Lori Luza Presents Styles – Austin Adobe Users Group – April 13th

I’m honored to be presenting to the Austin Adobe Users Group on April 13th. If you can, please join us for my presentation on Styles, their uses and purpose, how to apply them in Adobe InDesign, and how to use them to create tables/indicies and cross references.

Join us for the April 13th meeting of the Austin Adobe User Group as Lori Luza demonstrates how to use Adobe InDesign styles, how to create a Table of Contents or an Index, and other related topics like Cross Referencing. Lori Luza owns As You Wish Photography and offers Training/Writing/Editing services through LoriLuza.com. She uses InDesign for technical writing projects.

We meet at New Horizons Computer Learning Center, 300 E. Huntland Drive from 1:15 – 3:30. Meetings and membership are free. To help New Horizons Computer Learning Center reserve a room that comfortably seats everyone, please RSVP at austinadobegroup.eventbrite.com

9 Things That Motivate Employees More Than Money – by Ilya Pozin on inc.com

A friend brought this article to the attention of her followers in Social Media. Having worked for fairly large organizations for a number of years, I agree with everything Ilya Pozin said, including these favorites:

“Be generous with praise….Make everyone a leader….Give recognition and small rewards.”

Go give it a read.

Source:
http://www.inc.com/ilya-pozin/9-things-that-motivate-employees-more-than-money.html

Top Five Browsers, plus one

I like to compartmentalize my work. I like to open something–a box, a notebook, whatever–and have all the tools I need handy, without distractions from other projects. It’s one of the ways I maintain focus.

So, a little over a year ago, I realized that I needed to compartmentalize my Internet-related work, too. I needed to log into one set of accounts for a project and do all that work. In some cases, I couldn’t be logged in to multiple accounts at a time, so I figured I’d get a new browser for each main task.

I did a little research and, thanks largely to Twitter, found some new browsers.  It took about three months to find/test browsers for my needs, but once settled, I’ve never looked back. The bonus is that, at my home computer, I can set it to remember all the passwords, so small tasks are quick and efficient instead of burning my time with a lot of logging in.

These are my five six favorites for the Macintosh OS.

Opera

http://www.opera.com/

LoriLuza.com. For all my training, editing, and writing work, I use Opera. I find this browser to be wonderfully stable. I like being able to navigate dialog boxes with the keyboard (one of the only things I miss about using a PC instead of a Mac). The shortcuts are extensively customizable, making this browser good for advanced users. It’s a fairly lightweight program, too, which I’m sure it part of the reason it’s so fast.

Chrome

http://www.google.com/chrome

AsYouWishAustin.com and all of its connected accounts, I access through Google Chrome. Chrome is a heavier program but it is stable and comes with lots of options.

Sunrise

http://www.sunrisebrowser.com/

I maintain the web and social media presence for the Austin Alumni Chapter for the University of Miami. When I open sunrise, all the tabs are for our site and accounts. This broswer is the lightest weight, making it perfect for netbooks and maybe even tablets.

OmniWeb

http://www.omnigroup.com/products/omniweb/

For another group I volunteer with, I use OmniWeb. It’s not quite as fast as some of the other browsers, but it is reliable. I’ve also used Apple’s Safari for this purpose with good success.

Firefox

http://www.mozilla.org/en-US/firefox/new/

This is my “catch all”. It’s where I receive most of my email and handle all personal tasks. Firefox stays running all day while the other browsers come and go as I meander through tasks. Firefox is stable and it’s popularity ensures many features and add-ons. It can get “heavy” with too many, though, so my advice is to pick a few favorites and dump any add-ons you don’t use on a very regular basis.

If your browser isn’t quite serving your needs, maybe one of these is a better fit for your content and work style.

Why Technical Writing Matters

Real Life

Today, I was faced with a real-life example of why Technical Writing matters.

