Randomness at “At Random”

30 04 2007

WordPress, the people behind the software that runs this blog and hundreds of thousands of others, have added yet another cool feature – this time it’s one for readers, not for owners.

To read a random post from this blog (or any other WordPress blog), just type ?random at the end of the URL. For example, https://sandgroper14.wordpress.com/?random

I’d forgotten I’d even written some of these!

Fake names for documentation

30 04 2007

Last week a discussion on one of my tech writing lists focused on using fictitious names in documentation, such as in Name fields in software and websites that are used in training, demonstrations, and screenshots in the manuals. One thing you don’t want to do is use a set of real names from a real client. In fact, I heard of an instance – it may be an apocryphal tale – where a real person’s name was projected on a large screen, and some in the training session got very upset as that person had died very recently.

So this discussion offered some ideas for ‘dummy’ names that you could use. Now, whether you would actually use any of these is not my call – you’d have to make your own decision based on who you work for and who your audience is!

Here’s a sample of some that were offered:

“Punny” names:

  • Patty O’Furniture
  • Ann Chovey
  • Hazel Nutt
  • Chris P. Bacon
  • Marsha Mellow
  • Olive Yew
  • Barb Akew
  • Aida Bugg
  • Maureen Biologist
  • Teri Dactyl
  • Peg Legge
  • Allie Grater
  • Liz Erd
  • A. Mused
  • Constance Noring
  • Lois Di Nominator
  • Minnie Van Ryder
  • Lynn O’Leeum
  • P. Ann O’Recital
  • Ray O’Sun
  • Ray Sin
  • Isabelle Ringing
  • Eileen Sideways
  • Rita Book
  • Paige Turner
  • Rhoda Report
  • Augusta Wind
  • Chris Anthemum
  • Anne Teak
  • U.R. Nice
  • Anita Bath
  • Harriet Upp
  • I.M. Tired
  • I. Missy Ewe
  • Ivana B. Withew
  • Anita Letterback
  • Hope Furaletter
  • B. Homesoon
  • Bea Mine
  • Bess Twishes
  • C. Yasoon
  • Audie Yose
  • Dee End
  • Amanda Hug
  • Frank Furter
  • Ben Dover
  • Eileen Dover
  • Willie Makit
  • Willie Findit
  • Barry Cuda
  • Barry Mundy
  • John Dory
  • Addie Minstra
  • Anne Ortha
  • Dave Allippa
  • Dee Zynah
  • Hugh Mannerizorsa
  • Loco Lyzayta
  • Manny Jah
  • Mark Ateer
  • Reeve Ewer
  • Tex Ryta
  • Theresa Green
Fictional and Biblical characters:

  • Lois Lane
  • Clark Kent
  • Ralph and Alice Kramden
  • Holly Golightly
  • Liza Doolittle
  • Henry Higgins
  • Joseph Arimathea
  • Mary Magdalene
  • Simon Cyrene
  • Dixie Normous (“Austin Powers”)
  • Felicity Shagwell (“Austin Powers”)
  • Ivana Humpalot (“Austin Powers”)
  • Plenty O’Toole (“Bond” movies)
  • Tiffany Case (“Bond” movies)
  • Shady Tree (“Bond” movies)
  • Kissy Suzuki (“Bond” movies)
  • Pussy Galore (“Bond” movies)
  • Honey Ryder (“Bond” movies)
  • Sylvia Trench (“Bond” movies)
  • Lupe Lamora (“Bond” movies)
  • May Day (“Bond” movies)
  • Jenny Flex (“Bond” movies)
  • Penelope Smallbone (“Bond” movies)
  • Holly Goodhead (“Bond” movies)
  • Mary Goodnight (“Bond” movies)
  • Chew Mee (“Bond” movies)
  • Ruby Bartlett (“Bond” movies)
Purely made up:

  • Melody Sunshine
  • Dustin Trailblazer
  • Donald Canard (Donald Duck)
  • Michael J. Reynard (Michael J Fox)
  • Michael Souris (Mickey Mouse)

If you need ‘real’ names, you can always try some of the many random name generators on the internet. You can get some very weird ones (like Klingon names, fantasy names, etc.), but there are ‘real’ names among all that too. One that I particularly like takes the names from the various US census and mixes them up according to popularity, gender, etc. Try it at: http://www.kleimo.com/random/name.cfm (another one I found when looking for this one was:

(Thanks to the contributors on the STC Lone Writers discussion list)

Nature walk

29 04 2007

We live in an area filled with beautiful native forests, hills, valleys, and some of the most unique flora and fauna on this planet. It was a gorgeous day yesterday so I dragged my reluctant other half to an area some 25 km away called Karri Gully (locals: off the Brockman Highway between Bridgetown and Nannup, adjacent to the Bibbulmun Track).

