Re: getting experience with expensive tools

Subject: Re: getting experience with expensive tools
From: Tom Johnson <tomjohnson1492 -at- gmail -dot- com>
To: "Combs, Richard" <richard -dot- combs -at- polycom -dot- com>
Date: Mon, 9 Mar 2009 14:36:22 -0600

Richard, Thanks for correcting me. I guess I interpreted "learning the
software" as distinct from personal use. But legally I'm sure they're one
and the same.

This topic is actually a question someone asked me at my last STC meeting. A
38-year old tech support engineer looking to break into tech writing wanted
to know how he could learn all of these tools -- Photoshop, InDesign, Flare,
Captivate, etc -- if he had no money for them. He wondered what I thought
about open source options. For example, Open Office instead of Word. Gimp
instead of Photoshop.

I told him that he might be wasting his time learning tools that companies
aren't using. It takes a lot of time (usually) to become proficient in a
specific tool. I guess learning MS Publisher is better than nothing, but if
I were hiring and looking for someone with InDesign expertise, I'd skip over
the Publisher background. As a prospective employee, you don't want to put
in a lot of time learning tools that in the end aren't valued by the very
companies you're seeking to be employed by. Still, open source tools are
better than none at all. And it's probably better than racking up $3k+ of
debt to buy an officially licensed version of something you may or may not
truly need.

cell: 801-822-2241

On Mon, Mar 9, 2009 at 2:24 PM, Combs, Richard <richard -dot- combs -at- polycom -dot- com>wrote:

> Tom Johnson wrote:
> > As long as you're not using it for commercial purposes, I don't see
> this
> > reformatting option as particularly dishonest. More than anything it
> would
> Some companies have "lite" versions of programs that are free for
> personal (non-commercial) use. Most do not. Unless the terms of the
> software license permit free use of the software for an unlimited time
> for non-commercial purposes, what you're proposing _is_ particularly
> dishonest.
> > be time-consuming and tedious. Do the legal "I agree" options of
> software
> > prevent this kind of action? Maybe they do. Not sure.
> Umm, those legal "options" are the license agreements -- legally binding
> contracts you agree to accept. They don't "prevent" software piracy, but
> they do prohibit it. But you're apparently not much interested.
> There's one help authoring tool that _is_ available for free (no limits)
> to unemployed tech writers (and some other categories, IIRC, like
> students) -- Mif2Go ( It creates of a bunch of different
> help outputs from FrameMaker source files (it also exports to Word far
> better than FM itself).
> Becky seemed to suggest she has access to FM, so Mif2Go would be worth
> looking into. Because it's much cheaper than RH and other HATs, it might
> be an easier sell to clients who have FM, but don't want to commit to an
> expensive HAT.
> Richard
> Richard G. Combs
> Senior Technical Writer
> Polycom, Inc.
> richardDOTcombs AT polycomDOTcom
> 303-223-5111
> ------
> rgcombs AT gmailDOTcom
> 303-777-0436
> ------

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getting experience with expensive tools: From: Becky Edmondson
RE: getting experience with expensive tools: From: Dan
Re: getting experience with expensive tools: From: Tom Johnson
RE: getting experience with expensive tools: From: Dan Goldstein
Re: getting experience with expensive tools: From: Tom Johnson
RE: getting experience with expensive tools: From: Combs, Richard

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