TechWhirler Recap for September 16

TAnimal House Soundtrack Coverhis week’s update is supported by Platinum sponsor Madcap & Flare 7 |

Update on Site –

We’re in week two of our new site being live and things are starting to settle down.   One crashed hard-drive, a full review of every single event manager and online calendar plugin available and a deeper understanding of SEO and the 301 redirect later and our little site is starting to come together.  Heck, on a few searches we even rank on the first or second page of a Google search.

Ninety-nine percent of all the web development work on the site is done on a six month old Macbook Pro.  The computer was purchased so I (Al) could have a reliable machine to do work.  My little machine has managed to completely bomb out twice so far in those six months.  The first time was 15 minutes before our first Webinar with VIU and the second time was cut-over day last Saturday.  One brand new hard drive later, and everything is nearly back in order.

We luv WordPress.  It’s sleek, easy to work with and fast.  Or, everything that our old Drupal site wasn’t.  We aren’t as thrilled with some of the plugins that promise the world but don’t deliver however.  We should have been done ‘n dusted with this rollout last Friday except we couldn’t find an events \ calendar plugin that actually worked.  Our final solution is from Accessible Design and it’s the My Calendar Plugin.  The main developer, Joe Dolson has done a very nice job on this little software even though it appears to be more of a side hobby than his day job.

Finally, we’re now focusing more of our attention on SEO and rankings.  Little things do make a huge difference and are already paying off.  Our visitor traffic is up 40% over the last week and continues to grow.  For anyone who’s new around here and judging by our numbers, most of you are, then welcome.  Grab a cold drink (they don’t cost nuthin’, join a conversation, and do a little reading.  Heck, if you’re so inclined you may even want to do a little writing.

What’s next you say?  Are we done? Was it over when the Germans bombed Pearl Harbor? [Germans?]  No!!! {for the record I had no idea about the theme of this week’s post until only a few moments ago}.  Operation RB now moves on to other topics and challenges.  Assuming everything goes smoothly, we’ll be talking about the outcome of the new operation in a few weeks.

The site is, and will always be, a work in progress.  But we must be moving on to other things Babs.

What do you think so far of the new site?  What are we missing?  If you’re reading this via email then please go to our contact us page, or if you’re online then just drop some thoughts into the comments section.


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What You’re Talking About

A quick How you doin’ to our Tech Writers and their discussions in our email discussion group:

  • Wow, hardly anything gets a debate among tech writers going like questions of money.  Mark Filiatreau really got things going when he announced that he was quitting his full-time job and asked “What’s a good freelance rate for technical writers?”  Tons of advice on how to calculate, what factors should be considered, where the freelance work is these days, and whether freelancers should consider lowballing.
  • Well almost anything, except debates about the virtues and vices of MS Word and topics like Becca Price’s question on “starting on page 2” and standards for including cover pages and front matter in page counts. We favor Paul Hanson’s sage words (quoted from elsewhere) about having so many to choose from.
  • Monique Semp raises another standards issue with her question on “verb forms related to Twitter.” A question that had no place outside ornithology (Can you “Tweet” who “tweeted” and so on)books just 10 years ago now has a spot in the limelight generated by standards and styles discussions and questions of capitalization and trademark usage.

In Case You Missed it: This Week @ TechWhirl

  • New: “Personas and the five W’s: Developing Content that Meets Reader Needs, Pt. 2” by Geoff Hart |
  • New: “Book Review – Wikis: Grow Your Own for Fun and Profit” by Tony Chung |
  • Poll question:  Do you use personas in doing audience analysis for your documentation? |

Upcoming Articles

  • New: “So Easy Even a Child Can Do It–Building an Interface without Documentation” by Ryan Minaker
  • Classic: “Nobody Reads Manuals Do They?” by Geoff Hart
  • Poll Question: Do you play a role in your organization’s product/user experience design process?


We want to send a very special “thank you” to our sponsors for working with us on the design of their ads.  Tip of the toga to you.

Platinum A: Adobe

Platinum B: ComponentOne, Madcap

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

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