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San Francisco STC Future Meetings and Archive

Future Meetings

Wednesday, August 20, 2014

Archive
The Archive also links to the program handouts, when provided.

What's In It For Me? Getting Buy-in For Large Projects

June 2014

No Meeting

May 2014

Reuse Strategies to Support the API-ification of Your Content

April 2014

Ageism and Today’s Technical Communicator

March 2014

A Case Study of Simplified Technical English for Translation

February 2014

Social Collaboration: How User-Added Content Enhances Your Documentation

January 2014

No Meeting

November 2013
December 2013

Managing Tech Comm Projects in Any Environment

October 2013

Converting FrameMaker content to DITA

September 2013

Key Trends in Software UA

August 2013

HTML5 and Technical Communication

July 2013

Low-Friction and High-Velocity: Information Delivery in the Age of Interaction

June 2013

Connect the Docs: Managing Content Across Documents

May 2013

Leveraging LinkedIn to Get Yourself Noticed

April 2013

Bay Area Food Writer's Panel

March 2013

Using Video to Assist Your Users: Part 2 (New Insights and Updates)

February 2013

It's All About Structure! Why Structured Content Is Increasingly Becoming A Necessity, Not An Option

January 2013

Note: No meetings
November 2012
December 2012

What’s In It for Me? Getting Stakeholder Buy-in for Single Source Projects

October 2012

Today and Tomorrow: Anything Goes!
"Open Mic" Night with a Fortune 100 Tech Comm Executive

September 2012

Mental Model Diagrams: Supportive Content for Specific Folks

August 2012

Medical Writing: Breaking into the Field and More

July 2012

Content Considerations for Single-sourcing to PDF and Mobile Devices

June 2012

Wikis: The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly

May 2012

Emerging Roles and Hot Markets for Tomorrow’s Tech Writers

April 2012

Transforming Content Strategies to Component Content Management

March 2012

Thinking about User Assistance as Performance Support

February 2012

Optimizing the Googleability of Your Content

January 2012

Connecting the Dots

December 2011

Exploring Tech. Comm. Opportunities: Working Outside the Tech Doc Box

November 2011

From User Manuals to YouTube: Using Video to Assist Your Users

October 2011

Metadata Tips for Microsoft Word and Photographs

September 2011

Panel Discussion with Technical Writing Managers

August 2011

What Medical Writers Do

July 2011

Creating AIR Help from DITA

June 2011

Information and Visual Design

May 2011

Single Sourcing Content Strategy

April 2011

Why Diagrams are Worth a Thousand Words

March 2011

Using Mediawiki for Online Help and WikiDocumentation

February 2011

Dealing with Recruiters and Deciding between Contract and Salaried

January 2011

How to Provide Social Media Support for Hardware Products

December 2010

Social Networking for Developers

November 2010

Planning, Estimating, and Managing Documentation Projects in an Agile Environment

October 2010

Honing Your Workplace Negotiation Skills

September 2010

Surviving A Behavioral Interview

August 2010

From Communication to Collaboration to Community – Content Strategies for Web, Wikis, and Workspaces

July 2010

Role of Knowledge Documentation and Mapping — Implementation of a Knowledge Retention Program

June 2010

Information Architecture

May 2010

Technical Communication Competitions

April 2010

Alternate Career Paths for Technical Communicators

March 2010

eLearning 2.0

February 2010

What's Next? Glimpsing the Opportunity Beyond the Impasse

January 2010

Today's Agile Documentation

November 2009

Documentation Review: Get It Done!

October 2009

Hand it to Them on a Platter: 7 Steps to a Successful Resume

September 2009

Grant and Proposal Writing 101

August 2009

The Evolution of Tech Comm Careers: How Writers in Today’s Bay Area Workplaces Exceed Conventional Expectations about What We Do

July 2009

Deeper Instructional Design

May 2009

Using a Portfolio to Ace a Job Interview

April 2009

Beyond the Practitioners' Lore: Reading the Research

March 2009

How to Get Started with a Cross Functional Approach to Content Management – The Complete Project Lifecycle

February 2009

Building in Quality: The Leszek Method

January 2009

Quick, cheap, and insightful: Usability testing in the wild

November 2008

Resume Secrets that Might Surprise You

October 2008

Paths to Success: Networking and Contributing

September 2008

Writing within an Agile Development Environment

August 2008

Writing for a Global Audience — Best Practices and Case Studies

July 2008

Becoming the Compelling Candidate

June 2008

What color is your book?

May 2008

The Power of Personas:
A 360° Approach to Understanding Users

April 2008

Radical IA: Pushing the Envelope to Move Beyond Tactics to Strategic Information Architecture

March 2008

The Pulse of Today's Job Market: 3 Inside Perspectives

February 2008

An Overview of Trends, Tools, and Technologies in Software User Assistance

January 2008

Automating API Documentation

October 2007

What does Web 2.0 Mean for Technical Communication?

September 2007

What Technical Communicators Need to Know to Succeed in the Real World

August 2007

YouTube, Lifecasting, and You: How video affects online communication

July 2007

Structured Wikis for Collaboration and Content Management

June 2007

Introduction to the Translation of Technical Documents

May 2007

From World-Weary to World-Ready: Meeting Today's Content Globalization Challenges

April 2007

The Future of Technical Communication: A San Francisco Perspective

November 2005

Zero-Search-Time Documentation: An Idea Whose Time Has Come

July 2005

How to Use a Portfolio to Ace a Job Interview

June 2005

Network Security: Issues, Technology, and Management by Mark Kadrich

April 2005

Writing Content for the International Audience

May 2005

From Tutorials to Programmer's Guides

March 2005

ISO Auditing for Technical Communicators: An Introduction in Software User Assistance

February 2005

An Overview of Trends, Tools, and Technologies in Software User Assistance

January 2005

Holiday Party.

December 2004

Information Architecture for Technical Communicators

November 2004

Fitting WebWorks Publisher Into a Publications Workflow

October 2004

Structured Authoring, XML and Single Sourcing: An Update

September 2004

Developing a Healthy Response to Stress

August 2004

Your Writing Samples Portfolio: A Personal Sales Kit & Career History

July 2004

Increase Your Job Satisfaction and Your Value to Your Company by Improving Your Project Management Skills

June 2004

Stay Motivated and Thrive!

May 2004

Non-Fatal Errors: Creating Usable, Effective Error Messages

April 2004

White Papers In Your Future

March 2004

The Changing UI of Technical Communication

February 2004

Re-purposing Technical Communications

January 2004

Topic: TBA

Wednesday, August 20, 2014

About the Speakers:

Archive and Presentation Links

What's In It For Me? Getting Buy-in For Large Projects

Wednesday, June 18, 2014

Some things can be driven from the bottom up and some from the top, but regardless of where it starts, getting a big project, like moving to a single-sourcing environment, off the ground requires buy-in by all those whose process is affected directly or indirectly. Any new project requires new skill sets, new roles, and significant changes that forces productive and successful team members out of their comfort zones. It requires resources, dedication, and sponsorship from the enterprise as well. This presentation will share advice, guidance, and lessons learned from a variety of customers in a range of industries who have made transitions like this work. Learn how to get your ideas across to other people, no matter what project you’re proposing or who you’re proposing it to.

About the Speaker:
Liz Fraley Before founding Single-Sourcing Solutions, Liz Fraley worked in both high-tech and government sectors, developing and delivering technical design and strategy of authoring and publishing solutions as a Single-Source/XML Architect/ Programmer. She presents regularly at industry and vendor conferences and is very active in user communities. She holds undergraduate degrees in Computer Science and English a Masters in English.

Special note about this meeting:
Liz Fraley will present "live" at the meeting space. A webinar of the session will also be offered to those who cannot attend in person. There are 20 virtual seats available. If you are interested in logging in remotely, email info@stc-sf.org. As there are limited "seats" for the webinar, please act fast--but only if you know you will not be able to make the meeting. We are charging the student price of $10 for the remote login only.

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Reuse Strategies to Support the API-ification of Your Content

Wednesday, April 16, 2014

Relying too heavily on inline links and other unstructured reuse make it difficult to deliver existing content in new ways, which is the promise of DITA. If you want to use snippets of content in glossary pop-ups, code completion tools, or make it available to downstream processes of any kind, you must have a strategy for reuse of small content units. Learn how we stopped relying on inline links as a core architectural structure for a large help set, and started carving up large files into smaller units.

Note: Mysti has spoken about letting go of inline links in the past. Inline links are a very small part of this wider talk on going from XML to truly structured content.

About the Speaker:
Mysti Berry was a Principal Content Strategist for salesforce.com for two years, and has returned to her roots as a technical writer as of April 2014. She has written enterprise software documentation for twenty years for companies as diverse as Sybase, Twentieth Century Fox, and salesforce.com. She's presented at several national conferences. Mysti holds a BA in Linguistics from UC Santa Cruz and an MFA in Creative Writing from University of San Francisco. Mysti lives in San Francisco.

Special note about this meeting:
Mysti Berry will present "live" at the meeting space. A webinar of the session will also be offered to those who cannot attend in person. There are 20 virtual seats available. If you are interested in logging in remotely, email info@stc-sf.org. As there are limited "seats" for the webinar, please act fast--but only if you know you will not be able to make the meeting. We are charging the student price of $10 for the remote login only.

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Ageism and Today's Technical Communicator

Wednesday, March 19, 2014

Andrew Davis is a recruiter of technical content developers in the SF Bay Area. He hears regularly from candidates and hiring managers experiencing frustrations that are (in part) related to ageism and generational differences. Motivated to make more successful job matches and empower qualified candidates, he’ll think aloud through the symptoms, causes, and potential solutions for ageism, all the while seeking your input. Come prepared to participate; it’s sure to be a lively meeting.

About the Speaker:
Andrew Davis Andrew Davis has recruited technical content developers in the SF Bay Area since 1995. He is a former software industry Technical Writer and has a reputation for both understanding and championing the role of content development.

Andrew enjoys helping those who communicate complex information get ahead by recognizing and refining their value to technology companies. He's candid and connected and, just as importantly, he likes to help tech industry workers achieve their goals and achieve independence from intermediaries.

Andrew ran Synergistech Communications during the Internet Gold Rush years and has recently returned to solo recruiting mode. He will soon announce his new company’s name, site, and services. Join him on LinkedIn www.linkedin.com/in/synergistech to learn more.

Special note about this meeting:
Andrew Davis will present "live" at the meeting space. A webinar of the session will also be offered to those who cannot attend in person. There are 20 virtual seats available. If you are interested in logging in remotely, email info@stc-sf.org. As there are limited "seats" for the webinar, please act fast--but only if you know you will not be able to make the meeting. We are charging the student price of $10 for the remote login only.

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A Case Study of Simplified Technical English for Translation

Wednesday, February 19, 2014

Over the past few years, Elekta, Inc. has been using Elekta Approved Simplified English (EASE) in its documentation to its customers. EASE is a variation of Simplified Technical English, which has been used in the aerospace industry for many years. Nathaniel will explain what EASE is and give us a case study of how Elekta (a medical device company) uses EASE in its documentation, some of the rules it must follow, the software program used, and his opinions of EASE and the third party vendor which supports it. In the second half of the presentation, attendees break into small groups where they will get some sentences to re-word in EASE.

During the presentation, attendees will:

  • Learn what EASE is and its benefits.
  • Learn the risks of not using EASE.
  • See a brief demonstration of the software tool used for EASE.
  • Get introduced to a few of the EASE writing rules.
  • Do some exercises using EASE

About the Speaker:
Nathaniel Lim is a full time, senior technical writer for Elekta, Inc., where he writes end-user documentation for oncology software. He has 23 years experience in the pharmaceutical/biotech/medical industry. He has been a data management associate and case report forms designer for human clinical trials. He has designed and developed case report forms (CRFs) and workbooks for use in clinical trials, designed standard CRFs, wrote instructions for their use, and created examples for filling them out. Nathaniel is also a guest lecturer for the University of California Santa Cruz Extension in its Case Report Form Development class and a speaker at various STC events, including the last nine annual conferences/summits. He has served as a track manager on the Program Advisory Committee for the 2008 STC Summit, was a member of the STC Nominating Committee, and is currently the chair of the STC International Summit Awards competition. Nathaniel has an associate in science degree in Physics and Mathematics from the College of San Mateo, a bachelor of arts in Organizational Studies from UC Davis, and a certificate of achievement in Technical Communications from De Anza College. In 2012, Nathaniel became an Associate Fellow of STC.

Special note about this meeting:
This presentation is a webinar that will be projected at the meeting space. The speaker will present live, but will not be on site. There are 20 additional virtual seats available. If you are interested in logging in remotely, email info@stc-sf.org. As there are limited "seats" for the webinar, please act fast--but only if you know you will be able to make the meeting. We are charging the student price of $10 for the remote login only.

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Social Collaboration: How User-Added Content Enhances Your Documentation

Wednesday, January 15, 2014

There’s been a lot of talk about taking technical communication social, but what’s in it for you? In this presentation, you’ll learn:

  • How social collaboration enhances customer satisfaction.
  • How user-added content supplements your documentation.
  • How user-added content saves you time and money.
  • How to incorporate user-added content into your workflow.
  • How tracking user activity helps you create more useful documentation.
You’ll also get a brief introduction to MadCap Software’s social collaboration platform, MadCap Pulse, so you can see these concepts in action.

About the Speaker:
Jennifer White, a Product Evangelist at MadCap Software, has over 15 years of experience in writing, broadcasting, public speaking, marketing and social media management. Jennifer has also served as a social medial manager, blogger, on-air host, writer and content provider for CBS Radio and Fox TV.

Special note about this meeting:
This presentation is a webinar that will be projected at the meeting space. The speaker will present live, but will not be on site. There are 20 additional virtual seats available. If you are interested in logging in remotely, email info@stc-sf.org. As there are limited "seats" for the webinar, please act fast--but only if you know you will be able to make the meeting. We are charging the student price of $10 for the remote login only.

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Managing Tech Comm Projects in Any Environment

Wednesday, October 16, 2013

Your documentation projects need to be successful. Success doesn't happen accidentally; it happens from planning and managing your projects. And in the 21st Century, the ways to plan and manage projects is changing. We have to change, too.

So, what do we need to think about? Agile? Waterfall? User-generated content? Wikis? How can we update the way we've historically managed our projects to help us in this new century? How do we manage user content projects when the definition of "user content" is changing under our feet?

This talk discusses some answers to these and other challenges.

About the Speaker:
Sharon Burton Sharon Burton is a nationally recognized expert, public speaker, and instructor in the field of business and technical communication. With 20 years of experience in the field, she has consulted with companies large and small, such as Pitney Bowes, Royal, Opentext, and Molina HealthCare to improve their product documentation and documentation workflow.

Sharon has received numerous honors for her work, including the distinction of Associate Fellow by the Society for Technical Communication. She was recently identified as the thirteenth most influential person in the world on the topics of technical communication and content strategy by MindTouch, Inc.

Special note about this meeting:
This presentation is a webinar that will be projected at the meeting space. The speaker will present live, but will not be on site. There are 20 additional virtual seats available. If you are interested in logging in remotely, email info@stc-sf.org. As there are limited "seats" for the webinar, please act fast--but only if you know you will be able to make the meeting. We are charging the student price of $10 for the remote login only.

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Converting FrameMaker content to DITA

Wednesday, September 18, 2013

You've decided that it makes sense to migrate your existing unstructured FrameMaker files to an XML-based workflow using DITA. The next thing you'll need to do is convert some of that content into DITA topic and map files so you can develop a proof of concept workflow for both authoring and publishing. It is very important to validate that you can successfully author and publish in this new model before making the move. Take plenty of time to ensure a successful migration.

There are many methods for performing the conversion from unstructured FrameMaker to DITA. In this presentation, Scott will discuss the available options, then will walk you through the entire process using FrameMaker conversion tables. This isn't necessarily the best option for everyone, but the concepts required, especially those related to the pre-conversion process, will likely apply to all methods.

Migrating from unstructured FrameMaker to DITA typically requires some rewriting and reorganization of the content before conversion. Once this is done, you'll set up a mapping from the unstructured paragraph and character styles, and document objects to the corresponding elements. The conversion tables define this mapping. Applying a conversion table creates structured FrameMaker files from your unstructured files. You'll then need to perform additional cleanup on those files before saving to XML.

