Tuesday, July 31, 2007

Hello to Job Hunting!

I work for EarthLink. Specifically for the EarthLink Municipal Networks business unit.

I think it was in February when our CEO, Garry Betty passed away of cancer. The past few months have been spent by the Board of Directors searching for a replacement. A couple of weeks ago they hired Rolla P. Huff as our new President and CEO. I suppose new CEOs have to show they can generate profit quickly, and one of the quickest ways to generate more profit for a company is to eliminate a few bodies! Decreasing the payroll has an immediate effect on the bottom line. Stockholders of our company will love it.

Anyway, as a technical writer, I am sure I will be one of the first eliminated. EarthLink has a policy of giving generous severance and notices, but nothing really helps or make you feel any better when you are out there looking for a job.

Nothing is set in stone as they say, and my job might not even be eliminated, but I believe the proverbial handwriting is on the wall! The executives are reviewing the positions that we need to operate and still make a profit. At this point, we don't know when a decision will be made. But I am not going to sit back and wait. I am being proactive and am visiting job sites and putting out my resume and trying to get a feel for what kind of jobs are out there. I can't afford to be unemployed for any long length of time.

So, Hello to Job Hunting! If any of you know of available jobs out there, just let me know.

Parisian Soiree - Where great minds meet and mingle

As you may or may not know, I am a member of the Technical Communications Advisory Board for Southern Polytechnic State University (SPSU). We are having our 2nd Annual Fundraiser on Tuesday, October 23, 2007, at Atmosphere, a mid-town Atlanta restaurant, from 7 Pm until 10 PM. The funds we receive support the technical communications programs at SPSU.

This event will include a silent auction with many neat items.

The cost includes a 3 course meal including appetizers, dessert, tea and coffee. (Adult beverages are on your own.) All this for a donation of only $55 per person! Come and join your fellow technical communicators and SPSU grads for a fun night. I hope to see you there!

If you want to attend, send a check made out to: SPSU Foundation to: Claudia Ludlow, 3350 Summer View Drive, Alpharetta, GA. 30022. Closer to the event there will be a PayPal link on the TCOMmons website for those of you wishing to pay by credit card.

Wednesday, July 25, 2007

Meeting in September

I have wonderful news!

I have been talking with a professor from New Zealand who has been doing research on technical communications and technical communicator's tools and what it takes to be successful in the field. I wanted her to speak to our chapter about her research . And I am happy to report that she has agreed.

Her name is Alison Reynolds and she will speak to us at our September meeting which we will be rescheduling for the 4th Tuesday in the month (September 25) to accommodate her travel schedule. This is exciting. You should plan to attend for a lively and exciting discussion on technical communication tools and you! (Brian, if you are reading this, take special note!)

So come to the meeting in September, welcome Ms Reynolds, and be ready for a lively discussion.

Tuesday, July 17, 2007

Chapter Update

STC Atlanta Chapter Update for July 2007

To keep up with day-to-day STC Atlanta chapter news and developments, read the President's blog (http://stcatlprez.blogspot.com/), visit our chapter Web site (http://www.blogger.com/www.stcatlanta.org), and visit Michelle Schoen’s podcast site (http://mschoen.libsyn.com/).
Upcoming Events
July 17 Chapter MeetingExtended Networking, Interesting Topics, & Other Stuff
Using a progression-style format, you can rotate from table to table to network, discuss topics of interest to technical communicators, and learn how to enter the Chapter competitions.

The meeting will be in Dunwoody at Mirant Corporation, 1155 Perimeter Center West, Atlanta, 30338, across the street from the Sandy Springs Marta station at the intersection of Mount Vernon and Abernathy. (map)

Networking at 6:30 p.m.; meeting at 7:00.
Tentative Future Programs
August 21 – Development Team Showdown
September 18 – Flare vs RoboHelp
October 16 – Joint meeting with the Atlanta interactive Marketing Association (AiMA)
November 20 – The Anatomy of a Help File: An Iterative Approach – Presented by Dr. Michael Hughes

If you don’t see your favorite program, contact Robert Armstrong.

August Software Saturdays return!
The success of our Software Saturday class on a Decent Exposure to FrameMaker has resulted in a new Software Saturday on vector graphics.

The class will be taught at HelpWrite, Inc, 3070 Business Park Dr., Suite A, Norcross, GA 30071.

