Tuesday, February 26, 2008

February's chapter meeting -- a few thoughts

I couldn't make it to the last STC Toronto meeting ("Cool Tools for Tech Writers", Nicky Bleiel), so I asked some people to tell me what they thought of the speaker and what they made use of from her presentation. If you also attended, please use the Comments function to add your opinion of the presentation.

(Thanks to Elizabeth Pollack, Michèle Marques, and Todd Race for the answers that follow.)

What did you like about the speaker?

She was lively, knowledgeable about the topic and provided instances where she used the tools in her day-to-day working life. She also didn't get flustered when the tools did quirky things in the middle of the demonstration.


I liked that she had a handout listing all the tools she mentioned, so that we didn't have to take notes for those details. I also liked that she was open to other people mentioning their favourite tools for particular areas, which made the meeting more participatory.


She's a tech writer with experience and able to relate these items to our world. She didn't take herself too seriously and was able to keep things moving along with an appreciation for the flow of the evening.

What specific information did she provide in her presentation that you are most likely to act on in the near future?

Right after the meeting, I:

  • Downloaded the Gimp. It it much more useful than the other "free" image manipulation software I had downloaded. I plan on playing with / using it often.

  • Removed document metadata using Office 2007.

  • Reviewed Wiki tools at http://wikimatrix.org.

I also plan on reading "Free or Open Source Tools for Technical Communicators" and "Useful Shareware and Freeware for Technical Writers" when I have a spare moment or two.


I'll have to check out "the gimp" ... it's been a long time since I last looked at that image editing tool, and it seems a lot friendlier now. I already use some of the other cool tools she mentioned - SyncToy, Snagit, Sharepoint. And, not part of the presentation in the same sense - the speaker works for Component One and had a door prize draw for DemoWorks. I was the lucky winner :-) and will be trying it out.


I was especially intrigued by the overall discussion about blogs and podcasts (ie Web 2.0) and also about Sharepoint (and how Nicky brought Sharepoint into a discussion of tools < $100)