From The Editor’s Desk

Hello everyone,

I want to share with you the upcoming “Live Web Seminars” available through the month of March.

Seminar Pricing

Benefits: No travel time; Pay per site and not per person; Train without leaving the office

Cost: Members $59 each; Not Yet Members $149 each; Student Member $29 each. Note: Cost is transferable but is not refundable. Registration closes the day prior to each webinar. Please add regina.tatum@stc.org to your address book to ensure receipt of registration emails.

SIX SIMPLE SUCCESS HACKS

Leah Guren

Tuesday, 4 March | 10:00–11:00 AM EST (GMT-5)

Whether you are an in-house employee, a freelancer, or run your own business, you need to manage your career. But most of us are so busy doing our jobs that we don’t take the time to develop a long-term strategy, or even plan and implement the business and administrative skills needed to support our TC efforts. Without managing your career, you may find yourself in a rut, become bored, unenthusiastic, or even depressed. Your career may stagnate financially—or even disappear. This webinar presents six simple “hacks” (minor tweaks) that you can use to improve the business side of your career. Each hack is presented with the reason, examples, and clear guidelines to help you implement it immediately.

DITA-BASED DOCUMENTATION FOR COMPLEX SOFTWARE PRODUCTS

Carsten Brennecke

Wednesday, 5 March | 1:00–2:00 PM EST (GMT-5)

This webinar describes the challenges of providing documentation for broad software portfolios with heavy reuse of software components between products, and at the same time, managing extremely complex versioning. Learn how a company used specialized DITA maps to componentize documentation according to software components, described the interdependencies between software components, and provided for reuse. For each release, containers reflecting the software were strung together in a hierarchy to define the content set and linking rules within it.

USING VIDEO/ANIMATION: FROM STORYBOARD TO FINISHED PROJECT

Cynthia Chin-Lee and Lisa Kuder

Thursday, 13 March | 4:00–5:00 PM EDT (GMT-4)

Planning a video or animation project to complement your technical publications or as a standalone project? Where do you start? Assuming you have selected your video or animation environment (hardware, software, writers, videographers, and production site), you will learn the steps involved in developing and then creating the video/animation projects. See how to determine what to include in the video or animation, and what additional steps are required in the project beyond typical documentation. You will also learn how to integrate the animation or video into the documentation library, corporate websites, and social media.

PLUGGING OUR BLACK HOLES OF KNOWLEDGE

Ray Gallon

Tuesday, 18 March | 10:00–11:00 AM EDT (GMT-4)

For most of our history, we have designed linear, sequential learning systems, starting with beginners’ level and progressing to advanced. But the Web lets us quickly find morsels of information out of sequence, without the context to understand it. We all have “quantum black holes” in our knowledge bases, which we fill in using a variety of strategies, mostly improvised. This presentation focuses on techniques for designing information to integrate into this world of “standalone chunks” that comes from a “new” user interaction model and a new type of user/learner.

These webinars are very helpful as well as convenient.  Please take advantage of these informative presentations.

R.D. Sharninghouse
Editor, Memo 2 Members Newsletter
ralph2010@knights.ucf.edu

The President’s Corner

Debra JohnsonThe President’s Corner

By Debra Johnson, President
Orlando Central Florida STC Chapter
president@stc-orlando.org

Upcoming Chapter Elections and Volunteering:

The art of “Painting” and Serving Your Orlando Central Florida STC Chapter…

…by Debra Johnson, Chapter President

I never thought I could be an artist… at least in the conventional sense with paint and February_2014_PresCorner1brushes and a smock.  Dancing, yes…I mastered that…but taking a blank canvas and coming up with a beautiful painting was mystifying, yet intriguing to me. I thought if I were ever to do so, I probably would find out that my fear of the outcome was pretty silly. I actually might want to do it again. That’s how I felt at first about volunteering to help my local STC chapter – very unsure but intrigued!

What do you think would be the most daunting part about creating a painting? Would it be picking a subject to paint; using the right colors or brushes that worked together; will it take a lot of time? What is that first step? Will my inspiration transfer to canvas successfully? I mean, would you worry about these things?

I can tell you that for me, while all of those things certainly weighed on my mind, the hardest part was taking that first step…that first brush stroke on a totally blank canvas! The sad part is, if I hadn’t, I would never have known if I could do it and what it feels like – self-imposed restriction…self-doubt.

February_2014_PresCorner2So, why is it you haven’t taken that first step to become involved in chapter activities? What does worry you? Do you think it takes up too much time?  Well, I can assure you that those thoughts certainly did unnerve me! Never in my life did I think I would ever be the Orlando Central Florida Chapter Vice President, let alone President! But somehow, I managed to make myself take that first step, and every day it has gotten easier. Why? Because of the incredible support group that is our chapter – always there to help, to council, to advise, to support, encourage, to “remind” (wink wink) and to ultimately become some of my best friends anywhere.

