Maybe you’ve noticed paint marks sprayed on pavement. If it’s not a style of graffiti chances are you’re looking at code for a buried utility line.
public utility lines
Depending on the colour paint, the unseen conduit could be carrying sewage or drinking water. How do you know which? Well, it turns out, excavators know which lines lay beneath. There’s an international colour code for utility markings. (ANSI Standard Z53.1) Learning industry codes, parts and processes makes for another interesting day in the field of tech writing.
American Public Works Association color code
Project managers verbalize the big picture in a project plan. This high-level document covers the scope and requirements. Alone it doesn’t answer all questions so the plan is complemented by subsidiary plans. Project teams manage their work through a set of formal planning documents. They cover details about department functions. Scheduling, staffing, cost, quality, risk, acceptance and communications functions are created as subsidiary plans.
I recall only a few times in the last decade when a project required a documentation plan. Depending on whether technical documentation falls under marketing or R&D will determine who manages documentation planning.
Hello, my name is Spring!
I’ve resurfaced, finally, after completing a long contract. Now there are IOU lunches to plan and vacation photos to edit, and after criss-crossing Canada, it’s a must-do to get back into the swing of professional development.
They say to carry a pocketful of business cards and memorize your elevator pitch. You just never know what can become of a networking opportunity. This week I scored four professional events happening in downtown Vancouver. It’s always instructive to observe, even better to hone the pitch, and totally awesome when your card is pulled for a door prize.
||Editors’ Association of Canada
||International Association of Business Communicators
||STC Canada West Coast
||Domain Driven Design Practices
||Plain Language Certification
||How to Network Effectively
||Eric Evans, author Domain-Driven Design, Addison-Wesley 2004, thought leader in software design and domain modeling
||Katherine McManus, Director of SFU Writing & Communications Program
||Karen Lee, IABC Canada – Master Communicator, teaches for the University of Victoria in the Public Relations diploma program
||Neil Perlin, internationally-known online content consultant
||March 18, 2013
||March 20, 2013
||March 21, 2013
||March 19, 2013
||Exploring and Distilling the Core Domain: An Anonymized Case Study
||SFU’s role in grant-funded project to launch international certification in plain language
||Industry expert advises how to effectively network your way through an event
||Overview of help authoring tools and history
||Standup presentation, slides
||Standup presentation, slides, voice recorded, photographed
||Instructor led presentation (no slides) and networking practice
||Webinar, remote presentation
||Before and after
||Pre meeting dinner, before and after
||Before and after, and during as an activity
||Before and after
||Renaissance Harbourside Hotel
||Harbour Centre, SFU
||Coffee and tea
||Door prizes, fruit, homemade cookies
||Door prizes, donuts, juice
||Tea, cookies, grapes
||Online thru Eventbrite, at door
||Online, at door
||Online, at door, by phone
||Online, at door
||12 (+9 remote)
If fonts were cars, the Arial Light would be fitting for night driving. I imagine it having a softly illuminated dashboard and headlight-cancelling rearview mirrors. Reading too should offer the same adaptations–flick a few switches to give us the best fonts in pleasing shades so we don’t ruin our eyes.
Twelve-point Comic Sans MS, if it’s not banned outright the silly font just might be critical to learning. A psychologist at Princeton University found that the harder a font’s readability, the better the recall. A block of text set with 50% leading is easier to read than text having no line space where ascenders and descenders touch. The point size can be used as a unit of measuring type and line space. For regular newspaper and book text, 8pt to 12pt usually satisfies.
Economist article, Learning Difficulties: Making something hard to read means it is more likely to be remembered.
Surveys are meant for collecting data. The analysis says how one measures up to other survey takers. But sometimes the data is useless. A simple error in survey design proves why.
If you’re a customer responding to a satisfaction survey, you’d assume “1″ to be low on a scale of 1 to 10. The question goes something like this; How satisfied are you with your purchase? Very satisfied? Somewhat satisfied? Not at all satisfied? Phrased another way, on a scale of 1 to 3 where 1 means not satisfied and 3 means very satisfied, how satisfied are you with your purchase?
In this survey, the only sure rating is “5″.
We would value your opinion if we hadn’t redesigned the rating system.
An app I stumbled upon pegs anonymous quiz takers to one of 16 typefaces. It’s a twist on the game asking what kind of animal you are. To analyze yourself, typographically speaking, you must answer four questions.
Question 2 asks:
Does something feel right or does something have a 1 in 2 chance of being right?
The analysis tell me I am Courier, the typeface designed to resemble typewriting. It has rhythmical insistence, is democratic for its even spacing and stands steadfast with its slab serifs. I am just your common character, amused by the personality of type.
Curious about your typeface? Take the test, What type are you?.
My starter project, Shorter Documents, turned three years old this month. To celebrate I give it a makeover. Why a makeover? Self-paced publishing is fun until mechanical glitches hit — links break, colours fade, tags need tuning.
What stays, what goes
The vision stays — write commentary about technical writing. What began as a collection of anecdotes grows by the week. Still, I’m keeping it short — in scale and name. Oh, and the blog naming thing? That toys with my height.
A grand redesign takes shape
I approached this makeover in three stages and imposed a one week deadline to get it done. Here’s what I did.
First, deal with data. Analyze categories and tags for duplicates, relevance and one-offs. Control categories using 7 ∓ 2 rule. Manage tags as subcategories or rethink tagging later.
Next, deal with content. Observe how headings breathe, text flows (around images), tables break. Test links, image enlargement, media playback and revise postings that uncover these problems. Pause to assess effort and roadblocks before deciding whether to tweak your template or swap it for something newer.
slide-o-matic home May 2008
Preview, preview, preview. Hunt for the perfect WordPress theme. There are thousands to choose from so look for functionally that fits. How many columns do you need? Choosing the right grid system is like choosing the right sized stock pot. Leave enough room to add your own rhythm and spice. Voilà! Your data and content are remixed.
Koi home May 2011
Counting down to the fourth blog anniversary.
An operations manual is a 24/7 reference tool. It helps guide someone unfamiliar with your business through the day-to-day operating procedures. In 1958 McDonald’s Corporation created a 75-page operations and training manual. It specified how each menu item should look—french fries cut exactly 0.28 inches thick, hamburgers placed on the grill in six neat rows.
Fast forward fifty-plus years where fast food cooking instructions are designed into kitchen equipment. Crew members rely on panels of images. Instructions that must be printed are written at a fifth grade reading level in English and a second language.
Your operation functions without you
To transform the production-line prototype, redesigned kitchen equipment had to be intuitive. R&D obliged by developing cookers that work only one way. The easier equipment is to use, the easier it is for global fast-food restaurants not to have to train workers. Recognizing high turnover within fast food establishments, fast food execs aimed for “zero training” as documented in Fast Food Nation.
Imagine you are searching through job postings. You’ve got a list and now you opt to sort by date, or location or other relevant category. Each column can be sorted. Typical options are some kind of logical progression. A job seeker might sort jobs to list the newest ones first.
I recently saw a job listing whose sort routine made sense only in theory. In practice, the result was neither sorted nor logical. However you sorted it, the list was a sorted mess.
Here’s what the date sort looked like:
Here’s a rule to break; don’t sort dates numerically or alphabetically. Who cares about a group of jobs that were posted on the 27th of every month. Not useful. In the context of a job posting, a date must be sorted chronologically.