Yep … that’s my coffee!
Yep … that’s my coffee!
I have a new post up at Camden Chat that recaps today’s loss to the Twins. It’s my first game recap for CC; I started off just paying attention to major events for the O’s, but in the 3rd inning I started noting every pitch in the game and whether it was a ball or strike. Later still I started noting whether strikes were looking or swinging.
Here’s a snippet from my notes:
(You can see how excited I was about Davis batting in that spot
Paying attention to each pitch was a bit taxing but very fun. It kept me in the game and increased my knowledge of what was going on by being able to spot trends (that I could later weave into the game recap). By tracking each pitch I could speak more intelligently about what was happening in the game (like noting that Hammel was consistently missing to his arm side.) This enabled me to write the recap immediately after the game ended, since I was noticing trends and things like that during the game itself. I also learned, as I keep on learning, that there is yet another level below “did the batter get a hit or not?” in the game.
People say baseball is boring, but there’s a lot going on if you just pay attention.
I don’t think I will always watch baseball in this way, but I like it enough to keep writing game recaps for CC. The next time I actually go to a ballgame, I might get a pitch-tracking sheet or something like that.
This was a thread on the TECHWR-L listserv that I responded to … I thought it’d make a good blog post.
A little bit of context — a writer had posted to the list saying he’d felt a lack of meaning and purpose in his job, since he was positive that customers were neither finding nor reading his documentation. This is a common refrain among technical writers; in the ~9 years I’ve been in the industry, I’ve heard it a lot from other writers and felt it a lot myself.
There are several reasons that we feel this way, but in my response, I focused on one: users expect answers to individual questions but are forced to read chunks of user manuals (that technical writers put out) instead.
Here is my reply:
What does Tech Comm mean to me? As someone who can easily put single-page help topics on the web as soon as they’ve been reviewed, I have come to see myself as a support rep who can answer customers’ questions with an authoritative voice — by virtue of my experience with our product, skill at choosing words and explanations and graphics, skill at anticipating customers’ questions/issues, and proximity to those with the answers to questions that customers have.
I emphatically [recommend] reading the blog Every Page is Page One. For those who haven’t read it, it’s immensely relevant and insightful to anyone who is posting help content on the web. The title of the blog refers to the fact that you (as a writer) can no longer control where users will land in your collection of content — because it’s highly likely that they will have Googled to find the answer, and Google will deposit you on page 55 of a user manual if that has the answer, or on page 45, or on page 102.
Modern help content benefits by taking this information-gathering strategy into account, where “taking into account” means every “page” of your help system needs to be “page one” — because it could be the first page a user will see. If your content isn’t delivered in this way, customers may turn elsewhere for information, because with your content isn’t designed to answer questions. It’s designed to communicate ideas and teach. If they looked at your content, customers would be forced to read several paragraphs, or parts of a chapter, or click a bunch of links — all of which take more time and energy than simply asking someone.
EPIPO’s premise is that if you don’t facilitate quick entry into (and navigation of) your content, someone else will. Either someone will start a user forum, or devote a StackExchange section to you, or something else. Seeing that kind of info out there is what led to me having my own identity crisis as a TW.
The posts on EPIPO are all about how to write and structure your content so that it turns up in, and is easily consumable as, Google search results. Yes, your help topic will be just another Google result — but it’ll be from you, helping give meaning to your job. And the topic itself will have the company’s stamp of approval, lending credibility to it (and being backed by actual customer support, and warranty, vs. a forum).
Note that writing like a Google search result (instead of a user manual) doesn’t imply a short topic or shallow depth to one. Many concepts require in-depth explanations that are several pages long and full of technical illustrations. Many answers are complex and nuanced. We can include as much depth and background in each topic as we feel is helpful to our users. We can answer users’ questions directly instead of asking them to follow a narrative thread to find their answer.
Anyway, I’m a big fan of the blog and its precepts, as you can tell Not all companies grok the difference, and obviously we as writers don’t always have control over how or when our information gets put out there. But companies that do are out there, as I can attest to with my own personal experience.
(scroll to the end for our itinerary)
Seattle Public Library
View from Space Needle
Pretty sure this is the area around Lake Union.
The Hills are Alive
I love the fog looming over the city in this one. Taken again from the Space Needle.
Giant spiders are attacking the Seattle Center.
Facing southeast from the Space Needle.
Experience Music Project
The Famous Code
As soon as you enter the EMP, you’re confronted with this bit of nostalgia …
Posters for Sale @ EMP
Guitar Sculpture, EMP
Lauren @ Guitar Sculpture, EMP
Super NES Booth, EMP
Part of the Video Game Art exhibit. The console is displayed in glass, and you could press the buttons on the video monitor (to the left) to hear narration about any of the four games displayed.
