bookmark_borderWest of Scotland ISTC meeting

The next ISTC technical communicators’ meeting in Glasgow will take place on Thursday 26th August 2010, from 7.30 pm onwards. 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 prodessionals, 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.

Please forward this message on to your colleagues or anyone else who may be interested. For more information, contact westscotland_areagroup[at]

bookmark_borderChanging the balance

We are still waiting on someone buying our house and, until that happens, there ain’t much else I can do but ponder the future and what shape my life will take when we go our separate ways.

I think the biggest adjustment for me will be going home to an empty flat. I’m viewing that as an opportunity to refocus my priorities and change my habits, but one thing is sure, I’ll need to be a lot better at keeping in touch with my friends, as well as getting out there and making more.

I’ll be joining a gym, but I’ve never found those particularly friendly places, and I’ve looked at evening classes which might be fun, but one thing that really caught my eye whilst I was doing some research on “holidays for singles” (as in, going on holiday on your own, not going on holiday to get drunk with a lot of other people who are single and “desperate for love/a shag”) was an organisation called Spice Scotland.

Now, I know what you are thinking and no, it’s not a dating website. They describe themselves as an Adventure, Sports and Social Group which caters for single people who don’t want to sit at home. They organise everything from Skiiing holidays to tennis lessons, and seem to have a good active membership.

It’s not something I’ll be jumping into headfirst, for a start I need to shift some weight (again!) and will need a few months to get settled into my own routine and adjust to my new life but it’s good to know there are options out there and that being single isn’t JUST about sitting about in your undercrackers eating Jaffa Cakes.

bookmark_borderThere was a tree

It was a large tree, all leafy and green as a tree should be, standing tall and proud at the top of a small hill. On the ground beneath it spring flowers were bursting into life their vibrant colours proclaiming new beginnings, fresh growth,  a new season full of heady fragrances.

The tree was old and wise, with countless rings and scars testament to the experience it had gained, the life it had lived. Every now and then the tree would think back, reliving each moment when it had grown a little more. It knew it was governed by nature, that it wasn’t in control, and was more than content and willing to submit to the whims of the breeze.

Like all trees it understood that sacrifice was envitable, leaves had to be shed, rotten branches had to fall. The boughs would break.

Looking out over the fields and hills that lay beneath its roots, the tree was happy and content in the moment.

But an ill wind was blowing.

At some point during the summer, the tree realised something was changing, that something was different to how it had been before and at that point it knew that time, as far as the tree knew it, was coming to an end. Basking in the summer sun, the tree prepared itself, soaking up the energy for one last push towards autumn.

It was with a mighty crash that the tree fell to ground, but as no-one was around the tree decided not to make any noise.

As it lay there, the tree realised it had a few moments left and took those seconds to enjoy the change of view, the closeness of the grass, the blueness of the sky above, silhouettes of birds flying to pastures new. And, with that, the tree was finally at peace.

Months passed and slowly the tree started to wither and rot, feeding the ground beneath it.  Soon enough fresh saplings poked their heads through the soil and started their long slow climb up towards the blue. The tiny trees thickened and spread their wings, repeating the cycle once more as the world continued to turn.

bookmark_borderI have a new phone

It is shiny and new.

It does a lot of things my old phone could do but does them a lot faster, and prettier.

I have a new phone.

It doesn’t do some things other phones do but I don’t need it to.

It does have some things other phones don’t.

I have a new phone.

I am very pleased.

Some people probably think the new phone is a waste of money.

They may well be right.

I have a new phone.

I’m sure there are other options out there.

I’m sure there are other phones with more features, better battery life and other things.

I have a new phone.

bookmark_borderStop being serious

Information is serious stuff and must be treated with the appropriate earnest respect it deserves. Stop laughing at the back, this is not a joking matter. How do you feel when you go looking for information and can’t find it? Or find what you think will be helpful information only to discover that it is useless.

At that point, information is very very serious indeed and causes many people to gnash their teeth, wail their woes and other expressions of frustration and angst.

The reason I mention this, something I’m sure most of you are both perfectly aware and the unwitting recipients of, is because I have a tendency to be silly sometimes. Which means, say, adding an entry to a product glossary titled “Rubber Chicken” with a definition of “See Custard Pie” (and yes, the “Custard Pie” entry had the definition of “See Rubber Chicken”). Yes, it’s silly, but sometimes, if done correctly, a spot of humour can have a positive effect.

Thankfully the terminology used in software development can provide some perfect moments, so when someone recently asked “How do I destroy a custom component?” on an internal mailing list, one response (which alas I can’t post here) tickled my funny bone so much that I posted it to our developer community website.

Suffice to say that the response discussed destroying a custom component on a physical level (including dropping the hardware from a height) and the emotional level (including underming the confidence of the custom component with heavy doses of sarcasm) and had everyone who read it in stitches.

Was it inappropriate? Perhaps, but a little humour can go a long way.

bookmark_borderSun is shining

Amazing the difference the weather makes. A couple of sunny days and suddenly the world is a lighter place and everyone is happy, friendly and a little bit pink.

At one point on Saturday, as I sat and perused the conveyor belt at Yo Sushi!, I realised I had a big loony grin on my face as I was perfectly content and happy. Thinking about it, that might explain why the staff were so quick to get me my bill and usher me from my seat.

Note to self: If you are feeling happy with life, and are a little bit blissed out, probably best to keep your hands above the table.

Sunday was Dad Day, and so I visited my Dad and forced him to cook several chickens, two and a half cows and some corn on the cob on the BBQ. After eating all of that it was all I could do to pootle home and collapse on the sofa.

One thing I will need to do more of, whenever the whole ‘staring a new life’ thing kicks in (seriously, 3 bed semi-detached in Hamilton, spanking new bathroom, sumptuous kitchen, quiet cul-de-sac, will someone please buy it), is go to parties as apparently that is what most of the people I follow on Twitter did this weekend.

I don’t get invited to parties much these days, so please feel free to invite me to your party if you are having one. I’m very well behaved, quite socialable, and will even make sure I’ve had my weekly shower that day.

And I promise I will keep my hands above the table.