From the Editor’s Desk

Nick Ducharme

Nick Ducharme

Happy 2016, dear readers!

This newsletter covers from November of last year through now, hence its title of “Winter Edition.” But that is just one of its special features.

Here’s another: This publication marks my twelfth month as editor for Memo to Members (MtM)! It has been an honor to help present the quality content that our chapter members have been writing for us.

Speaking of quality content, we have multiple insightful meeting recaps, some well-researched tool suggestions, a reminder about our chapter’s coveted scholarship, and much more in this edition of Memo to Members. All of this leads up to one of our chapter’s major annual events, our joint meeting hosted by the University of Central Florida’s (UCF’s) Future Technical Communicators club!

Our joint meeting is titled Mining for Knowledge, and it features six unique topics being presented progression-style at tables. It is being held this Thursday, February 4th, in UCF’s Student Union (Egmont Key Room 224) at 6:30 P.M. Huey Magoo’s is catering the event at no cost to you!

For more information about the event, including a flyer and an RSVP link, please check out the article directly below. And please enjoy this edition of MtM.

Nick Ducharme
Editor, Memo to Members
newsletter@stc-orlando.org

 

P.S., I will provide the flyer, program matrix, and RSVP link here also. But definitely read the article below, too!

Flyer: http://memotomembers.stc-orlando.org/wp-content/uploads/2016/02/February-2016-FTC-and-STC-Meeting-Flyer.pdf

Matrix: Mining for Knowledge, Program Matrix

RSVP: http://www.stcorlando.eventbrite.com/

Free Seminar February 4 at UCF

Mining for Knowledge: Technical Communication Veterans Prepare Communicators of Tomorrow in a Mini-Conference

By: Crystal Brezina and Nicole Garcia
Staff Writers, Memo to Members

On February 4th, students and professionals alike will grab their proverbial pickaxes and start mining. Attendees at the annual STC/UCF on-campus meeting will set out in search of the most valuable gem of all—knowledge.

Future Technical Communicators (FTC) at UCF and the Orlando Central Florida (OCF) Chapter of the Society for Technical Communication (STC) will be hosting a mini-conference on technical communication dubbed Mining for Knowledge at 6:30 p.m. February 4 at the UCF Student Union in the Egmont Key Room (224).

The mini-conference is aimed at teaching technical communication skills to all attendees, novices and experts alike, as well as enabling students and other professionals to network with others in the field.

Admission to the event is free, and refreshments will be served during the pre-meeting networking time. Space is limited and interest is high, so please be sure to pre-register at www.stcorlando.eventbrite.com.

With a century and a half of combined experience, six veteran speakers and two newcomers (see bios) will cover a wide range of topics in the field, from technical editing to navigating the first year on the job. More information regarding the topics on which the speakers will present is listed below.

This year’s mini-conference will employ a rotational method of lectures called a progression. The meeting comprises three 25-minute miniature seminars at venues (aka, tables), each festooned with a balloon color-coded to the gemstone for the presenter’s subject. Each speaker will conduct two seminar sessions during the meeting. Thus, attendees can “mine” for three different colored gems of knowledge during the event.

In essence, the progression becomes a mini-conference on technical communication. Indeed, several of the speakers have presented on their topics at the STC international conference.

“This event is for anyone who is interested in technical writing and would like to learn more about this exciting career option,” said Jessica Karmazyn, president of the co-sponsoring FTC. “This is an exciting opportunity to network with fellow students, faculty, and professionals in the technical communication field. Did we mention free food will be served? I hope to see you there!”

“Long-time OCF Chapter members will recognize the connection between Mining for Knowledge and our recently concluded 20-year August tradition of mini-conference progressions called Washlines,” said Dan Voss, co-manager of the STC/FTC mentoring program. “The carnival atmosphere will be familiar. The difference is that this time each venue will focus on a single topic, to ensure thorough treatment.”

This mini-conference would not be possible without the help of Professor J.D. Applen. Insistent on strengthening the link between education and careers, Applen encouraged students to join FTC with the help of Dan Voss, Bethany Aguad, and Bonnie Spivey, who visited his classes last semester to speak on the benefits of joining FTC and the opportunities that come with joining the mentorship program with the OCF STC Chapter. The newfound FTC members then organized the event as well as the partnerships between STC mentors and FTC mentees.

Be sure to mark February 4 on your calendar … this is an event you don’t want to miss!

Please click below for a flyer and program matrix, to learn more about each of our exciting topics!

