Listen! Do you want to know a secret?

Let’s start at the very beginning
A very good place to start
When you read, you begin with A-B-C

  • A is for Adobe.  The company that left Anindita with the distinct impression that it thinks that that the techcomm world revolves around it. Also see F and R.
  • B is for Beta.  It stands neither for the second letter in the Greek alphabet nor the second brightest star in a constellation. It stands for not-yet-ready releases and is an excellent medium for techcommers to get feedback on their work.
  • C is for content. That which makes the techcomm world go round.
  • D is for DITA.  That thing which cures all ills.  Sane voices suggest otherwise but people still see through the glass darkly.
  • E is for English.  A language much maligned by a tiny, pint-sized apostrophe, which, if misaligned, can even become a comma. E is for editors. That group of people who are haplessly left with correcting the thats and whichs when what they’d dearly like to do is spend time on indexes, navigation, and coherence and cohesion.
  • F is for FrameMaker (See A). F is for feedback. A message where the message is often confused with the messenger, often unjustly.
  • G is for Google.  It is a help authoring tool that saves a lot of SME time (see S).
  • H is for Help. A verb and a noun (See the possibility related V). Help is a privilege. You may want it but not get it.
  • I is for information. Information is a noun that cannot stand on its own; it must always be used as an adjective. Information design, information architecture, information developer, and information overload, for instance.
  • J is for coffee and pictures. As in, Java and JPEG.
  • K is for knowledge.  Of, besides writing, the tools, domains, and processes.
  • L is for listening.  It stands for the characteristic of being alert and ready to hear anything that might lead to knowledge (see K).
  • M is for multimedia, an umbrella term for anything that moves, creates noise, and can be packaged.
  • N is for No. As in, “No, I will not document how it should work; only, how it does indeed work”, “No, I will not put this screenshot here because …”, “No, this will not go into an install guide because….”
  • O is for obfuscation.  So long as obfuscation exists, so will a technical communicator.  If you do not know what obfuscation is, here is an example: “The relationship, which I might tentatively venture to aver has not been without a degree of reciprocal utility and even perhaps occasional gratification, is approaching the point of irreversible bifurcation and, to put it briefly, is in the propinquity of its ultimate regrettable termination.”
  • P is for PDF.  It was born in 1993. Other births that year include Microsoft Windows NT and the republics of Slovakia and Czech.
  • Q is for  curiosity. Why should I…? How does this…? When will it…? If I do this, what will….? What’s the difference between…? What is the weight of the moon?
  • R is for RoboHelp (See A). R is for respect. An emotion that causes much existential angst among techcommers.
  • S is for scrum. It means giving daily updates to your team and then running back to do the work you yourself promised to. S is for SME.  It means the fount of knowledge from which information must be gleaned. S is for substance (See C). S is for style. It is something best only followed, not tampered with.
  • T is for Twitter.  A medium used almost exclusively to pimp blog posts, product launches, and rave reviews. T is for TWIN. Bonded for life.
  • U is a letter so important that it must never be used in isolation. U is royalty and must always be teamed with other letters, like this: UX, UA. U is the reason techcommers exist; U is for users.
  • V is for vision. That which makes techcommers put descriptions in alt text, pick the reds and greens with care, and prefer lists to tables. The ability to see beyond the obvious, to ‘write’ for everyone.
  • W is for wiki.  Everybody knows it’s there but nobody knows what to do with it, hoping that somebody comes up with a wiki-to-source roundtripping that helps anybody adopt a wiki.
  • X is a placeholder. As in XML.
  • Y.  A letter for which I could not come up with a word. I did try to match it to words such as Yes, Year, Yearn, and Yesterday but felt something was missing.  So, I am leaving Y alone. For You, the reader.
  • Z is for zen.  And the art of writing for motorcycle mechanics.

When you know the notes to sing
You can sing most anything

====================================================
This first appeared in the Nov-Dec2010 issue of INDUS, STC-India’s newsletter.
Acknowledgements
  • Rachna Singh Ganguli for G = Google, F = feedback, Help is a privilege, J=Java and JPEG, R = respect; T=TWIN.
  • Anagha Bhat-Chandratrey for K = knowledge, L = learning.
  • The Beatles, for “Listen! Do you want to know a secret”.
  • The people of The Sound of Music (1965) for “Let’s start…with A-B-C” and “When you know…most anything”.
  • The people of Yes, Minister (BBC) for “The relationship…termination”.
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Sep 13, Grand Remembrances

Today is Grandparents Day in the United States. Being a Grand is a special honor. I feel very blessed that my wife and I have two grandchildren. We were able to visit them today. Yes, we are still being cautious with the coronavirus, but we also find it very difficult to not see them when they live so close. So today we did drop by to visit Jacob (age 10) and Sophia (age 7) along with their parents. We brought donuts and caught up with them. Our grandchildren are still pretty young and this is a precious time in their lives – and ours!

