Month: May 2006

Simplified Technical English Makes Splash at S1000D Event

Berry Braster, Director of tedopress, delivered a valuable presentation on Simplified Technical English (STE) at the S1000D event in Clearwater. His simple and straightforward message—“be clear and unambiguous with your language”. Otherwise your choice of words can cause damage to equipment, customer dissatisafaction, legal action … even death. According to the AeroSpace and Defense Industries Association (ASD), STE (also referred to as ASD-STE100 Specification ) is “a set of writing rules and a dictionary of controlled vocabulary. The dictionary has sufficient words to express any technical sentence. The words were chosen for their simplicity and ease of recognition. When there are several words in English for a certain thing or action (synonyms), the specification selects one of these synonyms to the exclusion of the others—whenever possible, ‘one word – one meaning’. Braster helped the audience understand the benefits of STE (quality improvement, increased efficiency, compliance, reduced risks, time savings, etc.) and highlighted how using the specification can help those creating multi-language deliverables decrease word count by as much as 20% while simultaneously increasing content reusability, leading to translation savings of up to 40% . Braster shared five tips for clearer writing: Use consistent vocabulary and terminology Use technical names/terms when needed, but be specific Do not write long complex sentences – write concise statements devoid of noise words Write procedures that make people responsible for tasks Incorrect:  “When starting...

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S1000D Overview Kicks Off PerformanceFest

The S1000D User Forum and ADL/SCORM PerformanceFest kicked off Tuesday, May 30, 2006 with an overview of the S1000D specification delivered by Thomas Malley (BAE Systems) and Paul Haslam (ONeil & Associates). The duo outlined S1000D core concepts: the data module (a stand alone information unit) and the common source database (a store for data modules and publications) and used examples (including a fictional Scottish Navy) to illustrate their points. Learn...

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Knowledge Continuity: The Six Big Mistakes

Topping the list of the six big mistakes organizations make in the knowledge continuity arena is “relying on poor documentation”. According to a 2006 audiocast, “A Roadmap to Solving the Brain Drain,” provided by Information Mapping and KnowHow, “Like falling asleep at the wheel, you are courting disaster when poor documentation is combined with a brain drain...

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UK Firms Fail To Develop Digital Asset Strategies

“Fewer than one in five UK companies have a strategy in place to protect their digital assets from loss or degradation, despite a high level of awareness of the risks and potential economic penalties that might result.” – Source: Mind the Gap: Assessing Digital Preservation Needs in the UK (Digital Preservation Coalition). According to the report, more than two-thirds of those surveyed admitted they had lost business data and were aware of the negative impact such losses could have on their organizations. Ninety-percent said it damaged “corporate memory”; 66% said such snafus damaged them...

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Microsoft API Manual So Disorganized It’s Deemed “Useless”

In 2004, European Union (EU) regulators ordered Microsoft to produce a “workable” programming manual that would allow companies that use other operating systems (like Linux) to utilize the “grammar rules” needed to build software programs that could communicate with Microsoft products. Microsoft complied with the request, which was part of the an EU anti-trust lawsuit against the softare giant, but not to the satisfaction of regulators. The EU asked Microsoft to rewrite the manual because they were “dismayed with its length and its disorganization” The Wall Street Journal reported(registration required). Improvements to the manual were requested by the EU after an evaluation conducted by engineers from Oracle, Sun, IBM, and Novell. The evaluation process was tightly controlled by Microsoft, who allowed evaluators to bring “only pens or pencils with them into a secure room in Redmond, where the 12,000 page manual could be viewed only on a computer screen, no printouts. Bathroom breaks were monitored by Microsoft security guards,” The Wall Street Journal reported. What did the evaluators find? “The programming manual was so disorganized as to be useless, they said. “It lacked any kind of heading or chapter organization, failed to define programming terms, and was so vast as to be more confusing that helpful.” The evaluation lead EU regulators to threaten the software maker with fines—several million a day—until the manual was deemed acceptable. In order to...

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