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Salaries of Technical Writers

Technical writers are those creative souls who write technical reports, articles and informative content on a wide range of topics. Technical writers employ their...

SMALL WORLD, FAR WORLD

Looking for work in another country isn’t an easy task and the recent economic downturn has only made it harder. Our digital world has...

THE RESULTS OF OUR RECENT MEMBER SURVEY

We’re currently planning our Watercooler Chats for the next year and recently asked our members what topics you would like to discuss and when...

About Us

This website is the home of the Europe SIG, a Special Interest Group in the Society for Technical Communication. Topics cover all aspects of technical communication as they pertain to technical communication in Europe.

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Home Appliance Circuit Diagram

Technical Writing for Home Appliance Circuitry and Documentation

Remember that combined washer and dryer unit that seemed like a steal the first time you brought it in? The friendly salesman was helpful; patient with his explanations while stamping his brand of approval on your choice. Then one day, it all went up in smoke as frequent breakdowns and storage issues became the norm.

Appliance Circuitry can be Complicated and Proprietary

To make matters worse, the application’s circuitry is too damn weird for you to roll up your sleeves and help yourself. This might seem like a commonplace problem but it is gradually approaching epidemic levels. The availability of technical writing for home appliance circuitry and documentation is sparse and unsystematic. Hence, consumers are forced to make costly modifications and frequent trips to the electrician.

But a simple catalog of effective technical writing for home appliance circuitry and documentation is all that is needed to save yourself from these ordeals. The choice of a washer/dryer unit can be deceptively simple. It is common wisdom to go for integrated washer and dryer units for convenience and economy. At first glance, a blow by blow comparison of separate washer and dryer units with integrated ones do verify this widely accepted wisdom.

Integrated Systems

Integrated systems perform approximately equal to separate washer and dryer units, they obviously save space and there isn’t much difference in their prices as well. Even so, a closer look at the circuitry can quickly assure you that it isn’t as simple as that. Integrated systems consume more water since the dryer unit needs water to cool off its condenser.

While a single standard supply circuit can be shared by separate washer and dryer units, the dryer can conveniently be disconnected when not in use. This load then can be shared by your massage chair as you lie back and watch your laundry being washed. Integrate washer and dryer units in contrast need a dedicated circuit which is immensely more consumptive and lack the versatility of separate washer and dryer units.

The Home appliance circuitry can be an intimidating multi headed hydra- a fresh problem cropping up once you solve one. Yet, the circuitry by itself is extremely linear and easy to understand. Take for instance, the good old remote control which has bred generations of couch potatoes. The simple remote can be easily assembled using an IR sensor, IC Counter and a relay linearly to a battery. All it will cost is a trip to the local convenience store and a few dollars.

Internet Of Things

The Internet of Things as it affects Home Appliances like washing machines

The advent of IOT (Internet Of Things) has brought a deluge of automated devices. We have wifi enabled devices, RF transmitters, digital controllers and other optoelectronic devices which control our appliances at the blink of an eye. It is easy to modify your washer/dryer unit using modules available easily online to make your life faster, simpler and hassle free. It is easy enough to document the application circuitry for you don’t want to fly blind when something goes haywire. You most certainly do not want the electrician to overcharge you as well. Simple drawings of major components, serial numbers et al can go a long way in saving costs and making sense of the chaos.

References:

http://www.stackablewasheranddryer.org

http://www.cisco.com/c/en/us/solutions/internet-of-things/overview.html

 

Ergonomic Mouse and Keyboard

Finding the Best Ergonomic Mouse and Keyboard for Technical Writers

The world of computing has revolutionized over the past few years owing to various factors among which is the growing ubiquity of the internet.The internet has almost half of the world population connected to it and i am guessing you are part of this number.A keen factor to take into account however, is the fact that the internet market like any other market has market segments.

Among the market segments are technical writers who play a pivotal in the improvement of technology. Those in this segment vary from tech geeks who are budding in the software engineering field or just like to crunch some code,or simply an online content creator who needs those fast mouse keystrokes in order to land that job that you have been waiting for all night long.