I wish I had known my grandparents better. We never lived in the same place. Dad was a career Air Force pilot, so we moved around a lot. But we did get to see them once in a while when they would visit us, or we them.

A Plague of Giants

There are five known magical ‘kennings’ or types: air, water, fire, earth, and plants. Each nation specializes in of these kennings, and the magic influences the society. There’s a big pitfall with this diversity of ability and locale–not everyone gets along.

Enter the Hathrim giants, or ‘lavaborn’ whose kenning is fire. Where they live the trees that fuel their fire are long gone, but the giants are definitely not welcome anywhere else. They’re big, they’re violent, and they’re ruthless. When a volcano erupts and they are forced to evacuate, they take the opportunity to relocate. They don’t care that it’s in a place where they aren’t wanted.

I first read Kevin Hearne’s Iron Druid books and loved them (also the quirky The Tales of Pell), so was curious about this new venture, starting with A PLAGUE OF GIANTS. Think Avatar: The Last Airbender meets Jim Butcher’s Codex Alera series. Elemental magic, a variety of races, different lands. And it’s all thrown at you from page one.

But this story is told a little differently. It starts at the end of the war, after a difficult victory, and a bard with earth kenning uses his magic to re-tell the story of the war to a city of refugees. And it’s this movement back and forth in time and between key players in this war that we get a singularly grand view of the war as a whole. Hearne uses this method to great effect.

There are so many interesting characters in this book that I can’t cover them all here. Often in books like this such a large cast of ‘main’ character can make the storytelling suffer, especially since they don’t have a lot of interaction with each other for the first 3/4 of the book–but it doesn’t suffer, thankfully. And the characterization is good enough, despite these short bursts, that by the end we understand these people and care about what happens to them.

If there were a main character it would be Dervan, a historian who is assigned to record (also spy on?) the bard’s stories. He finds himself caught up in machinations he feels unfit to survive. Fintan is the bard from another country, who at first is rather mysterious and his true personality is hidden by the stories he tells; it takes a while to understand him. Gorin Mogen is the leader of the Hathrim giants who decide to find a new land to settle. He’s hard to like, but as far as villains go, you understand his motivations and he can be even a little convincing. There’s Abhi, the son of hunters, who decides hunting isn’t the life for him–and unexpectedly finds himself on a quest for the sixth kenning. And Gondel Vedd, a scholar of linguistics who finds himself tasked with finding a way to communicate with a race of giants never seen before (definitely not Hathrim) and stumbles onto a mystery no one could have guessed: there may be a seventh kenning.

There are other characters, but what makes them all interesting is that they’re regular people (well, maybe not Gorin Mogen or the viceroy–he’s a piece of work) who become heroes in their own little ways, whether it’s the teenage girl who isn’t afraid to share vital information, to the scholars who suddenly find how crucial their minds are to the survival of a nation, to the humble public servants who find bravery when they need it most. This is a story of loss, love, redemption, courage, unity, and overcoming despair to not give up. All very human experiences by simple people who do extraordinary things.

Hearne’s worldbuilding is engaging. He doesn’t bottle feed you, at first it feels like drinking from a hydrant, but then you settle in and pick up things along the way. Then he shows you stuff with a punch to the gut. This is no fluffy world with simple magic without price. All the magic has a price, and more often than not it leads you straight to death’s door. For most people just the seeking of the magic will kill you. I particularly enjoyed the scenes with Ahbi and his discovery of the sixth kenning and everything associated with it. But giants? I mean, really? It isn’t bad enough fighting people who can control fire that you have to add that they’re twice the size of normal people? For Hearne if it’s war, the stakes are pretty high, and it gets ugly.

The benefit of the storytelling style is that the book, despite its length, moves along steadily (Hearne is no novice, here). The bits of story lead you along without annoying cliffhangers (mostly), and I never got bored with the switch between characters. It was easy to move between them, and they were recognizable enough that I got lost or confused. The end of the novel felt a little abrupt, but I guess that has more to do with I was ready for the story to continue, despite the exiting climax.

If you’re looking for epic fantasy with fun storytelling and clever worldbuilding, check out A PLAGUE OF GIANTS.

The post A Plague of Giants appeared first on Elitist Book Reviews.

The Artwork Of Gary Choo

Gary Choo is a concept artist/illustrator based in Singapore. I’ve know Gary for a good many years ( 17, actually ), working together in animation studios in Singapore like Silicon Illusions and Lucasfilm. Gary currently runs an art team at Mighty Bear Games, but when time allows he also draws covers for Marvel comics, and they’re amazing –

The Art Of Gary Choo
The Art Of Gary Choo
The Art Of Gary Choo
The Art Of Gary Choo
The Art Of Gary Choo

To see more of Gary’s work or to engage him for freelance work, head down to his ArtStation.

The post The Art Of Gary Choo appeared first on Halcyon Realms – Art Book Reviews – Anime, Manga, Film, Photography.

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