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Monday, February 29, 2016

Not Present

Jeremy took his daughter to see Shinedown & Breaking Benjamin & Sevendust in Cedar Rapids back in November - the concert I didn't take Alex to - and he shared the pictures he took at the concert. I didn't have any other place to store them so here they are:

Visual Evidence

Prior to their concert in Cedar Rapids, as the underpublicized opener playing before In This Moment / Papa Roach / Five Finger Death Punch, I was a fan of this band. I wish their music was more widely supported across the nation. Their new album came out this past Friday (2/26) so maybe that will help them achieve the acclaim I believe they rightly deserve. Without a shadow of a doubt, they deserve more recognition than In This Moment.

Sunday, February 28, 2016

Friday, February 26, 2016

Apologize for The Wrong Thing

Hillary Clinton gets to make up words and then gets called out on using her own word, 19 years later, and gets interrupted by someone who wants her to apologize for using her own word.


I'm not making this up. Read the article - Credit to my Fox News First Daily Politics email for the following high-level description:

Hillary Clinton apologized on Thursday for remarks she made in a 1996 speech, in which she used the word "superpredators" to describe kids with “no conscience, no empathy” who committed crimes. A Black Lives Matter activist interrupted Clinton at a private event in South Carolina on Wednesday, asking the former Secretary of State to answer for the remarks and apologize to black people for mass incarceration. The activist, Ashley Williams, was escorted from the event after Clinton said she’d never been asked about the speech and would be happy to address it. ‘In that speech, I was talking about the impact violent crime and vicious drug cartels were having on communities across the country and the particular danger they posed to children and families,’ Clinton told the Washington Post on Thursday. ‘Looking back, I shouldn’t have used those words, and I wouldn’t use them today.’”

And should Clinton have said that "kids with no conscience [and] no empathy who committed violent crimes" are awesome role models?

That's Enough

I couldn't think of a better example of "classless" than the woman holding the sign in this picture. It is from this article.

31 Days

I am filing for unemployment today. I really REALLY wish I didn't have to do that but it is the 31st day of this job hunt and my last day of "official" employment with the company that laid me off. Frankly, it's unsettling to be in this position. What's even more frustrating is I've been trying to do all that I can to be hired.
  1. I've gone to daily mass 
  2. I've been networking. 
  3. I've been sending in resumes and cover letters for some positions I really want and others I couldn't give a crap about but, if they were to hire me, I'd be happy to work there. 
  4. I've worked with a Right Management career coach, Jeff, who has helped reinforce that I am doing all I need to be doing. His advice and feedback during several long phone conversations has become a highlight of my job search.
  5. I've worked with a Right Management resume coach, Ruth, who has helped me tighten the language in my resume. She sent back the final version and, honestly, it made me nearly puke when I pressed Ctrl+Spacebar in the Word document. The formatting is atrocious and uses manual formatting instead styles. Bullet points should not be formatted as Heading 4. There's no template so one of my tasks is to create a template, based upon the formatting that was done. Depending upon how today goes, I may write a separate blog post about it.

Thursday, February 25, 2016

Not the Right Place

There is a technical writer position open in a geographical region far away from me. It would be awesome if it wasn't far away. Look at what they want - "Create content that can be reused for multiple audiences and types of deliverables, e.g. user guides, help systems, and reference documentation. Maintain complex, shared content across multiple releases." - and tell me that wouldn't be totally awesome! There's too many technologies listed below, though, to make me unrealistic in being hired for it. Plus, there's the distance between here and there.

Technical Writer ( 2 positions )

The technical writer is responsible for developing content that can be delivered as various types of user assistance -- including how-to guides, reference guides, context help, tech notes, cheat sheets, or embedded help.

Role reports to: Manager, Technical Publications


  • Create and maintain documentation project plans for the writing team and for stakeholders. Include detailed content plans, delivery milestones, and dependency assessments.
  • Work comfortably and productively in an Agile/Scrum environment. Multi-task, prioritize, and negotiate workload across multiple scrum teams.
  • Work independently to research subject matter. Interact with department writers, customers, and contributors to obtain and exchange information, if needed.
  • Create content that can be reused for multiple audiences and types of deliverables, e.g. user guides, help systems, and reference documentation. Maintain complex, shared content across multiple releases.
  • Explain scientific and technical ideas in simple language.
  • Ensure technical verbiage is easy to understand by the layperson.
  • Write clear and concise policies and procedures.
  • Follow the technical publishing life-cycle.
  • Ensure that documentation complies with department standards for presentation, format, and content.
  • Document new processes and train other writers in their use.


Bachelor’s degree, plus writing or writing-related professional qualification.


8-10 years of experience in high-tech computer industry, SW or HW writing. Storage industry, virtualization, distributed networks, file systems, operating systems, GUI, and CLI.


