Member Spotlight: Susan Fisher

What is your educational background? Why did you decide to pursue technical communication as a career?
I earned Bachelor and Master of Fine Arts degrees from the University of Michigan School of Art & Design in the 1970s. Soon afterward, however, when the “school of reality” hit home, I took a job as a documentation specialist with a computer services company. I found I was good at researching technical topics and explaining them to others. When the company’s documentation group added a training function, I jumped into that. I’ve been an instructional designer ever since — although I still consider myself a technical communicator above all. In fact, last year I earned the Certified Professional Technical Communicator (CPTC) designation from STC.

How long have you been a member of  STC? In what STC positions have you served?
I’ve been a member of STC and the Southeastern Michigan chapter since 1982. Having gotten into the tech comm field more or less by accident, I had little idea of its professional development opportunities — until a co-worker told me about STC. I joined and discovered a whole new world of concepts, information, and people doing exciting thinking and work in the field. For most of the past 30 years I’ve been only a consumer of STC services. I was finally persuaded to give something back in 2012, when I agreed to be nominated as secretary of STC-SM. I’m currently serving my second term.

Where are you currently employed? What are your job activities? What do you find most interesting or satisfying about your job?
I’m employed at Innovative Learning Group in Royal Oak. Continue reading “Member Spotlight: Susan Fisher”

Recap of January 14 Program—Beyond the Heat Map: The Future of Eye-Tracking

Jon West

We were treated to a very interesting presentation on Tuesday, Jan. 14, 2014. Jon West, Director of Marketing and Opportunities for LC Technologies, Inc., located in Fairfax Virginia, was our speaker and demonstrator. He began the evening by setting up his eye-tracking device and software so that before the talk the attendees could experience first hand how this technology works.

In his presentation, Jon covered the history of eye-tracking as it applies to human-computer interaction. The technology was developed as far back as 1898 and some of Jon’s slides showed mechanisms that appeared almost like medieval torture devices! Jon discussed the evolution of this technology through the years and told us about the implications that it has for today. Among the applications that currently benefit from this technology are: marketing research, usability, and medical. Jon also predicted that this technology would be used in the future with robots, cell phones and other devices.

After the talk, Jon again demonstrated the eye-tracker device to the attendees who were interested in having their eye movements calibrated and then analyzed to show how they were interacting with what they saw on the monitor.

We thank Jon West for a very informative and fun presentation and we also thank Cengage Learning® in Farmington Hills for allowing us to use their facilities and for arranging for the food and drinks.

Book Review: 100 Things Every Designer Needs To Know About People

Book cover of 100 Things Every Designer Needs to Know About People
Book cover of 100 Things Every Designer Needs to Know About People

Author: Susan M. Weinschenk, Ph.D. Published: New Riders Berkeley, CA. April 2011. 256 pages.
[Source: This book was received as a prize at the World Usability Day 2013 meeting in Detroit.]

Adapted from reviews on Amazon.com with comments added by Sharon McDonnell

This appealing, short book brings together little nuggets of psychology, which the author makes immediately relevant to design decisions. The strength of this book is that the author cites more recent research about principles that you either thought you knew and were wrong, or that you thought you knew and were indeed right. Continue reading “Book Review: 100 Things Every Designer Needs To Know About People”

Beating the Winter Blahs – and Other Insights from the January 9th Networking Lunch

Written by Tom Glennan

The weather and driving conditions were far from ideal for the January 9th networking lunch at Panera Bread in Rochester Hills, but the hearty souls who braved the elements to share in a light lunch and good conversation found plenty to talk about between mouthfuls of hot soup and cookies.

At these networking events, besides the opportunity for networking and sharing war stories from the front lines of the technical communication battle, I look forward to hearing from our STC/SM members (and not-yet members) about their views of the chapter, particularly the value of chapter membership and the benefits that it can provide. So one of the things that I sought feedback about last Thursday was the program topics and speakers we’ve had in the recent past and that we’re planning for in the 2013-2014 program year. Many of the topics that members have asked for are related directly to day-to-day needs, such as information about tools like FrameMaker® and RoboHelp® by Adobe®, MadCap FlareTM, and XML, and strategies such as Agile and content management systems. But I was also reminded that there are other topics that members are totally unfamiliar with but would like to learn more about. Continue reading “Beating the Winter Blahs – and Other Insights from the January 9th Networking Lunch”

January 14-Beyond the Heat-map: The Future of Eye-Tracking

Come to see, touch, and learn about/or get updated on eye tracking. The speaker will cover the evolution and current state of eye-tracking technology, its broad uses which include medical, usability, and market research, and predictions for the future with robots, cell phones, and other devices.

