Updates to store

16 06 2007

Last week I created a technical writing bookstore, and today I added some more items – some software that I use, a couple more books, and some miscellaneous recommendations. Check out the new additions here: http://astore.amazon.com/cybertconsul-20/002-3075581-1356021

Blogs by technical writers

16 06 2007

A few weeks ago, Tom Johnson (of I’d rather be writing and Tech Writer Voices fame) set up a Wiki of blogs by technical writers. Initially, only a few blogs were listed, but, as the word has spread, there are now heaps, many from some of the best minds in the business.

So, if you’re a tech writer or technical communicator of any sort, and you blog, head on over to the Wiki and add your details. And check out some of the blogs by your peers.

Some discount…

14 06 2007

OK, I fail to see how this is a discount…

My parents took their passports in to be renewed today. I’d helped them fill in the electronic forms and printed them out for them (yes, you have to *print* out an electronic form… mmm… good to see our tax dollars at work…). Anyhow, the form said that if you’re over 75, you get a Seniors discount. Well, they’re both over 75 so we checked that box on the form.

My Mum just called to say that the full price of a 10 year passport renewal for an adult is $193, and the Seniors discount – wait for it – is 50% for a 5 year renewal!! Which means that if they renew for 10 years (as they did) there’s no discount at all. The ‘discount’ is related to the renewal time. I can guarantee that by the time 5 years is up, the price will have gone up too, so they’d be paying even more if they renewed for 5 then renewed again for another 5.

Ever the optimist, my Mum renewed their passports for 10 years. And paid full price.

I guess if you’re 95, you would probably only take the 5 year renewal option… and therefore get a ‘discount’. So much for our government helping its senior citizens with a decent discount. It’s not even a discount, for heaven’s sake! Sheesh!

Awesome voice!

14 06 2007

The latest PC Guru newsletter had a link to this 4-minute YouTube video of a contestant on “Britain’s Got Talent”. Absolutely awesome… it brought tears to *my* eyes.

If you can’t see it, click here: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1k08yxu57NA

BBQ Rules

14 06 2007

Paula (on one of my discussion lists) posted these barbecue rules the other day. It’s easily found on the internet so I don’t know who to acknowledge. But thanks for sharing it, Paula. So true, so true…

We are about to enter the summer and BBQ season. Therefore, it is important to refresh your memory on the etiquette of this sublime outdoor cooking activity, as it’s the only type of cooking a ‘real’ man will do, probably because there is an element of danger involved.

When a man volunteers to do the BBQ the following chain of events are put into motion:
(1) The woman buys the food.
(2) The woman makes the salad, prepares the vegetables, and makes dessert.
(3) The woman prepares the meat for cooking, places it on a tray along with the necessary cooking utensils and sauces, and takes it to the man who is lounging beside the grill – beer in hand.

Here comes the important part:

More routine….
(5) The woman goes inside to organize the plates and cutlery.
(6) The woman comes out to tell the man that the meat is burning. He thanks her and asks if she will bring another beer while he deals with the situation.

Important again:

More routine….
(8) The woman prepares the plates, salad, bread, utensils, napkins, sauces, and brings them to the table.
(9) After eating, the woman clears the table and does the dishes.

And most important of all:
(10) Everyone PRAISES the MAN and THANKS HIM for his cooking efforts.
(11) The man asks the woman how she enjoyed “her night off.” And, upon seeing her annoyed reaction, concludes that there’s just no pleasing some women….

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: http://astore.amazon.com/cybertconsul-20/
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!

Taking the day off

8 06 2007

My husband has a milestone birthday today, so I’m taking the day off and we’re going to Mt Barker for lunch… as you do!

Mt Barker is in the heart of the Great Southern wine district of Western Australia, so we hope to taste some nice wines, have a nice lunch, then come home. It’s about 2+ hours drive from here.

We expect that all the farm country will be green as we’re now into winter. Which also means it’s likely to be cool, rainy, and grey. Hmmmm… sitting by a nice log fire at a country pub or winery for lunch sounds good!

Update: We had a *lovely* day yesterday. As expected, it was ‘as green as’ on the drive over to Mt Barker. We had a very spartan and – for what we got – a very expensive steak sandwich lunch at the Plantagenet Hotel, which was the biggest disappointment of the day. Then we stopped in at Plantagenet Winery to try (and buy!) some of their lovely Omrah range. We also took a detour to Ferngrove Winery near Frankland, and spent QUITE a bit of time there. It was just delightful! Massive tasting room, terrific range of wines, good service, and just a lovely afternoon. We were the only ones there, which meant that we had all the attention. Can’t get better than that! It was just over an hour’s drive home the back way from Ferngrove to Bridgetown, and we had to go slower as it was dusk (watch out for roos!) and the road is pretty narrow and winding. Then to top it all off, we had a delicious dinner at the Bridgetown Hotel (grilled sirloin with a to-die-for cognac sauce, layer potatoes, and fresh veges). A lovely day.

Vines at Ferngrove Winery

More photos here: http://travel.webshots.com/album/71773727xgkIhB?start=132

Mob power

7 06 2007

I saw this video on YouTube today – I found the link in a comment on one of the tech writing blogs I read. Unbelievable footage! It’s 8 minutes – make sure you watch the whole way through to see the full effect of the power of the mob.

If you can’t see it, try this link: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LU8DDYz68kM

Quilt Workshop 2

4 06 2007

I went to a Foundation Piecing quilt workshop all day Saturday, run by Bobbie from The QuiltMouse. She has a great technique she taught us, which makes us all look like experts even if we’re beginners! By the end of the workshop, most people had created 2 or 3 blocks. Photos of the blocks made by all participants are here: http://home-and-garden.webshots.com/album/558761507dDticj?start=12 (see pages 2 and 3 of this album).

The blocks I made followed a hot, southwestern (US), chilli theme – no pastels and flowers for me!

Quilt blocks -chilli style!