  • Excellent written and verbal communication skills.
  • Demonstrated ability to learn new technologies and applications of those technologies with minimal ramp-up time.
  • Demonstrated familiarity with industry-standard concepts in information architecture, modular information development, minimalist content development, information typing, content management, and user-centered design.
  • Demonstrated familiarity with implementations of those concepts, for example architectures and tools such as OASIS DITA, OASIS DocBook, or MadCap Flare.
  • Expert user of authoring tools: Adobe Technical Communications Suite, Confluence (or other Wiki), Microsoft Office, and structured authoring tools.
  • Hands-on approach to writing. Expert user of the products they s/he is documenting. Works directly with SMEs in engineering.
  • Understands and performs all roles in the technical publishing life-cycle: planning, analyzing user needs, solution design, creating content, coding, formatting, publishing, peer editing, kitting, and delivery.
  • Knowledgeable user of Linux, UNIX, and Windows OS.
  • Skilled user of GIT, SVN, or other code repository.
  • Familiarity with developing curated content for social media.
  • Experience producing global products and creating translatable content.


  • Knowledge of technologies such as distributed storage, virtualization (VMWare, Hyper-V), networking and Linux are a plus.
  • Familiarity with high-tech start-ups is an advantage.
  • Familiarity with CLIs, GUIs, and REST APIs is a plus.

Posted 8 days ago

Rubio over Trump

Should Republicans vote for Rubio or Trump? Leon Wolf explores that question in this article.

Wednesday, February 24, 2016

Thank Yous

I just sent thank you notes to those I spoke with during yesterday's interview. Personally, I think I did a good job injecting some personality into each.

Sent: Wednesday, February 24, 2016 2:35 PM
Subject: Thank You

Thank you for taking the time to discuss the Senior Technical Writer position yesterday.

I enjoyed hearing about the potential for this role to provide mentoring to undergraduates. As I mentioned, my mentor at my first technical writer position instilled in me the principles I mentioned yesterday – I would look forward to the opportunity.

I hope I am the first Senior Technical Writer in [the department].

Sent: Wednesday, February 24, 2016 2:25 PM
Subject: Thank You

Thank you for being in the room yesterday during the discussion about the Senior Technical Writer position. I think the question you asked allowed me to highlight what I wanted to make sure to communicate about my career history so I appreciate that. At the end of the day, I feel really good about my chances to be hired.

I hope I am the first Senior Technical Writer in [the department].

Note - This person came to the interview when it was 15 minutes in and did not ask me any specific questions

Sent: Wednesday, February 24, 2016 2:21 PM
Subject: Thank You

Thank you for taking the time yesterday to discuss the Senior Technical Writer position. I hope you learned about my qualifications and what strengths I would bring to the department.

I hope I am the first Senior Technical Writer in [the department].

Sent: Wednesday, February 24, 2016 2:20 PM
Subject: Thank You

Thank you for taking the time yesterday to discuss the Senior Technical Writer position. I liked learning about your role within the department. You asked good questions about the role of a technical writer and how that role would fit into the department. I noticed the smile when I used the example of writing a KISS music review when I talked about having a mastery of a subject in order to pick and choose which details are important to the audience. As a side note, I find myself naming “Destroyer” when I think about my favorite KISS album.

I hope I am the first Senior Technical Writer in [the department].

Sent: Wednesday, February 24, 2016 2:15 PM
Subject: Thank You

Thank you for taking the time yesterday to discuss the Senior Technical Writer position. I liked learning about your role within the department. My takeaway from the discussion is that the complexity of the systems you work with on a daily basis is a parallel to the complexity of the systems I’ve worked with over the years. I enjoy the challenge of making the complex “not nearly as” complex to others.

I hope I am the first Senior Technical Writer in [the department].

Sent: Wednesday, February 24, 2016 2:09 PM
Subject: Thank You

Thank you for taking the time yesterday to continue the discussion about the Senior Technical Writer position. I liked
learning more about the needs for a DRM in relation to the Hollywood Presbyterian Medical Center / ransomware incident you mentioned – I read the following story - - and some others about it. My interpretation of the word “disaster” has been broadened!

I hope I am the first Senior Technical Writer in [the department].

Tuesday, February 23, 2016

This is a Good Sign

It's 8:15 AM.

My second interview for a Senior Technical Writer position is today at 9:30 AM.

My preparations are incomplete. I need to go shower, put on my suit, and remember that all of the praying I have done, all the daily masses I have gone to, and all the Christian music on Life 101.9 with their "positive and uplifting" messages has not been done by me in solitude. I have asked many to remember me in their intentions to God. I've asked strangers or people I barely know to pray for me, like Jeff, my career coach, who boosted my spirits yesterday during our conversation, and like Mark & Susie, who were here last night for a short time and left not before they told me they would remember me in their prayers.

