President’s Message

WinterWe got lucky with a long fall season for once, so it’s hard to believe that the “most wonderful time of year” is nearly upon us. But before we break out in Christmas carols, there’s plenty to talk about!

New Heights in November

I’m proud to report that New Heights turned out great! We took a chance moving it from our usual April timeframe, and holding it on a Saturday instead of a weekday, but it looks like our risk paid off. The weather was ideal for being indoors and we had a fantastic workshop with our STC International President, Kit Brown-Hoekstra. Many thanks to Jeanne Gonnason for putting together yet another successful New Heights. And another thanks to Steve White for writing a review of the event. Check it out in this issue!

Tell us what you think:

  • Do you prefer a day-long workshop to be in Winter or Spring?
  • Do you like the idea of Saturday events?

Dinner and Discussion

Hosting Kit in Calgary was the perfect opportunity to pick the presidential brain of the STC organization. Treasurer (and New Heights organizer) Jeanne Gonnason, Programs Manager Ruth Maryniuk, and Twitter Manager Mitch Willis were on hand for this invigorating dinner and discussion. We covered numerous STC matters and generated lots of great ideas for upcoming programs, so stay tuned!

Our newest category of membership, New TC Professional, is proving to be a much needed and well used level of membership where you get discounted rates during the first 3 years as a new professional in this industry. If you know of someone just starting out, this is a note worth sharing.

Kit spoke about the ever-changing landscape of technical communication and how STC has refocused itself for educational opportunities. In fact, between the webinars, online learning, and annual conference, one can learn a great deal from the convenience of their home or office.

What to Read?

This is also a great time to remind everyone about our journal, Technical Communication. This peer-reviewed publication is the definitive resource for research-based articles. What better way to win an argument than by using empirical evidence to build your business case. The journal contains “both quantitative and qualitative research while showcasing the work of some of the field’s most noteworthy academics and writers” credit. (Editors note: This month, you can read about educational websites for kids.)

January Mixer: Mark your calendars!

Our Annual General Meeting is on January 22, 2015. This time, we’ll be at Craft, so don’t miss it.

As we enter into the holiday season, I’d like to wish everyone a Merry Christmas, and we’ll see you in the New Year!


STC Alberta Upcoming Events

Thursday, January 22, 2015 – Annual General Meeting (AGM)Mark Your Calendar

Let’s catch up after the holidays, enjoy drinks, appetizers, and each other’s company. Purchase your own refreshment from their vast selection of craft beers, cocktails, and non-alcoholic choices. We’re providing the appetizers! Everyone is welcome to attend, but only STC Alberta members and student members are eligible to participate in the meeting and vote to affirm the new Board.

Program Details

Date: Thursday, January 22, 2015

Time: 6:00 to 9:30 p.m.

Location: Craft Beer Market, 345 – 10 Ave. S.W., Calgary (Map). Street parking along 10th Ave. is free after 6:00 p.m.

Agenda:

  • Welcome and Introductions
  • Approval of 2014 AGM Minutes
  • President’s 2014 Year In Review
  • Treasurer’s 2014 Financial Report
  • Appointment of Auditors
  • Awards
  • Results of 2015 Affirmation of New Board
  • New Business/Upcoming Programs for 2015
  • Adjournment

Cost:

  • STC Alberta Members, $15
  • STC Alberta Student Members: $10
  • Affiliate Members and Non-Member Students: $15
  • Non-Members: $30

Register:

Register for this event here.

Tuesday, March 24th, 2015 – Wine and Cheese

What a perfect event to talk about networking! Come out for a social evening, have some nibbles, and a glass of wine. Yes, non-alcoholic beverages will also be served. We will have specialists and experts speak about why, when, how, and where to network yourself as a technical communicator. You don’t need to be looking for your next job to benefit from attending this event.

Tuesday, April 21st, 2015 – Content Strategy 101

Carrie Fisher, a Senior Content Strategist with 15+ years of experience creating, organizing and maintaining digital content for diverse clients, will be coming to speak to us about Content Strategy basics and what Technical Communicators should know. Watch for more announcements and plan to register early. This event will sell out quickly!


STC Alberta Affiliate Events

Flare Users Group Meeting – December 2nd, 2014, Tuesday at 6:30p.m.

Location: Innovate Calgary (Alastair Ross Technology Centre), 3553 – 31 Street NW, Calgary (map)

The purpose of this Users Group is to share ideas on technical writing, single-source authoring, content management, and getting the most out of using MadCap Flare.  If you’re new to Flare or have been using it for years, let’s get together, participate and share ideas on using Flare.

Agenda for the next meeting:

  • Introductions and round table discussion.
  • Demo: Using the Equation Editor in Flare
  • Demo: Creating a PDF from Flare content
  • Demo: AHK – Create your own apps and macros, or define hotkeys for the mouse and keyboard using

Everyone is welcome. No registration required.


New Heights Fall Workshop Review

By Steve White

The snow was flying, but things were heating up at the New Heights fall workshop on Saturday, November 1st, at Innovate Calgary.

STC president Katherine (Kit) Brown-Hoekstra led this interactive workshop and shared some of her extensive experience as a business owner and technical writer. Kit covered a variety of topics, including how personalities can affect your business and how to sell services in 30 seconds or less. Participants asked great questions and received insightful answers.

As a person thinking about starting my own business, the workshop was packed with pearls, such as what type of professionals I should consider having on my team and what to take into account when signing a contract.

Thank you Kit for leading an excellent workshop and the STC Alberta Chapter for hosting another valuable and informative event. A big thanks also goes out to the STC volunteers for arranging lunch, snacks, and another fantastic opportunity to network with talented technical writers from Calgary and beyond.


Back to Basics

By Tanya Mahmutovic

With this strong creative side, and thirst to learn more, I have been pushing myself to learn new tools and how to apply new techniques to my technical communication and deliverables. Luckily, over the past few months, I have found a way to start applying Adobe Illustrator, Dreamweaver, Photoshop, InDesign, and Camtasia video tutorials to my work. Finally, I am able to experiment with my creative side. With the ultimate goal to enhance the entire user experience, I thought these great new tools would be the answer, however it has made me realize that no matter what cool application or software I am using, I am actually forced to go through some detailed fundamentals that were easily forgotten when staring at a blank page in MS Word. The aspects of technical communication that I have been focusing on these days are content management, information architecture, and emphasizing on how delivery is key for audiences.

Information architecture strategy refers to the over-arching principles around information delivery, including web. As most information is first delivered electronically, understanding how users will look for content and in what format they will most effectively find the content matters.

The format that the message is delivered in is also important because this would affect the user experience. Basically, what I had to do was user experience and audience analysis all rolled into one. It made me evaluate the level of knowledge in the area, how to present the content, and what format it should be delivered in to make it efficient for the audience to get the message they needed.

Once the repositories have been set up, and the information architecture strategy is in place, delivering the message depends on how the audience will most efficiently consume it. It is about cost savings as it is communicating and delivering company communication to the audience. There is always room for improvement and increasing the efficiency by finding ways to deliver content that adds value to their experience in obtaining the right content, in the right format with the right messaging so that the audience can perform what they were hired to do.  With the privilege of learning new applications, I am able to quench my thirst of learning new applications and technology while the delivering the information in a timely fashion.

 


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