RE: Baseline Skillset for Technical Writers?

Subject: RE: Baseline Skillset for Technical Writers?
From: "Halter, Meg" <HalterMC -at- navair -dot- navy -dot- mil>
To: TECHWR-L <techwr-l -at- lists -dot- raycomm -dot- com>
Date: Sun, 19 Dec 1999 10:19:03 -0800

You're right, Gina, that it would be dumb to do this to key equipment or
code. One would pick non-essential equipment and code (or whatever) to learn
on. And no, it isn't *necessary* to experiment. I'm suggesting that it's
helpful -- if done with good judgement!

> -----Original Message-----
> From: Ginna Dowler [SMTP:gdowler -at- questertangent -dot- com]
>
> The stories about fixing our own computers are terrific examples of how
> a little knowledge can be very dangerous. There's a very good reason
> systems people don't want you screwing around. Do you do it on carpet or
> an ESD mat? Are you grounded? Dinking around with your hardware may
> "create comfort with technology", but it is probably also frying
> whatever circuit boards are in your computer, shortening component life.
> Then your hardware dies, and you call the systems people. "I don't know
> what's wrong - I was just sitting here."
>
Another approach might be to work on a computer that is in line to
be discarded. Or (if it's not essential) build or upgrade you home computer
yourself.

> > - When technical types see that we are able to do these things, they
> will be
> > more inclined to think we will understand the subject being discussed,
> even
> > if it isn't related to the computer because this capability indicates a
> > mindset that is comfortable with technology.
>
> Or the systems people are cursing your name as they replace your
> motherboard after you fried the components by opening the case on
> carpet. What they will actually think is that you're blundering in when
> you don't *really* understand what's going on at all.
>
> I can just see it - "I've written a bit of C++, hell I even minored in
> CS. No one will mind if I just open the code and fix up this little
> interface problem." Meanwhile, on Monday morning as they attempt to
> debug code which worked on Friday, they won't be impressed by your
> initiative.
>
Another approach might be to come up with a fix and OFFER it to the
developers. Or even keep the fix to yourself and compare your solution with
the one they came up with.

> We're going a little far here in assuming that some general
> understanding of how things work equates to being able to fix or even
> create them. I don't think it *is* really necessary to fix your own
> computer. Understanding and reproduction are two very different things.
> Confusing them can not only be dangerous, but also make you look very
> bad.
>
The point is learning, not taking over the other people's jobs.
Unfortunately, all this takes time, which always seems to be in short
supply.

Another newbie 2 cents (or perhaps only 0.5 cents, if I understand
Andrew Plato!) on a Sunday.

-- Meg




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