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Monday, November 23, 2020

Time to Upgrade!

This screen capture was taken on Friday, July 5, 2019. The importance? Today, 11/23/2020, I can get a new cell phone!

Friday, November 13, 2020

Metallica in 1993 in Iowa City

JA is F U N N Y!

2012 - Trip to Memphis

I'm working on finding any picture and/or video from the trip to Memphis with Mark, Susie, and Karen. I uncovered these three videos thus far.

Ron White

Ron White Selling His Beverly Hills Home Elevated above expectations by interior designer Kevin Young for Ron White, the entire home is wholly unique. From the hand railings infused with rare crystals to the light fixtures and marble countertops, every square inch is completely custom. This House has three-stories on Beverly Hills Summitridge Drive, the impeccable ensemble of dramatic interiors and nearly 2,000-sq-ft of deck space is an entertainers Eden. A two-screen drop-down projector system enhances the living room for optimal viewing experiences, extending into a top-level deck with a custom water statue, massive gas fire-pit and ample lounging space. Automated blackout curtains unlock your expansive views to the city and ocean while maintaining ultimate privacy. An office with built-in humidor drawers and two master suites with a connecting closet encompass the entirety of the second floor. Pitch perfect sound rooms, a recording studio and barber shop opens to a putting green and pool overlooking the LA cityscape. Listed with Marc Noah of Hilton & Hyland Video by Tri-Blend Media
0:00-0:30 Intro 0:31 Ron White having a Drink 1:06 Dining Room 1:36 Kitchen 2:11 Living Room 3:12 Back Patio 4:13 Front Patio 5:17 Joke 5:55 Donna aka Mustard His 3rd Wife 6:08 Stairs 6:48 2nd Master Bedroom 7:48 Office 8:20 1st Master Bedroom 8:45 Master Bathroom 8:50 Master Closet 9:27 Gym 10:00 Man Cave 10:46 Guest Bedroom 11:11 Safe Room 11:30 Recording Studio 12:18 French Bull Dogs 12:58 Backyard 14:00 Golf 14:36 Ron Having a Smoke and Cocktail 15:21 Thank You to Fans 16:06 Credits

A Tribute to Money

Thursday, November 12, 2020


I'm mad that Hillary Clinton stated that if you voted for Donald Trump, you are a bad person. I'm mad that Donald Trump is pursuing legal challenges even as the Mainstream Media - ABC, CBC, CNN, MSNBC, and NBC - proclaim that Donald Trump's claims of voting irregularity are not credible.

I'm mad that when Al Gore took 37 days after the election in 2000 to contest the voting results, he was not called the nasty names that the Mainstream Media is calling Donald Trump - the hypocrisy is on full display.

I'm mad that the blatant hypocrisy goes unchecked. For example, when George Floyd died in the summer of 2020, there was a funeral with several people in attendance. When a family member passed away, I had to watch the funeral Mass on my laptop. Now, it's acceptable to have a celebration in the streets but it's not okay for Donald Trump to hold a rally.

I'm mad enough that I'm no longer going to assemble political posts on a separate page. There are threads on Twitter about creating a registry of anyone who supported Donald Trump so that they can be put on a list of shame. That's wrong.

Give Me THIS Job

I don't know how much a paycheck would be to be paid to write articles like this one about John Wick. I also don't know if the author was paid to watch the John Wick trilogy or if the viewing of the movies had to be done outside of "work time."

Tuesday, November 10, 2020

Thoughts from 410 Days Ago

Reread these thoughts from 410 days ago: Confessions of a Political Junkie.
Reread these thoughts from 411 days ago:

The transcript of President Trump’s telephone with Ukrainian President Zelensky is out, but the fallout continues. As expected, the call is damning enough to keep the Trump critics on the offensive but vague enough for Trump supporters to explain the president’s actions away. In my view, which does not represent the other writers here or The Resurgent itself, the transcript combined with other evidence against President Trump easily justifies impeachment despite the defenses offered by Republicans.

Defenders of the president make several mistakes in rejecting the impeachment option, the first of which is to claim that impeachment requires an underlying crime. As I’ve pointed out before, impeachment is a political process, not a legal one. Even though the constitutional basis for impeachment includes “high crimes and misdemeanors,” the original intent of the phrase did not preclude impeaching officials for abuses of office that were not criminal in nature.

