Ellen photo


San Jose, CA
(408) 360-8801

Working through
Expert Support, Inc.
Mountain View, CA
(650) 941-9778

Ellen's technical writing (and related) contract history at ESI

Friday, April 29, 2005


Ricoh (10)—Rewrite user guide for API for defining scanner User Interface. Update comments in Java code and generate/proof javadocs. Ricoh manufactures copiers, scanners, and printers, some very high end. Product is a Java API that allows software developers to define what appears on a Ricoh scanner's LCD panel and how to capture and handle input from the LCD panel and from the hard keys on the operation panel; how to manage scanning, printing, network connectivity, and document storage. Ricoh completely redesigned and reimplemented the API, for which I had written the first documentation version a year earlier. 120 pgs. FrameMaker, Javadoc. (Dec 2003-Apr 2004)
Altera (2)—Develop and deliver a short (no more than 4 hours) course to teach engineers how to plan and write technical documentation. Company's engineers write chapters for product handbooks that are not always well written or well organized. Wanted to provide engineers with insight into how to decide what to write and how to avoid common writing mistakes. Company provided examples of poorly written and better-written chapters as source. Developed training slides and instructor notes so that company could later use material with their own instructors. Topics included planning and organizing doc content, audience and task analysis, quality documentation, writing procedures, and some basic grammar. 40 pgs. PowerPoint. (Mar-Apr 2004)
Adobe (51, 59, 60, 68, 78)—Summary. Adobe specializes in publishing tools. This project involved a major update to the API for the InDesign product line. The product line included three different English-language product variants, two of which also had slightly different Japanese-language variants. All had JavaScript, VisualBasic, and AppleScript APIs. Each variant and coding language had a user guide and a very large reference, describing the objects, attributes, and methods in the API. Some—but not all—material overlapped. The reference material came from an XML database created using propriety tools that extracted comments from the code and merged with previously edited text; the XML file was edited with a proprietary XML editor or simple text-editing tools and then proprietary tools generated InDesign source files from the XML. I reviewed and edited the XML content and produced the final reference documents; edited the user guide material provided primarily by the engineers and merged in examples created by the engineers; converted some of the final InDesign docs to FrameMaker for localizers who had trouble with the InDesign Source; and attempted to manage the many versions and variants of the documentation. Delivered final docs in PDF. Thousands of pages. InDesign, FrameMaker, XML, propriety XML editor, Adobe Acrobat. (Apr 2004-Mar 2005)


Radiance (2)—Update installation guide. Radiance provides software that manages the delivery of digital packages of content across local or wide-area networks. Product has half a dozen components that each install on either UNIX or Windows. Required reading shell scripts, analyzing installation logs, and interviewing subject-matter expert to essentially rewrite and reorganize the entire installation guide and deliver in PDF. 80 pgs. FrameMaker. (March-May 2005)
Power Paws Agility (n/a)—Create workbook for dog-agility training 4-day camp. Power Paws hosts a large annual camp for hundreds of competitors from around the world, hosting over 20 world-class instructors teaching in 20 locations around the camp site. I worked on this document in 2001 and 2002, although a dog-related publishing company handled it in 2003 and 2004. I updated text about the camp's processes, found and inserted appropriate clip art, edited and inserted photographs, edited hundreds of agility course diagrams from instructors and inserted, copyedited basic text from the instructors about their coursework, and delivered in PDF for printing on Docutech printer. 108 pgs. PageMaker, PhotoShop Elements, Clean Run Course Designer. (Feb-Apr 2005)
Expert Support, Inc. (ESI) (7:10)—Develop Writers' Resource Web Site content. Expert Support provides consulting and contracting services in the Technical Publications area (among others), primarily employing seasoned, experienced senior technical writers, most with strong technical backgrounds. The Writers' Resource project's goal is to make some of ESI's consultants' expertise available to the world at large, in part to promote the company; in part to have a place to ESI can direct clients asking common questions; and in part to share expertise among ESI's employees in a more-permanent format. Consolidate and edit assorted email discussions and shared documents from years of ESI online discussions, consulting projects, and personal experience. Research sparse topics to fill them out more. Design a starting format using Cascading Style Sheets in HTML. Dozens of pgs. PageSpinner, HTML, CSS. (April-May 2005)

Sunday, September 14, 2003

Draft Resume 

These are the beginnings of an online resume.