This guide is meant to aid you to find the best ergonomic mouse and keyboard for technical writers by giving you a number of pointers to look out for when you are out shopping for a new mouse after having the need to look out for a better one to suite your needs best.

So,now without wasting time,let’s get right to it and catch to the chase, below is a list i have personally compiled of a few thins that you should have an eye for when you are out looking for an ergonomic mouse or keyboard for technical writing.

  1. Comfort.

A full ergonomic writing desk setup for technical writers
Not just limited to mouse/keyboard, your ergonomic desk setup should include everything listed above.

Yes i said it, this is one thing of paramount importance that one cannot go without mentioning.When you are using a mouse and keyboard while you are on your computer,you need to have your palms at the most comfortable position to reduce stress and strain to your wrists while you are typing or scrolling through pages. Some keyboards even have negative-slope attachments and a large wrist pad to ensure that your arms are in a relaxed natural position. This is linked to mice in that,while operating the mouse,you should be able to move it around easily with minimum strain on you wrist in order to ensure ease of movement.

2. Speed.

This is another very important factor to consider when you want to upgrade either your keyboard or your mouse at any particular time. Speed is of the essence especially for content writers who have deadlines to beat,and if you have a keyboard that has its keys very hard to press or or are not built to meet your ergonomic needs, then you should probably not consider choosing it since it is going to slow you down, what you should be looking for instead is a keyboard with very soft keys,some even come as fully-split keyboards while others are partially separated but have a number part completely split from the main keyboard so as to ease typing and locating the various keys on the keyboard.

3. Repetitive Motion Syndrome (RMS)

This disease has been there only that there has been an increased number of cases of people with the disease.When one is involved in a particular activity over and over again,the part of their brain that is responsible for the carrying out of the activity becomes overused and this might end up culminating into the damage of that part of the brain.Related nerve damages in the wrists and hand are a relatively new form of RMS.

Keyboards may cause strain due to the relatively fixed position one has to stay in when they are typing.Mice on the other hand can cause this in their own subtle way in addition to the tendon and nerve affecting issues that some of the latest and modernized mice are responsible for.

To avoid having such complications,one should look for a keyboard that can fully be split so as to be able to reduce strain to the neck and shoulders that occurs especially when you have to hold your hands close together when typing. For mice,one should look for one that is easy to move around and that have an ergonomically designed arch that rises vertically to your knuckles,then parallels the quick fall off to your wrist and finally slopes to your fingertips.

Additional Resources:

http://www.safecomputingtips.com/best-ergonomic-mouse/

 

 

Technical Writer

Salaries of Technical Writers

Technical writers are those creative souls who write technical reports, articles and informative content on a wide range of topics. Technical writers employ their writing skills to bring structure to information so that people can comprehend it. The variety of topics for technical writers is a vast universe which contains fields like glass making, automobiles, computer programming, quilting, equipment installation manuals and much more. Technical writers write manuals, installation guides, reports, and articles on a technical topic like gear box assembly for a four wheel drive. They need to be articulate, well-structured, crisp and fluff free so that the reader can clearly understand the information presented in the text.

After reading about the arduous tasks that these writers do you must be wondering how much are they paid? What are the salaries for technical writers?

A lot of factors go into deciding the salaries for technical writers. Most technical writers are required to be college graduates as the information they deal with is pretty complex and needs a lot of processing. Experience in the industry relevant to the subject matter, familiarity with the subject matter and overall writing skills are also factored in the salaries of technical writers. As per the Occupational Outlook Handbook by U.S. government, technical writers usually make between $38,000 to $170,000 annually including bonuses and profit sharing. The median salary was found to be about $69,850 with a 10% increment project in the next 10 years. This translates to about $33.58 per hour which is a respectable amount of money. While most entry level technical writers at least had a Bachelor’s degree, they had less than 5 years of experience. Hence, Technical writing is a good job with a decent pay grade. The biggest benefit of technical writing is one can choose the hours one wants to put in and comfortably work as a freelancer.

