Re: Learning C code as a technical writer

Subject: Re: Learning C code as a technical writer
From: Garret Romaine <GRomaine -at- MSMAIL -dot- RADISYS -dot- COM>
Date: Mon, 13 Nov 1995 09:07:00 PST

Diane J. Peters writes:

<<So, there is a very practical reason for a technical writer to gain
comprehension of programming languages (the most common of which is now
C and C++). As for a resistance to learning a new skill, I am somewhat
dumb-founded. Knowledge and experience are two things no one (and
nothing) can take from you. Besides, you never know what doors this
could open for you in the future. Also, there is a certain amount of
independence that comes with every new skill.>>

I, too, am a little mystified by resistance to change. For one thing, when
"management" asks the peons to do something, and they get back a bunch of
static and whining instead, the whiners risk getting tarred with an unfair
reputation. That's bad.

Second, where I work, engineers are treated like gods. We are a hardware
driven company, whatever that means, but software engineers, especially to
produce the BIOS that wakes up all the chips, are in great demand. We can't
hire enough good engineers, hardware or software. When we do, we steal them
from somebody else. Writers, are, well, easier to find. What my boss thought
we really want are writers that also have a bachelor's degree in electrical
engineering, but I had to point out that if they had an engineering degree,
they'd be better off getting paid to engineer, not to write. The delta has
to be $25,000 per year more for engineers than tech writers. So, we've
decided that the next writer should at least have an Associate's degree in
electrical engineering. Which means *I* couldn't even get hired.

Sooo, I wish I could stop being so damn agreeable (oh, sorry, that slipped
in) but Diane has hit this thing right on the button. If you want to be in
control of your own career, you should anticipate this stuff. I've been
toying with helping to validate new products, writing validation plans, and
I'm also taking a class at the local community college to learn BASIC. When
they come to ask me to read C++ code, I hope I'm ready. Until then, I hope
the code has a lot of good comments in it.

Garret Romaine
gromaine -at- radisys -dot- com

"If we try ridin' instead of thinkin', we'll be hangin' from a rope by
- The Outlaw Josie Wales

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