$/word and the pain of ...

Subject: $/word and the pain of ...
From: "Dennis Hays/The Burden Lake Group, Ltd." <dlhays -at- IX -dot- NETCOM -dot- COM>
Date: Tue, 23 Jan 1996 16:38:08 -0500

Well, it happened...

I was hired on a government contract last March as the only tech writer (a
terrific rate, too) and was told to "have at it." I spent long hours
developing a new manual design and "discussed" with the technical project
leader the validity of including graphics. He, from a VMS background (young
in age, old in heart), wanted the manuals to be like all the rest
before--adhering to MIL specs (within reason!). His boss, the project
manager flipped over the design and the logo I developed. And so it was.

Now, the technical project leader (TPL) demanded a few concessions. He
wanted the words off site, bar code, and others to be one word: offsite,
barcode, etc. And he also wanted a manual detailed down to the field order;
so a new comer to the s/w could pick up the manual and follow--key stroke
for keystroke (mouse click for mouse click). And so it was.

Today, after sitting on my hands for two and a half months while the
developers developed, I've submitted 147 preliminary reference manual
chapters (don't get excited, they're only a little more than skeletons), a
detailed outline for the System Administrator's Manual, and 150 pages of
User Guide stuff--the stuff he wanted detailed and procedural. And so it was.

This afternoon, after lunch, the TPL and I sat down to discuss the user
stuff. He doesn't want it this way. He wants it (after I probed him for 15
minutes) functional. Less key strokes and more what happens. So, after
looking through the 150 pages, I salvaged less than 3. The rest, as they
say, is in the dumper. This doesn't reflect negatively on me; he agrees I
was doing exactly as he requested. He just changed his mind. And I get to
start over with a complete rewrite. And so it is.

I have an hourly contract--time and materials. That's the good part and
precisely the reason why I don't want to work by the word or by a flat rate.
But I'm feeling sorry for myself (it gets sympathy from my friends and
wife), but only for tonight.

-------------> Dennis Hays, The Burden Lake Group, Ltd.
-------------> Voice: 518/477-6388 Fax: 518/477-5006
-------------> E-Mail: dlhays -at- ix -dot- netcom -dot- com
------------->"God doesn't want you to be certain.
That's why He gave you a brain."

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