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Google Camera – a review

Core Dump 2.0 - Wed, 04/16/2014 - 19:39

In my brief review of my new Samsung Galaxy S4, I mentioned that I was a bit frustrated with the performance of the camera. It takes excellent pictures outdoors or in good light, but its low light performance is less than stellar. Most of the pictures I’ve taken indoors suffer from either motion blur or are a bit out of focus.

So I was excited to hear that Google was going to release the stock Android 4.4 camera app through Play Store. It was released today and I downloaded and installed it (more)

My DITA journey begins

idratherbewriting.com - Wed, 04/16/2014 - 12:00

I have decided to try out DITA in a more extensive way. I think it will work for my situation, and it’s always fun to experiment with a new method for authoring help material.

A few people have asked that I keep them updated on my progress. While the details of my foray into DITA will expose my naiveté, it might also lead toward guidance and advice from DITA gurus, who will likely look at my strategies and reasoning and shake their heads, laughing at my attempts and deciding to give me a few pointers.

My basic setup

Just to describe my basic setup, I have about 8 guidebooks (more)

Second day at MadWorld 2014

Kai's Tech Writing blog - Wed, 04/16/2014 - 09:29

A well-rounded program and excellent organisation at the second MadWorld user conference avoided many of the traps that can mar a sophomore effort and point to a way of growth into the future. The second day again saw great informative sessions and networking around doc issues and careers, not to mention lunch and drinks under the San Diego spring sun… :-)

Advanced single sourcing of content in Flare uses a clever combination of snippets and conditions which are called, not surprisingly, “snippe (more)

Second day at MadWorld 2014

Kai's Tech Writing blog - Wed, 04/16/2014 - 09:29

A well-rounded program and excellent organisation at the second MadWorld user conference avoided many of the traps that can mar a sophomore effort and point to a way of growth into the future. The second day again saw great informative sessions and networking around doc issues and careers, not to mention lunch and drinks under the San Diego spring sun… :-)

Advanced single sourcing of content in Flare uses a clever combination of snippets and conditions which are called, not surprisingly, “snipp (more)

Sony is blowing it, again

Core Dump 2.0 - Wed, 04/16/2014 - 06:48

It looks like once again Sony is blowing a chance to grab a piece of a market or even develop a new one. They’ve introduced a big ereader with a 13″ screen, but are selling it for $1100, instead of the $300 or so that it’s probably worth. Who in their right minds is going to pay $1100 for a black-and-white ereader that Sony has limited to reading PDFs, when they could buy an iPad or Android tablet for half the price, or less? Sony claims they’re aiming it at “professionals”, but in the business world I live in, you have to get technology purchases past th (more)

Beware the monster of change management: THE MAGNIFIER

Scriptorium blog - Tue, 04/15/2014 - 09:27

For his 1959 horror movie The Tingler, director/producer William Castle had movie theater seats rigged with buzzers to scare moviegoers during a scene when the Tingler creature is loose in a theater. Patrons in those seats probably didn’t enjoy the jolt—or making a spectacle of themselves because of the Tingler’s “attack.”

If you’re managing the implementation of new processes and tools as part of your job, you’re in a hot seat of your very own—and you n (more)

First day at MadWorld 2014

Kai's Tech Writing blog - Tue, 04/15/2014 - 08:52

The applicable advice about MadCap products from speakers and staff, the profound discussions about tech comm in general, and attendees’ enthusiasm to share and learn from another make MadWorld 2014 a perfect combination of a tool-centric user workshop and a “regular” tech comm conference.

The hip Hard Rock Hotel adds a flair of giddy excitement – after all, some of us 200 tech writers are a little too nerdy to feel comfortable when they’re treated like rock stars… :-)

The welcome event started with a tongue-in-cheek video: MadCap’s si (more)

First day at MadWorld2014

Kai's Tech Writing blog - Tue, 04/15/2014 - 08:52

The applicable advice about MadCap products from speakers and staff, the profound discussions about tech comm in general, and attendees’ enthusiasm to share and learn from another make MadWorld 2014 a perfect combination of a tool-centric user workshop and a “regular” tech comm conference.

The hip Hard Rock Hotel adds a flair of giddy excitement – after all, some of us 200 tech writers are a little too nerdy to feel comfortable when they’re treated like rock stars… :-)

The welcome event started with a tongue-in-cheek video: MadCap’s si (more)

Correy’s The Expanse to be TV series

Core Dump 2.0 - Tue, 04/15/2014 - 05:36

SyFy is going to do a 10-episode series based on James. S. A. Correy’s space opera series, The Expanse, which started with Leviathan Wakes. It’s a dark gritty series that represents modern hard SF at its best and could be great for TV if done right (say like the first or second season of Battlestar Galactica before it jumped the shark). Given SyFy’s track record, I’m not going to get too excited until I see some footage, but they certainly have some quality source material to work with.

The NBCUniversal-owned cable network has picked up 10 episodes of The Expa (more)

Samsung Galaxy S5 reviewed

Core Dump 2.0 - Mon, 04/14/2014 - 05:59

Samsung’s latest iteration of its Galaxy smartphone hit the stores in Canada this week. MobileSyrup, an excellent Canadian site, has a detailed review of the S5.

