RE: What notebook did you buy?

Subject: RE: What notebook did you buy?
From: "Spitzer, Judd L" <judd -dot- l -dot- spitzer -at- lmco -dot- com>
To: "TECHWR-L" <techwr-l -at- lists -dot- techwr-l -dot- com>
Date: Tue, 12 Apr 2005 10:34:18 -0400

Hi all,

I thought I would share some of my personal experiences with the whole
computer dilemma as it relates to documentation.

First off, let me start off by suggesting some thing that many people
here may not be aware of. There is currently a real "paradigm shift" (I
hate to use that jargon here but it fits) in our community. At one
time, the writer was responsible for format and content. Well, guess
what, that's not really the case any more in many places. As companies
start to look for electronic solutions to documentation, you will see
traditional paper based formats disappear.

XML is the big player on the block when it comes to electronic
documentation due to its versatility. With programs like ArborText, and
even FrameMaker, the writer becomes much more responsible for the
content, and a new breed of people become responsible for the format,
FOSI (Formatted Output Specification Instance) writers. Imagine writing
your documents in code, then pressing print to see how it looks. That's
a pretty standard methodology for many XML writers.

What this essentially means is that Technical Writers now can write on
virtually any computer platform that they are comfortable, since the
portable product is the XML file and can be parsed with a program that
will use the FOSI.

Back to the platforms, which this thread was originally about...

Essentially there are three different platforms that you could choose,
the Microsoft Platform, The Macintosh Platform, and the Linux Platform.

While people tend to be emotional for some reason about there pick of
computers and software, the bottom line, is IF you can use what you
like, that is the best way to go.

Some basic things to consider if looking for a computer with technical
writing specifically in mind.

* Large user base
* great software availability
* inexpensive hardware

* Cheaper hardware tends to be cheaply made (high repair costs)
* Many problems are not easily fixed by the user without strong
computers skills.

* Good software availability, including Microsoft Office and Free
developer tools.
* Unix based
* Well made products since the hardware and software is generally
made and integrated by the same company.

* Tends to be out of the price range of some users for mid to
upper end products.

* Hardware independent, you can convert and old PC or Mac to run
* Unix software availability, and a wide array of FREE software.
* Less susceptible to attacks on the internet.

* Can have a high learning curve.
* No technical support (Generally speaking).

Personally, my preference is the Mac for its ease of use and fewer
problems. As the world of technical documentation continues to evolve,
we can't think of our products as locked into paper formats only. Being
able to adapt to whatever new OS or hardware will be the difference in
who is still writing. For most of us, the days of the IBM Selectric
typewriter are gone... sigh. It's a brave new world.

Judd Spitzer


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