All of those who came had such a good time that no one remembered to take pictures this year. For all those who missed it, hope to see you next year.Read More
This event, held in Rehovot, was in the form of a workshop.
Self Analysis - SWOT - Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities, Threats
Participants detailed these parameters as it applied to them, such as negotoating for better pay being in many cases perceived as a weakness or even a threat, while looking for opportunities entails, for example, getting more work via the referral of satisfied clients.
Don't always detail all the jobs you ever held in the past, but tailor it to the general demands of the post that you are applying for.
The Elevator Pitch
Suppose you are going up in an elevator together with the manager of a company that you want to have a contact with. You have just 60 seconds to present yourself and detail your main strengths and line of activity. All participants did this quick presentation, some even doing it in 30 seconds.
Marketing Plan and Negotiating a Contract
Set your goals, determine where you want to be next year, and five years from now, and draw up a schedule for getting there. When negotiating a contract with your client, insist on your price, but leave some room for discounts. Insist on a solid agreement, with clearly defined milestones for completing work and receiving payment.
Various forums, such as those organized by the Chamber of Commerce, IBC (Interactive Business Circles), and others.
IBC, for example, is built up of groups, each group having just one representative from each profession. In the weekly get together of such a group, members introduce themselves briefly ito newcomers in "Elavator Pitch" form, new contacys are formed, and referrals are past on between members.
Who can benefit from Task Modeling? Just about any writer who needs tomanage documents can. Task modeling is an excellent tool to use when agroup sits together to hammer out what they need from a new product orinstructional program.Read More
Shlomo Perets of MicroType, a leading expert on advanced documentation techniques, gave a 90 minute presentation in Yokneam on how we can enhance our online PDF documents using non-text additions. Specific authoring tools were not discussed, as many of the techniques shown were done directly in the PDF document. It was both eye-opening, as well as practical, to be shown how, often using available resources, we can make our PDF documents so much more effective. Shlomo Peretz; Frank Zabow has a question
Shlomo Perets, of MicroType, gave a presentation on how we can enhance our online PDF documents using non-text additions such as 3D drawings, movies, even quizzes.
Shlomo Perets of MicroType, a leading expert on advanced documentation techniques, gave a 90 minute presentation in Yokneam on how we can enhance our online PDF documents using non-text additions. Specific authoring tools were not discussed, as many of the techniques shown were done directly in the PDF document. It was both eye-opening, as well as practical, to be shown how, often using available resources, we can make our PDF documents so much more effective.
Starting with an old PDF document, Shlomo showed over 20 of Israel's finest and best known technical and marcom writers from all over northern and central Israel how to add rich media. “Feedback usually is positive when adding rich media,” Shlomo explained, “even to old documents, but often people are conservative in how much they put into their PDFs.”
The first example he showed was the addition of a 3D model to a document. With respect to Acrobat, there is the option to include 3D interactive items. 3D models of modules, or components, are often prepared as part of manufacturing. Mostly this is done in programs, such as AutoCAD,Solidworks and proENGINEER. If you have a document, and have all the 3D data, it is possible to embed it in the document for end-user to see and interact with it.. One of the problems with CAD-type programs is that they produce large files. Such files can be excessively large. Exporting native CAD files into UD3 can be easily performed using Adobe 3D Toolkit. UD3 are not very heavy files. For example, a 40 megabit CAD file can be 1-2 megabit in U3D. This will add “weight” to the PDF, but significantly less than the original 3D file. U3D can be used in Acrobat Professional 7 and 8; Acrobat 3D can convert numerous formats into U3D. to Adobe Reader 7 and 8 can be used to display 3D objects that can also be manipulated by the end-user in the PDF.