Friday, June 20, 2003


QuadralayProvided WebWorks technical support to company's customers. Quadralay tests independent consultants for their knowledge of WebWorks Publisher and hires qualified consultants to assist their technical support department with heavy loads of customer questions. I provided part-time support, typically 3-5 questions a week, via e-mail until my schedule no longer allowed time. (Independent of Expert Support.) (2000: 5 months)


A large semiconductor company (projNum)& #151;Summary. CompanyDesc. ProjDescription xx pgs. FrameMaker, Quadralay WebWorks Publisher, Snagit, Java, Javascript, HTML hacking. (fall 1998-fall 2001: 3 years, including first year at NetBoost) Served as tech pubs project lead; served as pseudo-manager until company hired its own. We were this division's complete tech pubs department. Tasks, responsibilities, projects inluded the following:
  • test list.
  • Test list 2.
  • WebWorks Publisher template developer and HTML hacker. Created complex multiple-window HTML and cascading style sheet (CSS) online documentation interface that generated both generic HTML and HTMLHelp. Required modifying and integrating javascript and java applets provided by another resource. Documented processes, templates, and scripts for generating documentation. Debugged formatting and conversion problems and found workarounds. Tracked down and worked around HTML and CSS inconsistencies among different browsers and browser versions. Quadralay WebWorks Publisher, Java, Javascript, HTML hacking, HTMLHelp tools.


General Magic (06-07)—Created new Voice-XML and JSP API programmer's guide and reference. (See previous General Magic project for description of company and API.) Worked with another senior writer to create new programmer's guide and reference for API. Edited other writer's work and provided developmental guidance. Worked on reference entries, conceptural overview, and detailed how-to chapters. Required rapid learning curve and reworking of project scope and schedule. Also figured out how to improve screen shots and graphics. Delivered in PDF. 260 pgs. FrameMaker, Adobe Acrobat Distiller. (Fall 2001: 3 months)
ClientName (projNum)& #151;Summary. CompanyDesc. ProjDescription xx pgs. Xxtools. (year)

Thursday, June 19, 2003


WebEx (10)—XML and URL/argument API reference manuals. The company provides tools and services for Internet meetings, conferences, and training. Their APIs allow clients, primarily third-party remarketers of the services, to manage users, accounts, sessions, and attendees for Web-based activities. Updated existing versions of integration, user, and reference manuals for three products that provided API access to the company's tools and services. Documented features also included uploading and downloading, recording of online sessions, and others. API languages include commands activated using URL command-line arguments, and XML using XML schemas. Also fixed problems in the existing FrameMaker template. Delivered in PDF. 588 pgs total. FrameMaker, Adobe Acrobat Distiller. (fall 2002: 2.5 months)
General Magic (08/09?)—Voice-XML and JSP API reference manual. The company provided telephony tools that allowed customers, primarily large companies, to develop applications to automate the handling of incoming calls, such as requests for support, product information, branch locations, and so on. The API included predefined grammers; sets of voice prompts; and "talklets" (along the model of applets) to perform typical voice operations, such as user authentication, list browsing, J2EE email browsing and authentication, and prompting for addresses, phone numbers, dollar amounts, and credit cards. The talklets, implemented in Java Server Pages (JSP), generated Voice-XML (VXML) that interacted with voice gateways. Customers could customize the talklets or create their own. Worked with another senior writer to add new features and update old material in an existing reference manual and to add information about a new debugging tool. Required coming up to speed very rapidly on several areas of new technology. Also required converting graphics to and from various formats, including BMP, WMF, GIF, VSD. 250 pgs total. FrameMaker, Visio, graphic converters, DeBabelizer. (Summer 2002: 2 months)
Celera Diagnostics (01)—Procedures and specifications for biotechnology diagnostic products. Researched and wrote procedures for such things as packaging products for shipping. Converted old specifications for the manufacture, QA, and labeling of biotechnology products into new, standard, consistent formats, working with product engineers to get latest measurements, quantities, equipment, test procedures, and so on. MS Word. (2002: 5 months)
BD Biosciences (03)—WebWorks Publisher troubleshooting. Pubs department occasionally calls with WebWorks customizing or troubleshooting issues that they don't have time to work on because of imminent deadlines. I help figure out what the issues are and suggest (or implement) solutions. Quadralay WebWorks Publisher. 2000?-2002 (1-3 days each)
WebEx (09)—XML and URL/argument API reference manuals. (See previous WebEx project for description of company and API. ). Rewrote and updated convoluted, badly organized and badly written existing, unreleased user guide and two reference manuals (550 pgs total ). Required interpreting content of existing manual and asking extensive questions of technical contact, many of which they also had to research. Created new smaller guide and reference for less-technical customers (32 pgs). Delivered in PDF. FrameMaker, Adobe Acrobat Distiller. (spring 2002: 4 months)


