From the Editor’s Desk

Alex Garcia

Alex Garcia

Hello Members and Friends of the Orlando Central Florida Chapter STC,

Welcome to this month’s newsletter. Vice President Debra Johnson could not be with us this month, so here is the meeting info for our upcoming chapter meeting on Thursday April 18, 2013. Hope you can join us.

April’s program features Sarah O’Keefe. She will be presenting Content Strategy 101 in a live webinar format.

Sarah is the President and founder of Scriptorium Publishing. Scriptorium specializes in streamlining publishing processes for clients in telecommunications, defense, technology, and other content-rich industries. Typical projects are content strategy for technical communication, XML implementation, and build automation for publishing systems. Sarah is a Certified Technical Trainer (CTT+) Sarah is the primary contributor to Scriptorium’s blog, Palimpsest. She lives in Durham, North Carolina, with her husband, Mark, and daughter, Charlotte.

Election of 2013-2014 Chapter Officers will be held at this meeting, so STC Members please attend and register your vote!

REGISTER/RSVP at http://stcorlando.eventbrite.com/#. REGISTRATION is required for both onsite and virtual attendance! Please bring your printed ticket with you to show at the door or register for virtual attendance and receive your login details.

PROGRAM: Thursday April 18, 2013
Refreshments and Networking start at 6:30pm
Program starts promptly at 7:00pm.


LOCATION:

Wyndham Vacation Ownership Corporate Office (Former Harcourt Building)  6277 Sea Harbor Drive Orlando, FL 32821

Wyndham Vacation Ownership Corporate Office
(Former Harcourt Building)
6277 Sea Harbor Drive
Orlando, FL 32821

 

Wyndham Vacation Ownership Corporate Office
6277 Sea Harbor Drive Orlando FL 32821 (former Harcourt building)

PARKING: Park in the garage. Check in with security. Please bring your printed ticket with you to show at the door! For questions, email VP – Debra Johnson –
vicepresident@stc-orlando.org

 

 

If you would like to pay your meeting fees in advance by check or M.O.,
please mail your payment to:

The Orlando Central Florida Chapter
of the Society for Technical Communication
Post Office Box 540444
Orlando, FL 32854-0444

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Do YOU have an article you’d like to submit for Memo to Members? Don’t be shy… email me at newsletter@stc-orlando.org. You will get 0.5 an Active Member point for your submission.

Until next month,

Alex Garcia
Editor
Memo to Members Newsletter
Orlando Central Florida Chapter STC

President’s Corner

Karen_Lane

Karen Lane

By Karen Lane
President
Orlando Central Florida Chapter STC
president@stc-orlando.org

How do you think about the seasons?

Do you concentrate on the changes in weather—or in our cases, the narrower range of weather conditions here in Florida relative to less tropical areas?

Do you pay attention to the academic calendar that divides up the year into fall, spring, and summer?

Do you follow sports and segue from baseball to football to basketball to hockey to soccer? (Yes, you’re right if you think I have only a vague idea of the sequence of sports seasons.)

Do you concentrate on the fruit season? the vegetable season? the growing season, either in general or for some particular favorite food?

How about the fashion season—the spring line, the fall line.

The television and movie season? the opera season? the holiday season?

In addition to our personal and professional seasons, we also have our life seasons: youth, adulthood, maturity.

I’m going to guess that at one time or another, most of us think of a variety of types of seasons, directing our attention to the ones that achieve salience in our minds at different moments. My attention today has been directed to the STC season, specifically the cycle of activities we experience each year. Each chapter year—which, by the way, runs from July to June rather than from January to December—follows a certain general outline and has done so for quite a few seasons.

We’re entering the time of year when we can see the fruits of our efforts finally ripening. Those who offered to share their experiences with their colleagues at the STC Summit are polishing their presentations and getting ready to travel up to Atlanta for this annual networking and professional development event in early May. I hope that if you are unable to attend this year, you will try to get to the Summit next year. It’s worth the cost in professional contacts and educational value, and you will bring home information that you can use all year.