And it's not only the people I can actually talk to. God's amazing power is everywhere, in the lives of those I possibly thought were beyond hope. For example, I have thought for several years that one of my favorite bands - Dokken - would never reunite their classic lineup. Sure enough, perhaps as a sign of the power of God, I just read that the classic Dokken lineup is at least trying to find a time in everyone's schedule to reunite. I have always hoped that George, Don, Mick, and Jeff would reunite because, to me, they are "good" and to those who believe in God, the "good" happens in their lives. I also believe that it could have been any other band talking about a reunion, such as Ratt or Van Halen, but today, it was Dokken, a band I have always cared about, as opposed to my indifference about the Guns-n-Roses classic reunion lineup. It may not be a "rainy Friday" - I have thought since I can remember that "good things" happen on rainy Fridays - but I'll take it. Here's the article about Dokken.

In conclusion, I think all things are possible with God, including being hired for this position, when the focus is not on "holding on" to something, but on "being held" by God's grace. Armed with the knowledge that God loves me and will hold me during the next few hours and knowing all my friends are joining with the angels and saints to look over me, and with Mom's spirit dwelling within me, I'm going to begin my final preparations for my final job interview.

More Important

These comments were made about this article: I firmly believe that these comments are more important than the article and its details about a new chapter in the Cruz / Rubio struggle for dominance.

ADVICE to Ted Cruz: Take the case to the American people. Tell them what THEY owe to cover the national debt. Tell them about the houses in Atlanta that process over 2000 checks to illegals. Shine the light on stupid government boondoggles that waste THEIR money. Expose EPA and Common Core foolishness. Condemn ISIS atrocities. You know the specifics more than they guy who shouts platitudes, but has the depth of a baby's bathtub and an infant's temper to match the few inches of water in it. You have the skills to attack Grump and unite conservatives. Go after Donny's ties to Felix Sater and the Russian mafia. Ask Dana Loesch to share the "real donald" expose on the campaign trail. It's war and you need to be Patton, a foe against the faux.

The only way for Cruz or Rubio to win (I support Cruz) is to take Trump's issues away from him, period. I don't understand why all the candidates didn't do this long ago!

Both point to the lack of strategy from the Republican party. I say, again, having 20 candidates running for president was idiotic. As I said months ago, there should have been a united strategy about winning the election. It has been confusing and as divisive to be a Republican and, because of the confusion and divisiveness, Donald Trump is leading the polls.

Monday, February 22, 2016

It's a Trap

MS Word Clipboard

Editor's Note - the video in question was removed from so it is no longer available for your viewing pleasure. Using the title of the post as search criteria, perhaps one of the videos that displays in the search results is the one I had embedded. Must have context for videos in the future!

Sunday, February 21, 2016

Up my Alley

Sr/Int Technical Writer - Actuarial Modeling


Investments and Retirement

Job Family

Technical Writing

Job Description Summary

Accountable and responsible for the creating and maintaining in-house communications such as technical reports, brochures and/or manuals.

Job Description


  • Develop, write and edit computer-related technical and administrative/business documentation and publications relating to users, systems, software development, operations, products and services.
  • Research and determine appropriate content for printed manuals, documentation, and supporting materials for software systems, technical procedures, and computer –related services.
  • Review and test software systems for accuracy and consistency with documentation identifying problems and suggesting revisions to the documentation.
  • Create graphical images, flow charts, and diagrams for inclusion in documentation.
  • Coordinate with graphics and printing production personnel or vendors to produce documentation.
  • Administer a departmental Intranet site (e.g. Posting additions to the site, adding users to secure sections).
  • Possesses and applies broad knowledge of concepts and principles or exhibits technical expertise in a specific area; works with minimal instruction or guidance with appreciable latitude for un-reviewed action or decisions; performs moderately difficult assignments with diverse scope and complexity, requiring a great deal of originality, creativity and problem solving with initiative and independent judgment required.


Bachelor’s degree in Technical Writing or equivalent education/experience. Minimum of 5 yrs technical writing experience. Competent knowledge of Microsoft Office products, Front Page, HTML, and Visio.

Preferred Qualifications

Prior experience with computers and web-based products. Good verbal and written communication skills. Meticulous attention to detail. Ability to learn a variety of new software tools and technologies quickly. Ability to organize information in an understandable format. Ability to take direction, and prioritize work to complete tasks and meet deadlines from several individuals. Ability to work independently and provide direction to others.

Working Conditions

Normal office environment
[Posted time: ]12 hours ago

Classless Clown and Other Political Phrases

The Thought That Swims in My Head

Tuesday, January 26, 2016, was one of the worst days of my life - I was laid off at work. Since then, I've been doing every thing I can to find a new job. Without getting into speculation, I am confident my second interview on Tuesday will be an awesome opportunity for demonstrating why I am the best fit for the position of Senior Technical Writer. As I prepare, positive thoughts dominate my mind, though I'm lying if I don't also mention that the following quote also summarizes what is also swimming in my mind:

Christians for Trump

The race for the Republican nomination is heating up. Sure, Donald Trump won, but there was a strong showing from Marco Rubio. I have to hope that Sir Donald doesn't become the nominee and, without realizing it, a lot of what this article describes is true. It's a rewrite of the same article he wrote about Christians that voted for Barack Obama, retrofitted to raise questions about Donald Trump instead of Obama. Here are the links:

Friday, February 19, 2016

Yeah.... Sure

Missed This

Metallica's Kirk Hammett (apparently) caused a ruckus with a comment about guitar pedals, per Metal Insider.

