Toronto tech writers offer seminars for managers


The Toronto Society for Technical Communication is offering a day of seminars on Wednesday, April 22nd, for those who manage technical communication issues.

As writers and managers, we often hear what should be done, but how to do it and do it correctly, can be tough. This one–day workshop has four excellent topics teaching you how to improve your team, how to identify the right translation vendor to work with, how to promote yourself and your team internally, and how to manage during transitions of key staff. Leave with clear action items to get results from your team, and get work done on time and within budget.

The day includes a hot, catered lunch, morning and afternoon snacks, and speaker handouts
With the tough economic times we are facing it is more important than ever to ensure you have the right team, the right partners, the right image, and the right management.seneca-college-allstate-parkway

LOCATION:  Seneca College, Markham Campus, 10 Allstate Parkway near Highways 404 and 7  (Google Map)

SCHEDULE: 08:00 –16:15 plus as long as people want to ask questions.

8:00 Breakfast, networking, & check in (please arrive by 8:30 a.m.)
8:45 Promotion from Within:  During tough times it can be difficult to find the resources to hire new members for your team. One solution is to promote from within. However, finding the right team members, and identifying the key habits that make a technical communicator great, can make all the difference in team building. Visnja discusses these traits and teaches you how to identify them and promote the right people from within your current ranks.

vijsna-begVisnja Beg is the Project Manager overseeing all deliverables for the IBM Rational Software family of User Assistance products. She has worked in technical communications for 20 years and is a past president of STC Ottawa and has presented at several STC conferences.

10:15 Coffee, tea, snacks, & social networking
10:30 Choosing the Right Translation Vendor: When content must be translated, it is crucial to choose the right vendor. To find the right vendor, you need to ask the right questions. You also need to evaluate bids beyond the cost per word. What are best practices for making this important decision? Learn how to select a vendor based on lessons learned by those who have gone through the process. Save yourself both money and time.

vivian-aschwanden2Vivian Aschwanden has over 11 years of experience in information development in both writing and leadership roles. She has been a lone writer for a startup, led a doc team in a broadcast engineering firm, and now fills a part-time project management role at Platform Computing in conjunction with her full-time writing.

12:00 Networking lunch
13:00 Internal Consulting: Selling Tech Comm Inside Your Organization: Learn how to expand your network inside your organization, increase the services you offer, and boost the value of you and your team in the eyes of your employer. Told as a true  story about the growth of a tech writing team, this session teaches techniques and tools for developing relationships in your company and turning those relationships into lines of business.

mark-pepperMark Pepper is a communicator with 14 years of experience. He has been the lead technical writing consultant at Deloitte & Touche, an elearning writer and project manager, worked in journalism, business analysis, and at the help desk. He presently runs his own company, Crimson Sage Softworks Inc.

14:30 Coffee, tea, snacks, & social networking
14:45 Managing Management Change: how do you manage the abrupt departure of management? Learn how an interim manager steered a department through change and brought in a new ID manager (promoted from within the team) with minimal damage to productivity or morale. Effective change management strategies eased the transition. Learn key things you need to do to ensure change “sticks”, and strategies to help a team grow through the change.

jim-smithJim Smith is Manager of Information Development and User Experience at Platform Computing. Jim has been an information developer for over 20 years, including 7 years at IBM’s Toronto Lab. He has enjoyed 10 years at Platform, where he now manages a dynamic team of information developers and usability experts.

16:15 Wrap-up & Questions for the panel


REGISTER: Email or phone 416-460-5845.

We must receive your payment to confirm your registration. If you cancel, you must let us know 5 business days before the event. However, you can send someone else at any time.

See you there!

STC – no more salary survey for Canada

Peter Kelly wrote:

Hi everybody,
I seldom receive any e-mail from this discussion list so I am assuming we are all an extraordinarily industrious bunch! One Canadian concern I would like to bring up related to the STC is the fact that the STC no longer does salary surveys that apply to Canada. From now on they will use US government data since they judge this more accurate than surveying their membership. I would like to know where that leaves their Canadian members. We have little information other than that which we gather ourselves through the grapevine by talking to colleagues or recruiters. Am I right in assuming there is now no Canadian salary data that will be distributed through the STC? Am I missing something?
Best indeed to all of you,
Peter Kelly

Yes, Peter is correct, that (at least for now) there is no Canadian salary data that is being distributed through the STC. You can read the article in the Intercom to see why the STC switched to using the U.S. Bureau of Labor statistics.

