Category Archives: Technical Writing

Important and Irreverent Tweets from #Lavacon 2013

Lavacon is an annual conference held in Portland, Oregon that caters to technical communication and content strategy professionals. Not surprisingly, this group generated a flood of tweets on Twitter using the hashtag #lavacon. Below are some of the most helpful and hilarious tweets I saw over the week; you can see the full fire hose by searching on Twitter for #lavacon.

As a frequent and fervent tweeter, I found Twitter to be invaluable in a conference setting. Not only did I gain insight on sessions I didn’t attend, I found new friends and colleagues simply by sharing an experience on Twitter. I also finally met people in person that I only knew through tweets.

Did you attend Lavacon? Were there other tweets you found noteworthy? Share them with us in the comments. If you missed out on the fun and overall fantastic presentations, Lavacon will be back at the Portland Hilton and Executive Tower in 2014. Continue reading Important and Irreverent Tweets from #Lavacon 2013

A Tech Writer’s Thoughts on NYC Drupal Camp 2013

“Sprints include writing docs! We need more people like you in the community, come and network!” was Jon Pugh’s reply to my tweet, when I was wondering if coming to this year’s New York Drupal Camp was right for content people like me.

NYC Camp 2013 was my third Drupal Camp, and from a content professional’s perspective, the best out of the three.

What is Drupal?

Drupal is an open-source, Web-based Content Management System (CMS or WCMS). Its competitors include free tools WordPress and Joomla!, and proprietary systems Adobe CQ5 and Microsoft SharePoint, among others. Unlike WordPress, which was initially developed as a blogging platform, Drupal is more of a framework to create web sites, on which additional functionality, called modules, can be added. Most modules are created by developers in the Drupal community, though the most useful often make it into the base installation, known as “Drupal core”. Continue reading A Tech Writer’s Thoughts on NYC Drupal Camp 2013

More on Security and Google Tips from @benwoelk and @careersherpa #stcpmc13

At the excellent STC Mid-Atlantic conference sponsored by the Philadephia Metro chapter, security expert Ben Woelk suggested to the audience that they set up a Google alert for their name, so they know of any possible breaches or security issues. I did this awhile back, purely for security reasons (yeah, let’s go with that). Career Sherpa Hannah Morgan also noted at the conference that it’s important to search for yourself to see where and how you come up when prospective employers search for you. Afterward, I found that Google actually makes it easy for you to search for yourself on an ad-hoc basis. You can do this right now:

  1. Log in to your Google account at google.com/settings.
  2. Expand the Account section on the left, and select Me on the Web.
  3. Click Search Now.

On the same page, you can also have Google send you alerts when new information about your name or email address appears online.

Ben also spoke about the phishing emails that frequently look like they come from financial institutions or other businesses, whose goal is to get your account information and passwords. Many of these emails can look quite convincing.

I’ve found that an easy way to check if email is legitimate is simply to drag or move the email to your spam or junk mail folder. These folders turn hyperlinks into text, so you can see where exactly the email is coming from, and the sites to which they are linking. If the Web address doesn’t look obvious, such as bankofamerica.com, then don’t click on it.

Have additional security tips? Let us know in the comments.

Leveraging jQuery scripts and CSS3 in your Online Help #techcomm

I often get frustrated when people ask in technical communication forums and email lists what are the “current trends in help”. Why limit help to such a small, self-enclosed space, when we have an incredible wealth of knowledge that is current and also contains what users want: the Web.

There’s really no reason that help has to look like traditional “help”, and not like a web site, especially since framesets, the “technology” that creates the tri-pane TOC/content/navigation most help authors are familiar with, went out of style in, oh, 1999. MadCap is finally taking the lead here with frameset-less output, though I suspect Adobe’s RoboHelp isn’t far behind.

Continue reading Leveraging jQuery scripts and CSS3 in your Online Help #techcomm