Past Meetings: 2011 to 2017

April 2017 Chapter Meeting

Date: Wednesday, April 12, 2017, 6:00 PM

Location: Highlands Country Club, Oakland, California

Topic: Speed, control, and quality: Choosing between open source and closed source content

Speaker: Jared Bhatti

Is your product growing quickly or slowly? Are you working with organizations that want to contribute? How much of it do you actually want to own? How obsessed are you with content quality? How much chaos can you stomach? These are the questions I ask myself whenever I’m debating between creating an open source or closed source project.

In this presentation, I’ll guide you through my decision-making process, tell you some of my mistakes, and open the floor up for questions and conversation.

Jared Bhatti is a docs manager and tech writer at Google. He manages content for Google Cloud (cloud.google.com) and the open source project Kubernetes (Kubernetes.io). In his limited spare time, he enjoys cooking extravagant dishes, reading trashy science fiction, and petting his cats.

 March 2017 Chapter Meeting

Date: Wednesday, March 8, 2017, 6:00 PM

Location: Highlands Country Club, Oakland, California

Topic: Who does literacy outreach really reach?

Speaker: T R Girill

With effective nonfiction communication more important than ever, what impact can a local literacy outreach really have? For several years the East Bay STC chapter and the Edward Teller Education Center have collaborated to bring technical writing and text usability techniques into K-12 science classrooms through outreach to science teachers. This talk reveals how from 2013-2016 that effort has touched school districts throughout northern California (through workshops) and other educators throughout the world (through online resources).


T R Girill (PhD, UC Berkeley) retired in 2007 from a 30-year career in user services and computer documentation at Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory. Since then he has worked in literacy outreach with underperforming students in local schools, with laboratory interns and science fair participants, through innovative workshops for pre-service and in-service K-12 science teachers, and by posting monthly literacy-development notes on the STEM discussions hosted by Google+ and the National Science Teachers Association.

February 2017 Chapter Meeting

Date: Wednesday, February 8, 2017, 6:00 PM

Location: Highlands Country Club, Oakland, California

Topic: Get it in Writing: How to Write Contracts for Content Development Projects

Speaker: Jack Molisani

The subtitle of this presentation is How to Make Big Bucks and Not Lose Your Shirt If Something Goes Wrong

The first step in any content development project is defining what your customer wants, no matter if your customer is a department within your organization or an external company for which you consult.

If you are an employee in an organization, a doc plan is often sufficient to document product deliverables. But independent contractors must also define payment terms, who owns copyrights, and more.

Clients often ask you to sign their contracting agreements. Do you ever ask them to sign yours? While Jack is not an attorney and is not qualified to give legal advice, he’s happy to share some lessons learned about what to put in contracts, and why.

In this session, you will learn:

  • The difference between a contract, a letter of agreement, and other contracting terms
  • How to document what you are (and are not) going to do in the project
  • How to manage change requests (aka mission creep)
  • How to set payment terms that favor you
  • Other hard-won lessons learned from over 20 years of buying and selling corporate services

Want to avoid conflict, make more money, reduce employment stress? Then this meeting is for you!

But wait, there’s more! Jack is donating a free registration to LavaCon to the chapter, so bring your business card for the drawing!


Jack Molisani is president of ProSpring Technical Staffing, an employment agency specializing in technical writers and other content professionals: http://ProspringStaffing.com.

Jack is the author of Be The Captain of Your Career: A New Approach to Career Planning and Advancement, which hit #5 on Amazon’s Career and Resume Best Seller list.

Jack produces the LavaCon Conference on Content Strategy and Tech Comm Management, which will be in Portland this October: http://lavacon.org

 January 2017 Annual Chapter Party and Touchstone Awards

Date: Saturday, January 28, 2017

Location: Highlands Country Club, Oakland, California

Topic: Berkeley STC Annual Party and Touchstone Awards

Join us on a Saturday evening to relax with fellow communicators, enjoy a buffet dinner, and celebrate excellence in the profession.

Every year Touchstone, the Northern California Technical Communication Competition, receives many fine entries. We send the best ones to the STC International Summit Awards competitions. We will announce this year’s winners and display their entries throughout the evening.

During the evening we will also recognize and honor competition judges and Berkeley chapter volunteers for their contributions to the chapter and the profession.

Our yearly raffle: Once again, the generosity and support from the wonderful vendors in our professional community allow us to offer some extraordinary raffle items.

(Raffle winners must be present at the time of the drawing.)

Hope to see you there!

 December 2016 Chapter Meeting

Date: Wednesday, December 14, 2016, 6:00 PM

Location: Highlands Country Club, Oakland, California

Topic: Writing for the Space Program

Speaker: Peter Basch

Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL) is the NASA center that focuses on unmanned robotic space missions. They produced the suite of Mars Rovers: Spirit, Opportunity, and Curiosity. Their missions investigate the planets and include the first human-made device to leave the solar system, the Voyager 1 probe. In his 5 years there, Peter Basch has worked on proposals for space telescopes, documentation for Martian parachutes, and scientific journal articles. He will discuss the unexpected challenges of the public sector, including the lack of branding identity, responsibility without authority, and the need for charisma and cunning to implement complex documentation workflows. He will explore what it means to belong to one of humanity’s most exciting enterprises — and to be invited to a launch!


Peter Basch has a BA in Physics from Columbia University. He started grad school at Berkeley in astrophysics, but left to act and write in NY. He supported himself as a word processor on Wall Street, where he worked on the IBM Displaywriter, Xerox 6085, Wang, WordPerfect, and Word.

Peter was in several sketch comedy teams before writing a one-act that brought him back to California where he met his wife and family. He rebranded himself as a technical writer and joined STC. He found his position at JPL on the STC job board. He has been in JPL’s technical documentation group for five years.

November 2016 Chapter Meeting

Date: Wednesday, November 9, 2016, 6:00 PM

Location: Highlands Country Club, Oakland, California

Topic: Choosing the Right Tool

Speaker: Liz Fraley

So many tools to choose from! So many messages from so many vendors. Everyone saying they are the right one! One size does not fit all and one solution is not right for everyone! How could it? How do you find the right one for you?

Liz Fraley shares strategies, benchmarks, and questions that she’s used (and seen used) over the years, so you will have something in your back pocket to help you choose the tool that’s best for you, your company, and your situation. There’s no one right answer for everyone. It depends on staff, resources, skills, and even company culture.

Liz doesn’t mention specific products in this presentation. This is the inside scoop about how tool vendors work, how to work with them, and what you need to know to deploy/purchase something that requires more than just you to do it.


Liz Fraley, founder of Single-Sourcing Solutions, has worked in both the high-tech and government sectors, developing and delivering technical designs and strategies for authoring and publishing. She is a single-source/XML architect and programmer specializing in practical development and deployment. She advocates designing architectures that directly improve organizational efficiency, productivity, and interoperability. She’s the founder of TC Camp, the unconference for content creators, consumers, and the people who support them. If you ask her, she’ll say she’s a gardener who’s happiest when those around her are flourishing.

 October 2016 Chapter Meeting

Date: Wednesday, October 12, 2016, 6:00 PM

Location: Highlands Country Club, Oakland, California

Topic: The Language of Cyber Security

Speaker: Tonie Flores

Cybersecurity skills are in high demand, yet in short supply. Professionals from other areas are finding ways to move into the field. We, as technical communicators, can transition our experience into this booming domain. Explaining things simply is complicated. Technical communicators make information easy to access.

One reason that cyber security is challenging is the complexity of the language used to talk about it. Security professionals often find themselves talking at cross purposes, even when talking about the same concept. Language enables communication. A shared vocabulary reduces ambiguities and provides a basis for identifying and understanding issues, contexts, and constraints.

This session presents a case for agreeing on a shared vocabulary for cyber security to provide a starting place for a common understanding. Tonie will present examples that highlight the impact that common word usage has had in the adoption and growth of other disciplines. The lessons learned are especially relevant in global communications. Finally, Tonie will suggest specific ways that technical communicators can apply skills that we already have to reduce gaps and contribute to cyber security.


Tonie Flores is a master systems analyst, an Associate Fellow of STC, and a Northern California Technical Communication Competition award winner.

Tonie is a long-time volunteer for the Berkeley Chapter.

 Mini Job Fair

Date: Wednesday, September 14, 2016
Times (p.m.): 6:00 to 9:00 PM
Location: Ed Roberts Campus, 3075 Adeline Street, Berkeley, CA, Rooms A, B and C
Topic: Mini Job Fair

Looking for a job? Want to brush up your resume? Just want to stay aware of trends in the field?

Please join the Berkeley chapter for a mini job fair in place of our regular chapter meeting.

This event features tables where you can discuss current positions with local employers and agencies.

It features a progression, in which small groups meet with industry experts to discuss topics about technical communication and job seeking.

We’ll also have resume counseling, lots of networking, and light refreshments.

August 2016 Chapter Meeting

Date: Wednesday, August 10, 2016, 6:00 PM

Location: Highlands Country Club, Oakland, California

Topic: Adopting Structured Authoring/DITA Best Practices for Any Toolset

Speaker: Monique Semp & Riley VanDyke

Tech Pubs teams have been talking about the benefits of structured authoring for years, such as efficient content reuse, which is important for consistency and localization, effective revision control, and content’s underlying topic-based focus. To deliver these benefits, structured authoring uses systematic labeling, modular topic-based architecture, tightly defined rules for content authoring, and the separation of content and form to create a body of reusable content building blocks.

The good news is that even if you’re not using structured authoring and DITA tools, you can easily adopt their best practices; they’re not an all-or-nothing proposition tied to a specific tool! After all, we can write a great short description without a <shortdesc> XML element, add metadata to documents, and implement content reuse strategies in many modern authoring environments.

This presentation shows how you can realize many of the benefits of structured authoring and DITA while using unstructured authoring tools and workflows, and shows tool-specific approaches for doing so in Microsoft Word, Unstructured FrameMaker, and MadCap Flare.


Monique Semp is a Senior STC member, and has won numerous STC Touchstone and Berkeley competition awards of merit and excellence. Monique began her career as a software engineer writing PL/M and C code for automated train control (the “people movers” in airports) and the accompanying user manuals. Her career evolved and she’s been a technical writer since 2001, documenting a broad range of applications such as early Java-based mobile geo-location applications, consumer product review platforms, and internet security. She has her own company, Write Quick, Inc., and provides many technical writing services, including API references, programming guides, configuration manuals, and technical processes and procedures.


Riley VanDyke has been a contract and consulting technical writer since 1998. Before focusing on technical writing, his experience included computer hardware, software, and telecommunications systems engineering. He enjoys learning how to get the most out of software tools, and how to increase productivity by combining tools in complementary ways.

July 2016 Chapter Meeting

Date: Wednesday, July 13, 2016, 6:00 PM

Location: Highlands Country Club, Oakland, California

Topic: Usability Testing: Why and How

Speaker: Jeff Johnson

This presentation is an introduction to conducting usability tests of software and online services. It explains why development teams benefit from conducting usability testing. It describes the many ways to test software on users, the stages of software development during when testing can be conducted (spoiler: All) and why one might use one form of testing versus another. It enumerates the steps involved in designing and conducting a test. Screen-images and video clips of actual tests illustrate the types and results of usability tests.

Jeff Johnson is President and Principal Consultant at UI Wizards, Inc., a product usability consultancy. He also is a co-founder and principal of Wiser Usability, a consultancy focused on usability and accessibility for adults over 50. After earning B.A. and Ph.D. degrees from Yale and Stanford Universities, Jeff worked as a UI designer and implementer, engineer manager, usability tester, and researcher at Cromemco, Xerox, US West, Hewlett-Packard Labs, and Sun Microsystems. In the late 1980s and early 1990s he was Chair of Computer Professionals for Social Responsibility. He has taught at Stanford University and Mills College, and the University of Canterbury in New Zealand.


In 2013 he presented in the prestigious Authors@Google talk series. He is a member of the ACM SIGCHI Academy and in 2016 received SIGCHI’s Lifetime Achievement in Practice Award. He has authored or co-authored many articles and chapters on human-computer interaction, as well as the books GUI BloopersWeb BloopersGUI Bloopers 2.0, Designing with the Mind in Mind, Conceptual Models: Core to Good Design(coauthored with Austin Henderson), and Designing with the Mind in Mind, 2nd edition. His forthcoming book, co-authored with Kate Finn, is on designing for an aging population.

June 2016 Chapter Meeting

Date: Wednesday, June 8, 2016, 6:00 PM

Location: Highlands Country Club, Oakland, California

Topic: Instructional Design and Training 101

Speaker: Madeleine Adkins

As technical communicators, we have many of the skills to succeed at training and instructional design. This presentation describes these fields and what it takes to succeed in each of them: the skills and knowledge base to make yourself marketable as an instructional designer or trainer.

Madeleine Adkins has had a colorful and diverse career so far. Her skills include technical and corporate communication, training, instructional design, curriculum development, change management, ethnographic research, data analysis, translation and localization management, academic writing, video recording and editing, and web development. An anthropological linguist by training, and a copy editor by lineage, Madeleine has given a variety of professional and academic presentations in the US, Japan, Canada, and New Zealand.

Madeleine is a long-time volunteer for the Berkeley Chapter. She is currently our secretary.

May 2016 Chapter Meeting

Date: Wednesday, May 11, 2016, 6:00 PM

Location: Highlands Country Club, Oakland, California

Topic: Making the Case for Documentation

Speaker: Paul Scott

Businesses need documentation, but they don’t always realize it. Whether you’re a staff writer, contractor, or freelance writer, you need to spot the documentation pain points and bring them to the attention of customers and potential customers.

This presentation will help you recognize and articulate the needs that your documents address.

Help your customers understand what you can do for them, and learn to target your writing to their needs.

Paul Scott was trained as a chemist, but soon discovered that, unlike most scientists, he enjoys writing. After 12 years at the bench he switched to technical writing, and never looked back.

Since then he has accumulated more than 15 years of experience as a tech writer and business information consultant with clients in the life sciences, biomedical, clean energy, and computer sectors.