The entire process can be a bit daunting, and if you just have a few books to convert it may be best to just pay someone else to do it. But if you have a large amount of content to convert, it might just be worth taking it on yourself. You'll learn a new skill and will be able to work the conversion process into your schedule as time allows.

After converting your files to DITA, you can continue to author and publish with FrameMaker, or you can switch authoring and/or publishing to other tools. The great thing about moving to XML is that your content is no longer tied to just one proprietary tool. You do still need to buy/use proprietary tools, but if something better comes along, it's much easier to switch!

About the Speaker:
Scott Prentice has been in the technical publication field since 1991 and is the President of Leximation, Inc. He focuses on custom online help and EPUB development, FrameMaker plugin and structure application development, as well as custom web application development. He is very involved with DITA authoring and publishing, and created the DITA-FMx plugin for FrameMaker.

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Key Trends in Software UA

Wednesday, August 18, 2013

User assistance is much more than "Help." It encompasses a wide range of skills and technologies that are combined to improve the software user's experience. We contribute through wizards, tutorials, and web-based training. We develop and populate knowledge bases and content management systems. Printed manuals and their PDF equivalents are still an important element of our documentation sets. Many of us are now embedding helpful content directly into the user interface. We are involved with usability testing, localization, testing, quality assurance, and branding. This presentation provides a cutting-edge overview of the latest trends in software user assistance, defines the key terminology, highlights the most important technologies, and offers predictions on future directions of our field.

About the Speaker:
Joe Welinske specializes in helping your software development effort through crafted communication. The best user experience features quality words and images in the user interface. The UX of a robust product is also enhanced through comprehensive user assistance. This includes Help, wizards, FAQs, videos and much more. For over twenty-five years, Joe has been providing training, contracting, and consulting services for the software industry. Joe recently published the book, Developing User Assistance for Mobile Apps. He also teaches courses for Bellevue College, the University of California, and the University of Washington.

Special note about this meeting:
This presentation is a webinar that will be projected at the meeting space. The speaker will present live, but will not be on site. There are 24 additional virtual seats available. If you are interested in logging in remotely, email info@stc-sf.org. As there are limited "seats" for the webinar, please act fast--but only if you know you will be able to make the meeting.

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HTML5 and Technical Communication

Wednesday, July 17, 2013

These days it seems like the labels for every content container are in constant flux. Manual, IETM, documentation app, web help… and the list goes on. Truth is, our whole concept of what is and what isn’t a content container changes every time we encounter the latest new technology. Though, we have more choices than sink or swim! “Enter HTML5, to the rescue…” But does HTML5 have staying power? Or will it be another “Flash” in the pan? And if so, what does it mean to how you produce and distribute your content, whether it’s a manual, IETM, documentation app, web help, or maybe all of the above? Attendees Will Learn:

  • What exactly HTML5 is
  • Why you should care about HTML5
  • What can you do with HTML5 content
  • Where can you find examples of HTML5 already in use? (Hint, it’s in more places than you think)
  • Whether you can you afford not to adopt HTML5

About the Speaker:
Jean Kaplansky is an avid reader and early adopter of eBooks and eBook-related technology, going back to 1996. Her publising production past includes work as an XML Architect for Cengage Learning, a Systems Analyst for Pfizer Global Research and Development, and an XML consultant at Arbortext. Jean's introduction to typography and publishing production involved a calculator, some printed galleys, and a pica stick back in 1992. Follow her occasional tweets at @JeanKaplansky.

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Low-Friction and High-Velocity: Information Delivery in the Age of Interaction

Wednesday, June 19, 2013

Modern enterprise software development focuses on ease-of-use, self-documented UIs, and rapid iteration. These trends are changing the way writers do our jobs. At our startup the focus for tech writing has moved from "concepts/tasks/reference at GA" to "write what users want and need to know ASAP". While concepts/tasks/reference are still needed, the priorities have changed because:

  • Wikis allow users to ask questions directly and writers to update docs quickly.
  • What constitutes a "software release" may not be fully known until the day it ships.
  • The best SMEs are the ones who get their hands on the product and use it, not the ones who wrote it.
  • Releases include "emerging"; or "beta" features that are not yet fully implemented, documented, or supported.
  • Writers are praised for responsiveness — active listening, fast execution, and wide communication - over perfection.

The upside is that you really know that you are writing what is needed by users — because they tell you what they need.

Dee and Pamela will discuss what it's like to work in an enterprise software startup where terms like "velocity"; and "low-friction" apply to both the development and sales models. Now writers can focus can more on the user and less on the software.

About the Speakers:
Dee Elling: From pioneering automated continuous online doc updates to prioritizing examples as the most-effective content deliverable to deploying wiki solutions that involved customers in the content process, Dee Elling likes to push the boundaries of the status quo for enterprise developer documentation.

Dee raised quite a few eyebrows in the 1990s by insisting that a writer's first duty was to the customer who just found an issue in a "released"; document, and that the writer should and could update that documentation right away. In the 2000s Dee proved that wikis could be an effective delivery mechanism for large-scale developer-oriented content. Now she is exploring how to most effectively deliver content for enterprise IT software that ships every few weeks with very little prep time for documentation, training, or collateral. In 2013 is it time to change the traditional doc delivery schedule?

Pamela Clark: Pamela has many years of software development experience, split about equally between roles as a software engineer, when she designed, wrote, and tested business applications, and as a writer documenting all kinds of enterprise software.

— Her writing gigs have spanned both startups and large software companies. She has worked at Sun Microsystems (Java Developer tools, RFID middleware), BEA Systems (federal security certification documentation), Wind River (embedded OS for high security environments), MarkLogic (XML database server), and now, AppDynamics.

— Her writing experience includes traditional books using FM, online help, and more recently, structured, task-oriented, topic-based writing in XML.

— At AppDynamics, she is responsible for writing topics for a wiki used by sales engineers and partners in pre-sales. The wiki is also used by support, TAMs, and the training team.

— She is a proponent of Every Page is Page One principles as explained and promoted by structured writing and XML guru, Mark Baker. His blog is great reading: everypageispageone.com

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Connect the Docs: Managing Content Across Documents

Wednesday, May 15, 2013

Traditional document management has centered on managing files: who has access, how many versions exist, and what metadata describes the documents. The actual content of the documents is not addressed directly. XML has been used as a tool to manage content, but the administrative burden and inflexibility of XML has impeded its adoption. Infinote will discuss and show our new approach that manages content across documents without administration or setup.

About the Speakers:
Yogen Kapadia (CEO) and Craig Tobey (Sales Director) of Infinote

Yogen brings over 12 years of relevant industry depth and experience. During his 8 years at Genentech, as the Systems Architect for the Regulatory, Quality and Compliance group, Yogen led the design, development and deployment of several Document Management solutions for various business groups. Prior to that, he worked at Sapient, providing business and technology solutions to Fortune 500 companies. He led the development of a content management framework that has been used by Sapient for rapid implementation of solutions for several clients resulting in millions of dollars of revenue. He also led the design and development of the world’s first push technology based online exchange for trading refined oil products. Yogen has an MS in Computer Science from Wright State University and a BE in Computer Engineering from University of Mumbai.

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Leveraging LinkedIn to Get Yourself Noticed

Wednesday, April 17, 2013

LinkedIn opens up a universe of professional opportunities, but it’s seldom used to best effect. With over 185 million members in 200 countries, and two new members joining each second, it’s the social network no one seeking work – or workers – can afford to ignore. Technical Communicators can quickly find out who needs their services, and which skills they’ll need tomorrow, by following companies, participating in groups, and watching job postings. Unlike its rival services and the job boards, LinkedIn connects you with those who are accountable. Attendees will learn how to optimize their LinkedIn profiles, get timely answers and insider opinions, network with peers worldwide, hunt for work efficiently, and never be invisible again. Expand your sphere of influence and network of potential collaborators Cull potential employers/clients and employees/contractors, focusing only on the promising ones Direct queries only to well-informed, accountable resources Learn quickly who knows what, then learn who they know who can help you Focus on results, not promises At least a hundred new members have joined LinkedIn since you started reading this. Are you sure none of them are worth knowing?

About the Speaker:
Andrew Davis Andrew Davis has recruited technical communicators in Silicon Valley since 1995, first for Synergistech Communications and now as Director of Talent Development for Content Rules (formerly Oak Hill Corporation). He is a former software industry Tech Writer and is well-known for both understanding and championing the role of content development. At Content Rules he recruits all kinds of technical and marketing communicators as well as training and globalization professionals. Andrew enjoys helping those who communicate complex information get ahead by recognizing and refining their value to technology companies. He's candid and connected and, more importantly, he’s committed to helping content developers achieve their professional goals. Learn more about Andrew at www.linkedin.com/in/synergistech.

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Bay Area Food Writer's Panel

Wednesday, March 20, 2013

Technical writing is not the only kind of writing that is technical in nature. Consider food writing: at its heart, it’s a form of communication that uses the written word and visuals to instruct readers how to accomplish a goal. Food writers also work with subject matter experts and editors, and adapt and revise existing content to create updated recipes in new formats. What do we as technical writers have to learn from food writers? A lot! On March 20, the San Francisco STC hosts a panel of four food writers and bloggers who will discuss their writing practice and how it parallels technical writing. Gina Gotsill, a resource manager at TechProse who also freelances and blogs at TheHotPing.com, will moderate the panel.

About the Panel:
Sean Timberlake – Sean is a foodie and professional writer and the voice behind Hedonia, the blog about eating, drinking and living the good life in America’s most hedonistic city, San Francisco. Sean teams up with his husband DPaul Brown, who takes the pictures for Hedonia. An avid canner and food preserver, Sean is also the founder of Punk Domestics, a community and content site that promotes preserving food the old-fashioned way. He has written on food preservation for publications that include Eating Rules, the Food Network and the Cooking Channel’s blog, Devour.

Irvin Lin – Irvin is a writer, recipe developer, designer, photographer and self-taught baker. He is also the voice behind Eat the Love, a blog that celebrates the magic of baking. Irvin worked in graphic design for a number of years until September 2010 when he quit his day job and immersed himself in baking and writing. Today, he is baking, writing his blog and working as a freelance writer and designer for small artisan food companies and blogs. He also works on recipe development projects and occasionally appears at dessert pop-up events across San Francisco.

Ben Rhau began food writing while pursuing a PhD in Biophysics, eventually leaving the bench for a career in digital media. He currently works in editorial at Glam Media in the Food category. His blog, You fed a baby chili?, has been nominated for a Bert Greene Award in Food Journalism and was endorsed by Saveur Magazine as one of "50 Food Blogs You Should Be Reading." Ben lives in San Francisco with his wife and 5-year-old daughter.

Gina Gotsill – A journalist at heart, Gina Gotsill transitioned into copywriting in 2004 when she started writing special section copy for newspapers on a freelance basis. She then began writing for TechProse, where she is currently a Resource and Talent Manager. There, she partnered with Ken Ball to co-author the book Surviving the Baby Boomer Exodus: Capturing Knowledge for Gen X and Y. More recently, her interest in canning has led her to food writing, including several articles published in the San Jose Mercury News. She also writes about her canning adventures on her blog, The Hot Ping, and has created a handful of television segments that she recorded with Michael Marks on his CBS13 show known as Your Produce Man.

Note: There will also be a cookbook swap and special menu with recipes from the panelists' blogs.

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Using Video to Assist Your Users: Part 2 (New Insights and Updates)

Wednesday, February 20, 2013

Are you thinking about adding "how to" videos to your user assistance arsenal, but not sure where to begin? This session walks you through creating your first video, from choosing the right tool to deciding the best way to deliver video to your users. This session also covers how creating videos can help increase the visibility and value of your team within your company and your user community.

About the Speaker:
Michelle Sharron is the senior video specialist at salesforce.com. She took over the video project from Dean, as it grew into more than a part time project. She oversees the creation of videos from the 70+ technical writers, helping with script writing, tool use, production, audio capture, and graphics. She also takes care of prioritizing which videos get filmed, uploading to YouTube, analyzing YouTube analytics, and maximizing search engine optimization. The Salesforce documentation team now has a catalogue of over 40 videos, and these are available from the online help, release notes, product UI, and knowledge base articles. Dean Atchison is a manager of documentation and user assistance at salesforce.com. He created one of the first videos embedded within the salesforce product, and established the guidelines and processes that other writers follow to create videos for their features. The Salesforce documentation team now creates up to twelve "how to" videos for every release and makes these videos available from the online help, release notes, product UI, and knowledge base articles.

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It's All About Structure! Why Structured Content Is Increasingly Becoming A Necessity, Not An Option

Wednesday, January 16, 2013

Structured content. XML. Content reuse. Single-sourcing. We've been talking about these techniques, standards and approaches for years. And yet, many organizations still aren't producing semantically-enriched, machine-readable, consistently structured content. But, that's got to change" says Scott Abel, The Content Wrangler. In this 60-minute presentation Scott will explore the many reasons why we must adopt a structured XML, single-source approach to creating, managing and delivering content if we are to succeed in the global, mobile world in which we live. He will also share with the audience some high level results from the 2012 Technical Communication Industry Benchmarking Survey.

About the Speaker:
Scott Abel Scott Abel, aka The Content Wrangler, is an internationally-recognized content management strategist and social networking choreographer whose strengths lie in helping global organizations improve the way they author, maintain, and deliver information.

In addition to his popular business blog, TheContentWrangler.com, an online resource for content professionals with an interest in content management, content standards and content technologies, Scott maintains several online communities on Facebook and Linkedin.

He writes regularly for trade and industry publications, blogs, and newsletters. He is a popular presenter at content industry events in the US and abroad.

He co-produces the Intelligent Content Conference (http://www.intelligentcontentconference.com), February 7-8, 2013 at the Mission Bay Conference Center in San Francisco.

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What’s In It for Me? Getting Stakeholder Buy-in for Single Source Projects

Wednesday, October 17, 2012

One of the biggest questions that people considering moving to a single-source environment have is: How do I get buy in? There are two sides to this question: How do I get buy in from management? And How do I get buy in from my team?

Single-sourcing projects require new skill sets, new roles, and significant changes that forces productive and successful team members out of their comfort zones. It requires resources, dedication, and sponsorship from the enterprise as well.

Some things can be driven from the bottom up and some from the top, but regardless of where it starts, moving to a single-sourcing environment requires buy-in by all those whose process is affected directly or indirectly.

An entire body of literature is dedicated to change management. This presentation will share advice, guidance, and lessons learned from a variety of customers in a range of industries who have made this transition.

Some of the issues covered in these case studies include:

  • Keys to increasing adoption in writing teams
  • Lessons learned throughout the process
  • Strategies for rolling out new single-source authoring tools
  • Typical tasks and roles
  • Strategies to facilitate and encourage new skill acquisition
  • How to transition content authoring processes
  • Rolling out to distributed teams
  • Special issues with regard to outsourced writing groups
  • Redesigning processes to address business requirements for quality and traceability
  • Presenting to upper management

About the Speaker:
Liz Fraley Before founding Single-Sourcing Solutions, Liz Fraley worked in both high-tech and government sectors, developing and delivering technical design and strategy of authoring and publishing solutions as a Single-Source/XML Architect/Programmer. For over a decade, she has architected and implemented the single-sourcing systems for government and high tech companies.

Specializing in practical development and deployment, she is a strong advocate of designing architectures that directly improve organizational efficiency, productivity, and interoperability. She presents regularly at industry and vendor conferences and is very active in the software engineering user communities: SF Bay Association for Computing Machinery (ACM) council member, SF Bay Arbortext PTC/User group charter member, and host of both a blog and a podcast that focus on strategies, skills, and resources for the user community.

She holds degrees in Computer Science and English from the University of College Park and a Masters in English from the University of Southern Mississippi.

