Technical writing books

12 06 2007

I received a lovely pile of books from Amazon the other day (oh goody! Christmas already!) and figured I may as well join up with their Associates program again. (Aside: Way back in another life -1996? – when I was working as a captive employee, we joined Amazon Associates, but it was so new and so early in web development that it didn’t really fly. Anyhow, that episode in my life is a story for another time…)

The books I received were some I couldn’t get here in Australia, and some were just so cheap compared to local prices (even including freight) that it was a no-brainer to buy them from Amazon. Much as I’d love to support Australian companies, when the difference is more than $100 AUD you start to think more globally.

The upshot of all that is that I figured other technical writers might like a synthesized list of what’s on *my* tech writing bookshelf. So I created an Amazon store for my recommendations. You can visit it here:
BTW, *any* item you purchase from Amazon after linking via my store, brings me a dollar or two. No difference to you – you still pay the normal Amazon price – but I get a small percentage.

We’ll see how it goes…

Tags: technical writer, technical writing, technical communication, technical communicator, tech writing, tech writer, online help, documentation, books for technical writers…

Indian food: A quick guide

12 06 2007

A friend laid down the gauntlet to me and another friend of hers a couple of weeks ago, after reading Scott Adams’ (of Dilbert fame) post “900 comments and counting“:

“For those of us who are not familiar with Indian or Thai food, where would we start on the menu? What would be the best dish (or kind of dish) to use as an entry point into these ethnic categories?”

Here’s my response:

Where to start with Indian or Thai? hmmm… that got me thinking! It’s a while since I’ve eaten Thai, so I’ll just do Indian!

Both cuisines use herbs, spices, and flavours that may be unfamiliar to you or very hot (various varieties of chilies), so for many people, these new tastes put them off. Start mild and work up!

If you’re unfamiliar with the tastes, here’s an easy entry into Indian ‘heat’:

  • Anything with “korma” in its title is mild and creamy. The creaminess comes from yoghurt.
  • Anything with “rogan josh” in its title is fairly mild.
  • Anything with “madras” in the title is medium.
  • Anything with “vindaloo” in the title is hot.

“Tandoori” is meat (usually chicken) cooked in a Tandoor oven. The chicken is rubbed/marinated in a yoghurt + some sort of reddish spice for a time, then cooked in this special earthen oven. The result is quite a reddish looking chicken piece, which, if overcooked, can be quite dry.

Naan bread is also cooked in an earthen (Tandoor?) oven. Like a tortilla, but thicker and breadier, it is slapped on to the inside of the oven for a few minutes. It should come out nice and crispy on the edges, a bit like a good crusty pizza base.

Pappadums traditionally are cooked for a few seconds in very hot oil and drained, but many people now microwave them (I do – it takes seconds and they’re much healthier for you, and there’s a helluva lot less cleaning up!). They are a very crisp ‘bread’ (think tortilla chips), and usually served with dips and sauces.

Dahl (daal?) is cooked-to-almost-mush lentils + spices. Looks like crap, tastes great! Very healthy vegetarian. Eat it with rice. Good accompaniment.

Here’s a couple of decent looking websites:

Personally, I like *hot*. I’m a chili fiend and use it – or some variety of it – almost daily in my own cooking. So when we “do” Indian, it’s the hot stuff we go for!

Update: While wandering the web searching for something completely different, I came across this entry by Ian Anderson (of Jethro Tull fame for those of us old enough to remember…), on the official Jethro Tull website. It’s a good run down of the types of dishes – and their effects!