Words and Software

Technical writing/user assistance in Microsoft.Azure Intelligent Systems Service (ISS). (old: Data Protection Manager and Operations Manager)

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  • Blog Post: Microsoft language, in a cloud

    This is only tangentially related to technical writing, but a post by Matthew Stibbe brought to my attention an interesting analysis of Microsoft language over the years. It's an interactive tag cloud , covering 1976 to 2006, on Todd Bishop's Microsoft Blog . I dragged the slider back and forth for awhile...
  • Blog Post: How not to change a computer fan

    Tristan tells the story of how he tried to replace the fan in his computer. My favorite part: "He had demonstrated his Drill Skill. He was a Real Man, with a Real Power Tool under his control, an extension of his very body."
  • Blog Post: Lost product key: prevention

    A surprising number of readers hit my post on John's lost product key problem . So when I came across an article in MCP Magazine on how to find out the product keys in use on a computer, I did a test drive on the tool for you. Don Jones, in "Finding the Keys to Your Computers" , writes about NirSoft...
  • Blog Post: Exchange 2007 MP product knowledge

    The Exchange management packs send you to the product knowledge articles online , rather than including the knowledge article in the management pack itself. When you view a knowledge article for the Exchange 2007 Management Pack, you might be confused to see references to "MOM Rule Path" and "MOM Rule...
  • Blog Post: IT pros - how do you use worksheets

    If you've ever used any product documentation that included worksheets , checklists , or other job aids , I'd appreciate your input on two questions. How do you actually use those job aids? And how would you like to be able to use them? For example... I just read them online I print them out...
  • Blog Post: TechFest 2006: What I Saw

    Going to Microsoft's TechFest is a sure way to revive my thrill at working here. Picture it: the huge rooms in the conference center filled from wall to wall with booths of brilliance. (Most of the ideas and inventions seem brilliant to me. And those that I can't understand, I'm positive must be!) ...
  • Blog Post: Would you use an Operations chm for SCOM?

    Currently, we post all of our Operations Manager documentation for download in doc format , and also post it on TechNet . And lately I've been thinking about whether we should also post .chms for download. I know .chm is a rather old-fashioned format, but personally I like it. I like the left nav...
  • Blog Post: Blake's resources find a new home

    Blake Handler has a great collection of Microsoft resources on his blog - I especially appreciate the troubleshooting section, myself. I couldn't get there a few weeks ago, and I think it might have had to do with Microsoft's changes to the MSN Spaces... spaces.msn.com/members/bhandler spaces.msn...
  • Blog Post: Certifications: getting hands-on experience

    As I mentioned in an earlier post , I'm working towards the MCSA certification. All of the exams I've taken so far have been on Windows XP -- easy to practice, it's what I run at home and at work. These last two exams are Windows Server 2003 though, with lots of networking and Active Directory skills...
  • Blog Post: "Back" not working on browser

    Some sort of "widget" is taking over all sorts of web sites, it seems. A few weeks ago, I noticed that some web pages wouldn't allow "Back" to work on my browser. When I hit the down button for back, there'd be a "widget.pulsemgr.com..." address between my search results and the page I'd gone to. ...
  • Blog Post: An operating system, a horse, and transparency

    Catching up on my Microsoft-related blog feeds this morning, I counted at least a dozen blogs announcing the new Windows 7 blog -- some rah-rah posts, some just passing it on, some speculating as to how much information the blog will actually provide, plus some conversations on the pros and cons of transparency...
  • Blog Post: SQL MP guide updated

    I recently mentioned that we're changing how MP guides are released . The SQL Server Management Pack is the first to take advantage of the new system by making an update to the guide without repackaging the management pack .msi. Just download the .doc to get the latest guide - no need to download the...
  • Blog Post: My new Zune

    It's red. A really deep, rich red. Small and slender, but it feels nicely solid. And here was my setup experience: I had an existing instance of Zune (from the first release), not paired with a device, that I had already upgraded to the new software. I connected the red Zune. The software immediately...
  • Blog Post: Software installation the right way

    Zman gives some good tips for polite software installation . I sympathize with his gripes because I'm just as territorial toward my computer. And I would add to his list, "Don't add yourself to Startup without my permission." But they all do it. It's become part of my install routine: complete Setup...
  • Blog Post: Great opportunity for scripters!

    Have you written any scripts for system administration? Now there's a place for them on microsoft.com, in the Community-Submitted Scripts Center . (Not the catchiest name I've ever heard...) If you're interested, check out the submission guidelines . This will also be a useful source for finding great...
  • Blog Post: Why you have to call for a hotfix

    Josh Ledgard's description of getting a hotfix online is fascinating to me because I've frequently come across those KB articles that seem to speak directly to my problem, and then turn coy with "To resolve this problem immediately, contact Microsoft Product Support Services to obtain the hotfix." ...
  • Blog Post: Need SP2 for XP or SP3 for Office? Order the CD

    I've avoided updating a few family computers, the ones that use dial-up. It just takes too long. And the longer I put it off, the more updates there are to download, and the easier it is to talk myself out of doing it at all. My conscience has been bothering me. These people trust me. I needed to...
  • Blog Post: Visual Basic 2008 Express: Build a Program Now! sample files

    I decided to try to learn Visual Basic, so I picked up a book that looked promising: Microsoft Visual Basic 2008 Express Edition: Build a Program Now! I've been working through the chapters. In chapter 6, (adding a splash screen) it instructs you to replace the default icon with one from the companion...
  • Blog Post: Microsoft Research and the first smiley

    If I waited until Saturday (April 1) to post this, you might wonder if it was a joke. It's not. The invention of the smiley.
  • Blog Post: New TechNet search

    When I read Jeff Alexander's announcement of a new TechNet search engine , my mouse practically leaped to click the link - a better way to search TechNet is something we've all wished for. I went there. I tried it. I was impressed. The default is the TechNet tab, and it gave me great relevant results...
  • Blog Post: Service Quality Monitoring, E.T., and Cary Grant

    Listening to a presentation on Service Quality Monitoring (SQM), also known as Opt-In Customer Experience Improvement Program (CEIP) , the phrase "phone-home technology" caught my attention. It reminded me of the old AT&T commercials reminding people to call their mother on Mother's Day. Collecting...
  • Blog Post: PowerPoint: The storyteller's way

    I admit, I approached Cliff Atkinson's book Beyond Bullet Points with a little skepticism. I thought the subtitle ("Using Microsoft PowerPoint to create presentations that inform, motivate, and inspire") promised more than I expected the book would deliver. (Plus it irritates me that so much of the...
  • Blog Post: The Read Me file

    I considered titling this just Read Me so it would be both relevant and a clever imperative reminiscent of Alice in Wonderland. Fortunately, I realized it wasn't all that clever and was possibly even obnoxious, so I clarified it. This post really is about Read Me files though. On Joel's Design of...
  • Blog Post: Deciphering our language codes

    Yesterday being " patch Tuesday ", I updated my computer at work with the latest security updates . I have to do each update manually -- Windows Update stopped working on my system several years ago and when Tech Support reached the troubleshooting step of " gently hint that the customer may want to...
  • Blog Post: Looks like a file synchronization solution (Windows XP)

    Tristank mentioned a Powertoy that sounded interesting, SyncToy for Windows XP . (An aside...I think it's odd that back when hard drive space was limited and expensive, I'd download anything that caught my interest...and now that I have lots of inexpensive storage space, I'm much more particular....