Many of the participants, including Jonathan Matt from BMC, Amnon Peled of Motorola, and David Levy felt uncomfortable making changes in the PDF and not in the authoring tools. Samir Zahra specifically asked Shlomo about authoring in Word using 3D files. Shlomo answered that it makes sense to put the rich media into the original files, but specific programs are needed, for example, FrameMaker 8 or Microsoft Office applications with the PDFMaker installed by Acrobat 3D. He reminded us that all that is needed for authoring is included in the Adobe Technical Communication Suite, from FM 8 to Captivate 3, to Adobe Acrobat 3D Version 8.
Any tool can be used to make a PDF and then we can to go from there to add the rich media, Shlomo reiterated. Our users don’t care and don’t see how it was done, they just see the end result. Once familiar with process, it can take few minutes to integrate 3D, with more time for special views and buttons.
Shmuel Goldstein from Marvell asked about the tool bar that appears with the 3D figure, if it was always present with a 3D view. Shlomo answered that the tool bar helps the end-user manage views and manipulate parts: do cross sections, show or hide parts, i.e., take off the front cover of that widget. Shmuel also asked about security settings. It is possible to prevent copying the 3D data, but viewing should be no problem. Depending on permissions assigned, authors can prevent some functions.
Another way to look at the 3D image is actually as basic animation. Some CAD tools would generate the animation. By modifying the display to see items with different levels of transparency or highlighting, for instance, the animation can be varied in different documents. Shlomo suggested we check out Acrobatusers.com as well as www.microtype.com/showcase/3DAsst.html to see some examples.
“What is the logic doing it in the PDF?” many of the listeners asked. The end-user really doesn’t care how it was made. “If you can do it with the authoring tools, or with add-ons, by all means do it,” Shlomo said. But sometimes acrobat gives more options for rich media additions.
Movies can be created using Camtasia, Captivate, or other tools, which record any activity on screen and turn it into a movie. Captivate can export to Flash; what you choose depends on what you want. Camtasia records, frame by frame, and you may have to edit out parts such as mouse movement. Captivate records only the active parts of your screen, avoiding some of this editing. Movies of this sort are saved as swf files.
Once the movie/animation is complete it can even have voice-overs. The movie is placed in the PDF just as you would any image: create the link you need or the area to embed the movie. Shlomo prefers using a link where the movie will open as a separate window. By placing the movie into a specific area in the document, as you would with any image, it may be distorted - either too big or too small. A floating window, linked to an icon such as a movie camera, will help prevent this distortion. You can specify size of the window to get the movie in proper dimensions. It is even possible to have it linked to a bookmark in the PDF. Add the movie once and can be hidden on the page and the title can be hidden as well. With a floating window, only the bookmark will start the movie. With FrameMaker-to-Acrobat TimeSavers you can add the movie and then distill to create a PDF that automatically includes the movie. When using Word documents, movies need to be added to the PDF.
Another option is quizzes. The quiz can be given by a person as a series of photos made into a movie, or just as a form of animation. Captivate has a number of options for types of quizzes. The questions can even be in random order in the quiz: each time the end-users take the quiz, the order and the variety of the questions can be different.
The use of movies, however they are generated, can add extra depth to your PDF. An example might even be a flow chart that with a simpler interface can be animated.
Rich media can only enhance our online PDFs. No matter what the text, integration of 3D models, animation, movies, or even quizzes, can only add to the document. And, a number of these options can be added to a single document. The bottom line is to remember that people would much rather watch than read.
Networking during the break; Amnon Peled has a last minute question; David Schor and Shmuel Goldstein at discussion.
On December 4th Stephen Schuster, the CEO of Rainier Communications (http://www.rainierco.com/) spoke about "Marketing Complex Innovation" at City Hall in Yokneam.
Mr. Schuster gave a comprehensive talk which covered the history of PR, how to develop a marketing statement which not only satisfies the technical people but also can be understood by the potential customers. He gave specific examples of cases where products which seemed difficult to market because of their complexity or because they just weren't very different from the competition's product were successfully marketed.
Discussion continued among the participants during the breaks as people with different experience, such as marcom specialists and Marketing VPs, shared their experiences.
I want to thank Tzvi for organizing another great event.