Classes will be limited to the first 10 participants. Participants will receive a copy of DrawPlus software, instruction, and a workbook. Watch our chapter website for more information. Specific date will be announced soon.
Missed an STC Atlanta chapter meeting? Want to know what's going on with fellow STC members? Check out Michelle Schoen's Podcasts for in-depth interviews and recorded Atlanta chapter meetings.

Lunch with an Expert
The STC Atlanta Chapter is beginning a new program to put senior experienced members in touch with others in a way that keeps things deliberately informal. We looked closely at the Mentoring Program, and there was a general agreement that the mentoring relationship requires a level of time and commitment that few could sustain and was perhaps intimidating to many.

Since everyone eats lunch, it made sense to try a different approach centered around that congenial activity. We’ve got a list of senior members with a wide range of professional interests and experience, and they’re ready to share the benefit of their wisdom with a fellow Chapter member over lunch at a mutually agreeable time and place.

If you’re struggling with a project, looking to branch our into a different area of technical communication, investigating an academic technical communication program, or just wanting to connect with a new professional colleague, send an email with a brief description of what you’re interested in talking about, what part of town you’re in, and your contact information. We’ll be back in touch with the name and contact information of one of the Experts.

There are only a couple of ground rules: the Expert gets treated to lunch and you provide some feedback about the program. Everything else is up to the two of you.

Email your request or any questions to Roger Siegel.

Best Practices Conference
If you are interested in a conference on Best Practices with a great selection of speakers and presenters close to the Atlanta area, here you are. Speakers will include JoAnn Hackos, our own Carol Barnum, Glenn D’Amore, Dave De Yoreo, Charles Dowdell, Neville Fleet, Irene Hammerich, Ed Hougardy, Brenda Horner, Jeff Kaminski, Art Kedzierski, Monti Lawrence, Melody Locke, Julie MacAller, Denise Moore, Palmer Pearson, Mark Poole, Ginny Redish, Rosanne Scriffignano, Suzanne Sowinska, Valerie Stoehr, Beth Thomerson, Michel Uyttendaele, Scott Wahl, and Daphne Walmer.

This conference will be held at the Chateau Elan Inn in Braselton, Georgia. If you have never been to Chateau Elan, it is worth the trip, even without the conference. For more information, follow this link: http://www.infomanagementcenter.com/bestpractices/2007/index.htm.

Help Us Update Our List of Companies that Hire Technical Communicators
We are trying to update our website with an accurate list of companies in the Atlanta area that hire technical communicators. Please visit http://www.stcatlanta.org/employment/hire_tw.pdf to see if you can help us update this list. If you know of any companies that hire TCs that aren’t on this list or if there are any companies on this list that do not hire technical communicators, please let me know.

Announcing New Volunteers
During the last month, two more volunteers have stepped up to help our chapter. Please join me in welcoming them and thanking them for their service to our chapter:
Kathleen Baine – New Writers SIG Manager
Michael Hughes – Atlanta Conference 2009 Planning Committee Chair
Community Service Activities:
Helping the Global CommunityTook place on Saturday, June 16, 2007
More than a dozen of your fellow STC Atlanta Chapter members participated in this Community Service Event at MedShare International. Thanks to Julie Brock, our Community Service Manager. We will be returning for another event in the near future. Watch this update and our website for more information. Those of you who volunteered, many thanks. Those of you who didn’t, you missed a great opportunity to network with other volunteers and to help the global community.

MedShare collects and ships surplus medical supplies to countries in the economically developing world. MedShare serves healthcare facilities providing medical care to the needy in developing countries regardless of their religious or political affiliations. Your fellow STC members helped organize, sort, and package medical supplies to be sent to needy communities overseas.

Contact our Community Service Manager, Julie Brock for more information. Check out some pictures of the event: (http://www.flickr.com/photos/8482243@N08/sets/72157600392844721/.

July CommLink Newsletter Available shortly
The July issue of CommLink is in final editing and will be available soon. Check out previous issues on the website!

One thing I would like to see in our newsletter is more input from our members. I know each of you has something to contribute. I know you are all writing and working on very interesting projects. Share your expertise! Wouldn’t you like to know what your fellow members are up to? I’m sure they would like to hear about your project or new software!

Contact Paul Phillips to contribute an article to CommLink!

