Site Critiques and WordPress Q&A -- Community Leaders Webinar Jan 28

I'm giving a webinar for STC community leaders on January 28 titled "Site Critiques and WordPress Q&A." Here's the description: Because most communities have far more virtual participants than physical participants, establishing a strong web presence where members can find information, interact with each other, and access resources is critical. In this community webinar, we'll review a handful of chapter or SIG sites and discuss what'...

What's the Best Microphone for Screencasting?

The other week I visited Performance Audio in downtown Salt Lake to see what recommendations they had for microphones. The clerk asked me what audio interface I was using. I said I was just plugging my mixer directly into the computer. He looked shocked and said no matter how good of a microphone I bought, the real increase in performance would come with an audio interface. The Audio Interface An audio interface converts the analog signal...

My Upcoming STC Webinar on Screencasting

I'm presenting an STC webinar titled Screencasting: Video Tutorials for the Web on Dec. 16. Screencasting webinar Dec 16 Here's the description: Screencasts refer to short video tutorials usually embedded on a blog, uploaded to Youtube, or otherwise displayed on the web. Screencasts are part of the explosion of video and other multimedia on the web, and users are growing more accustomed to watching screencasts to learn how to use softwa...

Play Chess Online with ChessJam

The other week I visited my brother-in-law Sean in Tampa, Florida. Sean is an interactive web designer who creates everything from flash games for Disney to augmented reality applications for the Adobe marketplace. While I was there, he showed me his latest creation: ChessJam. Usually when I think of chess, I think of two people sitting around a small round table in moments of intense concentration, staring at the chessboard for hours as ...

A Microcosm of Technical Writing in the Kitchen While Cooking a Banana Cream Pie

As part of my contribution to the Thanksgiving dinner, Shannon tasked me to cook a banana cream pie. She had a simple recipe already printed out. The banana cream pie recipe All the ingredients were available in the kitchen. The kitchen even had a double oven. I thought this would be easy, except it wasn't. Because I suck at cooking. I hate cooking. If I cook, I need a "man's cookbook," one that cuts through the jargon and explains cookin...

Why Help Authoring Tools Will Fade

I read a blog post the other day that I can't stop thinking about. In the Myth of Single Sourcing, Michael Hiatt writes, The main issue for me is between authoring static in-house documents using single-sourcing methods before publishing, or capturing information sources dynamically after publishing from online social networks, linked data sources, and knowledge mashups. The myth of single-source authoring is that it actually has a life i...

Contingent Senior Technical Writer Opening at LDS Church's ICS Department in Riverton, Utah

We're looking for a contingent senior technical writer to join our User Education team, part of the LDS Church's Information and Communications System department in Riverton, Utah. This is an opportunity to work in an agile environment with about 600+ talented IT professionals. As a member of our team, you'll also get to work with Gryphon Mountain, Doc Guy, other cool people, and me. The job has a few requirements you should be aware of. ...

What I'm Presenting on at the Dallas Summit

At the STC Summit in Dallas this year (May 2-5), I'll be giving a presentation titled "Developing a Personal Voice in Audio." I'm moving in the direction of screencasts, focusing on the audio component in this presentation. 2010 STC Summit in Dallas, Texas Here's the presentation description: Narrated video tutorials -- both scripted and spontaneous -- are a powerful tool tech writers can employ to help users learn software. But the audio...

Embedding Videos into Madcap Flare

One of Flare's shortcomings is the inability to easily embed video files. However, if you use the Camtasia Studio's Express Show format as your video format (and you choose the SWF option), you can insert the video into Flare by inserting the video as if it were a picture. Here's a two-minute screencast showing the processing for inserting a video into Flare. You can also put the video in a drop-down hotspot.

Podcast about the Podcast Poll

Listen here: In this brief podcast, I discuss the results of the podcast poll that I published on my site earlier this week. I mostly wanted an opportunity to try out my new Behringer mixer/preamp, and the results of the poll served as perfect fodder for a podcast. In this 15 minutes of audio, I explain the direction that I plan to take my podcast based on the votes and feedback. Polls, surveys, and feedback are always a...

Combining Cinema with Screencasting

Harry Miller is a multimedia enthusiast who brings his expertise with film and audio to the screencasting world at his job at Microsoft. The following three videos are some of the most creative, mesmerizing video tutorials on Visio I've ever seen. Create an Office Layout Create an organization chart using video Create a Network Diagram These video tutorials don't just teach you how to create various charts in Visio. They...

How to Incorporate Twitter into Your Presentation

At the Intermountain STC workshop this morning, we talked about how to build an online presence. During my portion of the workshop, I facilitated a discussion using Twitter. With the dozen participants, all sitting in front of computers with Internet access, I told them to go to Search.Twitter.com and search for the #imstc hashtag. I posed a question for them to answer via Twitter. They responded, including the #imstc hashtag. When you in...

What I've Been Learning in Flare

Right now I'm immersed in an online help project in which I've been using Madcap Flare. Here a few tips I've picked up in the past month or so. Embedding Video To embed video into Flare, you have to insert the video as an image file. As long as the video is a SWF file, it embeds directly on the page. In order to keep the Flash player buttons on the video, use Camtasia Studio's Express Show format.  Express Show packages the Flash player ...

Why Is It Important for Video Tutorials to Be User-Led?

I recently spent 10 days in Florida visiting my family and giving a couple of presentations to the STC-Suncoast and STC-Orlando chapters on blogging. You can hardly take a family of kids to Florida without going to Disneyworld and Seaworld, so we did that as well. In case you're unaware of the cost of theme parks, prices are enough to bring on a cold sweat and tremor. (Thanks to some friends, one park was free.) After we completed our fou...

Minimizing Documentation

I recently attended an STC chapter presentation on interface design, and the speaker, Grant Skousen, showed us the following graphic. Simplicity and complexity We then launched into a discussion about minimalism. I think we all agree that minimalism in user interfaces is an increasing trend, especially with the success of the iPod and iPhone, which are all about simplicity and minimal design. Grant said every time you add something to an...