Here's where to find her online:
E-mail: liz@single-sourcing.com
Blog: http://blog.single-sourcing.com
Podcast: http://podcast.single-sourcing.com or on iTunes
Twitter: @lizfraley, @SingleSourcing
Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/#!/lizfraley
Linkedin: http://www.linkedin.com/in/elizabethfraley
Adepters Code Archive: http://adepters.org/index.php?title=User:Liz
Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/pages/Single-Sourcing-Solutions/227425652781
SlideShare: http://www.slideshare.net/lizfraley
DocStoc: http://www.docstoc.com/profile/lizfraley

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Today and Tomorrow: Anything Goes!
"Open Mic" Night with a Fortune 100 Tech Comm Executive

Wednesday, September 19, 2012

At this session, speaker Lori Fisher will describe three realities of the Tech Comm work world today and three trends for the future, as the basis for an "open mic" discussion with the chapter. This is your chance to spend some time with a local executive of a large, world-wide Technical Communications organization, covering topics at your request ranging from current and future job roles in Tech Comm to the impacts of the global economy to the role of social media in our business. Got a scenario at work you want to talk through? Bring it up! Wondering how to make your next career move? Let's talk about how to achieve your goals!

About the Speaker:
Lori Fisher is Director of Information Management User Technology at IBM's Silicon Valley Laboratory, leading a multidisciplinary organization with worldwide responsibility for outside-in design, globalization, accessibility, and information development for the information management product portfolio in IBM's Software Group. She is a leader in the corporate-wide Information Development Advisory Council. She developed and taught two of the core courses in a certificate program in Advanced Technical Communication at University of California Extension for over a decade. She has served on the STC Nominating Committee, chaired the STC Quality SIG, held multiple elected positions on the local STC chapter Administrative Council, and judged in various STC competitions. She served a 2-year term as Secretary of STC on the International STC Board of Directors. She is a Fellow of STC in the Silicon Valley Chapter.

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Mental Model Diagrams: Supportive Content for Specific Folks

Wednesday, August 15, 2012

Wish you had more time to deeply understand customer reasoning before making communication and design decisions?

Mental models diagrams represent the underlying philosophies and emotions that drive people's behavior, matched up with the ways you support them with your organization's products and services. Empathizing with people's underlying motivations opens up different avenues for supporting their behavior. A true model illuminates the users' world and allows you to generate better ideas and tell a more compelling story to product developers and business executives.

In this presentation, Indi Young, author of Mental Models: Aligning Design Strategy with Human Behavior, discusses how to make sure this model truly represents the root of what is driving your users' natural behavior. It is easy to make assumptions; much research stops at a preference, task, or observation level. But there is so much more to find out about people. Indi addresses how to coax the model toward representing the true roots of people's behavior in order to provide a clear roadmap of where your organization should invest its energies, and also where it shouldn't, allowing you to stretch your limited resources and maximize your precious time. Mental models will also allow you to derive an information architecture from users' tasks that will last 10 years, and get everyone from discordant team members to busy executives on the same page with respect to design and planning.

About the Speaker:
Indi Young is an independent consultant, the first Rosenfeld Media author, and a founder of Adaptive Path. She specializes in generative research that is used for product and business strategy. She is passionate about empathy. In practice this means exploring the thinking, the emotional reactions, and the guiding principles of the people organizations are trying to support. Indi's work promoting mental model diagrams for business continues to spread, gaining traction as an "actionable" tool for bringing departments together to produce more successful tools and services.

Indi has consulted for a wide range of organizations, including start-ups, non-profits, universities, and large corporations. She has written for A List Apart, Johnny Holland, and Scroll Magazine, as well as a set of essays on her book page at Rosenfeld Media. She has taught workshops at the IxDA, IA Summit, Web App Summit, J. Boye, Agile, UX Week, User Research Friday, Interacción, Web Directions Road Show, and UIE conferences, as well as private workshops for Rosenfeld Media, Adaptive Path, Cooper, and ClearLeft. Indi has presented at the Design Research, Society for Technical Communication, UX Marathon, Web Directions, @Media, Cyber Security, and Web Visions conferences, as well as several UX Book Club meetings and other events. She has also has presented at Google, Intuit, Zynga, Yahoo, as well as at the California College of the Arts and the Haas School of Business at the University of Berkeley. Her slide decks are available on www.slideshare.net/indi and her book site is www.rosenfeldmedia.com/books/mental-models.

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Medical Writing: Breaking into the Field and More

Wednesday, July 18, 2012

This presentation will describe what Medical Writers write about, the document they create, additional tasks that they perform, and basic competencies needed for Medical Writers to function on the job. It will suggest ways to break into the field.

About the Speaker:
Nancy Katz Dr. Nancy R. Katz has been a medical writer for 15 years. She is President and Principal Medical Writing Consultant of Illyria Consulting Group, Inc., which specializes in eCTD-compliant documents for regulatory submissions. Nancy holds AMWA core credential certificates in pharmaceuticals and in editing/writing; recently, she taught a course on Module 2 Summaries for the CTD at the AMWA regional convention at Asilomar. She is active member of the Medical Writing Special Interest Area Community (MW SIAC) of the Drug Information Association (DIA) and mentors writers through AuthorAid, an organization that helps researchers in developing countries publish their work. Nancy earned a Clinical Sciences Certificate from the Pharmaceutical Education Research Institute (PERI), a Certificate in Training and Human Resource Development (with distinction) from U.C. Berkeley Extension School of Business and Management, and a Ph.D. in English from U.C. Berkeley.

Publications on medical/regulatory writing include:

  • Katz, NR. Effective eCTD Writing: Five Essential Competencies. Global Forum 2011 April; 3(2): 27-31.
  • Wood LF, Foster MH, Averback J, Boe P, Katz, NR. Topic-based authoring: a content management paradigm for accurate, consistent regulatory documents. Drug Information Journal. 2011 March; 45 (2): 125-129.
  • Katz, NR. “Your career as biopharmaceutical regulatory writer in Choosing the Right Regulatory Career (edited by Peggy Berry; RAPS; 2010).
  • Katz, NR. The eCTD: A primer and beyond for regulatory writers” (DIA Global Forum, April 2010.

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Content Considerations for Single-sourcing to PDF and Mobile Devices

Wednesday, June 20, 2012

Nearly all of us are finding increasing pressure to migrate more existing technical content over to mobile devices, from iPads to iPhones. The mechanics of single-source publishing can actually be fairly simple (as with products like Adobe Tech Comm Suite.)

But there are other issues to consider:

  • Decreased attention span from a customer in motion or on his feet during 3-5 minute reading session
  • How many “thumb swipes” is your customer willing to perform to get through a bulleted list?
  • How should complex tables be dealt with?
  • How many indents are “too many” in nested lists?
  • Appropriate word count and sentence length
We’ve spent most of our professional lives composing content on a fairly large screen, that usually resembled a portrait or landscape sheet of paper. Now we have to envision content appropriate for 3x5 cards. A new lens to envision content is required. See a demonstration of a few best practices as well as things to avoid during this transition. A number of companion tools to your authoring solution will also be recommended.

About the Speaker:
Maxwell Hoffmann is Adobe’s Product Evangelist for Tech Comm Suite. A former product manager for FrameMaker at Frame Technology (prior to product acquisition by Adobe), Hoffmann also spent nearly 15 years doing multi-lingual production in the language translation industry. Hoffmann has also provided face-to-face, hands-on training to over 1,200 people in scalable authoring solutions. He has managed projects in DITA, XML as well as authoring tools ranging from Word, InDesign, Quark Express to structured FrameMaker. Hoffmann is based in a virtual Adobe office near Portland, Oregon. Maxwell can be followed on Twitter as @maxwellhoffmann and @AdobeTCS.

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Wikis: The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly

Wednesday, May 16, 2012

We’ve been hearing that wikis are the best way to distribute collaborative docs for about ten years now. Yet there are many roadblocks—editing tools are primitive, administration tools can be scarce to non-existent, and curation of wiki-authored content is rarely done. A panel of writers experienced with wikis and wiki-like tools will share their experiences and answer your questions.

About the Speakers:
Moderator:
Mysti Berry
, Principal Content Strategist, salesforce.com.

Panelists:
Dee Elling
, Principal Information Designer, AppDynamics. Dee specializes in social media trends and technologies, wikis, and a dozen other fascinating things (ask her about augmented reality!). She likes to embrace new communications technologies and apply them to software information problems. She recently gave a presentations about Mediawiki Help and Adobe AIR Help at Lavacon 2009. See http://www.deeelling.com/.
James Bisso, Lead Technical Writer, salesforce.com. Jim is co-author of “Documenting APIs—Writing Developer Documentation for Java APIs and SDKs.” After an illustrious career at Sun, Jim joined salesforce.com and now leads the internal documentation effort. He is painfully aware of the limitations of google sites.
Mark Leonard, Staff Technical Writer, salesforce.com. Mark worked as a software engineer and lead technical writer at BlueRoads before joining the salesforce.com crew. He supports teams working in cutting edge technologies, and has adapted DITA/XML-oriented processes to creating content in github, using Markdown syntax.
Eric Danielson is a document build engineer at Embarcadero Technologies. He speaks Python, PHP, JavaScript, Bash, and occasionally Ruby. He thinks the word “Impossible” has no place in the industry except following the words “We did the “.

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Emerging Roles and Hot Markets for Tomorrow’s Tech Writers

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

Do you wonder where your skills have most value? Have you overlooked entire markets based on misperceptions? Can you really upsell yourself and live at peace in a globalized economy? Are you still looking for professional stability? What’s the upside to all this change?

Our speaker, Andrew Davis, returns this month to help us answer these questions. Come hear Andrew’s insights on which niches and roles pay best, and why. Get his help mapping your cultural and location preferences to today’s demand and tomorrow’s prospects. And listen to his provocative suggestions for achieving success (aka resilient demand) in your content development career.

Andrew hears from a broad cross-section of Bay Area technical communicators and hiring managers. His role as a recruiter specifically for our niche lets him aggregate anecdotes, and his input can help you more consciously steer your career – or at least bypass expensive dead ends.

Andrew will highlight myriad new variants on your core skills, discuss who’s securing these roles, and speculate about where it all will lead. This won’t be a talk about the job search, but rather about what to expect from the new opportunities that already abound. And yes, it really is possible to transition, upgrade, or even just coexist in this increasingly ‘exciting’ marketplace.

There’ll be a lively Q&A after the presentation; Andrew promises to be the last person to leave the room.

About the Speaker:
Andrew Davis Andrew Davis has recruited technical communicators in Silicon Valley since 1995, first for Synergistech Communications and now for Content Rules (formerly Oak Hill Corporation). He is a former software industry Tech Writer and is well-known for both understanding and championing the role of content development. At Content Rules he recruits all kinds of technical and marketing communicators as well as training and globalization professionals. Andrew enjoys helping those who communicate complex information get ahead by recognizing and refining their value to technology companies. He's candid and connected and, more importantly, he cares.

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Transforming Content Strategies to Component Content Management

Wednesday, March 21, 2012

Is your content ready to meet the biggest challenge? Are you able to provide your customers with detailed information designed specifically for them and in the media they choose? Can you do this on demand? If not, then join us as we talk about how you can transform your existing content strategies to a component based content strategy.

It isn’t just content you need to think of, but the components of content. Creating a strategy at this level allows for a great deal more fluidity in providing dynamic information across the entire enterprise. You can establish the infrastructure to be able to provide customized output based on user preference or media demand such as the social media sites. There is a significant ROI you can capture, especially in terms of customer service.

About the Speaker:
Liz Fraley Before founding Single-Sourcing Solutions, Liz Fraley worked in both high-tech and government sectors, developing and delivering technical design and strategy of authoring and publishing solutions as a Single-Source/XML Architect/Programmer. For over a decade, she has architected and implemented the single-sourcing systems for government and high tech companies. Specializing in practical development and deployment, she is a strong advocate of designing architectures that directly improve organizational efficiency, productivity, and interoperability. She presents regularly at industry and vendor conferences and is very active in the software engineering user communities. She is a SF Bay ACM council member.

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Thinking about User Assistance as Performance Support

Wednesday, February 15, 2012

The idea of "performance support" is to provide tools to help people do their work. Those tools might be anything from a job aid that summarizes key steps, taped to a cubicle wall, to a targeted application that helps people actually accomplish a task.

With that definition, user assistance can certainly be considered performance support — it's a tool that people turn to when they have a question, want to know how to do something, or how to solve a problem.

But does all user assistance support performance? If you examine the content you create through a "performance lens" — how does it stand up? Does it actually provide the support that people need?

In this session, you will learn:

  • What is performance support?
  • Does your user assistance provide performance support that people need?
  • How to think about what should be in user assistance, to support performance

About the Speaker:
Linda Urban Linda Urban has more than 25 years of experience in designing and developing technical information and instruction. A consultant, she is available to work on projects (needs assessment, user and workplace research, and design and development of content and instruction), deliver workshops, and consult with and coach writers and teams to clarify their content strategy and improve the quality of their documentation. Linda also teaches in the Technical Communication program at UC Berkeley Extension. She can be found on twitter @lindaurban. Her website is www.urbancreations.com.

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Optimizing the Googleability of Your Content

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

Despite our best efforts at developing user assistance, it is increasingly likely that your users will turn to Google for answers to question about your software. The success Google has in providing quick answers to difficult questions has made it a natural resource for help with software - even if the software provides tutorials, online help, FAQs, forums, and e-mail support. Since this trend will probably continue, we need to learn how to "embrace the beast".

There are a number of things you can do to improve your Googleability without too much time and money. This session describes how Google indexes information and what you need to do to be visible, how to use search engine optimization techniques (including the use of sitemaps and metadata), how writing styles affect indexing, and what other search engines you may want to support.

Search engine optimization is not just the realm of consumer web sites and marketing folks. The importance of visibility on the web means that all of us need to have a working understanding of how search engine work. More importantly, we need to understand how to make that work for us and our content.

You Will Learn

  • The importance of getting your content on a public-facing server and the challenges in doing so
  • How Google indexes information and delivers it to search queries
  • How to add a variety of search engine optimization techniques to your content production
  • The importance of supporting social networks and mobile devices
This session is designed for content developers of all experience levels. A basic understanding is required of web markup and the client/server process. No specific understanding of tools is required.

About the Speaker:
Joe WelinskeJoe Welinske is the president of WritersUA. WritersUA is a company devoted to providing training and information for user assistance professionals. The WritersUA/WinWriters Conference draws hundreds of attendees each year from around the world to share the latest in user assistance design and implementation. The free content on the WritersUA web site attracts over 20,000 visitors each month. Joe has been involved with software documentation development since 1984. Joe recently published Developing User Assistance for Mobile Apps. He has also taught online Help courses at the University of Washington, UC Santa Cruz, and Bellevue Community College. Joe received a B.S. in Industrial Engineering from the University of Illinois in 1981, and a M.S. in Adult Instructional Management from Loyola University in 1987. Joe was the President of STC Puget Sound Chapter from 2006-2008 and served as Membership Director for the Puget Sound Chapter of the Usability Professionals Association in 2010.

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Connecting the Dots

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Lots has changed in the last five years — increased globalization, the move to mobile and more. How have these major shifts and trends affected the work that we do? Or have they?

This presentation will look at major trends over the last five years that have affected users' expectations for the content we create and deliver. We will use that information as a baseline for the second part of the presentation--an interactive discussion about how we as technical communicators are responding to these changes. Bring your current job description to share to see if it aligns with the major trends and discuss how our jobs as technical communicators have changed over the last two to five years. If it the job hasn't we will talk about why and what that means for us as a profession.

About the Speaker:
Joan Lasselle Joan Lasselle is President and founder of Lasselle-Ramsay, Inc. For over 25 years Lasselle-Ramsay has provided custom learning and content services to over 800 clients. Joan is a pioneer in self-paced and computer-based training materials as well as usability testing. She has over 25 years experience developing new product content and training for high tech, healthcare, finance and insurance industries. She is a senior member of STC, a past board member of CMPros, and a regular contributor at industry conferences. Joan holds an M.Ed. from the University of Oregon.

