Words and Software

Technical writing for Windows 10. (old: Intelligent Systems Service, Data Protection Manager, and Operations Manager)

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  • Blog Post: 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...
  • 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: 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: 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...
  • 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: 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: Stop avoiding PDFs

    I can't remember the last time I was this excited by a software program. I will go to all sorts of lengths to avoid opening a .pdf file -- the experience is just too slow, and it basically renders my computer useless while the opening is going on. Then there's the tortoise-pace of navigating through...
  • Blog Post: The story behind Chapter 1

    When I joined the DPM group, I started off digging through the specs to learn about the product and I discovered a wonderful document called "Master Scenarios". What this document did was tell the story of a fictional customer and DPM. I had read other content on DPM before this, marketing materials...
  • 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: 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: 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: 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....
  • Blog Post: 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...
  • Blog Post: Making sense: help wanted

    I planned to post today about confusing alerts and error messages, but first I scanned through the TechNet blog feed and I discovered a post that fit right in with my topic. It's a simple post. Three sentences. Six hyperlinks. And the writing tickled me because it was incongruous. I didn't understand...
  • Blog Post: The path of an error message

    We all want error messages to be useful. Here's a look at how a single DPM error message changed as it went through reviews. The original message From the disks tab in the Management task area, check the status of the disks. The developer suggests a change From the disks tab in...
  • Blog Post: Is your IE8 slow to open a new tab?

    Whenever I would open a new tab in IE8, whether by control-clicking a link or simply clicking the New Tab tab, everything would go dead for a good 10-20 seconds until IE8would finally show a new tab and then begin trying to open something in it. (Yeah, it always feels like longer.) It finally began bothering...
  • Blog Post: Russell Crowe and management pack guides

    This weekend, I watched "3:10 to Yuma" and "American Gangster". Both movies starred Russell Crowe, and both, oddly enough, had the same theme: doing the right thing. "3:10 to Yuma" was more thought-provoking, because of its layers of moral ambiguity. ("American Gangster" was just ugly and depressing...
  • Blog Post: User interface (UI): content scrub

    UI scrubs are now my favorite part of the product cycle. I joined the DPM team too late to participate in the UI scrub for DPM 2006, so this is my first experience with it. It's not quite as much fun as puppies , but close. The approach our content team took was to divvy up the new UI sections and...
  • Blog Post: 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...
  • Blog Post: FizzBin for geeks

    Scott Hanselman has a suggestion for tech support -- a codeword that clues in the help desk that you kinda know what you're doing. I'm not sure fizzbin will catch on, but it's a nice dream...
  • Blog Post: 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 momdocs@microsoft.com . More details: The survey will be sent out approximately 21 March. We will use your responses to help us make decisions about organization...
  • Blog Post: Feature comparison chart for R2

    Kevin Remde (Full of I.T.) brings to our attention a great quick-reference chart of Windows Server 2003 features , comparing SP1 to R2 for each edition. I like this approach, and I agree with Kevin that "All of our products need a page like this, and it should be one of the first links you see on the...
  • Blog Post: Resources for prototyping

    It's a bit frustrating to spend my days concentrating on writing for the beta of the next version of DPM, yet not being able to say anything about it here. It makes perfect sense, of course -- not mentioning features or functions prematurely. After all, if I wrote that we were thinking of having V2 generate...
  • Blog Post: How not to: examples of poor UI design

    I apologize in advance -- the Interface Hall of Shame is curiously addictive. Do not go to this site if you have somewhere to be in the next hour or so. Non-examples are a great way to learn concepts, and the authors of this page provide a generous sampling of non-examples for: Visual elements...