Although this is currently a loss for those of us in Canada, think of it as an opportunity to define what sort of salary survey we would like, and to make it happen. If you would like to be on the STC Canadian Salary Survey Committee, please let me know. Feel free to discuss on the list what sort of salary information would be most useful to you.

Michele Marques
Manager, STC Canadian Community (Canadian Issues SIG)

STC Toronto blog has moved

For convenience and more functions, the blog of the Society for Technical Communication, Toronto community, has moved. You can find it here: STC Toronto blog. I am one of several contributors.

Tech writers’ career day

STC Toronto put on a Career Day (PDF), which I attended. It was full of good information from seasoned professionals.

Second thoughts are often best

Your first thought is a first draft. That’s especially true with Web pages, where whoever suggests the first information structure was likely influenced by the paper version. On reflection, you can start using the power of links. Here’s an example:

paper-based vs. online

First and second versions

Shlomo Perets FrameMaker & Acrobat workshops

Shlomo Perets, a well-respected electronic-publishing expert, is coming to Toronto to give three days of workshops on publishing with FrameMaker and Acrobat publishing.

Front Runner Training is hosting Shlomo Perets of Microtype in Toronto to deliver his highly sought after FrameMaker to Acrobat Advanced Techniques workshop and two Advanced Acrobat workshops!
Bring your laptops, bring your files, bring your questions!

FrameMaker to Acrobat Advanced Techniques
Monday September 22nd & Tuesday September 23rd
fee $1,240; for STC members $1,140 (plus GST)

Designing Access to Information & Testing Your PDFs
Wednesday September 24th

fee $540; for STC members $490 (plus GST)

Creating PDF Forms
Thursday September 25th
fee $540; for STC members $490 (plus GST)

  • Add GST to all fees.
  • To get the STC discount, supply STC membership number on registration.
  • Classes are from 9 a.m. until 5 p.m. each day.
  • Continental breakfast is included.

Please contact Front Runner, with STC membership number if applicable, to register for your workshop.

PDF best practices

On Planet PDF, Shlomo Perets is publishing a series of articles about PDF Best Practices. He reminds us that PDF doesn’t always mean Acrobat PDF.

Here’s the first one:

Save vs. Save As

Acrobat’s ‘Save’ function is a “fast save” which does not remove deleted objects from the file being saved (so that deleting 50 pages out of 100 and saving will actually result in a slightly larger file compared to the original). Only ‘Save As’ rewrites the entire file so that items no longer used are not stored in the file.

During the rewriting, Acrobat can also optimize the file, storing identical items only once and reference them in different pages. Thus, when finalizing a PDF it is beneficial to do a ‘Save As’ to get rid of extra baggage or deleted items, even if no change was actually done in that last session.

Can wikis stand alone?

Anne Gentle asks, “Can wikis for documentation stand alone or do they need to be supplemented?”

Some of her points are these…

Top Reasons Why Wikis Will Increase in Popularity

I’m not an expert on wikis, but so far this is what I’ve noticed using the SharePoint 2007 wiki:

  1. Wikis are fast. This is literally what wiki means in Hawaiian. I think I can complete a documentation project in two-thirds the time using a wiki instead of a traditional help authoring tool.
  2. Wikis change the perception of help. Let’s face it: online help has a bad reputation of being useless. Wikis provide a new format that can counter that perception and empower critics with the responsibility to act on their jabs.
  3. Wikis draw upon collective intelligence. Even if you only have a handful of contributors to the wiki, drawing upon collective intelligence from actual product users is invaluable. Just getting one edit can expand the usefulness of your documentation tenfold.
  4. Wikis are convenient. With wikis, you don’t need to attach files to emails, compile an online help file, transfer folders to a shared server, decipher edits on paper, or try to interpret Word’s track changes. Editing of the files by SMEs and editors is a cinch.
  5. Wikis give the impression of being up to date. Even if they aren’t, wikis have more life. You can update them on the fly. One minor update to a page can renew the user’s faith that the documentation is current.
  6. Wikis have tremendous potential in the enterprise. Think about all the documents that project members collaborate on in the enterprise. Wikis will make project teams much more efficient (and fun).
  7. Wikis are a curiosity that merits experimentation. Everyone I meet is curious about wikis. They look at them with a new-found wonder. That’s worth something.
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