Our dental insurance cards are printed in a ALL-CAPS, sans-serif font. That matters because:

Capital Letter I looks exactly like Numerical 1

Numerical 0 looks very much like Capital Letter O

When asked to share your member number, one has to study the rest of the member card to clarify 1s from Is and Os from 0s.

A Tech Writer would catch this as a problem during the card’s design and would insist on a distinctive font that uses serifs for the I and 1 as well as wide capital Os and “computer” 0s.[1] Anyone with an eye for fonts would save the insurance companies’ customer service lines a lot of wasted time in deciphering their non-specific characters with customers on the phone.

Bonus

Consider, too, not every font renders these characters with distinction:

8, B –or even– S, 5

Fonts matter.

Use your Technical Writers and staff designers. You will find a balance between a font that fits on the card, one that is legible to customers, and one that is attractive, too.

.
[1] If you are using Internet Explorer, you may not see the symbol for zero. IE does not play nice with the Internet and simply can’t do what other browsers can. Consider Firefox or Opera, instead.

Word – Turn Off Hyperlinks

Word tries to help you by automatically formatting hyperlinks and email addresses with clickable links in blue underlined text. For documents that will be used electronically, this can be handy. For documents going to print, this can create clutter.

Turn Off an Individual Hyperlink

  • Right-click the link
  • Choose Hyperlink from the popup menu
  • Choose Edit Hyperlink from the secondary popup menu
  • Click the Remove Link button
  • Repeat for every link you want removed from the document

Turn Off AutoFormatting for Hyperlinks

To turn off automatic hyperlinks for future text/copy, you’ll need to remove that option from your preferences.

  • From your menu bar, choose
    Word > Preferences (MacOS) or
    Tools > Options (Windows)
  • Within Authoring and Proofing Tools, select AutoCorrect
  • Select AutoFormat As You Type
  • In the “Replace as you type” section, uncheck “Internet and network paths with hyperlinks”
  • Click OK
Word Turn Off Hyperlinks
Prefer a visual? Click for a quick how-to.

Presentation for Austin WordPress Hands On

WordPress Websites: Show and Tell

What theme are you using, and why? Is it a custom theme or off the shelf”?

AustinChildfree.org | @AustinNoKidding
– Twenty Eleven 1.2

AustinCanes.com | @AustinCanes
– Weaver 2.2.4

  • Rely on the KISS principle / easy Administration
  • Easy to delegate to the future webmaster
  • Allow “anyone” to easily change the background, header, colors, etc.
  • Widget-friendly, allowing “anyone” to rearrange elements on the site

What plugins are you using, and why?

  • AdRotate by Arnan de Gans – used for sponsorship (AustinChildfree.org)
  • Events Manager – used for RSVPs (AustinCanes.com & AustinChildfree.org

General Faves

  • Twitter Tools by Crowd Favorite
    – Tweets the instant a blog post is published.• All In One SEO Pack by Michael Torbert – sets titles, descriptions, and keywords for search engines; blog titles can be clever or simple (instead of keyword rich)
  • Mobile Theme Switcher by Jeremy Arntz
    – sets which theme is displayed on types of mobile devices—particularly the iPad
  • Tumblr Widget by Gabriel Roth and WP Tumblr by the Greek WordPress Community
    – embed & incorporate your Tumblr feed into WordPress (instead of sending WordPress posts to Tumblr); great for “reblogs” & other Tumblr-specific sharing.

What’s one thing you might do differently if you were to build the site from scratch?

AustinChildfree.org

  • Eliminate the in-house “program” from scratch. Since it “broke” during neglected server upgrades over recent years, we should have put it out of its misery.
  • Looked for money for a graphic designer or an “intern”. The message is difficult to convey in the positive.

What’s a cool thing you want to show off?

  • “free for commercial use stock images” on flickr flickr > Search > Advanced Search or: flickr.com/search/advanced Type in terms at the top, choose other preferences, and click the 2nd/3rd CC boxes at the bottom. [Hat Tip to @SheilaS for this nugget!] EX: keywords “Bollywood Clay Pit” with all three checked results in one image of the band; “Bollywood Clay Pit” with only the first two checked results in all nine images uploaded to flickr from the event.

