Answering Reader's Questions: 'My Desire to Write Burns in My Heart Daily'

Hi Tom, My name is Hannah, and I live in San Antonio, Texas. I found your web site when I typed technical writing in google.com. You have a beautiful family. I am a part-time Accountant for a non-profit organization. I do not enjoy accounting and the desire to write has always been a part of my soul. My desire to write burns in my heart daily. The part-time accounting position pays the bills, however I need to find a way to obtain a ...

HelpScribe: Why software is the best technical writing field

HelpScribe: Why software is the best technical writing field

Ingenious Technique for Helping Your Child Learn to Ride a Bike

Last night my oldest daughter (who is seven years old) finally learned to ride a bike. After a few painful crashes learning the traditional way (where you just receive a push and try to go), Jane read a tip on one of her mommy blogs about a new method to teach children to ride a bike: Remove both pedals from the bike. Lower the seat all the way. Let the child scoot along with the bike using her feet for as long as she wants. This helps t...

Free Ticket to DITA Tech/Comm Conference in North Carolina Nov 3-6

Paul Pehrson, a Utah-based technical writer who blogs at Technically Speaking, writes, I've been invited to speak at the DITA Tech/Comm Conference at the beginning of next month. I've got a free conference registration I'd like to give away, and I wondered if you'd like to give it away on your blog. (I don't think I get enough traffic on my blog for that.) ... It's a full 4-day registration, with a retail value of $795 dollars. Do you nee...

Ten Technical Writing Stereotypes

As college students contemplate careers in technical writing, they often hesitate because of negative stereotypes about the profession. As with many stereotypes, these aspects of technical writing can describe some situations for some people, but as a whole they aren't necessarily true. I've listed Ten Technical Writing Stereotypes -- tell me if the stereotypes hold generally true for you or not. You can take the survey here: http://www....

WordPress Tip: Using WordPress as a CMS -- Wordcamp Utah

Richard Miller presented on "Using WordPress as a CMS" at Wordcamp Utah today. Richard works for the More Good Foundation, whose mission is to help LDS church members share their beliefs online. The More Good Foundation has migrated 40+ websites from Dreamweaver to WordPress, and now manages 150 WordPress sites. In addition to his work with the More Good Foundation, Richard is also the author of the What Would Seth Godin Do plugin. Richar...

SEO Tips for Your Blog -- Wordcamp Utah

Ash Buckles presented on "SEO tips for Your Blog" at Wordcamp Utah. Here are my notes from Ash's presentation. Strategy and Purpose Ash says, You need a strategy with search engine optimization (SEO); otherwise you're just pinging content all over the place. Everyone has an agenda, a strategy, or a reason – or should. If you don't have a reason, you should shut your blog down and walk away. (He later took some criticism for this comment.)...

WordPress Tip: WordPress and Podcasting — Wordcamp Utah

Thom Allen presented on WordPress and Podcasting at Wordcamp Utah. Below are my notes, which I mostly took from his slides. See Thom's full presentation here. Preparing Your Podcast Capture extensive metadata in the ID3 tags of your audio file. This helps increase the visibility. Give your podcast files a human readable name (not something like nar0081008.mp3). Host your own podcast files. This allows you to reap the benefits of the sear...

WordPress Tip: WordPress 2.7 and Beyond – Keynote by Matt Mullenweg at Wordcamp Utah 2008

(live blogged) During some preliminary technical issues … Jane says, "I can feel the nerdiness vibes increase …." And then checks her blog and sees that she just won another bloggy award. Someone twitters that he doesn't know a single person at Wordcamp. Guy next to me searches Twitter and finds his tweet. I follow him. Then Shannon points out that the guy who sent the tweet is sitting right next to me. Same table. Holy smokes. Technical...

Free Doc Train East Ticket

Are you interested in going to Doc Train East in Massachusetts at the end of October? I have a free ticket that Scott Abel allowed me to give to one of the readers of my blog. If you're interested, send me an email at [email protected]. Update: Lots of responses this morning -- thanks. I've now given it away. Actually, I ended up giving away about 10.

Leaning Towards Longer Topics and Shorter TOCs

Everyone knows it's a good practice to chunk your help material into discrete topics, but how granular should you chunk it? Take a look at this Microsoft Word 2007 help topic on inserting headers and footers. Example of a Quick Menu Although inserting headers and footers is the main task, the topic really has 11 related tasks: Insert the same header or footer on each page Make the first page header or footer different from the rest of th...

Recommended Podcast: "The Enforcers" from This American Life

Act 1 of this American Life's latest episode, The Enforcers, mesmerized me. I highly recommend listening to it. Here's the description: Three guys who go by the names Professor So and So, Jojobean and YeaWhatever spend part of each day running elaborate cons on Internet scammers. They consider themselves enforcers of justice, even after they send a man 1400 miles from home, to the least safe place they can bait him: the border of Darfur. ...

Podcast: Repurposing Content for Multichannel Publishing (Single Sourcing)

Listen here: In this podcast, Liz Fraley, founder of Single Sourcing Solutions, talks to the Intermountain STC chapter about "Repurposing Content for Multichannel Publishing." See this flyer for a more detailed description of the presentation. Liz Fraley is the founder of Single Sourcing Solutions. You can read her full bio here. To contact Liz, send her an email at [email protected].

Users Read Help Manuals Like an Encyclopedia, Not a Novel

On Linkedin, I've been reading an excellent thread of answers to the question, "Do you read user manuals?" Of the 50 people who answered, the resounding response is No, I don't read the manual. I try to figure out the application on my own. I only turn to the manual when I get stuck and can't figure out a feature. Or I turn to the manual when I want to learn more advanced functions. One of the responders, Robert Poulk, put it best when he...

Tip: Search Engine Optimize Your Blog Posts to Increase Your Readership

When you search-engine-optimize your blog posts, you can increase your blog's subscribers in a long-term way. You don't have to stiffen your prose to apply search engine optimization -- you just have to apply keywords in the right places. For example, my post on "Technical Writing Careers -- Answering 13 Questions About Technical Writing Jobs" targeted searches for "technical writing careers." My post on "How I Create Video Tutorials" ta...