TechWhirl: Technical Communications Recap for March 16, 2012

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

The TechWhirl gang has returned from a great WritersUA conference in Memphis, with pages and pages of notes that are already being turned into articles about the latest and greatest in user assistance, lots of photos on Pinterest, good memories of the home of the Blues, and newfound appreciation for the role of ducks in modern society.

Meanwhile back on the home front, Geoff Hart provided an informative Primer on Gestalt Theory and Visual Design, and Whirlers engaged in discussions both practical and conjectural on the email list.

You still have plenty of time to vote in this week’s technical communications poll on factors impacting your user assistance work—feel free to add comments on any or all of the listed factors, or tell us what we missed.

Have a great weekend.

-The gang at TechWhirl


In Case You Missed it: This Week  @ TechWhirl

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Technical Communications: What You’re Talking About

A quick shout out to our Technical Writers and their discussions in our email discussion group:

  • Craig Cardimon wanted some opinions “Regarding the “Next” button,” and Whirlers were more than willing to oblige.  What might have been a rehash actually brought up some points some of us might miss, such as handling these references when the UI contains both buttons and links, whether the button is a “standard” on the UI, if it’s part of a wizard, and yes, the experience level of the audience.
  • Jeff Scattini needed to know “Is “untar” an acceptable verb?” within the context of software delivered by TAR files.  Consensus by responders was that among UNIX/Linux veterans, it would be well understood, but that outside that arena, not so much. Particularly since “untar” has specific meanings in languages other than English.  The more generic, and completely understandable “extract” was the most popular recommendation.
  • Stephen Arrants unearthed an example of “More Low Paying Jobs,” that raised the eyebrows of quite a few list members who wondered about a rate of $13 an hour for a technical documentation editor.  Perhaps it pays to think about several alternatives before passing judgment: it may be an entry-level or low-skill position with a misleading title; the recruiter may be low-balling, or the company may have an internal candidate in mind. Nonetheless, it’s at least anecdotal evidence that many companies still do not value technical communications at the same level as other professions.

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