For the Benefit of Whom

Crap like this makes me question the integrity of a lot of what Ted Cruz says and does and not simply because I prefer Marco Rubio over Ted Cruz.

Cannot Get Sick of This Tune

It's my favorite part of a Metallica concert.
It's the first tune Old Stew, my college band, used in the set list when we made our public debut at the Mount Mercy Talent Show.
So funny how many times I have listened to the tune and I don't tire of it.

Thursday, February 18, 2016

This Sucks


Car hit his truck from behind.

In ER as a precaution.

Saying No to the Government

I really like the stance Apple is making. The United States Government is asking Apple to redesign their security system on an iPhone so they can access information on a San Bernardino shooting suspect's iPhone. Apple is saying "No" to the request and in a very logical manner, wrote this open letter:

Yeah, That PSU who Lost to Bradley at Home

Last night, the Iowa men's basketball team went down in flames. The Penn State Nittany Lions had Jared Uthoff's #20 in their cross hairs and shut him down. On top of that, a PSU player that averages 3 points / game exploded for 19 and made defensive stops. I wouldn't want to be at the next practice.

Tuesday, February 16, 2016


B v S


Just came upon this job ad. The following reasons are off the top of my head as to why this is not a good fit:
  1. Requires one day a week on site in Grand Rapids, MI, and I live in Iowa.
  2. Requires working for a company that things the following is a word: WRITERREQUIREMENTS (in red below)
  3. Requires experience that I don't have (in green below).


WalkerHeathcareIT is seeking an Information Security Technical Writer for a client located in Grand Rapids, MI. This is a contract position.

START DATE: February 29, 2016

ON-SITE / REMOTE: Remote, but must be onsite one day a week for meetings

DURATION:  1+ months with likely extension


WalkerHealthcareIT Standard Perks

• Weekly pay via Direct Deposit


Our client is looking for an Information Security Technical Writer to join a team tasked with the rapid creation, compilation, revision, approval, and publication of information security policy and standards.

Must be well versed in information security best practice, current frameworks (HITRUST CSF, ISO 27002, NIST 800-53).
Demonstrated experience crafting interconnected information security policy and standards language.

Monday, February 15, 2016

Fix the Bug

Testament, a heavy metal band that I enjoy listening to, is not playing at Gabe's Oasis in Iowa City on 2/18/16. I say this in spite of what I read in the Eventful email that I just read.

Eventful really needs to fix the bug in how email alerts are generated. I am a Testament fan that feels like a yo-yo. I was high / excited that Testament was going to play in Iowa City, which was followed by a low that it is actually Last Will & Testament that is playing.

The email proclaimed this:
But clicking the Find Tickets link tells me that it's not "Testament" that is playing. The band called "Last Will & Testament" are one of the bands that are playing, not Testament, the heavy metal band I enjoy listening to, as shown below:

Sunday, February 14, 2016

183 Links to Retain


Houston! We have Awesome CDs!

From the Houston Craigslist page: (typos remain because this is a copy / paste from the ad)

Selling approximately 2000 CDs from every genre of music. The Smiths, The Cure, Rolling Stones, Miles Davis, David Bowie, Iron Maiden, Johnny Cash, Cult, N.W.A. , Elvis Costello and Presley Echo and the Bunnymen, Kraftwerk, New Order, Joy Division, Bob Marley, Dixie Chicks, Gang of Four, Skinny Puppy, Ministry, Beatles, Kiss, Dio, Pink Floyd, Rev. Horton Heat, Siouxie and the Banshees, lots of Jazz and old Country and Rockabilly. Must buy entire collection, not selling individual cds. Firm on price that's about .50 a cd. Price includes the shelves in the pictures.

