Online groups, winter 2009

Callouts

A member wants to show the location of a fuse on a printed circuit board, and use a callout to show how to remove the fuse. What guidelines are there about the use of callouts in technical documents? Members suggest the following things:

Project management software

One member needs to monitor the development of simple document production projects. To help him, he wants software that is simpler and cheaper than Microsoft Project. Members suggested the following Windows-based software:

Two useful applications for Mac OS are as follows:

Data backup

In reply to a question about backing up data, one member wrote that it is important to analyse the risks, the results of losing data, and the costs. Risks include the accidental deletion of a file, defective internal hard disks, and the theft of a computer.

You protect against different risks in different ways. For example, one external hard disk and regular backups protects against the first two risks. However, if the backups are stolen, you are not protected. To protect against theft, you can use off-site backup. Backup methods that keep only one version of each file are not good, because they do not give protection if a corrupted file is backed up. The products from Data Robotics are good (www.drobo.com).

One member recommended 'What I Learned from Having My Laptop Stolen (http://tidbits.com/article/10165)'.

Illustrators or communicators?

A technical illustrator continued the discussion of 3D illustration software (Online groups, Communicator, autumn 2009). Finding work is becoming more difficult. Possibly, that is because technical authors now do technical illustrations.

Some members agreed that technical authors are expected to create illustrations and to write text. However, the combination of roles can be a problem. An excellent technical author is not necessarily a good technical illustrator. The idea that 'if you can use a computer you can use all the software' has been a problem in the graphic design industry since the start of desktop publishing.

Tag clouds

One member created a tag cloud (word cloud) from the TCUK09 conference programme (www.wordle.net/show/wrdl/1024716/TCUK09_programme). The tag cloud gives a good summary of what the conference is about, but there is some unnecessary information. To prevent some unwanted information, the member removed the names of people before she created the tag cloud.

Members gave many comments.

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