Karri Gully is the start of the magnificent karri forests of the southwest of Western Australia (that’s a karri tree in this photo; see more pics on pages 10 and 11 of this photo album), and has some massive trees.

Karri trees

Karri tree

There’s a 20 minute walking trail that loops through this bit of karri forest (which also has marri and jarrah as far as I could tell) so we walked on that until we came to the intersection with the Bibbulmun Track. We decided to take the south branch of the Bibbulmun back to the highway, then walked back to the car at the Karri Gully picnic area.

For those of you who are unaware of the Bibbulmun, it is a 900–1000 km walking trail that starts near Perth and meanders through the forests of the southwest to Albany on the south coast. Like the US Appalachian Trail, some people have walked the whole trail, but most people only do small sections. There are huts along the way for those camping out overnight, and, as far as I know, the entire trail goes through state and national forests and parks, crossing roads and farms only as necessary. (More information on the Bibbulmun Track’s website and on Wikipedia.)

One of the highlights of our short walk (under an hour I’d guess), was seeing some red-tailed black cockatoos coming in to perch on a high tree branch. These are an endangered species, and we were fortunate to hear them call, and see the red tail feathers as they fanned their tails when coming in to land. Some of the conservation groups have sighting reports you can submit, so I found one on the internet when we came home, filled it in, and posted it off.

After the walk, we headed back to Bridgetown, taking a detour to loop along Maranup Ford Rd to Greenbushes. Along Maranup Ford Rd we saw the strangest thing – a real National Geographic moment! (if only the camera’s memory card hadn’t been full…). We were driving through the rolling hills of some farms and saw a full grown and very healthy fox close to a wedge-tailed eagle in a paddock near the road. When we stopped, the fox looked at us for a bit then went up over the hill. Meantime, a magpie started to dive-bomb the eagle, which must have been 20 times its size! That was followed by two more magpies joining in until the eagle flew off. We couldn’t see what it was that had attracted the fox and the eagle (possibly a dead lamb or rabbit?), but our presence and the territorial magpies saw both the fox and the eagle run or fly away. Magic!

Greenbushes is a little tiny town that has lived and died on its mine – initially tin, more recently tantalum. We drove through it (which takes about 1 minute!), then took Spring Gully Rd out to Norilup Dam about 4kms out of town. By the colour of it, I think it is an old disused tin mine site as the water was quite green. Quite a pretty spot and well off the beaten track. Then it was back to Bridgetown.

As autumn starts to set in, it’s obvious that the recent rains and the cooler weather are having an effect – the hills around the towns were all starting to ‘green up’ with new shoots, and the European trees were all changing colour and shedding their leaves.

An expensive lunch

27 04 2007

We went to the Bridgetown Hotel for lunch today with a friend. They do a *great* lunch and I had the “Beez Neez Fish and Chips” which is a beautifully cooked piece of barramundi in a delicious beer batter, with shoestring fries and homemade tartare sauce.

After the meal we did some grocery shopping, then got back to the car to find that I had a $55 parking ticket! Close on 30 years living in Perth with never a parking ticket – two months here and I get pinged for overstaying the 1 hour limit! (Maybe the fact that I was outside the Shire offices and the Ranger goes past regularly was my downfall…) It’s not as if there was no other parking available – there were heaps of spare bays, so I think the Ranger was just being a stickler for the letter of the law and some quick and easy revenue raising.

I’ll cop it sweet – and learn my lesson to not park there again!

Oh yummmmm!

27 04 2007

I just discovered Rouxbe.com (pron. ‘ruby’)! Wow!

To just say that Rouxbe has online videos of food preparation would be doing this very professional and beautiful site a disservice. At the moment, all the recipe and ‘drill-down’ videos are free, but soon a subscription model will apply – some $50 US per year or $99  for a lifetime membership.

As of today, there are already some 80+ videos available that take you through each step of the cooking process for a recipe, from preparation to final presentation. In addition, there are as some 100+ free ‘drill-downs’ which describe ingredients you may have heard of but don’t know what they are, or that demonstrate various cooking tips and techniques.

You will need headphones/speakers to get the most out of these *gorgeous* videos.


If I was a Klingon…

24 04 2007

Today, on one of my tech writer lists, someone posted a link to this website where the rules of Klingon tech writing are documented.

In case this list ever disappears, gets moved, whatever, I’ve reproduced it here, with thanks to whoever put it together! (My favourite is #4.)