Foolish O'Malley

More and more, I really think Martin O'Malley shouldn't have dropped out of the Democratic nomination process. Seriously. Regurgitating what I've theorized previously, here's why:
  1. I really don't believe Bernie Sanders can be elected.
    • Bernie Sanders will earn an income after he leaves Congress, whether he is elected president or not. If he really wanted to get rid of the "rigged" economy he touts in his speeches, why doesn't he include eliminating all the fringe benefits - such as health care and other benefits he will receive after he leaves - in his stump speeches? Both Sanders and I know why. It's a lot like electing a fox to run the chicken coop. Do you really think there will be any "anti-fox" rules? Start being honest about how good you have it at my expense.
    • Years ago, he publicly supported the idea that anyone with over $1,000,000 has too much. Really? If you work hard, drive a used car, make double mortgage payments, and get lucky with your 401(k) and other investments, you have too much money? You should be able to earn whatever you can in the world and then, if you choose, you can donate whatever amount you want to whomever you want. Disclaimer: I don't have $1,000,000 so I'm not writing this because I'm trying to protect my savings.
  2. I really don't believe Hillary Clinton can be elected.
    • She wants to meddle in the business world. She wants to control the price that companies set for their product, especially the pharmaceutical companies. She seems irate that a business can determine what dollar amount the goods and services a business provides / offers. What if I were my own technical writing company and I charged $300 / hour for my work. Who is she (or the government) to say that my rate is outrageously high and that I should charge less than that? Does she not realize that if I charge $300 / hour for my work and I'm still in business that someone sees my value as being $300 / hour because they are willing to pay my rate? She needs to watch the TV show "Shark Tank" and learn. A business is only worth what someone is willing to pay for it. You may have a $1,000,000 idea but if someone / anyone will pay you $1,000 then that is your value. If you charge $1,000,000 and you don't get anyone to pay that price, you have nothing.
    • What the hell is going on with her private email server? Her reasoning that she did this for "convenience" tells me that she puts her own needs ahead of the needs of the country. Didn't she have to promise to do her job duties? When you are paid to keep the nation's best interest in mind, you do that regardless of what is convenient for you. You are not only safeguarding the information that is vital to the national security of our country, you are also safeguarding me and my family. And, in further light of not knowing about the economy, the Secretary of State position comes with a big salary. As I've documented on this blog, article after article comes out that pokes holes in her explanation. Here's one from yesterday.
    • Kevin Bonner wrote a lengthy rant about Hillary Clinton - read it here.
That takes me to O'Malley. When the DNC sees that neither Sanders nor Clinton are electable, O'Malley would be there to swoop in. His policies wouldn't have had the same scrutiny as the policies and ideas of Sanders and Clinton, but he would be the DNC's only option.

Free Online Storage

Using, I did a query to find free online backups. I came to this article and on page 2, I read about Hive:

Details: It’s free and unlimited, but it does come with catches. First, it’s ad-supported. Second, there are no desktop or mobile apps, so users have to access Hive directly through the website and while sharing is allowed, users must pay for HD stream sharing and customers can only share with other Hive users. Paid plans start at $8 per month, which allows for HD streaming and removes ads.

Awesome! That sounds perfect. I click the link and I see that Hive was shut down. Within the comments, though, was a link to Good Cloud Storage. While the site comes across as more focused on marketing and selling the reader on services, with a critical mind, there's good information.

Friday, February 12, 2016


Carly Fiorina was the Republican candidate for president that I wanted to win the nomination. She won me over when she talked about the issues in Washington, DC, with the analogy that Washington is a lot like a fish - they don't know they are swimming in an ocean so, by extension, that is why Washington can't fix the problems of our country. She went on to talk about how all of the issues that were being debated on the stage were issues that had been discussed and debated for years and years, and yet, nothing was getting accomplished. I honestly thought that, as a former CEO of a company, she had the business sense to come in and make changes. I liked her idea of making every department account for the money they have in their budget. It's common sense that doesn't happen today. I was really hoping she would be the nominee against Hillary Clinton. I had visions of Fiorina winning the eventual debates about the direction our country should head and positioning herself as the obvious choice.

All that said, she dropped out of the race and here's a nice summary of her candidacy:

Thursday, February 11, 2016



I learned that these are not opposite points of view:
  • pro-life
  • pro-choice

I don't consider myself pro-choice. I think that when a woman is pregnant, there's a living person within the womb so, in my head, I'm pro-life. Some disagree with that logic.

After last Sunday's Super Bowl 50 airing of an ad for Doritos, "the National Abortion and Reproductive Rights Action League said the ad used an [emphasis mine] “anti-choice tactic of humanizing fetuses" - the link is below. It's bad to "humanize a fetus," per this group. Unless you're Hillary Clinton. She was interviewed by MSNBC's Rachel Maddow about her recent trip to Flint, MI, to do something about the iron in the water crisis. Clinton stated that she heard stories from people that live in Flint, MI, specifically citing the story of a woman who was pregnant with twins and that she had lost her twins.

Wait. Did Hillary Clinton just humanize the fetuses inside that woman by calling them "twins"? I think so. And I fully realize that the National Abortion and Reproductive Rights Action League and Hillary Clinton do not speak for one another. That said, where is the outrage by the National Abortion and Reproductive Rights Action League regarding Hillary Clinton's statement? Does the "pro-choice" mentality mean that only certain cases of "humanizing fetuses" are offensive? Here's the link to the article: & within the first two minutes of the embedded interview, you will hear Clinton "humanize" the fetuses. Twice. And, as a side note, yes, Hillary is still dealing with her email server:

Is That The Who Calling

I can't explain the following screenshot. It shows the results of my search for technical writer positions with a 52317 zip code on

The Elusive 100K Salary

The First Appendix to Yesterday's Anniversary

I only knew being hired was a necessity.

