February 24, 2005
Technical writing bleeps
I was just browsing through some resources as usual.. for documentation and I came across some old stuff.. which made me smile !! Reassures me that I am not the only one having questions in mind some wierd times... LOL ******************************************* Missing User Instruction Hans Springer received an email quoting an American article in German language. I found it very nice indeed. Here is the result of a translation back from German into English, showing the effect of inadequate user instruction: In the American "Meat & Poultry" magazine an editor quoted the following history from "Feathers", the publication organ of the California Poultry Industrial Company: The American FAA (Federal Aviation Administration) possesses equipment unique in the world for testing the stability of airplane windshields. Like a catapult this equipment shoots a dead chicken at a speed similar to that of a flying airplane to the windshield to be examined. The theory behind is that the airplane windshield, if it withstands the impact of this chicken also withstands a collision with a bird during flight. Railway engineers were highly interested in this procedure and wanted to test the windshield of a newly developed high-speed locomotive. They borrowed the FAA catapult, loaded it with a chicken and fired. The ballistic chicken smashed the windshield, pierced the driver's seat, destroyed one instrument panel and finally stuck in the rear wall of the operator's cabin. The railway-people were shocked and asked the FAA to examine the test arrangement whether everything had been implemented correctly. FAA engineers examined everything carefully and recommended: "USE A THAWED CHICKEN!" ********************************************* Biggest Lies Tech Writers Hear ( I have taken the instances which I have faced myself.. in my career) :) :) I'll return this to you, with my comments, by the end of the week? On Monday: We need it by Friday (after doing a little digging, you discover that they've known about this project for 6 weeks, but are only getting around to telling you now. More digging reveals that they can really wait until next week). Nobody reads the manuals, anyway! Code will be frozen 12 weeks before your document is due. There's plenty of time in the schedule for these changes. I don't really have an opinion on how you labelled those controls. One space, two spaces. It doesn't matter to me. We're ordering you a faster computer and a 21" monitor tomorrow. We've never had any complaints about our documentation. We're very committed here to producing top of the line documentation. What do you mean you need to know the product name now? Can't you just do a search and replace right before you go to the printer? Nobody expects you to take notes or write up the minutes if you attend our development meetings. The style guide covers every possible situation. The manual is the first thing that the user goes to after installing the product. Our readers always notice and care deeply if there are two spaces after a period, if bullets are square instead of round, and if the font is Verdana instead of Arial. The product's so intuitive, it practically writes the manual itself. You don't need to know anything about a computer except how to turn it on and work the word processor. The work is simple. Just write down what the thing does and how to do it. Oh, there's just one major feature change and some bug fixes. We are an equal opportunity employer. Communication is our priority. The software is frozen. And this is what I heard from one of the interviews I attended in a large scale company.. To be a technical writer you do not need to know English... ******************************* To compliment or not to compliment Me to A in office ( on finding his jacket really cool) : .Smart Jacket dude !! Its really looking cool... !! where did you get this jacket ? ( the last Q was merely conversational.. ) A ( after hesitating for a sec).. Its very expensive ( very importantly) Me: HUH .. Now was my way of complimenting wrong or was it not clear... A simple Thank you would have been enough.. SIGH.. !! Its like asking someone where are you off to with a vague smile... ? and that person thinks that I am trying to dig the dirtiest secret out of him or something.. and tries to be as secretive as possible .. making me feel as if I have asked about some raunchy date or something... YEESH cant somebody talk just for the sake of talking sometimes.. when you are just passing by or just trying to fill an awkward silence.. for me its just a moment which I will forget anyway to be honest !! Is it so difficult to differentiate between just a simple question and an interested question and give a simple answer... maybe I need to just keep shut... but being a Gemini.. that is impossible.. since I have to talk or I shall truly disappear... .. maybe I need to change my tactics... maybe ... this .. maybe that... or maybe I need to resort to stupid questions .. hehe !! Oh man why bother... I have better things to do...
Posted by Pallavi at 2/24/2005 11:50:00 PM