Klingon Technical Writers
The top 16 things likely to be overheard if you had Klingon technical writers working on your documentation team:

  1. Klingons do not sit in meetings, we take what we want and kill anyone who opposes us!
  2. Certification?! Taking your head and putting it on a pike in my office is all the certification I need!
  3. I will return to the homeworld and my documentation will arise triumphant in the STC Documentation Gauntlet, leaving all others drowning in their own dangling modifiers. It will be glorious!!
  4. Not returning my review copies by the agreed deadline is a declaration of war. Indeed, it is a good day to die.
  5. These software specifications are for the weak and timid!!
  6. This version of Word is a piece of GAGH! I need the latest version of Framemaker if I am to do battle with this manual.
  7. You cannot really appreciate Dilbert unless you’ve read it in the original Klingon.
  8. Indentation?! I will show you how to indent when I indent your skull!
  9. What is this talk of “drafts”? Klingons do not make document “drafts”. Our documents escape, leaving a bloody trail of SMEs in its wake!
  10. Passive voice is a sign of weakness. Its elimination will be quick.
  11. Proofreading? Klingons do not proofread. Our documents are purified with pain-sticks which cleanses the documents of impurities.
  12. I have challenged the entire Marketing and R&D team to a Bat-Leh contest! They will not concern us again.
  13. A TRUE Klingon warrior riddles his document with bullets, leaving it to beg for mercy.
  14. By changing the layout of my manual, you have challenged the honor of my family. Prepare to die!
  15. You question the worthiness of my grammar? I should kill you where you stand!
  16. Our users will know fear and cower before our suite of manuals and online help! Ship it! Ship it and let them flee like the dogs they are!

Balingup Small Farm Field Day

23 04 2007

A friend and I drove to Balingup (about 20 mins away) on Saturday morning to go to our first Small Farm Field Day. We got there just after 10:15 and it was already crowded. Just to put the size of the crowd into perspective, Balingup is a small town of around 800 people and some 10,000-15,000 people attend the Small Farm Field Day!

Balingup Small Farm Field Day

There were heaps and heaps of stalls with all sorts of things to see, taste, and buy – small farm machinery, animals (Lowline cattle [cute!], miniature horses, alpacas, chickens, puppies…), local food and wine, local clothing and crafts, a ‘food hall’ area, a stage with bands playing all day, native and exotic plants, etc. etc. It was a gorgeous day and quite hot.

Lowline bulls

For lunch we sampled two varieties of lamb -my friend had a roast lamb and gravy roll from The Lamb Van which she said was the most delicious she’d ever had, and I had a lamb kebab/souvlaki with hot chilli sauce from the BBQ Lamb stand.

Roast lamb and gravy roll from The Lamb Van

For more photos from the day, see pages 9-11 in this photo album.

Wondering who you all are…

21 04 2007

I’ve been writing my blog for just over a year now, and in that time I’ve written over 200 posts.

The thing that fascinates me most, though, is who my readers are. I know some of you: Suzanne in Tasmania, Char in Massachusetts, Craig from Melbourne now in Seattle, Karen in Denmark, TFP in Western Australia, Whitney in Connecticut… But who are the rest of you? I average between 20 and 50 hits a day on my blog, but less than one comment a day, so somebody is reading something as I’ve had over 5000 hits since I started last March (2006). And some of you are reading regularly as I average between 10 and 20 feed readers per day too.

Now, some of those hits can be explained by the randomness of people finding me via search engines when they are looking for the “best blueberry muffin recipe” (that post alone is my ‘top performer’, with nearly 2000 hits as at this morning). But not all.

So who are you, my regular (and not so regular) readers? Curious minds want to know…


Smart wizard?

16 04 2007

… I don’t think so!

David Pogue, the NY Times technology guru/columnist had something to say about the complexities in setting up a home network, but really it was a rant about the overblown “Wizard” he was faced with when trying to install some Netgear hardware.

One reading his post, it sounds as though everyone from the developers to the lawyers had input into the Wizard – everyone, that is, except the tech writer or “user experience” (UX) expert! An hour of the tech writer or UX person’s time could have dramatically improved this Wizard… such a small price to pay – and much cheaper than lawyers!

Update on quilt workshop

16 04 2007

I had a lovely weekend doing something quite challenging, yet at the same time, meditative – quilting. We had about 11 ladies at the workshop, held by the delightful Michelle from Raggedy Stitches. The photo below is of the almost completed quilt top, with backing and wadding attached with pins. Not bad for two days – especially considering those origami-like things in the middle were very time-consuming to fold. Oh, and it rained buckets yesterday, which we were all delighted with. Maybe some of those dams will start to fill up now…

My quilt (unfinished)

Completed Mayflower quilt

Completed Mayflower quilt (added 30 May 2007)

Folded flower detail

Detail of 3D folded flower (added 30 May 2007)