Archive for conference

Not posted for a while

Posted in DITA, MadCap, MadCap software, Tech Comm, technical writer, technical writing, webinars with tags , , , , , , , , on April 15, 2009 by Mike

Between losing Sara the Amazing Swimming Dog, WritersUA, and then getting really sick, I’ve just not posted for a bit.

So I thought I would quickly this morning.

Free Webinar Series

If you have not been paying attention, the free webinar series is going very very well. The one we just did had the most signups ever. I was amazed.

The next one is April 23 at 9am Pacific.

Controlling Costs by Controlling Language
This tool-independent webinar shows how simplified language options can reduce page count, decrease translation expense, and improve comprehension among non-English audiences. But is it appropriate for you? Find out.
Presenter: Brenda Huettner, P-N Designs, Inc

Brenda simply rocks. She knows a lot about our field and this webinar is a great way to learn about controlled language. It may not be right for you, but it would be good to know what it is, in case it comes up.

For more info about the webinar series, go to http://www.madcapsoftware.com/demos/webinars.aspx.

Dita, Dita, everywhere

In case you didn’t get to go to WritersUA, we’re in beta with Flare Dita. If you have Dita content and are willing to beat the crud out of the software, we want you to join the beta. Send me an email and I’ll pass it along to the guy.

Remember, no Open Toolkit, just Flare and Dita. Output to Webhelp, PDF, Frame, Word, Dita, and more.

More later

See you all at STC International in just a few weeks!

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I’ve seen fire and I’ve seen rain

Posted in Blaze, Flare, MadCap, MadCap Blaze, Madcap flare, MadCap software, Personal with tags , , , , , , , , on October 14, 2008 by Mike

OK, I haven’t seen rain lately, except briefly last week in Atlanta between flights. But it’s Fire Season for us in So Cal. We have winds and starting last Sunday, we have fires. The worst is north of LA in the western end of San Fernando Valley. Houses burnt, lots of acreage burnt, evacuations, all the normal stuff. We’re a migratory population.

This could continue for us for another 6 to 8 weeks. We always hope not, but our rains don’t always start in late October, like we’d like them to. Sometimes it’s February before we see rain and that’s just no fun at all. We’d prefer a nice early rainy season with just enough rain to get Green by January but not so much rain that we have Flood.

I’ve seen sunny days that I thought would never end

The PCOC show in Tennesee was very fun. I met lots of people and just generally had a really good time. Chattanooga seems like a great town to be eccentric in. I can’t tell you why, I wanted to just be eccentric. But the conference was a success and I think all left with useful information.

On my way out of town, I was looking forward to going to Lookout Mountain where, they said, you can see 7 states. But the day was cloudy and overcast, so I wound up at the airport and left for Atlanta early instead.

I’ve seen lonely times when I could not find a friend

I spent about 6 hours in the Atlanta airport with Brenda H, who, it turns out, is very fun. She was stranded because Atlanta won’t let you check in to board your flight if it’s less than 45 minutes before your flight leaves.

Brenda got to the counter with 40 minutes and they wouldn’t check her in. So she had to wait 13 hours to see if she could stand by on the next flight to Tucson. She ended up in Denver that night and made it home the next day. I felt really bad for her – normally, this is my traveling karma and she got it this time.

But we ate and chatted and hung out and it was good. Turns out we have about 5 people in common, including 2 of my closest friends.

But I always hoped that I’d see you, baby, one more time again

I got in about 11pm Sunday, just dead. My body had no idea what time it was and so defaulted to bone weariness. I spent about 30 minutes talking to my husband and passed out until 6:30a.

I got caught up a bit and then left for San Diego about 11 hours after I got home. As I was unpacking the suitcase to pack the overnight bag, I felt homeless, a transition with a rag top. David assured me that where ever I am is home for him, which helped.

And we have a date this weekend, which I like muchly. We’re going to see Paula Poundstone at the University of California, Riverside. I’m very pleased and excited. I like her work very much and this should be fun. Maybe David will hold my hand and everything.

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.

Oh, Canada!

Posted in MadCap, Personal, Tech Comm with tags , , , on April 10, 2008 by Mike

I’ve never been to Canada before and next week I’m changing that. I’m pretty excited – every Canadian I’ve known, I’ve liked. I’m expecting to meet lots of fun and interesting people at the Red River Conference in Winnipeg.

I know what you’re thinking: But isn’t it going to snow there, Sharon? I’m being assured by the locals and weather.com that, no, no snow is likely. Colder than I like, sure, but no snow.

However, considering how snow is stalking me, I’m fairly confident that this weather forecast is totally wrong and has not factored in the Sharon effect. sigh.

The snow would be worth it if they could arrange some Northern Lights for me. I’d really like that. It’s one of the things I’m supposed to see in my life. Like the Southern Cross, Alice Springs, India, and a few other things.

So, if you’re in the Winnipeg area, could you please get that paperwork filled out and get me some great Northern Lights? I’m there from Sunday night until mid day Wednesday. There’s time.

Baby, it’s cold outside

Posted in Personal with tags , on March 29, 2008 by Mike

Well, upstate New York is just insanely cold but the people have been very friendly. As I was whining about the snow, several people said it’s all in your mind set.  “Think about the movies,” they said. “White Christmas, for example.”

As I recall in that movie, they got snowed in and started talking about eating each other. In catchy song.

Maybe that was the Donner party. I could be confusing things. Regardless, I’m not taking any chances. I’m going home.

To quote Jimmy Buffett: I wanna go where it’s warm!

Wow. WritersUA is a fun crowd.

Posted in Analyzer, Blaze, MadCap, Personal with tags , , , , , , , on March 20, 2008 by Mike

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.