Problems with Programmers

Subject: Problems with Programmers
From: Bruce Conway <bconway -at- ISLAND -dot- NET>
Date: Tue, 22 Dec 1998 09:25:43 +0000

I think some of us could come up with a litany of problems faced with
programmers, including the post repeated below. Here's some I had on
one project alone (hey, I got the manuals out on deadline anyway).
Trusting the word "programmer" is PC, otherwise substitute the word
"developer" (hearken to "refuse technologist" for garbageman/person,

1. Programmer unresponsive (quietish)
2. Programmer unable to provide material, because product not yet
3. Programmer slightly illiterate
4. Project comes to abrupt halt
5. Switch from one (incapable) programmer to a new one
6. Change from one programming language (C) to a new one (VisualBasic)
and then to yet
another one (Omnimark)
7. Client changes specs
8. SGML DTD changes requiring massive modifications
9. Company goes into receivership and has no money to pay the programmer
(um,...or the technical writer)
10. TW (Technical Writer) unskilled in Framemaker <blush>
11. The equipment malfunctions (all 4 PC's that is)

Somehow we got it done right on deadline. Some mysterious Japanese
businessman appeared from nowhere and flew the programmer to San
Francisco, the programmer's salary doubled, and the technical writer?
Wasn't sure he wanted to do technical writing ever again, so went into
System Admin.

Glad I'm back to technical writing.


Molly M. Theodossy wrote:
> At 03:03 PM 12/21/98 -0500, Gil Yaker wrote:
> >Let me bring this message full circle, and know that I want input from
> >those of you with more experience than me. So here I am at my job, bored to
> >tears. I've sat idle for the past two weeks doing nothing. Why? Well it
> >seems that usually I finish early such that I'm waiting for the parts of
> >the development team to get their job finished. There are probably a number
> >of reasons for this, but what I can say for sure is that this circumstance
> >has been a constant in my relatively few years of work. Do all tech writers
> >sit around and twiddle their thumbs? I was promised a demanding workload at
> >both of the interviews for the permanent jobs I've had, and never has this
> >promise been fulfilled.
> You are not the only one to have experienced this frustration. I also
> dislike the time between projects when there is little to do. I believe it
> is inevitable in this field. No matter how well you try to manage the
> projects and balance your workload, I think there are occasions when this
> happens anyway.
> >And one last peripheral question (for now). Buried within the above is my
> >feeling that if I had something more technical to write about, I'd be
> >happier. But, who gets to write the REALLY technical manuals? I spoke with
> >one recruiter from an engineering firm who said there's a field called ILS,
> >integrated logistics systems (or services, not sure what the S stands for),
> >that might encompass the more technical spec-oriented work. Or let me put
> >it this way. Who gets to write the volumes of manuals on say how a computer
> >microprocessor works and all the associated specs? Is there any way in hell
> >they'd let someone without a formal technical background author those
> >manuals? Or is it usually some engineer who gets by his
> >or her manager to write the docs?
> I think it depends on the company you work for. I worked for a small
> software company for a while where I was the tech writer who wrote the more
> technical of their manuals. Just so you know, my education is in graphic
> design and communication, and my professional expertise is in training. I
> am not sure why I was chosen to write those manuals, but when it was clear
> that I could understand the partially written control specs and was able to
> communicate well with the programmers, I was assigned the technical manuals
> while my colleagues worked on the end-user and the training manuals. If
> your current company has any of this type of work to do, you should express
> the interest to your manager.
> *****************************************************************
> Molly M. Theodossy
> Technology Trainer/Technical Writer
> mmtheodossy -at- ucdavis -dot- edu
> (530) 754-2113
> University of California, Davis
> From ??? -at- ??? Sun Jan 00 00:00:00 0000==

Bruce Conway, B.A. (Math/Pol Sci) - Tech Writer/Communicator

Society for Technical Communication (STC)
Vancouver Island Adv. Technology Centre

Email : bconway -at- island -dot- net

From ??? -at- ??? Sun Jan 00 00:00:00 0000=

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