He considers it his mission to uncover the information that his clients need and make it useful to them in their businesses.

April 2016 Chapter Meeting

Date: Wednesday, April 13, 2016, 6:00 PM

Location: Highlands Country Club, Oakland, California

Topic: Clarity Above All: Writing to be Understood

Speaker: Joseph Devney

The goal of technical writing is to communicate necessary information quickly, so readers can get on with their jobs. Will the grammar rules you learned in school help reach this goal? Is the conventional wisdom in the field of technical communication valuable?

This presentation will discuss techniques that make it easier for readers to comprehend written language. The advice to be offered is informed by linguistic research on how people understand language.

The primary audience for the presentation is technical writers, but anyone who writes nonfiction should benefit from this information.

 

Joseph Devney, M.A., has been a technical writer for over 20 years, and has studied in depth how language works. He has taught both linguistics and technical communication at the college level, and given talks about topics in the two fields many times.

Joe is also a Fellow of the Society for Technical Communication, and former president of the STC Berkeley chapter.

March 2016 Chapter Meeting

Date: Wednesday, March 9, 2016, 6:00 PM

Location: Highlands Country Club, Oakland, California

Topic: Networking for Introverts
Speaker: Rebecca Firestone

Technical writers are often introverts, who need alone time to focus and recharge. Are you sick and tired of hearing how schmoozing is the only way to get a job, because nobody cares about experience or skills anymore as long as you’re “part of the team”? Does “going social” sound like hell? Have you tried to fake that perky, happy confidence that you never really feel in order to impress the robot-recruiters? Is everyone telling you to start a blog to be a “thought leader”? Here’s something to take your mind off all of that, and get a fresh perspective on what networking really is and maybe even have some fun with it. A playful approach can help you forget yourself and soon you’ll be Speaking With Other People before you even know it! Rebecca will share her own observations on networking, both as a seeker and as a mentor – what worked, what didn’t, and what might work for you.

Rebecca Firestone is an award-winning technical writer, content developer, and trainer with 20 years of experience in startup and corporate environments, serving in both contract and full-time positions. She started as a technical writer in 1988. Since then, she’s worked in telecom, customer relationship management, architecture, clean energy, and software training. In her current role she expanded her scope from pure writing to include strategic planning and workload scheduling, learning on the job by trial and error. Currently, she works as a senior technical writer at SolarCity Corporation’s product development office in San Rafael, CA.

 February 2016 Chapter Meeting

Date: Wednesday, February 10, 2016

Times:

  • 6:00: Networking and conversation
  • 7:00: Announcements
  • 7:15: Presentation


Location: Highlands Country Club, Oakland, California

Topic: Keeping Up With Content in a Dynamic Environment

Speaker: Scott Prentice

You’ve decided that it makes sense to migrate your unstructured FrameMaker files to an XML-based workflow using DITA. The next thing you’ll need to do is convert some of that content into DITA topic and map files so you can develop a proof of concept workflow for both authoring and publishing. It is very important to confirm that you can successfully author and publish in this new model before making the move. Spending more time up front will ensure a successful migration.

There are many methods for performing the conversion from unstructured FrameMaker to DITA. In this presentation, Scott will discuss the available options, then will walk you through the entire process using FrameMaker conversion tables. This isn’t necessarily the best option for everyone, but the concepts required, especially those related to the pre-conversion process, will likely apply to other methods as well.

Migrating from unstructured FrameMaker to DITA typically requires some rewriting and reorganization of the content before conversion. Once this is done, you’ll set up a mapping from the unstructured paragraph and character styles, and document objects to the corresponding elements. The conversion tables define this mapping. Applying a conversion table creates structured FrameMaker files from your unstructured files. You’ll then need to perform additional cleanup on those files before saving to XML.

The entire process can be a bit daunting, and if you just have a few books to convert it may be best to just pay someone else to do it. But if you have a large amount of content to convert, it might just be worth taking it on yourself. You’ll learn a new skill and will be able to work the conversion process into your schedule as time allows.

After converting your files to DITA, you can continue to author and publish with FrameMaker, or you can switch authoring and/or publishing to other tools. The great thing about moving to XML is that your content is no longer tied to just one proprietary tool. You do still need to buy/use proprietary tools, but if something better comes along, it’s much easier to switch!

Scott Prentice has been in the technical publication field since 1991 and is the president of Leximation, Inc. He focuses on custom online help and EPUB development, FrameMaker plugin and structure application development, and custom web application development. He is involved with DITA authoring and publishing, and created the DITA-FMx plugin for FrameMaker.

January 2016 Annual Chapter Party and Touchstone Awards

Date: Saturday, January 16, 2015
Times (p.m.): 5:30 to 6:00 Networking & conversation; 6:00 to 7:00 Buffet dinner; 7:00 to 8:00 Awards and Recognition; 8:00 to 9:00 More conversations, see the award-winning entries
Location: Highlands Country Club, Oakland, California
Topic: Berkeley STC Annual Party and Touchstone Awards

Join us on a Saturday evening to relax with fellow communicators, enjoy a buffet dinner, and celebrate excellence in the profession.

Every year Touchstone, the Northern California Technical Communication Competition, receives many fine entries. We send the best ones to the STC International Summit Awards competitions. We will announce this year’s winners and display their entries throughout the evening.

During the evening we will also recognize and honor competition judges and Berkeley chapter volunteers for their contributions to the chapter and the profession.

Our yearly raffle: Once again, the generosity and support from the wonderful vendors in our professional community allow us to offer some extraordinary raffle items. Some of the prizes include:

  • To be announced

(Raffle winners must be present at the time of the drawing.)

Hope to see you there!

November 2015 Chapter Meeting

Date: Wednesday, November 11, 2015

Times:

  • 6:00: Networking and conversation
  • 7:00: Announcements
  • 7:15: Presentation


Location: Highlands Country Club, Oakland, California

Topic: Keeping Up With Content in a Dynamic Environment

Speaker: Maria Antonieta (Tonie) Flores

This case study starts with a story that illustrates how good content can go stale, presents findings on the impact of “bad information,” as described by Information Mapping, and describes a specific instance, including problem symptoms, causes, and remediation. The remediation includes content management best practices: analysis, topic architecture, metadata, and procedures for sustaining reliable content

Speaker:

Maria Antonieta (Tonie) Flores

Tonie Flores is a master systems analyst, with a focus on information management. Tonie has led implementations of complex digital systems, documented for and taught users of ERP and other complicated software, and now delivers consulting, coaching, and workshops in technical documentation and adult learning strategies for users of enterprise software.

Tonie has a Bachelor’s Degree in Mathematics from Boston University College of Arts and Sciences and a Master’s Degree in Systems Analysis from the University of Rochester Graduate School of Management. She is an STC Associate Fellow.

October 2015 Mini Job Fair

Date: Wednesday, October 14, 2015
Times (p.m.): 6:00 to 9:00 PM
Location: Ed Roberts Campus, 3075 Adeline Street, Berkeley, CA, Rooms A, B and C
Topic: Mini Job Fair

Looking for a job? Want to brush up your resume? Just want to stay aware of trends in the field?

Please join the Berkeley chapter for a mini job fair in place of our October chapter meeting.

This event features tables where you can discuss current positions with local employers and agencies.

It features a progression, in which small groups meet with industry experts to discuss topics about technical communication and job seeking.

We’ll also have resume counseling, lots of networking, and light refreshments.

Cost is only $8.00.

 September 2015 Chapter Meeting

Date: Wednesday, September 9, 2015
Times (p.m.): 6:00 to 7:00 Networking, conversation, & dinner; 7:00 Announcements; 7:15 Presentation
Location: Highlands Country Club, Oakland, California
Topic: Technical Writer as Scrum Master: Expand Your Skill Set
Speaker: Gina Blednyh

Technical writers possess valuable skills. However, our colleagues might not be aware of all that we offer to our organizations, which can hinder career options. For example, we identify issues before they can impact customers, we solve problems, we collaborate effectively, and we work efficiently under deadlines. It’s these abilities that can help us succeed in other areas, if that’s what we choose. And serving in different roles can improve our technical communication skills–while highlighting the value that we already add to our teams.

Learn how Gina is using an opportunity to act as a scrum master in an agile programming environment to stretch herself, expand her skills, and add value to the team.

Gina Blednyh has a degree from UC Berkeley. She’s been a technical communicator for more than ten years and has worked at Salesforce for almost five. She enjoys the challenges and learning that a technical writing career provides her, and she loves the constantly changing landscape of technology. She is a former member of and volunteer for the STC Berkeley chapter, and she spoke at the STC Summit in Phoenix in 2014. This is the second time Gina has been a guest speaker for our chapter.

August 2015 Chapter Meeting

Date: Wednesday, August 12, 2015
Times (p.m.): 6:00 to 7:00 Networking, conversation, & dinner; 7:00 Announcements; 7:15 Presentation
Location: Highlands Country Club, Oakland, California
Topic: A Knowledge Engineering Approach to Technical Communication
Speaker: Denny Brown

Many of Denny’s findings that resulted from years of developing commercial expert systems for software companies are directly applicable to technical communication. Denny will present a process model that describes how he and his team developed customized expert systems and show how the same principles apply to technical communication. Denny will also explore aspects of artificial intelligence that enable us to better understand and communicate complex technical information.

Denny Brown co-founded Expert Support with Jan Clayton in 1990. The original vision for the company was to provide support to software companies in all of the services that surround core software development. Denny observed that many software companies, while very good at software development, were not as good with auxiliary services like documentation, training, customer support, and professional services. These services required more attention to the human side of software, focusing on the needs of the customer that are beyond what the software provides.

July 2015 Chapter Meeting

Date: Wednesday, July 8, 2015
Times (p.m.): 6:00 to 7:00 Networking, conversation, & dinner; 7:00 Announcements; 7:15 Presentation
Location: Highlands Country Club, Oakland, California
Topic: Making Yourself Marketable in 2015
Speaker: Andrew Davis

Are you doing everything right in your quest to get yourself hired as a technical communicator in the Bay Area? The job market’s frothy for some but frozen for others. If you’re not getting the right kind of attention, how can you improve your odds?

Andrew will cover the realities of today’s Bay Area technical communication job market, discuss the tradeoffs you’ll face as a job seeker, and review how you can optimize your candidacy. He’ll offer advice about job boards, portfolios, resumes, cover letters, reference and background checks, training, and even pricing.

Andrew will discuss the pragmatic job search from all perspectives, including interviewing, negotiation, and even resigning from your current post.

There’ll be time for a wide-ranging Q&A following Andrew’s presentation, and (as always) he’ll be the last person to leave the room.

Speakers:

Andrew Davis

Andrew Davis has recruited technical content developers in the SF Bay Area since 1995. He is a former software industry technical writer and has a reputation for both understanding and championing the role of content development.

Andrew enjoys helping talented technical communicators get ahead by recognizing and refining their value to technology companies. He’s candid, connected, and just as important, he likes to help tech industry workers achieve independence from intermediaries.

Andrew ran Synergistech Communications during the Internet Gold Rush years and has recently returned to solo recruiting mode under the aegis of Tech Comm Talent. He remains focused on recruiting great technical content development talent for discerning local technology companies. Join him on LinkedIn (www.linkedin.com/in/synergistech) to learn more.

June 2015 Chapter Meeting

Date: Wednesday, June 10, 2015
Times (p.m.): 6:00 to 7:00 Networking, conversation, & dinner; 7:00 Announcements; 7:15 Presentation
Location: Highlands Country Club, Oakland, California
Topic: Remedial Documentation and the Contract Technical Writer
Speaker: Bruce Poropat

Many companies finish a project, have a launch party with cake, ice cream, and back slapping. Then they discover the project isn’t finished at all to end users and other stakeholders who need reasonable documentation to use and maintain the product. These companies typically respond to this situation by bringing in a contract technical writer. Bruce, who calls this kind of project “remedial documentation,” outlines problems common to such work, and ways to solve these problems.

Bruce Poropat has worked as a contract technical writer on projects for many Bay Area organizations—including Wells Fargo, PG&E, Gap Corporation, Caltrans, Safeway, ERG, and two contracts each for Charles Schwab and Williams-Sonoma.

The May 2015 Chapter Meeting

Date: Wednesday, May 13, 2015
Times (p.m.): 6:00 to 7:00 Networking, conversation, & dinner; 7:00 Announcements; 7:15 Presentation
Location: Highlands Country Club, Oakland, California
Topic: Jekyll versus DITA: Bridging the Gap between Tech Comm and the Web
Speaker: Tom Johnson

Although the web continues to burst at the seams with innovation after innovation, the technology of tech comm tends to evolve in an independent sphere, changing at its own sluggish pace. Is the divide between web tools and tech comm tools a rift that can be bridged any time soon? Or is tech comm, because of its needs for content re-use, conditional filtering, and multi-channel outputs, destined to maintain its own independent track indefinitely?

The interesting thing about innovation is that, although developing technologies underperform mainstream technologies as they evolve, eventually their trajectory overtakes the mainstream technology. Think of examples with Netflix and Blockbuster, Wikipedia and Encyclopedia Britannica, or even reaching farther back, with the telephone and the telegraph.

The same story may take place with static site generators on the web, such as Jekyll. These platforms, originally designed as blogging tools for hackers, have the potential to let technical writers — particularly those working in developer documentation spaces — leverage them for tech comm publishing. In fact, most of what you can do with DITA, you can also do with Jekyll.

In this presentation, Tom will first provide a context for innovation and describe the divide between web and tech comm tools. Then he’ll then demonstrate how Jekyll, a static site generator, works. Finally, he’ll compare the major features of DITA against Jekyll and evaluate the two models.

Tom Johnson is a senior technical writer based in Silicon Valley, California. His blog, I’d Rather Be Writing (idratherbewriting.com), is a hub for innovation and exploration in the tech comm field. He writes about web publishing, visual communication, information architecture, API documentation, and more.