 February 2016 FTC and STC Meeting Flyer

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Mining for Knowledge, Program Matrix

W.C. Wiese has extensive experience in technical marketing support activities and is the Communications manager for a unique joint venture company formed by American, German, and Italian defense contractors. He is an avid photographer and sports car enthusiast, Ebay trader, and grandfather. His two children spent a combined 15 years at the University of Central Florida.

A member of STC for almost 30 years, W.C. has significant experience in aerospace marketing support and program communications at Lockheed Martin. He is a Fellow of STC and has served as STC treasurer and director-at-large. He previously served as president of STC’s Orlando Chapter following a 5-year tenure as treasurer. He has presented at 13 STC Summits.

Our Speakers

BethanyPhotoBethany Aguad is a Sigma Tau Chi honoree, winner of the Distinguished Student Service Award, co-managed the Orlando Central Florida chapter’s mentoring program pairing professionals with student members, and served as the student representative on the society’s Community Affairs Committee. A graduate of the University of Central Florida (UCF) with an M.A. in English-Technical Communication, she has served as president of the Future Technical Communicators (FTC) organization, president of the Sigma Tau Delta Zeta Xi chapter (International English Honor Society), and received the prestigious STC/UCF Melissa Pellegrin Memorial Scholarship and the Stuart Omans Award for Excellence in Technical Communication.

NickPhotoNick Ducharme is an increasingly active member of the Orlando Central Florida chapter. He is a two-year member of STC and a former mentee/FTC member. He has held the title of chapter newsletter editor for the past twelve months, publishing several Memo to Members editions in WordPress. Nick graduated Cum Laude from UCF with a B.A. in English—Technical Communication.

AlexPhotoAlex Garcia is a mid-level technical writer at Lockheed Martin’s Center for Courseware Development. He serves as the lead editor on several volumes of Air Force technical manuals and operational supplements. He is also an emerging instructional designer—writing, designing, and editing courses for the energy industry.  Before joining Lockheed Martin, he served as a Space Shuttle Ground Systems Engineer at Kennedy Space Center. Alex has been a member of the Orlando Chapter of STC since 2004, and worked the chapter into his 5-year plan after graduation: to use his network to transition into technical communication after the Space Shuttle program ended. Alex enjoys traveling all over the world, and attending WWE NXT TV tapings at Full Sail University and, this past January, at UCF! He also enjoys hot wings.

DebraPhotoDebra Johnson is a technical communication/documentation manager at FIS Public Sector. She has been working in the field for the past 22 years. She is the recipient of the 2011 STC Gloria Jaffe Outstanding Technical Communicator Award, the 2011 STC Orlando Service Award and the 2012 STC President’s Award for the Central Florida Chapter. She has also owned a dance studio for 25 years and is soon to be a grandmother.

KarenPhotoKaren Lane is a freelance technical editor and indexer. She has been working in the field for the past 22 years. She is the recipient of the 2004 STC Distinguished Chapter Service Award and the 2013 STC Gloria Jaffe Outstanding Technical Communicator Award. She also co-wrote a textbook with Dan Jones, Technical Communication: Strategies for College and the Workplace. Karen is proud to work in a field that she loves and balances her time between working, volunteering, and family.

JoelPhotoJoel Smithson is an instructional designer for Lockheed Martin’s Center for Courseware Development.  Before joining Lockheed Martin, Joel was unfamiliar with instructional design.  However, he soon realized (like most instructional designers) that his prior work history and educational background provided him with the necessary skills to perform instructional design work.  Joel is currently studying higher- level instructional design at UCF to further his career in this dynamic field. He likes hot wings.

 DanPhotoDan Voss is a 28-year STC member and Fellow recently retired from a lively 37.5-year career with Lockheed Martin as a highly caffeinated proposal specialist. In 1998 he was named Author-of-the-Year after co-authoring a textbook on ethics. He has served many roles at the Society level, including managing the AccessAbility Special Interest Group (SIG), serving on the Community Affairs Committee (CAC) focusing on student outreach, and co-authoring the Society’s Ethical Guidelines. In 2013, he received the coveted STC President’s Award for his efforts on educational outreach. He is also a veteran educator, having taught at both the high school and college level. At the Orlando Central Florida Chapter level, he co-founded the UCF student mentoring program in 2003 and helped establish and sustain the Melissa Pellegrin Memorial Scholarship Fund in 1997—both still growing and flourishing. On the chapter’s leadership team, he is noted for his unbounded energy and unending e-mails, as well as his monstrous militaristic metaphors and twisted sense of humor.