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Exploring Tech. Comm. Opportunities: Working Outside the Tech Doc Box

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Perhaps we technical communicators are Renaissance People, prepared to bring our broad collection of interests, skills, experience, and talent to new work. All we need is to understand how to parlay our expertise as technical communicators into new roles within our companies or to charge ahead on a new career path. The skills, aptitudes, and persistence technical communicators deliver along with their documentation products have wide-ranging value that can keep us gainfully employed in challenging roles that require effective communication, ability to interpret complex information for targeted audiences, and patience. Presenters Gina Gotsill and Judith Herr will explore possible career growth for technical communicators partly by referencing our own stories. We will look at how technical communicators can work effectively and thrive outside familiar subject matter – applying the same skills they have honed during their careers. The presentation will include… · Two hot areas where tech communicators fit · Resources for researching “outside the box” · Checklists about what makes us special (“Encouraging Exercise”) · Q&A , discussion, sharing audience comments and experience.

About the Speakers:
Gina Gotsill, Proposal & Marketing Manager at TechProse: A journalist at heart, Gina Gotsill transitioned into copywriting in 2004 when she started writing special section copy for newspapers on a freelance basis. It was a move she never dreamed she would make, but once she started, she realized all writing starts with fact-finding and reporting. She embraced those early opportunities, which eventually led to a position in 2006 at TechProse, where she started as a Proposal Writer. Today, she manages the majority of the marketing and proposal content the company generates and relies on her skills in reporting and journalism to create accurate and timely documents. In 2010, she co-authored Surviving the Baby Boomer Exodus: Capturing Knowledge for Gen X and Y Employees (Cengage) with TechProse co-worker Ken Ball.

Judith Herr, President, Well Chosen Words; STC Fellow With 30 years experience in technical communication and project and team management: Judith Herr applies her unique combination of expertise, training, energy, and humor to bridging the gap between extremely focused scientists, engineers, and senior managers and their targeted audiences. She has managed teams preparing highly complex documents and proposals for both government and corporate clients. Her knowledge and expertise is spread across a broad range of disciplines including information technology, public health, environmental services, occupational safety, manufacturing, medical, safeguards and security, and scientific research. After 10 years directing technical communication projects and teams for a large high tech consulting firm, Judy started her own consulting firm, Well Chosen Words in 2001. Having raising her hand to volunteer at her first STC meeting about 25 years ago, Judith has served in every chapter position. She became an STC Fellow in 2006 and received the STC President’s Award in 2011. Judith served from 2008-2011 on the Board of Directors for the Society. Although retired this year, Judith continues to provide pro bono support and mentoring. Judith holds a BA in sociology and mass communication from the University of Texas and a Masters in Public Health from Tulane University. She lived three years in Belgium and three in Malaysia and traveled extensively in Europe and Asia. Since then, she has applied her education and her experience as an expat to every work endeavor, emphasizing the importance of effective and culturally sensitive virtual as well as occasional face-to-face communication to accomplish missions and objectives.

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From User Manuals to YouTube: Using Video to Assist Your Users

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Are you thinking about adding "how to" videos to your user assistance arsenal, but not sure where to begin? This session walks you through creating your first video, from choosing the right tool to deciding the best way to deliver video to your users. This session also covers how creating videos can help increase the visibility and value of your team within your company and your user community.

About the Speaker:
Dean Atchison Dean Atchison is a manager of documentation and user assistance at salesforce.com. He created one of the first videos embedded within the salesforce product, and established the guidelines and processes that other writers follow to create videos for their features. The Salesforce documentation team now creates up to twelve "how to" videos for every release and makes these videos available from the online help, release notes, product UI, and knowledge base articles.

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Metadata Tips for Microsoft Word and Photographs

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Metadata was one of the STC 2011 Summit Hot Topics. What is “data about data," and how can it help you organize files: text, media assets, and Microsoft Word docs? Today’s content management systems demand a working understanding of metadata. We will cover the basics and the specifics about how to access, add, and customize metadata in the Microsoft Operating system, so you can reap the benefits in your own files.

About the Speaker:
Cheryl Hunt is transitioning from over eight years of Software Technical Support, to fixing issues before product release, with good user interface design, help, documentation, and other communication.

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Panel Discussion with Technical Writing Managers

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

There's more to managing than meets the eye.

Get the insider's perspective from local communication managers, including Andrea Leszak and Sue Warnke of Salesforce, and Julia Cope of Wells Fargo Bank. Join us and hear multiple perspectives from managers with varied experience about hiring right, training right, and helping your direct reports become successful. For independent contributors, find out what managers really love and hate about their employees, and just what they do besides attend meetings. Find out what qualities make for great managers, and what type of careers might be available if you aren't on the manager track.

Panelists will be offering their honest and entertaining take on the sometimes tricky world of management, including answering such questions as:

  • What are the biggest challenges you face?
  • If you could add one skill set to your team, what would it be?
  • What do you value most, from people on your team?
  • What changes can team members make to help technical publications groups be successful today?
  • How did you become a manager?
Guests are encouraged to come with your own set of questions!

About the Speakers:

Andrea Leszek Andrea Leszek is the Senior Director of User Assistance at salesforce.com. She has been building and leading high-performing teams in the technical communications industry for over fifteen years. Since joining salesforce.com in 2000, she has focused her work on two critical goals: helping customers be successful with high-quality documentation and in-app help, and nurturing a team-centered environment to help employees achieve their highest potential. She has spoken at conferences about salesforce.com’s approach to integrated user assistance and their Agile writing process. Andrea holds a B.S. and M.S. in Linguistics from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology.

Sue WarnkeSue Warnke has a BA and MA in English from Colorado State University, where she taught Composition and Literature courses for three years. For the next 7 years, she worked as a technical writer and editor for small software companies in Sacramento and Redwood City. Three years ago she started at Salesforce as a technical writer in the Documentation and User Assistance department and transitioned to management in December 2010. She currently manages nine platform writers who produce online help, developer guides, user assistance, and a suite of other deliverables that are primarily geared toward Salesforce administrators and developers. She lives with her husband and three children in Pacifica.

Julia Cope is an e-Business Consultant and Assistant Vice President at Wells Fargo Bank. In her current role, Julia manages content strategy and effectiveness for the Wholesale intranet, a platform used by 35K+ team members. During her 7+ years at Wells Fargo, she managed many aspects of intranet communications for the Wholesale and Wealth Management businesses, including user experience design, product development, usability research, editorial and governance processes. Her current interests include integration of employee-sourced content with business content (i.e. applying social media concepts to corporate intranets) and user-centered content delivery. Prior to joining Wells Fargo, Julia worked as a consultant and designed intranets and online content for eToys before it went bust in 2000. She has an M.A. in English and a Technical and Professional Writing Certificate from San Francisco State University.

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What Medical Writers Do

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

In this meeting Nancy Katz will describe the documents Medical Writers create, additional tasks that they perform, and basic competencies needed for Medical Writers to function on the job. She will suggest ways to break into the field.

About the Speaker:
Dr. Nancy Katz Dr. Nancy R. Katz has been a medical writer for 15 years. She is President and Principal Medical Writing Consultant of Illyria Consulting Group, Inc., which specializes in eCTD-compliant documents for regulatory submissions. Nancy holds AMWA core credential certificates in pharmaceuticals and in editing/writing; recently, she taught a course on Module 2 Summaries for the CTD at the AMWA regional convention at Asilomar. She is an active member of the Medical Writing Special Interest Area Community (MW SIAC) of the Drug Information Association (DIA) and mentors writers through AuthorAid, an organization that helps researchers in developing countries publish their work. Nancy earned a Clinical Sciences Certificate from the Pharmaceutical Education Research Institute (PERI), a Certificate in Training and Human Resource Development (with distinction) from U.C. Berkeley Extension School of Business and Management, and a Ph.D. in English from U.C. Berkeley.

Publications on medical/regulatory writing include:

  • Katz, NR. Effective eCTD Writing: Five Essential Competencies. Global Forum 2011 April; 3(2): 27-31.
  • Wood LF, Foster MH, Averback J, Boe P, Katz, NR. Topic-based authoring: a content management paradigm for accurate, consistent regulatory documents. Drug Information Journal. 2011 March; 45 (2): 125-129.
  • Katz, NR. “Your career as biopharmaceutical regulatory writer in Choosing the Right Regulatory Career (edited by Peggy Berry; RAPS; 2010).
  • Katz, NR. The eCTD: A primer and beyond for regulatory writers” (DIA Global Forum, April 2010.

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Creating AIR Help from DITA

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

If you're authoring with DITA you have many options for creating online Help. When deciding on an option that fits your needs, you may want to consider AIR Help. AIR Help (a user assistance application based on Adobe's AIR technology) is a cross-platform alternative which offers all of the features found in other Help delivery formats and can significantly reduce your testing and development time. Off the shelf tools are available from Adobe RoboHelp and MadCap Flare, and you can also use the lmi-airhelp Open Toolkit plugin from Leximation (free) to create your own custom AIR Help deliverable. In this presentation Scott will explain just what is AIR and AIR Help and will describe the pros and cons of its use. He will also show us samples from each tool and will demonstrate generating an AIR Help file from DITA source.

About the Speaker:
Scott Prentice is the president of Leximation, Inc., and has been in the technical publications field since 1991. He consults on the development of custom online help systems and offers FrameMaker plugin/application development. He has been involved with DITA for many years and created the DITA-FMx plugin for FrameMaker. Scott coined the term "AIR Help" after learning about Adobe's new AIR technology when it was announced in 2007.

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Information and Visual Design

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

This presentation will cover basic typography and visual design principles. The presentation is designed to help you:

  •  Create more visually interesting documents
  •  Make your ideas stand out
  •  Market yourself
  •  Improve the usability of your document templates
Learning about visual design will make you more aware of text you see all around you — on billboards, in magazines, on Web sites, everywhere — and it’s fun.

About the Speaker:
Megan Leney

Megan Leney is a Senior Information Developer at Symantec. Megan is working on her master’s in Information Architecture through Kent State University, and she has presented at the LavaCon and STC conferences.

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Single Sourcing Content Strategy

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

There’s a software side to dynamic information delivery. We all know this. Customers who have seen IBM talk have come to us and said “Sure, they can get there, but can I?” What if you’re not a software company? What if your paper product is your deliverable? What about the Medtronics of the world? Or the Harcourt School Publishers? Or the National Council on Insurance? What’s in your reach? What have they really achieved over the years? Did they see the ROI they expected?

Over the last year, Single-Sourcing Solutions has spent time interviewing long-term Arbortext customers to find out where they are now. We wanted to know whether our customers were realizing the full potential of their solutions. We wanted to know what data they’d collected, what lessons they’d learned, and what they’d implemented over time. This talk highlights success stories from companies who have been doing dynamic information delivery for a very long time. Not one at a time, but aggregated together. We will include qualified, hard data on benefits, breadth of projects, and feature impact on long-term implementations.

About the Speaker:
Elizabeth FraleyElizabeth Fraley is the Founder and CEO, Single-Sourcing Solutions, Inc.

Before founding Single-Sourcing Solutions, Liz worked in both high-tech and government sectors, developing and delivering technical design and strategy of authoring and publishing solutions as a Single-Source/XML Architect/Programmer. For over a decade, she has architected and implemented the single-sourcing systems for government and high tech companies. Specializing in practical development and deployment, she is a strong advocate of designing architectures that directly improve organizational efficiency, productivity, and interoperability. She presents regularly at industry and vendor conferences and is very active in the software engineering user communities: SF Bay Association for Computing Machinery (ACM) council member, SF Bay Arbortext PTC/User group charter member, and host of both a blog and a podcast that focus on strategies, skills, and resources for the user community. She holds degrees in Computer Science and English from the University of College Park and a Masters in English from the University of Southern Mississippi.

Keep up with her online:

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Why Diagrams are Worth a Thousand Words

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Our cognitive architecture is biased for visual processing, do we know how to take advantage of it? What do diagrams, in particular, hold for communication? In this presentation, we will explore what cognitive science has to say about why diagrams are useful, the varieties of diagrams, what are important components of diagrams, and how you might systematically go about creating them. Don't take diagrams for granted, tap into this powerful medium for communicating.

About the Speaker:
Clark Quinn

Clark Quinn, Ph.D., has been innovating in strategic learning technologies for three decades. Clark combines a deep background in the learning sciences with broad experience in technology applications, which he applies to the corporate, government, education, and not-for-profit sectors. He's the author of Engaging Learning: Designing e-Learning Simulation Games and Designing mLearning: Tapping Into the Mobile Revolution for Organizational Performance. He is a founding member of the Internet Time Alliance and works for clients through Quinnovation.

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Using Mediawiki for Online Help and WikiDocumentation

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

What Content Management System is native to the web, used by millions of people every day, makes writing easy, and doesn't require DITA? --- MEDIAWIKI! Come hear Dee discuss the Mediawiki implementation used by programmers all over the world. She will talk with us about:

  • The customer and writer benefits of "Live Documentation"
  • XML/DITA vs Mediawiki: the structured vs unstructured dilemma
  • Using Mediawiki to produce Help2 and CHM formats
  • What works and doesn't work out-of-the-box
  • What skillsets you need
  • How to handle localization

About the Speaker:
Inquiring minds want to know, and so does Dee Elling! Dee's curiosity about new technologies and interest in design led her to the software company Sybase during the early "database wars". Trained in the trenches of SGML, Dee preferred the simplicity of HTML and later pioneered FrameMaker-to-Web automated processes at BEA WebLogic. She helped the writers formalize their workflows using source control and defect tracking. Bugfixes and improvements to texts on the Web could be made at any time, independent of internal project cycles. Ever in search of an ideal, Dee then transformed a complex homegrown DITA system into an easier-to-use Mediawiki CMS at CodeGear Borland, now Embarcadero Technologies. The new system has the added bonus of being more accessible and usable by internal SMEs and external power users. Dee's team and the Localization team are now streamlining their processes and preparing to take the wiki to a higher level of user-generated content. In her spare time Dee plays with web design, photography, sculpture, video, and augmented reality.

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Dealing with Recruiters and Deciding between Contract and Salaried

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Popular speaker Andrew Davis offers job seekers insight into relationships with recruiters. He will also discuss the pros and cons of contract and salaried positions.

About the Speaker:
Andrew Davis

In the software industry for 24 years, Andrew Davis now works for Oak Hill Corporation. Previously, he ran Synergistech Communications, a respected recruiter of contract and staff technical communicators for the Bay Area software industry. Andrew is active in the technical writing community and is well known as an empathetic and insightful bridge between candidates and hiring managers.

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How to Provide Social Media Support for Hardware Products

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Providing social media support for software products seems to be a natural outgrowth of online help and other electronic user assistance. However, hardware products can benefit from this approach, too. This session describes the development process used to create an online presence for a very traditional hardware product: the stand-alone Scantron test scoring machine (you know, the one that reads the green #2 pencil forms you used in school?). We?ll explore the entire process, from convincing management that an online presence could work for this product to how we produced the videos and other online information and social media mechanisms that support classroom teachers using this device.

About the Speaker:

CEO and President of her own company, as well as Senior Manager of User Experience and Documentation for Scantron Corporation, Bonni Graham Gonzalez has spent 20 years as a practicing technical communicator. In 1994, she started Manual Labour, a technical documentation outsource provider. Bonni has been teaching technical communication to engineers for the Engineering Department of the University of California, Riverside and to other technical communicators for the Technical Communication Certificate program at the University of California, San Diego Extension, since 2003. Bonni is an Associate Fellow of the Society for Technical Communication.

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Social Networking for Developers

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Do you think social networking is just for your kids, or something the Marketing Department handles for your company? Think again! As Information Developers, we need to be familiar with various social networking mechanisms currently in use and how they may be influencing our customers’ expectations of the information experience we provide. Further, we need to begin integrating “community” experiences into our information deliverables and leveraging these to improve customer satisfaction with our content. Community technologies can enrich the customer experience with our online product documentation and other related external customer services.

It is important that we integrate evolving customer expectations about social media into our information design as we build our future information deliverables. This presentation will discuss three ways to get started:

  • Leverage your marketing department to create a “conversation” with customers through existing company social networking accounts
  • Use a wiki or other type of online discussion forum to collect and exchange user-generated content, such as code examples or best practices
  • Encourage interactive customer comments on your content

About the Speaker:
Lori Fisher is Director of User Technology at IBM in San Jose with worldwide responsibility for user experience and design, globalization, accessibility, and information development across two divisions in IBM’s Software Group. She developed and taught two core courses in the Advanced Technical Communication Program at University of California Extension for almost 20 years. She chaired the STC Quality SIG, held multiple elected positions on the Silicon Valley STC chapter Administrative Council, and served a two-year term as Secretary of the STC on the international STC Board of Directors. She is a Fellow of STC in the Silicon Valley Chapter.

