seems like only yesterday we were wandering round Edinburgh Zoo! Since then, we’ve had gigs, trips to London and Manchester and, all of a sudden, it’s December and Christmas looms large. Most years I’d take this week and next week to slowly get up to speed, get the cards written and posted, get the Christmas tree up, buy and wrap pressies and all that nonsense but unfortunately I’m already running out of time. This week, I have this evening and Thursday evening free. Friday afternoon/evening is our team Xmas lunch which means Saturday will likely find me a little hungover and on Sunday, at around 6.30am, I’ll …

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