Recommended Podcast: 43 Folders on Kung Fu, Meditation, and Sex

With a title like this, the 43 folders podcast is bound to attract listeners. But more than a gimmick, this podcast from 43 folders is actually pretty interesting. Basically, with kung fu, meditation, and sex, you can study and think and learn about these topics all day, but until you actually go out and do them, you'll never get anywhere. The 43 folders guy explained how some people can become obsessed with studying methods for productiv...

Blogs that Lose Direction and Go from Blog to Blah?

Neil Perlin delivered a cool presentation to our chapter tonight on Web 2.0. After the meeting, we all (that is, Mark Hanigan, Karen Bachman, Clyde Parson, Charles Arnold, Lisa Carpenter, Michael Pleasant, Neil Perlin, and I) went out to eat at Bahama Breeze. In his presentation, Neil mentioned that he was going to start learning about WordPress. This of course caught my attention. It turns out Neil is going to start not only a blog, but ...

Survey Gizmo: The best tool/thing I have used/done

I have been using SurveyGizmo to issue some short surveys to our chapter and found that the tool is not only the best survey tool I've used, but issuing short surveys is also the best thing I have done. The type of feedback that comes back is amazing, particularly when you leave a free answer essay in there. People usually have feedback, and this gives them an opportunity to provide it. Here are a few tips for surveys. Keep them short. A...

Are We Moving Toward GooOS, the Google Operating System?

Joining the other online tools is Cellsea, an online photo editor. Now if you use Cellsea with Google Docs you can use an online word processor, a online excel spreadsheet, and an online photo editor (replacing your Snagit or Photoshop). Your WordPress blog is online, your banking is online, your news is online, your gmail is online, your photos are online with Flickr, your videos are online with Youtube. Now even your movies will be onli...

User Paradox with Not Reading User Manuals

37 Signals quotes research by IBM describing the "paradox of the active user": Users never read manuals but start using the software immediately. They are motivated to get started and to get their immediate task done: they don't care about the system as such and don't want to spend time up front on getting established, set up, or going through learning packages. The “paradox of the active user” is a paradox because users would save time i...

Using Ajax Shelf to Help Users Find Pages on Suncoast Site

I've been experimenting with an "Ajax shelf" to help users find pages better on the Suncoast chapter site. The Ajax shelf is like a web component that slides up and down when you click a button. I think it's pretty cool. Here's an example: Shelf is hidden: When the user clicks the View Pages link, the shelf expands: When the shelf expands, it has the effect of sliding down. When you click the View Pages link again, the shelf slides back...

10 pet peeves of technical writing

Holly Harkness's recent post on 10 rules of technical writing got me thinking about the 10 pet peeves in technical writing that drive me crazy. Here they are: Pet Peeve #1. Instructions that aren't modular. I wish I had a better adjective for this, but do you ever find that instructions you are trying to follow require some unmentioned starting point that you can't get to because the instructions assume you were following along chronolo...

Tips from the Frederator: Pursue Life's Passion Online, and Blog Often, Short, and with Pics

I heard an interesting podcast on the way to work this morning: Jason Van Orden's notes from the Frederator. Jason said Fred Siebert recommends that you find what you're passionate about, and then pursue it online via blogging or other social media. You'll be amazed by the number of people you meet and network with. These people will help take you beyond where you could go yourself. They will help you overcome your weaknesses and broaden...

Adobe Enters Blogosphere

Sarah O'Keefe just told me the news: Adobe has joined the blogosphere. More importantly, the RoboHelp development team just started a blog: http://blogs.adobe.com/techcomm/ This is one of the best moves Adobe has made. I guess I was too impatient with my comments on their inaccessibility in my last post. It will be interesting to see how many people use their blog as an access point to provide feedback, recommendations, and comments. Wit...

Adobe Seminar -- Nice Connection and Demo, But Questions Seemed Filtered

I attended the latter half of the RoboHelp 6 webinar from Adobe today. I learned about the webinar on Scott Abel's excellent and always timely blog, The Content Wrangler. First I have to say that I was both impressed and frustrated by the RoboHelp webinar. I was impressed by the new RoboHelp features — the simple ability to identify conditional tags at the topic level, the integration of Captivate, the launching of a new screen capture pr...

Dealing with the Documentation Aspects of Bad Software -- My Response to the Latest DMN Communications Podcast

I just listened to the latest podcast from DMN Communications. In it, Scott and Aaron talk about how to deal with documenting bad software. They asked for listener feedback, so I'd like to offer my opinion. First let me explain their question. They ask what you should do when the application you're documenting is backwards and non-intuitive, and your suggestions for UI and other design changes have been disregarded. Scott and Aaron explai...

Wordpress 2.1 Review

WordPress 2.1 offers some major new enhancements that I would like to touch upon here. I think these enhancements are the best thing WordPress has done in a while. Import/Export and the Zen of the Free In a podcast titled the Zen of the Free, Simon Phipps — chief open source officer at Sun Microsystems — explains that open source content only has appeal if you can get your data in and get your data out. Users want to be like butterflys, t...

Allure of New Media Requires Strict Bedtime Control or Else Sleep Deprivation Will Set In

This NPR story of the day hit home. It's about how teens stay up too late because of the Facebook, MySpace, instant messenger, and other web allurements that are so enticing. Then they wake up in the morning and check their e-mail and poof, an hour goes by and they're already late for school. I often have the same problem -- so my wife has taken the role of the bedtime enforcer. At 9:45 p.m. she turns the computer off for me. My life is s...

The Curse of Knowledge -- The More You Know, the Worse You Become At Communicating That Knowledge

The Curse of Knowledge is a concept in a book called Made to Stick: Why Some Ideas Survive and Others Die. The curse of knowledge concept has generated quite a bit of buzz. Here's an excerpt, which I got from 37 Signals: People tend to think that having a great idea is enough, and they think the communication part will come naturally. We are in deep denial about the difficulty of getting a thought out of our own heads and into the heads o...

Recommended Podcast: Boagworld > Community Websites, by Paul Boag

A couple of weeks ago, Rhonda recommended Boagworld as a good podcast to listen to. If you're into web design, I also recommend this podcast, particularly the episode on Community Websites. This episode has two parts: Part 1 Part 2 Paul mentioned a few interesting points about communities: Users who can participate and contribute to your site feel more loyalty and belonging to your site. The comments and information they add can also ...