Monthly Archive for September, 2007

Graph ungoodness

Bonus points to whoever can decipher this chart:


No? Well, it has something to do with a bunch of baseball players whose initials don’t match their names. There’s also some “periods” (which are called “Yr”). We don’t need no stinkin’ Y-axis, because it’s clear that periods are plotted against… uh, “money?” It also looks like someone needed a title, shook a magic 8-ball, and “Prospect Value Analysis” floated into the transparent window.

I’d go on, but the real fun is in reading the comments.

Via the incomparable FJM.

Oh no she DI’INT

So yesterday, after another taxing day in the uncomfortable world of semi-business attire, I returned to the castle and, like always, immediately changed clothes. I selected one of my favorite shirts, a sporty Cincy Reds shirt (with the 3/4 length raglan sleeves, natch).

After pulling the manly cotton over my weary head, I noticed a strong perfume-y odor. Initially I ignored it (men have a genetic knack for dismissing weird odors). But then one of my daughters jumped on my lap, gave me a hug, and said, “you smell like Mommy.”

Hrm. I put her down, and pulled the collar to my nostrils. SNIFFFFFFF… She was right, this was unmistakably the wife’s perfume.

“Honey, why does my REDS SHIRT smell like your perfume?”

“I dunno. I wore it when I took a nap,” she said.

“My REDS shirt?!?”

“Yeah, it was super comfortable. Nice and soft. I see why you’re always wearing that thing.”

“Okay, comfortable enough to sleep in, maybe. But did you have to girly it up with that offensive smell?” I asked.

“Oh, please. It’s just a sports jersey. I think you’re overreacting.”

Ah, ‘overreacting.’ I said to myself. I moved past her into the bathroom. “Pardon me, my love. I’ll be back in just a moment.”

“What are you DOING?!?” she exclaimed a few seconds later.

“Why, I’m rubbing your favorite hand towels under my armpits, dear,” I said. *rub*rub* “Wow. I see why you’re always using these.” *rub* “Nice and soft.”

You see, in today’s lesson we’ve learned that marriage is all about effective communication. Both parties understand each other now. (Of course, one of them slept on the couch after the lesson. But at least he was comfy in a 3/4-length raglan-sleeved Reds shirt.)

Adobe releases Tech Comm Suite

The tech-comm blogosphere is erupting with news and reviews of Adobe’s new Technical Communication Suite.

For $1,600 ($1,000 for the upgrade version) you get FrameMaker 8, RoboHelp 7, Captivate 3, and Acrobat 3D.

My initial thoughts: $1k is a heck of a price for something this robust. It’s clearly an olive branch to a community that, in general, has felt somewhat neglected by Adobe for the past decade.

I cannot yet offer any opinions on the individual products themselves. I’m just returning from a hiatus of sorts, and am in the process of re-immersing myself in the tech-comm “world.” However, I think it’s safe to assume that FrameMaker will be impressive, since it was still impressive in its previously neglected self. Same with Captivate and Acrobat. RoboHelp 7 appears to be a significant improvement over version 6.

The critical opinion I feel informed enough to share at this time is a small disappointment in the choices made for the bundle. Yes, tech-comm folk use those four tools, but most that I know or work with use Photoshop just as regularly. And what about InDesign? Dreamweaver? Again, I use these products regularly; it’s interesting that these didn’t make the cut.

The Creative Suite line comes with many different incarnations (Design, Web, Production), each targeted at a specific group, yet each group has enough overlap to be useful for a wide variety of projects. Some might initially suggest that Adobe create “Print” and “Online” editions of the Tech-comm suite, but that’s product-oriented thinking, not workflow thinking. To me, it’d be nice to have a “Documentation” and “Training” versions of the suite, for instance.

One other gripe: Am I the only one who noticed that this suite isn’t in the CS family? Maybe Adobe thinks what tech-commers do isn’t “creative” enough to warrant the title. Hm.

At any rate, kudos to Adobe for finally getting on board in supporting this important niche of their customers. Companies like MadCap and TechSmith are building empires based on business models that serve the tech-comm community, and clearly Adobe noticed. No doubt things will get better for us as the giants continue to compete.

