Jack of all trades Pt. 1

My name is Gordon McLean, I am a Technical Communicator* and I am proud to be a jack of all trades. Working in the software industry, and particularly for a company that has embraced the XP development methodology, I have exposure to, and contact with, most of the other roles in the company. I talk to Marketing to understand to who, and where, we sell our software. I talk to Deployment to understand the real issues they experience when using our software (they are our customers). I talk to Training to make sure we are promoting the same message. I talk to Testing to make sure the bug that I have found IS a bug and should be logged. I …

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Recently Read

Another week, another quick set of links. I really should start using one of these new fangled “social bookmarking” sites for this, shouldn’t I. Problem is I already have a del.icio.us account for personal use, and I like being able to add some thoughts about the links but it limits that slightly. In saying that, it does mean I give each link proper consideration, rather than just bookmarking them in passing. With that in mind, I thought I’d change the format of this post a little and offer a little more thought on each. Hopefully the links remain interesting and useful to others. In a (short) post entitled Identical vs derivative reuse Ann Rockley suggests that “one thing is certain, …

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Technical Writing Evolved

The following is largely focussed on the software industry as that is where my experience lies. I’ve been an on/off member of the TechWR mailing list for many years now. I dip in and out of threads depending on my current work and knowledge levels. The membership of the list is fairly wide-ranging, with people involved in all sorts of technical communication activites across many different industries. This gives any discussions around our profession and interesting slant as, by and large, the constituent parts of what it means to be a technical writer, and the daily activities involved, are somewhat tied to the industry in which they work. My experience is largely in the software world, but many of the …

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On switching

I received my MacBook some weeks ago, but decided not to post immediately and try to get a better feel for both the new hardware and operating system before posting my thoughts. What follows has been written up over the period of a few weeks. It’s official. I am now cool. I must be because Matt said so, in a roundabout way admittedly, and in case you have no earthly idea what I’m blithering on about now, I’ll first refer you to this post, and then get to the point and confirm that yes, I am now the owner of a shiny white MacBook. I am cool. As is my wont, I had spent some time researching, reading articles written …

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Damned lies

A boring post about website statistics follows. Feel free to scroll on down to the next post which may, or may not be more entertaining. What? You want a LINK to the next post? You lazy bugger… Last month (or was it the month before?) I asked you for recommendations for a new stats package for this site. I had used Extreme Tracker and SiteMeter for a while and had always got inconsistent results, timeouts and generally have been unimpressed. Now, whilst I’ll happily admit to being a bit of a stats whore, long gone are the days when I care how many hits I get, it’s much more fun seeing where you all come from. That’s not to say …

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Hoisin

Hello? Is this on? Small blip there, apologies. I presume I missed a memo somewhere as it was definitely a server issue that affected a few other sites or was this one of those things I was emailed about months ago and have since forgotten? Most probably the latter so apologies again for the lack of warning. ANYWAY… As a Technical Author, I write software manuals for a living. The process of creating the manuals involves a fair amount of planning, information sourcing and research. Frequently I am writing the manuals at the same time the code is being developed, and it’s only towards the end of a project that I get to see the finished applications and compare them …

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Hijacked

The timesheet application we use at work has a web based front end. Unfortunately it only works properly in (you guessed it!) Internet Explorer. So last night, as I’d done a wee bit of work when I got home, I fired up IE and what did I find? It had been hijacked (browser hijacking is a manifest of spyware = not good). A quick scan using Ad-Aware soon cleaned things up but it’s annoyance. Something I don’t have to put up with whilst I use Firefox. Which brings me to mention that I’ve updated my original post about Firefox extensions. I’ve added one (Tab Clicking Options) and checked/correct all the links. Ohh and if you have come across any other …

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Appendix

I’ve often considered either switching this site or launching a new one which dealt with my professional interests and opinions, a la zeldman. Trouble is I’m not sure how many people would care, and how to narrow down what I do so as not to tread into too many areas. Writing, Grammar, Evolution of language, UI design, HCI, web design and usability, educating users, etc etc – the list is endless. That’s one of the joys of being a Technical Communicator – you get to do LOADS of different things, unfortunately it is assumed that you don’t do any of them as well as a ‘qualified’ professional (except the writing bit that is). Sigh, now I just need to get …

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