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  Thursday, May 20, 2004

Apropos of the hotel-provided WiFi discussion, here's the note I sent to Marriott's today:
I recently stayed at the Marriott Inner Harbor in Baltimore, MD, during a professional conference. I was disappointed to find that the advertised in-room internet access required a daily fee of $9.95.

Many hotel chains are now providing in-room internet access via WiFi (wireless) at no additional charge. Marriott should be aware that travelers like me, who require regular access to email and other online services, are actively seeking out these hotels, to the exclusion of those that charge -- like Marriott. For example, Best Western has announced its plan to provide WiFi in many, if not all, rooms.

Marriott should be aware that, when I have a choice, I will choose a hotel with free WiFi over a Marriott.

2:29:03 PM    Questions? Comments? Flames? []

Other STC conference doings:
  • The opening session keynote was given by Ben Shneiderman, presenting some of the concepts from his book, Leonardo's Laptop. I actually read the book (which I picked up,and had autographed, at CHI2003) recently, and found it boring. Somehow, breathless conjecture about the future doesn't grab me. However, it was nice to hear Ben focus on how products -- software in particular -- can and should address human needs.
  • The highlight for me of the opening session was receiving the President's Award. Outgoing STC President Thea Teich presented the award to the three core members of thecommunities committee working on the STC Transformation: Whitney Quesenbery, Ginny Redish, and me. I was quite surprised and astounded to receive this recognition. My friends seemed to get a kick out of it, too.
  • The closing session included a humorous presentation from a fellow named Thom Haller. While he earned a few laughs, I didn't think that Thom actually demonstrated much of anything.

1:51:04 PM    Questions? Comments? Flames? []

Must be time to recap the sessions I attended at the STC conference in Baltimore last week:
  • "The Future of the Web: Reaching 'Any User'" -- This was a panel discussion on web usability and accessibility, led by Whitney Quesenbery; the panel comprised Ginny Redish, Steve "Don't Make Me Think" Krug, and Karen "Dynamics in Document Design" Schriver.
  • "Lessons Learned from Offshore Outsourcing" -- This was a panel on offshoring led by Brenda Huettner, and included John Garison, Judy Herr (from the East Bay chapter), Vici Koster-Lenhardt (Vienna, TransAlpine chapter), and me. We talked about our views and experiences with offshoring, and heard a number of stories from the audience. Attendees seemed most interested in talking about how to deal with an offshore team; no one wanted to talk about how to prevent offshoring, which struck me as a very practical attitude.
  • "Guerilla Usability for Tech Writers" -- Steve Krug presented the story of his career, from fledgling tech writer to book author and usability consultant. He gave a series of tips on how to make websites usable, and on running crude-but-effective testing.
  • I chaired one table in a Management SIG progression, again on offshoring. It was sparsely attended (at 8:30 in the morning. . . ) but the participants were animated and happy to share their thoughts and experiences.
  • "A Marketplace of Ideas on Usability" -- This was a different sort of session, in which participants actively share their experiences on various aspects of usability. I lurked at chats with Ginny Redish, Whitney Quesenbery, and Karen Bachmann.
  • "Planning for Tomorrow" -- Another panel, with Paula Berger, John Garison, Vici Koster-Lenhardt, Jack Molisani, De Murr, Joe Welinske, and Bogo Vatovec. Although tools and technologies were part of the discussion, the focus was on the need for writers to elevate their place in their organizations, increase their value, and ensure that they're focused on their employer's or client's business needs. This was a common refrain throughout the conference.
  • "Information Architecture: What's In It for Me?" -- A panel chaired by Lee Anne Kowalski from IBM, included Andrea Ames (new STC President), Mike Bates from Intuit, and others. To the question, "Do I know what IA is and do I already do it?" came the answer: yes.
  • A Usability and Information Design progression, with tables on taxonomies, scenarios, and information architecture.
  • "Transforming Your Career" -- a free-range panel with Andrea Ames, Lori Fisher (IBM, new STC Secretary), and Mike Bates. Again, the recurrent theme was the importance of focusing on the value the technical communicator brings to his/her company/client, supporting your manager's goals, and learning to provide information in the language of business. Managers want to hear solutions, not problems, and they want to see us focused on feeding the company's bottom line.

1:25:14 PM    Questions? Comments? Flames? []

"Oracle president: Company perceived as annoying"
The public's perception of Oracle, that the software vendor is a bit annoying, is disappointing to company President Safra Catz. . . ìMost frustrating is the perception of our chief executive,î she said.

Annoying? That's putting it mildly. How about rude and arrogant? And who's responsible for this image? If Safra doesn't like it, change it.

11:18:33 AM    Questions? Comments? Flames? []

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