Thursday, April 18, 2013

April photo Day 18: Hello!

I asked John to give me a visual "hello!" and he delivered.

April photo Day 17: Busy

This week I've been busy getting ready to go away. One of those prep tasks is laundry. "Busy" doesn't have to mean "exciting."

April photo Day 16: Your favorite color

My favorite color has been purple for a very long time.

April photo Day 15: Alone

Alone stumped me for a few days, but I snapped a pic of Sapphire tonight hanging out by herself.

Sunday, April 14, 2013

April photo Day 14: Water

When we went to Boiestown last weekend, we traveled alongside the Nashwaak River.  The river had deposited its ice on the shores.

April photo Day 13: View from your bed

Our bedroom is located in the front of our house, which I dislike since it doesn't offer privacy. The blinds are closed 99% of the time; I'd prefer they be open more often than not. When I wake, I usually look to the gap in the blinds to tell me what kind of weather is happening. There is no blue in that smidgen of sky.

April photo Day 12: In the middle

A Sapphire sandwich.

April photo Day 11: Detail

SJ is an old city, so many uptown buildings have a lot of detail that just aren't done anymore.  I caught this detail above a window on Carleton St.

April photo Day 10: A place

On my way back from an errand at lunch, I stopped at Fort Howe, which is near my office.  It gives a great view of the city.  Winter is hanging on for dear life, so nothing has turned green yet.  The brown, dead grass, dark skies, and wind made for a somewhat depressing stop.

April photo Day 9: Tiny

I have a tiny chair that sits on the windowsill of my kitchen. It is actually a place card holder that was a wedding favor from a friend's wedding.

Wednesday, April 10, 2013

Manual interpretation

Someone complained to me yesterday about users’ inability to read a manual and understand how to operate a new website.  This same person barely skimmed the manuals provided to them on a different topic and required hand-holding through the process.  This is a constant issue for me; having to hand-hold users through a process that I’ve already provided a step-by-step manual for.  I am debating whether to ever write a manual again, given that it seems to be a waste of my time.  I’ve written manuals with and without the help of a technical writer, but neither makes a difference.

I’m struggling to understand what the real problem is.  I know that learning styles are different, and that not everyone can learn and understand from text, but that’s why I include pictures.  Do I need to make YouTube videos for all new procedures?  Have we regressed to the point where everything must be a video clip that will hold someone’s attention?

When faced with an unfamiliar process, I sit down and read the manual slowly.  I try to eliminate distractions, physically turn away from my computer, highlight relevant sections, and make notes.  With a conscious effort, I can learn what the text is presenting to me, even if it is a dry topic.  Why am I different than most everyone else I deal with regularly?  Am I really the only person around who learns through reading?  Some days it certainly feels like it.

One reason could be a true literacy issue.  They simply don’t know how to read multiple types of documents.  A comic book or fiction novel isn’t intimidating, but this manual on a new website looks complicated and I don’t know what to do.  That’s why I usually include screen shots, so there is a combination of visual aids and text.  I’m often asked to provide a “one-pager” on how to do something, but we now have so many one-pagers that I don’t know how anyone could keep them all straight. 

Maybe they’re just simply lazy.  Since they don’t have time to go through a 20 page manual in detail, it will be faster to just call and have someone do it for them.  After the 5th person who calls me, I can attest to the fact that it may be faster for you, but it is not faster *for me*.  I’ve now wasted at least 30 minutes on the phone in addition to the hours I’ve spent plugging away at writing what I think is a good manual for my audience.

At what point do I refuse to hand-hold anymore?  I have a job to do, too.  The next person who asks me to walk them through a process because they don’t have time to read the manual may get a big earful.  Or I may walk them down to a meeting room with the document, shut the door, and tell them not to come out until they understand it.

Tuesday, April 09, 2013

April photo Day 8: On your plate

As a literal representation, I had banana bread on my plate from a loaf I baked yesterday.

Sunday, April 07, 2013

April photo Day 7: Dreamy

The old standby is to count sheep when you need to get to sleep. This one will stare you down until you're asleep.

April photo Day 6: Air

Air is hard to represent, but John gave me the idea of a balloon.  These balloons were part of my great aunt's 90th birthday.

April photo Day 5: Something good

Book club was held at a Thai restaurant on Friday night, so we all had something good to eat. Mine was cashew chicken.

April photo Day 4: This happened today

Thursday was my first visit to a new hairdresser in 14 years. It went well, thankfully. Still hoping my old hairdresser will decide to move back to SJ.

April photo Day 3: Begins with A

The giant axe at the Central NB Woodmen's Museum in Boiestown, NB.

April photo Day 2: Blue

I saw these blue pop bottle caps as I was grocery shopping.

April photo Day 1: Play

"Play" has been holding me up all week. I don't play video games, nor instruments, so I was stuck. I intended to take a pic of a playground, but didn't succeed when there weren't kids around (not wanting to creep parents out by a stranger taking a pic of their kid). So Romy gets to be the star of the blog again today, as this shows him playing with his trackball game. Sometimes I do play it with him.

Monday, April 01, 2013

March photo Day 31: Stuff

The "stuff" required to make popcorn in my kettle machine. I'm still experimenting with brands, but I'll never go back to microwave.

March photo Day 30: Relax

Saturday we drove to Calais and did not have a relaxing day.  In fact, we got searched at the border complete with the drug-sniffing dog.  Not sure if something about us was flagged or if we were the random search for the day. In any case, I don't have a good photo of *me* relaxing, so here's one of Romy getting the job done.

March photo Day 29: Goodnight

Tonight was my Jesus Christ Superstar viewing party. Roughly 8-10 people were going to come over, so I made cupcakes.  7 people canceled or didn't show, and two had to leave early, so it was a much smaller night than I anticipated.  I had made a dozen Easter cupcakes for the occasion.

March photo Day 28: In the mirror

I have a small mirror in my office

March photo Day 27: Pair

A pair of chairs in the City Market food hall

March photo Day 26: Something you did

I worked on taxes that day. Exciting!