W.C.PhotoW.C. Wiese has extensive experience in technical marketing support activities and is the Communications manager for a unique joint venture company formed by American, German, and Italian defense contractors. He is an avid photographer and sports car enthusiast, Ebay trader, and grandfather. His two children spent a combined 15 years at the University of Central Florida.

A member of STC for almost 30 years, W.C. has significant experience in aerospace marketing support and program communications at Lockheed Martin. He is a Fellow of STC and has served as STC treasurer and director-at-large. He previously served as president of STC’s Orlando Chapter following a 5-year tenure as treasurer. He has presented at 13 STC Summits.

February 2016 FTC and STC Meeting Flyer

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Mining for Knowledge, Program Matrix

Free Technologies for the Technical Communicator Toolbox

By: Jessica Campbell and Amber Allman
Mentor and Mentee

 

Whether you are a veteran technical communicator or just beginning your career, there are many free technologies that can be used to complement, enhance, and enrich your technical writing and content. These can be directly applied in a work role or used simply to build your creative and technical skills. Furthermore, while there never seems to be a lack of technical communication positions, the catch-22 for those just entering the workforce is: no one will hire a technical communicator without experience, and newcomers cannot gain experience if no one will hire them. While having the right education is essential for technical communicators, it can become difficult to obtain a position without experience using various applications and technologies that enhance and amplify a resume. However, by just tinkering with some free technologies, you can add to your resume new technical skills and experience, and put yourself just a step above the rest in the competition for a position. More applicably, using these technologies will develop your technical writing experience and expertise, which is an asset to anyone’s career. Put these five technologies in your technical communicator toolbox.

1. Docs.Zone PDF Converter: https://docs.zone/
This is a comprehensive PDF creator. This application converts files into a PDF, ranging from Web pages and Word documents to even multiple, disparate files. Not only does this application turn files into PDFs, but it also converts PDFs into JPEG images, Excel spreadsheets, and Word documents. This technology becomes handy for technical communicators when they receive instructional and design requirements in PDF form that need edits or revisions. Instead of printing them out and marking them by hand, one can now turn them into a Word document, complete the editing, and convert back into a PDF to return to the client. Project schedules and timelines can be easily transformed into Excel spreadsheets to create additional columns and time elements. Lastly, rookie technical communicators can use this application in their job hunt. They can impress employers by transforming PDF applications into Word documents, typing their response, and inserting an image of their signature. Plus, users can even append their resumes at the end of the application, convert them back into a PDF, and return to the employer with a truly polished and professional appeal. Employers find this type of response a reflection of one’s work ethic and performance. This is a highly functional technology for any individual that regularly works with various types of documents.

2. LinkedIn SlideShare: http://www.slideshare.net/
This website can be used not only as a tool to share information with clients and colleagues, but also as a resource for researching current trends in the market, company information, and other educational topics. Technical communicators can mark their presence in a company by contributing content as visual language of the business through presentations, infographics, and even brief videos, which are powerful marketing assets that can connect with existing and potential customers. While LinkedIn SlideShare can help with the main task of technical communicators (to analyze, develop, optimize, deliver, and even retire technical and business-related content), it can also enhance one’s company brand and profitability. The ability to set privacy restrictions allows technical communicators to present their technical content to internal staff if the content is for instructional purposes, or to external prospects if the content is for informational and marketing purposes. LinkedIn SlideShare is an expedient method for reaching a broad audience on one platform.

3. Appsbar: http://www.appsbar.com/
This free technology is by far one of the best tools any technical communicator, business, or student can use, and easily, for that matter. This online tool allows any individual to create a mobile application for uploading to any operating system including Android, Apple, BlackBerry, and Windows. Not only is Appsbar easy to use with a simple “drag and drop” and instructional method, but it highly versatile as well. There are various templates to choose from based on the purpose of the application. For example, there are templates for accounting firm, bank, bar, cooking, educational, family, fashion, general business, salon, and vehicle services. Technical communicators can create apps for large project teams to communicate and collaborate easily by having each party involved upload the “project” application to their mobile phone. This lets team members easily obtain project updates or communicate by simply clicking on the SMS message on the Contact form. The application also supports desktop use, making itself readily available to send or receive updates. This tool becomes advantageous for those technical communicators doing contract work to promote their business, educate potential clients, and maintain multiple projects and clients. Student technical communicators can create apps for their courses to easily do research, communicate with classmates, and stay apprised of the schedule while on the go. This free application creator is an asset for any individual looking to communicate and innovate with the latest trend in technology.