Join STC!
Networking, education, monthly programs, annual conferences — there are a lot of reasons to join the Society for Technical Communication! Sign up today using the online membership form to receive the benefits of membership in a professional association. To change or upgrade your current membership, use the online Membership Change/Upgrade form. For example, if you are currently an E-member, but you are not affiliated with a chapter or international Special Interest Group (SIG), you can add a chapter and/or an international SIG to your membership.

Read the President's Blog
Keep up with Al Hood's thoughts on the state of the technical communication community. Visit the President's blog.

The blog created by Holly Harkness, STC Atlanta's Immediate Past President, can be viewed here.

Continuing Education Scholarship
If you're an STC Atlanta Chapter member who is either pursuing a degree in technical communication or attending a professional development seminar, you may be eligible for one of three $500 scholarships. In return for the award, the winners will make a presentation at a Chapter meeting or contribute an article to the Newsletter.

For more details, click here. http://www.stcatlanta.org/pdfs/continuingedgrant.pdf

Competitions are coming!!!
Have you or your company produced technical communication products that you think are worthy of awards? Would you like your work to be recognized by your peers? Then consider submitting your work to the STC annual competitions.

Each entry will receive detailed comments from our judges. Three recognition levels are awarded in each competition category. Winners of the top award in each competition qualify for entry in STC's International Competition. Award winners in the 2007 competition locally will receive their award plaques at our 2008 Annual Awards Banquet in April. Award winners in the International Competition will be recognized at the 2008 STC Annual Conference in Philadelphia, PA.

To volunteer to judge contact Bernice Hunter.

Looking for work?
Check out our chapter's job postings at http://jobs.stcatlanta.org/

Happy Hour Events
Because of the awful traffic in the Atlanta area, we have introduced the concept of Happy Hour Events. We have 400 members spread out over the Atlanta region and we realize that many of these members cannot come to a monthly meeting in the Perimeter area, but they'd like to get together with other STCers in their part of the city to discuss issues related to our profession.

For example, we held a Happy Hour Event in Marietta and one in Alpharetta at local restaurants. Turnout was good and we had a great time visiting, networking, and sharing with each other. We want to continue these events with more planned for the very near future. At this point we are planning one in Lawrenceville/Gwinnett county area, the Alpharetta/Roswell area, and the Marietta/Kennesaw area.

If you would like to help organize a Happy Hour Event for your part of town, let me know: or our Membership Manager, Joe Scardina.

Volunteer Opportunities
In addition to the activities noted above, we are looking for volunteers to fill the following positions:
Student Liaison
Volunteer Coordinator
Currents Assistant Manager
SIG Managers for FrameMaker and Management SIGs

If you'd like to volunteer, contact me at your convenience. We have other volunteer opportunities of varying responsibilities. If you want to help but don’t want to spend every waking minute, contact me. I am sure we can accommodate your wishes.

Chapter Sponsors
Please remember our chapter sponsors and make sure to use their services when you can. Thanks to the following sponsors for supporting the STC Atlanta Chapter. If you would like to become a sponsor, contact the Sponsorship Manager, Gene Larson.

Adobe revolutionizes how the world engages with ideas and information. For more than two decades, the company's award-winning technologies and software have redefined business, entertainment, and personal communications by setting new standards for producing and delivering content that engages people anywhere at anytime. From rich images in print, video, and film to dynamic digital content for a variety of media, the impact of Adobe solutions is clear to anyone who creates, views, and interacts with information.

Content Solutions is a certified consultant and authorized reseller for the AuthorIT single-source solution. We provide the USA with training, consulting, implementing, and content management for all sizes of groups and companies.

Doc-To-Help is a single-source Help authoring tool that empowers authors to create HTML or Microsoft Word content and convert it to virtually every popular Help file format (including browser-based, platform independent Help) or printed documentation.

echo•eleven is a "results oriented" eLearning company delivering high-impact, high-return learning experiences. echo•eleven has over 15 years of experience exploring eLearning, creating innovative solutions, and sharing our experiences with others.

Founded in 1995, Eclipsys is a healthcare information technology (HIT) company that develops and licenses proprietary, knowledge-driven clinical, financial and management information software and service solutions to more than 1,500 healthcare facilities.

HelpWrite, Inc. positions Atlanta businesses in the global marketplace with technical documentation and training solutions. We are your single source for translating complex technical concepts and software functionality into clear, concise, complete manuals and training materials in numerous formats and languages.

From the original creators of RoboHelp®, MadCap brings you Flare- the new Industry Standard and the most powerful, innovative, true single-sourcing tool ever developed.

MDI is a professional consulting and staffing firm with three divisions - IT Services, Finance, Accounting (F&A), and Medical Staffing.

Founded in 1988, MDI has recorded 19 consecutive years of profitable growth, achieving revenues of $63 million in 2006 and forecast revenues of $80 million in 2007. MDI now employs over 600 consultants nationally out of offices in Atlanta, GA (HQ); Birmingham, AL; Columbus, GA; Dallas, TX; Greenville, SC; Phoenix, AZ; and Seattle, WA.

Zaxby’s is a favorite of chicken eaters in the South. Primarily in seven southern states, the chain serves made-to-order chicken dishes—including Nuclear Chicken Wings, chicken Zappetizers and chicken Zalads—that make consumers forget about fast-food chicken options.

Friday, July 13, 2007


Do any of you know anything about RSS? I know what the acronym stands for, but that's about it. If you know something about it, let me know.

Council Meeting

This past Tuesday was our monthly council meeting. We covered a lot of things relating to the upcoming month and year. We are really trying to be proactive and provide what you, the members of STC Atlanta really want to see.

We had a new volunteer: Kathleen Baine, a long-time member has agreed to serve as the New Writers SIG Manager. This is great! SPSU and Mercer have wonderful TCOM programs and are producing technical communicators for the workplace. Kathleen will work with the professors at each of these programs to provide events that will aid them as they attempt to become technical communicators in the workplace. She is planning events at least once per semester. If you see Kathleen, thank her for her help!

I was just wondering: to become a Senior STC Member, you must be a member for at least 5 consecutive years. What do you think about some sort of recognition program? Most people have no idea when they attain Senior status. I would like to thank the Senior members of our chapter by recognizing them with a Senior Member pin when they attain senior status. Would you like that? Tell me what you think. I would like to hear from you.

Howard Speck just submitted our papers to the Society that confirms our participation in this year's competitions. We will have Technical Publications, Technical Art, and Online Communications competitions this year. Make your plans now to participate. I know you have some document or online Help or drawing or something that you are proud of. Make plans to submit it to our competitions.

Thursday, July 5, 2007

Happy 4th of July

Yesterday was the 4th and, as usual, my wife and I went to watch fireworks. It was great!

We went to the Marietta Square where they had cordoned off the entire square area downtown and turned it into a party! There were numerous activities for the kids (the is the first year we didn't have at least one of our grandsons with us), food, ice cream, entertainment (Carolina Rain was the band, if you know anything about country music!), and then the fireworks. It was a great time! We really enjoyed the fireworks. And, when it was over, we hustled back to my new truck to get out of there, but that wasn't happening! The entire city of Marietta and surrounding areas had descended on Marietta and we couldn't even get into the street from our parking lot.

So we locked up the truck right there and went back to the square to watch the winding down of the celebration. There were garbage trucks picking up the tons of garbage, the slides and jumping enclosures were being deflated and removed, people were looking for something to eat (but all the venues had closed), and the people were milling around waiting to be able to leave. There had been three trains during the evening right by the square. One more passed as we tried to get to the Krystal restaurant so we could get something to drink! These trains are long and some of the cars are painted with graffiti. They looked like gang painting or what I have always thought of as gang painting.

During this long evening, I thought about the celebration and how it relates to technical communication. There were Police Explorer units that had to receive training on crowd control. (Written by a TC!). There were the fireworks crews who had to have some training on how to run a fireworks display. The personnel running the trains had to have some instruction on how to run a train. The warning lights and cross arm for the trains had to have instructions in how to put them up and how they work.

And on and on and on! We must realize that our profession touches the lives of many, many people. Even the new driver golf club I purchased the day before had technical specifications on the shaft, the flex, the head, the grip, and more. I had to read through all of the specs on all of the drivers to help me decide which one to buy! There is nothing we don't touch. So when people say the technical writing profession is dying, I just wonder where they are coming from. I suppose our profession is becoming more and more specialized. We have user experience gurus and many other specialists, but, when you look really close, aren't they all technical communicators?

Hope you had a great 4th as we did!