Tom also has a podcast series in which he interviews tech writing luminaries around the world. He is a frequent presenter at conferences, chapter meetings, and other tech comm groups. Tom is an influencer and thought leader in the field. He has appeared numerous times in MindTouch’s Top 10 influencer lists. You can contact him at tomjohnson1492@gmail.com.

 The April 2015 Chapter Meeting

Date: Wednesday, April 8, 2015
Times (p.m.): 6:00 to 7:00 Networking, conversation, & dinner; 7:00 Announcements; 7:15 Presentation
Location: Highlands Country Club, Oakland, California
Topic: Surviving Failure in the Workplace: Making the Best of Your Circumstances
Speaker: Mysti Berry

If you work long enough, you’ll encounter a big juicy failure — something that blows up in your face, be it a relationship with your boss, a project that runs off the rails, or some other mess that is at least partly your fault. Even if your first instinct is to cut and run, know that failure can be survived, even in the most assertive corporate environments. Mysti shares some of her own failures from her 25 years as a technical writer and content strategist, and provides a few tools to help you assess failure to decide what your next steps should be. This will be a very interactive session.

Mysti Berry has been a technical writer for enterprise software companies since 1990. She’s learned a lot about information architecture and content strategy along the way, and currently works for Salesforce as an API writer. She lives in the OMI neighborhood of San Francisco.

 The March 2015 Chapter Meeting

Date: Wednesday, March 11, 2015
Times (p.m.): 6:00 to 7:00 Networking, conversation, & dinner; 7:00 Announcements; 7:15 Presentation
Location: Highlands Country Club, Oakland, California
Topic: A Quick Introduction to Document Design
Speaker: Joe Devney

There is more to a document than the words it carries. The effectiveness of the message can be helped or hindered by other elements on the page. Good document design helps support the author’s communication goals. This presentation will give tips on how to use design elements as part of the communication: white space, borders, images, design grids, fonts, and more. These concepts are independent of the tools you might use—the presentation is not a class in a particular software application. And the design techniques apply to both paper and online documents.

This presentation will be of value to people new to the field of technical communication, and also to old hands who have never formally studied document design. And to anyone who might one day be faced with the task of designing a document or template from scratch, rather than simply writing the words.

Joe Devney M.A. has worked in the field of technical communication for nearly 20 years. He has had formal training in graphic arts, and has designed documents and document suites for several companies. He judged STC’s International Technical Art Competition for four years. Last year he taught a class in “Visual Rhetoric and Document Design” in the Technical and Professional Writing program at San Francisco State University. (This presentation is partly based on that class.) Joe is an STC Fellow, the Society’s highest honorary rank. He also served as president of STC Berkeley, and has been a guest speaker at several STC chapters.

The February 2015 Chapter Meeting

Date: Wednesday, February 11, 2015
Times (p.m.): 6:00 to 7:00 Networking, conversation, & dinner; 7:00 Announcements; 7:15 Presentation
Location: Highlands Country Club, Oakland, California
Topic: Voice Recordings for Technical Communication
Speaker: Robert Hershenow

Would you like to learn how to make better voice recordings in your own office or home? Recorded narration is increasingly in demand for e-learning, podcasts, audiobooks, audio-for-video… and the list goes on. In this newly-updated seminar, Robert Hershenow reveals what you need to know to record high-quality voice tracks for technical communication projects. Join us to find out how sound works (gentle science for regular people), how to get the most out of your voice, and how to select and use microphones and recording/editing software and hardware.


Handout: Recording Tips from Robert Hershenow

The January 2015 Annual Chapter Party and Touchstone Awards

Date: Saturday, January 18, 2014
Times (p.m.): 5:30 to 6:00 Networking & conversation; 6:00 to 7:00 Buffet dinner; 7:00 to 8:00 Awards and Recognition; 8:00 to 9:00 More conversations, see the award-winning entries
Location: Highlands Country Club, Oakland, California
Topic: Berkeley STC Annual Party and Touchstone Awards

Join us on Saturday evening, January 17, to relax with fellow communicators, enjoy a buffet dinner, and celebrate excellence in the profession.

Every year Touchstone, the Northern California Technical Communication Competition, receives many fine entries. We send the best ones to the STC International Summit Awards competitions. We will announce this year’s winners and display their entries throughout the evening.

During the evening we will also recognize and honor competition judges and Berkeley chapter volunteers for their contributions to the chapter and the profession.

Our yearly raffle: Once again, the generosity and support from the wonderful vendors in our professional community allow us to offer some extraordinary raffle items. Some of the prizes include:

  • From Adobe: One copy of Technical Communication Suite 5, which includes FrameMaker, RoboHelp, Captivate, Presenter, and Acrobat XI.
  • From Balsamiq: Three licenses for Mockups wireframing software. Want to create delightful user interfaces? Start by wireframing them in Balsamiq Mockups.
  • From Madcap Software: Madpak Suite, which includes six fully integrated technical communication and content development tools for authoring & publishing, analysis & reporting, translation management and multimedia creation (Flare, Contributor, Analyzer, Lingo, Mimic, and Capture).
  • From Techsmith: Snagit software, which helps you capture great looking images and videos with just a few clicks.
  • From University of Chicago Press: Chicago Manual of Style Online and Scientific Style and Format.

(Raffle winners must be present at the time of the drawing.)

Hope to see you there!

The November 2014 Chapter Meeting

Date: Wednesday, November 12, 2014
Times (p.m.): 6:00 to 7:00 Networking, conversation, & dinner; 7:00 Announcements; 7:15 Presentation
Location: Highlands Country Club, Oakland, California
Topic: Making Word 2010 Work for You
Speaker: Hilary Powers

Microsoft Word includes many features and shortcuts that editors (and writers) can use to speed up their work. Hilary Powers explains how to get the most out of track changes, how macros can automate some of your tedious tasks, and more. Learn some useful tricks from a Word expert.

Hilary Powers is an editor who has worked with Microsoft Word for many years. She is the author of Making Word Work for You: An Editor’s Guide to the Tool of the Trade, now in a new edition for Word 2010.

 The October 2014 Chapter Meeting

Date: Wednesday, October 8, 2014
Times (p.m.): 6:00 to 7:00 Networking, conversation, & dinner; 7:00 Announcements; 7:15 Presentation
Location: Highlands Country Club, Oakland, California
Topic: When school standards meet literacy outreach
Speaker: T.R. Girill

This talk explains what happens when an on-going, skill-building literacy outreach project for underperforming students (see http://www.ebstc.org/TechLit/handbook/handbooktoc.html ) merges with new K-12 language and science standards. The Common Core State Standards (CCSS) for “English language arts” now coming into local schools focus for the first time on drafting effective, usable nonfiction text.  The Next Generation Science Standards (NGSS), to be implemented soon, make science and career technical-education teachers, not just English teachers, responsible for developing every student’s nonfiction literacy.

This presentation explores three text-design and professional development insights, familiar to most technical communicators but new and exotic for many K-12 science and language arts teachers, that students “across the curriculum” are now expected to understand and practice: mainstream technical writing tools and techniques are moving into almost every California classroom.

T. R. Girill retired in 2007 from a 30-year career in technical communication at Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory, where he led the computer documentation project at the National Energy Research Supercomputer Center for over a decade. He has published numerous technical articles and has taught students at the College of Alameda and other professionals at U.C. Santa Cruz Extension.  He is an STC Fellow and he served as editor-in-chief of the Association for Computing Machinery’s Journal of Computer Documentation from 1995 to 2000.

Since 1999 he has also managed a technical literacy project for the East Bay chapter of STC, and he has mentored hundreds of student project applications submitted to the Tri-Valley Science and Engineering Fair.

 The September 2014 Mini Job Fair

Date: Wednesday, September 10, 2014
Times (p.m.): 6:00 to 9:00 PM
Location: Ed Roberts Campus, 3075 Adeline Street, Berkeley, CA, Rooms A, B and C
Topic: Mini Job Fair

Looking for a job? Want to brush up your resume? Just want to stay aware of trends in the field?

Please join the Berkeley chapter for a  mini job fair  in place of our September chapter meeting! This event will feature tables where you can discuss current positions with local employers and agencies. It will also feature a progression discussion, in which small groups will meet with industry experts to discuss special topics about technical communication and job seeking. Light refreshments will be served.

The August 2014 Chapter Meeting

Date: Wednesday, August 13, 2014
Times (p.m.): 6:00 to 7:00 Networking, conversation, & dinner; 7:00 Announcements; 7:15 Presentation
Location: Highlands Country Club, Oakland, California
Topic: Highlights from the 2014 STC Summit
Speaker: Tonie Flores, Gwaltney Mountford, and Lori Meyer

This panel discussion will feature three long-time active STC members, who will
review the STC Summit, the annual Society conference that was held in
Phoenix in May. Come learn about the current topics of discussion and new
trends in the field of technical communication from people who attended the
Summit and who also have broad perspectives on the field.

 

After two decades of various genres of technical communications practice, Tonie Floresnow coaches clients on ways to restore ailing content management systems.  Tonie guides organizations with outdated content that causes a measurable financial loss to a reliable, maintainable repository that contributes to productivity and profit. Tonie holds a B.A. in Mathematics from Boston University and an M.S. in Systems Analysis from the University of Rochester Graduate School of Management. She is an Associate Fellow of the STC, an active member and past officer of the Berkeley Chapter, and a long-time competition judge at regional and international levels.

Gwaltney Mountford has 30 years of experience as a technical communicator focusing on solving the communication needs of management and end-users. She and her system-developer husband, Carl, own Mountford Group Inc., a consulting company specializing in developing custom Web-based business and data warehouse applications. An STC Associate Fellow, she is current co-VP of Arrangements and past president of the East Bay chapter, and a former director of Touchstone and the Region 8 Conference. She also served on the Society’s Nominating Committee and Leadership Community Resource committee. She has presented on a number of topics at the STC Summit and at local and regional events.

Lori Meyer is a technical communicator with more than 25 years of experience designing, writing, and editing software documentation and online user assistance. She is currently a senior technical writer in Cupertino, California. Lori is a member of eight STC chapters (including Berkeley) and five SIGs. She is currently serving on the councils of the Rochester and Carolina chapters, as well as co-manager of the STC Technical Editing Special Interest Group. In 2009, Lori received the STC Distinguished Chapter Service Award, and in 2012 was named an STC Associate Fellow.

The July 2014 Chapter Meeting

Date: Wednesday, July 9, 2014
Times (p.m.): 6:00 to 7:00 Networking, conversation, & dinner; 7:00 Announcements; 7:15 Presentation
Location: Highlands Country Club, Oakland, California
Topic: The Value of Partnership During Conversion to DITA
Speaker: Nicki Davis, Ph.D.
Handout: PDF of Slides

The transition from unstructured to structured content can be daunting. A good working relationship with a trusted partner can work wonders to make the process easier for the writing team and save time. On the other hand, choosing an inexperienced but seemingly inexpensive vendor can result in costly rework.

Speakers:

Nicki Davis, Ph.D.

Nicki Davis became interested in user experience and content strategy while studying for her Ph.D. in chemistry. To her dismay, she discovered that it took six months to learn how to use the analytical instrument she needed for her thesis work. To improve the user experience for herself and her fellow graduate students, she wrote a task-oriented user manual — two years before she finished her dissertation. Since then, she has pursued her goal of enhancing the user experience by whatever means are appropriate to the task, whether it’s improving the user interface design, the documentation, or both.

The June 2014 Chapter Meeting

Date: Wednesday, June 11, 2014
Times (p.m.): 6:00 to 7:00 Networking, conversation, & dinner; 7:00 Announcements; 7:15 Presentation
Location: Highlands Country Club, Oakland, California
Topic: How to Get Started With Video and Animation
Speaker: Cynthia Chin-Lee and Ray Angelo

Are you planning a video or animation project to complement your technical publications or as a standalone project? Where do you start?

Assuming you have selected your video or animation environment (hardware, software, writers, videographers, and production site), Cynthia Chin-Lee and Ray Angelo will describe the steps involved in developing and then creating a video/animation project. They’ll explain how they determine what to include in the video or animation, and what additional steps are required in the project beyond a typical documentation project.

Cynthia and Ray will also describe how they integrated the animation or video into the documentation library, corporate web sites, and social media.Speakers:

Cynthia Chin-Lee and Ray Angelo

Cynthia Chin-Lee is Senior Manager, Information Development, at Oracle. Cynthia’s motto is Show, don’t tell.  After learning that the CAD data used to design Oracle hardware was available to create animations, Cynthia led a cross-organizational team of media designers, contractors, and writers to produce service animations based on the 3D model data of the products themselves. These animations are published on the web (http://docs.oracle.com/cd/E52420_01/index.html). A senior manager at Oracle, Cynthia is also the author of 7 books (cynthiachinlee.com), one career book for adults as well as six children’s books with themes, including marriage equality and multicultural friendship.
Cynthia will offer her books for sale after the meeting.

Ray Angelo is a Technical Writer and Print Production Coordinator at Oracle.

 The May 2014 Chapter Meeting

Date: Wednesday, May 14, 2014
Times (p.m.): 6:00 to 7:00 Networking, conversation, & dinner; 7:00 Announcements; 7:15 Presentation
Location: Highlands Country Club, Oakland, California
Topic: Patterns of Organization and a Case Study for Single-Sourced, Multi-Platform Content
Speaker: Robert J. Glushko
Slides: http://people.ischool.berkeley.edu/~glushko/TDO-Glushko-STC-May2014

The career of a technical communicator can span several industries. You might work for a life sciences client one year and a hardware manufacturer the next, but your goal remains constant: to create clear, direct content that serves the reader. For technical communicators, a wide perspective across many organizational frameworks can provide insight into our current content and make us more marketable. Robert Glushko, editor of the textbook The Discipline of Organizing, will speak to the Berkeley chapter about the organizational similarities and differences among such disparate disciplines as library and information science, business process analysis, and content management. Each of these fields has organizational motivations that are reflected in metadata, relationships, and structures.

In addition, Robert will speak about his experiences working with O’Reilly’s single-sourced XML publishing system, ATLAS. Single sourcing and multi-platform content continue to be crucial concepts in the technical communication field. Robert will discuss how he created a book for web, ebook, and print formats and tailored the content for readers in different disciplines.

