AODC, Cairns: Day 2: 4 May 2006

5 05 2006

Lots of sessions today! Here’s a summary:

  • What employers say they are looking for (Elizabeth Abbott): Summarised a survey done by TechWriter Placements late last year and compared it to a similar US survey. Main point: Writing skills are important but collaborative and similar soft skills are most important.
  • MadCap Flare (Mike Hamilton): Summarised the takeover of eHelp by Macromedia and what happened to the former staff; formation of MadCap Software; short demo of some of Flare’s features.
  • Flowcharts Rule! (Kylie Weaver): Gave a rundown of the various types of diagrams we may be asked to produce, including flowcharts; showed some neat Visio tricks.
  • Word Abuse (“Choco” Munday): Lively, hilarious romp through some ‘un-words’, and made up words.
  • DIY Usability (Gerry Gaffney): Discussed how you can set up usability testing on a shoestring with the main physical requirements being pen and paper; got us to do a quick usability test on a product we had with us – a very interesting and revealing exercise!
  • Windows Vista AP Help Update (Mike Hamilton): Presented slides created by Char James-Tanny and emphasised that everything he said was subject to change, and *if* Help authors were to ever be able to use the help technologies MS will introduce in Vista, it wouldn’t be until at least AP 2.0… if ever. Also emphasised the need to submit thoughts, opinions, and ideas to the AP team via the websites he gave us.
  • DITA or DocBook? (Tony Self): Ran through the features and pros and cons of these two XML formats.

Of course, the BIG thing on Thursday nights at each AODC is “Uncle Dave’s Trivia Night”. We adjourned to the Courthouse Hotel where we waited an absolute age for a meal (they were told that a big group was coming…). Then the questions started. 40 questions in 5 rounds. The questions in the code round hit some groups hard, as did the Septic Prank questions. But most groups did well on the Aussie questions (as you’d expect). I was in the Thorny Devils team and we scored 39/40… even though Tony’s silly marking system meant that our public score was 36.5! The final question was like a Final Jeopardy question – you could wager as much or as little as you liked. We went for broke and bet the lot… The question was really difficult as unless you *knew* the answer, you’d only have been guessing. We guessed right (choosing option B over A, C, and the most likely D), and doubled our score, winning the perpetual trophy and some cool Cairns caps for our efforts. A fun night was had by all!


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16 05 2006
At Random » Back to work…

[…] And after two conferences where I 'swam with my own kind', coming back to the normal world was a bit of a let-down. At conferences I get to discuss all sorts of things with like-minded colleagues from around the world – and they understand the issues without the level of detailed explanation required by the rest of humanity. One example that springs to mind was the editing mark-ups made on the sample menu provided by the hotel where we had the Trivia Night last Thursday. No-one else would've understood, but we all understood perfectly how a plural that is turned into a possessive gets up our collective noses! (The menu had possessive "Pasta's" and "tomato's" when it should have used the plural "Pasta" and "tomatoes"; and "corriander" for "coriander", and other spelling errors too numerous to remember. Shudder.) […]

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