I began my first job search in February 1992. I was foolish for thinking it, but at the time, I thought finding a job would be a quick and simple process. It was not quick; it was not simple. Instead, while I have a large vat of source material to write about, I'll only mention one high and one low from that job search.
  • On the positive side, Brian Rock, my college roommate's pseudo-name on this blog, went with me to an interview in the Twin Cities. It was an interview for a summer intern position. The way it was presented, summer interns were typically hired after the summer. The idea was that I would be hired, full-time, after the summer. Things started off kind of shaky. When Brian Rock and I arrived in the Twin Cities, as I was getting my suit on, I discovered I didn't have my tie. I was in a tizzy but Brian Rock was not. Calmly, he decided that we would find a Target and buy a tie. I remember how his calm demeanor put me at ease - he had a way of analyzing the situation and finding the proper course of action that would resolve the issue. After the (long and grueling) interview, as I drove us out of town, the spontaneous decision was made to go to the zoo. We walked through the zoo and then got a room at a nearby hotel for the night. We watched movies in the room as we drank quarts of Bud Light we had bought at a gas station. Looking back at it, I am very glad that Brian Rock went with me.
  • On the negative side, receiving a response to my resume beyond a stereotypical letter. The stereotypical rejection letter - no matter which company it came from - often would include the following points: my qualifications were impressive and I was not a match for the position. The responses I received that were not stereotypical were few and far between, but they left an impression upon me. My favorite was the angry-toned letter that pointed out the advertised position required 3 - 5 years of experience and that I, as a college student with zero real world experience - did not have that. That position was in Walla Walla, WA. I don't often wonder where my life would be now if the author of that letter had said, "You know what? I'm always willing to take a chance on fresh talent. Fly out here and we'll talk." That letter was the opposite of that pipe dream.

Yesterday's Anniversary

This is a great story that I enjoy telling. Yesterday was the 21st anniversary of the first time I was hired as a technical writer. I am eternally grateful to one of our college friends, Kevin, who had attended our New Year's Eve party on 12/31/1993 and talked about how great the company was that he worked for. I hold him responsible for leading me to my first job. That interview began at 8 and, by noon, I had signed a letter that stated I accepted their job offer. This was an accomplishment that was hard-earned and, in my opinion, well-deserved. I was ecstatic to land the job.

Tuesday, February 9, 2016

Not Encouraging

When I look at a job site that boasts to have all sorts of openings for "me" - without even knowing "me" and what my skills are - I'm not exactly hopeful. When I look at a job site that lists jobs from 2014, I am not encouraged to spend more time on that website. On top of that, when the city is spelled wrong, I lose confidence. Am I really supposed to take this website seriously?

Monday, February 8, 2016


You have zero idea how awesome this job would be for me. I submitted my resume / credentials, even if it is located in NJ or NY.

Technical Writer

Posted on: February 4th, 2016
Location: Iselin, NJ


Technical Writer
Contract Term – 3 months with possible 3 month extension
Location: Central NJ (NY is an alternate option for the right candidate)

You will work closely with a team lead.
1-3 Years Technical Writing experience required. 

  • Must have superb writing AND editorial skills as well as current experience with Confluence or Wiki.
  • Samples of quality writing (ideally from Confluence) will be required for submission.
  • A technically savvy, motivated, organized individual with the ability to work in a fast paced agile environment will thrive here!

In this role you will:
Migrate documentation from online help topics into knowledge space articles in Confluence based on a documented space planner. This is not a blind cut & paste but involves some understanding of the product, applying standard templates, style guides, and minimalism, as well as re-organizing the content based on the space planner. The contractor will be supervised and supported by a Documentation Team Product Lead.


  • Learn software quickly through self-directed practice and integrate it into knowledge spaces
  • Migrate identified user documentation/help into Confluence knowledge spaces based on documented space planners
  • Write in simple, user-friendly language, using writing standards such as minimalism, task based writing
  • Meet with Documentations Team Editor to determine best practices around instructions
  • Ensure any technical verbiage is correct and easy to understand by the end user
  • Prepare screenshots, charts, graphs, or other forms to supplement text as required
  • Ensure instructions and articles flow in the correct sequence – organize content
  • Work with Documentations Team Product Lead to get feedback on initial drafts or clarification on content
  • Input, format, and finalize all articles in Confluence
  • Work with Documentations Team Product Lead to coordinate translation timeline and efforts and respond to questions in a timely manner.

Desired Skills and Experience
  • 1-3 years of technical writing experience with samples
  • Impeccable spelling and grammar skills
  • A strong awareness of writing voice and the ability to adjust as necessary
  • Proven ability to grasp technical subjects and communicate effectively with others
  • Tech-oriented mindset, natural with computers and a fast learner of new software/tools
  • Experience documenting software or writing web help, with a wiki tool such as Confluence
  • Experience creating localization-friendly content preferred
  • Experience with Information Mapping or similar content organization capabilities
  • Ability to work in a fast-paced environment and work within tight deadlines

Saturday, February 6, 2016

Where I Am

I am in Dubuque, waiting for Lou's trip to JC Penny to be done.

This is the store that we went to on Thanksgiving Day, after dinner. He. bought a soundbar and hasn't lived it down yet.

Good-bye Ship

Thursday, February 4, 2016

You're Awesome - Tell Me More - OOD Part 3

It's not about the tool. While I have my favorite tools for documentation, I realize that, by extension, every technical writer has a favorite tool. The point of these OOD posts has not been to declare some slick slogan at the end like Confluence Rules, All Other Tools Drools. If any of these posts has swayed you to believe that you can't obtain the OOD dream if you use this tool or that tool, you've missed the point. The bottom line concept of OOD is to treat each segment of information as just that - a segment. Segments can be arranged and structured and maneuvered any way necessary. Further, by separating content from presentation, the appearance can be quickly changed to adapt to new requirements.

Here are some links to expand your mind.
  1. Separate Your Content from Presentation 
  2. Using Confluence
  3. Using Microsoft Word

More of the OOD Dream - Part Two

It was a nightmare to track.

It was a nightmare to update.

Documentation was maintained as Word files. We had one area of the system that had a 5-7 page section written about it. Those 5-7 pages were in - let's say - 10 different User Guides. When there was a change to that section, the change was written, and then I, or someone in the department, had to open each of those 10 different User Guides and manually copy the rewritten text and paste it into each Use Guide. Yes, that was done 10 times - once for each User Guide.

It wasn't just at my most recent employer. For a dozen years, I worked in an environment where the amount of copy and paste would stagger anyone. And it wasn't just text - screenshots weren't even maintained as separate chunks of information. A screenshot was taken and then pasted into a document. If that screenshot changed, I had to remember all the different places it had been pasted. I was able to do this work only because I created all of the documents and, like a database, I expanded the connections between documents in my brain. I also used a tracking document - also a standalone collection of information - to help me remember what changes had been made.

But there's another aspect of OOD that I haven't even mentioned. It's the aspect of separating "Content" from "Presentation". Andrew Plato, a former member of the Techwr-L list, used to go on rants about how the most important aspect of technical writing was the content, not how pretty the text looked. I think following the principle that content is tagged so that its appearance can be changed by a single change to a file - whether it is a CSS file or a Microsoft Word template - is tremendously helpful. It's too easy to get bogged down in whether UI elements should be bold or italic or in a different font or size. If the content is tagged as, say, a "check box" and all content about a "check box" have that tag, you can define what formatting should be applied to that "check box" tag. I like to use the example that you are writing a document and decide that all references to a check box should have bold and italic applied to it. Then your boss comes by and states that customers are having a difficult time with the way the document is formatted and requests that all references to a "check box" should not have bold and italic, just bold.

When your content is separate from your presentation, this is an easy request. You edit the file that stores the formatting information and all references to a "check box" are instantly updated per your manager's request. When your content is not separate from your presentation, this can potentially be a very long and complex request to complete. You may have to search through many documents to manually find the references and apply the change.

How to Live in an OOD Dream - Part One

It is the next new buzzword in documentation and content creation: OOD.

I created this term after I came across this definition of Object-Oriented:
An approach to structuring software applications. Instead of thinking of an application as a process with steps, we think of it as a set of objects that exchange messages. Now the dominant approach to software development. Java and Visual Basic are object-oriented software development languages.

As a professional communicator, I embrace this definition. I usually see "Object-Oriented" followed by a noun, such as "Object-Oriented Programming." Thus, tweaking the above definition and incorporating the noun it describes, I offer the following slightly tweaked definition as the guiding principle of my work in the technical writing profession:
An approach to structuring technical documentation. Instead of thinking of technical documentation as a collection of procedures with steps, we think of it as a set of objects that communicate information.

Theories are like standards - there's so many different ones, all you have to do is pick one. The question always comes down to how does the pie-in-the-sky theory relate to daily - and I'll say it - grunt work when your duties are to write documentation.This post begins to build the bridge between the theory of OOD and the translation of the theory into practical terms.

First of all, this is not a new thing for me. For roughly the last 4 years, I have subscribed to the theory that writing documentation - whether it is for a Disaster Recovery manual or software online Help - is not done the ODD way when the content is thought of as a "document" that is a silo of content, especially if that content is also in other documents.

