Archive for November, 2007

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An MCSE is…

November 21, 2007

Lots of interesting discussion is happening today on one of my technical communication/writing lists about certification (again!). In amongst all the arguments for and against (mostly against), was this definition of an MCSE:

“Minesweeper Consultant and Solitaire Expert”.

LOL! The real definition is “Microsoft Certified Systems Engineer”, but I like the alternative better.

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Computer privacy policy

November 15, 2007

More on the ‘clean up the laptop’ saga… I came across something called “Viewpoint Media Player” in my Add/Remove Programs list and had no clue what it was, so off to Google again, where I found this brilliant piece about Viewpoint Media Player by Joe User (great domain name!) and his efforts to remove it. In amongst his diatribe about this piece of software—tell us what you REALLY think, Joe!—was this:

Here is my privacy policy: I do not want any type of crap on my computer unless I specifically OK it. I do not want anything installed without my permission. I don’t want some poorly programmed piece of crap crashing my computer, changing my bookmarks and homepage, and making itself part of the operating system so I can’t delete it without instructions from the internet. I do not want programs that record what I am doing. I don’t want programs accessing the internet at random intervals to send data to its home servers. I don’t care if “At no point is the CUID connected to a user’s name, email address, or other personal contact information”. I don’t freaking believe what is written in the privacy policy (which I didn’t even get a chance to read since it installed without my knowledge), nor do I trust your abilities to safeguard my personal data even if you are telling the truth.

When can you install something on my computer? If you get within arms length distance of my computer and can install it before I cave your head in with a baseball bat, then I will allow it.

Couldn’t agree more!

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Christmas cards for clients

November 15, 2007

On one of my technical writing lists today, there was discussion about Christmas gifts for clients and links to websites that deal with such things. Someone mentioned donating to charity, which is what I did for the first time last year. Here’s my contribution to the discussion:

Along the same lines, last Christmas I decided not to send out cards to my clients as I figured they’d be on display (maybe) for 2 weeks, no-one would do more than glance at them (at best) and then they would go in the trash or recycle bin. The amount I would’ve spent on Christmas cards and postage (not including the time to write them!) I gave as a donation to Perth Zoo. I emailed my clients wishing them all the best for the season and told them of the donation in lieu of cards. Some responded saying what a good idea it was. No-one complained about not getting a card!!

I’ve always thought corporate Christmas cards were a strange custom – and now I don’t do it. I’ll find a suitable organization to donate to again this year – preferably one where I can donate direct (like the zoo) as versus one that goes through fund raising agencies etc. to get donations.

That spurred me on to actually do something—so this year I’ve decided to donate to the Royal Flying Doctor Service, a VITAL service for rural and remote Australians.

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Ooo! I know someone like this too

November 13, 2007

Craig over at Another Boy from Oz pointed me to this excellent (but long) blog post: The Nerd Handbook.

I know quite a few people like this—and on occasions, I am one! Scary.

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A new year, a new start

November 10, 2007

Welcome to the official newsletter/blog of CyberText Consulting. The first posts will start in January 2008.

After six years (2001–2007) creating the quarterly CyberText newsletter, I decided 2008 was the time to start using a more immediate format for disseminating the tips and hints I typically included in the newsletters.

Why a blog? The main reasons for switching to a blog format are:

  • A blog allows YOU the opportunity to comment on any article, as well as offer your opinions and similar things you’ve found and would like to share. With the PDF newsletter format, this was only possible if you sent me an email.
  • You can subscribe to the RSS feed to be notified of new posts as I make them. This means you don’t have to wait for three months for the new stuff. By the way, your RSS subscription is anonymous. I don’t have your email address—in fact, I don’t know who will be reading the blog at all. Subscribing is as easy as clicking the “Entries (RSS)” link at the bottom of the page. More on RSS feeds…
  • I can offer more cool stuff, more often. I deliberately designed the newsletter to be no more than two pages, with a distribution of every three months. This meant I had to cull or carry over articles that just didn’t fit the two page limit I’d set for each issue.
  • Better searching for the newsletter-style articles. While the current PDF newsletters can be searched on the CyberText website, sometimes it’s hard to find what you’re looking for. The blog search function only returns results from the blog posts, not from the rest of the CyberText website.
  • With a blog I can categorize and tag posts, which means that if you’re looking for tips for Microsoft Word, for example, you just go to that category or tag in the ‘tag cloud’ and you’ll get ALL the posts that are related to Microsoft Word on one page. Over time, I hope to archive all the old newsletter articles that are still relevant as blog posts, but I’ll start with small steps first!
  • You can easily share the hints and tips I’ll provide with others just by sending them a link to the relevant page. With the PDF newsletter, you had to send either the entire PDF or the link to the newsletter Contents page and then hope that your friend or colleague bothered to follow that long trail to the information.
  • More and less work for me! Less, in that I won’t have to spend 8+ hours putting each newsletter together; more, because I’ll likely spend more than eight hours every quarter adding posts! However, this 8+ hours will be spread out in small parcels of time (e.g. 5 minutes here, 15 minutes there) so I think it will be more manageable.
  • I can add posts from anywhere in the world, at any time. At the moment, I’m limited to creating the newsletter using InDesign software on my PC.
  • I can ditch InDesign. I only use Adobe InDesign 2 for the newsletter. Because of this and because the newsletter is issued quarterly, I either forget how to do things in InDesign (like bullets, tabs, insert images etc.), or I try to use commands (such as CTRL+B for bold formatting in other applications) that don’t do the same thing in InDesign. It’s a very frustrating program to use when you only use it on the odd occasion. However, I won’t remove it from my system until I’ve harvested any previous newsletter articles that are still relevant and posted them here as part of the archive.
  • A place for everything, and everything in its place. I can incorporate work-related posts from my personal blog into this blog so that everything related to work, technical writing, technical communication, hints and tips for applications, useful websites related to work, and so on, is in the one place.

So, there’s my list of reasons for switching. Hopefully, you’ll join me on this journey!

–Rhonda

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I worked with someone like this

November 9, 2007

My Google Alert for ‘Technical Writing” threw up this blog post this morning.

My first reaction was that he (?) hated women in positions of authority, but then I kept reading. He could have been in my head writing about a documentation manager I had a few years back when I worked for a Large Company.  I haven’t had enough experience working for doc managers to know whether his diatribe applies across the board, but it definitely applied to the person I worked for.