Perhaps the most important reason eye tracking will play an ever more crucial role in human computer interactions is that our eye activity is driven by subconscious processes in our brain. By providing insights into cognitive brain activity, monitoring eye movements has significant potential to help programs interact with people in a more natural way.

About the Speaker

Jon West is the Director of Marketing and Opportunities for LC Technologies located in Fairfax Virginia. Over the last decade, Jon has directed company development efforts for several companies in the Washington DC metro-area, ranging from financial investment firms to high tech engineering companies. Continue reading “January 14-Beyond the Heat-map: The Future of Eye-Tracking”

January 11-Extreme Flare: Taking Flare to the Max

Speaker: Michael Hamilton, VP, Product Evangelism @ MadCap Software

In this presentation we will cover the best practices in the following four
areas:

  • Flare Project Architecture – What are your choices and how do you set up for success?
  • Mike’s Three Favorite CSS Techniques – Making indents, lists, and figure captions easy
  • Adding Video Content – Three important lessons learned over years of using multimedia files
  • Publishing Options – From manual to fully automatic and the stops in-between

Continue reading “January 11-Extreme Flare: Taking Flare to the Max”

January 9-STC/SM Networking Lunch

Greetings fellow STC/SM members!

One of the most important benefits we derive from our local chapter membership is the opportunity to network with fellow technical communicators in our area. As such, the STC/SM leadership team has initiated a program of local networking lunches, breakfasts, after-work happy hours, etc.

On Thursday, January 9, I will be hosting a casual STC/SM NETWORKING LUNCH at the Panera Bread location at 2508 South Adams Road, in Rochester Hills. I plan to arrive at 10:30 a.m. (to get a good seating area, although the store is quite large inside) and stay until 1:00 p.m. If you can join for any part of that time, we’d love to have you. We’ll use the time to get to know one another, talk about our role as technical communicators, and discuss STC-SM membership and ideas for increasing its value to technical communicators. Each attendee is responsible for purchasing his/her lunch or beverages, but the conversation is FREE! Continue reading “January 9-STC/SM Networking Lunch”

Thinking about the December 10 Holiday Mixer – and Beyond

Written by Tom Glennan

There’s a classic winter song that begins, “Oh, the weather outside is frightful, but the fire is so delightful.” Well, the weather for the December 10 holiday mixer, co-sponsored by STC/SM, Michigan CHI and UxPA, was definitely frightful, with very low temperatures, blowing winds and snow flurries. And while there was no fire inside Conor O’Neill’s Irish Pub in Ann Arbor, the food, conversation and presentation were definitely delightful, as was the opportunity to meet and speak with people from our partnering organizations. Chris Farnum, a member of the user experience (Ux) team at ProQuest, gave a very informative and engaging presentation on wireframes and some tips on how to make good wireframes with techniques that transcend the tools. He also took a stab at answering the oft-asked question, “Are wireframes dead?” All in all, for someone like me who initially thought wireframes were a particular style of eyewear, the presentation Chris gave was both enjoyable and enlightening. Continue reading “Thinking about the December 10 Holiday Mixer – and Beyond”

Ann Arbor Networking Breakfast – Recap

Written by Maryann Bowen

Seven people set their alarms to gather for breakfast at 7 a.m. on Friday, November 22, at Nick’s Original House of Pancakes in Ann Arbor.

We started with the usual introductions of attendees, including professional background, current jobs and involvement with STC. Of this group, three are self-employed, one is an employee of another company, two are corporate employees who also do some freelancing and one is currently seeking employment. (Other attendees immediately shared some leads, including two jobs recently posted to the STC-SM listserv.) Continue reading “Ann Arbor Networking Breakfast – Recap”