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First, I'd suggest finding something other than PDFs for downloads. There's got to be something. I find PDFs almost always take way too long to download.
Apologies if you've already thought of this, but for videos, it seems to me that you should talk to the end users about what coverage they need. And, I think video presentations would be more useful for training in shop maintenance and management procedures, than for equipment use. Video instruction is most useful when the viewer can put his hands on the thing and follow along at the same time. A mechanic can set up a monitor next to a test bench and unbolt things on the real item as he sees it being done on the monitor. A manager can practice filling in the new form as a video shows him how. But a forklift driver would have to watch the video all the way through and then try to remember it when he goes into the motor pool and starts the machine. That time gap between seeing and doing makes video less useful in that venue.
--- On Thu, 1/21/10, Ken Poshedly <poshedly -at- bellsouth -dot- net> wrote:
> From: Ken Poshedly <poshedly -at- bellsouth -dot- net>
> Subject: website tech pubs, etc.
> To: "Techwr-l" <techwr-l -at- lists -dot- techwr-l -dot- com>
> Date: Thursday, January 21, 2010, 12:04 PM
> Fellow tekkies,
> I'd like to introduce the presence of my company's
> technical manuals on our website and need some advice.
> First, some background. I'm one of two tech writers
> for Sany America, makes heavy equipment similar to that of
> Caterpillar, Komatsu, etc. It's just getting started in the
> U.S. with a sales and engineering office in Peachtree City,
> a southwest suburb of Atlanta; a full-blown assembly plant
> is currently under construction a few miles down the road
> from my office. Even though we are a wholly-owned subsidiary
> of Sany Heavy Equipment in China, the plan is to truly
> "Americanize" Sany America with a great and useful website
> that includes all the bells and whistles needed to
> get across to our current and prospective customers that we
> want to be a truly American business venture.
> While I'm not directly involved with the website -- except
> for occasionally spotting errors and such and reporting them
> to the powers-that-be -- I want to offer to our customers
> various forms of technical publication assistance
> 1. Downloadable pdf files of our tech pubs
> 2. The ability order printed&bound tech pubs
> 3. Videos of specific technical procedures
> 4. A method of suggesting improvements, reporting errors,
> etc. (i.e, customer feedback)
> Our audience consists of equipment owners and operators who
> use our hardcopy materials in the field (noisy, rough and
> very busy construction sites); as such, our manuals are
> simply three-hole drilled, perfect-bound books with black
> text and line art graphics on white paper. At this time we
> don't see a need to do online (html) versions of our manuals
> because it is simply not practical for an operator to
> position a laptop in the cab (or elsewhere on the machine),
> then view and run through procedures. Videos might work to
> augment what's in a manual and be viewed in an office
> My question is really what process and software is /
> are required to go from digital video camera to online
> video? What digital editing software is required? (We
> currently use Windows Vista.) Do I simply upload a wav (or
> whatever) file directly to our website or is Flare or
> somesuch intermediate program required?
> Obviously, I'm totally ignorant in this area, so any
> pointers, ideas, or suggestions about other websites or
> whatever is appreciated.
> -- Kenpo in Atlanta
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