Wednesday, November 9, 2016

Know Thy Audience

We've all heard it said that you should know your audience. But, how many of us actually consider this? I am here to tell you that this is THE MOST IMPORTANT aspect of technical writing, or any writing for that matter. If you are writing an email, if you are writing a user guide, if you are writing a quick-start guide, if you are writing Facebook content, it all starts with knowing who your audience is. That is the foundation of your writing and we all know what happens when you build on a bad foundation - (continue reading on linkedin)

Monday, October 31, 2016

What is the deal with XML?

We've all heard it for years. Everything uses XML for something or other. Computer programs use it; help authoring tools use it; even web pages use it. XML stands for extensible markup language. HTML, or hypertext markup language, is a version of XML used to render web pages in browsers. Put another way, a web browser is a piece of software written to parse XML files in order to render the results in a human-readable form. But, what is the big deal with XML?

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Wednesday, September 28, 2016

I'm in the ZONE - stop interrupting me!

We humans have this incredible ability to enter a certain mental space, the zone if you will, when we are heavily involved in problem solving of creativity. I first noticed it when I was 14 years old. I had learned BASIC programming on the Sinclair ZX-81 computer. It had a 8-bit Z-80 microprocessor running at 3.25 MHz, and only 1 KB of RAM. Let's just say that it wasn't very fast at all.

I was trying to make a Space Invaders-style game and found that the interpreted BASIC language was just too slow. I decided to make the game using Assembly. At 14, that was a monumental undertaking. After a few months, ....

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Thursday, September 22, 2016

Asciidocs Could Change Everything for Technical Writing

After my last article on tools, I found myself wanting to go more in depth with Asciidocs and compare it to a typical Help Authoring Tool (HAT) or WYSIWYG, such as Microsoft Word. I will go over some of the features and benefits of Asciidocs over other writing systems.

  • Ease of Use Makes it Quicker
  • Works on Any OS
  • Infinite Table of Contents
  • Content Reuse
  • Multiple Outputs

Thursday, September 8, 2016

TechComm - So Many Tools!

As a seasoned senior technical writer, I often get asked about this tool or that tool. I'm asked if I think they should switch over to this new program.

There are so many tools! I know that this is true in almost every industry, but I will just focus on the field of technical writing. Sure, those tools can help and many are just downright cool. But, some of them do pretty much the same thing.

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Saturday, September 3, 2016

The Technical Writer Just Saved My Quality Control

Many people confuse Quality Assurance (QA) with Quality Control (QC). But, put quite simply, QA relates to processes, while QC relates to products. For instance, a QA department may perform the same overall processes to monitor the company's R&D processes, but, 90% of what they do centers around testing of products. That testing is QC.

But, what does a technical writer have to do with QC, you may ask. Well, let me give you an example. Let's say that John is a programmer and he is working .....

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Sunday, August 14, 2016

Top 8 Reasons to Outsource Your Technical Writing

Why use a Managed Writing Service Provider? Wait, let's start with the basics. What is a Managed Writing Service Provider? Well, we've all heard of MSPs, or Managed Service Providers, in the IT industry. That is when companies outsource their computer infrastructure to someone else. It is usually more cost effective to hire a company to manage your IT, rather than have a dedicated team of full-time in-house...

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