Six Sigma Green Belt

August 4, 2011

I have been a great fan of six sigma methodology that I came across 3 years before in my last company. Now I got a chance to do a six sigma certification. Initially one has to do a green belt and then black belt. Yes, I got my green belt certification in Six Sigma methodology.

Basically Six Sigma is a quality improvement process suitable for any industry including manufacturing, retail, finance, IT etc. Higher the six sigma level, lesser the defects and greater will be the quality. Highest level that can be achieved is level 6 (and hence the name).. that is 3.4 defects per million opportunities (99.99966%). Six sigma is a comprehensive methodology referred as DMAIC principle.

The five phases of DMAIC are:

Define -> Measure -> Analyze -> Improve -> Control

Each phase is elaborate and need a detailed understanding of the project. If time permits, will write a collaborative posts on each phase.

Top 50 Blogs and Feeds for Technical Communicators

February 15, 2011

Both my career and personal life is undergoing many dramatic changes. So I was not able to update anything over here after Jan 14th. On a pleasant surprise, I got an email from indoition.com stating that my blog too listed in the elite list. I am giving the URL so that  it will be easy to catchup other useful technical communication blogs. *ahem my blog  comes as forth from the top (of course there is no particular numbered list, number matters you know :) )

Here we go:

Top 50 blogs and feeds

Useful LinkedIn groups

January 14, 2011

If you are a lonely Technical Writer in your company crying F1 while encountering technical issues with tools like FrameMaker or RoboHelp, then here is the solution. All you need is a LinkedIn account. There are many groups related to technical communication available within LinkedIn. There are some interesting discussions related with technical writing too happens in these groups. Few of the useful groups that I follow are as follows:

Video Resumes

December 27, 2010

 I had a mixed views on video resumes. Finally I wanted to give a try on that. So I made a movie (thanks to www.xtranormal.com) about myself, my education, expertise areas and work activities that I do. I have embedded that video my “About me” page. Please let me know your comments if any.  :)

My First Video Movie on Technical Writing

November 29, 2010

Xtranormal.com is a website that gives an option to convert your text into a movie, that too free of cost(ok, ok)..You just need to choose your actors(max 2) and type your script, the site will take care of camera shots and recording. I have created a movie on the multiple roles that Technical Writers play in a development environment. Here is the link:

http://www.xtranormal.com/watch/7859593

Note: You can embed the video directly by publishing it in YouTube.

Innovative approaches in Technical Writing

October 21, 2010

I am a regular visitor of cherry leaf technical writing site. I came across an interesting post that talk about innovative approach for a Samsung mobile user manual. Though this approach is a bit costly, potential clients will definitely get benefited. 

I just tried rubbing my brain for the possibilities of innovations in the technical documentation so that the clients will get benefited.

Include videos in the online help:

Imagine you are writing a 10+ steps procedure on how to create a Macro in the MS-Word or a Conditional text in the Adobe FrameMaker. When a procedure goes lengthier or more complex, it’s always a good idea to include a video or a flash file in the online help itself. I really bet you, clients will be accessing your video rather than reading your meticulous 10+ steps procedure.

A picture is worth of thousand words where a video is worth of thousand pictures.

Give a personal touch on your videos:

While including videos, it is good to have your own voice recorded. As you will be the best person to understand and simulate a complex procedure, it is good to have your voice as background than opting for a third-party voice recorder or dubbing. Of course, you are reducing the production cost for your client you know.

Annotate your images:

Preparing Requirement documents for the QA people is one of my regular activities. I use SnagIt for capturing images to support my procedures. I started using SnagIt’s annotation features in the captured images that gave a better understanding the requirement. I got an overwhelming feedback from the QA people. Let me illustrate with an example:

Rather than explaining the above fields one by one, capturing and annotating the image brings better clarity and reach among the audience.

User Assistance

October 4, 2010

One fine day I logged on to my payroll information site to check some information. I have to select a Date using a Calendar function. For example if I wanted to select 28th October 2010, I need to click several times to get the corresponding month and the date as 28th displayed on the screen.

Here is the catch. I am using Internet Explorer 7.0 version. That website has some script error resulting Calendar function didn’t pop-up. So I was clueless how to enter or select the date. Without selecting the date, I can’t process my request.

I called my colleague to get some idea on that. Yes, my assumption is correct; he too came across the same error. And the solution that he gave was too funny. “Close the session and log-on after an hour”.  :)

Why can’t I directly type-in the date that I wish to..?

Enter Date:  __________  (in DD/mm/yy format for ex: 31/03/10)

See the above example; I have a User Assistance on the screen itself. Do I need a calendar function here..? I don’t think so.

Note: By the way after an hour, I was able to enter the date and processed my request.  :)

Gazopa – Upload images and search similar images

August 31, 2010

Let us assume you want to know the birth place of Tom Cruise. What you will do..? You will Google it and explore those information related pages. This is the normal way of using Google – using key words for information searching.

Now let us assume you have a picture of an unknown person and you are interested in knowing his/her name and other details. How will you use Google..? I have thought of suggesting Google to do some research on this area.