At the micro end of the scale, the president’s supporters deny that the phone call transcript is enough to warrant impeachment. I believe that they are wrong. While there is no explicit quid pro quo, there is an implicit one, especially in the context of the fact that President Trump had suspended aid to Ukraine the week before. Trump laments that the relationship with Ukraine is not “reciprocal” and Zalensky responds that he wants to cooperate and buy more Javelin anti-tank missiles. President Trump then says that he wants a “favor” from Zalensky. The favor turns out to include investigating Crowdstrike, the US cybersecurity company that investigated the 2016 DNC hack, as well as Joe Biden’s role in dismissing Ukraine’s former top prosecutor.

Trump’s defenders set the bar impossibly high. The only thing that would convince some people is an explicit, Godfather-esque statement in which Trump tells Zalensky, “I’m about to make you an offer you can’t refuse.” Nevertheless, the implication is clear: Play ball and you get your aid and the Javelins.

Trump’s defenders also tend to take each piece of evidence against him individually rather than looking at the big picture. In truth, the revelations of the Mueller report, in which Trump staffers testified under oath that the president ordered them to take action to impede or shut down a federal investigation, detailed an impeachable abuse of power. Mueller explained that the president couldn’t be indicted because of Justice Department policy, but any one of us who acted similarly would likely be sent to jail. Just ask Mike Flynn or George Papadopoulos.

But wait, as they say, there’s more. We also have the president’s decision to declare a national emergency to bypass the will of the people as expressed through their representatives to Congress. This is an egregious affront to the Constitution’s system of checks and balances and, if not corrected, will establish a precedent to be further abused by future presidents. Yesterday, in a vote that included 11 Republicans, the Senate voted to end the national emergency farce, but opponents lack the numbers to override an almost certain veto.

Further, the Trump Administration has habitually refused to respond to congressional oversight, again setting a precedent that will be followed and expanded by future presidents. Like Obama before him, Trump refuses to respond to congressional subpoenas for both documents and testimony. It was the refusal to provide the whistleblower complaint to Congress, not the contents of the telephone call, that spurred Democrats to open an impeachment inquiry.

An additional error on the part of Republicans is using the wrong yardsticks to measure President Trump. Frequent defenses are that he’s an outsider and doesn’t know any better or that the Democrats acted similarly. Both are damning. If the president is so ignorant that he can’t understand the law and ethics when his advisors explain it, then he should not be leading the country. Likewise, if an Administration whose stated goal was to “drain the swamp” is looking to swamp denizens for moral guidance, it has lost its way.

An objective measure rather than a subjective one is much better for the country. Ask the simple question, should any president use his office and taxpayer-funded foreign aid to influence a foreign country to investigate a political rival? Should the president use his office to block an investigation into his campaign? If you view the rule of law and the Constitution objectively, the answer has to be no.

To check whether you are viewing the situation objectively, simply imagine that Obama did the same things that Trump is accused of doing. Republican heads would be exploding rather than offering rationalizations. That’s the next error: Tribalism. Republicans defend Trump, not only because they like his policy and his style, but because he is leader of their tribe. This is simply a different strain of Trump Derangement Syndrome.

The bottom line here is that there is an abundant record of abuses of office by President Trump. Some would justify impeachment on their own, but taken as a whole, they provide a strong argument that the president should be removed from office. He is simply is not trustworthy with the power that he has been granted.

In fact, the case against Trump is much stronger than the cases against the two previously impeached presidents. Bill Clinton was impeached for perjury, an offense that even many Republicans felt could have been handled by censure, and Andrew Johnson was impeached for appointing a replacement cabinet official without congressional consent. Quinn Hillyer makes a detailed comparison of other incidents where impeachment was considered in the Washington Examiner. Trump’s case is stronger than any of them. As Erick Erickson pointed out, the case is likely to become stronger when the whistleblower complaint drops.

Trump’s abuses of power, encroachment on congressional authority, and failure to accept congressional oversight have essentially left Congress no choice but to impeach or accept a diminished role. While I cannot say for sure that impeachment is politically wise or good for the country, it is clearly justified by President Trump’s actions. If impeachment is not justified for President Trump, it may as well be written out of the Constitution. Especially for a party that claims to favor the rule of law and the Constitution, an elected official should be held to a higher standard, not graded on a curve.

