Help 2.0: The Convergence of Help with Web 2.0

Note: This post is also a podcast that you can listen to on Tech Writer Voices. Help 2.0 is what might be called Web 2.0 applied to help documentation. We are becoming used to seeing websites equipped with Web 2.0 features, and it's only a matter of time before the technical writing community catches up and begins integrating the same features. Defining Web 2.0 Web 2.0 may not have an exact definition everyone agrees with, but few will d...

Rating Feature Now Available

I installed some post rating plugins to the site. Now you can rate posts on a scale of one to five stars. The highest rated posts are aggregated in a section on the sidebar. Also, the most rated posts are also aggregated in a section on the sidebar. I've been wanting to implement this feature for a while, because it makes the site more interactive and interesting. Look at the bottom of each post to see the stars. Simply select the num...

WordPress Shopping Carts

I created a site for a friend who simply wanted some presence on the Internet to publish her essays. Easy enough. I decided to use WordPress as a CMS. I thought I could do it all in about an hour, but then of course I ran into a few snags. Here are the two main technical snags: Creating a static home page, and having the blog area available from another link. Integrating the e-commerce lite shopping cart. The solution to the static home...

Understanding Principles of Usability, Part 2 — Karen Bachmann

Listen here: This is part two of Karen Bachmann's presentation on Usability. In this part of her presentation, Karen gets more in depth with principles and methods for usability. Specific topics of the podcast include: How to conduct user research Analyzing user's tasks Understanding the user's environment Gathering user requirements Turning user goals into measurable success Designing usable interfaces Testing usabilit...

New Look and New Approach to Blog/Podcast

Up until now, the blog and podcast have been going in two different directions. I decided it's time to unify them more. They are still two separate sites, but they now mirror each other in theme. I plan to use the blog to accumulate topics that I will eventually talk more freely about in the podcast. I'm also planning a little different direction for the podcast. Previously, I've mostly interviewed other people. In the upcoming year, I pl...

Wikipedia -- indisputable Web 2.0 triumph

When people talk about the success of Web 2.0 ideas, they usually cite Wikipedia as an example. I recently listened to a podcast from IT conversations on Wikipedia and "knowledge communities." Criticism of Wikipedia usually comes from journalists and organizations like Britannica, who claim that the information can often be inaccurate. But their arguments are tainted by their own unavoidable interest in the matter. What struck me about Wi...

The Challenge of Web 2.0 Documentation: WordPress's Immense Codex

What happens when you have the ultimate open-source application, used by thousands, with tasks simple and complex. Everyone contributes to a wiki or some other collaborative tool -- and the result is a giant mess where no one can find anything except by keyword searches. This is the predicament of the WordPress Codex. Initially it may have included only one section, but it grew, and grew, and grew. And WordPress is still new. Let's say yo...

Payscale: a Web 2.0 salary comparison tool

Susan Burton, exec. director of the STC, mentioned in her presentation to our chapter last week that the Bureau of Labor calculates the average salaries of technical writers at around 31K, whereas STC's surveys indicate that the average is about 41K. This discrepancy hurts the salaries of technical writers in their employment, because employers use Bureau of Labor statistics to determine salaries for their technical writer positions. Ther...

How many of these Web 2.0 sites do you know?

This article in Wired, The Best: Web 2.0 Acquisition Bait, lists the top 10 web 2.0 sites that might potentially be bought out by larger corporations. A friend of mine showed me the article in Wired magazine, and I hadn't visited Wired's site for a while. Surprise -- it's totally a magazine blog, and they've organized it in a very readable way. The top ten sites are as follows: Facebook Digg Techmeme Wikipedia Zillow Technorati Wordpres...

Make your computer run faster by disabling all the auto-startup programs

Do you have about 20 programs in your start-up folder? Check out the little icons near your computer's clock. That's the system tray. Whatever is in there starts up when your computer starts up -- and consequently makes your computer slower. You can improve the performance of your computer pretty easily by doing the following: Go to Start > Run. Type msconfig and click OK. Click the Startup tab. Clear all the check boxes. Click OK. ...

Reading Tech News: Digg

Digg is one of the most interesting sites to get news from. Digg is a user-driven site to which users can submit stories they find online. If others like the story, they rate it higher (digging it). The stories that are dug the most rise to the top. So in one day, you can look at the top story, or the top story of the week/month/year. It's an example of human-selected aggregation. The stories are usually quirky but almost always noteworth...

Google Groups Rocks — Find Answers to Almost Everything

If you have not yet seen or explored Google Groups, I really encourage you to, especially if you are trying to solve a problem. I was able to get oodles of knowledge about macros out of the Word > Tables and Word > Mailmerge groups. I also found good solutions from the Robohelp group. Basically all the Microsoft MVPs hang out on Google Groups. Subscribing to groups and unsubscribing is easy, and of course you can access your group anywher...

Web 2.0 dieting and nutrition site: Sparkpeople.com

I have been extremely impressed with http://sparkpeople.com. This is a web 2.0 site that allows you to count calories, track cardio and other goals, interact with others via spark blogs, spark email, and spark teams. It is interactive all the way to the bone. As the New Year rolls around, I think many are looking to implement a diet. I have been using this site for a few days now and I think it is certainly the coolest tool I've ever see...

WordPress as Budgeting Software: Mo.neytrack.in

I didn't realize WordPress could be reprogrammed in such a way as this, but someone has created an online budgeting software tool out of WordPress: http://Mo.neytrack.in. (I'm assuming that moneytrackin.com was taken.) Basically you enter transactions that are either positive or negative, and then tag them with a keyword. Mo.neytrack.in can then aggregate similar keywords (categories) and show you the money spent on that category, and so...

Why Blogger is more popular than WordPress: Ease of Use

I've been a devout WordPress follower for some time now, but this past weekend I realized why Blogger is by far the most popular blog platform: usability. While WordPress is really flexible, most users want ease of use more than flexibility. My wife was trying to load pictures onto her blog, but WordPress really fails when it comes to images. You have to pretty much format your images prior to uploading. I even installed the Chenpress edi...