Re: Programs new tech writers should know

Subject: Re: Programs new tech writers should know
From: "Eric J. Ray" <ejray -at- RAYCOMM -dot- COM>
Date: Fri, 17 Oct 1997 13:19:48 -0600

At 03:40 PM 10/16/97 -0500, Emily Cotlier wrote:
>This is a mistake I don't want to make again! I want to go into a
>job/new place knowing at least the most important programs. Any advice
>is welcome! FYI, I am in the Philadelphia area.

In my opinion, the most important thing to know is
Not that I'd condone the behavior of your boss, but one of the
things that really drives our profession is the ability to learn
very quickly and resourcefully. It's infinitely more useful
to know how to find information than it is to know how to
use any specific program.

For example, if you know how to find FAQs and dedicated
resources on the Web, know how to search for specific problems through
Usenet, know to RTFM, know how to slog through software until it
makes sense, know when and where to ask for help,
and have people you can turn to for additional advice or information,
you'll do fine because you'll have the tools to find out anything
else you want.

Short anecdote:
We had a HTML-literate sub-contractor working on a Web/HTML-related project
about 6 months ago. He persisted in emailing us questions about
which tags worked in which browsers. I finally told him to quit wasting
my time--the information resources are out there, and I wasn't going
waste my time looking up the information he should have had the initiative
to find in the first place. (If we had time to look it up, we wouldn't have
outsourced it.) He finally quit (not soon enough).
Now, had he asked _how to find out_ which tags worked in
which browsers, I'd have been vaguely irritated that someone
who claimed proficiency couldn't find that info,
but would at least have worked with him on the assumption that
I'd only have to show how to find the info once.

My two cents,

Eric J. Ray ejray -at- raycomm -dot- com
TECHWR-L Listowner

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