In my mind, "documents" have a subliminal context that it is a stand-alone container of information. Traditionally, a document can be a Microsoft Word file, a Dreamweaver HTML file, an InDesign file, or any other file that writers use to store the information that is ultimately distributed to the audience. I'm adding the subliminal context that content in a document is not shared between another document. For example, let's consider a real-world environment. For the same system, there's a Quick Start Guide and a User Guide. The Quick Start Guide is a brief - probably no longer than 3 pages, preferably 2 pages - of what a user has to do in order to set up the system. The User Guide is a collection of all the tasks a user can complete. Because the Quick Start Guide and the User Guide are about the same system, there is overlap in the content because both documents include two types of information:
  1. concept
  2. task
In the "documents" paradigm, these two guides are considered separate entities. They are maintained separately. If there is information that is identical between the two, it is written in either of the guides and then pasted into the other. Because the Quick Start Guide is shorter, sometimes it is necessary to remove content to adhere to the page length. What this does, then, is create two versions of the same content.

That is bad.

In an OOD environment, there is a single source of the content. That content is then tagged for the intended output. For example, a conceptual paragraph is only going to be in the User Guide so it would have a "User Guide" tag applied to it.

By the way, Help Authoring Tools (HATs) have done this for years. Flare and my personal favorite because I earned a MVP Certificate for it - RoboHelp - have this functionality. What I'm advocating is that technical writers verbally call this mentality "Object-Oriented Documentation" or "OOD." Before I was laid off, I used Confluence in the way this post describes. Our team came up with the idea of including screenshots in an expand / collapse section. We reasoned that doing so would serve both those users that know what they are doing and don't need the screenshot and those users that don't know or are unfamiliar with the tasks they are doing and do need the screenshot to verify that they are in the right place. I know our department didn't invent this methodology - I'm not claiming we did.

The beauty of this OOD mentality is quite simply awesome. When there was conceptual information that needed to be in multiple places, we created a page with just that content and referred to it from the pages that needed to have it. In this way, both written word and screenshots that were referred to in many places could be updated by simply updating the page that was referred to by those other pages.

Roller Coaster

I applied for a couple of openings yesterday, one in particular worth mentioning. It was for a Senior Project Manager within the Technical Publications department at a company in Cedar Rapids. I submitted my credentials. Within 1 hour, I received a machine-generated reject letter.

Backing up to Monday, a Facebook friend of mine works at that company and it was his birthday so I sent birthday wishes and a brief note that I had been laid off last week and if he heard of any technical writer opportunities to please keep me in mind.

Back to last night, this friend called me and said that he had received my note on Facebook. He went on to say that he had a friend that worked in Tech Pubs and that friend had said that he thought there were open tech writer positions and promised to send my friend the requisition numbers to pass on to me. My hopes rose very high, very quickly. My friend and I had talked to each other in a while and it was a nice 20 minute phone conversation.

After I hung up, about 10 minutes later, my friend emailed me. His friend had found out that the tech writer positions had all been filled. My friend apologized for getting my hopes up and went on to say that he would keep me in mind if he hears of anything open.

So that was my excitement in the job search world last night.

Wednesday, February 3, 2016

Tip #1: Proofraed Your Wrtng

So, I came across a website boasting about their guide to writing a cover letter and how there were samples included. I sat through a very long infomercial before I could finally download the PDF. I’m looking at the sample letters and come to the first line of the first sample. Keep in mind, this PDF is boasting it will help you get a job.
I am a successful sales professional seeking an opportunity to apply my science background, and experience for the Sales Specialist position in Portland, Oregon for XYZ company.
Why on earth is there a comma after “background”?!?

** Yes, the two mistakes in the title of this post are intentionally trying to make a point.


Being on a full time job search sucks. There is unrest in mind and heart. There is uncertainty.
Two things:
  1. On the way home from Mass, 101.9 posed the question, "What is your vision of God when you feel overwhelmed? Do you accept that He will not give you more than you can handle? Do you realize that even in those moments, God is present and caring for you."
    I had tears in my eyes.
  2. When the drummer in a band woke up with bad injuries, he says he immediately thought he had to stay alive for his loved ones.
    More tears.
I don't know how long I will be in this search, I hope it is over sooner than later, but during it, I hope I can keep those two things in the forefront of my mind. Here's the link about the drummer:

Monday, February 1, 2016

Behind Dead Baby Eyes

As graphic as the title of this post may seem, it's no more disturbing than what Planned Parenthood does when an abortion is performed. I knew the moment the ruling was announced in Texas that there would be articles that pick apart the ruling, like the one below:

And here's an article that says nothing new:

Day 6

It's a new day and a new month. Some notes about my life on Feb 1, 2016 follow.
  1. This job ad amused me, especially the yellow highlighted line.
  2.  My user ID was deleted at work:
  3. I rescheduled a dentist appointment from tomorrow at 4 to today at 11 since I will be filling the rest of my day with finding a job.

Make the Ammends

SEBASTIAN BACH Says He Was Urged By ROBERT TRUJILLO To Reconnect With His Former Bandmates In SKID ROW June 20, 2018