Tag Archives: STC

Kachina Chapter Secretary

Note: This is an on-going series about my participation in the New Mexico Kachina Chapter.

Allow me to introduce myself; I have been the Secretary for the STC New Mexico Kachina Chapter for nearly a year and it has been a great experience. I’ve learned a lot and I want to kick off my series about my involvement with my local chapter.

Last year in June I contacted Larry Bonura, chapter president (2010), and asked him what I could do to participate in the New Mexico Kachina Chapter. I heard about the organization through my involvement with the New Mexico Trinitite Student Chapter at my alma mater, New Mexico Tech. At the student level, I participated as the Treasurer and mostly organized and managed the 2009 STC Summit trip to Atlanta.

Larry suggested that I could be the Secretary for the chapter and that’s where it began.

I was happy to volunteer during the summer while I was seeking employment. Additionally my skills would contribute to the organization in a positive way. If I practice TC at work, I should donate my time and skills for the Chapter as well.

Throughout the summer and fall, we had meetings and participated in chapter activities. We had some great discussion and this avenue would open up new technical communication opportunities for me and others.

When I became Chapter Secretary, I mentioned some of my recent web work and naturally I gravitated toward assisting with the website since there was no current webmaster. It was maintained by Helen Moody, past Chapter President  (2009) and long-time Kachina Chapter leader and STC member. I did some work to migrate information from the static HTML website to the dynamic WordPress site. It is currently not done but in a state of progress that will take a few more months to complete. So far it’s easier to update a WordPress website instead of a static website which required software that not everyone has access to.

After one year of acting as Chapter Secretary, I look forward to another year of contributing to the technical communication community.

QR Codes: more than fancy barcodes

At the STC 2011 Summit, there was some hype about QR Codes. What is a QR Code? What are they used for? Why?

A QR Code (short for Quick Response) is similar to a standard-looking barcode that contains data which can be read using a smart phone or QR code scanner. The data can contain information such as a URL, email address, contact information, etc.

QR Code for WriteTechie.com

QR Code for WriteTechie.com

QR codes can be used to embed information on products, car parts, business cards, and airline boarding passes. For more details about QR codes, read “Barcodes: connecting the real-world to the virtual.”

I got into the act by buying a TweetUp badge this year from Robert Armstrong. That TweetUp badge only had a link to my Twitter account, yet at the STC 2011 Summit, people with smartphones and free QR reader apps could access the cryptic barcode and open up my Twitter page on their browser.

QR Code for Roger's Twitter URL

QR Code for Roger’s Twitter URL : http://www.twitter.com/torridence/

Besides putting codes on badges and novelty items, there is some practical uses. For example, Southwest and FedEx use similar barcode technology for their systems. That barcode contains the data printed on the boarding pass or shipping label. In addition, it phases out the magnetic strip that was commonly used on airline boarding passes. It makes for cheaper manufacturing and less paper waste since they are using flimsier sheets. When was the last time that you boarded a plane that had a magnetic strip boarding passes?

Southwest Boarding Pass

Southwest Boarding Pass

There are many other uses for QR Code technology and I hope it finds its way into everyday use where a TCer can simply put a QR code on a product or paper document and have a user scan it in to access supplemental information online on their mobile device. I can see an excellent use for QR codes on food products, where a shopper can scan the item and find recipes to make dinner. There still would be a technical communicator on the other side of the equation ensuring that the information is consistent and pertinent for the consumer.

Connecting after STC Summit

What I regret the most about previous STC Summits is that I would receive business cards from professionals but I forgot why or how I met them. This year was different, I made it my personal effort to remember why I had their business card in my pocket. The best way I could remember who each person was because I took notes on the back-side of their card. That was just half the work.

The next job I had was to make room on my schedule to sit down and reflect on my time with them at the conference. Thankfully those notes on the reverse side essentially jogged my memory well enough to replay events in my mind so that way I could email them or connect with them through Twitter, LinkedIn, etc. I’m sorry for those in which I failed to remember why I have your card, but I genuinely do not want to forget about you. I’ll do some hunting on the STC Zerista and MySTC websites to figure out why and/or how I met you. In any case, find me first if you can!

Additionally, I connected with professionals via my online presence at the Summit. Each one found me from my Twitter updates and subsequently found my LinkedIn profile or searched for me on MySTC. I gave away business cards this year with my email address and websites. Thanks to Tony Chung, I was able to create a QR code and place that on my business card. Anyone with a smartphone can read my QR code and add my contact information easily.

I had a great time at the conference and I look forward to adding more professionals on LinkedIn and Twitter as everyone settles down and returns back to work. I hope to stay in touch with as many as possible throughout the year until we meet again in 2012 in Chicago.