Category: July/August 2010

Focusing Your Business: Support for the Independent Consultant or Contractor

By Elizabeth (Bette) Frick | Associate Fellow and Liz Willis | Member This column explores the joys and challenges of managing your own technical communication business. Please share your experience and ideas. Contact Bette Frick at efrick@textdoctor.com. Is it better to be a generalist or a specialist? That's a perennial question among technical communicators—and plenty of other professions, too. And while it makes a fascinating topic for debate, it's far too big a question for one column. So, here's a variation on the theme: If you're an incurable generalist, can you still enjoy some of the advantages enjoyed by specialists?Read the rest

Nomination Process Opens for STC Awards

The Society for Technical Communication recognizes individual member achievement through several awards programs. Below is information on two. Jay R. Gould Award for Excellence in Teaching Technical Communication The Jay R. Gould award honors the distinguished teaching career of Professor Gould and celebrates true academic mentorship, demonstrated by the personal and professional concern that great teachers extend to their students beyond the classroom. The Gould award nominating committee is seeking nominees for the 2011 award. To be eligible, a nominee must have been a member of STC for at least 10 years and must have been involved in postsecondary education… Read the rest

Applications for Fellow Due 4 October

By Christopher Juillet | Chair, Fellows Nominating Committee Each fall, the Fellows Nominating Committee invites STC Associate Fellows who have held that rank for two years to submit information to the committee for potential nomination to the rank of Fellow. This honor recognizes members’ achievements in the field of technical communication, contributions to STC, or both. Any Associate Fellow who was inducted to that rank at or prior to the 2009 STC Annual Conference may submit an information packet to the committee. The committee reviews each candidate’s information packet and contacts the identified references. Based on evaluation of the information… Read the rest

Planning Has Begun for 2011 Summit in Sacramento

2011 Technical Communication Summit, Sacramento Work has begun on the education program for the 2011 Technical Communication Summit in Sacramento, California, 15–18 May. The program advisory committee made a site visit to Sacramento to match up available space with session requirements. The committee has selected track managers and the process for the call for proposals has begun. “We expect to open the call for proposals in late August,” stated STC Deputy Executive Director Lloyd Tucker, “make selections by late October, and have the conference registration available by 1 December.” The call for proposals will build on the outstanding comments and… Read the rest

Going Mobile with MadCap: FLARE 6

By Ed Marshall | Senior Member FLARE 6, released early this year, is the latest version of the state-of-the-art help authoring tool produced by MadCap Software. The major new features of Flare 6 include: A new WebHelp Mobile output format for mobile devices. Capability to batch generate and publish your output formats. Ability to assign writers/status to topics (called file tagging). You can generate custom reports showing the workload for each writer on the team or generate a list of topics with a selected status. Enhancements to creating/modifying index entries. A new GUI option to view links to/from topics, called… Read the rest

Frustrations of He Said, She Said: How Experienced Technical Editors Can Understand and Work with Novice Writers

By Stephanie Chacharon As a relative newcomer to the professional workplace and the world of technical communication, I’ve experienced firsthand the difficulties of adapting to the role of technical writer. More recently, I’ve been dealing with less-experienced new hires adapting to their roles as technical writers. Because these perspectives are fresh, I feel uniquely qualified to offer the following advice on how to bring novice writers up to speed. Consider this a wish-list of sorts from me, the semi-amateur wordsmith, to you, the experienced editor. This article will address the frustrations that arise when dealing with inexperienced writers. Those frustrations… Read the rest

Case Study Solutions: Embedding Flash in a PDF

By Ingrid Higgins My technical documentation team recently faced a challenge: Communicate a technically complex, system-wide feature with multiple scenarios in an easy-to-understand way. Our solution was to embed Flash illustrations and animations in a PDF manual. This case study describes the planning, beta testing, and lessons learned when we decided to complement technical information with interactive Flash content. A Picture Is Worth … During the design phase for a technical manual that described a new feature within private radio networks, we determined that many scenarios would need to be defined. Unlike manuals that cover a single piece of hardware… Read the rest

Recommendations for Associate Fellow Due 4 October

By Nancy Hoffman | Chair, Associate Fellows Nominating Committee Each fall, the Associate Fellows Nominating Committee invites STC communities and members to recommend senior members for the rank of STC Associate Fellow. This honor recognizes members’ achievements in the field of technical communication, contributions to STC, or both. Any voting member of STC may submit a candidate’s application to the Associate Fellows Nominating Committee. The committee reviews each candidate’s application and contacts the identified references. Based on evaluation of the information collected, the committee forwards nominees to the STC Board of Directors for consideration. To be considered for selection as… Read the rest

A Note from the Editor

It is my pleasure to send a warm thank you to the outgoing Intercom Editorial Advisory Panel (EAP) and introduce new panel members. The panel provides me with advice and feedback on editorial calendar themes, author suggestions, and more. Janel Bloch, Rhonda Bracey, Anne Gentle (Chair), Tom Johnson, and Whitney Potsus made up the first panel formed in 2008. The support from the panel has been extraordinary these past two years. Serving on the EAP for the 2010–2012 term are Alyssa Fox, Grant Hogarth, Char James-Tanny, Caroline Jarrett, Carolyn Kelley Klinger, and Ed Marshall. Alyssa Fox is an information development… Read the rest

Usability for a Ubiquitous Computing World

By Brian Still | Member The first truly mobile, commercial cell phone was Motorola’s DynaTAC. First introduced in 1983 and often referred to as the “brick” phone, it weighed a couple of pounds and was almost a foot high. As an analog device with only a one-hour battery life, even if one could afford its $4,000 pricetag, there were not many places with network coverage to warrant its use. Don’t get me wrong—to have one then was to be cool, which is why folks like Gordon Gekko (Wall Street) and Zack Morris (Saved by the Bell) had one. There was… Read the rest