Copies of The Discipline of Organizing, signed by the author, will be available for purchase at this event.

Speaker:

Robert J. Glushko

Robert J. Glushko is an Adjunct Full Professor in the School of Information at the University of California, Berkeley. After receiving his PhD in Cognitive Psychology at UC San Diego in 1979, he spent about ten years working in corporate R&D, about ten years as a Silicon Valley entrepreneur, and now has worked over ten years as an academic. His interests and expertise include information systems and service design, content management, electronic publishing, Internet commerce, and human factors in computing systems. He founded or co-founded four companies, including Veo Systems in 1997, which pioneered the use of XML for electronic business before its acquisition by Commerce One in 1999. In 2005 he published a book called Document Engineering: Analyzing and Designing Documents for Business Informatics and Web Services with co-author Tim McGrath. His newest book is The Discipline of Organizing, which he will discuss during his talk at STC Berkeley.

 April 2014 Meeting

Date: Wednesday, April 9, 2014
Time: 6:00 pm to 8:30 pm
Location: Cal State East Bay Oakland Conference Center Trans Pacific Center
Topic: Cloud Computing and Big Data: What Technical Writers Need to Know
Speaker: Greg Olson, Senior Director at Black Duck Consulting Group
Handout: PDF of Slides

“Big data” and “cloud computing” are growing parts of the technology industry, affecting more and more companies big and small. What are they? What do technical communicators need to know about these fields in order to contribute?

Greg Olson will speak to us about the key terminology and concepts that define the dynamic Cloud and Big Data segments. We will learn about the paradigm of layers in cloud computing, and other key technologies, architectures, and trends that are prevalent today. Greg will also speak about the leading commercial and community players for both of these areas, as well as synergies among these technologies and commercial ecosystems.

Greg Olson, Senior Director at Black Duck Consulting Group, has over 30 years of software industry experience in engineering, marketing, and business development. An expert on open source governance, compliance, and community, Greg has led engagements for major firms such as Microsoft, Palm and Barclays Global Investors, for commercial software companies initiating open source strategies such as Infobright, Adaptive Planning and Solid Information Systems, and for open source start-ups such as EnterpriseDB, JasperSoft and Lucid Imagination.

The March 2014 Chapter Meeting

Date: Wednesday, March 12, 2014
Times (p.m.): 6:00 to 7:00 Networking, conversation, & dinner; 7:00 Announcements; 7:15 Presentation
Location: Highlands Country Club, Oakland, California
Topic: Technology: What’s Happening? What’s Next?
Speakers: DJ Cline

Will your next project be for a phone, a wearable device or an implant? Will your next audience be human or a search engine? Most important of all, how will you get paid? Today’s hottest technology may be irrelevant tomorrow, and the interaction between technology and human behavior can have surprising results. DJ Cline will discuss current trends in emerging technology and their implications for technical communication.

DJ Cline is an award-winning photojournalist who reports on the origin and impact of emerging technology, business, and media around the world. Over the years, he has served as Director of the Silicon Valley Engineering Council, SVForum Fellow, as a charter member of the Long Now Foundation, and an STC Fellow.

 The February 2014 Chapter Meeting

Date: Wednesday, February 12, 2014
Times (p.m.): 6:00 to 7:00 Networking, conversation, & dinner; 7:00 Announcements; 7:15 Presentation
Location: Highlands Country Club, Oakland, California
Topic: Challenges of dealing with graphics in technical writing
Speakers: Rebecca Firestone

What is a Tech Comm professional to do when documenting a manufactured physical hardware product that has absolutely no computer component whatsoever? The vast majority of technical writing focuses on tools and processes that lend themselves to automated text handling, but this type of documentation does not. Instead, this type of hardware documentation must wordlessly convey specific physical motions and gestural qualities to be successful. This presentation addresses the challenges faced with this type of documentation, as well as the strategies that the writer developed for addressing these challenges.

Rebecca Firestone worked closely with a core team of engineers to develop an effective graphical language and style. After trying several different tools and production methods, a combination method evolved: SolidWorks, 3D PDF renderings, Jing, Photoshop, Adobe InDesign, Adobe Illustrator, and unstructured FrameMaker. This approach could make it difficult to migrate to a structured content-management system, and might require sacrificing a considerable amount of graphical leeway for the sake of convenience and speed. Can we afford to lose the qualities that make the documents special? However, considering future growth and best practices in Tech Pubs, can we afford NOT to?

In this presentation and demo, Rebecca  will walk the audience through the creation of a composited document in both Frame and InDesign, and also touch upon the initial challenges from the perspective of potential conversion to topic-based authoring approaches.

Rebecca Firestone is a writer and business content developer with 20 years of experience, focused mainly on product and user documentation for enterprise software products. Currently employed as a Senior Technical Writer at Zep Solar in San Rafael, CA, she focuses on product documentation–including installation manuals, tutorials, white papers, slide shows, technical notes, and component-level instruction sheets. Rebecca has worked with several Bay Area architectural design firms, writing articles and features on design and energy compliance. Other experience includes complex enterprise software applications, such as telecom convergence billing systems, messaging presence servers, and customer relationship management software. As a trainer, she worked with account managers, professional services, channel partners, new hires, and customers to deliver industry-specific, hands-on courses in the convergence billing industry space. In addition to her work in the software industry, she also worked with a leading electronics manufacturer to write business articles and white papers on the use of expert systems for supply-chain optimization.

The February 22, 2014 Saturday Workshop

Date: Saturday, February 22, 2014
Time: 9:30 am to 5:00 pm
Location: Ed Roberts Center, Berkeley, California
Topic: Topic-based Authoring: Getting Your Feet Wet
Speaker: Linda Urban

Unfortunately, we have had to cancel the February 22 delivery of this workshop. If you previously registered, your fee will be refunded.

We hope to reschedule this for a future date. If you would like to be notified when that happens, please send an email to programs@stc-berkeley.org.

If you have additional questions about this workshop, contact Linda Urban directly.

Topic-based authoring is a technique for writing content as discrete, stand-alone pieces (“topics”) that can be combined and reused in different ways.

The topic-based approach has been getting a lot of attention recently because it is an integral part of DITA (the Darwin Information Typing Architecture) and other XML-based solutions. However, topic-based authoring has actually been around for quite some time, and does not require DITA or XML.

Using a topic-based approach can improve consistency and usability of information, and can make it easier to reuse topics in different contexts. It can also simplify maintenance, speed up the review process, and facilitate shared authoring.

This hands-on workshop provides an overview of topic-based writing concepts and principles, and then lets you try your hand at using a topic-based approach. We will define key concepts (such as topic, information type, component, and element), look at examples of different types of topics, and discuss pros and cons of a topic-based writing approach.

You will get a chance to work with actual content, as you

  • Identify and define information types and topic types
  • Chunk linear information into topics
  • Assess what kinds of changes are required to make individual topics work effectively for users
  • Consider how to connect and cluster topics, to provide a cohesive collection of information for users, even when content is complex

Along the way, we will touch on related questions such as:

  • How long should a topic be?
  • What’s the difference between topic-based writing and structured writing?
  • Do you need to use DITA to benefit from topic-based authoring? Do you need a content management system?
  • Just how hard is the shift to a topic-based approach?

IMPORTANT: Please bring a sample of your own content to consider during the workshop (10 to 15 pages, printed single-sided).

A laptop computer is NOT required.

For more details, see: Topic-Based Authoring Workshop [pdf]

The January 2013 Annual Chapter Party and Touchstone Awards

Date: Saturday, January 18, 2014
Times (p.m.): 5:30 to 6:00 Networking & conversation; 6:00 to 7:00 Buffet dinner; 7:00 to 8:00 Awards and Recognition; 8:00 to 9:00 More conversations, see the award-winning entries
Location: Highlands Country Club, Oakland, California
Topic: Berkeley STC Annual Party and Touchstone Awards

Join us on Saturday evening, January 18, to relax with fellow communicators, enjoy a buffet dinner, and celebrate excellence in the profession.

Every year Touchstone, the Northern California Technical Communication Competition, receives many fine entries. We send the best ones to the STC International Summit Awards competitions. We will announce this year’s winners and display their entries throughout the evening.

During the evening we will also recognize and honor competition judges and Berkeley chapter volunteers for their contributions to the chapter and the profession.

Our yearly raffle: Once again, the generosity and support from the wonderful vendors in our professional community allow us to offer some extraordinary raffle items. Among the prizes from generous donors are these:

  • Doc-to-Help: “Create online help from MS Word!”
  • Madcap Flare Suite: “MadCap Flare allows you to create, manage and publish content to a variety of formats, including print, online, desktop and mobile.”
  • Adobe Technical Communication Suite: “A powerful, integrated toolkit with single-source authoring, rich multimedia integration, and multichannel, multiscreen HTML5 publishing capabilities.”
  • oXygen XML Author: “XML authoring for everyone!”
  • Entry to Intelligent Content Conference (entire week pass): “The event will equip attendees with the knowledge theyneed to break down the barriers preventing them from connecting content with those who need it.”
  • Entry to Intelligent Content Conference: (One day workshop only)

(Raffle winners must be present at the time of the drawing.)

Hope to see you there!

 The November 2013 Chapter Meeting

Date: Wednesday, November 13, 2013
Times (p.m.): 6:00 to 7:00 Networking, conversation, & dinner; 7:00 Announcements; 7:15 Presentation
Location: Highlands Country Club, Oakland, California
Topic: Why Users Can’t Find Answers to Their Questions in Help Content
Speakers: Tom Johnson

One of the main goals of help material is to help users find answers to their questions. However, this often doesn’t happen. Users dig into the help, muttering under their breath, only to give up on it in frustration, either because the help didn’t answer their question, or because the user couldn’t find the answer. Why not? Why is it so difficult to guide users to the right information when they need it?

I recently conducted a poll on my site– http://idratherbewriting.com–asking tech writers to rank the top reasons (from 20 listed) that users can’t find the information they’re looking for. The following 7 reasons trended to the top of the list:

1. The answer isn’t in the help because the help only sticks with obvious information.

3. The answer is an isolated task, but the user needs a more connected beginning-to-end workflow.

4. The user searches for the answer, but the help’s poor SEO prevents the answer from surfacing.

7. The help uses terms unfamiliar to the user (e.g., “gizmo” instead of “widget”).

8. The help has been fragmented and dispersed over many small topics so the help is a maze.

14. The help doesn’t provide concrete examples that make the concepts understandable.

20. The answer is buried in a long page, but the user only spends 2 minutes max on a page scanning.

In this presentation, I’ll analyze these reasons, explain why they pose the challenges they do, present potential solutions, and more. In so doing, I hope to address the root of why so many users feel disdain and antipathy towards help material.

 

Tom Johnson is a technical writer at Badgeville, a gamification company in Redwood City, California. He has a well-known blog, idratherbewriting.com, where he writes about important issues in technical communication. He has been named by MindTouch as the most influential person in #techcomm 3 years in a row. Frequent topics he writes and speaks about include findability, visual communication, organization, search, screencasting, and more. He loves basketball, bikes to work, and has four daughters.

The October 2013 Chapter Meeting

Date: Wednesday, October 9, 2013
Times (p.m.): 6:00 to 7:00 Networking, conversation, & dinner; 7:00 Announcements; 7:15 Presentation
Location: Highlands Country Club, Oakland, California
Topic: Information Architecture Challenges and Solutions: A Case Study
Speakers: Eric Hughes

How do you approach a web project that has failed twice already, is full of political and organizational obstacles, has almost thirty distinct audiences, and thousands of current and not-so-current pieces of content? And oh yeah, some of the content is missing. And by the way, we need a new creative direction. Can you work with designers???

Using a major IA project that he worked on as an example, Eric Hughes will describe the many types of challenges inherent in IA work, as well as the creative thinking and tactics necessary to make such a project a success.

 

Eric Hughes began his career in technology as an instructional designer and technical trainer at Lockheed Missiles & Space in Sunnyvale, where he designed classes in computer networking and operational support. He then spent six years designing voice and data computer networks for Charles Schwab, where he learned about product design and usability. In 1991, he was recruited by Wells Fargo Bank to help create what was to become the largest internal TCP/IP network in the U.S., heading up an effort to use the “internal internet” for bank-wide business and communications — and voilà…the intranet was born! Working on that project, Eric was lucky enough to learn about organizing information from some of the best librarians in the business. In 1998, he (and his entire Wells Fargo team) started a web development firm called Simplexity, which 15 years later is still developing usable software products for the financial services and transportation industries. Eric provides information architecture, usability analysis, and documentation for Simplexity and its clients.

Eric is launching a new business called Matriculus in the Fall of 2013. It will specialize in the architecture, coding, deployment, and support of large graduate school online applications. UC Berkeley and UC Santa Cruz are current clients.

The September 2013 Chapter Meeting

Date: Wednesday, September 11, 2013
Times (p.m.): 6:00 to 7:00 Networking, conversation, & dinner; 7:00 Announcements; 7:15 Presentation
Location: Highlands Country Club, Oakland, California
Topic: The Dynamic Role of Technical Editors in a DITA Environment
Speakers: Louise Galindo, Staff Technical Editor, VMware

How do technical editors work in a fast-moving, topic-based environment? What is changing for the profession? What is disruptive technical editing? We’ll discuss how the role of the technical editor grows more relevant as content is delivered in multiple output formats, faster, and to the international audience.

 

Louise Galindo is a Staff Technical Editor in the VMware Technical Communication department. Louise works in DITA using XMetal and the SDL LiveContent Architect (formerly SDL Trisoft CMS). She also works in FrameMaker and Acrobat Pro. Louise has produced and presented training for Developing Quality Technical Information (based on the IBM book), minimalist writing, topic-based writing, scenario-based content, and indexing. She is also the chair of the Tech Pubs Editorial Advisory Group (EAG). Louise teaches Technical Communications I and II at University of California Berkeley Extension. Her interests include controlled vocabularies, simplified technical English, glossaries, and terminology management. Louise is a Senior Member of STC and Co-Manager of the Technical Editing SIG.