4. GIMP: http://www.gimp.org/
This website provides a downloadable technology that offers many uses for any technical communicator, business, or student. An added bonus: the website offers tons of manuals in different languages on how to use their program, enabling a global distribution of their software. GNU Image Manipulation Program (GIMP) is essentially an art program that allows versatile manipulations of images and photographs. It can enhance photos, it can perform digital retouching, it has a customizable interface, and it has hardware support for drawing tablet connections. Technical communicators can use this tool for many different documentation tasks, enabling them to touch-up or add flare to brochures, flyers, and photos. GIMP has a plethora painting tools, and files can be saved as JPEG, JIFF, GIF, PNG, or TIFF formats. Plus, GIMP enables technical communicators to save their entire space by allowing compressor archive extensions, such as ZIP, to shrink files without requiring extra steps. GIMP is available for download on GNU/Linux, Mac OS X, and Microsoft Windows. It is an excellent tool for any individual, empowering them to be more creative with their images and photos.

5. Blender: https://www.blender.org/
Blender is one of the most unique tools a technical communicator, business, or student can have in their toolbox. Blender is a free program that allows individuals to create 3-D models, that has photo realistic rendering, and that has fast rigging for models to become posable characters. It also provides animation tools, video editing tools, and sculpting that features a mirrored sculpting interface in case the sculpted models need to be symmetrical. Plus, it provides simulations: falling buildings, fires, smoke, water movements, and air. The Blender software comes with a full compositor, camera and object tracking, different file formats, a library of extensions, and 3D game creation. It is a fascinating tool that enables technical communicators to build their digital imagery editing skills, as well as to foster their own creativity. In fact, anyone can have fun creating new and exciting features for projects of all kinds. Blender also has a YouTube channel called Blender Sensei that provides tutorials and examples on how to use their software and how to connect external hardware, like drawing tablets, to their program. Blender is available across multiple computer systems.


Whether you are just starting out or even a veteran technical communicator, these free programs are the must-have instruments for your technical communicator toolbox. They all provide a unique experience and development of different skills and applications. One could spend thousands of dollars on programs similar to these, and yes, some of those are well worth their purchase price—but those are not the kind of purchases to go in blind with if you are just starting to explore that area of technology. Thus, these free technologies are exceptional at exposing one to various tools a technical communicator can utilize in their profession. More importantly, for rookie technical communicators, these free tech tools provide that edge in the competition for jobs. Beef-up your technical communicator toolbox and test out these free programs.


Authors:

Jessica Lynn Campbell is Marketing Coordinator for EnableSoft, the company that creates Robotic Process Automation technologies. She has a Master’s in English—Technical Communication and a Bachelor’s in Psychology. Jessica is an expert and experienced technical communicator, author, and multi-media manager, having been published on multiple media platforms including print and online. She is skilled in APA, MLA, Chicago, and Bluebook citation styles. EnableSoft creates and develops the leading Robotic Process Automation technology, Foxtrot. Having more than 20 years of experience advancing and innovating Foxtrot, over 500 organizations have adopted EnableSoft’s Robotic Process Automation technology in order to increase their efficiency, productivity, profitability, and human-capital. Jessica can be reached at jcampbell@enablesoft.com.

Amber Lorynne Allman is a student at the University of Central Florida. She is striving towards her Bachelor’s in English-Creative Writing with a minor in English—Technical Communication. She is skilled with translating beginner documents that are in German or Pinyin (Simplified). She currently works at Universal Studios Orlando Resort as an attraction’s attendant at Transformers the Ride: 3-D. Amber can be reached at allman_a13@yahoo.com.

If You Missed January’s Meeting, You Missed Some Valuable Tool Tips

By Jonathan Neal
Staff Writer, Memo to Members

“Pop!”

David Coverston’s compelling Tool Tips presentation comes to an abrupt, ear-popping halt when a bulb bursts, leaving students and senior STC members alike wondering at a blank screen.

Et tu, projector bulb? Is this really the end?

On January 15th, the Orlando Central Florida (OCF) chapter of STC held its monthly meeting at the IHOP on University Boulevard. Guest speaker David Coverston gave his much appreciated and uniquely rewarding presentation entitled “Tool-Tips.” The presentation was a resounding success!

During the presentation, David shared numerous practical tips and software titles, communicating the information in a concise, easily absorbable format for both audiences present—those at the IHOP and those watching from home via the Internet. The general message revolved around simplifying or even eliminating redundant tasks, improving both your workflow and your sanity. What’s not to love?