The Orlando Central Florida Chapter STC offers you many opportunities for personal development.  You can jump in a little or a lot. Can you commit to helping with one thing at one meeting? We could use your help. Are you able to join one of our committees? We sure could use your ideas. We need leaders.  We do a lot virtually. We host a meeting one evening a month.  We need article submissions; we need mentors; we need officers. You’ll never be alone, plus I’ll tell you a little secret – it’s not nearly as much time as you think. In fact, this has truly been a fun and rewarding 4 ½ years for me! Each contribution to the chapter in the form of volunteering is different, yet special…a true masterpiece.  Even though the theme may be the same… each person and experience is unique and beautiful…just as in painting.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Get with any member, or email me at president@stc-orlando.org and let us know you are interested…
Make that first brush stroke soon.  I promise you…your result will beautiful… an individual work of art!
It has been for me…

February_2014_PresCorner6

P.S. Thank You Mike Murray!

A View From Number Two

Sarah Baca

By Sarah Baca
Vice President
Orlando Central Florida Chapter STC
Vicepresident@stc-Orlando.org

 

 

 

This month we are very excited to welcome Dalton Hooper back for a visit. Dalton served in the past as the president of the chapter. He is a dynamic speaker and we can’t wait to hear him talk about his new role as a Certified Business Analyst.

The company that I work for designs software for business analysts, so I am really excited to hear more about what they do. I know that the business analyst career is a career track that many technical writers move into. It’s amazing to me how many of the skills that are involved in technical communication, such as following methodology, focusing on the user, and understanding requirements, translate to so many fields. This is one of the reasons I majored in Technical Communication at the University of Central Florida. These skills apply across so many disciplines!

I hope you can join us in February to learn how technical communication skills can be used in another field.
RSVP at Eventbrite

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

2014_2_A View From Number Two Image

 

If You Missed The Last Meeting…

Mary Burns

By Mary Burns
Secretary
Orlando Central Florida Chapter STC
secretary@stc-Orlando.org

 

 

 

If you missed last meeting….

George Jessel said, “The human brain starts working the moment you are born and never stops until you stand up to speak in public.”

Rhyne Armstrong’s presentation “Does Your Audience Hate You?” not only entertained the 34 attendees of this year’s joint FTC/STC meeting at UCF. It also gave them strategies for avoiding both brain freeze and boorishness in a form of communication that is often neglected by technical communicators.

Just a few of the many takeaways in this presentation:

  • It’s not how well you speak. It’s the preparation and passion behind your presentation. Limit yourself to a few main ideas. Tell a story with your presentation, or begin with one. Get inspiration from someone whose style you like. Practice, practice again, and test your props.
  • Be essential to your talk. Don’t design PowerPoint slides as handouts or speaker notes that you read from—text says “I’m teaching you something” rather than seeding ideas. Rather, choose fonts, colors, and pictures that enhance your words. (Rhyne illustrated the point “Stay calm” with a photo of a manic dachshund.) For a software demo, the software is the visual. Talk about it as you walk through a task.
  • Use your “tricks” to connect with and further engage your audience. Rhyne demonstrated this point by complimenting UCF on its successful football season and handing out giveaways to people who participated in the Q&A session.

In addition, Rhyne covered nuts-and-bolts topics such as researching graphic usage rights.

This informative presentation showed that with practice and preparation, an activity that many people dread can be an effective tool for the technical communicator and a pleasure for both presenter and audience.

The Melissa Pellegrin Memorial Scholarship

Melissa Pellegrin Memorial Scholarship Program
Reaches Noteworthy Milestone with 2014 Awards

By Mark Wray
Senior Member and Director-at-Large, Orlando-Central Florida Chapter

In April 2014, the STC Orlando Central Florida chapter will honor one or more technical communication students at the University of Central Florida (UCF) with the coveted STC – UCF Melissa Pellegrin Memorial Scholarship Award. While this year’s award ceremony represents the 17th consecutive year the chapter has recognized and rewarded exceptional technical communication scholarship, it is also notable that this is the first year the award will originate from a fully endowed scholarship fund that will honor Melissa’s memory in perpetuity. Therein lies a short story and an interesting piece of our chapter’s history.

Mellissa was a 1994 UCF graduate and member of the STC Orlando Central Florida chapter.  She was an exceptional student and after graduation became a valued colleague who served on the chapter’s Education committee.  She was employed as a technical communicator with The Technical Resource Connection, Inc., in Tampa, until her untimely death in April 1997. In October of that year chapter leaders officially dedicated the memorial fund and awarded the first scholarship in what has become a time-honored chapter tradition.

