Work From Home Adaptation: Availability Indicators

While we’re all at home, we each retreat to our own rooms during working or school hours. (Quick aside: Boy am I thankful that we bought a four-bedroom house, giving me and Ian each our own private offices.) Of course we close the door when we need to be left alone. But it’s hard to tell what the closed door means. Is the person in a meeting that can’t be interrupted? Does he just need to focus, but a quick question would be okay? Benji in particular has a hard time not coming in talking, and I’ve had at least a few times of slightly embarrassing un-muted incidents where colleagues have been treated to family conversations. Continue Reading >>

Technical Writing Video

Let’s skip to the fun stuff. Here’s a video of me explaining technical writing to an eight-grade audience:

Now some backstory.

Back at the beginning of the summer, a former AmeriCorps member posted on Facebook asking for people to make videos to explain their careers to eighth graders. These videos replace an in-person career fair that, like everything else, has gone entirely online this year.

I volunteered to provide a video about technical writing, if she wanted one on a topic that boring; she accepted (desperate times, I guess) and sent me the information. I didn’t have time to really get started on it for a while, although pretty early on I roped in a very generous e-learning colleague to do the video editing. Continue Reading >>

Public Accolades

Yesterday I had a conversation with my boss that’s still bothering me. In it, I mentioned that I had some pages I felt very proud of going out in today’s release. My enthusiasm for my pages made me realize I hadn’t connected with other team members about what they were working on for months. As I thought about it more, I realized that with the current work from home situation, I don’t have the everyday encounters that give a sense of what other people on my team are doing when it doesn’t directly impact my work. So I suggested to my boss that we offer an opportunity for our team to showcase projects they’ve worked on recently that they’re particularly proud of, possibly in our standing team meetings.  Continue Reading >>

Pandemic in Pictures: Still at Home

Working from Home
Working from home.

I don’t want to minimize the challenges of staying home — those remain. But, looking on the bright side, I’ve been able to take advantage of the occasional nice weather by working outside a bit. It lets me keep Benji company while getting a little bit of work done.

Laundry Line
Taking advantage of sunny weather.

I also took advantage of the sunny, breezy weather and being home all day to hang our sheets out to dry in the back yard. I love the sunshiny smell and feel of sheets hung to dry.

Ian Gets a New Job

In this installment of “Change is hard but healthy,” I present Exhibit 1: After 10.5 years at his current job, Ian landed an exciting new job at a company he’s had his eye on for a long time: ArenaNet, the company behind GuildWars and GuildWars 2. Who knew that the 2,000 hours of GuildWars gameplay he put in would turn into a coverletter selling point?!

This caps about a month of extra stress and anxiety as he worked his way through the many hoops of the interview process. At the beginning of the process, the recruiter laid out the different steps where, essentially, Ian could be eliminated. As he passed each one, Ian would comment, “That’s one hurdle done.” Each one brought him one step closer to the job, until finally he received an offer, accepted, and cleared the last hurdle: turning in his resignation letter and telling his current boss he was leaving. Continue Reading >>

Blacklist that Black Hat Hacker Black Sheep

With the groundswell of support for Black Lives Matter and racial justice, my company — like many corporations — has decided it wants to jump on the bandwagon. To this end, my boss delegated my coworker to draft some writing standards to ensure our documentation is appropriately inclusive.

I agree with this plan. For example, when I write, “An advisor generates a report. When he reviews it…” I really should stop to think about whether I need to write “he.” Could I say “she” or “they,” or should I just rewrite it to avoid gendering “advisor” in the first place? We don’t want to implicitly assume advisors are all cis-gender men preferring the “he” pronoun. Most of the time we can write around it, and I think we should do so. Continue Reading >>

Learning New Things

At work, the Engineering department (read: software developers and QA people) recently reorganized into four large, overarching groups. Within each group, the smaller development teams do similar work.

Meanwhile, my team, the technical writing team, comprises two Help Center writers. Pretty naturally we each took coverage of two development groups.

This works fine, but the new development groups shuffle up some of the areas of expertise we, the technical writers, previously covered. We keep our areas of core expertise (for me, reporting, and for her, trading), but some of what I did goes to my coworker. Now, for example, my coworker takes over documenting third-part integrations, which I previously covered. Meanwhile, I pick up covering teams neither of us have ever documented — a group that does all the development for internal tools and back-end data management. Most of this content I’ll delegate to our new Knowledge Base writer, but some may be worth documenting in Help Center. Continue Reading >>