Send e-mail for a print-formatted Acrobat (.pdf) version of my resume, which includes my address and telephone number.
You can find many of the docs mentioned below on my samples page.
2011: lead technical writer for Sendmail, Inc., Emeryville, CA.
Planning documentation makeover.
2010-2011: contract technical writer for HP Software, Cupertino, CA.
Documenting e-discovery tools.
2009: contract technical writer for Gracenote, Inc., Emeryville, CA.
Working in the IT department, researched existing procedures and used that information to write formal policies; wrote knowledge base articles on common software and hardware issues; created an in-house user guide for a custom version of Oracle iProcurement; created forms in InfoPath and deployed to SharePoint form libraries; designed a knowledge base system including custom HTML forms to serve as a custom front end for the internal support ticket system (ServiceDesk).
2009: contract technical writer for Cornerstone Transportation Consulting, San Francisco, CA.
Wrote a report for the Metropolitan Transportation Commission on a "secret shopper" study of the TransLink (since renamed Clipper) regional transit pass.
2004-2008: lead technical writer for Embarcadero Technologies, Inc., San Francisco, CA.
- Created and maintained documentation for DT/Studio, an extract-transform-load ("ETL") system used to aggregate disparate data and transfer it between incompatible database platforms; produced a set of downloadable end-user tutorials, which served as the basis for new user training materials.
- While the department was short one writer, also took over responsibility for ER/Studio, a graphical database modeling tool, and updated the documentation for a major release.
- Created and updated documentation for DSAuditor, a database server monitoring and security toolkit.
- Developed documentation standards and practices and created and maintained an in-house guide documenting them; created and maintained print, Web, CSS, XML, and XSL templates; improved automation of the documentation build system; revised Acrobat job options to produce much smaller PDFs while improving image quality; developed a system to automate generation of PDF versions of javadoc API references; produced CD-ROMs; managed and contributed to wikis and knowledge bases.
- Selected new software; set up templates and procedures for using it; planned and managed the department's migration from WebWorks to MIF2Go, Visual SourceSafe to Perforce, DevTrack to Jira, MS HTML Help to Eclipse, JavaHelp to Eclipse, and WebHelp to OmniHelp; evaluated XML standards and tools including DITA, ePublisher Pro, MadCap Flare, and Oxygen XML; planned migration from FrameMaker and its proprietary source format to XMetal Pro and standard DocBook XML; researched Section 508 compatibility problems and identified possible solutions.
- Supervised a four-writer team; hired and trained two new writers; dealt with various issues resulting from the sudden death of one of the writers; helped writers with technical problems using FrameMaker, Acrobat, MIF2Go, Word, Visio, PhotoShop, and SnagIt, and in coding HTML.
- Met regularly with representatives of other departments to coordinate activities and plan new product releases; set up systems for tracking inter-departmental collaboration.
- Moderated a newsgroup for technical writers creating Eclipse online help; participated in panel discussions and seminars at EclipseCon.
2003: senior technical writer for Zapatec, Inc., Berkeley, CA.
- Created all documentation for Bloki, a hybrid Web hosting / blog / conferencing system, including RoboHelp-generated online help, slide show demo, hands-on guided tour, and FAQ. Created and maintained customer, press, demonstration, and sample Web sites.
- With a graphic designer, redesigned customer Web site for Zapatec database hosting service.
- Collaborated on press releases and other marketing activities.
2002: contract technical writer for EPCjobs Ltd., San Francisco, CA.
Created and executed documentation plan on short deadline for product rollout with minimal assistance from development staff.
2001-2002: senior technical writer for Fresher Information Corp., San Francisco, CA.
- Had full responsibility for all documentation for Matisse, an object-oriented DBMS. Developed a new documentation plan to address various deficiencies, particularly the lack of a clear learning path for new users; designed new FrameMaker templates; wrote numerous new documents including a Getting Started manual, programmer's guides for C++ and Java interfaces, release notes, and PowerPoint training materials; completely rewrote several existing documents including the Windows installation guide, the Windows object editor user's guide, and the Eiffel binding and ODL programmer's guides.
- Set up a javadoc system to generate an API reference for the Matisse Java binding from comments I added to the source code myself, working directly in the Teamware code line. Set up a Doc++ system to do the same for the Matisse C++ binding.
- Other responsibilities included facilitating bug "triage" meetings; testing release candidates; editing and testing sample code created by the programmers; creating cross-platform (Windows / UNIX) CD-ROMs for product distribution; maintaining the documentation and download sections of the company's Web site; providing technical assistance to the webmaster; working the company's booth at trade shows; technical editing of marketing materials; and handling first-tier technical support for several months.
- Platforms in this job included Windows, Solaris, Linux, and FreeBSD. Other technologies included C, COM, J2EE, Netbeans, Perl, PHP, Python, SQL, UML, and XML.
2000-2001: senior technical writer for Portera Systems, Berkeley, CA.
- Had full responsibility for documentation of ServicePort, the company's primary product, a hosted application suite for professional services organizations. Wrote new manual including user and administrative sections, a detailed treatment of the product's complex security system, and field-level references for the application and its reports (for which I had to glean some information by inspecting the underlying Oracle tables). Updated the manual monthly to match the product's accelerated release cycle. Maintained release notes.
- Created manual for Learning Manager, a Web-based class-catalog system for corporate training programs, using conditional text to create six different documents for different groups of users.
