Thursday, October 13, 2016

73 Words - Is Technical Writing a Dying Art?

As a Technologist, I rely on technical writing for my training, product evaluation and selection. When I see a video describing a new technology, I skip to the text.

Reasons to skip the video?

  • The video is bound to simplify the important details that are fundamental building blocks in any product.
  • The video is produced by marketing people, who all too often do not understand the product.
  • If I am coming to you for information, I already have specific questions to answer about how your product will work in my business environment.
  • I can read the text much faster and skip to the important parts rather than watch the video.

How can marketers and educators help me?

  • Focus on the text.
  • Hire technical writers.
  • Focus on the technology.
  • Eliminate "market-speak", a technical manual is not a place to blather on about innovation.
  • Avoid appropriating terms from other technologies that have a similar meaning.
  • Write declarative sentences.

Example: "Introduction to Microsoft Windows Server 2016" Microsoft Books

73 words, one period. A bit of a bad cut and paste job there in the middle: "software-defined datacenter features that can were born in..." I am glad they didn’t use the phrase “legacy” anywhere in this run-on sentence! "Legacy" describes me pretty well...

Anyone who survived the 90's in technology remembers Buzzword Bingo so here's a shot on that sentence/paragraph:

Market-speak Buzzwords “Self-Improvement”
Pillars Security Are clear about
Commitment Software-defined datacenter Choice
Platform of choice On-premises Now-exist
Frameworks Application platform Necessary
Traditional applications Application Allow
Azure Cloud Prepare

Thursday, June 2, 2016

Windows Holographic?

Will VR and mixed reality take off?  Microsoft touted Windows Holographic today in an email to Windows Insiders - members of its beta community.

Perhaps as much of a misnomer as 'four channel stereo?' Or just a way to say that we support interactive 3D media?

I'll have to reserve judgement on the 'Holographic' tag, as that implies vastly more information storage than 3D interactive.

The Verge

Microsoft Blog


Thursday, March 31, 2016

Tay it ain't tso!

Microsoft's experiment with an online Bot named 'Tay' was quickly ended when the bot began posting racist and even fascist messages.
The initial response in the Twitterverse was that the Bot was 'trained' to become 'racist', but as the New York Times article reveals - the system was not filtering the type of responses that it came out with, so people tried to get it to say crazy stuff. It worked. Oops!

After brief experiences with Chatroulette, I have to agree that this was to be expected if the 'Bot was programmed to respond with no filters. Other systems, such as Siri, or Amazon Echo do not respond to 'inappropriate content'.

We were experimenting recently on a long tech support call, because it has been said that swearing while waiting on hold will result in the call being bumped up in the queue. I can verify that playing a video of swearing Parrots into the phone did not cause any reduction on on-hold time with Sage Software. (I hung up after two hours.)