She received a BA in English and German from Hartwick College in Oneonta New York in 1980, and an MA in Expository Writing from University of Iowa in 1983. She spent 1980-81 at the University of Giessen in Germany on a Fulbright Scholarship. She has a Master's Certificate in Project Management from George Washington University.

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Planning, Estimating, and Managing Documentation Projects in an Agile Environment

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

As more and more product development teams adopt Agile project management, documentation teams are still struggling to discover the best way to plan, estimate, and manage their documentation projects. Even well-managed Agile projects do not provide the traditional level of detail required to create accurate estimates and plans. Traditional “waterfall” project management techniques do not adequately address planning needs for Agile projects either. And there is very little published material on how to manage Agile documentation projects. So what is a documentation manager to do?

In this presentation, I will share my own experiences and lessons learned while producing documentation in Agile projects. I will also share with you results from surveys and interviews with other documentation managers with experience in Agile project management. In the process, I also want to hear what works and doesn’t work for you. The goal, then, is to put a stake in the ground defining methods and techniques, best practices, and lessons learned from a wide variety of documentation projects so you can tackle these projects well-prepared for success.

About the Speaker:
Tim Bombosch

Tim Bombosch of Bombosch Consulting is a certified Project Management Professional (PMP) with 10+ years of experience. He has worked with Becton-Dickinson, Beckman Coulter, Genentech, Iridex, Cisco, Hewlett-Packard, IBM, Kaiser Permanente, and Mindjet. His areas of expertise include life science industries, enterprise collaboration technology, and data management software. Tim speaks frequently about project management, content management, Web 2.0, and content globalization. He is a respected leader in the Society for Technical Communications and teaches at the University of California Extension. He received his PhD from Stanford University.

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Honing Your Workplace Negotiation Skills

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Negotiations are simply a part of life. We all find ourselves negotiating for what we want, whether we're trying to secure additional resources, deciding which movie to see with a friend, managing the scope of a project, or asking for a raise.

In a follow-up to his popular sessions on job hunting, returning speaker Jack Molisani will present a fun and informative session on how to hone your negotiation skills. Topics will include:

  • How to prepare for a pending negotiation
  • How to set the stage for success
  • How to get what you really want
  • And more!

Jack will draw on experience as both a buyer and seller of corporate services and will share “war stories” from both sides of the negotiation table in this entertaining and informative session on workplace negotiation skills. Want to increase your standard of living? Don’t miss our September meeting!

About the Speaker:
Jack Molisani

Jack Molisani started his career as Project Officer in the Space Division of the USAF where he negotiated $100M contracts with leading defense contractors. Jack then went on to start ProSpring, a staffing company specializing in permanent and contract technical writers: ProSpringStaffing.com

Jack also produces The LavaCon Conference on Digital Media and Content Strategies. The eighth annual LavaCon will be held in September 29, 2010 in San Diego, CA: Lavacon.org

Jack will be raffling off a free entrance to the conference, so bring your business card for the drawing! You can follow Jack on Twitter at: http://www.twitter.com/JackMolisani

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Surviving A Behavioral Interview

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Many software companies use behavioral interview techniques instead of the traditional interview.

If you are a hiring manager, come find out why behavioral interviews reveal things that straightforward interviewing techniques don't.

If you are a job seeker, come find out what these kinds of interviews are really looking for—and leave with some ideas about how to ace your next interview. This talk will also briefly review the top 5 candidate Dos and Don'ts—some of which may surprise you. If time permits, we'll even do a little role-playing.

Here is a link to Mysti's presentation: Behavioral Interviews

About the Speaker:
Mysti Berry Mysti Berry is a lead technical writer for Salesforce.com. She has been a software technical writer for 20 years and worked in the enterprise cloud for five years. She has taught technical writing classes for UC Berkeley Extension, and given presentations at numerous STC chapter meetings. She has been trained in behavioral interview techniques and applied them rigorously in all her interviews for the last three years.

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From Communication to Collaboration to Community – Content Strategies for Web, Wikis, and Workspaces

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Whether using websites, wikis or workspaces, whether planning for one-way communication, collaboration or customer communities, defining your own content strategy is crucial. Different content requires different levels of collaboration. Consider what types of content and what tools might be needed for certain audiences or activities. See examples of how different content strategies work in a Web 2.0 environment.

About the Speaker:
Paul Zimmerman is a Program Manager in the Knowledge Management and Delivery (KMD) group within Cisco's Network Software and Systems Technology Group (NSSTG). Paul is involved with Web 2.0 implementations for content delivery at Cisco. He manages the Cisco DocWiki, an externally-facing wiki of technical content. He also manages the development of online communities to work directly with customers on technical issues.

Paul has been at Cisco for over 11 years, working on a variety of technical content issues. He has produced technical information for Cisco voice products, including hardware, software, and interoperability. Paul came to Cisco after managing a technical documentation group at Lucent Technologies. Paul got his degree in Political Science from the University of California, Santa Barbara.

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Role of Knowledge Documentation and Mapping — Implementation of a Knowledge Retention Program

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

Implementation of a Knowledge Retention Program involves multiple businesses and managers within the company who have taken it as an initiative.

This presentation discusses the role of knowledge documentation and mapping and how it is essential for companies who are interested in knowledge sharing.

About the Speaker:
Ken Ball is with TechProse, a Bay Area consulting/professional services firm with over 27 years experience in documentation and technical writing with clients such as Cisco, PG&E, Applied Materials, The Gap and others.

Ken Ball and coauthor Gina Gotsill wrote Surviving the Boomer Exodus: Capturing Knowledge for Gen X and Y Employees. This book will be available in June.

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Information Architecture

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

In our May meeting we learned more about information architecture -- what it is (and what is it not), and what is important to consider when developing your product's information architecture. Our speaker, Jennifer Fell, took architecture beyond "books".

What do information architects do? Why might you want one on your team? What skills do you need to be an IA? We explored why you might want to be one, and why you might NOT want to be one.

About the Speaker:
Jennifer Fell is currently an information architect and strategist at International Business Machines (IBM). Jennifer has 20 years of technical communication experience, complimented by experience managing software development teams and user interface design projects. Jennifer has been an instructor in the University of California Extension, Santa Cruz, certificate program in technical communication. She is a senior member of the Society for Technical Communication (STC) and a member of the Information Architecture Institute (IAI) and the Usability Professionals Association (UPA).

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Technical Communication Competitions

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Each year, Touchstone, the Northern California Technical Communication Competition, provides a showcase in which to honor local technical communicators who have done outstanding work. The competition is part of a worldwide network of local STC competitions. Each local competition sends its top entries to Society-level competitions in the areas of technical (print) publications, online communication, and technical art. This annual process helps STC to fulfill its mission: to promote and further the art of technical communication.

Touchstone is well known for its high standards. The entries it sends to the Society-level competitions always do well.

The presenters have been involved with Touchstone for many years. Between them they have performed almost every function that goes into a successful competition, from promoting the competition, to gathering entries, to designing judging materials, to recruiting, training, and managing judges, to conducting the awards ceremony.

They will discuss the background and history of the competition, the competition management and judging processes, and the qualities that go into making a winning entry. Some winning entries from this year's competition will be on display.

About the Speakers:
Richard Mateosian is an STC Associate Fellow and president of the Berkeley Chapter. He is treasurer of the STC Management SIG and serves on the Community Funding Task Force led by STC Second Vice-president, Hillary Hart. Richard has written the Micro Review column for IEEE Micro since 1987.

Richard has been involved with the Touchstone competition since 1995. He managed Touchstone in 1996 and has been part of the Touchstone leadership for almost all of the succeeding years.

Patrick Lufkin is an STC Associate Fellow, past president of the San Francisco chapter, and chair of the Kenneth M. Gordon scholarship for Technical Communication. He is membership manager of the STC Management SIG and a frequent contributor to the book review section of Technical Communication, the STC Journal.

Patrick has been involved with the Touchstone competition since 1992. He has been a judge, a lead judge, a trainer of judges, and a quality control judge. He has also handled competition publicity, and in recent years, has served as competition co-chair.

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Alternate Career Paths for Technical Communicators

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

 

Have you ever thought, “I’ve been a Senior Technical Writer for years. Now what?”

In our March meeting, returning speaker Jack Molisani will explore the concept of “alternate career paths” for technical Communicators.

Topics to be addressed:

  • Identifying the core competencies of technical communicators
  • Identifying which of those core competencies are transferable to other jobs
  • Identifying which jobs are they transferable to (I mean, to which jobs are they are transferable :-)
  • Average compensation for those jobs vs. tech writing jobs
  • Strategies for making your move
  • And more

Want to shift your career path and break through the tech com salary ceiling? Don’t miss our March meeting!

About the Speaker:

Jack Molisani

Jack Molisani is an STC Associate Fellow and the owner of ProSpring Technical Staffing, a staffing agency specializing in permanent and contract technical writers www.ProSpringStaffing.com.

Jack is also the executive director of The LavaCon Conference on Professional Development: http://www.lavacon.org.

Follow Jack on Twitter: http://www.twitter.com/JackMolisani.

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elearning 2.0

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

In his presentation on eLearning 2.0, Clark Quinn will cover the formal and informal learning roles behind social networking: blogs, wikis, discussion forums, etc.

You've heard about so-called elearning 2.0, the use of social networking tools to support informal learning, but do you know how to put it into practice? What do FaceBook and Ning have to do with business? A lot, actually. In this session we'll explore tools like blogs, wikis, and more, and consider the role they can play in organizational execution and innovation.

We are talking about knowledge management, collaboration, and more, and not only within the organization but with partners and customers. We'll look at how these tools can support formal learning, leading to better outcomes, and also how they support informal learning. Get on top of the trends, and start leveraging your organization's knowledge to perform faster and better.

About the Speaker:

Clark QuinnClark Quinn, Ph.D. has been innovating for business, education, government, and the not-for-profit sectors for over 30 years. He integrates creativity, cognitive science, and technology to deliver engaging and effective strategies and solutions to learning, knowledge and performance needs. Dr. Quinn has led the design of award-winning online content, educational computer games, and websites, as well as intelligent learning, mobile, and performance support systems. He has served as an executive in online and elearning initiatives, and has an international reputation as a scholar and presenter. He works on behalf of clients through Quinnovation.

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What's Next? Glimpsing the Opportunity Beyond the Impasse

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

If you're feeling insecure about your professional prospects, you're in good company. The world has changed, your cheese has moved (*), and it's high time to face facts: most high-tech technical communicators have become commodities, purveyors of expensive and increasingly unvalued services.

Globalization, a shrinking economy, impatient customers, and increasingly lean, "do-more-with-less" companies are now the norm. Especially in high-tech, product quality deteriorates but users seem to care only about initial cost. Meanwhile, technical communicators have become passive and disengaged from their audience, their compensation rates are trending downward, job security has become a joke, and true professional advancement is rare. Job satisfaction is the exception rather than the rule.

What to do? Bluntly, technical communicators must create profits. If what you do doesn't make your employer or client money—lots of it, quickly, and with minimal friction (ie, effort on their part)—your future's bleak. Contrast this with the recent past, when saving companies money (for example, with online-only deliverables, single sourcing, and structured authoring) or improving customer satisfaction (for example, with more accurate, clear, complete, or accessible content) alone were sufficient hiring justifications. You now have to do all three: be profitable, efficient, and helpful.

My view is that high-tech technical communicators' best option is to apply their skills to other industries and focus on helping customers generate profits. I have some specific answers to the 'where from here' question, but the list is far from complete and I hope to catalyze (with insights, anecdotes, hope and, yes, fear) a productive discussion about how to respond to the marketplace's challenges.

(*) Who Moved My Cheese?: An Amazing Way to Deal with Change in Your Work and in Your Life by Spencer Johnson and Kenneth Blanchard, Sept 1998.

About the Speaker:

Andrew Davis

Andrew Davis runs Synergistech Communications, a recruiting firm that since 1995 has matched talented technical communicators with staff and contract opportunities in the San Francisco Bay Area.

Andrew is a former Technical Writer of system administration and software developer documentation for companies such as Oracle (documenting relational databases on minicomputers), IBM (UNIX hypertext authoring tools), Informix (Windows database tools), Network Equipment Technologies (PBXs and routers), and Verity (enterprise text search tools). He's well-connected in Silicon Valley's software and telecommunications documentation communities. He also recruits technical trainers and instructional designers, medical writers, and user experience (UX) professionals.

Synergistech seeks to be the ultimate transparent, trustworthy, targeted search firm. It handles only on technical communications opportunities, discloses full details about its (very modest) markup, provides detailed descriptions of its clients' requirements and preferences, and keeps applicants apprised of their current status -- the bad news as well as the good. Synergistech has a well-deserved reputation as the technical communicator's ally, so even if it can't find you the job or contract of your dreams, encourages jobseekers and hiring managers alike to read and heed the advice shared at its site, www.synergistech.com as well as to join Andrew Davis' network on LinkedIn and seek introductions.

During the recession, Synergistech has been doing only on-demand recruiting (namely 'speaking when spoken to') rather than marketing its services actively. Most of its efforts are focused on evangelizing a disruptive job-search engine called LinkUp to local employers. LinkUp only lists jobs from employers' career pages and connects companies with candidates on a pure PPC/pay-for-performance basis.

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Today's Agile Documentation

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Agile development has evolved over the past several years, and so have the technical communicators who work in Agile development environments. This presentation explores recent trends in Agile, and how documentation teams at Symantec apply current Agile thinking in their day-to-day work. Some of the trends include:

  •  More frequent deployment and testing
  •  Less co-location
  •  More accountability and transparency
  •  Closer relationships with customers
In addition to providing an overview of current trends in Agile documentation, Megan Leney also presents findings from a survey of Agile documentation team members. The survey collects information on what’s working well, and which best practices contribute most to the successful integration of Symantec’s documentation teams into the Agile process.

Attend this presentation to learn tips, tricks, current trends, and best practices that can enhance your experience as a technical communicator working with Agile development teams.

About the Speaker:

Megan Leney has 15 years of experience in the software industry, and has worked as a technical communicator for 9 years. She is currently a Senior Information Developer at Symantec Corporation. Prior to joining Symantec, Megan worked for VeriSign, Inc., and Apple.

In her previous tenure at VeriSign, Megan served as an expert on Agile Documentation, leading the charge to integrate VeriSign's Documentation team into the developer-run Agile/SCRUM process. She wrote Agile documentation standards, and evangelized Agile documentation best practices to key stakeholders in the engineering organization.

Megan presented at the 2008 LavaCon Conference on Professional Development, and at the 2009 Society for Technical Communication conference. She is a member of the Silicon Valley STC Chapter.

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Documentation Review: Get It Done!

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Jeff Boudier and Fabrice Talbot present an interactive session. Attendees are arranged in workgroups and engage in short, practical, fun case-studies at three points in the session. We gather attendees’ documentation review experiences, identify where time and efficiency are lost, and provide tips and tricks for improving communication between team members. We present practical methods and tools that significantly improve the documentation review process. We show how we implemented these principles in the LiveTechDocs application, applying them to XML technical documentation

About the Speakers:

Fabrice Talbot is the CEO and co-founder of SF based LiveTechDocs. Fabrice had been designing CMS systems and XML technologies solutions for many years when his wife, Teresa Mulvihill, technical writer and LiveTechDocs co-founder, reported a need for tools to share and review documentation with business users efficiently. As a result, time, effort, and money was lost, which created negative feedback even though the project team was doing a great job. Fabrice began the development of LiveTechDocs in early 2007 to solve these very issues. Since then, Fabrice and Teresa have pursued their vision to make documentation review simple, fast, and accessible for everyone involved.

