Archive for June, 2008

Ohhhhh! klahoma

Posted in Flare, MadCap, MadCap software, Personal, Tech Comm with tags , , , on June 26, 2008 by Mike

I’m out of the office on a little vacation from Friday to Tuesday. I’m going to visit with my family in Tulsa for my birthday weekend. I see my son, daughter-in-law, grand children, sister and niece for 3.5 days. I’m pretty happy. Expect pictures in my flicker account next week.

I’m especially happy to see my niece, as she has decided to not do the annual Aunt Sharon trip this summer.  Since she was 6, she has come to visit with me for days or weeks (as she has gotten older) every summer. We hang out, swim, get pedicures, shop, giggle, and generally have a great time.

This year, at 14.5, she’s decided her friends are more interesting than her wonderful aunt who adores her. I sort of understand but I’m disappointed, too. I remember 14 (painfully!) so I supposed her friends do seem more important than building memories with me this year… This will pass, I hope, as she gets older.

If the children we love knew how much they meant to us, we’d be in real trouble.

In other news

The Importing FrameMaker files to Flare webinar is insanely popular. The original webinars are filled up so I added 2 more. If you are at all interested, I’d sign up fast, as these are going to fill up pretty quickly.

If you have specific things you’d like to see covered – perhaps you have an issue and you don’t know what to do – send me email at and I’ll see if I can add it to the agenda. I want this to be useful to you so your input is important.

Off to get stuff done with me this morning! I have 15 things to get done by end of day, as usual.


By popular request – Frame to Flare

Posted in MadCap on June 23, 2008 by Mike

We’ve been overwhelmed by requests for a webinar to help you move out of FrameMaker and into Flare. You asked for it, so we’re giving it to you.


I’m presenting a new 1 hour webinar called “Importing FrameMaker files into Flare”. Learn Best Practices and discover what you need to be most effective as you move into the future with Flare. This webinar covers each step of the FrameMaker to Flare import process:


  • what to select
  • why to select it
  • how these selections impact you when you’re done

We have 3 webinars scheduled for July and 1 for August. We’re adding more as these fill up. And they’re filling up fast! Go to Scroll down to the Moving from FrameMaker to Flare area. Click the demo for:  

  • July 9th at 9am Pacific (filled)
  • July 17th at 12pm Pacific (filled)
  • July 28th at 7am Pacific
  • August 7th at 1pm Pacific

The webinars are limited to the first 25 people who sign up for each. If these fill up fast, I’ll schedule more. My hope is to have these at least every 2 weeks.


Join the fun

Posted in Personal, Tech Comm, technical writing with tags , , on June 19, 2008 by Mike

Something fun you can do at home is play the “Is So Cal going to run out of Electricity?” game. When we have heat waves, we can run out of electricity and occasionally start with blackouts and other fun stuff.

While it seems unlikely in this particular heat wave, you might want to play at home and laugh at us. Root for the red line to cross the green line!

A warning, tho: when the red line gets close to the green line, things can start happening fast. The little meter suddenly pegs, warnings and levels of emergency start happening quickly. I’ve seen it cascade through from “Why, that doesn’t looks good” to Stage 3 and rolling blackouts in 30 minutes.

Go to and watch the electricity usage. Just another way we in So Cal are outrunning our infrastructure.

And this relates to tech comm how?

Ah, it does relate because this site does a good job of visually showing technical information in a way that can be grasped quickly and easily. You don’t even need the actual numbers to understand what is happening. Just watch the lines.

Click the graph and then scroll to the table – same information but much less powerful. Tufte in action.

Good technical visual and a fun game to play at home.

Frame to Blaze updated

Posted in Blaze, MadCap, MadCap software, Personal with tags , , , , on June 18, 2008 by Mike

I’m in my town today, 100 miles north-north-east of San Diego and it’s hot. 104˚ in the shade, baby. I like hot but this is a lot to ask.

Baby, it’s hot outside

Normally, we wander into the heat, every day a little warmer through spring until mid July when it’s 104˚. Not this year. This year it was cool and cool and BAM – hot. Yikes.

And the rainy season is over. Unlike a lot of the world, in So Cal, we have a 4 month rainy season and then we have sunshine for 8 months. It sounds good and usually is but after about 6 months, you long for something other than “Sunny”. And then the fires start and you wish you had “Sunny” back.

