The best camera to buy. Ever.


eye-to-eye with a lens

eye-to-eye with a lens

Because I’m often seen as a photographer, my friends sometimes ask me what can be done to improve their photos. And if their questions are about what equipment to buy, I often steer them first toward the debate regarding “photography = science + art.”

For those who haven’t heard that one, photography is a balance between two parts, science and art. The science : light, equipment, and mechanics. The art: composition, timing, light, balance and contrast, and story. My point? Too often, people concentrate on Continue reading

5 Rules for Better Web Writing


5rulesMashable.com’s Josh Catone clearly practices what he preaches when he writes the “5 Rules for Better Web Writing.”

  • For seasoned technical writers, this is nothing new.
  • For newbies and my practicing students who are thrust into the world of technical writing for the Web, pay heed.

How to break writer’s block – Part 2


Are you curious how our writer did on her writer’s block problem? Yesterday, I posted a blog entry on a writer (whom I’ll call “Jay”) facing writer’s block and impending deadlines.

Today, I checked in with Jay and learned the first draft went out to a first reviewer, at a whoppin’ 1,300 word count! Yeah, I’d say the block was broken.

jay's mindmap

jay's mindmap


Jay appreciated the following tips from our brainstorming and mindmapping session. Jay shared that before our session:

“I was overwhelmed on what was important and where to start. During our session, I was able to spit out a lot of topics and then organize afterwards…By seeing the topics in front of me instead of floating around in my head…it made it easier to focus and prioritize the information.”

So, stay tuned for a follow-up post on Jay’s final production piece, as the deadline to production approaches.

How to break writer’s block – Part 1


A fellow writer just mentioned getting stuck in writer’s block. It happens to all of us. So, I spent 10 minutes helping the writer (whom I’ll call “Jay”) overcome writer’s block. How?

I had Jay list the obstacles on sticky notes. “What is keeping me from crossing that divide between here and the finished product?”

why Jay's stuck

why Jay's stuck

Once Jay saw them written, he/she either (a) knew that it was real and had a plan to overcome it or (b) realized it wasn’t a real obstacle after all.

With that out of the way, I had Jay mindmap the written project. In ten minutes, we had an outline of four key points and the four solutions, an intro, and an ending.

Jay had been stuck on the headline. So we put “headline” as a mindmap topic and left it blank for now.

I’ll write a follow-up post on Jay’s progress in a few days. Stay tuned.

digital photos, PowerPoint (boo), and online web albums (yay!)


“Geewhiz, send these photos out for the staff to see.” OK. I’ll just take a few hundred hi-res digital photos, paste them into a PowerPoint file, store that file on a local server, attach that file to email and send it to 200+ employees spread across the country. Aaaaaahh! You can see we have a recipe for a file storage disaster!

That process typified the old-school method of sharing photos, once used by our division. What’s wrong with that picture and what are we doing differently today?

Our first mistake was adding them to a PowerPoint file Continue reading

Amazon.com & Harry Potter – email notification done right


potter.gif

Before the July 21 release of “Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows,” Amazon.com sent an email reminding me that I’d pre-ordered the book. The email recommended I upgrade my usual shipping option so the book would arrive on Saturday, July 21, the book’s international release date.

This was an excellent example of a company using e-mail notification based on my purchase data. If my daughter and wife had to wait several days for the book to arrive by the slower shipping option, they would have had to deal with the (continued)

the ABCs of clear communication just got a “D”


I hate reading something that is inaccurate, wordy, and confusing. Any one of those three writing flaws would make me squirm. Combine all three in one written piece, and I am ready to come out of my skin.
So, when I first began technical writing, a group of technical communicators and I brainstormed the ABCs of technical writing.

Recently I added the “D.”

Continue reading