RE: document your job?

Subject: RE: document your job?
From: Paul Hanson <twer_lists_all -at- hotmail -dot- com>
To: <techwr-l -at- lists -dot- techwr-l -dot- com>
Date: Wed, 11 Jul 2012 16:33:40 -0500

I wrote a 1000 page document that explained how to do my job. I went through
a situation in 2010 where on Wednesday night, my co-worker was there when I
left work, and on Thursday AM, we were all called into the same room to
learn she had been riding her bike Wednesday night and been struck by a
truck. She died later that day. Don't take the "if I'm hit by a truck"
argument lightly.

Paul

-----Original Message-----
From: techwr-l-bounces+twer_lists_all=hotmail -dot- com -at- lists -dot- techwr-l -dot- com
[mailto:techwr-l-bounces+twer_lists_all=hotmail -dot- com -at- lists -dot- techwr-l -dot- com] On
Behalf Of Editor in Chief
Sent: Wednesday, July 11, 2012 2:32 PM
To: techwr-l -at- lists -dot- techwr-l -dot- com >> TECHWR-L
Subject: document your job?

Evidence is accumulating at my employment that someone might have recognized
what a time-and-money sink an ISO 9xxx certification can be, with little
actual reward. And so there's been nothing for a while; no announcements, no
meetings, no statements or updates of ISO 9xxx plans.
Thus the effort to document my job, enough to satisfy an ISO auditor, has
gone on hiatus, before it got past the planning stage.

Other than the ever-popular "in case you get hit by a bus", I'm hard-pressed
to justify creating a central, organized documentation of:

- what it is I do all day
- how I do it.

And it has changed a lot.
Being the age that I am, I had a moment of actual thrill as I contemplated
what my work environment now looks like.

Never mind the cube with a laptop, two tower PCs, my own hub/gateway, and an
assortment of the company's products, several of them hitched to that hub.

No, I was thinking of the virtual environment.

I have a Virtual Machine (VM) on the build-engineer's server, where I've
moved my source documentation files, and where I run my authoring software.
Thanks to someone else on the list for describing that setup. I've embraced
it.

Now I don't have to remember to make manual backups of work that resides on
my laptop, nor do I have to leave my laptop on and connected in order for
automated backups to run.

The builds server is always on, always in one place, both physically and
within our network landscape. My VM is always loaded, and gets cloned or
snap-shotted (is that a word?) whenever I make a noteworthy change, like OS
or authoring-tool updates. Timed events (cron jobs) run when they are
supposed to, with no dependency on me, or the state of my laptop (on, off,
hung, booting, suffering through virus-scan), or the state of my laptop's
network connection.

On one of the towers in my cubicle, I have a selection of VM clones ready to
run any of the PC-loadable client operating systems that we support.

On my laptop, I have Remote Desktop and VNC sessions to my working VM on the
build server, to two or three different test environments for the products
I'm documenting. Along with that I have an assortment of SSH terminals
connecting to those and other devices.

As long as I have the laptop, I can connect via VPN and run any of those
things remotely. I no longer bother to launch Word or FrameMaker or the HAT
locally on the laptop. As somebody mentioned, the bandwidth needed for
updating a remote desktop screen is often much less than the interaction
needed to run local applications (on the laptop) that use remotely-stored
data. Instead, the applications live and work where their data lives, and I
simply fiddle with a picture of those remote operations. I could work from a
train, or from my car, hurtling down the highway - with my wife driving, of
course.

Sometimes, I'm running several different products in HA group(s), while
remotely connected to the virtual client instances.

In one way, it's dizzying to contemplate.
At the same time, I want to briskly, gleefully rub my palms together while
uttering my best Dr. Evil laugh. World Domination (tm) at my fingertips!

OK, it's a small world under my sway, but *so* much larger than anything
that I contemplated ten years ago. Twenty years ago, when I was already well
into my TW career, the current setup would have been entirely unthinkable.
As would the superphone in my pocket that could tether the laptop while my
wife drove us to the cottage.

Of course, all those boxes and sessions and VMs, etc., have IP addresses,
login names (sometimes several per device/VM), and passwords.

Many of them have special configurations and profile requirements.

I have text files with memory-joggers and summaries in various places that
make sense to me. The arrangement works well and efficiently for me,
day-to-day.

In some cases, I can just reuse usernames and passwords on several machines
or VMs, but in other cases, I receive an updated VM clone from developers or
testers, and they have their own naming and authentication conventions.

Does the above describe a fairly common techwriter work environment, today?

Is there a good reason, from the writer perspective, to pull all the
documentation for such an environment together in one place, one document?
Without the carrot/stick of ISO preparation looming?

I figure if I get killed or long-term hospitalized, I'm past caring what my
replacement does. If I get laid off, well, you can fill in the blanks
regarding how helpful I want to be to my lower-paid replacement, or to a
company that tossed me to the curb. They'll figure it out, or reinvent it.
If I get promoted/transferred, I'll have time to coach my replacement.

Let's hear other perspectives.

</kevin>

--
__o
_`\<,_
(*)/ (*)
Don't go away. We'll be right back.

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^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^
Create and publish documentation through multiple channels with Doc-To-Help. Choose your authoring formats and get any output you may need.

Try Doc-To-Help, now with MS SharePoint integration, free for 30-days.

http://bit.ly/doc-to-help

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