August 2013 Webinar

Date: Wednesday, August 28, 2013
Time: 7:00 PM
Location: Online webinar
Topic: Touch, Voice, and Gestures: How to craft your user assistance to accommodate a variety of interaction types
Speaker: Joe Welinske

Join us on Wednesday evening, August 28, at 7 PM (Pacific Daylight Time) for this webinar presented by Joe Welinske.

New ways of interacting with software, like touch and voice, mean a rethinking of how we develop our associated user assistance. This session is a guide for making appropriate language choices for emerging interaction types like touch, voice, and hand gestures. Topics include device-specific instructions using conditional text, micro-concise instructions for small screens, writing for first user experience, flat navigation, and options for voice support. This session applies to both mobile platforms and the emerging use with desktop systems.

This session will only be available as a live streaming event through GotoMeeting. It will not be recorded. There are a limited number of connections available.

We will email the connection instructions to registered attendees as the date approaches.

If you have a large enough monitor and want to organize your own group, multiple people can take advantage of a single connection.

Joe Welinske specializes in helping software development teams via crafted communication. He helps companies to design state-of-the-art user experiences, featuring comprehensive user assistance and quality words and images that enhance the user experience. He also specializes in Help, wizards, FAQs, videos, and much more. For over twenty-five years, Joe has been providing training, contracting, and consulting services for the software industry. He teaches courses for Bellevue College, the University of California, and the University of Washington, and recently published the book Developing User Assistance for Mobile Apps.

Joe also runs the WritersUA conference, which will be visiting the East Coast this Fall. A great roster of speakers and topics is scheduled for Oct 27-29 in Newport, Rhode Island. This should be an informative and fun experience for all who attend. Registration is open. WritersUA.com.

The August 2013 Chapter Meeting

Date: Wednesday, August 14, 2013
Times (p.m.): 6:00 to 7:00 Networking, conversation, & dinner; 7:00 Announcements; 7:15 Presentation
Location: Highlands Country Club, Oakland, California
Topic: Panel: The World According to Tech Pubs Hiring Managers
Speakers: Paul Battaglia (Cloudera), Joanne Tenenbaum (Bio-Rad Laboratories) and Leif Brown (Perforce)

What do hiring managers look for in potential staff or contract workers? What do hiring managers really do with your resume once they get it? What makes someone a great staff member once they’ve been hired? For the answer to these—and other—questions, come listen to our panel, all experienced tech pubs hiring managers. Paul Battaglia (Cloudera), Joanne Tenenbaum (Bio-Rad Laboratories), and Leif Brown (Perforce) will share insights, examples, and no doubt a few horror stories, based on their years in the trenches. Expect a lively Q & A

Our panel: Paul Battaglia (Cloudera), Joanne Tenenbaum (Bio-Rad Laboratories), and Leif Brown (Perforce)

Paul Battaglia started his 30+ year career in early 1983 as a technical writer intern at Apple. In late 1983, he worked at his first start-up, a company a bit ahead of its time called Sydis, which sold integrated voice/data systems for offices before LANs were common. In 1986, he worked at Software Publishing Corporation (SPC, maker of Harvard Graphics and PFS) as a senior writer and later as a Tech Pubs Manager. He managed the documentation for InfoAlliance, which won an STC Award of Excellence. In 1990, he went to work as tech pubs manager at Frame Technology, the maker of FrameMaker. The FrameMaker 5 Pocket Guide also won an STC Award of Excellence. In 1995, he launched a successful independent technical writing consulting business, and worked for many large and small company clients for over 12 years—including Adobe, Oracle, FileMaker, Juniper Networks, and Tesla Motors. To try something completely different, he worked for a couple years as a solar design consultant, selling residential solar systems, while also working on a novel. He currently works as a tech pubs manager at Cloudera, a fast growing start-up in the Big Data Hadoop market segment.

Leif Brown manages technical publications, multimedia, and eLearning curriculum development at Perforce Software, in Alameda, where he has worked since 2011. Perforce designs version control software, primarily for software developers. From 2004 to 2008, he managed technical publications at Plumtree Software, which later became the Business Interactive Division at BEA. After BEA was acquired by Oracle in 2008, Leif managed the Oracle SOA (service-oriented architecture) documentation team. His first technical writing job was at PeopleSoft, where he wrote documentation for financial applications and developer tools.  Leif has also taught history to high school and college students. His current pet project as a tech pubs manager is implementing a content delivery model that gives users consolidated access to all kinds of content – written, video, interactive, formal, informal – and lets them pick how they prefer to learn.

Joanne Tenenbaum is a publications manager and technical writer who developed and currently manages a software/hardware writing group at Bio-Rad Laboratories. Less than three years old, this group’s work has become the gold standard for customer-facing documentation at Bio-Rad. Tenenbaum has produced documentation for major Silicon Valley companies, including (among others) HP, Xerox/XSoft, Cisco, and Palm. She has also worked as a newspaper editor, news photographer, and manuscript editor. Lessons learned in these fields inform her management and writing styles. Tenenbaum holds a B.A. with distinction in English from the Ohio State University and completed several semesters in the M.A. program in English at The Catholic University of America. She also is a former vice president of the Monterey Bay STC chapter.

The July 2013 Chapter Meeting

Date: Wednesday, July 10, 2013
Times (p.m.): 6:00 to 7:00 Networking, conversation, & dinner; 7:00 Announcements; 7:15 Presentation
Location: Highlands Country Club, Oakland, California
Topic: Game On! Creating User Experience for Gamified Products
Speaker:Marta Rauch

Gamifiation is coming soon to a product near you. Are you prepared? Market research predicts that 70% of enterprises will have at least one gamified product by 2015. Attend this presentation to understand gamification’s impact, and gain strategies and best pratices for creating gamified user experience.

An STC Associate Fellow, Marta Rauch is currently a principal information developer and ID lead at Oracle, where she participates in corporate gamification initiatives. She completed the 2012 Gamification course via Kevin Werbach of the Wharton School and Coursera, has worked at two game companies, and is a Certified Gamification Designer.

Marta is a frequent presenter for conferences and webinars, and has published articles for STC Intercom, IEEE, and the Center for Information Development Management Best Practices. She has received 15 STC awards for individual and team projects at the regional and international level. Marta holds a BA from Stanford University, a teaching credential, and a certificate from UC Extension in Managing the Development of Technical Communication.

The June 2013 Chapter Meeting

Date: Wednesday, June 12, 2013
Times (p.m.): 6:00 to 7:00 Networking, conversation, & dinner; 7:00 Announcements; 7:15 Presentation
Location: Highlands Country Club, Oakland, California
Topic: Key Learnings and Trends: Highlights from the STC 2012 Summit
Speakers: Gwaltney Mountford, Cheryl Hunt, and Romy Sinha, with Nicki Davis as moderator

Recently returned from this year’s STC Summit national conference, our panelists will present highlights from their favorite workshops and presentations and share their insights and greatist learnings. Come find out about the latest trends and the hottest topics amont tech comm professionals across the country.

 

Our panel: Gwaltney Mountford, Romy Sinha, and Cheryl Hunt, with Moderator Nicki Davis

Gwaltney Mountford has over 30 years of experience as a technical communicator who focuses on solving the communication needs of end-use customers. She and her husband own Mountford Group Inc., a consulting company specializing in developing custom web-based business and data warehouse applications for major corporations and government entities in Northern California. An STC Associate Fellow, she has presented at chapter meetings and at the regional and international STC conferences.

Romy Sinha works as an Information Architect with eMeter, a Siemens Business. With degrees in Computer Science and English, Romy is convinced that Technical Communication is the perfect field for her. She also has a Technical Communication Certificate with Distinction from UC Berkeley Extension. She enjoys translating complex technical topics into easy to understand information. Before becoming a Technical Communicator, Romy was a Software Developer. She still likes to write her own macros sometimes.  Her love for the profession has brought her to STC and she is currently the President of the East Bay chapter.

Cheryl Hunt is a writer and editor who works in the “technical” side of technical communication, writing for developers and system administrators.

Nicki Davis is a Senior Technical Writer at OSIsoft, LLC in San Leandro. With over 20 years of experience as a technical communicator, she has a passion for making software products easy to use—whether by improving usability or by writing better user assistance. Nicki currently serves as the Secretary of the Berkeley Chapter, and served as Treasurer from 2009 through 2012.

The April 2013 Chapter Meeting

Date: Wednesday, April 10, 2013
Times (p.m.): 6:00 to 7:00 Networking, conversation, & dinner; 7:00 Announcements; 7:15 Presentation
Location: Highlands Country Club, Oakland, California
Topic: Present Yourself More effectively: Tools or Improving Your Networking and Self-Promotion.
Speakers: Laura Paradise

How do you come across to others when you meet them in settings important to your career? This presentation will prepare you for making strong introductions and connections when networking and interviewing. Attendees will be introduced to strategies for working with the the whole self to help energize and focus before interviews and networking events. They will also learn techniques for relaxation and for using body language to your advantage. In addition, Laura will provide insights for developing effective verbal and written introductions.

The goal is to energize and inspire participants, provide them with effective self-presentation strategies, and prepare them to think quickly on their feet so that people will sit up and listen!

 

Laura Paradise is a certified life coach with an extensive background in nonprofit fundraising and advocacy. Her coaching specialty is helping people build successful businesses and secure work that they love by focusing on promotion and presentation skills.

The March 2013 Chapter Meeting

Date: Wednesday, March 13, 2013
Times (p.m.): 6:00 to 7:00 Networking, conversation, & dinner; 7:00 Announcements; 7:15 Presentation
Location: Highlands Country Club, Oakland, California
Topic: How salesforce.com Uses Twitter to Enhance Documentation
Speakers: Gina Blednyh and Michelle Chapman-Thurber

Michelle Chapman-Thurber and Gina Blednyh will discuss how the salesforce.com technical writing team has leveraged Twitter, the micro-blogging tool, to:

  • Promote documentation and videos
  • Listen to customers
  • Improve deliverables
  • Build customer trust

This is not a tutorial on how to use Twitter, but an explanation of how they have used Twitter in business, as an effective way to make and strengthen connections with their customers.

Gina Blednyh has been an active member of STC Berkeley in the past, including serving as editor of the Ragged Left, the chapter’s newsletter. She joined salesforce.com over two years ago and has been using Twitter for approximately three years. (@ginaOnTwtr)

Michelle Chapman-Thurber joined salesforce.com in June of 2009 and never looked back. She’s been using Twitter nearly four years. (@mct_sfdc) Her manual Cloud Flow Designer Workbook won an award in the Touchstone technical communications competition.

Both Gina and Michelle are Senior Technical Writers at salesforce.com.

The February 2013 Chapter Meeting

Date: Wednesday, February 13, 2013
Times (p.m.): 6:00 to 7:00 Networking, conversation, & dinner; 7:00 Announcements; 7:15 Presentation
Location: Highlands Country Club, Oakland, California
Topic: Leveraging LinkedIn to get yourself noticed
Speakers: Andrew Davis of Content Rules
Handout: Andrew’s PowerPoint slides

LinkedIn opens up a universe of professional opportunities, but it’s seldom used to best effect. With over 185 million members in 200 countries, and two new members joining each second, it’s the social network no one seeking work – or workers – can afford to ignore.

Technical Communicators can quickly find out who needs their services, and which skills they’ll need tomorrow, by following companies, participating in groups, and watching job postings. Unlike its rival services and the job boards, LinkedIn connects you with those who are accountable.

Attendees will learn how to optimize their LinkedIn profiles, get timely answers and insider opinions, network with peers worldwide, hunt for work efficiently, and never be invisible again.

  • Expand your sphere of influence and network of potential collaborators
  • Cull potential employers/clients and employees/contractors, focusing only on the promising ones
  • Direct queries only to well-informed, accountable resources
  • Learn quickly who knows what, then learn who they know who can help you
  • Focus on results, not promises

At least a hundred new members have joined LinkedIn since you started reading this. Are you sure none of them are worth knowing?

 

Andrew Davis has recruited technical communicators in Silicon Valley since 1995, first for Synergistech Communications and now as Director of Talent Development for Content Rules (formerly Oak Hill Corporation). He is a former software industry Tech Writer and is well-known for both understanding and championing the role of content development. At Content Rules he recruits all kinds of technical and marketing communicators as well as training and globalization professionals. Andrew enjoys helping those who communicate complex information get ahead by recognizing and refining their value to technology companies. He’s candid and connected and, more importantly, he’s committed to helping content developers achieve their professional goals.

Learn more about Andrew at www.linkedin.com/in/synergistech.

The January 2013 Webinar

Date: Thursday, January 31, 2013
Times (p.m.): 7:00 PM PDT
Location: Online through GoToMeeting
Topic: Usabilty Testing for Print Documentation: A case study of how usability testing results transformed a print publication for the ACT
Presenter: Joe Welinske, president of WritersUA

SORRY – THIS WEBINAR IS NOW FULL.

Join us on Thursday evening, January 31, at 7 PM (Pacific Daylight Time) for this free webinar presented by Joe Welinske.

Joe describes the webinar: Most of my work over the past twenty years has been spent designing and creating communication components which are delivered digitally – Help files, wizards, UI text, knowledge-bases, etc. A recent project got me back in touch with the print medium and allowed me to apply usability testing techniques that weren’t on the radar for technical writers a few years ago. Blink Interactive asked me to lead a project for one of their clients – ACT. This is the ACT that develops and administers the test that is so familiar to hundreds of thousands of high school students. The ACT had suspicions that several of their printed publications were not well suited to their student customers. The content used in these printed publications was also used on their web site and they wanted to make sure the students were getting important information related to the test.The session describes the usability testing that led to significant changes in the design of the documentation.

This session will only be available as a live streaming event through GotoMeeting. It will not be recorded.

Registration: The webinar is free, but there is a limited number of connections available.

To register, send an e-mail to programs@stc-berkeley.org with “STC webinar” in the subject line. In the body of the message, include your name, and whether you are a member of Berkeley STC. We will e-mail you the connection instructions as the date approaches. [SORRY – THIS WEBINAR IS NOW FULL.]

