Archive for May, 2006

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AODC, Cairns: Day 3: 5 May 2006

May 5, 2006

Last day of the conference today. I’m sitting in Cairns Airport writing this at 9:45pm, so my memory will have to suffice for the list of today’s sessions as the conference handbook is in the checked luggage.

  • Vendor promo of the Elkera XML software (Peter Meyer, Elkera)
  • Brief presentation on single sourcing (Matthew Armstrong, AuthorIT)
  • My presentation on Reviewing screen-based content – I received some wonderful comments from people afterwards, and on and off throughout the day, so I guess it went over well! One person told me she’d given me 6 out of a possible 5 on at least one aspect of my presentation.
  • XML Data Islands (Dave Gash)
  • CSS presentation (Dr Tom James)
  • Presentation on Wikis, Blogs, RSS, Podcasts and other cool stuff (Tony Self)
  • Case study about usability testing of PDF indexes versus full-text search (Carol Barnum)

There were a few sore heads this morning after last night’s Trivia Night… seems some people kicked on for a while afterwards.

After the last session, Tony thanked us all, then Gerry thanked Penny for a great job done in organising another successful conference; those who didn’t have immediate flights to catch adjourned to the adjacent bar for some farewell drinks. It was a great conference, with some terrific people in attendance.

Our flight back to Perth leaves at 10:30pm, getting in at the ungodly hour of 1:30am tomorrow. So it’s been a long day, and it will be another 6+ hours before we get in to our own bed. Our 5 weeks away is almost at an end… It’ll be hard going back to work…

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AODC, Cairns: Day 2: 4 May 2006

May 5, 2006

Lots of sessions today! Here’s a summary:

  • What employers say they are looking for (Elizabeth Abbott): Summarised a survey done by TechWriter Placements late last year and compared it to a similar US survey. Main point: Writing skills are important but collaborative and similar soft skills are most important.
  • MadCap Flare (Mike Hamilton): Summarised the takeover of eHelp by Macromedia and what happened to the former staff; formation of MadCap Software; short demo of some of Flare’s features.
  • Flowcharts Rule! (Kylie Weaver): Gave a rundown of the various types of diagrams we may be asked to produce, including flowcharts; showed some neat Visio tricks.
  • Word Abuse (“Choco” Munday): Lively, hilarious romp through some ‘un-words’, and made up words.
  • DIY Usability (Gerry Gaffney): Discussed how you can set up usability testing on a shoestring with the main physical requirements being pen and paper; got us to do a quick usability test on a product we had with us – a very interesting and revealing exercise!
  • Windows Vista AP Help Update (Mike Hamilton): Presented slides created by Char James-Tanny and emphasised that everything he said was subject to change, and *if* Help authors were to ever be able to use the help technologies MS will introduce in Vista, it wouldn’t be until at least AP 2.0… if ever. Also emphasised the need to submit thoughts, opinions, and ideas to the AP team via the websites he gave us.
  • DITA or DocBook? (Tony Self): Ran through the features and pros and cons of these two XML formats.

Of course, the BIG thing on Thursday nights at each AODC is “Uncle Dave’s Trivia Night”. We adjourned to the Courthouse Hotel where we waited an absolute age for a meal (they were told that a big group was coming…). Then the questions started. 40 questions in 5 rounds. The questions in the code round hit some groups hard, as did the Septic Prank questions. But most groups did well on the Aussie questions (as you’d expect). I was in the Thorny Devils team and we scored 39/40… even though Tony’s silly marking system meant that our public score was 36.5! The final question was like a Final Jeopardy question – you could wager as much or as little as you liked. We went for broke and bet the lot… The question was really difficult as unless you *knew* the answer, you’d only have been guessing. We guessed right (choosing option B over A, C, and the most likely D), and doubled our score, winning the perpetual trophy and some cool Cairns caps for our efforts. A fun night was had by all!

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AODC, Cairns: Day 1: 3 May 2006

May 4, 2006

The first day of the AODC Conference began with Tony Self’s typically humorous intro and welcome.

Dave Gash (USA) then presented a session on “Self-Aware Navigation Techniques” which actually made sense to me… please don’t tell me I’m going over to the dark side of JavaScript programming! While I didn’t understand the specifics of the code, I completely understood what it was trying to achieve.

Next, Tony coordinated a fun networking activity where we all got to meet quite a few other people. Morning tea followed, with some delicious muffins and Danish pastries.

Tony’s presentation on “Structured Authoring” was next. I had already attended this session at the WritersUA conference just a couple of weeks ago, so if I’d been on the ball and familiar with the AODC agenda then, I would’ve attended another session at WritersUA. Oh well. It didn’t do me any harm to sit through it again. Tony’s a good speaker and he was a little more on the ball for this one… the one at WritersUA was after the Aussie pub crawl night!

After lunch Gerry Gaffney spoke on “Interactive Design” – a good session that highlighted the need for writers to be involved in the design process much earlier than is typical.

Scones with jam and real cream were available for afternoon tea, then Dr Tom James (from the UK) spoke on how the Salisbury District Council is using XML and common taxonomies to provide service information to people via the web.

The final event of the day was drinks by the pool, sponsored by Pursue-IT (Sydney).

Four of us went off to an Indian restaurant afterwards – Mother India in Sheridan St. The food was OK, but nothing special. But the company (Elizabeth [NSW] and Rowdy [WA]) was good.

Tomorrow the sessions start at 8:30, the exhibitors are exhibiting, and there are some 8 sessions during the day, then it’s the Trivia Night! A big day ahead…