Tag Archives: TC

Technical Communication, TechComm, TC

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.

TC at work daily

The two part-time positions that I currently work at don’t necessarily incorporate technical communication, but for some reason when I live, breathe, and speak TC, I can’t help but apply it in situations where my job description doesn’t require it.

When I’m working my regular annual job at the community college, I take notes for a specific department. I would not imagine that TC would creep into the workplace, but I use it daily. When I take notes, I write clearly for a specific audience and learning level. My other tasks while at work include ghostwriting, editing, reviewing, and public relations. I can’t help not utilizing my skills while on the job, even when they are not required for the position that I hold.

My other job is working at a worldwide non-profit. My goal while I’m working there is to help proofread their paperwork and their training materials. When attending training sessions, I couldn’t help but markup the handouts with my edits. What stood out the most were the spelling instances of than/then and ensure/insure. I’m positive that I can help my employer improve their documents so they look professional for future readers.

Besides using TC at work, I speak about my background and let others know what I do as a technical communicator. When I entered into the field of TC nearly seven years ago, I had trouble explaining what a TCer does. I believe, lately people are understanding what my profession is about and see the need for one.