TechWhirl Recap for October 14, 2011

nice mouse over, shh - don't tell anyone, we're going to LavaconThis week’s update is supported by Platinum sponsor ComponentOne & their Doc-To-Help Help Authoring Tool (

Another week, another few thousand miles travelled and some big activities happening at this little biz called TechWhirl.  This month we’re doing a hybrid theme of user experience in design, networking and Halloween, while desperately trying to rollout another website and start a news division.

Thanks to the very Special Writers Unit ( this little magazine is really moving along.  This week Laura McNeilly looked into what you should consider when planning a mobile help project, ( Minaker looked at Net-Twittering (Networking meets Twitter (, for the record that’s our phrase not his) and Keith Soltys did a review of Geoff Hart’s book Effective Onscreen Editing ( This leads us to wonder if there’s a hybrid book potential if we combine his book with our Biggest Lies Tech Writers Tell ( piece from a few weeks ago: Effective Onscreen Lies, fine – probably been done already but if any of you are inspired we’d like a little credit and a SEO enhance link – thank you very much.

We’re ten days away from the start of Tech Writer Halloween Horror Story Week ( ) and one week away from the deadline for submission (next Friday).  Are you participating?  Got a story to tell.  They can be short or long stories, fiction or cleansed non-fiction and really only needs to have some technology angle – we’re really looking for a little Scott Adams meets Hitchcock.

We’ve mentioned that another website is in the offering, but unless memory has failed us we haven’t mentioned what the new site will be about until, you know, now.  The working title is TechWhirl Jobs and it’ll be a job site for technical communicators.  We’ll launch in beta hopefully later next week, endure the many, many bugs, but our preference is to get it out there sooner rather than later.  Got jobs to offer? Contact Us (

Since we’re sharing, we also had an organizing call on Wednesday for our News Division.  Since “All the news that’s fit to print” is taken, we’ve decided “Hey, It’s News to Us” will be our tag line.  Yes, a lame joke but things have been busy.  We need a little help on this one.  First, we need news and second we need folks to help us organize the news.  Interested in either?  Contact Us (

We have another huge announcement but why put all in one post, when we can wait until next week, eh?

Aloha –

The gang @ TechWhirl

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What You’re Talking About

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

  • Roxana Schoen asks the list for experiences and advice on “How long and what effort for Microsoft to move help content to its current incarnation?” as she considers how to implement help in her company’s latest software release.  Great questions and debate on moving help out of the software and to the cloud, or some mixture of options, and the tools available.
  • Keith Hanson wants to know more about “Single sourcing, RoboHelp, and Frame: Newbie”.  Newbie or not, some good explanations of the basics of single sourcing, the advantages that exist, particularly in maintenance of docs, and general information on using Framemaker and RoboHelp to do it.
  • Check out the latest in the thread from Andrew Plato (“Help My Consultants Cannot write”) and Mark Griffin’s lessons learned (“FrameMaker 10 trial removes my Acrobat installation?”).

In Case You Missed it: This Week  @ TechWhirl

  • New:  “What you should consider in planning mobile help projects for field personnel,” by Laura McNeilly |
  • New:  “Real Networking with Twitter” by Ryan Minaker |
  • New:  Review of Geoff Hart’s book “Effective onscreen editing: new tools for an old profession,” by Keith Soltys |

Upcoming Articles

  • New:  “Networking Opportunities for the Online Student,” by Julie Clarke
  • New:  “Integrated Technical Communications: Defining our Sphere of Influence” by Connie Giordano
  • New:  “Getting New Clients through LinkedIn,” by Mike McCallister
  • Poll Question:  Are you satisfied with the current level of your basic tech writing skills?


We want to send a very special “thank you” to our sponsors for their support.  They are the greatest sponsors – ever and you should buy all their stuff.

Platinum A: Adobe Systems Incorporated

Platinum B: Madcap, ComponentOne

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