Podcast -- Transitioning from Technical Writing into Usability

Listen here: In this podcast, I talk with Theresa Putkey, a usability consultant in Vancouver, about how she transitioned from technical writing into usability. This is part II of the previous conversation with Theresa. Learn more about Theresa by reading her blog. You can also read Theresa's articles on Boxes and Arrows. Topics in this Podcast In this podcast, we talk about the following: How to move into usability De...

My Podcast in iTunes -- The iTunes Gods Have Granted Me Mercy

My iTunes podcast page is updated (finally). I'm using Feedburner's iTunes podcasting elements options to meet all the iTunes specifications. I hope this works better than Podpress did. Subscribe to my podcast in iTunes. (I ended up burning a new Feedburner feed and resubmitting it, so if you still see the old one in there, ignore it.) Note also that I have an iTunes subscribe button in my left sidebar now. By the way, how many of you out...

The Question No One Asked Me at the Career Advice Panel, Thank Goodness

Tonight I participated on a career panel for technical writing majors at Utah State University. In preparation, I tried to think of answers to questions they might ask. The one question that I was sure some student would ask is this: If you were to do it over again, would you choose technical writing as your career? I started reading through some back posts on my site, particularly this one -- Is Technical Writing Boring? There's some tho...

The Best and Worst of Times with a Hard Headed Woman

Jane is hosting a blog carnival with the theme "it was the best of times, it was the worst of times." This is a quote from a Dickens novel that I should have read sometime in my life but haven't. The way the carnival works, everyone writes a post related to this announced theme, publishes it on their blog, and then adds a link to it on her original post. Given that Jane, who also doubles as my wife in a fictional blog world in which my na...

Twitter Tools and Uses: The Most Comprehensive Listing of Twitter Resources I've Seen

I just ran across the most comprehensive list of Twitter resources and other Twitter advice here: Twitter Tools, Tweaks, and Theories, by John Unger. So far I'm only using Twhirl and the Twitter Tools WordPress plugin, as well as TwitterBerry for my BlackBerry. But Unger exposes me to about two dozen more Twitter tools. Unger also lists some of his favorite uses for Twitter: Note to Self: Twitter has become the quickest and easiest way to...

A Creepy Widget I Absolutely Had to Add to My Blog

As I was upgrading to WordPress 2.5 today, I discovered a really creepy widget that I just had to add to my blog. The Live Traffic Feed Widget from Feedjit allows you to see details about who's visiting your blog in real-time. If you look in the right sidebar of my blog (lower-right), you'll see everyone who is reading my blog at the current moment -- both what they're reading and where they're from. This kind of information creeps me out...

I Enjoy a Good Alien Podcast Now and Then

Although the podcasts I listen to are usually tech podcasts, such as the highly entertaining TWIT (by Leo Laporte), I also enjoy a good alien podcast now and then. Mysterious Universe, produced by Benjamin Grundy, is one of the most fun-to-listen-to podcasts I've come across. I'm not someone who believes in aliens, but dude, you should hear some of the content Grundy plays on the show. For the sake of pure imaginative entertainment (simil...

How to Get Everyone and Their Dog/Family/Friends Reading and Subscribing to Your Blog -- 10 Tips

Just a few days after someone begins blogging seriously, he or she starts hungering after subscribers and comments. We want readership, we want lots of people visiting our site, reading our posts, subscribing to our feed, and regularly leaving comments. This, my friend Clyde says, is the "payoff" of blogging. Although I try to write for a higher purpose outside of trying to get more readers and comments, I must admit that the interactivi...

What's the Best Thing You've Done to Grow Your Career?

Next week I'm participating on a career advice panel for technical writing students at a local college. In my attempt to gather some useful advice, I'd like to know the best move you've made to grow your career. For me, one of the best things has been starting my blog and podcast. It's kept me active and engaged in the latest trends of the field. Of course, it has also taken a lot of my time, which I might devote to other things. Still, e...

I'm Planning to Offer WordPress Training -- Are You Interested?

April 20, 2008 Update: If you're interested in the WordPress training, see the course announcement about the 2-hour session I'm giving on April 26. I'm planning to offer some WordPress training, and I'd like to know if you're interested. By WordPress I mean the self-hosted WordPress blogs that you create with WordPress software from Wordpress.org, not the freely hosted blogs at WordPress.com. WordPress is software that can be so easy a f...

Four Simple Ways to Avoid Totally Botching an Interview

Heidi Miller has some excellent tips on interviewing. In a presentation she gave at the Portable Media Media Expo, she explained several techniques that have encouraged me to change my interviewing style. Here are four key points from her presentation: Don't send the interviewee the questions before the interview. I guess I'm a latecomer to this style, but I'm now totally convinced that it's best not to send questions beforehand. Sure you...

Podcast -- Tackling Godzilla: A Writer/Usability Consultant Reflects on the Largest Project of her Career

Listen here: Download MP3 In this podcast, I talk with Theresa Putkey, a writer/usability consultant in Vancouver, about the largest project of her career. She explains how she approached a project that had upwards of 2,500 help topics, many of which consisted of duplicate content. She explains how she transitioned from RoboHelp to Flare, the advantages she found as well as her regrets, and how she configured the search...

Virtual Meetings: A Lofty Yet Impractical and Unwanted Ideal? or Exactly What We Need?

In a moment of mental relapse, I volunteered to be my chapter's virtual meeting coordinator. I already do podcasts, which are virtual one-on-one meetings/discussions, and I've been wanting to make my podcasts more Web 2.0-ish. So, I thought hey, why not make the last 20 minutes of a podcast open to whoever wants to listen, allowing them to ask questions themselves? How cool, yes, this will spin my podcasts into a more interactive, web 2.0...

Seven Reasons Why I'm Twittering -- Especially During Conference Time

When I first heard about Twitter, I thought it was the dumbest thing in the world, a fad that would quickly disappear. But it didn't, and now that I've learned more about how Twitter can be used, I'm convinced it's an essential tool everyone should have and, ideally, everyone should be following me on. Twitter is a cross between blog posting and instant messaging. The "tweets" (micro-posts) have to be 140 characters or less, and you can d...

Are You One of the 824 Technical Communicators on Ning Yet?

Ning ("peace" in Chinese) is a social network application that allows groups to communicate and connect with each other in seamless, convenient ways. Scott Abel just recently started a new social network community called The Content Wrangler Community. Within a couple of weeks, it already attracted 824 868 members. This community on Ning is quickly becoming the social network community for technical writers and others in our field. On N...