Editor's Note: This is the source:

Monday, November 9, 2020

Knowledge Aware

I was hired as a Documentation Specialist at NDP exactly 9404 days (25 years, 8 months, 4 weeks, 2 days) ago. From then until today, I have watched a lot of tools and methodologies that were sold as "the future of technical writing" fall by the side to the extent that, now, no one remembers what they were. Thus, when I saw this blurb in an email this morning, I chuckled a little:
Knowledge Aware: The Future of Knowledge Management

To keep pace with a globalized and digitized economy, Knowledge Management can no longer rely on legacy methods that manage knowledge within documents, people, or models. These traditional knowledge management approaches risk critical failure modes. They disrupt the flow of work and encumber the user with wading through vast stores of knowledge to obtain what is needed. Knowledge Aware is a next generation knowledge management approach that avoids legacy failure modes and leverages technology to deliver knowledge to end-users directly within their flow of work. This white paper details the innovative approach to knowledge capture and activation that makes Knowledge Aware a transformative approach for multiple industries. Today’s digitized work environments create the imperative and opportunity for Knowledge Aware to streamline organizational learning, increase productivity, and enhance functions across the entire organization.

While I like what that blurb says, I'm going to take a "wait and see" approach.

Friday, November 6, 2020

Returning Briefly

I've gone the entire week without writing about what's going on in my life and I don't know what conclusion to draw from that simple truth. I have been working, very hard, at getting my disaster recovery documentation to go from my local laptop, where it is compiled into a browser-based output, to the S:\common\drpcurver folder and, this is the "new" part, then, its contents are copied to the ShareFile\DrDoc folder and, from that folder, the contents are synched to the local machine of the Directors.

I have had some success and some unsuccess with this project.

My success is in the reality that this flow works.

My unsuccess is in the reality that this flow is rather cumbersome because my "current" browser-based output from RoboHelp has

6772 Files 4,959,647,173 bytes

In my professional judgement, it takes too long for those 6772 files to be put through the current route from my laptop to s:\common\drpcurver to ShareFile\DrDoc to Director Local Machine.

So what's a Technical Writer, who uses RoboHelp, to do? I know! Create a .CHM file of the disaster recovery documentation so that only a single file goes through the current route from my laptop to s:\common\drpcurver to ShareFile\DrDoc to Director Local Machine!

I tried that.

RoboHelp bombs out and says that the file could not be created.

Is it the weekend yet?!?

Monday, November 2, 2020

Peterson: Prohm deserves another shot at fixing Iowa State basketball

Peterson: Prohm deserves another shot at fixing Iowa State basketball:

Even if Steve Prohm’s team beats Oklahoma State in Wednesday’s 6 p.m. play-in game, will that erase the ugliness that was 5-13 during the Big 12 Conference and 12-19 overall?

I'll revisit this post in November 2020 to see what happened.

Editor's Note: Is Steve Prohm the ISU men's basketbal coach heading into the 2020-2021 season?
  • Yes, he is.
  • NO, he isn't.

Friday, October 30, 2020


0:00 Judas Priest - The Sentinel 
5:05 Iron Maiden - Where Eagles Dare 
11:19 Metallica - Blackened
17:59 Accept - Starlight
21:52 Anthem - Venom Strike
26:40 W.A.S.P. - King of Sodom and Gomorrah
30:31 Razor - Cross Me Fool
33:47 Dokken - Into The Fire
38:17 Cacophony - Savage
44:08 Black 'N' Blue - Chains Around Heaven
48:09 Running Wild - Freewind Rider
53:30 Metal Church - Ton Of Bricks
56:31 Savatage - Power of the Night
1:01:46 Fates Warning - Without a Trace
1:06:36 Carnivore - Male Supremacy
1:14:04 Elektradrive - Secret of the Holy Grave
1:19:36 Crimson Glory - Eternal World
1:23:29 Norden Light - Legends

Answer Carefully

Diamond Head - Am I Evil?

Here's What's Going On in My World

Thursday, October 29, 2020

Wednesday, October 28, 2020

Monday, October 19, 2020

It's "Reuse" not "Re-Use"

Technical Writing in a Wiki – Content Re-use and Structure

Forecasting the Future of Hawkdom

Game-by-game picks for Iowa's 2020 season


There was a time in my life when I knew about "current" music.

I see 34 bands listed below.

Of those 34 bands, I recognize 12 bands.

Of those 12 bands, I can 5 tunes from 5 of those bands.

I feel old.

Teasing What Might Have Happened

In addition to missing that the Ozzy Osbourne tour has been rebooked for 2022, I also missed that Van Halen Planned Reunion for Farewell Tour. Here's the awesome part about that article:
Among the plans were for major special guests like Foo Fighters and Metallica to join the band in select cities.

Maybe that means in some cities, it would be Foo Fighters and Van Halen and, in other cities, it would be Metallica and Van Halen but, consider for a moment, if it actually meant that it would be a triple bill of The Foo Fighters, Metallica AND Van Halen in all the cities, with ALL of the bands playing a "normal" set of 2 hours, plus add an opening act like Volbeat.
I would schedule the shows to be only on Saturdays, not during the week, which would allow plenty of time for getting things from stadium to stadium. Oh, by the way, yes, this tour would play Kinnick Stadium in Iowa City (just saying)...
Doors Open at Noon
    Volbeat at 1
        Volbeat End at 2
1 hour Stage Change
    Foos at 3 PM [Setlist would not include "Times Like These"]
        Foos End 5 PM
1 hour Stage Change
    Metallica at 6 PM [Setlist would not include "Enter Sandman"]
        Metallica done at 8 PM
1 hour Stage Change
    Van Halen at 9 PM [Setlist would not include "Runnin' with the Devil"]
        Van Halen done @ 11
Jam Session with all bands 11 - 11:30, playing one tune from each band
    Volbeat - Devil's Bleeding Crown
        Foo Fighters - Times Like These
            Metallica - Enter Sandman
                Van Halen - Runnin' With the Devil
End of show

Missed this News Last Week

Ozzy Osbourne Tour Rebooked for 2020

Gone You're Now

From New Album of Whitesnake Love Songs Coming on 11/6/2020 comes the news that Whitesnake will release an album of love songs. Here is the info:


"The Love Album"

Release date: November 6

  1. Love Will Set You Free
  2. The Deeper the Love
  3. All I Want, All I Need
  4. Too Many Tears
  5. Can't Go On
  6. Is This Love
  7. With All of My Heart *previously unreleased
  8. Summer Rain
  9. Your Precious Love
  10. Now You're Gone
  11. Don't You Cry
  12. Midnight Blue
  13. Easier Said Than Done
  14. Yours For The Asking previously unreleased

Here's a remix of one of their great tunes that will be on the album:

Here's my question: why aren't their "greatest" love songs on this album?

Editor's Note: Greatest love songs? Wow, you had to be smirking as you wrote that... Test

Friday, October 16, 2020

Interesting... But No, Not Moving to CA, even if I don't get to pet the Office Dogs...

I have had an excellent last couple of weeks at work. First, last week, I presented what I had prepared for this week's annual IT Audit to my manager's manager (the CIO) as well as the other Directors in my department. It was a 20-slide PowerPoint presentation that I talked through in 30 minutes. I did an awesome job, if I do say so myself. Then, yesterday, 10/15/2020, I joined a Zoom meeting with the IT Audit company. In previous years, this IT Audit was the "Why the Work I Do so Tremendously Awesome and Perfectly Stupendous" meeting, but yesterday, it wasn't about me. In the past, I have talked about assigning a priority to each system my department is responsible for supporting and one of the first statements made by the leader of the meeting was to (briefly) recap that fact, based upon what was stated, by me, last year. I confirmed, yes, that's the route we're still on and, from that point forward, the work I do and the manner in which I do it was not the focus. When appropriate, I spoke up and enhanced what had been stated by someone else, but otherwise, as I said, I wasn't the focus. I know that I did an excellent job explaining whatever I was explaining (sure, call me egotistical and self-serving - doesn't bother me regarding this topic) so at the end of the meeting, yes, I was happy.
Which leads me to stating that despite the idea of living in CA being an idea I would consider in one of my alternate realities, but not the 'real' reality in which I am writing this post as well as saying that I know it flatly ignores the fact that Ben Shapiro and The Daily Wire are *leaving* CA because of all the insane policies that hamper their business (there's a video called "Why I'm Leaving California" that can be viewed), I am not moving to CA.  

Technical Writer
Full Time
Rancho Cordova, CA, US
2 days agoRequisition ID: 1074

About Backblaze

Backblaze originated in a founder’s one-bedroom apartment where five people committed to helping people save their data. Backblaze provides backup and cloud storage that’s astonishingly easy to use and inexpensive. Our customers use our services so they can pursue dreams like curing cancer (genome mapping is data intensive), archiving the work of some of the greatest artists on the planet (learn more about how Austin City Limits uses B2), or simply sleeping well at night (anyone that’s spilled a cup of coffee on a laptop knows the relief that comes with complete, secure backups). We are entrusted with almost an exabyte of data from customers in more than 150 countries. We exited 2019 growing quickly and cash flow positive, and we’ve done all this with just $3M of funding.

We’ve managed to nurture a team oriented culture with amazingly low turnover. Our approach is guided by honesty, transparency, and a commitment to doing the right thing for our customers and coworkers. Our customers are happy, and so are our coworkers: In the most recent “Great Place to Work” survey, 99% of our team rated Backblaze as “a great place to work.” Check out what our employees are saying on Glassdoor!

But while there is a lot to celebrate in our past, there is almost as much opportunity ahead of us. We are seeking a Technical Writer.

What You’ll Do:
  • Work with SMEs from Technical Operations to develop internal documentation and training material
  • Write technical documents for technical people
  • Translate complex ideas into plain language documents
  • Organize and maintain technical documentation in Confluence
  • Follow the Backblaze style guide
  • Revise existing documents for accuracy and style
  • Work with Compliance to ensure SOP meets data security requirements
  • Pet the office dogs when appropriate.
The Right Fit:
  • Expert understanding of English grammar and punctuation
  • Demonstrated plain language writing skills
  • Comfortable with Atlassian Confluence and Markdown
  • Linux command line experience
  • Critical thinking skills
  • Ability to learn quickly and willingness to ask a lot of questions
  • A passion for building and improving all manner of systems and services
  • Excellent problem solving, investigative, and troubleshooting skills
  • Strong interpersonal communication skills
Bonus Points:
  • Experience with Lucidchart
  • Experience with Bash or Python
  • Experience working at a technology/software startup
  • Familiarity with configuration management and automation software (Ansible preferred)
  • Grasp of server and storage system hardware and configurations
  • Ability to work on site in San Mateo or Sacramento (but fully remote is ok)
Backblaze Perks:
  • 100% healthcare for family
  • Competitive compensation and 401k
  • Full-time employees receive option grants
  • Flexible vacation policy
  • MacBook Pro to use for work plus a generous stipend to personalize your workstation
  • Fully stocked micro kitchens and strong coffee
  • Catered breakfast and lunches twice a week
  • Childcare bonus (human children only)
  • Pet-friendly office
  • Generous skills training policy to continue your professional development
  • Culture that supports healthy work-life balance
Backblaze is an Equal Opportunity Employer.


Tuesday, October 13, 2020

Monday, October 12, 2020

Sort? In DOS? I Never Knew

I learned something new about DOS today and it's only 7:33 AM! There's a way to sort files! It's so cool! To learn more, refer to

Welcome to the Haystack

Lyz Lenz was a columnist who wrote opinion articles for the Cedar Rapids Gazette newspaper. Until she was fired... I disagreed with her political slant - extreme Liberal is how I would label her. When I read a Liberal column - for example, by Leonard Pitts Jr. - I will use Scotch tape to keep it in my 10 Year Journal project because good writing is good writing. Lenz? I put used Scotch tape to keep her articles in my 10 Year Journal project because reading bad writing is a reminder to me what NOT to do. This is her blog: I poked around enough to find some fairly decent writing. Just to warn you - the website is a haystack.

Friday, October 9, 2020

Funny and Truthful in Two Phone Calls

We've been getting too many phone calls from organizations associated with political parties. Because I worked as a telemarketer as well as an "Executive Interviewer" in my career, I tend to at least listen to the person on the other end of the phone - as long as it is an actual person and not an automated script. I don't pretend that what I say actually matters to the person on the other end as, because of the work I've been paid to do in those aforementioned roles, I know that the person on the other end sees my name and information as "just one more phone call I have to complete" before going home. I get it and, very sincerely, I have sympathy for the person on the other end of the phone who is being paid to call me. So, yesterday, I answered the phone twice.