Over the years, the chapter made the growth of the scholarship fund a priority in its development efforts. Through continued outreach and careful stewardship of gifts received, those efforts were largely successful and resulted in an unbroken string of monetary awards and public recognition of outstanding UCF technical communication students at both the undergraduate and graduate levels. The chapter nurtured the fund through careful exposure to market forces in a private investment account and slowly grew the account balance to slightly more than $15,000, but the economic hardships that gripped the global economy in 2008-2009 forced a significant change of direction. In particular, the severe market downturn late in 2007 erased more than $3,000 of the fund’s value.

During the recession, STC membership fell precipitously. While STC was certainly not the only association that suffered declining membership and associated revenue, the recession exposed a flaw in the Society’s funding model that threatened its existence as a viable fiscal entity. For many years STC operated with a membership dues structure that was insufficient to pay for all of the services that it provided to its members. That model worked as long as enough members choose to attend the STC Summit, the organization’s annual conference. The Society used proceeds from the annual conference to make up the shortfall that membership dues did not cover. In 2008 and 2009, as companies and universities slashed travel budgets attendance at Summit plummeted, and the weakness of this funding model became clear. Since conference hotels are booked years in advance, STC was caught with large blocks of rooms reserved based on pre-Recession attendance levels and took a major hit when many of the rooms wound up unoccupied (yet had to be paid for under contract with the hotels.

At the local chapter level, during administrative council meetings, some members expressed concern about the fiscal viability of the national organization going forward. In one scenario that was discussed STC would become insolvent, enter bankruptcy, and local chapters would be forced by court order to turn over any and all chapter funds held locally to satisfy creditors. Technically, all funds held by individual STC communities are considered Society assets, so if this scenario occurred it would obviously put the hard-earned Pellegrin Fund monies at risk. Chapter leaders began looking for alternatives that would preserve the fund if STC ceased to exist.

The idea of transferring the existing fund to the UCF Foundation surfaced and rapidly emerged as the best alternative the chapter had for safeguarding the resource from any possible dissolution of the national STC organization. Chapter officers contacted UCF Foundation officials, who presented the concept of working towards an endowed fund which would participate in the earnings of the Foundation’s investment pool, and which would offer the best chance at creating a self-sustaining scholarship.

In 2009, the chapter’s officers officially voted to transfer the fund to UCF Foundation custody. Foundation rules specify that a fund must reach a total of $25,000 before it is endowed, and the chapter entered into a Memorandum of Understanding with the Foundation which outlined a 5-year plan to reach that goal. Through consistent fund raising endeavors the chapter reached and surpassed that goal in 2012.

Special mention must be made of significant contributions from Melissa’s parents, the Society (via a sizable grant when the fund was started), heritage PBS&J, and the Atkins Foundation the umbrella organization through which Atkins Global (which acquired PBS&J) coordinates its philanthropic efforts in North America. These sustaining gifts, as well as dozens of individual, enabled the chapter to reach the $25,000 goal fully 1 year ahead of schedule. After a mandatory 1-year waiting period, the STC-UCF Mellissa Pellegrin Memorial Scholarship fund stands ready in 2014 to recognize and celebrate its first award recipients at the chapter’s April meeting by disbursing its first “spendables” from the fund’s earnings in 2013.

The 17-year (and counting) history of the Pellegrin Fund is a microcosm of what many find so rewarding about their association with the STC Orlando Central Florida chapter. It is a story of a group of people of optimism, who demonstrated cheerful perseverance while facing adversity, negotiated their differences, and exercised good faith and ethical behavior with resources with which they were entrusted. It shows what can be accomplished when committed professionals work together toward a common goal, and it makes me proud to continue my association with our 7-time Chapter of Distinction.

Business Analysis Certification

2014_2_Dalton HooperBusiness Analysis Certification: Is It Worth It?

By Dalton Hooper, CBAP

 

 

 

As the old joke goes:

Technical communicator 1: “What’s the difference between a tech writer and a business analyst?”

Technical communicator 2: “Oh, about $15K a year.”

Whether rightly or wrongly, business analysts have traditionally been paid more than technical writers. You, no doubt, have your own feelings about the fairness of that reality, as do I. While the playing field may become more levelled in the future, it has not happened yet. Consequently, you may have considered switching your career path from technical writer to business analyst.

But is it worth it?

I recently underwent the grueling task of obtaining the Certified Business Analysis Professional (CBAP) designation. Make no mistake about it — it’s NOT easy — and it’s NOT cheap. But is it worth it? That, of course, is something only YOU can answer. While it was worth it for me, it may not be so in your case.

How can I determine if it’s right for me?

The surest way to make your decision is to have a discussion with a CBAP and learn what is involved in the process of getting certified, and in what ways it is/was beneficial to their career; then, weigh the pros and cons against your own career aspirations and plans.

For those of you interested, I will be presenting “The Road to Business Analysis Certification: Is It Worth the Trip?” at the next STC Orlando CF Chapter meeting on Thursday, Feb 20, 2014. Perhaps I can help you decide.