Jeff Boudier is the Community Manager at LiveTechDocs. Jeff is a specialist of web 2.0 technologies and human science methodologies. He thinks technology should be a facilitator, an enabler rather than an end. When joining the LiveTechDocs adventure in 2008, he saw the collaborative documentation review platform as exactly that: a tool for people to make their jobs easier and more enjoyable. He believes in the positive impact of structured collaboration and communication in the work environment in general, and in particular in technical documentation. He manages the LiveTechDocs Community, a place for documentation professionals to share and learn about all things technical writing and single sourcing.

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Hand it to Them on a Platter: 7 Steps to a Successful Resume

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Joy Montgomery teaches people how to create a master file that allows them to have a very specific, targeted resume in minutes when they need it. Her book is "Hand It to 'em on a Platter."

Her idea is that generic resumes don't do the best job for people and, in fact, show a lack of interest in the specific job and a lack of respect for the time people took to describe what they wanted to know about. Creating the master file is the hard part. Using it from then on is a snap.

About the Speaker:

Joy Montgomery's background includes 20 years as a business systems analyst. She earned a bachelor's degree from San Francisco State University. Joy is a senior member of the Society for Technical Communication. She has won awards in the Northern California Technical Communication Competition. Joy participates as an NCTCC judge and on the Gordon Scholarship Committee.

Joy's business, Structural Integrity, builds business systems so people can build their businesses. Currently, Joy has developed a seminar, "Improving Productivity with Effective Communication" and a resume workshop, "Hand it to 'em on a Platter". Her book, Hand It to 'em on a Platter, developed to complement the resume workshop is being used by a ReBoot Camp for returning Veterans.

You can view Joy's Linked In profile at http://www.linkedin.com/in/joymontgomery.

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Grant and Proposal Writing 101

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

“Writing a successful grant proposal requires knowledge, commitment, determination, patience, teamwork, writing skills, creativity, and luck. Other than that it’s a breeze."
                      Steven Wilbers, Writing for Business and Pleasure

With the skills, talents, experience, and energy that technical communicators bring to complex efforts, we are uniquely suited to help grant seekers and government contractors win funding. Whether providing professional consultative services for the entire process; contracting to provide writing, editing, and production expertise; or giving pro bono time for a cause we support, grant writing is career broadening – and rewarding when you win.

In today’s economy, many organizations are seeking potential funding sources. At the same time, organizations offering grants are making fewer awards. With basic knowledge of the process and terminology of proposal and grant writing, we communicators are uniquely positioned to help our clients win.

During the presentation, Judith will review grant-seeking steps and contributions communicators make to the process. We know how to:

  1. Interview client organizations to objectively identify and document the proposed activity requiring funding and the strengths, risks, and challenges of the grant seeking organization
  2. Do research to locate potential funding sources; find opportunities for pre-proposal schmoozing (‘market the cause’) by the client
  3. Draft the proposal document, consistent with all submittal instructions. The actual proposal may include organization information; situation description and need statement; work plan/specific activities; impact of activities on clients and shareholders; and a budget
  4. Review, submit, get results; and evaluate the process

Here is a link to Judith's presentation slides: Writing Winning Grants

About the Speaker:

Judith Herr Professionally, Judith Herr is a recognized expert in management of proposal and grant application efforts and of technical communication projects and teams. Projects Judith has managed include proposals to win government and commercial contracts and grants; computer system design and user manuals; environmental, health, and safety assessments; curriculum development for computer use, performance improvement, and scientific/technical training. For seven years, Judith has managed her technical communication consulting business, Well Chosen Words. She has provided support to clients across diverse cultures, disciplines, and industries including information technology, public health, engineering, and manufacturing.

Believing fervently in the importance and value of "giving back," Judy actively leads and participates in community outreach and literacy projects that benefit from her expertise as a communicator, including providing pro bono services. During their spring, she accompanied 10 teens to New Orleans for a work project in Phoenix, Plaquemines Parish. While the youth were gutting and hauling, Judith got the chance to use her expertise when the Reverend Tyrone Edwards received a phone call asking if he could complete a grant application that day to receive $20,000 for equipment for the community center/trailer. Judith wrote the grant letter and it was submitted within two hours. The next afternoon she and her husband made some changes to the project’s web site – and taught a youth in the community how to update it.

An eager and continuing student, Judith has a B.A. with Special Honors in sociology and organizational development with a minor in media and communications. After traveling and working for several years, Judith completed a Masters in Public Health from Tulane University in nutrition, epidemiology, and occupational health and safety. Later, she completed graduate work at the University of New Orleans School of Business, including marketing and adult education. She is a Director of the Board and Fellow of STC. Judith gained broad experience and understanding of international affairs and cultural differences, having lived for three years in Europe and three in Southeast Asia and traveled extensively. She speaks and writes on cultural understanding and strategies for thriving when living and working away from home. Selected examples of Judith’s projects follow:

  • For small business client, managed winning proposals in 2005, 2006, and 2007 (the largest worth more than $38 million) to provide environmental and waste management services to NASA and other clients
  • For large hospital system, led large team providing internal and external communications, training, and documentation in support of system-wide roll-out of a new distributed computer system
  • For international garment manufacturer, developed training packages for implementation of global safety training program
  • Managed orchestration of presentations and briefings including coaching proposed key technical leaders for required 4-hour presentations to win government contracts
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The Evolution of Tech Comm Careers: How Writers in Today’s Bay Area Workplaces Exceed Conventional Expectations about What We Do

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

The stereotype still may be that technical communicators write technical manuals, period. But the reality in Bay Area workplaces is much different. Careers in our field have evolved and continue to evolve in two ways: The paths of practice and job descriptions for writers are expanded AND there are opportunities for practitioners to grow into new positions, leveraging their writing and editing proficiencies as transferable skills. This talk will share true stories of Bay Area writing professionals and the work that they do, stories that may surprise and encourage you.

About the Speaker

Lu RehlingSince 1994, Lu Rehling has directed the Technical & Professional Writing Program at San Francisco State University, where she is a Professor in the College of Humanities. She also has over 15 years of experience in industry, as a writer, editor, manager, trainer, and consultant, including experience (during a two-year leave of absence from her academic position) as a Technical Publications Manager in Silicon Valley. She is an Associate Fellow of the STC and a former President of the San Francisco chapter.

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Deeper Instructional Design

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

This presentation goes into the cognitive and emotional underpinnings behind the traditional instructional design components: introduction, concept, example, practice, summary.

Too much of eLearning is following instructional design principles by rote instead of with a real understanding of the way the brain functions and the role the instructional elements play. The evidence is clear, it’s too easy to find eLearning with a rote knowledge focus, verbose writing, boring introductions, fact recitation, useless examples, meaningless practice, and a consequent rapid atrophy of the experience. What we want is meaningful outcomes, and what we get is a painful experience to be avoided. What’s a designer to do? In this session, the instructional design elements are taken apart and connected to an understanding of how the brain works and what really works for learning. We’ll bring in the ‘emotional’ elements to paint a picture of what meaningful learning really is and how to produce it. We’ll then turn it around to produce an understanding of learning design that leads to meaningful outcomes.

About the Speaker

Clark QuinnClark Quinn, Ph.D. has been innovating for business, education, government, and the not-for-profit sectors for over 30 years. He integrates creativity, cognitive science, and technology to deliver engaging and effective strategies and solutions to learning, knowledge and performance needs. Dr. Quinn has led the design of award-winning online content, educational computer games, and websites, as well as intelligent learning, mobile, and performance support systems. He has served as an executive in online and elearning initiatives, and has an international reputation as a scholar and presenter. He works on behalf of clients through Quinnovation.

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Using a Portfolio to Ace a Job Interview

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

Jack Molisani, owner of ProSpring Technical Staffing and perennial SF STC favorite, presented a controversial yet informative session on how to create effective resumes.

In this follow-up to his dynamic "Resume Secrets that May Surprise You" presentation, Jack lead an entertaining and interactive session on how a portfolio is more than just samples of your work—it is an interviewing tool you can use to achieve the four critical steps needed to receive a job offer.

The presentation included what to put in a portfolio, how to get things to put in your portfolio, and most importantly, how to use your portfolio to ace a job interview.

About the Speaker

Jack MolisaniJack Molisani is an STC Associate Fellow and the president of ProSpring, a staffing firm specializing in staff and contract technical writers: www.ProSpringStaffing.com.

Jack also produces the LavaCon Conference on Technical Communication and Project Management: www.lavacon.org.

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Beyond the Practitioners' Lore: Reading the Research

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

You don’t need to be an academic to read a research article. Even if you don’t read every word, you can find supportand new directionsfor your thinking.

As technical communicators at work (aka practitioners), we make countless decisions about document design, sentence structure, vocabulary, typology. Many of these choices we base on our education, training, corporate guides, or department policies. But many we just make up based on what feels right to us-on our “practitioners’ lore.”

Basing our work on research has always been vital to technical communication. It can ground our decisions in reality, introduce new possibilities, and enliven our style committee meetings.

This presentation explores how we can improve our work by reading research articles. Susan Becker uses as examples several guidelines from the NIST (National Institute of Standards and Technology) Style Guide for Voting System Documentation and shows how they were developed through a process of reading the research, reviewing the current accepted guidelines, and critiquing sample documents.

About the Speaker

Susan C. Becker is an Information Developer at IBM. She has worked as an independent contractor and technical communication consultant in San Francisco for over 20 years. Susan co-authored the Style Guide for Voting System Documentation for the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST). She is a new STC Associate Fellow, past president of the San Francisco chapter, and a member of the Usability Professionals' Association (UPA). Her online and print documentation have received local STC awards.

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How to Get Started with a Cross Functional Approach to Content Management – The Complete Project Lifecycle

Wednesday, February 18, 2009

The presentation focuses on the ability to use DITA (XML) to deliver to multiple outputs to improve the customer experience and gain efficiency. We will discuss the complete project lifecycle starting with persona development across functions and show you where to begin with a content management initiative.

You will learn how to:

  •   Put together a business case and develop an ROI
  •   Identify opportunities for optimization using a content maturity model
  •   Audit the content, development process, and technology
  •   Align the content development process to the product lifecycle
  •   Analyze the audiences and build a content delivery model that aligns with their needs
  •   Identify how DITA can support the delivery model
  •   Build a project roadmap
  •   Put together metrics for measuring success
About the Speaker

Joan Lasselle Joan Lasselle is Founder and President of Lasselle-Ramsay, Inc., a professional services company that develops business information and learning solutions that drive superior user experience, productivity, and change.

Lasselle-Ramsay focuses on four practice areas: content management, technical documentation, training development, and on-the-job information tools.

Since 1982, Lasselle-Ramsay has worked with major high-tech and medical device manufacturers to develop technical documentation solutions for commercial products.

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Building in Quality: The Leszek Method
January 21, 2009

Documentation quality activities are often ad-hoc, observed as often in the breach as in the doing. At the same time, most technical writers are fiercely quality oriented, but too often we depend on our ability to execute perfectly instead of depending on consistent and frequent quality procedures during documentation development.

Andrea Leszek, the Director of Documentation at salesforce.com, has devised a series of processes that assume writers are not perfect. The procedures are used in an Agile environment, supporting software delivered for the web, so you can bet the processes are lightweight! These lightweight but strictly enforced processes allow writers to catch mistakes before they are delivered to the customer. And they acknowledge that none of us can be perfect 100% of the time.

This presentation will convince you that you have time for quality processes in your day to day writing life, and that there are many points in the documentation development process where quality can be double-checked in a very short period of time.

Mysti Berry will explain the shift in perspective required, present each process, and share stories about how she and nearly every writer was skeptical, but how the efficacy of the Leszek Method won them over.

Mysti BerryAbout the Presenter: Mysti Berry is a Lead Technical Writer at salesforce.com, focused on the Force.com API and the Force.com AJAX Toolkit. Mysti has 18 years experience in technical writing, the last three spent on the API.

Mysti earned a BA in linguistics from University of California Santa Cruz and an MFA from University of San Francisco. She teaches technical writing courses at University of California Berkeley Extension.

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Quick, cheap, and insightful: Usability testing in the wild

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

It's not clear when “quick and dirty” became a dirty phrase in the usability world. There are those who believe that usability testing must be scientific, and that takes time and money—luxuries not often available to many development projects.

However, it doesn't have to be that way. Useful insights can come just by having the chance to talk with and observe participants in the most informal of settings, such as cafés, trade shows, and the company cafeteria. It's possible to get valid, useful results without the time-consuming expense of traditional testing methods.

In this presentation, usability testing expert Dana Chisnell will break down the process of collecting user research data, exploring the must-haves, the nice-to-haves, and the certainly-can-do-withouts.

This presentation is perfect for those who have never conducted a usability test. And if you've spent time coming up with your own quick-and-dirty techniques, be prepared to share your experiences.

About the presenter: Dana Chisnell is an independent usability consultant and user researcher who founded UsabilityWorks in San Francisco, CA. She has been doing usability research, user interface design, and technical communications consulting and development since 1982.

Dana ChisnellDana took part in her first usability test in 1983 while she was working as a research assistant at the Document Design Center. It was on a mainframe office system developed by IBM. Since then, she has worked with hundreds of study participants, for dozens of clients, to learn about design issues in software, hardware, web sites, online services, games, and ballots (and probably other things that are better forgotten about).

She has helped companies like Yahoo!, Intuit, AARP, Wells Fargo, E*TRADE, Sun Microsystems, and RLG (now OCLC) perform usability tests and other user research to inform and improve the designs of their products and services.

Dana’s colleagues consider her an expert in usability issues for older adults and plain language. (She says she’s still learning.) Lately, she has been working on issues related to ballot design and usability and accessibility in voting.

She's an STC Fellow and a long-time member of the Usability Professional's Association and ACM SIGCHI.

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Resume Secrets that Might Surprise You

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Jack Molisani, owner of ProSpring Technical Staffing and perennial SF STC favorite, will present a controversial yet informative session on how to create effective resumes:

“For years I've resisted speaking about resumes, thinking that everything that could possibly be said has already been covered. But after seeing candidate after candidate rejected by employers based on what they had (and didn't have) in their resumes, I realize it's time for me to step up and share what I've observed over the years: Resume secrets that might surprise you.”

Have you ever submitted a resume for a job but weren't called for an interview? Don't miss our October meeting!

About the presenter: Jack Molisani started his career in the Space Division of the United States Air Force, and is currently the president of ProSpring Technical Staffing, an employment agency specializing in project managers and technical writers: www.ProspringStaffing.com. Jack also produces The LavaCon Conference on Advanced Technical Communication and Project Management. The seventh annual LavaCon will be held October 25–28, in New Orleans, LA: www.lavacon.org.

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Paths to Success: Networking and Contributing

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

What does it take to be successful as a technical communicator? Often we focus on skills and abilities. There is always so much more to learn! But there is another set of factors that are equally important.

This interactive session focuses on the relationships, attitudes, and actions that can make all the difference. You will have an opportunity to think about your own experiences and discover ideas to help you move in the direction you want.

Linda Urban has been a technical communicator for over 25 years. When she thinks about what has mattered most when it comes to finding and keeping work, it boils down to these principles:

First: Do good work. Write well. Understand your audiences, and write for them. Know your company’s goals and priorities, and keep them in mind. Care about quality and pay attention to detail.

Second: Build your network. Not the calculated “get out there, meet other people, and exchange information” kind of network, but the day-to-day kind that comes as you work with people and build relationships. Your base for networking is created whenever you work with people. People will remember when you were reliable, when they enjoyed working with you, when you helped them out of a tight spot, when you shared your expertise. They will also remember when you didn't. Strive to have the kind of interactions you want them to remember.

Third: Keep learning. Build your skills, learn new and better methods, and pursue what interests you.

Fourth: Make a contribution. How you choose to contribute will depend on your interests, skills, personality, and time. Be guided by what you enjoy and what gives you satisfaction. Your niche may be participating in a professional organization such as STC, ISTC, or SIGDOC, it may be a special project at work, it may be mentoring friends who show an interest in what you do, or it may be presenting at conferences such as this one. You may be in front of the room, presenting, or behind the scenes. Don’t worry if you don’t like to be in the spotlight. You do not have to be out front to be a valued resource.

About the presenter: Linda Urban has over 25 years experience in technical communication. As a consultant, Linda works on training solutions, software and hardware documentation, online help systems, and product usability. She focuses on developing solutions that meet user needs and company goals, and her work has received local and international Society for Technical Communication (STC) awards.