We do have 4 seasons in So Cal, though: Fire, Flood, Green, and Brown. We’re transitioning to Brown now. Brown can last up to 6 months, but no one wants that. Sept to December are our worst Fire months so we prefer to go right to Flood in October if we can.

I don’t want to complain too much about the heat now though- we could be under 10 feet of water, like the midwest. I’m sure they would like to see a month or 2 of no rain.

Frame to Blaze Best Practices updated

OK – I’ve been working with Blaze, as I hope you have too, and I’ve updated the Best Practices document. So, please, download the document and work with Blaze. it’s here: frametoblazebestpracticesdraft41

We refreshed the beta early this week and I like it. We just (hopefully) fixed a very nasty bug this week and after some testing, you should see it in a week or 2. Stay tuned for that.

Time for the pool soon

I’ve been giving our young dog swimming lessons the last few weeks. Of course, dogs know how to swim but they drowned in pools because they don’t know how to get out. So if you have a dog and a pool, you have to work with them so they know how to get out.

What that means is I get in the pool. Gus gets very happy because we’re going to play with the ball. I throw the ball in the pool. He walks the hot tub wall (carefully, because it’s narrow and he’s 75 lbs) and looks at the ball in the pool.

He looks at me.

He thinks it thru.

He leaps into the water, goes under, comes up, and swims for the ball. He gets the ball.

Depending on where in the pool we are, he either heads for the stairs or for the seat at the other end of the pool. If the seat, he sits, looks at me and then goes for the stairs. The entire time, I’m telling him he’s a good dog.

Rinse and repeat.

The old Cattle Dog, Sara, has loved her pool since she was taught pool safety some 14 years ago. But now, it’s really hard for her to get her old stiff bones in and out of the pool. She falls most of the time, trying to get out.

Now she walks along the side of the pool, huffing and barking at Gus. It really looks like she’s coaching him.

I think Gus is having fun in the pool with me but I’m not sure. In the end, it doesn’t matters if he likes it so long as he’s safe around the pool. But it would be more fun for the whole pack if he liked it. His toes are webbed to the last knuckle, so he could be a strong swimmer. If that’s what he’s into.

After all, it’s the Brown season!

Waiting in the wings

Posted in MadCap, MadCap software, Personal on June 9, 2008 by Mike

I’ve been called for jury duty this week. This is going to be one of those painful ones, I can tell already. My web message last night said that I should check again about noon today.

I think I’ll spend all week checking 2x a day and then not have to go attend. It wouldn’t be a problem if I worked in the same city where I live but I work in a different county, 100 miles away. So I work from home this week, unless I need to go downtown to attend jury duty.

Carrying a spear

I wouldn’t mind the jury duty so much but I have a lot to do and we just got back from STC international. We did demos in the booth that were always well attended. We handed out lots of stuff. We talked to hundreds of people. We crawled back to the hotel at the end of the day. It was great.

Mike’s blog has pictures. I have some as well but can’t do any resizing or other editing. My desktop computer – where I have all my photo editing software – died before I left for STC. I’m pretty sure it’s the power supply and it goes to the shop this morning. When I get it back, I’ll post some pictures too.

Story arcs

So what did I learn from the STC conference? I learned that our products are insanely popular. We were flooded at the booth during breaks.

I also finally met Susan Burton (the head of STC) in person. She’s about a foot shorter and about 80 pounds lighter than I am. We compared notes on how people continue to confuse our names, despite the obvious differences. It’s actually amusing to both of us.

OK – shower time. I need to get the computer to the shop before I have to log in and check my jury duty again. Sigh.

STC in Philly

Posted in Analyzer, Blaze, Flare, MadCap, Personal, Tech Comm, technical writing with tags , , , on June 2, 2008 by Mike

Well, the first full day of the STC International conference is over and I’m back in my hotel room. I’ve ordered room service and a glass of wine. My feet and legs hurt and my brain is going to explode.

It was a very fun day.

The MadCap booth is amazing – 20 feet by 20 feet and visible from anywhere in the large vendor area. Mike took pictures and we’ll have them posted soon. But it’s large and looks great.

We’re doing demos all day on various products and they’re really well attended. The buzz is strong.

As usual when I go to a conference, I have seen lots of people I’ve not seen for a while, so much of my day is spent smiling and hugging people. I really like that part of my job.

Room service is about to appear and I have an entire day of email to catch up on. More later in the week. I need to eat and drink a glass of wine. The day starts at 8:30 tomorrow morning.