Category Archives: technical writing examples

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
  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, 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

How to Embed Fonts in MadCap Flare WebHelp

This story is for intermediate to advanced help developers. It requires knowledge of HTML, CSS, and a help authoring tool such as MadCap Flare or Adobe Robohelp.

Have you ever been bored using Georgia, Tahoma, Verdana, and (sigh…) Arial over and over in your help projects? The font-face property has been available for some time in Cascading Style Sheets (CSS), but browser and font foundry support are only now allowing use of fonts other than those that ship with operating systems and applications, without workarounds like sIFR and cufon.

New technologies have sprouted up, with Google creating its own font API, and Adobe announcing font support through TypeKit. However, you can also save and host freely available font files on your company’s web server, or install on your users’ PCs, and use these fonts in your WebHelp projects. The web site Font Squirrel creates the CSS for you, using only free, embeddable fonts.

There are thousands of free fonts out there, but not all font creators support font embedding, so be sure to read any license agreement before using them in your projects.

MadCap’s Flare help authoring tool (HAT) uses CSS to style its WebHelp, so you can easily  embed fonts into your help. This should work similarly in Adobe Robohelp. Continue reading How to Embed Fonts in MadCap Flare WebHelp

Deconstructing a Twitter Post

When I meet Facebook friends in real life (yes, that actually happens…), they almost always tell me they can’t understand my status updates. That’s typically because my status updates are almost always my Twitter updates. I have Facebook set to read my twitter feed, and update my status to reflect it. This is primarily a result of work blocking Facebook, but also because it was annoying to have to update things in two places. Twitter’s also as easy as sending a text message from my dumbphone.
As I retweeted the following message, it struck me as a perfect opportunity to educate the masses.
she deserves it! //RT @scoop42: Simona de Silvestro a 4-x winner in Atlantic Championship will test HVM #IndyCar on the 8th &9th in Sebring.
Like everything else, there are a million possible ways to do this. This is one way, that I see in the majority of posts. Let’s deconstruct it:

  • she deserves it! – this is my reply to the original post, or tweet.
  • // – a divider between my thoughts and the original tweet.
  • RT- retweet. It announces that I am resending, or echoing what someone previously tweeted. This is changing with the new Twitter retweeting thing, which i really don’t like on Tweetdeck.
  • @scoop42 – The original poster. User scoop42 is a reporter for ESPN. He wrote that Simona de Silvestro has an Indycar test in Sebring, Florida for the HVM team on December 8th and 9th.

As an aside, she totally deserves the test. I saw her drive twice in Atlantics at NJ and Lime Rock, and the girl has talent. I hope she does well.

So there you have it, a tweet post in a nutshell. Now, time to make dinner… but that’s another post.