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Documentation Review Techniques (videocast)

by Tom Johnson on Feb 5, 2009 •
categories: podcastsscreencasting

I believe that in order to learn something, you have to do it, for the most part. So forgive me if my first dozen videocasts here are experimental, because I'm learning. I'm finding that video is a little trickier than I thought.

To create video, you first need some type of video camera (obviously). I have a Sony handycam camcorder that I bought in 2000 and never really used much -- until now. It records on miniDV tapes rather than a hard drive, and I can only transfer captured video via a firewire cable to my computer. In 2000, we paid about $600 for the camcorder. Now I believe I could walk into any pawn shop and get the same camera for $60.

There is so much to video. What program to use, what format to publish it, the video service, getting video in iTunes, and so on. This is my video learning phase, so bear with me. Just last night, while exploring the little hidden compartments on the camcorder, I discovered the microphone port I'd been looking for. It accepts a 1/8th inch microphone jack. Unfortunately I discovered the microphone port after I recorded the video.

A little explanation about the videos. There are two videos, answering two reader's questions. The first reader writes,

I'm getting ready to publish my Manuals and was wondering if you go through a process of review, a checklist before you publish your manuals. If you do, it'd be great if you could share it. I'm sure your other readers would greatly benefit from it.

Here's my videocast response:

[vimeo 3102789]

(iPod format)

Another reader asks a related question:

In my organization, we have a set of controlled documentation. Changes that need to be made are requested through an Engineering Change Notification application. As part of our process, we mark the requested changes in the document with red text and a black change bar along the left margin. We are reviewing our process, and are looking for better ways (if any) to mark changes in the document.

Here's my videocast response:

[vimeo 3102613]

(iPod format)

These videos are actually my second recording. I initially tried recording at about 6 p.m., which is prime family time in the Johnson household. I learned that trying to record while family is up and about is challenging. My oldest daughter made rabbit ears behind me, Shannon made cookies and clanked dishes, my four-year-old grabbed the camera and drove a stroller around the kitchen. I started over a few times and finally made it through an entire recording, but there were too many distractions.

If you prefer to listen to these videocasts as a single MP3 file in your iPod instead, here's an MP3 recording of much better quality.

Download MP3 (to download, right-click and select Save Target As)
Length: 14 min.

If you have any comments about documentation review techniques or tips for creating videocasts, please leave your comments below.

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About Tom Johnson

Tom Johnson

I'm a technical writer / API doc specialist based in the Seattle area. In this blog, I write about topics related to technical writing and communication — such as software documentation, API documentation, visual communication, information architecture, writing techniques, plain language, tech comm careers, and more. Check out simplifying complexity and API documentation for some deep dives into these topics. If you're a technical writer and want to keep on top of the latest trends in the field, be sure to subscribe to email updates. You can also learn more about me or contact me.