Where would we be without Google?

9 08 2006

Back in 2002 at the STC Conference in Nashville I met two of *THE* gurus in the Help authoring world – my great friend Char, and MJ.

MJ lived in Nashville, and I spent some extra time at her house, getting some RoboHelp training from her, meeting her family, and generally hanging out and having a nice time (and some good food – she’s a great cook!). During the conference, we continued to meet up (as you do), and MJ and I kept in good email contact for a time. After the certified RoboHelp trainers got shafted by Blue Sky/eHelp as it was then, MJ dropped off the radar. She didn’t respond to emails, phone calls from concerned colleagues and friends, etc.

About 3 months later, just like a ground hog, she popped up again with anĀ  explanation, then as quickly disappeared again. We knew she continued to live in Nashville with her family, but after no response, I guess her old colleagues just gave up. But at every conference, someone would ask if anyone had heard from MJ. No-one had.

So, what makes me write about this connection now? Well, I had a few spare minutes the other day and decide to clear out some old emails in my Inbox. I scrolled down to 2003 and started there – and one of the first I came across was MJ’s explanation for her disappearance off our respective radars.

That was the trigger to go a’hunting on Google! And within a few minutes I had found her – what she was doing now (still writing a lot, but not technical writing any more), her current website, etc., and I decided to email her to see if she wanted to renew the contact from a few years ago. Some hours later (morning for me), in my Inbox was a lovely email from MJ, and over the past week we’ve exchanged quite a few more. She has headed in quite a different direction – and it’s all good for her.

Without Google (or similar) it would’ve been much harder to track her down, so thank you Google for providing the mechanism that allowed two people to reconnect.

BTW, I never did get back to clearing out those old emails!

A great writer does good!

9 08 2006

Some years ago I had the pleasure of working with Whitney – one of the best writers and editors I know. I had never met her, but we communicated well via email between our respective locations in the USA and Australia. Together we worked on a professional interest group’s newsletter and some articles, and I finally got to meet her at the annual STC Conference in Chicago in 2001. She was even nicer in person than she was in her friendly emails, so it was good to know that my gut feeling about her was right.

Anyhow, Whitney’s gone from being a lone tech writer to being part of a larger team on some important stuff for a military equipment supplier and I’ve followed her career with interest and a little envy! (though I’m not sure I’d want to be writing to MIL standards…) When I was in the US for the 2004 STC Conference, I stayed overnight with her, then we drove to Baltimore and spent a day meandering about that fair city’s harbourfront area prior to the conference. One of her passions is guinea pigs, and at the time she had 3 or 4 of them living with her. Very cute they were too – and surprisingly (for me), not at all smelly.

Despite working in a high-end tech industry, Whitney’s passion for her ‘pigs hasn’t abated, and she’s now involved in a rescue group, as well as writing about them on “Pig Notes” a blog/website she set up.

Which brings me to why I’m writing this post… Whitney’s articles on guinea pigs have hit the top 100 articles (#78 as at today) on Squidoo, a website that caters for people and their passions.

Great job Whitney – and well-deserved.

More conference feedback

9 08 2006

A week or so ago I received the feedback from the evaluation forms submitted by attendees at my session at the 2006 WritersUA Conference in Palm Springs. Considering there were about 50 speakers – many of whom are world-renowned in our field – I did good!

My average scores for this session (where 5 is the BEST), and my ranking against all speakers over all sessions were:

  • Presentation Skills 4.64; rank: 14th
  • Subject Knowledge 4.95; rank: 4th
  • Quality of Session Information 4.77; rank: 5th
  • Quality of Session Slides/Handouts 4.55; rank: 12th

Evaluations from the AODC Conference are here…