TechWhirler Recap for August 26

Lucy moving the football from Charlie BrownThis week’s update is supported by Platinum sponsor Madcap & Flare 7 |

Since you’re reading this on your computer, it means that our recovery from last night’s website melt down is nearly complete. It appears the special fairies inside our server decided to take the night off. Thankfully, we were able to encourage them to get back to work without any prolonged meetings, protests or arbitrators.

Last night’s special technology event, our upcoming replatforming (no, one didn’t have anything to do with the other) and our work with the Special Writers Unit combined with this month’s theme of collaboration has gotten us thinking about what it really means to collaborate.  Or, to be specific what creates a good collaboration versus bad.

Great collaborative efforts normally produce amazing results.  For examples please reference any championship winning team, the first Macintosh, or a happily married couple after 50 years.

The stories that are told at the end of these relationships are normally similar: we had good communication; our team delivered when they said they would; we all had a common goal; the group trusted each other.  While failed collaborative efforts almost always result in the opposite claims: our team couldn’t communicate properly, we had internal problems; there was a lack of trust.

Good communication, dependable delivery and an unquestioned dedication to a common goal leads to trust.  And, a strong trust in each other then leads to excellent collaborative efforts.  Yes, we’re certain there’s a more technical and academic answer but this model seems to predict fairly well.

For a moment, think about someone you trust and then review how you got to that point.  Let’s say it’s a new employee – new employees, especially recent graduates, are hired for their potential, not their accomplishments.  The shear act of offering them a job means there’s at least a seed of trust, but now it needs to grow.

Collaborative endeavors are the same way.  These days, collaboration, in the terms described here is just about everything we do at TechWhirl.  We’re looking for more readers of our articles, people to help with the site development, create strategic partnerships (with writers and groups) and improving our relationships with sponsors.

We’re thrilled by the great relationships we’ve been able to start over the last four months.  Between those organizations who have given us a chance and those very special writers who have donated their valuable time to creating most of the articles you see below this one; we’re more appreciative that we can possibly express.  You’ve trusted us to do what we say and we’re thrilled to be in the position to deliver for you.

How about you?  Have you ever been in a great collaborative environment?  Or, a horrible one?  Tell us your story …

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What You’re Talking About 

Quick shout outs to our Tech Writers and their discussions in our email discussion group:

  • So the few of us who weren’t on vacation this week got a real charge out of Phil Stokes timely posting of the blog on “Original Mac user manual” to mark the passing of the torch at Apple.  Those of us old enough to remember stand in awe of the original TWs tasked with explaining a “mouse” and “scrollbars” to the masses.
  • Deborah Hemstreet has some very strick justification requirements for a document and challenged Whirlers to answer her“Full justified text question: Word 2007”.  The responses remind us that there’s always something new to learn about your tools…. Check out the recommendations.
  • Mark Giffin made the unhappy discovery that “FrameMaker 10 trial removes my Acrobat installation.” It happened to be an old but still servicable version, and Whirlers pointed out the risks in installing trials on production machines, as well as the importance of improving the installation messaging to help users make an informed decision.

In Case You Missed it: This Week @ TechWhirl

  • New: “Tips and Tricks: Staying Productive and Sane When Working in Isolation” by Craig Cardimon |
  • Classic: “The Needs of the Many” by Geoff Hart |
  • Poll question:  Benefits of collaborating with non-writers

Upcoming Articles 

  •  New: “The Case for Instant Messaging” by Laura McNeilly and Greg Larson
  •  Classic: “The Functional Flowchart: A Tool for Understanding Client Needs, Plotting a Winning Strategy, and Developing a Proposal” by Herman Holtz


We want to send a very special “thank you” to sponsors.   Without them, we’d be staring at the ceiling after one of those falls into our hands activities.

Platinum: Adobe, ComponentOne, Madcap

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

Silver: Vancouver Island University

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