If you have a large enough monitor and want to organize your own group, multiple people can take advantage of a single connection.

If the event is over-booked, priority will go to STC Berkeley members.

Joe Welinske specializes in helping your software development effort through crafted communication. The best user experience features quality words and images in the user interface. The UX of a robust product is also enhanced through comprehensive user assistance. This includes Help, wizards, FAQs, videos and much more. For over twenty-five years, Joe has been providing training, contracting, and consulting services for the software industry. Joe recently published the book, Developing User Assistance for Mobile Apps. He also teaches courses for Bellevue College, the University of California, and the University of Washington.

Joe also puts on The Conference for Software User Assistance
http://writersua.com/conference/

This year, the conference will be March 7-8 in Seattle * 20+ speakers, 30+ sessions, Fast-paced, two-day format
Use the discount code “berkeley” to reduce your price by $50.

Also, please consider contributing to the 2013 WritersUA Skills and Technologies Survey: http://welinske.com/skills-technologies-survey/

The January 2013 Annual Chapter Party and Touchstone Awards

Date: Saturday, January 19, 2013
Times (p.m.): 5:30 to 6:00 Networking & conversation; 6:00 to 7:00 Buffet dinner; 7:00 to 8:00 Awards and Recognition; 8:00 to 9:00 More conversations, see the award-winning entries
Location: Highlands Country Club, Oakland, California
Topic: Berkeley STC Annual Party and Touchstone Awards

Join us on Saturday evening, January 19, to relax with fellow communicators, enjoy a buffet dinner, and celebrate excellence in the profession.

Every year Touchstone, the Northern California Technical Communication Competition, receives many fine entries. We send the best ones to the STC International Summit Awards competitions. We will announce this year’s winners and display their entries throughout the evening.

During the evening we will also recognize and honor competition judges and Berkeley chapter volunteers for their contributions to the chapter and the profession.

Our yearly raffle: Once again, the generosity and support from the wonderful vendors in our professional community allow us to offer some extraordinary raffle items. Among the prizes are top-tier software packages (full working versions) from vendors you know, including:

  • Adobe
  • MadCap
  • TechSmith (Camtasia and Snagit)
  • ComponentOne (Doc-to-Help)

And new this year: the Chicago Manual of Style has donated a year’s subscription to the online version of the manual.

(Raffle winners must be present at the time of the drawing.)

Hope to see you there!

The November 2012 Chapter Meeting

Date: Wednesday, November 14, 2012
Times (p.m.): 6:00 to 7:00 Networking, conversation, & dinner; 7:00 Announcements; 7:15 Presentation
Location: Highlands Country Club, Oakland, California
Topic: Topic-based Authoring: Why Bother?
Speakers: Linda Urban and Joan Lasselle

Using a topic-based approach can improve consistency and usability of information and make it easier to reuse topics in different contexts. It can also simplify maintenance, speed up the review process, and facilitate shared authoring.

All of those benefits sound great. But which ones really matter to you, your business, and your customers? It’s important to know why you want to change your content strategy, and how you’ll evaluate whether you’ve been successful.

Topic-based authoring implementations often focus on learning writing patterns, techniques, and technologies like DITA and CCMS. Those are important and useful, but topic-based authoring doesn’t exist in a vacuum. Decisions you make about your content need to be tied to business goals and user needs. Too often, the activity of thinking through the business goals and user needs gets neglected.

This presentation will define topic-based authoring and help you understand not only the benefits of this approach but also walk you through the critical steps to defining and implementing a successful program.

 

Speakers:

The October 2012 Chapter Meeting

Date: Wednesday, October 10, 2012
Times (p.m.): 6:00 to 7:00 Networking, conversation, & dinner; 7:00 Announcements; 7:15 Presentation
Location: Highlands Country Club, Oakland, California
Topic: Tech Comm Value: Potential Costs of Poor or Missing Documentation
Speaker: Joe Devney
Handout: Tech Comm Value Handout (Devney)

A perennial question in the technical communications community is how to justify our work in financial terms that management will understand. One partial answer is to consider potential consequences of putting insufficient resources into technical documentation—what happens if the material is poorly written, or not written at all? Consequences can range from unhappy customers all the way to loss of life and debilitating lawsuits. Joe Devney will use real-life examples to illustrate some of the dangers of inadequate documentation, and give tips on avoiding them.

Handout: Tech Comm Value Handout

 

Joseph Devney, STC Associate Fellow, has been a technical writer and STC member since the mid-1990s, and  now also works as a forensic linguist. He has seen his share of bad documentation. Joe has been a guest speaker at several STC chapters, including Berkeley.

The September 2012 Chapter Meeting

Date: Wednesday, September 12, 2012
Times (p.m.): 6:00 to 7:00 Networking, conversation, & dinner; 7:00 Announcements; 7:15 Presentation
Location: Highlands Country Club, Oakland, California
Topic: Introduction to Documenting APIs
Speaker: Richard Smith

Most of us interact with software through a graphical user interface. For example, when you look for directions on Google Maps, you enter text, click buttons, drag icons, and so on. When two software programs interact with each other, they can’t use a GUI but must speak to each other programmatically, through code. This programmatic conversation is done through an application programming interface or API.

Come hear Richard Smith from Netflix demystify APIs. Learn which companies are offering them and why; watch a demo of an API in action; and learn what it takes to document an API. Richard will cover:

  • What is an API? (the basics)
  • –A hands-on API Demo–
  • The range of APIs you’ll encounter
  • The business of APIs
  • Learning and Preparation for API Writers

PS: If you bring along a laptop, you will be able to make API calls to the live demo (most phones and tablets won’t work).

The August 2012 Chapter Meeting

Date: Wednesday, August 8, 2012
Times (p.m.): 6:00 to 7:00 Networking, conversation, & dinner; 7:00 Announcements; 7:15 Presentation
Location: Highlands Country Club, Oakland, California
Topic: Lessons Learned from the 2012 STC Summit
Panel: Gwendolynne Barr, Lori Meyer, Gwaltney Mountford, Bruce Poropat, and Romy Sinha

For our August presentation, the Berkeley chapter is bringing together a panel of STC members from Bay Area chapters who attended the STC conference in Chicago. The panel will discuss their favorite sessions and important themes affecting our industry. The presentation will be a combination of mini lighting talks and lively discussion.

Please join us for a fun and informative evening with Bobbie Dowling, Bruce Poropat, Gwaltney Mountford, Lori Meyer, and Romy Sinha. Gwendolynne Barr will moderate. And by the way, ice cream will be served at dinner. Don’t miss it!

Our Panel:

Bobbie Dowling, Lori Meyer, Gwaltney Mountford, Bruce Poropat, and Romy Sinha, with Moderator Gwendolynne Barr 

Bobbie Ohs Dowling has been turning out great technical communications for decades, but only in the past five years has she been able to proudly don the title of Technical Writer. A Senior Technical Writer for Navis, LLC, she creates how-to content and application-based help for managing container shipping terminals, and is on constant lookout for smart processes. Prior to that, she managed web-based CRM and consumer application projects for companies such as Autodesk, Toshiba, Standard & Poor’s, and E*Trade. From the days of selling her college class notes to the present, she relishes clarity, novelty, and empathy for the audience.

Lori Meyer is a technical communicator with more than 25 years of experience designing, writing, and editing software documentation and online user assistance. She is currently a senior technical writer in Cupertino, California. Lori is a member of eight STC chapters (including Berkeley) and five SIGs. She is currently serving on the councils of the Rochester and Carolina chapters, as well as co-manager of the STC Technical Editing Special Interest Group. In 2009, Lori received the STC Distinguished Chapter Service Award, and in 2012 was named an STC Associate Fellow.

Gwaltney Mountford has 30 years of experience as a technical communicator focusing on solving the communication needs of end-users. She and her husband, Carl, own Mountford Group Inc., a consulting company specializing in developing custom web-based business and data warehouse applications. An STC Associate Fellow, she is a past president of the East Bay chapter, a former director of Touchstone and the Region 8 Conference, and was on the Society’s Nominating Committee. She has presented at the STC Annual Conference and at regional events, and taught technical writing for 6 years UC Berkeley Extension.

Bruce Poropat, a Bay Area-based contract technical writer, has authored online and print documentation for the University of California, Wells Fargo, Charles Schwab, Williams-Sonoma, ERG, ZipRealty.com, and many others. He has worked on plain language conversion projects for the California Department of Transportation (Caltrans) and the Port of Oakland.

Romy Sinha has 12+ years of combined experience as a technical writer and software developer in the computer software industry. Her deep understanding of technical material informs her work as a technical communicator and information developer. She specializes in the documentation of enterprise software, APIs and SDKs. Presently, she works as an Information Developer with eMeter, a Siemens Business.

Gwendolynne Barr is a technical writer and former software tester. She currently works at Thomson Reuters in San Francisco where she documents complex equity analytics delivery systems for developers, system administrators, and QA engineers.

The July 2012 Chapter Meeting

Date: Wednesday, July 11, 2012
Times (p.m.): 6:00 to 7:00 Networking, conversation, & dinner; 7:00 Announcements; 7:15 Presentation
Location: Highlands Country Club, Oakland, California
Topic: Emerging Roles and Hot Markets for Tomorrow’s Tech Writers
Speaker: Andrew Davis

Do you wonder where your skills have most value? Have you overlooked entire markets based on misperceptions? Can you really upsell yourself and live at peace in a globalized economy? Are you still looking for professional stability? What’s the upside to all this change?

Come hear Andrew’s insights on which niches and roles pay best, and why. Get his help mapping your cultural and location preferences to today’s demand and tomorrow’s prospects. And listen to his provocative suggestions for achieving success (aka resilient demand) in your content development career.

Andrew hears from a broad cross-section of Bay Area technical communicators and hiring managers. His role as a recruiter specifically for our niche lets him aggregate anecdotes, and his input can help you more consciously steer your career – or at least bypass expensive dead ends.

Andrew will highlight myriad new variants on your core skills, discuss who’s securing these roles, and speculate about where it all will lead. This won’t be a talk about the job search, but rather about what to expect from the new opportunities that already abound. And yes, it really is possible to transition, upgrade, or even just coexist in this increasingly ‘exciting’ marketplace.

There’ll be a lively Q&A after the presentation; Andrew promises to be the last person to leave the room.

 

Andrew Davis has recruited technical communicators in Silicon Valley since 1995, first for Synergistech Communications and now for Content Rules (formerly Oak Hill Corporation). He is a former software industry Tech Writer and is well-known for both understanding and championing the role of content development. At Content Rules he recruits all kinds of technical and marketing communicators as well as training and globalization professionals. Andrew enjoys helping those who communicate complex information get ahead by recognizing and refining their value to technology companies. He’s candid and connected and, more importantly, he cares.

The June 2012 Chapter Meeting

Date: Wednesday, June 13, 2012
Times (p.m.): 6:00 to 7:00 Networking, conversation, & dinner; 7:00 Announcements; 7:15 Presentation
Location: Highlands Country Club, Oakland, California
Topic: Painting with Numbers: Presenting Numbers as a Communication Skill, Not a Math Skill
Speaker: Randall Bolten

Numbers are a critical component of many presentations of technical information. Presenting numbers is a communication skill, and not a black art practiced only by the “numbers guys.” There’s more to presenting numbers than just making sure they’re right. The information also needs to be clear and meaningful to the audience.

Practicing this skill effectively is subject to rules and best practices much like the grammar, vocabulary, spelling, and sentence structure we spend years learning. Randall Bolten’s new book, Painting with Numbers: Presenting Financials and Other Numbers So People Will Understand You, is the first book to look at the art of presenting numbers from this perspective.

Join us for an informative and entertaining discussion, where Randall will discuss:

  • How numbers are organized and laid out on the page can make a huge difference in comprehensibility
  • How to use key indicators to add meaning and context to the raw numbers
  • Three levels of mastery critical to being an effective communicator of numbers

 

Randall Bolten runs Lucidity, a consulting practice in Menlo Park, California focused on short engagements with specific deliverables, including business models, reporting packages, and incentive compensation packages. His 30-year career as a financial executive in Silicon Valley includes nearly 20 years as chief financial officer for both public companies (BroadVision and Phoenix Technologies) and startups. He has also held senior financial management positions at Oracle and Tandem Computers.  He received his AB degree from Princeton University and his MBA from Stanford University.

The May 2012 Chapter Meeting

Date: Wednesday, May 9, 2012
Times (p.m.): 6:00 to 7:00 Networking, conversation, & dinner; 7:00 Announcements; 7:15 Presentation
Location: Highlands Country Club, Oakland, California
Topic: The Content Strategy Trap
Speaker: Scott Abel

Scott Abel, The Content Wrangler, will explore The Content Strategy Trap and how failing to avoid it often leads well-intentioned strategists down the wrong path. Attendees will learn how avoiding the trap led one retailer to become a publisher of online repair manuals designed to teach “do-it-yourselfers” how to fix things, while selling them the goods they need to do the job. Sales are driven completely by visually engaging, standardized instructional content delivered to the web, to smartphones and to mobile devices. Return on investment is no longer a wild guess. It’s directly tied to individual pieces of content. By thinking outside The Content Strategy Trap, the retailer has become the leader in their market. Their strategy is so successful that other retailers of products that require assembly, sometimes break, or need occasional maintenance are clamoring to replicate it.

Attendees will learn:

  • What content strategy is (and what it’s not)
  • Why silos can negatively impact strategic decisions
  • How thinking differently about technical communication can open numerous possibilities for improvement

Scott Abel aka The Content Wrangler, is an internationally-recognized content strategist and social networking choreographer whose strengths lie in helping global organizations improve the way they author, maintain, and deliver information.

In addition to his popular business blog, TheContentWrangler.com, an online resource for content professionals with an interest in content management, content marketing, content standards and content technologies, Scott maintains several online communities on Facebook and Linkedin, and is a popular and influential technology micro-blogger on Twitter. He writes regularly for trade and industry publications, blogs, and newsletters and is a popular presenter at publishing and other content-focused events.