- Created user manuals for two additional products, a call-center issue-tracking application and an accounts-receivable system.
- Other responsibilities included creating an HTML-based FAQ on company's XML interface, revising a programmer-drafted document on the company's Oracle-SQL Server interface for use by operations, and setting up and maintaining an intranet Web server to provide access to the latest drafts of documentation and other useful information to internal users.
1999-2000: contract technical writer for BeatWare, Redwood City, CA.
- Created a single product manual for use with both Windows and Macintosh versions of e-Picture Pro, a program for creating Web-oriented animations and other graphics.
- Created tutorial files to accompany the manual.
1999-2000: contract technical writer for Telamon, Oakland, CA.
- Completed a 500-page administrator manual for TelAlert 5.0, a program that adds automatic paging and other notification capabilities to Remedy Help Desk and other IS apps. Interviewed programmers and tech-support staff, collected data by using program and examining source code, created TOC and index, fixed font and style problems, revised and created Visio graphics, revised styles for better Acrobat export, drafted style manual.
- Completely rewrote the materials for a three-day training course, and created a "primer" to introduce the program to new users, prospective customers, and students attending the course.
- Using RoboHelp, adapted manual content to create online help for end-user and administrator client applications.
- Drafted support FAQ for company's Web site based on information developed from tech-support logs and staff interviews.
- Interviewed partner company technical staff to gather information for marketing materials and integration docs.
- Polished press releases drafted by marketing manager.
1999: contract technical writer for Netopia, Alameda, CA.
- Updated and created new quick-reference cards for Windows and Mac versions of Timbuktu cross-platform network utilities.
- Wrote tech notes for support Web site.
- Moved existing WinHelp project to RoboHelp, tested HTML conversion, and converted project to a single Word document for programmers' review.
- Software used included FrameMaker, RoboHelp, DreamWeaver, Acrobat, PhotoShop, and Illustrator on a test network of two Macs and one PC running NT Server. Most tasks required constant switching between the Mac and Windows platforms, and troubleshooting of related compatibility and network problems.
1998: contract technical writer for Software Documentation Systems, Chapel Hill, NC.
Wrote documentation for Report2Web 2.0, an IS-oriented reporting tool for distributing large mainframe database reports using e-mail or Web servers.
1998: editor, The PC Bible (Peach pit Press, 3rd ed. 1999).
- Created the third edition of The PC Bible, a large computer reference book that had not been updated since 1995. Wrote around 50% of the 900 pages from scratch, substantially revised 25%, supervised and edited revision of the remainder.
- Served as technical editor for the chapters I did not write myself.
- Coordinated and supervised work of contributors, copy editors, technical editors, illustrator, and compositor.
- Created companion Web site, which provided readers with updates.
1996-1997: consulting editor, CNET Computers.com,San Francisco, CA.
- Produced database field specifications, decision trees, and modular text for Web site's back end.
- Wrote comparative reviews of notebook and desktop PCs, printers, and monitors.
- Worked with lab staff to develop benchmark tests for those and other product categories.
1994-1997: contributing editor, Windows Magazine CD-ROM.
- Worked with a team of editors to create and support the magazine's quarterly CD-ROM and its freeware PC tune-up utility, Wintune. Wrote and tech-edited online help and installation instructions, and created ScreenCam movies.
- Maintained FAQs and managed online tech-support forums.
1991-1999: freelance writer and editor (see publications list)
- Wrote hundreds of software and hardware reviews, beta previews, tutorials, and other articles for computer magazines such as Computer Currents, PC World, and Windows Magazine, Web sites including CNET and PC World Online, and the technology sections of trade publications such as California Lawyer and Keyboard.
- Wrote monthly columns for Desktop Video World, Keyboard, Nikkei PC, and PC World.
- Edited articles on a contract basis for computer publications including CNET, PC World, and Windows Magazine.
1991: consulting editor, MPC World.
One of a team of three editors that produced the premiere issue of this early multimedia magazine.
1989-1990: associate editor, PC World.
Wrote and edited reviews, features, tutorials, news items, and columns.
- Product documentation: create and update existing user manuals, quick reference cards, installation guides, API references, programmer's guides
- Technical support: release notes, FAQs, tech notes
- Generated API documentation: javadoc, Doc++ (know programming well enough to work directly in codeline without supervision)
- Other documents: training materials, product category backgrounders, technology white papers, back-end database specifications for Web sites
- "Software archaeology": figure out what a program does, how to use it, and how it differs from the previous release when documentation is inadequate or nonexistent and programmers are inarticulate or unavailable
- Over 20 years experience producing clean copy, to spec, following assigned style, on deadline
Editing and production:
- Translate engineers' jargony language into plain English suitable for end users without oversimplifying or introducing technical errors
- Reorganize and revise step-by-step instructions to eliminate ambiguity and minimize the possibility of user error
- Technical editing: proof other writers' work for technical errors in my areas of expertise
- Convert documents and graphics among formats as necessary: for example, Word to FrameMaker or HTML; FrameMaker to HTML or Acrobat, WinHelp to HTML or printed documentation; Macintosh PICT to EPS or TIFF, etc.
- Over 20 years experience doing fast turnaround on edits and rewrites
(last updated 9/28/2011)
©2011 Robert Lauriston. All rights reserved. Reproduction in whole or in part is strictly prohibited without explicit written