This is also the time of year when we prepare to hand over the reins of leadership to the next group of active members. We are holding elections this month, and the new officeholders will take their positions in July. If you did not get a ballot, please contact our Nominating Committee chair, WC Wiese (nominating@stc-orlando.org). New officers means new and fresh ideas, and I hope if you have noticed anything at all this year it is that our chapter officers want our programs to be responsive to your needs. Get to know your officers and try your hand at helping out in some small way. It’s a great way to make new contacts, colleagues, and friends, and you will be surprised at how rewarding it is. Those of your colleagues who have already taken the plunge into more active membership will see that activity rewarded at the end of our chapter year in June when they receive their coveted Active Member chapter shirts.

Our Annual Business Meeting takes place in May. According to our bylaws, it is at this meeting that the Treasurer reports to the chapter the state of the chapter’s finances. In a way, you can consider the treasurer’s report as a financial recap of the programs and activities we provided for you during the whole year. You will see that your membership dues, along with funds collected from monthly meetings and fundraising, give you great value.

If you attended our March meeting, you noticed that we had a bit more technology around than we usually do. Okay, it looked like a plain old telephone on the speaker table. But in fact it was a direct line into our account at Meeting Burner, which we will now be using to distribute and record meetings so that those who were not able to attend in person can still benefit from the content of our meetings. This possibility, too, is the culmination of a year’s worth of effort—and several years of discussion—to broaden our chapter’s reach into the technical communication community.

Last on this list but quite important is the recognition our chapter has received for our various programs and initiatives in 2012. For the seventh time, the Orlando Central Florida STC Chapter has been honored with the Society’s Chapter of Distinction designation. At the Technical Communication Summit next month in Atlanta, all chapter members present at the honors banquet will go up on stage to receive the certificate and the accolades of the entire Society. Those of us who are there will accept the award on behalf of all chapter members, and we will be so proud to be representing you.

As always, I am eager to get your feedback, suggestions, kudos, and complaints. Please write to me at president@stc-orlando.org. The more you tell us about how we’re doing and what programs you would like us to implement, the better we can serve you, and the more Orlando Central Florida STC Chapter becomes your chapter. Without our members—you—we have no purpose. Please take advantage of the benefits of your membership and become an active contributor. Make this your season of participation and leadership.

If You Missed Last Meeting…

Richard Ries

Richard Ries

By Richard Ries

Thomas Wolfe tells us that we can never go home again—but who listens to him? After meandering in the wilderness of company meeting rooms, malls, and civic centers, the STC may have found its home. Following the informative but noisy and non-private February meeting at the Microsoft store in the Florida Mall, the Orlando Central Florida STC Chapter had the pleasure—thanks to the orchestrations of chapter Vice President, Debra Johnson—to meet in a comfortable, commodious, and private room at the Wyndham Vacation Ownership Corporate Offices.

Participants first enjoyed a beautiful spread of sandwiches and wraps, salad, chips, drinks, coffee, and, of course, cookies. And if the cookies couldn’t satisfy a sweet tooth, one of our guest panelists, Penny Robinson, provided a special sweet treat: gift bags filled with chocolate favorites.

Attendance was strong, with over 20 members, students, guests, and three newcomers who came hoping to focus their attention on what the President of the United States emphasized in his February State of the Union address: jobs.

Karen Lane, our commander-in-chief, opened the meeting, then handed the floor over to Debra Johnson, who introduced our guest panel of three: Jenna Zucali and Keiko Berg from TEKsystems, and Penny Robinson from Signature Consultants—all friendly rivals. The conversations were informative and spirited.

The three recruiters candidly fielded cogent questions about the job market for technical communicators, interviewing for contract jobs vs. contract-to-hire jobs, and résumés. They discussed the job climate, the art of making matches between employers and job seekers, as well as the importance of building relationships and networking.