I thought I was funny.

The first time, the person on the other end verified who I was and if I was registered to vote. Then she asked if I commented on political issues online or had a blog that talked about political issues. I paused and said, "Yes, I can answer yes to that question" because of this blog.

I thought I was truthful.

The second time, the person on the other end asked to speak to Megan. I typically pause when someone asks for her. I don't give out her number - ever. I tell the truth, "She doesn't live here anymore." The person on the other end said, softly, "I'm sorry to hear that." I think the person on the other end thought Megan had died or something tragic. I said, "Oh, no, she just moved out. It's okay." Megan has been living in her North Liberty town house since early July. It's early October as I write this. It was the first time I ever have said that "it's okay" that Megan is not living in our house. It took me by surprise to hear myself saying that, but I firmly believe that sometimes the truest form of honesty comes out of me when I am talking to someone who doesn't know me - I'm not saying I'm a liar or anything like that - I'm just observing a trait of my personality. I miss Megan, but I also want her to thrive as a woman independent of her father.

Resources I Hope I Never Need in My Life

When I went through my layoff at Pearson in January 2016 and had to search for a new Senior Technical Writer position, I was truly devastated. As anyone who pokes around this blog can infer, I landed "up" when I was hired by the U of Iowa to work on Disaster Recovery documentation. I started on March 28, 2016.

I never expected to be looking for work in January 2016 because I "had" to look for work. I had interviewed with the U of Iowa earlier in January for my current position and while I was happy at Pearson, I also felt like maybe I needed to move on for reasons I won't go into today.
When I started thinking about all of this today, I realized that I worked at Pearson for 1702 days (4 years, 7 months, 3 weeks, 6 days). While that is impressive (because I say it is!), my employment at the U of Iowa is shorter as far as days: 1656 days (4 years, 6 months, 1 week, 4 days). My conclusion is that while I worked at Pearson longer than I have at the U of Iowa, flipping that narrative will be happening on Wednesday, November 25, 2020 - the day before Thanksgiving. What is ironic is that I applied for my U of Iowa position on the day before Thanksgiving 2015. Interesting, right? (Your answer is "yes!") I am eager to be able to state that my employment at the U of Iowa is my longest employment in the last decade.
I subscribe to a weekly email called Friday Reflection by Megan Gilhooly ( Each week, I read her excellent content. Today's email is no exception - I pasted what I liked reading below from her email. I didn't write the following words, so I want all credit for the following content to go to Megan!

Today’s reflection covers inspiring stories from people who have worn the out-of-work shoes and turned their situation around, as well as the best places to find content jobs today.
  • Three Steps To Recover From A Late-Career Job Loss by John Tarnoff. Ignore the “late-career” part of the title because this article is relevant to all ages. And his advice is far from ordinary. Ok, establishing a routine is popular advice, but cutting ties with former colleagues? I would not have thought to give that advice to anyone, but his argument is solid. His last piece of advice is the toughest to implement--framing your situation in a way that suggests hope and opportunity. I usually suggest an hour a day punching a heavy bag or going full throttle on a spin bike, but given COVID, John’s advice might be more accessible. 
  • How to Build a Personal Brand After a Job Loss by Dennis Shiao. This is a truly inspirational story from a guy who lost a job in the last economic crisis in the U.S.  When you lose a job, the last thing you want to do is write a compelling blog article or get busy on social media posting articles about your trade. But, that’s exactly what Dennis did. He focused on building his brand--and the jobs came to him. 
  • Where are content jobs listed? I reached out to Jack Molisani, founder of Lavacon content strategy conference and ProSpring Technical Staffing, to get his insights on the best places for job seekers to find content jobs. Here’s his list:
And here’s a pro tip: When searching for roles by title, consider broadening your search. According to Jack, “Facebook just announced they are changing the name of content positions from ‘Content Strategist’ to ‘Content Designer’.” He also reminds content professionals to keep in mind that “‘UX Writer’ is a growing subset of content jobs.”

Hug A Drummer Day 2020

In the screenshot below "yesterday" was Thursday, October 10, 2019. I knew nothing about it, but I vow to not repeat that by making sure to recognize Hug A Drummer Day 2020, which is tomorrow, Saturday, October 10, 2020!