Ever going above and beyond the call of duty, Mr. Coverston successfully recovered from the blown projector bulb incident by utilizing a spare monitor and livestreaming his PowerPoint presentation to attendees’ laptop computers, demonstrating once again his resourcefulness, technical savvy, and absolute effectiveness as a teacher. Bravo!

The event lived up to its advance billing:

“Free tools for technical communicators that will increase your productivity at work and at home. Learn about tools that enable you to take on tasks that you normally would dread, and have fun doing it.”

And learn we did. Here is what I learned…

  • ClipName: Copy file names and directory information to clipboard. Especially useful for sharing within a network.
  • Bulk Rename Utility: Rename multiple files simultaneously.
  • Agent Ransack: Locate files on hard drive; search by content, title, or date. Never lose track of a file ever again!
  • Notepad++: Notepad expansion with coding and add-on support. Supports several coding languages.
  • JPdfBookmarks: Easily create and edit bookmarks in lengthy PDFs. A good supplement for Adobe Reader.
  • NET: Image and photo editing software. Enjoy powerful tools, unlimited history, layers, and more!
  • Inkscape: Professional-quality vector graphics software that will add a designer’s touch to your work.
  • Fiddler: Web debugging proxy. Features performance testing, traffic recording, and web session manipulation.

To view David’s informative PowerPoint presentation, click here.

For more edifying tips, see David’s highly popular “Tool-Tips” column, available in the Memo to Members newsletter archives at http://memotomembers.stc-orlando.org/?p=2047. The “Tool-Tips” column began in November 2002 and still appears periodically.

In the February 4 meeting, the OCF Chapter moves to UCF for a special progression “Mining for Knowledge” (see above) hosted by Future Technical Communicators (FTC). Mark your calendars—this is not to be missed!

We also look forward to seeing you when the chapter meeting returns to IHOP in March. A new, insightful topic, sumptuous food, and a brand-new projector bulb await!

01_2016_MeetingPhoto1

David Coverston livestreams his “Tool Tips” presentation to virtual attendees of the January chapter meeting.

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One of many useful software titles discussed during the January 15 meeting.

 

 

If You Missed December’s Meeting

On Wednesday, December 10th, the Orlando Central Florida chapter of the Society for Technical Communication held its annual holiday gathering. This time, it took place at the World of Beer restaurant on University Boulevard. The atmosphere was fun and casual, providing a great way to catch up with colleagues (and in my case, an old professor or two).

If anyone has cool or funny stories about the dinner party, please feel free to share them in the comments below!

Happy New Year,

Nick Ducharme
Editor

If You Missed November’s Meeting

By: R.D. Sharninghouse
Secretary
rdsharninghouse@gmail.com

On Tuesday, November 17th, Jen Selix and Michelle Flores gave a presentation entitled “Delivering the message: Exploring Atypical Methods and Mediums” at the IHOP on University Boulevard.

The focus of the meeting was on creating documentation that can reach your audience better. They covered various tools such as Joomla.com, Prezi.com, and Snagit. These tools can allow the user to add a unique touch to their content that would make it more memorable.

There was one particular site that caught my attention, and that was Lynda.com, a site loaded with a lot of different training videos. According to the presenters, if you have a library card for Orange, or even Seminole counties, you can logon to Lynda.com and use these videos for free.

 

Calling All Students: Pellegrin Scholarship Opportunity

The Melissa Pellegrin Memorial Scholarship Fund for Technical Communication

Hey, there!

Are you a Technical Communication student pursuing a career in technical communication? Do you know someone who is? If you answered “yes” to one or both questions, the following information could be very important for you.

For over 15 years, our chapter has partnered with the University of Central Florida (UCF) to offer annual scholarships to exceptional Technical Communication students. All of this is in the honor of Melissa Pellegrin, UCF alum and valued member of the STC community, whose untimely death in 1997 sparked a phenomenal wave of community support. Melissa’s legacy lives on through the paid education of other promising individuals in the field.

We encourage all undergraduate, graduate, part-time, and full-time UCF students to apply for this scholarship opportunity. Annual awards are either $500 or $1,000, depending on the number of recipients selected to receive this honor. Those selected will also have their names added to a winners’ plaque that remains on permanent display at UCF. An individual may win this award up to two times: once at the undergraduate level and once at the graduate level. The deadline to apply is Monday, February 22nd, at 5:00 PM.

Please click below for a flyer with more information:
2016 Flyer Pellegrin Scholarship

To apply or to learn more about Melissa Pellegrin and this program, please click here.