Re: No specifications

Subject: Re: No specifications
From: "Kat Nagel" <kat_nagel -at- rte -dot- com>
To: "Edwin Tudsbery" <tudsbery -at- matranet -dot- com>, "TECHWR-L" <techwr-l -at- lists -dot- raycomm -dot- com>
Date: Thu, 4 May 2000 08:28:50 -0400

----- Original Message -----
From: Edwin Tudsbery <tudsbery -at- matranet -dot- com>
> I'm writing a manual for a product with no specs. The developers
don't write
> anything about what they're up to, and what they're planning for
the future.

Been there. No specs, no written development plan, 1 prototype in a
locked lab. What did I do? After arguing and pleading with no
results, I:

o Talked to the marketing honcho and got the wish list that they
were (already!) selling to customers (I've always loved reading
science fiction)

o Bribed a technician to give me his password and the cypherlock
code for the lab (Milk Duds and resume typing; varies with target)

o Spent 4 hours every Saturday reading his testing notes and
navigating through the screens

o Wrote up everying exactly as I saw it: screen shots with
mis-spelled product and company names, blank forms, error messages,
HELP screens that said: "There is no help available for this", etc.

o Followed each WYSIWYG writeup with a section titled "What I think
this module is supposed to do"

o Packaged up what I had a week before the deadline and sent it to
the reviewers with an old New Yorker cartoon on the cover---the one
that shows a couple of toadying suits bowing to a PHB while
presenting him with a pile of papers, with the caption: "We hope
you like this report, Sir. It's a figment of our imagination."

o Collected edits, corrections, additions and deletions from irate
managers who left screaming voicemail messages and tearful engineers
who caught me in the hall and cafeteria (amazing how fast reviewers
respond when the draft is truly dreadful and they know it's their

o Had a decent revision ready for distribution only a week after
the original deadline

Good luck!
Kat Nagel, Artful Docster
Kat_Nagel -at- rte -dot- com

Disclaimer: The above is a historical description of a procedure
that was performed once by a specific writer operating in a specific
environment. It is not intended as advice or encouragement to
perform similar procedures in other environments. Your mileage may
vary. Proceed at your own risk.

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