SMALL WORLD, FAR WORLD

Looking for work in another country isn’t an easy task and the recent economic downturn has only made it harder. Our digital world has made the world seem much smaller, but the reality of moving around it for work is often the opposite; the dream of working in another country can often seem far away.

I recently received a CV from a young Serbian woman seeking a position in marketing here in Brussels. Recently graduated and with a few years’ work experience in economics, she now wants to reach out and work in another country to get international experience. I’ve done such a move myself on a few occasions and highly recommend it.

Unfortunately she has several obstacles in her way. However, there are things we can all do to help increase our chances of finding work abroad.

Watch your language

Obviously it’s important that your CV doesn’t have any typos and grammatical errors. However, working in another country can often mean living with another language. If you’re writing your CV in a language other than your mother tongue, get the text checked by a native speaker. Don’t know any native speakers? Get to an online forum and ask for help to edit your text.

Do your homework on the country’s work environment

Someone apparently told the Serbian woman that it would be easier to get a marketing job in a multinational as the work would be in English. Her CV Profile states that she’s looking for an opening position in Marketing. Unfortunately she’s no experience in the domain, her written English isn’t good enough to do copywriting and she doesn’t know Adobe InDesign. If a potential employer had read past the quirky English in the CV, they’d have given up at this stage. Few companies will hire a beginner who needs work papers. They can hire locally.

It can be a risky decision to do a career change when looking for work in a country where you need work papers but don’t have any practical experience to offer in your new career direction. Get as much experience as you can before seeking work in another country. You need something to sell!

Research the job market and types of companies in the country that interest you. The Serb was fluent in several languages but only in one (English) of the three important languages for working in Brussels (French and Dutch also matter). Realistically she may have a better chance of finding work in Germany as companies there may be more commercially active in the Balkan region than companies based in Belgium. So her knowledge of that regional market could perhaps be a selling point to a German company. Understand what the market is looking for.

The challenge to get work papers

The unfortunate reality is that work papers can be hard to get. Few companies will hire you directly from another country without first meeting you. You will increase the chance of finding work by going to your desired country for a month or more (the longer the better) and making as many face-to-face contacts as possible to hunt down that opportunity made for you. It can take time to knock on all those doors and follow up leads. Simply mailing out CVs isn’t enough.

When a company wants to hire someone from outside the EU (which is 28 countries), they need to be able to show the authorities that they couldn’t find someone in the country suitable for the job on offer. Another condition prospective employers may need to meet could be the minimum salary level that they can offer. In Belgium, for example, it is currently nearly 40,000 euros ($54,000) a year for a skilled position (salary reference). In other words, you won’t get work papers to do a low paid job. You need skills and experience.

It’s hard looking for work in another country, particularly if you’re not based there and will need work papers. It takes determination and focus to chase a dream and make it happen.

THE RESULTS OF OUR RECENT MEMBER SURVEY

We’re currently planning our Watercooler Chats for the next year and recently asked our members what topics you would like to discuss and when would best suit you. The results are shown below. We have 83 members and had 13 responses; a 15.6% turnout. Low, but it still lets us see how to do our Watercooler Chats over the next year.

Day and time of our monthly SIG Watercooler Chats is changing

From October onwards, the chats will move to the second Wednesday of the month at 6pm CET (12 noon ET).

Agenda for the next three months

Based on member feedback for topics to discuss, the chats for October, November & December will be:

October 15 = Terminology management

November 12 = Prioritising and determining the ROI when internationalization technical content

December 10 = Getting started in and planning localization projects

Results of the survey

 

What type of work do you do? (More than one answer is possible)

Type of work                                Percentage

Technical writing in English           70%

Manage a documentation team    46%

Technical writing in a language
other than English                       31%

Manage/co-ordinate
localization projects                    31%

Other                                         15%

Translation                                 7%

Which categories of topics would interest you the most for discussion? (Ranked in order of preference)

Localisation and translation issues

Internationalisation issues

Intercultural issues in the work environment

What’s your experience in internationalisation and translation?

Amount of experience      Percentage

More than 6 years           39%

No experience                 23%

Up to 3 years                  23%

3 to 6 years                    15%

What’s your experience in internationalisation?