Editor's Note: As of October 10, 2019, jamming with Ed English has never happened.

Friday, October 2, 2020

What I Want to Learn Part IV

I didn't write about it when I should have.

Yesterday was a double shot of anniversaries of two huge events in my career.

First, on October 1, 1998, I started at a new job at a software company called Quintrex Data Systems (QDS), which, by that name, no longer exists. I had my last day at Jordan Systems, a software company which, by the way, also no longer exists, on September 30 and started at QDS the next day. I was very excited to join QDS and, long story short, I stayed for a dozen years. QDS introduced me to a tool called RoboHelp, which I eventually mastered to the extent that I became a RoboHelp Most Valued Professional on 10/17/2002 - or at least that's the date on the certificate that the CEO of QDS gave me. I have that certificate on the bookshelf directly in front of me because I'm proud of that accomplishment. During my time at QDS, I attended a WinWriters conference in Boston, MA, in 2004 and a WinWriters conference in Long Beach, CA, in 2007. In addition to networking with some of my technical writing heroes at both conferences, I was able to see both coasts of America without paying for seeing it. Of course, since Karen went with me, there was her plane ticket so it wasn't free, but I know I would have never gone to both coasts as cheaply as I did.

My brain works in a quirky way because mentioning money is a great transition to the other reason why October 1 is also an anniversary of a second event in my career. It is the 10-year anniversary of being reaching my 12-year anniversary of being a QDS employee and, on that same day, when I tendered my resignation. I had been hired by the Unnamed Hellhole in southern Iowa and had negotiated with that company to have my first day be on Monday, October 18, 2010. 

I know that there is a lot of venom about the Unnamed Hellhole in southern Iowa - look for posts on this blog by the "Unnamed Hellhole in southern Iowa" label - to read venomous and angry and anguished words about that hellhole. To say that I used to be very angry about the way I was treated and how my time at that company ended after only 177 days or 5 months, 3 weeks, 5 days, is accurate. I also have realized that I had to be hired at the Unnamed Hellhole in southern Iowa in order to arrive at my current employer. To fully appreciate my time at the Unnamed Hellhole in southern Iowa, I had to learn that it's okay to have a career with mistakes and errors. Upon reflection, leaving QDS to join the Unnamed Hellhole in southern Iowa was an awful mistake - I can't wax poetic and say, "Oh, it wasn't so bad." I have to be honest: calling a former employer a "hellhole" is the correct adjective. Trust me.

At the same time, I love to write about the "what if I had chosen B instead of A" episodes in my life. In my journal, for example, I have tackled the following scenarios more than once:
  • what if Karen and I had never had a New Year's Eve party on 12/31/1994? It was at that party when I learned from one of our college friends that he had a job at a great company in downtown Cedar Rapids and that I should send my resume to his manager. That company was Network Data Processing (NDP) and it was my first job as a technical writer. 
  • what if I had never left QDS and had never been hired by the Unnamed Hellhole in southern Iowa?
I don't know what else would be different in my life other than I firmly believe I would not be in my current job situation if I had never been hired by the Unnamed Hellhole in southern Iowa. There's no scenario in which I still end up being hired at Pearson in April 2011 without leaving QDS. There's no scenario in which I learn as much as I have about content reuse and *true* technical writing at Pearson in order to be hired by my current employer. While yesterday's anniversary involves the Unnamed Hellhole in southern Iowa and is not an anniversary of a "good" point in my career, I still need to remember that God has a plan for me. Spending time in that Unnamed Hellhole in southern Iowa certainly would NOT have been MY plan!

What I Want to Learn Part III

When I was in college, I thought I wanted to be a high school English teacher. I thought I would graduate in May 1992, start a new teaching job in August 1992, and then, I would be an English teacher for the next 40 years. I'd retire when I was 62, and that would be that. Instead,
  1. I despised student teaching
  2. I was not a consistently awesome teacher
  3. I did not have have students who wanted to learn. 

Thus, I graduated from college in May 1992 without a job and, eventually, found a position at ACT in Iowa City doing data entry for FAFSA (financial aid) forms. Eventually, I transitioned to a software tester position within ACT, which gave me the credentials to be hired at my first technical writing job, which I will address in Part IV - stay tuned!

