Very Cool Screen

I want this screen for my birthday! The demonstration of the screen in this video is absolutely amazing. The users just point their fingers and wave their hands about and stuff happens. I am behind the times, of course. This type of multi-touch user interface has existed for a while and in various forms.

If you want to learn more about the technical aspect of these screens, take a look at these two links.

http://cs.nyu.edu/~jhan/ftirtouch/

http://www.patrickbaudisch.com/publications/index.html

I do not see me using this screen when writing documentation! However, this goes way beyond the benefits of dual monitors! During the production of a document, I often like to have a complete overview of certain sections. I end up printing a bunch of pages and spreading them out on the floor. I cringe at the use of all that paper, but feel very frustrated at seeing only small parts of a document on the screen at one time. I do have dual monitors, and I can stretch my application to spread across both screens. It is not the same as spreading out paper all over the floor! I take the expression “bird’s-eye view” almost literally! On this screen, I could see the layout of the entire chapter in one glance.

The family has been notified of my desire to have this screen for my birthday. Don’t know where to put it . . . Besides, I’d be better off using it at work. It is designed for multiple users who collaborate on projects. If these were used at meetings, I’ll bet people would be really enthusiastic about participation! I don’t see a price tag anywhere, so I wonder how long we have to wait before we know we cannot afford it?

Rahul’s Top 10 Lessons Learned as a Technical Communicator

Here are some very wise words from Rahul Prabhakar. He lists and discusses the top 10 lessons he has learned as a technical communicator. I won’t even list them here as a teaser. Go to his site and read them. Or listen to them at Tech Writer Voices. You cannot just read or listen once.

I contemplated starting my own list of Top 10 Lessons after reading this list. I thought that would be a nice touch to carry on the concept and have it spread to other technical communication sites. However, I am too influenced by Rahul’s ideas right now. I would need to mull over these ideas for a while before I dare set pen to paper, or rather, shoved a few electrons around on the screen. Besides, the intention of my site is to share lessons, big and small, on a fairly regular basis. Maybe I can do a year-end blog about the lessons I learned this year. The learning never stops, you know!

If you decide to write up your Top 10 Lessons Learned as a Technical Communicator, post the link here.

And keep an eye on Rahul. At only 20-something, he will go places! Thanks for sharing, Rahul.

Is Snap really a snap?

A couple of weeks ago, I noticed that Rhonda snapped. Now Tom snaps. I’m talking about Snap, which does seem to be a very cool plug-in to WordPress and other blogging tools. When your cursor hovers over a hyperlink, a square cartoon-bubble-like pop-up appears with a miniature version of the site or Web page referred to by the link. I like it. It has a high cool factor, and Tom provides a few thoughts about it on his blog.
But is it accessible? How does it work in a screen reader? How does it work with slow connections? (56k modems still exist!) That I haven’t quite figured out yet. Do you know?

Update: Rhonda is snapping on her blog, not her work site. That was the type of confusion a technical communication should avoid. I did that just to see if you were awake out there. 😉

And thanks to Tom, I discovered Laurelle’s WordPress blog with lots of helpful tips, including this one with an answer to my question about accessibility. As a sighted person, yes, it does look very cute the first time you see it. It is the way it can disturb your reading if you are using the mouse to scroll during your read and the cursor happens to stop on a hyperlink. From Laurelle’s post, I can see how the Snap preview can cover too much of the reading area for low-vision users who have enlarged text, say 400%. Being a comanager of the AccessAbility SIG of STC, and just plain interested in accessibility, I think about these things, even though they don’t apply to me personally. It’s just a part of my critical thinking process when viewing new technology. “Will this promote universal accessibility?” Because

The power of the Web is in its universality. Access by everyone regardless of disability is an essential aspect.

as Tim Berners-Lee, W3C Director said. And now I’ll get off my soapbox.