TechWhirl: Technical Communication Recap for March 22, 2013

technical communication recapMaybe it’s just March, we all seem to be dealing with a bit of madness (go Rams!) so it seems an appropriate subject for this week’s technical communication recap. Whether you’re fitting your regular work in around checking your NCAA brackets, or being admirable professionals who prioritize the tech comm work first, you had a lot to keep your eyes on this week.

Craig Cardimon served admirably as Whirler extraordinaire, curating a great set of tech comm, content management and UX blog posts in Tech Writer This Week (for those of you who asked, we use Storify to curate TWTW, and it doesn’t always play nicely with all the browsers and configurations out there), and providing a review of Notepad++, the highly regarded open source tool. And we’re happy to have had Geoff Hart educating us on Ten Design Principles.

It was an especially busy week on the email discussion list with lively debates on time spent on core tasks, the challenge of hiring technical communicators with or without testing, state of the job market, tips for using Microsoft Word, and term suggestions.  As Reshma Pednse put it so succinctly, “Thank you, for an excellent week on Techwr-l. From writing and editing tests to correcting formatting in Word, it’s been time well spent here:)”  Couldn’t have said it better ourselves…

Have a great weekend!

-Connie and the gang at TechWhirl

 Tech Writer This Week

Tech Writer This Week for March 21, 2013

Last week Google dropped a bomb by announcing they were killing off Google Reader, which *was* Craig’s main tool for curating items for Tech Writer This Week. So, along with everyone else who depended on Google Reader, he’s scrambling to find a replacement. In the meantime, he did find time to curate some great content on page level content organization, API documentation, usability, terminology and structure and much more.

 design-volumeknob-sm

Ten Design Principles and When to Violate Them

Dieter Rams, a German industrial designer from the functionalist school, followed a philosophy that will sound familiar when I paraphrase it: “form follows function” and “usability is fitness for purpose.” You know his work if you’ve used any Braun products released from the 1960s to the 1990s, or if you’ve used recent Apple products, many of which were inspired by his design principles. Let’s look at what technical communicators can learn from these principles—and when we should consider violating them.

 Notepad++

Easy, Functional and Free: Review of Notepad++

The first thing that grabbed my attention was the two plus signs. Why “++” ? Why not just one “+”? Technical Communicators tend to be an inquisitive lot, and I’m no exception. I found there already is a NotePad+, which is, courtesy of Wikipedia, a “text editor for Windows operating systems and is intended as a replacement for the Notepad editor installed by default on Windows.” First question answered.

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