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Words and Software
Technical writing/user assistance in Microsoft.Azure Intelligent Systems Service (ISS). (old: Data Protection Manager and Operations Manager)
Data Protection Manager
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Words and Software
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...
12 Jan 2007
Bullfighter for writing
Matthew Stibbe's review of the Bullfighter add-on for Word and PowerPoint intrigued me enough to try it. It's a quick and easy install that adds a toolbar to the applications. I decided to test it against my most recent doc, What's New in Data Protection Manager SP1 . (If you're participating in the...
27 Jul 2006
Web vs. print challenges
If you took a look at the DPM 2007 Operations Guide during the beta, you might have noticed that the server chapters have a similar organization: general maintenance management data recovery And within those sections are parallel topics, such as: renaming the server applying OS...
7 Sep 2007
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...
28 Mar 2006
Process flows and content design
Yesterday I sat in with some folks working on the next version of SMS to observe their approach to process flow and documentation. (I don't want to be leaking feature information that might not be ready for public release yet, so I'm going to use the fictional "verning" instead.) The key players were...
30 Sep 2005
How to add RAM to a laptop
Over the years, I think I've replaced just about everything inside my desktops except the motherboard. But I've never even peeked inside my laptop. Somehow I absorbed the edict that only "authorized technicians" could touch one. I had this extra memory though. And a great set of instructions . This...
10 Sep 2006
Operations Manager: what do you need to know to use it?
This is actually an open question to you all. :) It's common for us to say our audience is the IT pro. But "IT pro" is a lazy shortcut to refer to a wide variety of people and positions. Does every IT pro know how to configure and manage permissions for SQL Server databases? Not necessarily, but the...
24 Jul 2011
From list to diagram: modeling workflow
This week's lesson in the managing content projects class was on modeling workflows. Quite timely too, since I had offered to diagram a process for writing chapters that I hadn't gotten around to doing. It was a fun exercise. We started by writing out a list of the steps in a process. I began scribbling...
22 Mar 2006
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....
6 Apr 2006
How not to write a user manual
I have to disagree with Tony Soper's admiration for the Pong user instructions: "Insert quarter Ball will automatically serve Avoid missing ball for high score" Tony and I worked together on the same team, so he's used to my contrariness. :-) I don't object to calling Pong's instructions...
22 Apr 2008
Metrics for content development
First off, notice how I used "content development" rather than "writing content"? The reason is that writing is really just a portion of the task, and it's important to stand your ground on that. Otherwise, non-writers will scoff at your metrics. "An hour for a definition? Ha! I could write one in a...
19 Mar 2006
Those pesky computer innards
This was a headline this morning on msnbc.com: IBM says it has doubled speed of computer innards . Of course that got my attention -- did IBM really say "innards"? No innards in the story. "IBM has devised a way to triple the amount of memory stored on computer chips and double the performance...
14 Feb 2007
The system tray that never was
In a a recent post , The Old New Thing made reference to terminology errors, citing the system tray as an example. To quote: "One of the most common errors is to refer to the Taskbar Notification Area as the "tray" or the "system tray". This has never been correct." We recently had several vigorous...
19 Jul 2006
Changes to OpsMgr docs (System Center 2012) in Dec 2011
If you follow us on Twitter (@opsmandoc), you'll be hearing about updated documentation for the Release Candidate being available later this week. Both TechNet and the downloadable docs will be refreshed. The following are the significant changes you can expect, in addition to added links and minor language...
12 Dec 2011
Need volunteers: Operations Manager documentation survey
Do you use Operations Manager? Would you be willing to complete a short email survey about operations documentation? If so, please send email to email@example.com . More details: The survey will be sent out approximately 21 March. We will use your responses to help us make decisions about organization...
4 Mar 2011
3 down, 2 to go
I passed exam 70-270 ! My weakest area was security, probably because that isn't something I play with in XP too often. Next are exams 70-290 and 70-291 to complete my MCSA requirements. Does a technical writer at Microsoft need a Microsoft technical certification? That question can open a lively...
2 Nov 2005
Great online thesaurus: Aiksaurus
This is my favorite online thesaurus to date, and I only just discovered it tonight while searching hopelessly for a pair of words that I have yet to find...but that's a different story. However, in searching for something that would spark to mind the perfect pair of words, I got a link to Aiksaurus...
14 Feb 2006
Writing good technical documentation, part 1
A recent comment by "BPM software" suggested that I write about best practices for writing technical documentation. I thought about it for awhile and decided I couldn't really do it justice in one post - hence, "part 1". I'll begin by plagiarizing myself . What I said about management packs is just...
7 Jan 2009
Glossary terms: the search for the definition
I haven't mentioned working on the DPM version 2 glossary in awhile, but there's been steady progress. From my initial group of over 80 terms, we were able to delete almost 20% of them without even breaking a sweat. (I just realized that guesstimate of mine bears suspicious resemblance to the 80/20...
1 Feb 2006
How to write really bad instructions
This evening, trying to assemble a pressure-mounted baby gate for my dog, I picked up several tips and tricks for writing really bad instructions that I just have to share for everyone's edification: Only name half of the parts in the diagram. Users enjoy the challenge of matching line drawings with...
19 Sep 2006
Update or rewrite: how do you decide?
This is a common scenario for technical writers: there is existing content, let's say for V1 of a product, and the same content needs to be provided for V2. Do you limit your work to making changes to the existing content for technical accuracy with V2? Or do you start with a blank slate and design a...
15 Mar 2012
It's worth your during
I know, you're tired of hearing about difficulties translating the american-english language. Still, when I encounter such an amusing example, I just have to share... They didn’t care about my schedule, offering only general remarks about making it “worth my during.” I think they meant “while.” ...
25 Mar 2007
"80/20" and content
"80/20" is a ubiquitous principle (formula, law, etc.) that lends itself to statements such as "80% of a business's performance problems are due to 20% of the employees" and "80% of annual traffic accidents are caused by 20% of a region's drivers". (You can tell I made that last one up, right?) We...
28 Sep 2005
Writing good technical documentation, part 2
(Part 1) Joel Spolsky has an excellent post on the role of the program manager . I work with program managers, so I read through it comparing his descriptions with the PMs I've known. Then I got to the part on functional specifications and my interest level jumped a few notches. Because the spec...
10 Mar 2009
Which user role(s) can perform this task?
The content team is busily ramping up on doc plans for the next version of Operations Manager. (And I'll be very careful not to reveal anything about product changes, features, etc.) I'll be owning the operations content, so I'm working on new outlines and identifying current gaps. As I was going...
28 Jul 2010
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