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Structured authoring: breaking the WYSIWYG habit

Scriptorium blog - 6 hours 46 min ago
There are many challenges involved when moving to structured authoring (XML), but perhaps the most personal challenge is breaking out of the WYSIWYG (what you see is what you get) authoring mode. The rise of desktop publishing has merged the … Continue reading → (more)

Where Are All the Aliens?

Core Dump 2.0 - 10 hours 17 min ago

Although Hollywood would like you to think otherwise, the universe doesn’t seem to be populated with Little Green Men, or any other sort of aliens. Despite more than 50 years of searching, we’ve failed to detect any conclusive evidence of extraterrestrial civilization. This article is one of the best overviews of the situation that I’ve come across in quite a while.

So there are 100 Earth-like planets for every grain of sand in the world. Think about that next time you’re on the beach.

Moving forw (more) A new online learning resource for DITA by Scriptorium - 12 hours 41 min ago
A Free Course on DITA

One common question I receive from people on this site is how they can learn DITA. Scriptorium has published a new online course (their first, I think) called The first course available is "Introduction to DITA." is a free online resource created by Scriptorium for learning DITA About the course

The course is well-organized and oriented for beginners. Here are some general characteristics of t (more)

The Five Biggest Threats to Human Existence

Core Dump 2.0 - Mon, 07/27/2015 - 05:10

I seem to be in an apocalyptic mood recently – maybe it’s because I’m about half way though Neal Stephenson’s excellent Seveneves.  Anyway, here’s another article describing different ways that the human race could be wiped out. Oddly, it doesn’t list climate change; although that might not be a threat to the human race per se, it certainly is a threat to civilization in the long term.

In the daily hubbub of current “crises” facing humanity, we forg (more)

Creating palaces of almost forgotten things

Cherryleaf Technical Authors blog - Mon, 07/27/2015 - 04:00
This weekend, we went to the Fabularium on London’s South Bank, where the programme highlighted The Museum of Almost Forgotten Things. It struck me that this concept could also be applied to...

[[ For the full article, see]] (more)

Some common sense on the coming ice age

Core Dump 2.0 - Sun, 07/26/2015 - 13:38

There’s been quite a  bit of press about a recent study that predicts a “decline in solar activity” starting around 2030. Unfortunately, most of what you’ve probably read about it is wrong, as this article points out. The decline is in the number of sunspots, not solar output, and the effect on climate is likely to be small. What we have here is a giant failure to communicate.

This month there’s been a hoopla about a mini ice age, and unfortunately i (more)

28 Animes to Watch If You’ve Never Seen Anime

Core Dump 2.0 - Sun, 07/26/2015 - 12:56

I first encountered anime back in the mid-1980s when I moved to Toronto and fell in with the local SF fan community, many of whom were big-time anime fans. At that time, about the only way you could find it was to trade video cassettes with people in Japan, who were happy to exchange cassettes full of anime for cassettes full of North American shows. Now, of course, it’s much easier to find, especially if you don’t limit yourself to the mainstream services like Netflix.

BuzzFeed has put together a list of (more)

James Hansen’s scary paper

Core Dump 2.0 - Sat, 07/25/2015 - 08:27

So James Hansen is stirring the pot again. His latest paper suggests that even a 2C warming may cause much higher sea level rise than predicted by the IPCC. This is not good news for anyone, especially those living in coastal regions. The Washington Post article has a link to the full paper, if you want to read it.

It has been (more)

Peter Gruenbaum has released part 2 of his Udemy course on API technical writing - Fri, 07/24/2015 - 03:00
Part 2 is now available

Peter Gruenbaum has released part 2 of his Udemy course on API technical writing. Whereas part 1 focused mostly on requests and responses from REST APIs, part 2 gets into a lot more detail with REST APIs and provides more depth. (Part 2 felt more substantial to me than part 1, but it depends your familiarity with JSON and XML.)

In part 2, Peter dives into headers, a (more)

Survey results about the REST API workshop - Fri, 07/24/2015 - 03:00
Survey results

Earlier this week I asked for your feedback about a possible REST API workshop I was thinking about providing. If you would like to view the answers from the survey, you can read them here or from the screenshot below.

In summary, it seems that there is a substantial interest in a REST API workshop (particularly on a Saturday morning or w (more)

What’s wrong with San Francisco?

Core Dump 2.0 - Thu, 07/23/2015 - 18:19

I’ve always had a soft spot for San Francisco – the city that generated much of the music that I grew up with. I’ve only been able to visit there once, and enjoyed seeing the city that I’d only read about. But the city is changing, and not for the better, as this article points out.

I moved to San Francisco for its radical politics. Lots of people did, for generations. Maybe it was like moving to Los Angeles if you wanted to be a movie star: If you wanted to be p (more)

Interview: The Wrangler on International Communication, Nightclub DJs, and Higher Education

The Content - Thu, 07/23/2015 - 17:40

In this 45-minute video interview for connexions magazine, the international professional communication journal, Scott Abel, The Content Wrangler waxes poetic on the state of communication today.

Highlights include The Wrangler’s view on outdated communication practices, rules, and standards; how working as a nightclub DJ prepared him for his current career as an intelligent content strategist; why breaking down content silos can help help us provide better customer experiences with content; and, what educators should (more)

Is it harmful to frequently switch contexts among multiple projects? - Thu, 07/23/2015 - 03:00
Juggling multiple projects is the norm

It seems that nearly every job description for technical writing mentions that the writer will need to "juggle multiple projects." And it's true. The nature of technical writing is that you are rarely dedicated to a single project. Most of the time, you are only needed near release times, so you end up switching among multiple projects depending upon which project needs documentation the most.

For example, right now I'm documenting three separate products. Usually their release cycles don't all crest at the same time, so (more)

In Music and Content Marketing, It’s All About Creativity: An Interview with Jon Wuebben

The Content - Wed, 07/22/2015 - 18:13

Jon Wuebben

Danielle Villegas had an opportunity to talk with Jon Wuebben, the best-selling author of the content marketing book, Content Rich: Writing Your Way to Wealth on the Web, and founder/CEO of Content Launch, a leading content marketing software company. Jon will be speaking at the upcoming Information Development World conference, September 30-October 2, (more)

6 reasons to come to Lowell this weekend

Writer in the Think of It - Wed, 07/22/2015 - 15:00
Lowell is the place to be this weekend July 24-25-26 with 5 stages of traditional music, amazing ethnic foods, art, and all manner of amazing things. The Lowell Folk Festival is celebrating its 29th year as the longest running free Folk Festival in the country. Need more reasons to join in the fun?
Crowd in JFK Plaza for San Francisco Taiko Dojo -- LFF 2014Here are 6 reasons to come to Lowell during Folk Festival weekend:

1. Food! Food boot (more)

Announcing free DITA training

Scriptorium blog - Wed, 07/22/2015 - 08:30
Our new DITA learning site, is now live with its first course, Introduction to DITA. Are you somebody who is interested in DITA, but not sure that it’s right for you? now provides a free Introduction to DITA that you can … Continue reading → (more)

Probable cause for SpaceX launch failure found

Core Dump 2.0 - Mon, 07/20/2015 - 18:00

In a press conference today, Elon Musk announced that the probable cause of last month’s SpaceX launch failure was a 2-foot long metal strut holding a pressurized helium tank. The failure of the strut would have caused the helium tank to rupture the second stage oxygen tank, dooming the flight. Musk espects that flights should resume in a few months.

Musk pointed out that it’s the first rocket failure in seven years for his com (more)