TechWhirl: Technical Communication Recap for November 2, 2012

This week’s update on technical communication and the TechWhirl community is supported by Platinum sponsor ComponentOne & their Doc-To-Help Help Authoring Tool |

Halloween is over, and the second storm of the century has passed, leaving destruction, frustration, and remarkable resilience in its wake. As we move into November, it’s almost eerie that TechWhirl chose as our theme “Helping Society and Tech Comm,” with an eye towards exploring some lesser known edges of technical communication, such as disaster preparedness, accessibility, and using our skills in volunteer capacities. Fortuitous or serendipitous just don’t have the right connotation consider the struggles so many along the northeast corridor of the US are going through.  But it’s a truly worthwhile subject to explore, and our Special Writers Unit has some fascinating content coming your way. To get started, take this week’s poll on ways you spend your volunteer time.

Enjoy the creepiest the season had to offer with the 2012 Tech Writer Horror Stories, and balance that with a summary from LavaCon, a look at the father of XML, and our final October theme article from Lois Patterson on Advances in Automatic Content Production. And as always, a swath of new opportunities and some resume guidance appear on the tech comm jobs site, as well as lots of buzz to enjoy on the email discussion list.

Have a great weekend!

-The gang at TechWhirl

  Tech Writer This Week for November 1, 2012

It’s mostly by the numbers this week: 9 myths, 10 things about tech writers, tekom 12, 5 necessities in content, and 10 tips for tech writing improvement. We found great posts from around the web in content strategy, technical communication, and user experience, despite the storm of the century, 14-foot storm surges, 15,000 flight cancellations, and millions without power. Actually there’s quite a bit that doesn’t mention numbers, and it’s all worth a read. Enjoy….

  XML Myths and Visions: Revisiting the Words of the Father of XML 

The Father of XML, Jon Bosak, once expressed (way back in 1998) a vision for how XML would be used to achieve media independent publishing. That early vision is finally coming true, but not the way Bosak expected. Let me explain.

 welcome to neunet Welcome to Neunet. What Would You Like to Know?

She checked herself in the mirror, straightened her jacket and tried to look confident. The knowledge that anxiety made her epilepsy worse did nothing to ease her mind, as she imagined having a seizure in front of the people she was supposed to be impressing. She frowned at herself briefly, then took a deep breath and stepped out of the ladies’ and back onto the foyer of Neunet Plc, the self-styled “supercomputer supercompany.”

 automatic content Can Computers Write? Advances in Automatic Content Production

In the summer of 1993, I had an enjoyable university summer job. The research interests of the institute that employed me included creating an artificial intelligence system that could produce automatic précis of legal judgments. The idea was that humans like me would create a précis by hand, by selecting enough sentences from the judgment that it provided a reliable summary. My selections were recorded, and the idea then was to use neural network software to learn from the work of the human editors so that the process of creating a précis could be automated. The researchers had uncovered certain linguistic insights.

  Post-Zombie Apocalypse Feature: The Cross-Metabolic Work Force

Practical considerations still require that zombies be “physically restrained to protect both the dead and undead from the flesh-and-brain-seeking behavior we’re still trying to understand.” However, with the demand for skilled labor reaching crisis levels, more and more companies are transitioning skilled members of the infected back to work.

 Using web analytics to Expand Doc Team Value How Documentation Teams Can Use Web Analytics to Expand Their Corporate Value

Bob Zebian brought a real life example of web analytics value to documentation teams to his LavaCon 2012 session. He offered the following case study on how analytics at Sterling Commerce helped reinforce movement from a book paradigm to an online paradigm.

 zombie success story Onshoring: a Zombie Success Story – Part 2

Not only did I not eat the donuts; I went across the street for my chai. No sense taking any chances, and I needed a change of scene to think things through. What I’d learned about zombies was only reassuring from the perspective that nobody would be trying to eat my brain at work, and we wouldn’t be locking the doors and hiding out with shotguns and talwars to ward off the zombie apocalypse.

  Onshoring: a Zombie Success Story – Part 1

The whoosh of six simultaneously released bated breaths drowned out Cook’s next words. We’d been expecting the worst, and had spent more time during the last month helping each other polish our résumés than actually documenting the software. Nobody had noticed, lending an uncomfortable amount of credibility to the rumors.

 Find your next Technical Communication Job A Halloween Flavored Technical Communication Jobs Week in Review

Halloween weekend brings you a review of the TechComm Jobs spanning industries and countries. Search for the right technical communication job for you. We have technical writer roles in Durham, North Carolina, St Petersburg, Florida, Dallas, Texas and San Francisco, California plus many more locations.

  Tips and Tricks or Treats: A Tech Writer’s Guide to Zombie Spotting

Currently, we have hundreds of books and countless YouTube videos telling us how to survive the zombiepocalypse, and many of them provide useful technical and non-technical content. But what about detecting the first signs of next coming of zombies before they strike? Here are some signs savvy technical communicators should be on the lookout before it’s too late.

Technical Communication News:

Tech Comm Jobs:

Social Media and the Chance to Follow TechWhirl:


We want to send a very special “thank you” to our sponsors for their support.


Platinum: Adobe Systems Incorporated

Gold: ComponentOne Software, Madcap Software

Silver: Society for Technical Communication (STC), Vancouver Island University

Have a great weekend!

-The gang at TechWhirl

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