- Sarah @ Palimpsest has collected together some initial reviews of the TC Suite.


Adobe has revealed a new logo for the Photoshop family of products.


I love Photoshop. I do not love this logo. It reminds me of something I’d throw together if someone gave me two minutes to come up with a logo and was holding a gun to my head the entire time. And insisted that I use something other than Photoshop to do it.


How un-Adobe is this cheesy abomination? Whoever designed it probably thinks, “Get it?!? You see, some people will see a ‘P’ as in ‘Photoshop’ *snark*snark*, while others will see a camera shaped object. Plus, I got to use all those canned 3-d filters that were included in my old Fireworks MX!!”

To me, it looks like a comic-book speech bubble; which just matches perfectly with the “See What’s Possible” tagline.

Well, at least the theme for the logo isn’t a highly overused cliche.


H/T: BrandNew


monkeyseal.gif…er… certified, that is. As in “Certified Usability Analyst” - I passed the CUA exam last week.

Overall impressions of the certification process:

  • HFI has done a marvelous job in making the certification process all about the industry, and not the company. Unlike other certifications, which measure how well one has memorized a given company’s way of doing things (*cough*Microsoft*cough*), HFI stays focused on training and evaluating a person’s overall usability analysis skills against industry measures. IMO, this puts the CUA in the same class as a CPA; maybe not as rigorous or impressive, of course, but just as objective.
  • The exam was a bit tougher than I had expected it to be… not necessarily because of the content, but rather the time constraints. The exam is fast paced - averaging one question every 90 seconds. I finished with less than a minute to spare.
  • HFI claims that it is not necessary to take the coursework to pass the exam, but I have a hard time believing that. For instance, one section had almost ten questions from online examples that were only shared during the “Science/Art of Web & App Design” seminar, none of which were available off-line or included in any of the official materials or study guides. Moral: take as many seminars as you can. If you must pick and choose, the “UCA/Concept Design” and “Sci/Art” seminars are the most important - covering information that represents about 70% of the exam questions. (Note: Every person is randomly assigned a slightly different set of questions, so the above example may not be applicable in your case.)
  • A tip for those planning to take the exam (there’s another round in November): It’s more important to know where to find information than to have volumes of information memorized. Know the study guides like the back of your hand, and make sure that you’re familiar enough with the materials to flip to a specific lesson quickly for reference. Again: you’ve only got an average of 90 seconds per question, and about 80% of the questions will require some referencing, so you don’t want to spend five minutes looking for the specific research done on “Optimization of readability vs. legibility from various type sizes and line leading in single-column line length,” for instance.
  • Speaking of seminars, just a reminder that CUAs are invited to take the “Research” seminar every year to stay current on modern academic research involving usability. To my knowledge, it is free to those who have already passed the exam.

UPDATE: The above information is incorrect. HFI offers a 10% discount to the “Research” seminar for CUAs (it’s not free).

Early MS promotional videos

The techcommdood recently came across an early MS DOS 5.0 video. He writes:

I wonder how well this went over back in the day? Perhaps it was effective. If so, this makes me re-think how we’re delivering documentation today. I’m wondering if we could get Eminem to rap out our developer reference information for our .NET development tools, or perhaps Amy Winehouse could inject some nostalgic R&B-flavored tunes into our desktop offerings…

Interesting idea, Bill. However, some would argue that Eminem and Winehouse actually possess some talent, where the makers of these videos only possess a certain level of, shall we say, sadism.

Oh, yes, it got worse after the DOS years, Bill. Much, much worse.

Are the bells tolling yet again for RoboHelp?

Charles Jeter has been doing some excellent cyber-detective work and uncovered some odd corporate accounting practices over at Adobe.

It all started with the Jetman wondering why RoboHelp wasn’t included in Adobe’s SEC and investor relations documents, and went from there.

CJ has repeatedly asked for a statement from Adobe or their product evangelists, but so far, only silence. I’ll put the call out as well… if anyone has more information or documentation regarding the business side of RH, head on over to and chime in.

And while you’re there, make sure you grab his feed. His site has become another favorite of mine, you’ll see I’ve added it to the sidebar. His topics are very diverse, ranging from tech comm to parenting to gaming. Check it out.