Giving a Virtual Presentation to STC-Phoenix on Tuesday, May 13

I'm giving a virtual presentation to the STC-Phoenix chapter tomorrow at 6:15 pm Arizona Time (which right now is the same as PST). The topic of my virtual presentation is "Combining Social Media with Help Authoring." See more details here. It costs $10 and should last about an hour. Even though it's coordinated by STC Phoenix, anyone interested can sign up. May 15, 2008 Update: View the PowerPoint for this presentation (.ppt). ...

Post Doc-Train Thoughts While Sitting in the Vancouver Airport

Doc Train has ended, and I'm sitting at the Vancouver airport waiting for my airplane. Lots of thoughts are coming to my head, in no particular order. I interviewed about 12 people this year. I seem to have a knack for this -- tracking people down, asking if I can interview them, getting them talking, etc. Actually, it has taken me three conferences to get this right. Last year, at Doc Train West 2007, I didn't have the right setup. I tri...

Podcast: Living Multiple Lives -- The New Technical Communicator, Interview with Noz Urbina

Listen here: In this podcast, Noz Urbina talks about how Web 2.0 is changing the role of the technical communicator into one who drives product R&D and interaction design. My discussion with Noz was a light-bulb moment for me at the Doc Train West conference. Podcast topics include the following: How the role of the technical communicator has evolved into a diversity of roles How awareness of user needs and requi...

Podcast: Embracing Wikis -- Interview with Stewart Mader

Listen here: Stewart Mader was one of the coolest people I met at Doc Train West 2008. He is a person driven by his enthusiasm for wikis. In this podcast, Stewart talks about the following: Advantages of using a wiki for your technical documentation Why lack of advanced styles in wikis isn't a major problem The relentless focus on simplicity with wikis Choosing the right wiki among dozens of wiki engines Pitfalls wit...

Changing the Rules of the Game for the Benefit of the User

Presenter: Joe Sokohl (http://sokohl.com) Conference: Doc Train West 2008 In this presentation, Joe Sokohl talks about gathering user research prior to designing and implementing your help deliverables. Breaking the Rules First you have to get to know the user by talking directly to real users doing real work in actual contexts. Interview real people doing real activities. "Don't speculate, don't argue. Observe" (Don Norman). Everything s...

Social Media 101: Now Everyone's a Technical Writer

Speaker: Darren Barefoot (see http://darrenbarefoot.com) Conference: Doc Train 2008 Introduction For most of human history, we had few-to-few communication. One person spoke to a few around a campfire. Then in the 1500s, along came the printing press, and gave rise to a few-to-many communication model. The power to communicate is placed in the hands of a few, which communicate to everyone else. Today with the web, we have a many-to-many m...

Podcast: Moving 50,000 Pages of Unstructured Content to DITA

Listen here: In this short podcast, David Holmes talks about how he and his team migrated 50,000 unstructured pages to DITA. (DITA is an XML architecture that allows you to better single source your content.) Here's his official presentation title and a brief description: From Planning to Publishing: How Business Objects Migrated Documentation to DITA One Step at a Time In 2006, Business Objects faced a major challenge....

The 10/20/30 Rule of PowerPoint That I Wish Everyone Followed

Guy Kawasaki writes, "A PowerPoint presentation should have ten slides, last no more than twenty minutes, and contain no font smaller than thirty points" (The 10/20/30 Rule of Powerpoint). I wish everyone who prepares a presentation would follow this advice. Long PowerPoints disrupt any kind of narrative flow and dynamic energy that can build up when you deliver your message.

Podcast: Leading Your Company into the Wikis, Blogs, and Social Networks of Web 2.0

Listen here: In this podcast, I talk with Alan Porter, vice president of Operations at WebWorks, about the Web 2.0 technologies they're using to reach out to their customer base. In addition to using blogs, wikis, and social networks to connect with customers, WebWorks also uses wikis to facilitate communication and collaboration within their company. Alan says they consider themselves a "wiki-driven company" because t...

WordPress Tip: Using WordPress to Build Websites Instead of Blogs

One of the things I like about WordPress is its versatility. WordPress isn't just blogging software. With the right theme, you can build a website that doesn't resemble a blog at all. Essentially, writers who become familiar with WordPress become empowered as web designers as well. A few weeks ago, I made a website for a client who was launching a green building business (see or click the image below). It's a predesigned theme that I pur...

WordPress Tip: My WordPress Quick Start Guide — Now Available on the WordPress Codex

I wrote a WordPress Quick Start Guide in wiki format and posted it on the WordPress Codex. Check it out here: http://codex.wordpress.org/WordPress_Quick_Start_Guide. This guide gives you a quick introduction to the most important tasks and concepts in WordPress. It divides these tasks and concepts into five sections, outlined below: Get Set Up 1.1 Advantages of Self-Hosted WordPress Blogs 1.2 Become Familiar with FTP 1.3 Install Wor...

WordPress for Beginners Course

WordPress, the most widely used open-source blogging software, gives you complete control over the design and display of your content. In addition to writing blog posts, WordPress allows you to create pages, add categories, customize your site design, define how posts appear, and more. This two-hour course is designed for people unfamiliar with WordPress and interested in starting their own blogs, or for people ready for more control than...

The Broken STC Model -- and What's Replacing It

I attended an STC chapter meeting tonight, and while the presenter had some excellent information, only 6 people showed up -- the presenter, the program manager, a new guy, two regulars, and me. I thought this was okay because we were recording the event anyway, but I'm sorry to report that I botched the recording. The mic jack wasn't snug in its socket, so you can't hear anything. I walked away tonight convinced that the STC model is br...

Updated Date and Time for WordPress Course -- Wednesday Evening, April 30

I updated the date and time for the WordPress course. Instead of this Saturday, I've moved it to next Wednesday evening. Here are the updated details: Date: Wednesday, April 30 Time: 7:30 p.m. CST Location: Web Cost: $99 Course Size: Limited to 15 participants I hope this can better accommodate all of you who emailed me to say that you have previous engagements this Saturday. If not, I'm sure I'll do some more training in the future. For ...

Madcap Blaze's Topic Review Feature: A First-of-a Kind Feature with an Interesting Workflow

Blaze is a new Framemaker alternative that Madcap Software has just released into beta. With Blaze, you can create printed documentation and publish it to Word, Framemaker, PDF, XPS, and an XHTML book (but not webhelp). When I first heard of Blaze, my immediate question was — Doesn't Flare already publish to Word and FrameMaker? If so, why would I need Blaze? The short answer is, you don't need Blaze if you already have Flare. But if for ...