Linda works with writers and teams to improve the quality of their documentation and training, focusing on both usefulness and usability. She also teaches courses in technical communication at the UC Berkeley Extension and UC Santa Cruz Extension.

Her website is http://www.urbancreations.com.

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Writing within an Agile Development Environment

Wednesday, August 20, 2008

Two years ago, salesforce.com switched from the traditional “waterfall” software development model to an agile development methodology using Scrum.

This has had quite an effect on how technical writers work at salesforce.com, as an agile development methodology requires several product iterations, open collaboration, and adaptability throughout the product release-cycle, whereas traditional software development operates on a strict, linear schedule that usually produces one iteration of a product.

Gavin Austin will discuss the challenges and benefits of writing in an agile development environment and share strategies that have helped writers at salesforce.com succeed in producing high-quality documentation in a fast-paced development environment.

About the presenter: Gavin Austin is a Staff Technical Writer at salesforce.com, the worldwide leader in on-demand customer relationship management (CRM) services.

Gavin has worked at salesforce.com for the past four years, writing online help, release notes, tip sheets, implementation guides, API development guides and programming language reference guides. Previously, he has written, edited, and produced technical documentation for Citadon, Borland, IDG Books, and the University of California Santa Barbara.

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Writing for a Global Audience—Best Practices and Case Studies

Wednesday, July 16, 2008

What can you do to give a company every incentive to hire you? From When writing for a global audience, technical communicators can impact both the quality of the customer experience and the eventual cost of localization. Tim Bombosch of Lasselle-Ramsay Information Development Services will share best practices and results from actual projects. Topics for discussion include determining what content to deliver to your global audience, writing best practices, techniques for lowering localization costs, and metrics for measuring success.

About the presenter: Tim Bombosch is a Project Management Professional with over 10 years experience in technical communications. He works as a project manager for Lasselle-Ramsay Information Development Services, where his clients include Hewlett Packard, Cisco, Micron, Siemens, Beckman Coulter, Iridex, the US Mint, and Plantronics.

Tim speaks extensively about project management, technical communications, and Web 2.0. Before joining Lasselle-Ramsay, he worked at Mindjet Corp, Sygate Technologies, IBM, WebMD, and Kaiser Permanente.

Tim is an active leader in the STC, having served as president and program manager of STC-SF and as secretary of the Management SIG. He is also an active member of the Project Management Institute. Before entering his current profession, he taught literature, philosophy, and media studies at Stanford University, where he received his PhD in German Studies.

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Becoming the Compelling Candidate

Wednesday, June 18, 2008

What can you do to give a company every incentive to hire you? From knowing yourself, to knowing your audience, to proactively convincing management that you are the best match, here are the steps to meet the company's needs so it will meet yours. Not only will you find better work, but you'll get more respect – and better opportunities – faster.

We'll discuss resumes, cover letters, researching, interviewing, portfolios, and negotiation as they relate to today's local job market for technical communicators. Bring your toughest questions and be prepared to participate fully.

As a former software industry Technical Writer and Publications Manager, and for the past 13 years a recruiter of Bay Area technical communicators, Andrew knows that we often fail to capitalize on our full professional potential. He also knows how we can reverse this tendency. If you're ready to make your career more fulfilling, show up and share. This one meeting will likely save you years of frustration.

About the presenter: Andrew Davis runs Synergistech Communications, a local recruiting firm for staff and contract technical communicators. Andrew is a former writer of system administration and software developer documentation for companies such as Oracle (documenting relational databases on proprietary operating systems), IBM (UNIX hypertext authoring tools), Informix (Windows database tools), Network Equipment Technologies (PBXs and routers), and Verity (enterprise text search tools). He is also a past president of the San Francisco STC.

Andrew is well-connected in Silicon Valley's software and telecommunication documentation communities, and focuses on introducing small and mid-size companies to technical communicators possessing hard-to-find technical expertise. In addition to recruiting Technical Writers, Synergistech has provided its clients with trainers, instructional designers, medical writers, and user experience (UX) professionals on both coasts.

Synergistech's web site, www.synergistech.com, contains detailed, specific advice for aspiring as well as established technical communication professionals, and includes large sections on resumes, portfolios, interviewing, contracting, compensation, and competing in today's job market. He's reachable at andrew@synergistech.com or 1-866-591-2968.

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What color is your book?

Wednesday, May 21, 2008

Symantec has the Yellow Book. IBM has the Red Book. Other large companies have other versions of this book type. What is this, and how do you write one? This presentation uses a real project as an example. You will learn to how plan, structure, and then write one of these books.

About Gilbert Gonzalez: Gilbert is an award-winning technical publications professional with over 19 years' experience planning, creating, editing, and updating technical documents for end-users, system administrators, and developers.

Gilbert is a Senior Information Developer at Symantec Corporation and the president of the San Francisco STC.

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The Power of Personas:
A 360° Approach to Understanding Users

Wednesday, April 16, 2008

Technical communicators have an increasing number of tools and approaches to choose from to deliver content to meet the needs of diverse and targeted audiences.  How do we know we are meeting the needs of our audiences and delivering the right content, at the right time, in the right format? 

User personas are a methodology that can help ensure the information model maps directly to the work and information use model of each user audience.

Joan Lasselle About Joan Lasselle: Joan is Founder and President of Lasselle-Ramsay, Inc., a professional services company that develops business information and learning solutions that drive superior user experience, productivity, and change.

Lasselle-Ramsay focuses on four practice areas: content management, technical documentation, training development, and on-the-job information tools.

Since 1982, Lasselle-Ramsay has worked with major high-tech and medical device manufacturers to develop technical documentation solutions for commercial products.

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Radical IA: Pushing the Envelope to Move Beyond Tactics to Strategic Information Architecture

Wednesday, March 19, 2008

Whether you are currently an information architect, or want to be one, the tactical aspects of IA are just one dimension of the role. Strategy is key, and in many corporate cultures it requires a radical approach to garner acceptance for the strategic dimension of the IA role.

Join Andrea Ames for a conversation about Radical IA – what it is and how to achieve it, as well as how to determine when it’s fruitless in your corporate culture. Bring lots of questions and your own experiences to enable a lively and interactive discussion!

Andrea AmesAbout Andrea Ames: Andrea is a Senior Technical Staff Member and Information Experience Strategist and Architect in the Information Management division of the IBM Software Group.

Andrea has nearly 25 years of experience in technical communication, specializing in information strategy, usability, architecture, and design.

She is a Fellow and past President (2004-05) of STC, an ACM Distinguished Engineer, and a senior member of IEEE. She designed, coordinates, and teaches in the UCSC in Silicon Valley certificate program in Technical Writing and Communication.

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The Pulse of Today's Job Market: 3 Inside Perspectives
Wednesday, February 20, 2008

Are you worried about the economy's downturn? Have you ever wondered what hiring managers and recruiters are really looking for? Have you ever wanted a chance to ask questions about jobs and job searches outside of a hiring process? Here's your chance to kick your job searching skills up a notch.

Three industry leaders--Andrew Davis of Synergistech Communications, Mira Wooten of Oak Hill Corporation, and Tim Bombosch of Lasselle-Ramsay Information Development Services--will share their insider perspectives with you. Susan Becker, past president of STC SF, will serve as moderator.

Whether you are currently seeking a position, or just want to prepare yourself for your next search, or are hiring for a position, this panel provides an valuable opportunity to reassess your job search skills. Following this presentation, you will be able to conduct shorter, more effective job searches--a valuable skill at any time and even more valuable in today's climate.

To make sure we address the most common questions, we invite you to send your questions in advance to Tim Bombosch at bombosch@gmail.com. During most of the evening, however, panelists will field your questions from the audience.

About Tim Bombosch: Tim Bombosch is a technical communications consultant and Project Management Professional for Lasselle-Ramsay Information Development Services. His projects range from high tech and bio tech to consumer electronics and manufacturing. Clients include Hewlett Packard, Genentech, Boston Scientific, Iridex, Beckman Coulter, the US Mint, and Plantronics.

Tim speaks and writes extensively about project management, technical communications, and Web 2.0. He is a Senior Member of the STC and serves currently the Secretary of the STC Management SIG. He is the and Program Manager of STC SF as well as its Immediate Past President. Tim has written and managed multiple award-winning documentation projects at Lasselle-Ramsay, Mindjet, Sygate Technologies, IBM, and Kaiser Permanente.

Before becoming a technical communicator and project manager, Tim taught media studies at Stanford University, where he received his PhD in German Studies.

About Andrew Davis: Andrew Davis runs Synergistech Communications, a local recruiting firm for staff and contract technical communicators. Andrew is a former writer of system administration and software developer documentation for companies such as Oracle (documenting relational databases on proprietary operating systems), IBM (UNIX hypertext authoring tools), Informix (Windows database tools), Network Equipment Technologies (PBXs and routers), and Verity (enterprise text search tools).

Andrew is well-connected in Silicon Valley's software and telecommunication documentation communities, and focuses on introducing small and mid-size companies to technical communicators possessing hard-to-find technical expertise. In addition to recruiting Technical Writers, Synergistech has provided its clients with trainers, instructional designers, medical writers, and user experience (UX) professionals on both coasts.

Synergistech's web site, www.synergistech.com, contains detailed, specific advice for aspiring as well as established technical communication professionals, and includes large sections on resumes, portfolios, interviewing, contracting, compensation, and competing in today's job market. He's reachable at andrew@synergistech.com or 1-866-591-2968.

About Mira Wooten: Mira Wooten is the Director of Business Development at Oak Hill Corporation, a consulting company that specializes in technical content development. Mira is a gifted networker who is grounded in industry best practices. Her well-honed communication and negotiation skills help her determine client needs and balance those with the requirements of contractors and the company Oak Hill, making sure everyone wins.

She's a senior member of the STC and a certified Enterprise Content Management Practitioner, with a BS degree in Business from the University of Phoenix and a graduate certificate in Telecommunications Management from Golden Gate University. Mira writes and performs music to raise money for non-profits in the Bay Area when she's not helping her clients achieve their business goals.

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An Overview of Trends, Tools, and Technologies in Software User Assistance

Wednesday, January 16, 2008

The application of technical communication skills to the development of software user assistance has grown immensely in the past twenty years. This specialization is very fulfilling and challenging and technical communicators are finding their role in the software development process to be increasingly valued.

User assistance is much more than "Help." It encompasses a wide range of skills and technologies that are combined to improve the software user's experience.

  • We contribute through wizards, tutorials, and web-based training.

  • We develop and populate knowledge bases and content management systems.

  • Printed manuals and their PDF equivalents are still an important element of our documentation sets.

  • Many of us are now embedding helpful content directly into the user interface.

  • We are involved with usability testing, localization, testing, quality assurance, and branding.

This presentation provides a cutting-edge overview of the latest trends in software user assistance, defines the key terminology, highlights the most important technologies, and offers predictions on future directions of our field. The seventy-five minute session should be of interest to technical communicators of all backgrounds and experience levels.

About the presenter: Joe Welinske is the president of WritersUA, formerly known as WinWriters. WritersUA is a company devoted to providing training and information for user assistance professionals.

The WritersUA/WinWriters Conference draws hundreds of attendees each year from around the world to share the latest in user assistance design and implementation. The free content on the WritersUA web site attracts over 20,000 visitors each month. The WritersUA Annual Conference will be held in Portland, Oregon, March 16-19, 2008.

Joe has been involved with software documentation development since 1984. Together with Scott Boggan and David Farkas, Joe authored two editions of the popular and pioneering book Developing Online Help for Windows. He has also taught online Help courses at the University of Washington, UC Santa Cruz, and Bellevue Community College.

Joe received a B.S. in Industrial Engineering from the University of Illinois in 1981, and a M.S. in Adult Instructional Management from Loyola University in 1987. Joe is currently serving his second term as President of the STC Puget Sound Chapter.

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Automating API Documentation

Wednesday, October 17, 2007

API Documentation is a fast-growing and highly-paid specialty in Technical Writing. As Monique Semp explains, you can write an API Reference in FrameMaker and publish it as a PDF, but such a document is difficult to maintain and unlikely to satisfy your target audience: programmers. Programmers expect online, hyperlinked reference material that's exactly in sync with the API elements (such as classes and functions).

This presentation shows how to use automated tools to generate an HTML-formatted API Reference. Monique will give us an overview of automating an API reference's production and tell us the advantages of such an approach over a manual solution such as FrameMaker-to-PDF. She will give us guidelines for choosing the right tool, and discuss concerns such as imposing coding standards and workflow changes on the engineers. She will demonstrate how this all worked when, using DoxyS, she developed an API Reference for a 700+ function ANSI C API.

About the presenter: A Senior STC member, with more than 15 years of documentation and software experience, Monique has won STC Touchstone and Berkeley competition awards of merit and excellence every year since 2001.

Monique began her career as a software engineer writing PL/M and C code for automated train control (the “people movers” in airports) and the accompanying user manuals. Her career evolved and she's been a technical writer since 2001; her first project was producing API documentation for Java-based wireless applications.

Monique has her own company, Write Quick, Inc., and provides many technical writing services, including API references, programming guides, configuration manuals, and technical processes and procedures.

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What does Web 2.0 Mean for Technical Communication?

Wednesday, September 19, 2007

Web 2.0 is a concept without a definition. Think of it as wikis and blogs, collective intelligence, multidirectional communication. Technology often innovates faster than businesses can adapt, and Web 2.0 is no exception. This new webscape’s challenge to technical communicators is profound:

  • How can technical communicators maintain complete, accurate, and easy to use documentation in an environment that is constantly evolving and invites both participation and customization?

  • What is the evolving role of technical communicators in this paradigm?

  • What technology and production issues do technical communicators face?

On a deeper level, the role of technical communicators changes most dramatically because, in a Web 2.0 world, the value and role of information changes.

Instead of an add-on expense to product development, technical communication holds all of the pieces of Web 2.0 technology together. In addition to integrating help files and PDFs into product packages or interfaces, technical communicators become deeply embedded in marketing communication, support, and e-commerce.

About the presenter: Tim Bombosch is a certified project management professional (PMP) and technical communication consultant with Lasselle-Ramsay in Mountain View, California. He is currently a project manager for information development projects. He also implements content management systems and plans strategically for the future of technical communication.

Tim has over 8 years of experience in the technical communication industry. He worked at Mindjet, Sygate Technologies (now Symantec), IBM, Web MD, and Kaiser Permanente. Before beginning his career as a technical communicator, Tim taught media studies at Stanford University, where he completed his PhD in German studies and wrote extensively about German cinema.

Tim is the immediate past president of the San Francisco STC.

What Technical Communicators Need to Know to Succeed in the Real World

Wednesday, August 15, 2007

Whatever technical communicators have been doing, we've not been achieving all that well. According to studies of technical communication departments, we are not getting the work that we seek. We are not perceived as the champions of users in the organization—usability groups get that responsibility. Web and intranet sites are developed by Web developers rather than technical communicators.

The news isn't all gloom and doom—many technical communicators are finding ways to get the work we seek. What are these people successfully doing?

That’s what this interactive session explores. Specifically, it identifies the needed skills and the sales strategies that work, helps participants develop their own action plans and, in the process, helps participants seriously consider what success means.

About the presenter: Barbara A. Giammona has been a technical communicator for more than 20 years and a manager of technical communicators for more than 15. After seven years as a vice president at Morgan Stanley in New York City, she is currently the manager of corporate IT communications for McKesson Corporation.

Barbara’s article “The Future of Technical Communication: How Innovation, Technology, Information Management, and Other Forces Are Shaping the Future of the Profession,” published in Technical Communication, the Society's journal, in August 2004, was the recipient of the Frank R. Smith Award for Distinguished Technical Communication.

Barbara is an STC Associate Fellow and a member of the San Francisco STC chapter and the Orange County chapter, where she plans to relocate.

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YouTube, Lifecasting, and You: How video affects online communication

Wednesday, July 18, 2007

With ubiquitous broadband availability, video on the Internet has undergone a revolution in the last 2 years.

Video-enabled iPods and cell phones, RSS-ready iTunes, YouTube, digital cameras and camcorders, and inexpensive data plans have all given bloggers, independent video makers, and "lifecasters" multiple outlets for sharing their views, opinions, observations, and information.

