TechWhirler Recap for September 2

The Muppet ShowThis week’s update is supported by Platinum sponsor ComponentOne & their Doc-To-Help Help Authoring Tool (

This week’s update celebrates the end of collaboration as we know it, the nearing of a new age, and our take on better user interface design.

It’s time to play the music 

Collaboration month is now in the books for TechWhirl.  We took a look at some tools for collaborating, ways to find new people to collaborate with, how to get feedback from everyone and how to get people going quickly.  It was, by far, a very busy month for the gang.

From the Special Writer’s Unit @ TechWhirl

  • “Introduction to Content Management Systems” by Jacquie Samuels |
  • New: “Building an NDA-Compliant Portfolio” by Connie Giordano |
  • “Skills Transfer – How High School Teaching Prepares You for Tech Comm” by Fraser Hannah |
  •  “Tips and Tricks: Staying Productive and Sane When Working in Isolation” by Craig Cardimon |
  •  “The Case for Instant Messaging” by Laura McNeilly and Greg Larson |


  • “The Needs of the Many” by Geoff Hart |
  • “Getting Contractors Up to Speed Quickly” by Micki Magyar |
  • The Functional Flowchart: A Tool for Understanding Client Needs, Plotting a Winning Strategy, and Developing a Proposal” by Herman Holtz |

It’s time to light the lights 

But, it’s time to move on to design; more specifically a User’s Experience in Design.  The Good, the Bad, the U-G-L-Y You Got No’ Alibi – you ugly, ug, ug … oh, Football season starts for real this weekend as we bid farewell to summer.  See, sometimes design can be confusing, or enlightening, clever or dim and it’s our jobs as the chief technical communicators to help our users understand.

This month we’ll cover the theoretical, provide some tactical advice and even apply the idea ourselves.  What makes for good design?  Should it always be easy to use, or should it occasionally be difficult?  We’ll dive into tips on how to find good design, and even apply our thinking on good design with our rollout of TechWhirl 3.0 this weekend.

It’s time to meet the Muppets on the Muppet Show tonight. 

We’ve got the makeup almost in place, we’re just about dressed up right, and our new site will go live this weekend.  The team is working hard to ensure there are no disruptions in various services, but there are no guarantees.  We ask for your patience and feedback on the new site. 

It’s time to finish off the overall look so we can do internal reviews it’s time to raise the curtain.

Social Media and the Chance to Follow TechWhirl:

Why do we always come here?

I guess we’ll never know 

Will you be our Friend? Please, you know you want to click |

Want all this TechWhirl goodness a few characters @ a time |

It’s like a kind of torture
To have to watch the show

Inside TechWhirl newsletter (all about our work) |

What You’re Talking About

And now let’s get things started

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

  • It’s been a remarkably quiet week on the list, so we figure you all are waiting with breathless anticipation for the unveiling of the new TechWhirl website. In fact Al’s request for recommendations for hosting providers was one of the hottest topics.  Thanks to all those who shared their experiences and feedback—and the winner is Bluehost.
  • Deborah Hemstreet is faced with another tricky challenge and is pleading with Whirlers “Can you help me decipher these instructions” regarding journal article submissions to a subscription service. She got a couple of suggestions on proceeding with the open document format (.odt) to provide tagging within ASCII.  We’re hoping to get an update when she hears from the service.

In Case You Missed it: This Week @ TechWhirl

Why don’t you get things started?

  • 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 |
  • Poll question:  Do you enjoy collaboration or working alone |

Upcoming Articles

It’s time to get things started 

  • New: “Tips and Tricks for Documenting a Constantly Changing UI” by Connie Giordano
  • Classic: an excerpt from “Adaptive Technologies for the Visually Impaired: The Role of Technical Communicators” by Eric and Deb Ray


We want to send a very special “thank you” to our sensational inspirational celebrational sponsors.

Platinum: Madcap, Adobe, ComponentOne

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

Silver: Vancouver Island University

(By this time the song’s in your head and you just heard the final lyrics)

> And then Gonzo blows his trumpet

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