Working for Geniuses

Recently, it occurred to me that I’m not nearly as much of a genius as I used to think I was. This is not done with a great deal of sadness, merely a pragmatic realization (one of my father’s favorite sayings is, “Humility is a true estimation of one’s worth”). So if it’s unlikely that I’m going to change the world with any ideas that sprout from my brain, I’d still like to work for someone who will. The good news is, there are a lot of world changers out there, and they can create work for the aspiring (but not necessarily world-changing) technical communicator. Continue reading

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Why I Love Rocket Launches

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This has been a “geek week” for me. Since Thursday I’ve been at Kennedy Space Center (KSC) doing on-site reporting for Spaceflight Insider the latest Cargo Resupply Services (CRS) launch to the International Space Station (ISS), CRS-10. Continue reading

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Taking Requests

I’ve been at this blogging thing for nearly six years now, and I still find new topics to write about. I consider that a reflection of the times in which we live and of the dynamic nature of this profession. My question to all of you is: what haven’t I covered yet? Continue reading

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Talking with Students About Writing Textbooks

Last month a friend and I had the opportunity to talk to some middle-school students about writing science articles. Apparently one of the social studies teachers down the hall heard there was a writer in the house and requested my services to talk to a couple of her classes about writing social studies textbooks. The students had the assignment of writing a sample page from a textbook about American history, specifically the Mexican-American War of the 1800s. The school doesn’t typically use textbooks, which is interesting in itself, but the bulk of their assignment is below. Continue reading

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Seven Tips for Effective SBIR Proposal Writing

Given the nature of many of my customers–small aerospace firms–it’s probably not too surprising that I write or edit a lot of Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR, pronounced ess-bee-eye-are) proposals. SBIRs are competitive programs wherein the U.S. Government provides seed money to help a small business develop a new technology in a specific area to help them bring it from a lower-level technology readiness level (TRL) to a higher one and, eventually, to the commercial market. The following advice is for engineers as well as tech writers, so feel free to pass this along. Continue reading

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Selling Your Program More Effectively

I’ve spend a great deal of my time in the aerospace engineering community writing proposals as well as white papers and other persuasive documents designed to bring in money for a particular technology program or to make sure the funding doesn’t go away (those are usually government-to-government documents). What follows here are some suggestions for improving the strength of your case. Continue reading

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Making Instructions User Friendly

Today’s Object Lessons are all my own fault. I will confess that up front.

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