We were privileged to meet with Eitan Reuveni and hear directly from him some of his managerial tips. Sure, all of us can read what is posted on the Elephant site, but to hear Eitan and listen to his stories made it all that much more relevant.Read More
This provocative title indeed generated a lively discussion at the last meeting of the Yokneam Forum of Technical Writers. The meeting, held on November 14th, hosted Udi Efrat, the Corporate Marketing and Marcom manager at Camtek Ltd. Although the majority of participants were technical writers, the marcom writers certainly made their presence felt and everyone contributed to an enjoyable and worthwhile evening.Read More
Seminar on "Coaching Skills for Empowering Employees"
An experiential introduction to coaching and its applications
It has become common knowledge in the fields of business and technology that we should empower others in order to bring out their best. It is less known how to actually empower employees. Professional Coaching includes specific skills for empowering others.
The Coaching Process is a unique blend of creating an empowering context, increasing awareness, and taking action. Through coaching people expand their thinking paradigms to see new possibilities, which are then directly linked with specific plans of action. The coaching process adds value when people want something different from the way it is now: to address a particular problem or situation, to accelerate a person’s movement toward a desired role or impact, and to assist with people’s overall personal and professional development.
Specific coaching skills contributing to this process can be applied by non-coaches. We will look at how the way we approach an interaction can be empowering or not, get a glimpse at some common thinking paradigms, and consider alternative empowering paradigms such as inquiry toward discovery rather than inquiry toward proof. We will look at characteristics of “powerful” questioning, and the benefits of this skill in increasing awareness. And we will look at how to link this awareness to action through brainstorming and invitation that lead to increased accountability.
About the Speaker
For over 20 years Carolyn Tal has been working in human development with both individuals and systems. Her professional experience includes psychology, organizational consulting, and mediation, in hi-tech, bio-tech, service industries, the US Navy, and hospital settings. Dr. Tal currently works as a business and personal coach. She coaches individuals and teams, conducts workshops on coaching skills and bringing a coaching approach into organizations, and partners in equine-assisted learning for effective communication.
Trained in coaching at CoachU, Dr. Tal has Ph.D. in Psychology from Northwestern University and is a member of the International Coach Federation. Born in Chicago, Carolyn moved to Israel 12 years ago.
Sarah Shadmi from Oranim College spoke about the changes in modern society that have created a need for "Community Building" and how "Social Capital" affects a community's ability to function during difficult periods. During her lecture, Sarah explained how social capital and a "community" provide can assist us with seemingly unrelated problems. After the lecture, she responded to questions relating to nongeographic communities, such as "professional communities" and "social capital" in the work environment. The discussion was both interesting and provided a framework for analyzing the dynamics of how we as technical writers get the information and assistance we need, when we need it.
The meeting included a good mix of experienced and fairly new TWs, as well as a graphic artist. There was also an interesting mix of freelancers, in house writers, TW companies, and documentation managers.
After a short round of introductions, Svi Ben-Elya asked the QA manager of Arad Tech (Orly) to open the discussion with a brief description of the documentation needs of Arad Tech.
Orly described her goal as having someone come in and "magically" document everything and leave behind an infrastructure that would continue on by itself.
The documentation needs are enormous because Arad Tech is a fast growing company , which is likely to outgrow its ability to manage and retain information on each product unless it improves its documentation infrastructure. The discussion covered a lot of ground, from document and file management systems to ISO and other structured mechanisms for maintaining information, to how to get started. The Tech Writers present drew on their own experience in similar situations to provide a starting point.
Well before we were ready to leave this topic, the Product Manager from Oplus (Jacob Appleblat), requested that we turn our attention to problems that he has had in the past with Technical Writers and their documentation. He came prepared for a hostile audience, with real examples to back up his positions.
