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Newsletter of the East Bay Chapter of STC

Supporting technical communication in the
San Francisco Bay Area since 1962
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Second Quarter 2016 Issue

President's Message **** Editor's Message **** Feature Story: Why Becoming an EBSTC Volunteer is Good for You

Recent Dinner Meeting Recaps

President's Message

I want to make sure EBSTC is providing the resources and professional connections that help our members succeed as technical writers and communicators. Our primary means of achieving this goal is through chapter meetings with great information, good food, and a chance to network with our fellow communicators.

But what about those members who do not or cannot attend the monthly meetings? Knowing how to serve everyone better is important because we are on the brink of launching some exciting and very visible changes that can be fine-tuned to meet more members' needs.

Please take a moment to email me your most candid answer to this burning question from your chapter leaders:

What would get you to come to the meeting or what is keeping you from coming?

Whether or not we ever meet you at a dinner meeting, your answers will be a guiding light for continued excellence in serving EBSTC members.

The buck stops here,

Liz Miller
EBSTC President

DMV Marches On - Albeit Slowly

This issue of Devil Mountain Views (DMV) comes a bit later than expected. We are at the beginning of the third quarter in the blink of an eye. EBSTC will take its annual summer break and will resume monthly programs in September.

Our feature article in this issue is about the benefits of volunteering at EBSTC - benefits to your career as well as to the chapter. Additionally, you can also read highlights from some of our recent programs, such as Acing Your Interview (Andrew Davis), How to be Acquired (Meg Miranda) and Responsive EPUB (Scott Prentice).

If you are interested in writing a newsletter article, a dinner meeting report or a book review, we welcome your participation. Please contact me with your ideas.

Ashwini Tharval
Managing Editor

Why Becoming an EBSTC Volunteer is Good for You

STC works best if each chapter is a thriving community of technical communicators, coming together to help each other grow professionally and give back to the community in ways that shine a light on the power and value of what we do. Coming to meetings is a way to help build that community, but it's only the beginning. Meetings, newsletters, websites, conferences, competitions, and other activities don't just happen. Someone has to do the work, and that work is lighter -- and more fun -- if many hands share it.

What goes around comes around, and when you pitch in, good things happen. It doesn't have to take a lot of time. Even five minutes helping to find the best title for a blog post can be a big help. Holding an elective office is a bigger commitment, but there are many tasks in between. You just have to ask, or sometimes you just have to be there when a need arises.

Here are some of the side benefits of helping to sustain the EBSTC community:

  • Other members notice you and remember your contributions when they have paying jobs to fill. Ask most STC members, and they'll tell you about a job they got through this sort of networking.
  • If you help with the website, you can learn valuable skills -- like using WordPress or how HTML and CSS work.
  • If you write for the newsletter, you can add to your professional portfolio. Members who attend meetings -- or better yet, write articles about meeting topics -- benefit when that topic comes up in a job interview.
  • If you help plan programs, you have a good excuse to get in touch with really interesting people. And you can set up programs about topics that interest you.
  • If you help publicize our activities, you can hone your social media and outreach skills.
  • If you help to lead the chapter or any of its activities, you become a more confident leader and manager.
  • The chapter recognizes the contributions of volunteers with a variety of awards, and these look good on your resume.
  • It's great to be part of a community, especially the Friendly Chapter.

We'd love to discuss a volunteer opportunity that suits your availability and interests. Please contact President Liz Miller today.

Richard Mateosian
Volunteer at Large

Recent Dinner Meeting Recaps

Acing Your Interview

In our March program, attendees gained expert interview tips from Andrew Davis, a well-favored recruiter of technical content developers. Here are some tips we found especially helpful:

  • Videotape a mock interview. Use the video to see if you are making good eye contact and are leaning forward. Don't fold your arms, sit back, or slouch. When interviewers ask you to tell them about yourself, they are really asking you to tell them what you can do for them.
  • Ask questions during an interview. Andrew gave a list of questions to ask interviewers. His top question is, "What is your leadership style?" Other good questions to ask are: What types of people are successful here? What types are not successful? How would you describe your culture? What is the rhythm to the work? The last question he suggests asking is, "What would stop you from hiring me for this position?"
  • Send thank you notes. Andrew suggests sending thank you notes to each interviewer individually (if possible), and to the internal recruiter.

Andrew also noted that compensation includes opportunities and circumstances in addition to a salary. We are sharing Andrew's presentation especially for our DMV readers. Don't miss his tips on building an interpersonal connection with your interviewers (such as opening your palm while speaking) as well as some definite taboos (such as leaning backwards).

Additionally, Andrew also gave us a link to his Jobs to Explore list of direct (non-agency) content-related job and contract opportunities. This frequently updated resource is a prize for job seekers.

How to be Acquired? Surviving the Transition

In our April program, Meg Miranda described her many merger and acquisition experiences. She cleverly used photos and metaphors arising from her hobby as a home beekeeper. Meg shared her best tips about what to do (and not do) to ease the pains of transition - whether you're on the being acquired or acquiring side -- and how to graciously approach new relationships and workflows.

Responsive EPUB, Really?

In our May program, Scott Prentice started with an educational overview of EPUB and then discussed the tools and methods he has used to publish a document to an e-reader (such as Kindle) and have it display properly on a wide variety of devices - be it a smartphone, an iPadŽ or a web page.

With his presentation, Scott opened our eyes to limitations of the specification and publishing tools. For example, simple content may "just work," but it starts to get tricky with more complex content, such as tables and images. For responsive EPUB documents, use cascading style sheets that detect device parameters and reformat the document accordingly.

Scott suggested that the best approach to creating complex EPUBs is using a tool as well as hand-coding. In fact, responsive features must be hand-coded. However, most tools will break the responsiveness, so a checking tool is also necessary (EpubCheck). Potentially, EPUB "help" could be a replacement for HTML help by delivering content that is locally installed and always available.

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Last updated: Wednesday, July 6, 2016