Now let us assume you got an image, say a Close button and you would like to see a similar image of bigger/smaller size without using keyword search. That is rather than using “Close Button small in size” keywords in the Google search tab, you would upload the reference image and view similar images – big or small, red or blue. How does it sound..?

Yes, it is possible.  

  1. Go to http://gazopa.com
  2. Click the Upload tab and browse the image from your system and hit the Enter button in your keyboard (by the way, there is no Submit button for this purpose, just saying).

You will see a lot of pages with similar images of your reference image. But this technique doesn’t works out for human faces (or at least in my case). :)

Also you can give an image URL to search for similar images  or

If you are good at drawing, test your hands by drawing an image and upload to see similar images.

I think it will be quite useful for graphic/UI designers and lone technical authors who are jack of all trades (but master of none like me). :)

Have you ever read policy documents..?

August 27, 2010

Today morning I was quite busy in exploring an application. I got a phone call from an unknown number. I knew that it will be another credit card or Health Insurance representative’s call.  I always give a polite refusal and thank for their time in calling my number. Of course they are doing their job for their bread and butter.

This time also it was a Health Insurance plan from a Bank where I am paying my annual Insurance amount (ULIP). So no wonder they already had all my personal information (except my T-shirt size) and this guy very cleverly took my attention. Half mindedly I agreed to lend my ears to listen his available plans. But I didn’t agree to go ahead. I just convinced him that I will consider his plans after some months.

Un tired by my response, he asked me to give a look at their website to understand those health plans. I knew that site already, as twice a week I check out their site to see my Equity bonds value has grown or not. :)

This time, I clicked onother tab – Health Plans in their site.

After reading all those plans, I stopped for a while. Reason is quite simple. I saw an Insurance act 1938 Section 41 which goes as below:

Section 41 of Insurance Act 1938 states: No person shall allow or offer to allow, either directly or indirectly, as an inducement to any person to take out or renew or continue an insurance in respect of any kind of risk relating to lives or property in India, any rebate of the whole or part of the commission payable or any rebate of the premium shown on the policy, nor shall any person taking out or renewing or continuing a policy accept any rebate, except such rebates as may be allowed in accordance with the published prospectuses or tables of the insurer.

Non-Disclosure:

Section 45 of Insurance Act, 1938 states:

No Policy of life insurance effected before the commencement of this Act shall after the expiry of two years from the date of commencement of this Act and no policy of life insurance effected after the coming into force of this Act shall, after the expiry of two years from the date on which it was effected, be called in question by an insurer on the ground that a statement made in the proposal for insurance or in any report of a medical officer, or referee, or friend of the insured, or in any other document leading to the issue of the policy, was inaccurate or false, unless the insurer shows that such statement was on a material matter or suppressed facts which it was material to disclose and that it was fraudulently made by the policy-holder and that the policy holder knew at the time of making it that the statement was false or that it suppressed facts which it was material to disclose;

Provided that nothing in this section shall prevent the insurer from calling for proof of age at any time if he is entitled to do so, and no policy shall be deemed to be called in question merely because the terms of the policy are adjusted on subsequent proof that the age of the life insured was incorrectly stated in the proposal.

Can anyone understand these sections 41 and 45 on first read and explain it in plain English..?

Section 41 has 101 words in a single paragraph with only one full stop whereas section 45 has 227 words with one full stop.  

  • Why all policy documents (govt, health, Land, bank loans and so on) are not in plain language..?
  • Why does the writer (?) complicate the paragraphs this much..? First of all will he/she understand whatever he writes like this..?

In the UK, there is a separate campaign demanding all policy documents in plain English. I have already mentioned about that website in my previous post.

By the way, I am still trying to rephrase these sections 41 and 45. Anybody interested..? :)

Customer Feedback

August 5, 2010

 

Getting customers’ feedback is inevitable for any business. When it comes to documentation, majority of the clients (readers) are reluctant to give their feedback.  

Is that help system sounds jejune for them..? Are they really accessing it..?

Any Tech author will be curious to hear about his help system, Is that useful to the clients? Does the client get the answer for their queries..? Which page or topic is accessed by the people more frequently?  And so on.

One quick way to get the user access statistics is embedding a piece of HTML or JavaScript code in your site. Many online statistical tools are available like http://sitemeter.com or http://histats.com.

But if you want to get the feedback in a professional way, you can create a user feedback form or if you have RoboHelp Office Pro, you can use the logging and tracking feature – says Neil Perlin in his article on RoboHelp in the adobe.com.

He further adds that RoboHelp Office Pro has set of reports in seven categories of information:

  • Unanswered Questions: Questions that users’ type but to which they don’t find an answer.
  • Frequently Asked Questions: Questions that users ask most often about.
  • Areas Requiring Help: Areas that user ask questions about most often.
  • Frequently Viewed Content: Topics that users view most often.
  • Usage Statistics: Information about when users access the material. This might indicate a need for more server capacity in response to user complaints about slow access at 9 AM, for example.
  • Question Trends: The number of answered versus unanswered questions over time.
  • Errors: Various help system errors.

Quite interesting. By the way, recently I included “Rate this” widget in the site, just curious to hear from you.  :)


Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

%d bloggers like this: