TechWhirl Recap for November 11, 2011

This week’s update is supported by Platinum sponsor Madcap & their Ultimate Communications Suite, MadPak |

This month’s theme is Managing Projects during the Holidays but it should probably be managing four different project streams right before the holidays for our little magazine and discussion group.  The combination of the LavaCon Conference, some technical work on the backend systems, and preparing for 2012 has made this week has been one of the busiest on record for our team.

LavaCon Conference 2012: We’ve made no secret that we’re going to Lavacon Conference this year.  We … are … excited.  And nervous.  Our little magazine forges ahead into very uncharted territory next week for a number of reasons.  First, there are five of us rather than just the duet of Connie and Al.

The SWU’s very own Jacquie Samuels (TechWhirl Articles | ) and our LavaCon contest winners Lois Patterson and Roger Renteria will be doing 99% of all the coverage at the event.  We’re super excited to work with them and finally meet them face-to-face.  They’ll be doing interviews, session summaries and creating some larger feature articles on the topics of LavaCon.

We’re nervous because this is our first foray into any type of journalism other than feature article writing.  Hard deadlines and a larger audience make for some nervousness, but that’s also what makes it exciting.  On Monday, November 14th at 9am TechWhirl will cover the opening session, The New Communication Paradigm: Smart Content, Social Media and Mobile Devices moderated by The Content Wranger, Scott Abel through live blogging.  We have never live blogged before, nor attempted to cover a “rapid-fire discussion with content industry professionals” so we’re, you know, nervous.  Excited, but nervous.

Interested in learning more about LavaCon and following the story of how 300+ people explored Developing Content for a Global Audience over a period of four days?  We invite you to occasionally check our LavaCon 2011 Story page.

Managing projects: While we’re excited to be covering LavaCon and our aim is to do it from the point of view of exploring the content strategy ideas presented rather than documenting the entire conference, we know that it’s important not to become the LavaCon Conference channel so well also be continuing with our Managing Projects During the Holidays theme as well.  Looking for articles on “Technical Writing on a Shoestring,” and getting started with eBooks publishing, as well as book reviews and more Tips & Tricks on using DITA.

All this busy-ness is a great thing because it means we’re doing more and more to bring the world of technical communications to the desktops of all of you, the professionals who help people (or help those who help people) understand and get the most out of the products they use each day.

Social Media and the Chance to Follow TechWhirl:


What You’re Talking About

A quick What you talkin’ ‘bout to our Tech Writers and their discussions in our email discussion group:

  • Becca Price is taking courses and trying to decide “which class?” that is, between learning Dreamweaver, or the coding behind CSS/HTML.  That took Whirlers down some familiar paths, between knowing a tool, or knowing the underlying concepts, and how much input do we get, or should we get, into design?
  • Nancy Allison wondered about “Laws Requiring User Documentation,” with regard to high tech products.  The traditional “It depends” response seems to apply here, along with the realization that user documentation for software is really a fraction of everything that is being done in tech comm… ‘fer instance: safety information, environmental regulation compliance, hazardous waste disposal, warnings for lithium batteries, and a range of technical specifications that can make the difference between sales or impoundment in a number of countries.
  • Ann Waterhouse posted several questions related to her search for a document solution. She’s looking at automating as much of the documentation process as possible using DITA and XML. Great advice from Robert Lauriston, Gene Kim-Eng, Scott Turner, Leonard Porello, Kevin McLaughlin and Fred Ridder.

In Case You Missed it: This Week  @ TechWhirl

  • New:  “The Foundation of Successful Collaboration” by Greg Larson|
  • Classic “What Do Technical Writers Find Stressful?”|
  • Current Poll Question: How stressful do you find your technical communications job? |
  • LavaCon Page & Story Launches:


We want to send a very special “thank you” to our sponsors for their support.  Without them the VW Microbus would run out of gas.


Platinum A: Adobe Systems Incorporated

Platinum B: ComponentOne, Madcap

Gold: Society for Technical Communication (STC), EC Software, Vancouver Island University

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