Lauren Getting Her Retro Game On @ EMP
Front Piece to Nirvana Exhibit
Mannequin used for In Utero tour/album
Entry to Black Leather Jacket Exhibit, EMP
On the top floor of the EMP is a learning studio where you can go through tutorials on playing many kinds of instruments. Here, the keyboard lights up to show me what notes to play.
Black Leather Jacket, EMP
Black Leather Jacket Fashion, EMP
EMP Badge Podium
Entry into the EMP is given by a sticker … and on the way out, you are encouraged to add yours to the collection of those who have come before you.
“…but Main Street’s still all cracked and broken!”
Lauren Drinking Coffee
You thought this day would never come …
Decoration @ Wedding Brunch
The day after Steve’s wedding, we all had brunch at Hilliard’s Beer in Ballard.
Steve & His Father
Lauren Playing Pool
John Placing the Cue Ball
If I recall, he scratched like four times. This must have been one of the only times where I did.
Christy Lining Up Her Shot
Keith & Kara
Kara & John
A moment of some kind of hilarity.
Brunch @ Hilliard’s Beer
Steve & Lauren
Steve & Shab
The newlyweds discuss something on a phone.
Crammed in the Back of a Car
Pretty sure this is illegal.
Lauren and the Pig
Thousands of dollars are collected for charity every year in these giant piggy banks outside Pike Place Market.
The Gum Wall
The pink blob is Lauren’s gum & mine joined together. Awww.
That’s a lot of gum
Just to make one message.
Restroom Sign, Pike Place Market
Coffee & Cream
@ Emmett Watson’s Oyster Bar, Pike Place Market
Pike Place Market Entrance
Boat, Pierce County WA
As seen from the train running from Seattle to Portland.
View from the Train
The elevator in our Airbnb apartment is old-school.
A Portland favorite.
Bagel with Lox Cream Cheese
The coffee mecca of the Pacific NW.
Wall art on Sizzle Pizza.
Right outside the Museum of Contemporary Craft.
I bought six books, natch.
Cherry Blossom Tree
I like how it has a little skirt of leaves/ivy.
From one of Portland’s many food carts.
The sticker that allows you in to the Museum of Contemporary Craft.
Downtown Portland Architecture
Armchair Family Bookstore
South Waterfront, Portland
Oregon Museum of Science & Industry
They have an awesome Mythbusters exhibit.
In the Buckman neighborhood of Portland.
Don’t worry … I ended his torment pretty soon after I took this picture.
Lauren Enjoying Voodoo Doughnuts
She’s waited her whole life to come here.
My girlfriend and I just returned from an awesome trip to Seattle and Portland. I’d wanted to go to these cities for a long time — both have outstanding reputations as places where cool young people congregate and have fun. So when my girlfriend’s friend invited us to his wedding in Seattle, we both jumped at the chance to not only attend, but to take a few days in Portland as a side trip.
We flew out to Seattle on March 8th, took the train to Portland on March 11th, and flew from Portland back to Austin on March 15th.
Here’s a list of what we did:
Super-ass early flight to Austin via LAX
I recently decided to upgrade my coffee. Since I drink it daily, and since my 8-year-old Mr. Coffee drip machine was fading out, I thought the money was well spent.
It all starts with the beans! Instead of buying coffee pre-ground, I buy whole beans. Actually, these beans were given to me by a friend, but you get the idea.
The beans go in here: a Baratza Encore grinder. It has 40 different grind settings, so there’s plenty to experiment with.
Boiling water takes a long time (on my electric stove) and is imprecise. So I got a Bonavita kettle. You can set the exact temperature you want, the water stays at that temp for up to an hour, and the gooseneck spout ensures accurate pouring w/no splashing.
The coffee grounds and the water go into this gizmo, an Aeropress. I’d read a lot about how wonderful this thingie was for making coffee, and I’m happy to report that it works as advertised.
The round disc on the left is the filter; the T-shaped thingie on the right is what you use to stir the coffee/water mixture before pressing it through the filter.
I’ve barely had this setup for a week, so I’m still tweaking how I like to do things. With the upgrade from a drip machine to a manual coffee-making method, there are so many more variables to tweak:
And so on. With any luck, I will be a coffee snob in no time flat. Or, perhaps I already am
200 mm, 1/250, f/4, ISO 100
Check out their music here!
Zucchini, fire-roasted tomato, and blue-cheese spread with ground beef and hummus on whole-grain naan.
50 mm, 1/125, f/5.6, ISO 100