In his free time, Scott is a dance music mashup artist, dj, and music producer who has been spinning tunes since 1982.

The April 2012 Chapter Meeting

Date: Wednesday, April 11, 2012
Times (p.m.): 6:00 to 7:00 Networking, conversation, & dinner; 7:00 Announcements; 7:15 Presentation
Location: Highlands Country Club, Oakland, California
Topic: Ethnographic Field Research: Find out what users really need
Speaker: Nicki Davis

Whether you call it ethnographic research, contextual inquiry, or field studies, there’s no better way to find out who your users are and what they need. By observing users in action in their normal working environment, you’ll learn about needs that can’t be expressed verbally. Best of all, this kind of information doesn’t just benefit technical communicators; it can help software companies provide better products.

Nicki Davis will present a case study in which ethnographic research helped to reduce the scope of a new product by 50%, while providing functionality that was missing in the existing legacy product.

 

Nicki Davis is a user interface writer with a strong technical background and experience in user experience design. She works at OSIsoft, LLC in San Leandro and is the treasurer of the Berkeley Chapter of STC.

The March 2012 Chapter Meeting

Date: Wednesday, March 14, 2012
Times (p.m.): 6:00 to 7:00 Networking, conversation, & dinner; 7:00 Announcements; 7:15 Presentation
Location: Highlands Country Club, Oakland, California
Topic: Plain Language for Technical Writers
Speaker: Bruce Poropat

Plain language conversion (PLC) is a growing field as government agencies, companies, and other institutions respond to legal and policy requirements to convert dense jargon into clear, straight-forward language. Plain language simply means language that conforms to a set of principles that conveys information in the clearest, most efficient way. It stands in contrast to legalese or jargon-laden institutional prose.

In this presentation, you will discover that plain language and good technical writing essentially share the same goal: inform the reader as succinctly and clearly as possible.

What you’ll learn:

  • What plain language really means
  • What plain language means to today’s governments, industries, and institutions
  • How to write clear, concise prose that meets plain language objectives
  • About career opportunities in plain language

Bruce Poropat, a Bay Area-based contract technical writer, has authored online and print documentation for the University of California, Wells Fargo, Charles Schwab, Williams-Sonoma, ERG, ZipRealty.com, and many others. He has worked on plain language conversion projects for the California Department of Transportation (Caltrans) and the Port of Oakland.

The February 2012 Chapter Meeting

Date: Wednesday, February 8, 2012
Times (p.m.): 6:00 to 7:00 Networking, conversation, & dinner; 7:00 Announcements; 7:15 Presentation
Location: Highlands Country Club, Oakland, California
Topic: Bringing the Editor’s Perspective to Our Work
Speakers: Louise Galindo (VMWare), Jeff Gardiner (VMWare), Deirdre Greene (Independent Editor), and Daniel Milne (Oracle)

This month we are pleased to host a panel of editors who work in technical publication and technical education at companies around the Bay Area.

We’ve asked them to think about questions like these:

  • What’s it like to be an editor in documentation and training groups these days?
    • Where you work, what’s the ratio of writers to editor?
    • What type of edits are you asked to provide? (copy edits? developmental? substantive?)
    • How do you work with writers?
  • It seems like some companies are reducing the number of editors in technical publication and education groups.
    • Is that your experience?
    • What advice do you have for writing teams and individual writers who have limited access to editors, to bring an editorial perspective to their work?
  • What writing issues do you see on a regular basis, as you work with writers?
    • What weakness do you see, that could be strengthened? (Do people need “grammar refreshers”? Help with structure? Help simplifying sentences?)
    • Where should writers put their time and attention, to improving their writing?
  • Are there differences in writing issues for writers in “tech pubs” groups compared to “training and education” groups?

Join us to learn from these editors. This will be an interactive panel discussion, with time for questions and answers.

Our Panel of Editors: Louise Galindo (VMWare), Jeff Gardiner (VMWare), Deirdre Greene (Independent Editor), and Daniel Milne (Oracle)

Louise Galindo is a senior technical editor in the VMware Technical Publications department. VMware is a software company that specializes in virtualization and cloud computing. For the majority of her editing, Louise works in the files, using DITA in XMetal, and works in the content management system. She also works in FrameMaker and edits PDFs using Acrobat Pro. Louise has produced and presented training for Developing Quality Technical Information(based on the IBM book), minimalist writing, topic-based writing, and indexing. She is also the chair of the Tech Pubs Editorial Advisory Group (EAG). Her interests include controlled vocabularies, glossaries, and terminology management. She teaches Technical Communications I and II at UC Berkeley Extension.

Jeff Gardiner is a senior editor in the Content Development group at VMware. Previously, he managed the editorial group at Sun Microsystems. While at Sun, he supervised and contributed to the publication of Read Me First!: A Style Guide for the Computer Industry. Following his work at Sun, he converted eMeter’s product documentation from Word to the Confluence wiki and then edited and maintained the content. He also teaches English composition classes at City College of San Francisco.

Deirdre Greene has been in publishing for almost 30 years, starting out by staffing the front desk for a start-up political magazine while in college. She went on to work at Little, Brown, but has eschewed big publishers for smaller companies and the freelance life ever since. She is a founder and the president of Roaring Forties Press, a publishing company that specializes in travel books with a unique perspective, and freelances as a copyeditor, developmental editor, and project manager for clients ranging from the United Nations and Sage Publications to Cisco and Adobe.

Daniel Milne has worked as a technical editor since 2000, first at Siebel University and now at Oracle University (OU). Most of his time these days is devoted to editing training materials in PowerPoint and Word, but he finds time for other supporting work within Oracle University. He maintains and publishes the OU Style Guide, and he created and maintains several internal wikis, online forums, and workspaces related to editing, OU style, and templates. He participates in training for new curriculum developers, and in committees for templates and authoring tools. Daniel has a BA from SF State University in Technical and Professional Writing, with a minor in Economics. The most important lesson he learned in the (very wonderful) TPW program is to always keep your audience in mind in everything you write or edit.

Facilitator: Linda Urban will facilitate the panel. She has more than 25 years of experience in designing and developing technical information and instruction. A consultant, she is available to work on projects (needs assessment, user and workplace research, and design and development of content and instruction), deliver workshops, and consult with and coach writers and teams to clarify their content strategy and improve the quality of their documentation. Linda also teaches in the Technical Communication program at UC Berkeley Extension. She can be found on twitter @lindaurban.

The January 2012 Annual Chapter Party and Touchstone Awards

Date: Saturday, January 21, 2012
Times (p.m.): 5:30 to 6:00 Networking & conversation; 6:00 to 7:00 Buffet dinner; 7:00 to 8:00 Awards and Recognition; 8:00 to 9:00 More conversations, see the award-winning entries
Location: Highlands Country Club, Oakland, California
Topic: Berkeley STC Annual Party and Touchstone Awards

Join us on Saturday evening, January 21, to relax with fellow communicators, enjoy a buffet dinner, and celebrate excellence in the profession.

Every year Touchstone, the Northern California Technical Communication Competition, receives many fine entries. We send the best ones to the STC International Summit Awards competitions. We will announce this year’s winners and display their entries throughout the evening.

During the evening we will also recognize and honor competition judges and Berkeley chapter volunteers for their contributions to the chapter and the profession.

Our yearly raffle: Once again, the generosity and support from the wonderful vendors in our professional community allow us to offer some extraordinary raffle items.

  • Adobe is providing a copy of Adobe Technical Communication Suite 3.5
  • Author-it is providing a 1 year subscription for the Author-it Cloud 
    [1 Professional subscription (Author User) with 2 Reviewers, plus one-time setup of the Cloud library]
  • Corel is providing a copy of Corel DESIGNER Technical Suite X5
  • ComponentOne is providing a license for Doc-To_Help
  • iG5 AuthoringTools is providing a copy of DITAToo
  • MadCap Software is providing a copy of MadPak Suite
  • Microsoft is providing a copy of Microsoft Office Home an Student 2010 and Microsoft Visio Standard 2010
  • TechSmith is providing copies of Camtasia Studio and Snagit

And who knows? – There could be a few more added, between now and the party!

(Raffle winners must be present at the time of the drawing.)

Hope to see you there!

The November 2011 Chapter Meeting

Date: Wednesday, November 9, 2011
Times (p.m.): 6:00 to 7:00 Networking, conversation, & dinner; 7:00 Announcements; 7:15 Presentation
Location: Highlands Country Club, Oakland, California
Topic: Working with FrameMaker, RoboHelp, and Captivate in Adobe Technical Communication Suite 3.5
Speaker: Dustin Vaughn of Adobe Systems

n this session, Dustin Vaughn will focus on leveraging the seamless integration amongst FrameMaker 10, RoboHelp 9, and Captivate 5.5 to easily and rapidly develop rich, interactive, and standards-compliant content.

Dustin will also demonstrate what is new in Adobe Technical Communication Suite 3.5, and how it can help you become more creative and productive. For example, he will demonstrate how to publish an ePub file from FrameMaker using RoboHelp to create a file suitable for viewing on a tablet device. And he will be available to answer other questions about Adobe Technical Communication Suite 3.5, which also includes Adobe Photoshop CS5 and Adobe Acrobat X Pro.

Dustin Vaughn is a Business Development Manager with Adobe Systems Inc. in the Technical Communications group. Prior to joining Adobe, he played an integral part in implementing a structured FrameMaker solution for a large government agency. Dustin is an Adobe Certified Expert in FrameMaker. He has consulting experience, and has served as a presenter for Adobe, discussing conversion from Microsoft Word to FrameMaker.

The October 2011 Chapter Meeting

Date: Wednesday, October 14, 2011
Times (p.m.): 6:00 to 7:00 Networking, conversation, & dinner; 7:00 Announcements; 7:15 Presentation
Location: Highlands Country Club, Oakland, California
Topic: The Management Perspective
Speakers: Van Shackelford (EFI), Valerie Steele (NetSuite), and Katherine Wenc (Apple)

This month we are pleased to host a panel of managers of technical communication groups from around the Bay Area. They will tell us about the challenges they face, what types of changes face them in today’s market, and what skills and abilities they value most in the people they manage.

We’ve asked them to think about questions like these:

  • What are the biggest challenges you face? (What keeps you up at night?)
  • What is the biggest change you see coming over the next 12 to 24 months?
  • If you could add one skillset to your team, what would it be?
  • What do you value most, from people on your team?
  • What changes can technical writers, editors, and other team members make, to help technical publications groups be successful today?
  • What question have we forgotten to ask, that we should be asking you?

Join us to learn from these managers. Find out what issues they face in managing technical publications groups today, and learn what qualities and expertise they need from their teams, to be successful. There will be time for questions, answers, and discussion.

 

Van Shackelford worked his way up from Novice Technical Writer out of San Jose State University, to Director of Publications at both Visa International and later at Aircraft Technical Publications. He was the President and sole proprietor of Vash Consulting, a Technical Writing company, for 7 years and is currently Manager of English Technical Communications at EFI, Inc. in Foster City. Van holds a B.S. degree in Organizational Behavior from the University of San Francisco.

Valerie Steele has been a manager of small Technical Publications teams for over 15 years. She has extensive experience managing remote technical writers and enjoys the different perspectives and cultural diversity each writer brings to the job. She has worked with localization of technical documentation but still has a lot to learn. Valerie has been a Senior Member of STC since 2000.

Katherine Wenc has been Developer Publications Manager at Apple since 2001. Shemanages writers who produce reference documentation and conceptual guides for the iOS, Mac OS X, Safari, and iAd JS Developer Libraries. This work includes coordinating with cross-functional teams to devise documentation strategies and interacting with editors and art directors to ensure adherence to departmental standards and guidelines.

Prior to Apple, Katherine was Technical Writing Manager at Avaya/Lucent and worked as a technical writer at ViewStar, cc:Mail, and other technology companies. Her first job in California was Press Research Assistant for California Governor Jerry Brown, in the second term of his first administration.

Katherine studied Science Communications at Boston University School of Public Communication and received her Bachelor of Science, in Biology, from Simmons College. She currently lives in Berkeley with her pampered pets Glinda and Teresa and travels to the East Coast frequently to visit family and catch the latest Broadway plays.

The September 2011 Chapter Meeting

Date: Wednesday, September 14, 2011
Times (p.m.): 6:00 to 7:00 Networking, conversation, & dinner; 7:00 Announcements; 7:15 Presentation
Location: Highlands Country Club, Oakland, California
Topic: Proposal and Grant Writing 101
Speaker: Judy Herr

Technical communicators have the right mix of talent and skills to manage or provide support for proposals and grants. However, marketing our value to clients who are seeking to win contracts or grant funding requires that we understand proposal processes and “speak the language.”

In this session for both new and seasoned proposal specialists, Judy Herr will cover some of the essentials you need to know to work as a proposal team manager or contributor. She also plans on sharing hints for winning contracts, as she presents:

  • How to talk the talk and gain credibility as valuable contributors
    • Know common proposal expressions
    • Understand key differences between proposals and grants
  • Some of the challenges and obstacles you may face, and how to
    • Build alliances and partnerships
    • Set up a good proposal team organization
    • Manage & communicate as virtual teams
  • Judy’s “top 10 lessons learned” that help create winning proposals and grants

There will be time for questions, answers, and discussion.

Judith (Judy) Herr has thirty years of experience in technical communication. She has done extensive work managing teams as they prepared highly complex proposals and oral presentations that have won government contracts. She has worked in a broad range of disciplines, including information technology, public health, environmental services, occupational safety, manufacturing, and scientific research.

Judith holds a BA in Sociology and Communication from the University of Texas and a Masters in Public Health from Tulane University. After working in a number of different jobs in both non-profit and for-profit arenas, Judy started her own consulting business, Well Chosen Words.

Having raising her hand to volunteer at her first STC meeting 20 years ago, Judith Herr became an STC Fellow in 2006 and received the STC President’s Award in 2011. She has served in every chapter leadership position, directed the STC technical communication competition Touchstone, and was STC’s SIG Advocate, helping the STC SIGs gain recognition as viable virtual communities. Judith served from 2008-2011 on the STC the Board of Directors for the Society.

