The Technical Writer and the Cool Desert Blues

Moist drops on a desert mirror. Photo courtesy of my wife, Jeni Hewitt.


Cool air in a desert summer

There was a cool breeze this morning. To some of you that may not mean much, but if you are living in the Arizona desert and a cool breeze occurs in August, it is something to be cherished. It is all the more amazing to have one when the sky is relatively clear with just a few pinkish white clouds. Sure, it won’t last the day, but at least you were there for it so take a deep, deep breath.

Blue on blue

I’m spending a lot of time lately reviewing tutorials built in PowerPoint. Here’s a tip to all of you designers out there. Light blue text on a dark blue background is not a good idea. There’s a whole spectrum of colors out there my friends, If you actually want people to read your slides, try to pick two different colors. I’m going to make that text a pale orange. Why, because I’m really craving a Creamsicle. Take that design expert!

Also, watch the speed of your animations. Nobody wants to sit for 25 seconds while your animations slowly fly in to tell them that this is the start of a new section. That’s 25 seconds of my life I’m just not getting back.

Finally, if you want to try something fancy with your “Next” links, you’d better make sure it works perfectly, or else I’m putting you back in chronological order.

Technical writer role play

Tom Johnson over at I’d Rather Be Writing has an excellent article today about how technical writers deal with corporate reorganizations and changing roles. It also discusses some of the different approaches organizations take when it comes to technical writing. I’ve been through so many reorganizations that I must admit I’ve become jaded in that area. I just concentrate on doing my duties and on maintaining the relationships I trust. I’m not recommending that as a strategy, it’s just what I do.

As Louella Parsons would say, “Ehhh”

I’m normally a big fan of Chuck Palahniuk. His novel Lullaby is among my favorite books and I enjoyed Fight Club and Pygmy almost as much. I have to admit though that his new book, Tell All was tedious and the direction of the plot was far too obvious. The stylized writing, which worked well in Pygmy, becomes so repetitious that you begin to hope for two or three paragraphs of actual story. Oh well, they can’t all be winners.

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