All three were in basic agreement about the following points:

  • Have multiple versions of your résumé on hand, and have them carefully proofed
  • Follow-up interviews with thank-you notes, electronic first for speed, then handwritten for that personal touch
  • Research what skill sets employers are looking for
  • Learn what technology tools are current
  • Exercise extreme caution in what you post on Facebook
  • Use LinkedIn to your advantage as a networking and relationship-building tool
  • Expand your network on LinkedIn, and watch a YouTube video on using LinkedIn if you feel rusty on the social media
  • Understand that the traditional “technical writer” may wear many hats and go by different names nowadays, such as documentation specialist, content developer, information architect, business analyst, or web designer
  • When you prepare for an interview, make sure to research the company beforehand; have your questions ready when the interviewer asks you for them. Hiring managers do not want to hear that you are not prepared to ask questions.

Overall, it was an important and fun evening of information, friendship, and networking.

Look for announcements for our next meeting on our website www.stc-orlando.org. The month of April will feature a video conference with expert Sarah O’Keefe on content strategy. Scheduled for Thursday, April 18, 6:30pm … same STC channel… same STC venue. Don’t touch that dial.

Tool Tips

David Coverston

By David Coverston
Director-at-Large
Recognitions Chair
Membership Chair
Orlando Central Florida Chapter STC
membership@stc-orlando.org

If you are a technical communicator who writes software documentation, there is a good chance that you will need to include samples of programming code in your documents. Since you want to give your reader a visual cue that your text is code, you want to format it to look like code looks like in a code editor.

For your samples, you will want to use a non-proportional font. Courier New is one of the most commonly used non-proportional fonts, and it is a good choice even though one of my co-workers hates it. Other fonts you may want to try are Courier, Lucida Console, and Lucida Sans Typewriter.

Look at how well your code font stands out from the base font of your document. Observe the differences between the letter “l”, the number “1”, and the capital I, seen in the Arial font as
l, 1, and I . Also check the zeros and capital o’s; 0 and O.

Indentation is used in code to show the logical progression of the program, and is usually accomplished by spaces. You will want to preserve the indentation so that your reader can more easily understand the code.

You will have to play a balancing game with the font size. You want the font large enough to be read with comfort, but small enough that you will not have excessive wrapping of your text. The amount of indentation will play into this game. A couple of ways you can cheat at this is to change the orientation to landscape, and/or use smaller margins. You can also put large code samples into separate files.

If you create a code style, it is easier to apply formatting consistently to your documents. Code in developer’s tools is color coded to help the developer write the code.  That can be a nice touch for your documents, but when you copy and paste the text into your authoring tool, it often loses the coloring. I’m going to let you in a little secret of how to get color-coded text into your documents.

You will need the free text editor Notepad++, available at http://notepad-plus-plus.org/. Once you have it installed and started, here are the steps to format your code:

  1. Copy your code text from your source and paste it into Notepad++
  2. From the menu, select Language, then select the language your code is written in. Your code will now be color coded. The example below is a Word macro, which is written in Visual Basic, so I selected VB.
  3. From the menu, select Plugins > NppExport > Copy RTF to clipboard.
  4. Paste the text into your document.
  5. Apply the code font you have selected as your standard.

Developers reading your documentation will thank you.

2013-2014 Chapter Election Information

W. C. Wiese

by W.C. Wiese
Nominating Committee Chair
Orlando Chapter STC
nominating@stc-orlando.org

Your Nominating Committee is proud to announce the following slate of officers for the 2013-2014 chapter year:

• President: Debra Johnson

• Vice President: Sarah Baca

• Secretary: Mary Burns

• Treasurer: Alex Garcia

• Director-at-Large (Elect 2): David Coverston, Erika Higgins, Mark Wray

Elected officers will be announced in April and begin their terms at the end of June’s chapter meeting.

To request a ballot, please contact me at nominating@stc-orlando.org

Members can submit ballots in three ways.

  1. You may bring the completed ballot to the April meeting
  2. Complete a ballot provided at the meeting
  3. Submit your ballot by mail. (Mail ballots must use a double envelope – the sealed inside envelope protects voting privacy and should display your name, address, and STC membership number.) Mailed ballots must arrive by the date of the chapter meeting. The chapter’s mailing address is:

Orlando Central Florida Chapter STC
Post Office Box 540444
Orlando, FL 32854-0444

Be sure to congratulate this year’s nominees and thank them for their willingness to serve the chapter!