Samsung’s fifth-generation Galaxy S flagship takes a checklist approach to improving upon its predecessors. A less slippery back cover, water resistance, a more elegant software experience, a vastly improved camera and impressive leaps in performance contrast with hardware additions of dubious merit. The fingerprint sensor is useful but oft (more)

The need for robust tech comm authoring tools

idratherbewriting.com - Sun, 04/13/2014 - 23:22

Neal Kaplan recently posted about the search for a perfectly adequate authoring tool, which got me thinking about the tools I use.

At the time I joined my current company, I had to change my help authoring tools quite a bit. At my previous company, I used Mediawiki and Madcap Flare. Both tools worked pretty well. At my present company, we publish on Drupal, which is a web-based CMS similar to WordPress but more robust. All the content lives primarily on Drupal.

(more)

Years of Living Dangerously

Core Dump 2.0 - Sun, 04/13/2014 - 10:07

It’s clear that climate change is going to be one of the defining events of this century, if not the defining event. The latest UN report on climate change makes it clear that we are running out of time to avoid catastrophic changes to our environment. We know what has to be done, but the political and social will seems to be lacking, as Years of Living Dangerously, a stunning new documentary by James Ca (more)

Destination San Diego

Cherryleaf Technical Authors blog - Fri, 04/11/2014 - 07:36
Ellis will be in San Diego next week, speaking at Madcap Software’s MadWorld 2014 conference. If you’re going to the conference, be sure to say hello. Madcap makes a big thing about the...

[[ For the full article, see http://www.cherryleaf.com/blog.htm]] (more)

Tearing down obstacles to OpenStack documentation contributions

just write click - Thu, 04/10/2014 - 12:17

Rip. Shred. Tear. Let’s gather up the obstacles to documentation contribution and tear them down one by one. I’ve designed a survey with the help of the OpenStack docs team to determine blockers for docs contributions. If you’ve contributed to OpenStack, please fill it out here:

https://docs.google.com/forms/d/136-BssH-OxjVo8vNoOD-gW4x8fDFpvi (more)

Dealing with the Heartbleed bug

Core Dump 2.0 - Thu, 04/10/2014 - 05:18

The Heartbleed bug that affects secure SSL conections to web sites made the news big time today when the Canada Revenue Agency took down the public portions of its web site, leaving millions of Canadians unable to file their income taxes online. I’m one of them – I was going to do it tonight. They hope to have the sute back up by the weekend.

But a lot of other sites were affected, as the list linked in this article shows. Read the article to find what you should do to mitigate the damage should it turn o (more)

Could be a big El Nino this year

Core Dump 2.0 - Wed, 04/09/2014 - 05:43

It looks like the Pacific ocean is warming up in a big way and we could be in for a major El Nino event, akin to the one in 1998. In other words, global weather patterns are about to get even wonkier. It’s not good news for us in Eastern Canada as it likely means a cool summer and snowy winter ahead. At least El Ninos tend to result in weak Atlantic hurricane seasons.

The warm water just below the ocean’s surface is (more)

Strategies for using links with DITA

idratherbewriting.com - Tue, 04/08/2014 - 10:00

One of the strategies that always seems to cause me dilemmas with DITA is how to best handle linking.

Mark Baker has an in-depth essay on linking, where he explores many of the issues associated with links. I would point you to the post, but whether to insert the link here or elsewhere is at the heart of many discussions about linking. So I’ll briefly delay inserting the link while exploring the risks of doing so.

If I insert the link to Mark’s post here, two potential problems occur:

1. You might immediately jump to his post and, because it is rather long, (more)

A typeface designed for drivers

Core Dump 2.0 - Tue, 04/08/2014 - 05:58

There’s a lot of concern now about distracted driving, with reason, given the number of people I see using cell phones while driving. When you’re moving at speed, it’s important not to be distracted. It turns out that the right typeface can help, if you have to read something like a sign or the display on a GPS unit.

Typeface house Monotype has designed a new typeface called Burlingame to help drivers read as quickly and accurately as possible. The design avoids thing (more)

Where not to get stung

Core Dump 2.0 - Mon, 04/07/2014 - 05:10

It’s spring and it’s getting warmer. That means that means that we’ll be sharing the outside with nasty stinging things. Getting stung isn’t pleasant but some places are worse than others, as Michael Smith, a Cornell graduate student, has found out in excruciating detail. Read the article to see just what true dedication to science really means.

As he writes in his new paper (which, incidentally, is deadpan gold): “Cornell University’ (more)

Login or log in – a way to choose one word or two

ffeathers - a technical writer's blog - Sat, 04/05/2014 - 15:42

‘Login’ or ‘log in’? One word or two? It’s an oft-debated question. I’m not proposing a hard-and-fast rule, though I do have my preferences. What this post offers is a handy way of choosing between one word and two, if it’s important to you.

It’s not just logging in that’s affected. There are plenty more cases where we need to choose one word or two:

  • ‘logon’ or ‘log on’
  • ‘logout’ or ‘log out’
  • ‘signup’ or ‘sign up’
  • (more)