Adobe (40)& #151;Create user's guide for graphical-data-to-PDF API for 3rd party scanner manufacturers. Adobe creates products for desktop publishing. C API allows third-party scanner manufacturers to scan pages (or take graphical input from any source) and create high-quality (or high-speed) PDF files based on a large quantity of possible options. Started with a short existing tutorial and a rough but extensive reference manual, all written by software engineers. Using Adobe FrameMaker template, create user guide including tutorial getting 3rd-party scanner software developers up to speed on the basic concepts. Options included various image-processing filters and conversion specifications. In addition, engineers had implemented a C++ sample application (and C++ interface to C API) that included code and tools that they recommended their customers use as a base for constructing their own applications, so had to explain the application and its code. 140 pgs. FrameMaker. (Oct-Nov 2003)
Meru Networks (1)& #151;Documentation set for wireless networking API. A startup company that produced easily configurable wireless networking devices. Working with another writer, designed documentation set including hardware installation, release notes, command reference manual, quick start, and system admin guide. No existing documentation and product being designed and redesigned as we worked on the docs. Proprietary command-line interface (basically UNIX-like in some ways) to do such things as configure RADIUS security, set up channels, define and monitor network topology, set up 802.11 interfaces, configure QoS, and so on. xx pgs. FrameMaker. (July-Sept 2003)
DoCoMo USA Labs(2)—Training engineers to write better. The company produces white papers and articles based on research. Researched, created, and taught a 6-hour course (divided into 4 session) for nonnative-English-speaking engineers on how to improve writing skills. (-Aug 2003)
Aplia(2)—User guide for web-based course-design and -management software for economics professors AdddetailedDesc xx pgs. MS Word. (Jul-Aug 2003)
Celera Diagnostics (02)—Style guide.Created a style guide for the labeling of biotechnology products. 10 pgs. MS Word, Adobe Acrobat Distiller. (2003)
Ricoh Silicon Valley (05)—User's guide and reference for Java SDK. The company builds office equipment such as copiers and scanners. Created a user's guide and reference manual for a software development kit (SDK) for a copier/scanner. The SDK contained a Java API and a software emulator of the copier/scanner hardware. The API allowed developers to create embedded copier applications including graphical user interfaces (GUI) for the copier's LCD screen, button-handling routines for the hard buttons, and routines to handle input from the copier/scanner. Required editing screen shots and converting BMPs to GIFs. Delivered doc in PDF. Edited extensive source code—packages, objects, methods, and arguments—and created supplementary files to include Javadoc (and HTML) comments for the automated generation of online documents. 108 pgs (plus source code). FrameMaker, Adobe Acrobat Distiller, graphic converter, Snagit, and Javadoc. (2003)
Ricoh Silicon Valley (04)—User's guide and reference for C/C++/Visual Basic SDK. The company builds office equipment such as document management systems. Updated audit trail and group/user features in a user's guide and reference manual for an SDK for a document-management system. The SDK contained a C/C++/Visual Basic (COM object) application programming interface (API). The API included calls to do such things as manage user and group access, add documents, fetch documents, search through documents using a proprietary query language, manage folders, define and manage fields of information available for documents. Delivered in PDF. 382 pgs total; 45 pgs updated. FrameMaker, Adobe Acrobat Distiller. (2003)

Sunday, June 01, 2003


Ellen also dabbled briefly in becoming educated, attending:

Wednesday, May 14, 2003

Other Activities and Interests 

CompostingMaster Composter for the County of Santa Clara. I teach composting workshops on spare weekends and evenings for the Home Composting Education Program. Unfortunately, I think many of these are now broken links. Will fix. Someday. 6/03.
Occasional poetry Mostly deliberately bad. Occasionally sell something. Sold this poem to TomorrowSF online edition (now defunct).
Dog training and agility competitionOnline dog diary. Random entries about my dogs' training, competition results, and last year's battle with Remington's cancer.

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