I believe that if I would have known then what I know now, I would have been a Computer Science minor, despite my hatred, and well-documented on this blog, for math. If I would not have chosen Computer Science because of my hatred for math, I hope that I would have chosen to earn a Business minor. The reason I would like to take those two classes in Part I and Part II of this series is because I have had to learn a lot about "business" in a trial-by-fire manner. I have had to learn that there are many aspects to a business, many of which I *still* don't comprehend entirely.

I am jealous of the education Alex is getting at UNI as a MIS major. His major is a cross-section of business and computer science. I don't believe a MIS major existed when I began college in Fall 1988 and, frankly, even if it did, I would not have chosen it because I thought I wanted to be a high school English teacher - that was my path forward into a long and rewarding career. If I could do my career all over again, I would have been a MIS / English double major with a minor in Computer Science.

When I saw those two courses in Part I and Part II, I felt a familiar twinge of lost opportunities that I never would have done anyways, but I still feel the twinge. Sometimes twinges are marked by an anniversary.

What I Want to Learn Part II

Business Analysis for the IT Professional
The business analyst role has evolved from that of a business procedure analyst to that of a business liaison between the non-technical user community and the technical solution providers. This course provides proactive, introductory coverage of the knowledge and skills essential to business analysts today and the foreseeable future.

Delivery Method
This IT Business Skills Series course does not follow the intensive hands-on lab methodology that is used in our traditional system administrator or developer classes. Our IT Business Skills classes have less of a hands-on component and more of a lecture/presentation style delivery.

About ONLC
Our Business Analyst course has been approved by the IIBA and it conforms to the BABOK v3 (Business Analysis Body of Knowledge). ONLC Training Centers is approved by IIBA as one of their Endorsed Education Providers.

4 days

Who should attend
• New business analysts
• Experienced business analysts looking to update their skills and understanding of their role
• Project managers who incorporate business analysis roles in their projects
• Managers that have business analysts on their staff
• Individuals with a general understanding of database concepts and programming and systems development

Career changers should have either IT or business domain expertise in their chosen field before attending this course to gain the maximum benefit from this course.

PDU Credits
Our Registered Education Provider (REP) number is: 3452
This course is worth: 28 PDU's

What you will accomplish
• Describe the relation between projects and processes
• Describe three major project development methodologies
• Discuss the basics of enterprise analysis and its impact on project selection
• Learn the communications processes and how they can impact project requirements
• Determine each participant’s communications style (BEST profile) and how that understanding can help in eliciting requirements
• Gather and document user requirements using the following techniques
§ Interviews
§ Collaborative sessions
§ Prototyping
§ Using the Work Breakdown Structure
§ Use case basics
§ Business process analysis
• Modeling the business
• Fundamentals of Process Modeling
• Requirements validation through Data Modeling
• Testing fundamentals and quality assurance

Course Outline

1 Overview
1.1     BA Responsibilities
1.2     Communications
1.2.1     Information distribution
1.2.2     Communications styles
1.3     Documentation strategy

2 Requirements Gathering
2.1     Levels of requirements on a project
2.2     Identifying needs vs. wants
2.3     Techniques for gathering requirements
2.3.1     Interviewing
2.3.2     Prototyping
2.3.3     Use Cases
2.3.4     Collaborative Workshops
2.3.5     Work Breakdown Structure
2.3.6     Business Process Analysis
2.3.7     Use Cases
2.4     Ranking requirements

3 Modeling
3.1     Business Process Analysis
3.1.1     Business Process Improvements (BPI)
3.1.2     Business Process Reengineering (BPR)
3.2     Data Modeling
3.2.1     Fundamentals
3.2.2     Entity Relationship Diagrams

4 Fundamentals of testing
4.1     Testing strategy
4.2     Ensure project quality and quality of the product
4.3     Test scripts

5 Templates
5.1     Software/Product Requirements Outline
5.2     Use Case Template
5.3     Test Plan Template

6 Practical Application Sessions
6.1     Determine your own Communication Style
6.2     Interview a project sponsor
6.3     Develop Use Cases and a Use Case Diagram
6.4     Gather requirements while developing a Work Breakdown Structure
6.5     Create a Business Process model
6.6     Design and facilitate a Requirements-Gathering session
6.7     Develop a high-level Requirements Document
6.8     Develop an Entity Relationship Diagram
6.9     Create a Project Test Plan


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