Category Archives: technical communication

Lump Watch 2011

Which side?  Terri’s lump has gone down so much that I can barely find it! Hooray to Dr. Ofer! Pretty Good Dog celebrates by finding yet another dead, rotting carcase to roll in.  Ugh.

Fore! The rain has finally saturated the roof to the point where a big chunk of plaster fell off the ceiling of the stairwell, leaving a large diningroom-sized scar and showering the area with debris and rubble. Amir, my downstairs neighbor, helped me clean up. Yikes. More repairs to add to our list!

Miracles do happen: After being locked out of my mail box for almost two weeks, and wasting endless time calling the post office, I happened to be passing by when the post office car was pulling up to our mail box area.  Thirty seconds later, the guy had cheerfully comfirmed what I had suspected—namely, that the box had been locked from inside.  It was, as you can imagine, crammed full of mail.

You Can’t Say That in Korean!

Blind editing, anyone?  Every once in a while, a client needs you to tackle a project that is completely off the wall. This is a great client and I’m not too proud to do annoying grunt work, so I spent a wild few weeks editing books (FrameMaker source) in 18 different languages.  Don’t worry, I wasn’t trying to rewrite anything in languages I don’t understand, but I did have to find and remove a few things, fix references to GUI elements that had changed, etc. When the Korean version got completely corrupted and all the fonts turned into question marks, I spent a nerve-wracking day updating tags to the correct fonts.  Product manager across the hall said, “I like it when you are here, because I learn so many new swear words in English!”  Yup.  Nothing like having FrameMaker crash after a sweaty, hair-raising edit session, to make you really stretch your naughty vocabulary.   

More attack cats: Terri and I had two more run-ins with feral kitties this week. One we managed to get past (although Terri got scratched), but the other was so completely psycho that we turned around and made a huge detour to avoid it.  It is astonishing that a little thing like that, probably barely three kilos, could hold off a dog and an adult human.  Scary kitty!  There was no way to assure her that we weren’t going to harm her kittens.

Hot, hot, hot: The heat wave of last week finally broke, but it is still hot and abnormally humid.  If you turn the AC off, the room instantly turns into a sauna.  The heat has also brought out the bugs, so each morning I have to look around the house for all the various gate-crashers who showed up during the night.  So far, we’ve had a few giant spiders (don’t ask me what kind), a scorpion, two lizards, and several giant mutant cockroaches.  Terri has been pretty useless at patrolling the apartment for these critters, but after our run-in with the scorpion, I decided that was a good thing!

TC vs. Fiction

Too many frustrated authors: I keep telling my TC students that fiction is not compatible with TC writing.  Doesn’t stop them, though. Doesn’t make correcting the homework any more fun, either! 

Seems like there are a lot of English teachers who also long to be authors.  Some of them, including my talented nephew, actually make it.  Here’s his latest.

Organigan to the Rescue!

Thank you, Galil Tzmachim! Kudos to the incredibly patient and knowledgable gardener at Galil Tzmachim (the nursery at Misgav). She recommended a natural material made by Organigan (an Israeli company) that should work on my whitefly infestation. (BTW, turns out that whitefly in Hebrew is ash hatabak.) Ironically, this woman looks a lot like my Seattle friend Megan who is also a whiz with all things green.

Naughty dog alert:  I ran into a friend on our morning walk. She was with one of her grandkids, a little toddler clutching a large pastry. Suddenly, I saw that Terri was chewing and gulping, and that the kid was sans sticky bun. She (the toddler) looked a bit confused, and Terri looked a bit guilty. But only a bit. Problem with most dogs is that they bolt their food, which is one of the reasons that they can get poisoned. They gulp something down before they realize what it is. Dogs also have a very poor sense of taste. Despite their incredibly powerful sense of smell, dogs have very few taste buds compared to humans, which is yet another reason why they can gulp down the most disgusting things.

A global class: My latest class for STC has 32 students spanning 7 countries and 13 time zones. Tres cool. While waiting for class to start, I played some Israeli music for them, and then a classic Turkish song. (The guy in Turkey was very impressed.)  We’ve five students from India, so I’ve promised to play Indian music next week (and yes, I have some). It is probably a major culture shock for some of the more insular American students.

Belated Happy Tu b’Av! It has turned into Israel’s version of Valentine’s Day (the secular name for the holiday is yom ahava, or Love Day). Shmaltzy love songs on the radio, specials on chocolates, adds for flowers, romantic get-aways, etc.  Since our holidays are tied to the lunar calendar, Tu b’Av syncs with a full moon, and last night it was an absolutely magnificent moonrise. Terri and I celebrated with a long walk and extra parmesan on our pasty.

I’m Back (again)!

