humor: newbie and respect

From the Sidelines on Being a Tech Comm Newbie and Respect

It was a long time ago, I'll be the first to admit, but I was a newbie once, too. A fresh-faced innocent to technical writing, wide-eyed and fairly glowing with charming naivete. Well, I like to think that now, only because it makes it so much easier, but I suppose that wasn't really true for me any more than it is for anyone. As a matter of fact, by the time I got my first tech writing job, I was already jaded and vaguely misanthropic ... Continue reading ...

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Technical Writing Humor: From the Sidelines on Family Tech Support

About a month ago, my dorky little brother was in town. As usual, he drove to Colorado from New Mexico with a truck full of stuff. Once, after he left, I counted fourteen bicycles in my garage. Once, I ended up with a cat. Always, though, I get computer stuff. This time, though, I didn't get all of it. See, my mother lives maybe five miles away from me, and my brother gave her a computer, too. Continue reading ...

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Technical Writing Humor: From the Sidelines on the Real TW Life

Once, I spent about four hours dinking around with the warning icons for a manual. I tweaked the little stick men so the guy with the flames licking at his heels was a portrait in sheer, abject terror. Another time, I wrote a series of manuals for the United States Army completely in E-Prime, that wacko crackpot linguistic movement that calls for the complete elimination of the 'be' verbs. And you know why I did it, too. And I'm going to say it now, and you can't stop me. Ready? Continue reading ...

technical writing humor

Technical Writing Humor: The Sidelines on Job Interviews

I think I have finally figured out interviews. People doing interviews are clever, calculating, and psychic, and they know I drove in an old beato-matic Volvo with no glove compartment. (Actually, it does have a glove compartment, but it's in the trunk right now.) Interviewers ask tricky questions, they have ulterior motives, and they see directly into your soul. Continue reading ...

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Technical Writing Humor: From the Sidelines on Marketing Writing

My name is Lisa, and I am a marketing writer. I write direct mail campaigns, Web copy, ad copy, "advertorials" and "edutorials," press releases, brochures, and whatever else comes along. I worked as a technical writer for over ten years, and I did well at it. I was a good technical writer, and I still am. It's just that I got bored. I was sick of working on projects that never seemed to end; I was sick of waiting for busy and sometimes snotty engineers to answer my questions about products that did not yet exist; I was sick of writing what seemed sometimes to be the same thing over and over and over again; and I was really sick of having to "prove" myself to every person I came in contact with at work. Continue reading ...

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Technical Writing Humor: The Sidelines on Tech Writer Job Titles

It's probably got something to do with the fact that we're generally an isolated lot. Almost by definition, we tech writer like people work in environments where we perform a secondary or even tertiary function. We're a minority. We're not the primary line of business. We're a cost center. So we like to think that we belong, at least, to some sort of global professional community. We look for some kind of solidarity among ourselves--some sort of agreement as to who we are and what we do. And when someone comes along who disagrees or doesn't fit into our perceived tech writer demographic, we call them hacks, wannabes, and newbies. Continue reading ...

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Technical Writing Humor: The Sidelines View of Telecommuting

I've done two stretches of full-time telecommuting--the first for about six months, and the second for about three months. My home office is impossibly glamorous. I have one of those executive oak desks from the 1950's with a little shelf thingy on the front to hold my trophies. I have a ceiling fixture I made out of chicken wire and plastic beads, a series of turn-of-the-century tobacco card pictures of boxers, and rotary dial telephones in a veritable rainbow of colors. I can burn incense and drink beer and wear glow-in-the-dark boxer shorts and listen to Guitarwolf without headphones if I feel like it. And yeah, sometimes I feel like it. Continue reading ...

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Technical Writing Humor: The Unemployment Fairy and Karma

Okay, so remember that whole living on the edge thing I was talking about in my last column? Well, I'm going with that. I went and got laid off, thereby facilitating yet another full-blown midlife crisis. And the fates are with me on this one. See, as the signs of an impending layoff became increasingly difficult to ignore, I was in the middle of refinancing my house. So, clever hen that I am, I tacked a little extra money onto my loan for, oh, say, home improvement or something. You know, like, improving the house. Continue reading ...