Again, the discussion was both interesting and productive, but certainly not hostile. He had some real concerns and hopefully we were able to help him do a better job of selection and managing Tech Writers. Lack of feedback and failure to create documentation that meets the needs of the target audience are real problems that are often symptomatic of inexperienced Technical Writers or misguided use of Tech Writers. Solving these problems are in everyone's interest and I hope that the dialog started Monday night will continue off line. In any case, before the meeting broke up, both Orly and Jacob made a point to request contact information from those present.
All in all, the meeting was a success and the Forum reached a new stage, where it is no longer a forum of Tech Writer's, but rather of both sides of the Technical Writing equation.
VBA and Word Macros
The meeting was held at Osem. Moshe Chertoff, who managed the meeting, quickly turned the chair over to Srul Alexander, who gave a very informative presentation on macros and Visual Basic for Applications (VBA). Srul opened with a real life scenario, a document with hundreds of tables that need to be reformatted. He described how a macro that finds all the tables and reformats solved this problem quickly and consistently. The presentation included details on how to create macros in VBA, the programming language used in Microsoft Office applications. The presentation included explanations on some of the basics of programming.
About the Speaker
Srul is a former programmer and systems developer. Four years ago Srul made a career change to technical writing and has been working for Dr. Text ever since.
Yaakov and Ettie Morad, owners and founders of the Morad Winery opened the meeting with a the history of their winery in Yokneam. The move from being a 9-5 employee in a large company to opening and running an independent business was interesting in itself. I think it also provided insight from a different industry on one of the few constants in the TW profession; we constantly need to review and redefine our position in the company and the marketplace. Our profession is neither stable nor clearly defined. It is rare that the job description of an individual TW today resembles that of 5 years ago or 5 years from now. We are constantly forced to face many of the decisions that the Morad's made when they started the winery.
The wine tasting itself was an enjoyable and interesting experience. For many it was the first time tasting wine (or Sachar) made from cinnamon , and all were happy to have discovered one of Yokneam's hidden treasures.
After the wine, Moshe Chertoff's humorous presentation of translation bloopers set the stage for a round table discussion. Much of the discussion revolved around misperceptions that hurt both the tech writing service providers and purchasers of our services (employers and customers). The importance of the "learning curve" and the added value functions of the TW not directly related to producing a document were at the core of most of the discussion. Real life examples discussed included:
Companies that are trying to save money by changing writers every few months based on the lowest bid per hour, but unknowingly pay for many more hours due to the repeated learning curve. Even without factoring in the hidden costs of wasted developer time, delays, and loss of quality; the total amount of money paid to technical writers is increased dramatically.
Companies insisting on per page quotes. While appropriate for translations or technical editing (formatting and grammatical edits only), this method leads to paying a premium for poor quality worked with many pages at low per-page prices. This price structure penalizes clear, concise and properly organized presentation of technical material to the point where the less competent the writer, the more competitive the bid becomes. Because these "cost savings" are usually made up front where the information is gathered, the initial investment cannot be recovered later by using a different and more experienced writer to upgrade the documents. any upgrade would most likely require a repeat of the information gathering process. Only the formatting and stylistic design time could be recovered.
Other topics discussed included the importance of the actual writer as opposed to the (tech writing) company supplying the writer, and a common marketing brochure listing multiple writers and the differences between them. While this may be a useful idea for freelancers, it can be perceived as a threat to TW companies for whom the ability to offer and market a combined service is a competitive advantage.
Finally, there was general agreement that "educating the market" as to proper TW processes and the true role of technical writing would be beneficial to all parties (individual TWs, TW companies, and customers/employers).
The discussion could easily have continued for a while longer, but in my opinion, it would have been preferable to break earlier to allow some of the participants to leave earlier without undue embarrassment.
After the discussion, many of the participants continued the discussion in smaller groups. During these informal discussions the issue of whether the participation of TW companies (as opposed to freelancers, in house writers) is appropriate or desirable. It was generally agreed that the benefits of their participation far outweighed any inhibiting affect they may have on discussions relating to group marketing strategies that facilitate direct contact between individual writers and customers/employers.