The August 2011 Chapter Meeting

Date: Wednesday, August 10, 2011
Times (p.m.): 6:00 to 7:00 Networking, conversation, & dinner; 7:00 Announcements; 7:15 Presentation
Location: Highlands Country Club, Oakland, California
Topic: Rules of thumb for using color in your content
Speaker: Greg Urban

Have you ever tried to pick colors for a document, website, or blog and found that what you thought would be fairly straightforward is somehow much harder than you expected? Or discovered that the colors you saw in one context and loved somehow just doesn’t look right, when you use them on your page? If so, you are not alone! There’s a knack to getting the right color combination, and sometimes it can seem to be an elusive one. You don’t need to know color theory and have a graphics degree. But it’s also not enough to say “I know what I like when I see it.” You need a method. This talk will provide practical advice and guidelines for selecting colors to use in your documents and online content.

In a previous professional life, Greg Urban was a color consultant for house colors. He is also an artist, specializing in water color portraits. He has found that the same strategies he uses for selecting colors for houses and portraits can be used to select color in documents and on the web.

Greg Urban is presently working as a technical writer at Life Technologies, where he writes documentation for DNA sequencers. He is also a partner in Linda Urban Communications, LLC, where he has worked as both a writer and editor over the years. He has contributed to print documentation, online help, and single-sourced solutions for print and online. He recently taught a course in visual design for technical communicators at the University of California Berkeley Extension.

The July 2011 Chapter Meeting

Date: Wednesday, July 13, 2011
Times (p.m.): 6:00 to 7:00 Networking, conversation, & dinner; 7:00 Announcements; 7:15 Presentation
Location: Highlands Country Club, Oakland, California
Topic: Managing Multiple Information Channels: Strategies for Effective Presentations
Speaker: Joe Devney

What is the best way to get information across to your audience when you give a presentation? Slides, handouts, speech? It depends on the kinds of information you need to impart. Learn the strengths and weaknesses of these and other information channels available to you when you speak to a group, and how to use each to best advantage. Joe Devney will give you both theory and examples to help you design more effective presentations, so that your audiences will better understand and remember what you have to say.

The target audience includes anyone who expects to give a presentation at work, through STC or other volunteer or professional organizations, or in an academic setting.

Besides delivering a number of presentations himself through STC and other organizations, Joe Devney has sat through over a hundred presentations by others, analyzing what works and what doesn’t. He also has a Master’s degree in Language and Communication, as well as formal training in public speaking and fifteen years’ experience in technical communication.

Devney is Immediate Past President of STC Berkeley and an STC Associate Fellow.

The June 11, 2011 Saturday Workshop

Date: Saturday, June 11, 2011
Topic: XMetaL/DITA Fundamentals
Speaker: David Trousdale, of Lasselle-Ramsay, Inc

This workshop provides six hours of instruction, emphasizing practical, hands-on activities that illustrate XMetaL/DITA fundamentals. Along the way, the instructor will share his own experience in adopting DITA, demonstrate best practices, and point out how to avoid common pitfalls. The course will introduce you to the types of DITA topics and the basics of XMetaL. Through hands on exercises you will:

  • Write and edit concept, task, and reference topics
  • Create and update a DITA map
  • Reuse and link content using XMetaL

Just Systems will provide trial versions of XMetaL for all course participants.

Bring a Windows laptop! In order to participate in the hands-on exercises, each participant must bring a Windows-based laptop computer. More exact system specifications are provided in the software download instructions.

You will be asked to download and install xMetaL prior to the workshop. A link and directions will be provided after you register. If you are registering on or after Wednesday, June 8, please contact Linda Urban (programs@stc-berkeley.org) to make sure you receive the download instructions.

If you have questions about system requirements or setup, please contact Linda Urban (programs@stc-berkeley.org).

This workship is limited to 22 participants.

David Trousdale is currently a Senior Content and Learning Consultant with Lasselle-Ramsay. Prior to this, he worked for 10 years at Cisco Systems as a manager of technical publications. At Cisco Systems, he initiated and led two major XML projects: one that resulted in the first complete documentation set to be published using Cisco’s propriety DTD, and the other that is currently migrating Cisco’s carrier-class network operating system documentation to DITA. He received his B.A. from San Francisco State University and Ph.D. from Case Western Reserve University. After several years of college teaching, he shifted to technical writing and training in Silicon Valley at various data communications and telecommunications startups and eventually was hired by Cisco Systems.

For over 20 years, Lasselle-Ramsay has helped clients connect with their customers, employees, and partners through content and learning.  Over the past 10 years, a growing practice area has been use of structured content, XML, and DITA to help meet faster release cycles, lower the cost of translation, and support the delivery of content in multiple formats. One of the key elements in the successful adoption of this new approach to developing content is the role of authors. Lasselle-Ramsay offers workshops and training to help authors develop the knowledge and skills they need to effectively incorporate using DITA into their daily work life.

Our thanks to Lasselle-Ramsay, who is underwriting part of the cost of this workshop so that we can keep the costs low.

The June 2011 Chapter Meeting

Date: Wednesday, June 8, 2011
Times (p.m.): 6:00 to 7:00 Networking, conversation, & dinner; 7:00 Announcements; 7:15 Presentation
Location: Highlands Country Club, Oakland, California
Topic: Optimizing your Portfolio: Are you ready for a bidding war for your services?
Speaker: Andrew Davis, of Content Rules

Your portfolio is the proof behind your resume’s claims. Discerning hiring organizations pay as much attention to what you’ve delivered as they do to what you promise. For today’s job-seekers, being passive, reactive, or even resistant regarding providing relevant portfolio samples can be fatal.

Andrew will discuss the role of a software industry content-development professional’s portfolio, how to assemble it, and how best to share it. Creating and optimizing your portfolio is a crucial skill in getting the results you deserve. This is particularly true if you are an experienced candidate, but also true if you are a newcomer. Andrew will address techniques for sharing confidential content, providing context, and generating the right kind of attention.

Are you ready for a bidding war for your services? With the right portfolio it’s not only possible, it’s likely.

Andrew Davis has recruited technical communicators in Silicon Valley since 1995, first for Synergistech Communications and now for Content Rules (formerly Oak Hill Corporation). He is a former software industry Tech Writer and is well-known for both understanding and championing the role of content development. At Content Rules he recruits all kinds of technical and marketing communicators as well as training and globalization professionals. Andrew enjoys helping those who communicate complex information get ahead by recognizing and refining their value to technology companies. He’s candid and connected and, more importantly, he cares.

The May 2011 Chapter Meeting

Date: Wednesday, May 11, 2011
Times (p.m.): 6:00 to 7:00 Networking, conversation, & dinner; 7:00 Announcements; 7:15 Presentation
Location: Highlands Country Club, Oakland, California
Topic: Turning Content Into Gold: A Presentation and Work Session
Speaker: Paula Toth, of TechProse

In today’s competitive marketplace, the extent to which an organization can leverage its assets determines how well it can sustain a thriving business. As technical communicators, our skill in developing content directly contributes to an organization’s assets if we wisely manage how we apply our knowledge and talents.

In this presentation Paula Toth, Best Practices Leader and “Single Sorceress” at TechProse, will show attendees how to use five key strategies to reduce content development costs, while simultaneously enhancing content quality. She will discuss the five strategies in detail, the strategy implementation phases, what can be done with or without changing tools, what tools to consider, and how to collect metrics to make the business case to apply the strategies. The five strategies are:

  • Optimize content
  • Separate authoring & publishing
  • Streamline processes
  • Manage team resources
  • Socialize content

The work session following the presentation guides attendees to explore how they are using the five strategies in their work today, and how they would like to deepen their use of these strategies in their future work.

Paula Toth is the TechProse team’s in-house subject matter expert on DITA and single-source solutions. With nearly 20 years of experience in technical communications, she is passionate about helping organizations streamline and reuse their content. She has worked with TechProse since 1990 and has managed single sourcing projects for small firms and large corporations. For the last nine years, her focus has been single-source analysis, development, and information architecture.

In addition to her work with these solutions, Paula has years of experience in information design, instructional design, content development, help system development, marketing writing, and process and procedure development.

The April 2011 Chapter Meeting

Date: Wednesday, April 13, 2011
Times (p.m.): 6:00 to 7:00 Networking, conversation, & dinner; 7:00 Announcements; 7:15 Presentation
Location: Highlands Country Club, Oakland, California
Topic: Mental Models: Identifying the Right Content Starts with Really Knowing Your Audience
Speaker: Indi Young

In this presentation, Indi Young will teach you how to deeply understand customer reasoning before making  communication and design decisions through the use of mental models. Mental models provide a clear roadmap of where your department (and your organization) should invest its energies, and also where it shouldn’t, allowing you to stretch your limited resources and maximize your precious time. Mental models will also allow you to derive an information architecture from users’ tasks that will last 10 years, and get everyone from discordant team members to busy executives on the same page with respect to design and planning.

Indi Young got her start as a software engineer designing interactive models and compilers on supercomputers. When she switched to personal hand-held devices (the PenPoint & Newton age), it became overwhelmingly evident that engineers were creating apps for fellow engineers. Someone needed to be able to understand the everyday person who was trying to make their day more effective. This is when she learned how to listen deeply to what people were saying and how they were thinking. Indi consulted for many dot-com start-ups during the boom. During the bust, Indi founded Adaptive Path with six other interaction designer擁nformation architect謡riter耀peaker葉eaching pioneers. After five years of intensive projects, Indi stepped aside to write her book, Mental Models. She currently consults, writes a blog at Rosenfeld Media, and searches for rich chocolate cookies in every town she visits.

The March 2011 Chapter Meeting

Date: Wednesday, March 9, 2011
Times (p.m.): 6:00 to 7:00 Networking, conversation, & dinner; 7:00 Announcements; 7:15 Presentation
Location: Highlands Country Club, Oakland, California
Topic: Creating Custom Search for Your Content
Speaker: Kevin G. Lim of Google

Many users prefer to find information with search, not through the navigation, but you don’t have the developer resources to create a search engine for your website. Well, what if you can have Google in a box? What if you can harness the power of Google to search only your website or a collection of websites that you define?

Google actually offers such a tool – for free. Google Custom Search lets you create a customized search engine, control its look and feel, and fine-tune the results.

In this presentation, you will learn

  • to create a basic search engine
  • to create site search
  • to curate a specialized topic with a vertical search engine (for example, a search engine that specializes in technical communication, restaurants, or wine)
  • to customize the search engine with bells and whistles (such as suggested queries, refinement options, and custom results) to improve the user experience

Kevin G. Lim is a technical writer at Google. Her documentation projects include Search, Android, Enterprise, Chrome, and HTML5. She also created and runs a popular workshop program for technical writers and trainers at Google.

Prior to Google, she wrote documentation on mathematical models and enterprise systems. She also briefly experimented with project management as a system engineer.

In her free time, she likes exploring new places and engaging in something athletic (badminton, capoeira, white-water rafting, and kayaking are on top of the list). 

The February 2011 Chapter Meeting

Date: Wednesday, February 9, 2011
Times (p.m.): 6:00 to 7:00 Networking, conversation, & dinner; 7:00 Announcements; 7:15 Presentation
Location: Highlands Country Club, Oakland, California
Topic: How Microsoft SharePoint Gives You a Realistic Approach to Content Management
Speaker: Dan Beall of ComponentOne
Slides from Dan’s talk: Handout PDF

Microsoft SharePoint has become a platform for basic content management practices. You will find technology for collaboration, source control, versioning, and even translation support. For those who want the essential pieces of content management, but do not have the resources to implement a complex system, SharePoint just might be the answer. This session will show you how you can get started with SharePoint, promote it in your organization, and use the features available in your documentation workflow. The presentation will include a live demo of key features and open Q&A. We will also compare a SharePoint-based approach to a full component content management process so you can decide what is best for you.

If time permits, Dan may also show how Doc-To-Help and SharePoint work together.

 

For the past seven years, Dan Beall has acted as Product Manager at ComponentOne and is an esteemed practitioner in information, publishing and software design. Dan brings over 10 years of experience in both technical writing and software delivery to the Doc-To-Help, DemoWorks, and SharePoint Web Parts product lines. As an evangelist and educator, Dan writes whitepapers, presents at events, and conducts webcasts.

The January 2011 Annual Chapter Party and Touchstone Awards

Date: Saturday, January 22, 2011
Times (p.m.): 5:30 to 6:00 Networking & conversation; 6:00 to 7:00 Buffet dinner; 7:00 to 8:00 Awards and Recognition; 8:00 to 9:00 More conversations, see the award-winning entries
Location: Highlands Country Club, Oakland, California
Topic: Berkeley STC Annual Party and Touchstone Awards

Join us to relax with fellow communicators, enjoy a buffet dinner, and celebrate excellence in the profession.

Every year Touchstone, the Northern California Technical Communication Competition, receives many fine entries. We send the best ones to the STC International Summit Awards competitions. We will announce this year’s winners and display their entries throughout the evening.

During the evening we will also recognize and honor competition judges and Berkeley chapter volunteers for their contributions to the chapter and the profession.

Our yearly raffle: Wow, do we have some great items for our raffle this year! Thanks to the generosity and support from these wonderful vendors in our professional community:

  • Adobe is providing a copy of Technical Communication Suite 3
  • Author-it is providing a full user license to Author-it
  • ComponentOne is providing a license for Doc-To-Help Enterprise
  • MadCap Software is providing a copy of Flare V6

(Raffle winners must be present at the time of the drawing.)

Dinner menu:

  • Baby arugula with cranberries, almonds, and apples (vegan)
  • Hearty minnestrone soup (vegan)
  • Quinoa suffed squash with roasted garlic oil (vegan)
  • Grilled Salmon topped with dill cream
  • Roasted vegetable melody (vegan)
  • Brown rice pilaf with almonds and caramelized onions (vegan)
  • Sweet potato cheesecake

Hope to see you there!