Amount of experience      Percentage

More than 6 years           38%

No experience                 31%

Up to 3 years                  31%

3 to 6 years                    0%

What’s your experience working with intercultural issues?

Amount of experience       Percentage

More than 6 years            62%

Up to 3 years                   23%

No experience                  8%

3 to 6 years                     8%

What topics would you like to discuss in our chats? Proposed topics are listed below. Ranked in order of preference:

Documentation standards for global content

Developing a global strategy for your content

Terminology management

Impact of the business environment when producing content for a global market (e.g., mergers & acquisitions, outsourcing, virtual teams, organizational silos, cultural issues)

Metrics and localisation

Getting started in and planning localization projects

Localisation and agile

European Union directives and their impact on documentation

Working with English as a second language and with multiple versions of English

Regulatory/legal issues related to the European market

Translation memories Getting the most from them

Working with localization service providers

Topics proposed by respondents:

Translation management technology and workflow

Component content management in multiple languages

How to demonstrate ROI and priority of internationalization

Which day of the week would you prefer the Watercooler Chats to be held once a month?

Day of the week             Percentage

No preference                 54%

Wednesday                     39%

Tuesday (current day)     7%

What time of day would you prefer for the Watercooler Chats?

Time of day                           Percentage

18:00 CET (12.00 pm ET)      46%

17:00 CET (11.00 am ET)      39%

19:00 CET (1.00 pm ET)        15%

LET’S CHAT ABOUT… CULTURAL DIFFERENCES AT WORK

In this month’s Watercooler Chat we discussed the cultural differences we can encounter when working in a global environment.

Coping with different Englishes

All of us taking part in the chat were Anglophone and worked in English. However, we all worked with colleagues and customers scattered around the world for whom English isn’t a first language.

Some of us worked in environments where there can be different versions of English in use across the company worldwide; US, UK, Indian, Australian. It’s not always possible for technical communication groups to expect that only one version of English can be used in documentation worldwide. Regional markets can have their own demands. We need to understand local as well as global situations. There was also the challenge of ensuring correctly written English from globally dispersed writers who used another version of English in their own country.

China and documentation standards

Chinese manuals. Infamous. Often incomprehensible. The “contaminated English” found in many Chinese manuals often seem to be covered in the fingerprints of Google Translate (or an equivalent tool). The English can be amusing but it’s also frustrating to understand and challenging to rewrite.

The reality is that most Chinese companies only sell within China. So when selling internationally, they write their English manuals using the same practices as when they write documents for their own local market. The content is often more descriptive than instructional.

Manuals are usually written by engineers (an increasing number of whom have been trained in the US) as well as translators, whose training may not always produce a good quality of English. The concept of technical communication is in its infancy in China. Few Chinese writers are familiar with the principles of information design.

Chinese companies still have a long way to go in appreciating the benefit quality documentation can have on their profits.

Phone etiquette

We all regularly teleconferenced with colleagues located worldwide. Although great for work and for developing working relationships, a common problem encountered was poor sound quality. This could be due, for example, to people phoning in from their desks or cars, or using mobile phones.

Distracting background noise makes it difficult to clearly hear what’s being said. Native speakers can also speak too quickly. Unfortunately people may not speak up to say that they can’t follow the conversation, either through shyness or for fear that their English could be considered too poor. In a successful teleconference, everyone needs to understand phone etiquette.

Accents can cause problems. Unfamiliar ones can be difficult to understand over a phone line, particularly if there are no visual cues to help. Video conferencing is great but not everyone has access to it.

We all agreed that it’s important to write up the meeting so that everyone is clear on what was discussed and agreed upon, particularly if some may have had problems hearing or understanding what was said.

It takes practice and patience to get used to working with different accents as well as the English spoken by those who don’t have English as their first language.

Great chat

We had a great informative chat with everyone participating and sharing their experiences. Yet cultural differences don’t just cover language and national issues. Unfortunately we ran out of time to discuss the other hot cultural issue, corporate culture, and how it differs around the world.