Presenting at Austin WordPress Hands On

WordPress Websites: Show and Tell

I’m flattered to have been asked to present at tonight’s WordPress Websites: Show and Tell.

While the group is currently full, there is a waiting list. So, if you want to see what a handful of us think are neat tricks and tips, sign up.

(And don’t worry if you don’t make this one. This is a popular program that comes around every so often. )

.

 

Excel Tip: Zoom to Fit

Are your eyes tired from all the lines of numbers? Are you scrolling too much? Excel can zoom to fit your window.

  • Highlight the section you are reviewing.
  • Get the pulldown for the zoom, and choose Selection.
  • Ta Da! A perfect fit!
ExcelZoomToSelection
Prefer a visual? Click for a one-minute how-to.

What if the area is so big that you can’t scroll with the mouse without losing control? Then, use the keyboard to select.

  • Click in the last cell in the bottom right corner that you want in your selection. I even go one column and one row past my last cell to give little right-hand and bottom margins to the work.
  • Cmd-Shift Up Arrow and Cmd-Shift Left Arrow. (Ctrl-Shift, if using a PC.)
    Repeat, if necessary. Depending on your data layout, one Up or Left may not be enough to get to Row 1 or Column A. If you have a lot of blank rows/columns in your layout, you could just hold the Cmd-Shift Up/Left Arrow until Row 1/Column A is highlighted.
  • Everything from your last cell to Cell A1 is now selected.
  • Without clicking in the worksheet (which would de-select your selection), click the pulldown for the zoom, and choose Selection.

Bookmark this tip, you’re going to wonder where you read it when you get ready for income taxes!

Video Blogging: a best practice

As a reader, I don’t usually care for video blog posts. The Internet is huge, so I tend to skim the surface of any blog post to see if I really want to read it. This is something you can’t do with most video blogs. And that is because most bloggers don’t add video correctly.

A post that is nothing but the video is useless to me. I am not going to blindly start a video and devote both my auditory and visual attention to it unless I know it’s a good use of my two minutes (often touted as a best-practice length for online videos) or more.

News outlets were among the first to figure out the solution. A transcript along with the video gives us the chance to skim. A transcript allows for good keyword-rich content that will be good for SEO. Furthermore, it allows readers to find the content when searching.

For my particular reading/learning style, I found the example here to be even better.

video blog by Brian Wong with annotated highlights

He does make one mistake, in my opinion: there is a popup asking readers to share an email address. I find them annoying even when all I have to do is close the box. Trust me, if the writing is good and the topics are compelling, I’ll click a link below the story or in the sidebar to sign up for the newsletter or RSS feed.

One more suggestion for anyone getting into video blogging or screen casting. Do your best to keep the focal point in the top 3/4 of the screen. When we watch videos online, the popup ads along the bottom are easy to ignore unless they are covering what we need to see. (…and I never pay attention to these advertised products and services. I only hit the close X.)

Good Passwords, simplified

In my previous posts on passwords, I got very technical and “in the weeds”. This is a simplified version of the same concepts.

  1. Avoid any common words, even names.
  2. Use a combination of lowercase, UPPERCASE, num63rs, and $ymbol$.
  3. A line from a song is a great way to create a unique password
    You might use Katy’s Perry’s song “Last Friday Night” from the album Teenage Dream:
    “Pictures of last night ended up online
    I’m screwed
    Oh Well”
  4. ….which makes this “acronym”
    polneuoisow
  5. …and when you trade out a few numbers/symbols/UPPERCASE, you get
    p%l^euO!Sow

It’s complex, can fool most algorithm “hackers”, and is easy to remember if it’s a song/pattern of your choosing.

…now you’ll be singing along to your login, which is pretty fun to do!