This month, Stephanie Bryant, author of Videoblogging for Dummies, presents an overview of the tools and technologies to help you decide the best methods for getting your video message out there.

About the presenter: Stephanie Bryant is a technical writer and videoblogger from Santa Cruz, California. She's the author of Videoblogging for Dummies, and has been videoblogging since May, 2005. Some of the videoblogs she's worked on include the Intellectual Property Society's videoblog. She lives on the road with her husband and their cat.

Structured Wikis for Collaboration and Content Management

Wednesday, June 20, 2007

Wikis are great! But because Wiki Markup does not structure information as effectively as XML, reusing content and single sourcing can be difficult. The open-source, structured Wiki system TWiki takes important steps towards overcoming this obstacle, making adopting Wikis for technical communication more viable.

In this presentation, Phil Gochenour of CNET explores the basic functionality of TWiki and what makes it “structured.” He discusses TWiki's benefits for collaboration and some plugins and variables that extend its functionality. Phil's presentation also includes a demo of a TWiki Wiki he developed at CNET.

About the presenter: Phil Gochenour, a technical communicator in the Project and Service Management and Documentation Group at CNET Networks, is directly responsible for developing and maintaining the internal CNET Networks TWiki system.

Phil holds a PhD in comparative literature, with a specialization in media studies, from Emory University. He has taught in the media studies program of the University of Virginia as a visiting assistant professor of digital media studies, and is the author, of articles on online communities, systems theory, and the novels of Thomas Pynchon. Since 1999, Phil has been involved with online content development as a writer, editor, content strategist, and information architect.

Introduction to the Translation of Technical Documents

Wednesday, May 16, 2007

An overview of Globalization, Internationalization, Localization, and Translation: what they are and who does them, and concepts you as a Technical Writer must understand about presenting your work in other languages.

About the presenter: Daniel Doornbos took his first technical writer job in 1982 covering lubrication and maintenance of farm machinery and construction equipment at Chek-Chart, a division of Simon & Schuster (now part of Motor Information Systems).

After spending a few years as a Manager of Graphic Production, Daniel returned to writing as the Technical Publications Manager at Pinnacle Systems (now a division of Avid) documenting video editing and broadcast television products. Later, Daniel worked as a contractor for several companies, including his former employers, developing documentation for the mortgage, health care, automotive, and broadcast television industries.

Currently, Daniel is the lone writer at Promise Technology, where he develops user documentation for RAID controllers and storage subsystems. His responsibilities include localization of user documents and GUIs.

Daniel received his MBA degree from Golden Gate University and certificates in the Management of Technical Documentation and in Graphic Production from the UC Santa Cruz Extension.

From World-Weary to World-Ready: Meeting Today's Content Globalization Challenges

Wednesday, April 18, 2007

Today, the need to produce content ready for all world markets is greater than ever, but localization costs are higher, too.

Much attention is focused on localization methodologies, tools like Translation Memories, and content management systems, but the biggest factor in the quality and cost of all content still is the size and quality of the source material itself.

This workshop gives technical writers and content developers tips and techniques they can implement immediately to improve content and cut localization costs significantly. The seminar also presents a business case for improving content development and reducing word counts.

About the presenter: Hans Fenstermacher is President and founder of ArchiText, a division of language service provider Translations.com (part of the TransPerfect Global Group). ArchiText provides comprehensive translation, localization, and content globalization services to Global 2000 companies.

Born in Germany, Hans speaks six languages fluently and holds degrees from Princeton University and the Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy. His 25-year career in the language and writing industries led him to create ArchiText's ABREVE® process (patent pending), a proprietary English content globalization system, designed to reduce content volume, enhance content usability, and maximize content efficiency. Hans is an Associate Fellow of the Society for Technical Communication, as well as past president of the Boston Chapter. In 2002 Hans founded the Globalization And Localization Association (GALA) and served as its first Chairman.

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The Sheer Audacity! Using the open source Audacity audio editing program to produce great podcasts. Presented by Jerry Franklin

Wednesday, March 21, 2007

What is podcasting, why is it important to me, and how can I get in on it? Jerry will answer these questions by presenting a brief overview of podcasting in the corporate world, also including a few examples of how podcasts are being used to deliver technical information.

Jerry will spend most of the presentation providing an overview and high-level tutorial on Audacity, the free audio editing software that has enabled many people both with and without technical backgrounds to engineer and produce their own podcasts.

About the presenter: Jerry Franklin is a freelance technical and marketing writer for a range of high-tech clients. Before becoming a freelancer, Jerry was the lone technical writer at Bricsnet, a small private software company in San Francisco. Prior to Bricsnet, Jerry worked at another small private software company, ZANTAZ, in Pleasanton. Prior to that, Jerry worked at PeopleSoft, where he managed content for www.peoplesoft.com before transitioning into technical writing elsewhere in the company.

Jerry became involved with podcasting when he began helping his wife build her business as a certified dog trainer. Their podcast, The Good Dog Show, may be found at www.dogworks.libsyn.com.

Jerry belongs to the STC, the IEEE Professional Communication Society, and the ACM SIGDOC. He lives in Alameda with his wife and, of course, two dogs. Contact Jerry at audacityguy@gmail.com.

A Panel Moderated by Barbara Giammona with Andrew Davis, Meryl Natchez, and Julia Cope

Wednesday, November 16, 2005

The San Francisco Chapter STC celebrates its 25th anniversary with a panel of past, present, and future chapter leaders speaking on future trends in technical communication, with insights from the past.

Come enjoy a lively discussion among our panelists: past presidents Andrew Davis and Meryl Natchez, current president, Julia Cope, and new chapter member, Barbara Giammona. Find out where they think technical communication is headed in the Bay Area and hear some tales of earlier times in our chapter. Bring your questions and be prepared to add your insights.

Zero-Search-Time Documentation: An Idea Whose Time Has Come by Peter Schorer

Wednesday, July 20, 2005

In this talk, Peter Schorer, author of How to Create Zero-Search-Time Computer Documentation, will outline the ZST method for producing documentation. ZST documentation allows users to find the information they want in less than 25 seconds at least 80% of the time. The method is technology independent, and thus can be applied to the creation of online and/or paper documentation.

Even at this late date, the fields of documentation (and human factors (computer-human interface [CHI] design) do not have a simple metric for the effectiveness of their products. And yet, measurement of results is a central requirement of any technical field.

How to Use a Portfolio to Ace a Job Interview by Jack Molisani

Wednesday, June 15, 2005

Have you ever interviewed for a job you wanted but didn't get?

If so, come to our June meeting and hear Jack Molisani lead an entertaining and informative session on how a portfolio is not just a sample of your work—it is an interviewing tool you can use to achieve the four critical steps needed to receive a job offer.

The presentation will include what to put in a portfolio, how to get things to put in your portfolio, and most importantly, how to use your portfolio to ace a job interview.

Jack is founder and president of ProSpring Inc., a technical communication staffing firm: www.prospring.net. He also is producing LavaCon: The Third Annual Conference on Technical Communication Management, September 25–28 in Honolulu, Hawaii: www.lavacon.org.

Network Security: Issues, Technology, and Management by Mark Kadrich

Wednesday, May 18, 2005

Mark Kadrich, Senior Scientist at Sygate Technologies, will speak about fundamental issues in network security, including emerging technologies, risks, and management. His presentation begins with a discussion of network security basics and then proceeds to a discussion of regulatory compliance. The second half of the presentation will analyze state of the art security technologies and solutions, with an emphasis on how enterprises can effectively manage network security.

Writing Content for the International Audience by Michael R. Cardenas

Wednesday, April 20, 2005

If you have been involved in authoring content in just one language, let's say English for North America, you will definitely agree that it is not a
cakewalk.

So what is different about authoring content that needs to be localized
into several languages? Are there any special issues we need to take into
consideration as technical communicators?

In his presentation, Michael will explore the special needs technical
localizers face when taking your English content to other cultures and
countries.

From Tutorials to Programmer's Guides by James Bisso

Wednesday, March 16, 2005

This presentation looks at sample applications, tutorials, and other kinds of instructional code that can be leveraged to write an API programmer's guide.

 

ISO Auditing for Technical Communicators: An Introduction by Kathy Stanley

Wednesday, February 16, 2005

Capitalize on your talent for communications by working in the ISO process.

Research and Preparation - Required for our books and help, the auditor needs to understand the business that they are measuring and prepare the right set of questions. The same analytical skills that let us read and understand an engineering spec transfer readily to understanding the ISO quality system components.

Interviewing - The interviewing skills required to develop technical
information can help us focus and control an audit. Our ability to take
notes and develop information from the responses comes in handy if you want to do ISO-related work.

Writing - Each audit requires a comprehensive report. Our ability to
communicate complex information in a simple, effective way is a natural
match for the type of writing required for an audit report.

Professional Growth and Networking - Being part of ISO will introduce you to people from all parts of the business world and different industries.

An Overview of Trends, Tools, and Technologies in Software User Assistance by Joe Welinske, President, WritersUA

Wednesday, January 19, 2005

The application of technical communication skills to the development of software user assistance has grown immensely in the past twenty years. This specialization is very fulfilling and challenging and technical communicators are finding their role in the software development process to be increasingly valued.

User assistance is much more than "Help." It encompasses a wide range of skills and technologies that are combined to improve the software user's experience. We contribute through wizards, tutorials, and web-based training.

Holiday Party.

Wednesday, December 15, 2004

A special holiday celebration with door prizes

The San Francisco STC is bringing the year to a rousing finale with a
special holiday party at the London Wine Bar in downtown San Francisco. The price of admission includes hors d'oeuvres and wine service for two hours. We will also have door prizes.

This will be our last meeting at the London Wine Bar. Come experience the ambience of the place we love so well one more time before we move to the Elephant and Castle.

Celebrate the end of another year. It's a great chance to renew
acquaintances with other technical communicators and to meet some new people. See details.

Information Architecture for Technical Communicators

Wednesday, November 17, 2004

How is being an "information architect" different from being a
"technical communicator"? Both consider audience needs, identify
information to be included, analyze existing content, determine
information structure and organization, and determine how to make
information "findable" for users. But for information architects, the
work often stops at describing the architecture, rather than developing
the content itself, and the deliverables may have names like site map,
wire frames, taxonomies, metadata, and controlled vocabularies. For
those who are new to IA, this may sound jargony and technical, but there are plenty of parallels in technical communication (think documentation plan, outline, sample topics, terminology list, index entries). more>>

Fitting WebWorks Publisher Into a Publications Workflow
Presenter: Steve Homer, Freelance Technical Writer

Wednesday, October 20, 2004

This session offers a brief overview of WebWorks Publisher Pro 2003 and describes how this tool fits into a publications workflow.

We will address the following questions:

  • How do you choose the best help authoring tool for your situation?
  • Are you doing “single-sourcing” if you use WebWorks?
  • What types of publications workflows lend themselves to single-sourcing?
  • What types of organizations will find single-sourcing irritating?
  • How does the size of your organization affect how a help authoring tool fits into your workflow?
  • What kinds of customizations can you make to WebWorks output?

Structured Authoring, XML and Single Sourcing: An Update
Presenter: David Knopf

Wednesday, September 15, 2004

Publishing technologies are evolving rapidly. To a large degree, the workflow and tools you choose will determine how easily and effectively you can create, manage, publish, and maintain content. Structured authoring, XML, and single sourcing are spreading throughout large information development organizations. Technical content is an important asset and should be managed accordingly. In this presentation, David Knopf will address recent trends and suggest which approaches work best for today's technical publishing organizations.

Developing a Healthy Response to Stress
Presenter: Richard Pinneau

Wednesday, August 18, 2004

Stress is pandemic and is seriously damaging health, productivity, and
creativity. The psychological and physiological responses of human beings under stress can be miraculously effective in the face of life-threatening physical threats but are severely maladaptive for long-term psychologically stressful conditions. Health, performance, and creativity all benefit from learning simple skills for defusing the effects of modern occupational pressures and challenges. Richard Pinneau, Ph.D., offers you some skills to begin using immediately and methods to instill them as automatic, healthy responses to stress.

Your Writing Samples Portfolio: A Personal Sales Kit & Career History
Presenter: Lu Rehling

Wednesday, July 21, 2004

A writing samples portfolio is a critical tool for career advancement. No technical communicator's resume and/or cover letter is complete without promising that the job (or promotion) seeker has a portfolio of writing samples available. Which means that every technical communicator needs to decide what to include, how to pull everything together, how to present the resulting portfolio well, and how to efficiently and effectively update it over time. Presentation Evaluation Checklist

Increase Your Job Satisfaction and Your Value to Your Company by Improving Your Project Management Skills
Presenter: Tim Bombosch PhD, PMP

Wednesday, June 16, 2004

When I ask technical communicators to describe themselves, they almost always identify their writing, tool, design or technology skills. But, when I ask them why projects succeed or fail, effective or ineffective project management practices lead the list of reasons they give.

Technical communicators have a unique set of skills to be effective
project managers. By improving your project management skills, you can advance your career, improve the quality of your work, and increase your job satisfaction. Presentation

Stay Motivated and Thrive!
Presenter: Howard Miller

Wednesday, May 19, 2004

Technical Communication has changed a lot in the last few years and will continue this way. How do you stay current and continue to grow in an ever changing environment? This interactive presentation will explore how you can create the most success in your career and in your life! Howard Miller, the presenter, is a professional Life Coach who is passionate about developing and coaching people to be the best they can be. In this program Howard will combine lecture and exercises to help each person get more motivated and excited to pursue enhancing their careers. Presentation
Howard Miller: Supplying capability for action.

Non-Fatal Errors: Creating Usable, Effective Error Messages
Presenter: Emily Wilska

Wednesday, April 21, 2004

"Memory requests for some applications may be denied." "Error 404: File Not Found." "Error on page." "Invalid entry. Please check your info and resubmit." "Fatal error. Procedure aborted."

It's often easy to identify what kinds of error messages don't help users, but it can be tricky to avoid them, and even more of a challenge to create the opposite: error messages that give users a clear indication of the problem, offer information to help them fix it, and provide tips on how to avoid the same situation in the future.

In this workshop, we'll explore what makes many error messages so bad, simple steps to make them better, and how good error messages can help make technical communicators' jobs easier. In addition, we'll look at ways of communicating to managers and executives the value of good error messages-in terms of reduced support costs, happier customers, and better products. Presentation

White Papers In Your Future
Presenter: Beau Cain

Wednesday, March 17, 2004

How do white papers help managers, engineers, governments, and consumers justify decisions in today's lean economy? How do technical or marketing communications writers know what type of white paper will do the job best? (Hint: There are ten types of white papers.)

Join us for a session exploring this most versatile and misunderstood of all business and engineering document types. We'll discover the difference between a white paper and a whitewash, and learn how white papers can be excellent tools for insinuating technical publications departments into the planning phases of product development. Presentation

The Changing UI of Technical Communication: Transforming Your Career and Moving from Commodity to Strategic Contributor
Presenter: Andrea L. Ames

February 18, 2004

The economy's taken a downturn, and you know that many companies lay off cost centers, like technical publications and training, first. Perhaps you've already been laid off--or you're concerned you might be. You've heard that many companies are "offshoring" technical writing for fees as low as $5/hour--effectively commoditizing the writing and Help development skills you've relied on for years. You're ready to take the next steps in your career.

Join Andrea L. Ames for a brief look at the state of the industry and how you can progress in your career. She'll discuss the characteristics of commoditized technical writing, what you can do to contribute to product profitability and company strategy, and how you can demonstrate your additional value to your company or clients. Presentation

Re-purposing Technical Communications
Presenter: Mick Renner

January 21, 2004

As technical communicators, we have developed skills that are useful to the wider community. For example, the insight and understanding you use to create a chart for a technical manager can translate into the skills necessary for creating a chart for a traffic-control meeting, a fact sheet for your local animal shelter, or a diagram for a fundraising effort at your child's school.

We all have the power to make wider use of our knowledge and experience. By doing so, we can provide benefits for others and gain a deep sense of personal and professional satisfaction.

In this session, we'll examine the various ways we have made such contributions and suggest new ways of benefiting our communities.

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