Wow. WritersUA is a fun crowd.

WritersUA is about the most fun I’ve had in a while. I got to:

  • see people I’ve not seen in a while, sometimes years
  • meet new people
  • do presentations and demos
  • listen to people talk about what they like and don’t like about our products
  • see some of my former staff
  • crawl back to the hotel room at the end of the day (Tip here: Don’t wear heels if you do booth duty)
  • nearly blow out my voice
  • watch Portland’s SWAT team show up at the hotel

Could you ask for more? Not without being greedy, I think.

So, what did we announce?

Lots of stuff. Here’s a list:

  • Blaze went to public beta Monday morning. I strongly suggest you download it and then attend one of my demos to get started with it.
  • Team Server – a Documentation workflow management tool that goes from content to review to CMS to localization to source control. It’s going to be great.
  • Press – a glossy print product. This one lets you have multiple article flows, automatic jump pages and more.
  • X-Edit – a small document product for people who need to contribute content but shouldn’t have a full version of Flare or Blaze. The documents that X-Edit creates can be brought seamlessly into a Flare or Blaze project.
  • X-Edit Express – a free reviewers tool that either edits or annotates Flare or Blaze topics. It fits into the review workflow for Blaze or Flare.
  • New product manager – Pat Dear is our new e-learning product manager who started Sunday at the show. We figure if she floats, she’s a witch [historical reference here, no Wicca bashing intended or implied]. She’s going to add a lot to our product line with her expertise in the e-learning field. We’re happy to have her!

The product I’m super excited about is Team Server. We’re working on it right now, so if you have ideas about how we can make your workflow easier, send them to me and I’ll pass them along.

People who need people…

One of the first people I saw at the show was Eddie Van Arlesdale whose name I’m sure I’m misspelling but I can’t find the card he gave me. I met Eddie a long time ago, the first time I was in Washington DC. He’s a sweetie pie and I told him I need to come back to DC and see people there. It’s perhaps my 3rd favorite city, right after Rome and Mexico City, in that order.

I also saw, in no particular order, Geoff Hart, Char James-Tanny, Sarah O’Keefe, John Hedtke, Sue Heim, Bonni Graham, Elaine Randolph, the fun Docs group for the client I saw a few weeks ago in Dallas, and way too many other people for my tired brain to remember. For a while it seemed as tho I was spending all my time hugging people. I really enjoyed it. Just so fun to see all of us in one place.

I also met many new people. When the sessions were out, we were swamped with people – sometimes 15 people deep. It seemed that everyone at the conference came around to see our products and talk to us. I tried to talk to everyone but it was hard because there were just so many.

Working clean is harder than not

Mike and I (Mike more than I) presented several products. We also drafted our Tech Writer Paul to do several demos about what Tech writers would like in Flare. He was amazing. He did stand-up comedy in the past, too, but was more successful than I was. He also works clean, which is much harder than it looks. It’s actually easier to work dirty, which is how my material goes. But Paul did a great job and I was pleased to have him helping with these.

The in-booth demos were a zoo. We had people standing all over the place watching. I did 2, I think, and I enjoyed both of them. Very good stuff.

We also did several presentations that showed more detail about our tools. I did Analyzer with RJ the product evangelist for FrameMaker in the back of the room. I was delighted to have him. The room was pretty full and people asked great questions, some of which I could answer! Some of those questions were really technical and I’m going to have to get back to people. The stuff you guys think of…

Past lives, present voyages

I ran into some of my former staff and had a chance to talk to them and catch up. It’s good seeing them. At my former employer, I had the rare fortune of leading a very talented group of people and I miss them still. I want only the best for them and it was fun to see them and catch up.

It was particularly good to run into Don, who I spent 3 months trying to fire. In the end, he was one of the most valuable employees I had and I’m glad I didn’t fire him. I was completely wrong about him and his abilities. I’ve rarely been this happy to be so wrong. He’s a very talented writer and I miss working with him.

No, honey, this time the SWAT team has nothing to do with me …

So I was outside the hotel yesterday afternoon, talking to several people, and said “I’m going to get coffee at the Starbucks on the corner.” I turned around and there was a large group of well armed Portland SWAT team men, all hanging on a SWAT truck, parked in front of the Hilton. Behind them was another truck, another load of well armed men. I looked up the street and saw more. “Hmm…”, I thought. “I better get that coffee right now.”

In the Starbucks, I asked and it turned out that there was an anti-war protest planned to march down our street. Portland police appeared in large numbers to make sure it was a peaceful protest, I was told. Nevertheless, I scurried back to the hotel.

Then I realized that if my husband turned the TV on and saw large numbers of heavily armed SWAT teams in front of a Hilton in Portland, he might flip right out. Husbands can be so tense sometimes. I called to tell him about it. I got to the part about heavily armed SWAT teams outside and he actually asked “What did you do this time?” I think he was joking.

But after they hung out for about an hour and nothing happened, they all piled on their trucks, adjusted their helmets, and left the area. Apparently, the crisis was averted.

And I left for the airport 2 hours later for an uneventful flight home.

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