Wasn’t I just in the States? Yeah, this is the busy conference season!  This time it was the Summit, STC’s big annual conference. This year STC returned to Dallas for what, IMO, was the best conference yet. Venue, speakers, sessions, attendees… everything was brilliant. The Summit also marked the end of my three-year term on the Board of Directors, and it was with a feeling of accomplishment (and a sign of relief) that I handed the reigns over to the new directors. Once off the Board, I actually had time to attend some sessions, and didn’t hit a single dud. From the latest usability data to Don Moyer’s hysterical napkin doodles, each session I attended was professionally delivered and rich in content. (Well, I can’t speak for my own sessions, but…)

While in Dallas, I paid homage to the infamous grassy knoll and visited the memorial.  Cheek and jowl with Dealy Plaza and the Book Depository is a small cry for tolerance: the Holocaust Museum. Yes, Dallas has one. It is small but very well done, and, I’m happy to report, well-attended.

In addition to the conference itself and seeing friends and colleagues from all over, one Dallas highlight was Bruce, the manager of Wild Bill’s.  Bruce spent close to two hour fitting me in the perfect boots for my oh-so-troublesome feet. Complete with boots and a hat, I got in touch with my Inner Cowgirl.   

Then it was on to Seattle for some quality time with my folks. Once again, I brought the good weather to Seattle, and we made the most of it. As usual, I stuffed myself on all the local goodies. In addition to family, I got to see a few friends from high school (yes, I had friends in high school), visit the zoo (Seattle’s Woodland Park is one of the best zoos in the country), walk around Seward Park, visit the International District (aka Chinatown) with my cousin, who introduced me to boba tea (aka bubble tea).

It’s that time again: Yes, Eurovision is almost upon us! Check out the update.

Walking with Cows

Close encounters of the bovine kind: From this morning.

Dallas, here I come: Heading off to the STC Summit tomorrow.  Yee-haw!  I guess the cows were appropriate…

Gorilla Love

Going ape at WritersUA: The conference is small but juicy; lots of interaction in my sessions and lots of good geeky topics. (Wish I could say that all presenters were brilliant, but there have already been a few yawners.) To my surprise, there were 27 people registered for my preconference halfday workshop on writing effecting Help procedures. My main conference session, Cultural Dimensions of software Help Usage, pulled a decent crowd and the gorilla was a hit. (I showed Harvard’s “gorilla on the court” experiment to illustrate the phenomenon of inattentional blindness.)

The weather in Seattle has become slightly more normal for this time of year. However, last Saturday was unbelievably warm and sunny. I took advantage of the day to walk along Alki with my dad. We came across this amazing racing Shelby with a stainless steel body:

To get an idea of how unseasonably warm it has been, check out this ornamental cherry:

WritersUA, Here I Come!

One foot on the plane: Boarding in a few minutes. I’ve been busy trying to get everything done before I left, so I haven’t been posting much lately. I’m heading to Seattle for the WritersUA conference, where I’ll be teaching a half-day workshop on writing effective online Help procedures, doing a regular session on cultural dimensions of Help usage, and sitting on the closing keynote panel. Seems I’ve been identified as one of the Big Cheeses in the field. Hmmm.

This modern world: Shlurping my coffee 20 meters from the gate, and my sister Skypes me! Pretty funny.

Hedgehogs! They are taking over, according to the guy on the radio the other day, who was warning people of a huge increase in the hedgehog population. Next thing you know, they’ll have their own party and four seats in the Knesset.

Rock Star

J’lem and back in a day: I survived the big shlepp down to Jerusalem for the Technical Communicators Conference sponsored jointly by Techshoret and STC Israel.  Turns out that about 20% of the attendees were former students, and it was really fun catching up with people. My keynote didn’t ruffle any feathers and, hopefully, made a few people think a bit more about professional development. Saw an excellent panel discussion on professional accountability in TC, chaired by a local Microsoft tech pubs manager (and client).

The trip down and back is long and exhausting, and the spring allergy season meant that I was on antihistimines. Wanted to sleep the whole next day!

Best joke of the day:

An American kid attends a Shabbat dinner in Jerusalem, where he is clearly the least religious person present. “You’re not very observant!” says his host.

“Why do you say that?” asks the kid. “Is it because I’m not wearing a kipa?”

“No,” replies his host, “it’s because your tie is in the soup.”

A Glimpse into Hell

Haiti: Situation goes from grim to pure hell on earth.  We’ve upped the amount of aid and personnel on the ground, but it looks like the death toll may go way higher than anyone first anticipated.

Techno-terrorism: More hacks from Turkey.  While the Turks yell bloody murder over being having their ambassador “snubbed” (causing a lot of silly wasted time and two separate appologies on our part), hackers in Turkey are targeting more and more Israeli websites.  My former client WORDS had its site hacked.  Now Jersulem Online gets hacked, and their main page is filled with anti-Israel crap. It is being sorted out, but this kind of attack is such a pain in the butt.

Serendipity: The NY Times runs this article on the amazing hi-tech productivity in Israel. Hat tip to sister Tracy. Just yesterday I received the printers’ proofs of the cover of the TC book to which I’m a contributing author, and my chapter talks about this very thing!  Don’t expect this book, put out by Baywood Publishers, to make it to your local book store.  Heck, I’ll be amazed if more than 100 people ever read it, but…