The Design of Everyday Things

I shamelessly poached the title of this post from a book I’m reading for professional development: The Design of Everyday Things, by Don Norman. I don’t include books I read for anything other than pleasure in my semi-annual book reports, but product and user experience design has been so much on my mind lately that I felt compelled to write about it. This is especially because when I encounter bad design in the real world, there’s generally no one I can provide my feedback to who has any level of influence. Not that anyone reading this blog has influence over any of these issues either, but I feel better writing out my frustration. Here are a few user-unfriendly experiences I’ve had this year. Continue reading →

A Not-So-Little Pat on the Back

This post is a brag because this is my blog and I’ll brag if I want to. Also, I post plenty of embarrassing or unflattering content about myself, so I don’t think anyone can fault me for publicly praising my accomplishments.

I am now a Senior Technical Writer at LogRhythm. I started less than two years ago having no “technical” technical writing experience, although I have a 16-year career related to controlled writing, editing, and language use in general, including creating IT certification courses. The first six months at this company were really rough for me. About 10 percent of that was my own sour puss attitude at the company I loved shutting down and being completely ungrateful for the amazing opportunity I walked into, but, honestly, 90 percent of it was the massive learning curve. Almost everyone I work with agrees that this is the most complicated product they have ever worked on. Not only was I going from a job in which I had total control over the development of a product that was firmly in my area of expertise to one in which I was in a reactionary position, dependent on the goals and management of others, but I also simply couldn’t understand the product. This was tough. I hate feeling useless and not being able to take initiative. Most jobs I’ve had required a one-month or so learning curve before I could show up to work confident in what I was doing and my ability to handle anything that came my way. This one was every bit of six months and still, 21 months later, plenty of issues come my way that I haven’t the foggiest idea how to start dealing with and that I feel quite intimidated by. Continue reading →

What Is It I Do Exactly?

I don’t know about you, readers, but it’s taken me years to really remember/know/understand what most of my friends do for a living. Some of them don’t really know what I do either. And hell, I dated someone for many years and never quite understood what he did. Probably that’s because he generally slept in until 10 am, surfed the internet all day, and then took people out for drinks and dinner, but there must have been some kind of work in there somewhere. The friends whose jobs I can actually describe well are friends who I’ve worked with or whose industries I’ve worked in.

Well, if you’re following my blog and wondering what it is I do, I write technical manuals. User guides, upgrade guides, installation guides, and all kinds of other technical content for a cyber security company. At least, that’s what I do in the current iteration of the full time employment phase of my life. In other iterations, I’ve been an ESL teacher, a localization/translation project coordinator, and the managing editor of an elearning company. So, I’ve always worked with language in some form or another. Continue reading →

Cassette Tapes

Given yesterday’s post, I think it would be too easy to choose coffee as my letter C mistake. I was definitely wrong to not like coffee at first, and I was really, REALLY wrong in my early thirties when I gave it up for a whole year, but I’m going to write about cassette tapes instead.

When I was young, I earned a small allowance for doing household chores, and after I grew too old to want to spend my money on stuffed animals, I wanted to spend it on music. There was always a lot of music in my house. My dad had managed an electronics store for a while and had always enjoyed finding broken equipment at garage sales and fixing it up. Between that and the crates of records that he rescued from people’s lawns, there wasn’t even room in our garage for a bicycle, much less two cars. But on the plus side, we had a great stereo system in the house and there was always music playing. Pretty early on, I got the bug to build my own collection. Continue reading →