Showing posts from February, 2011

Laptop Battery Tech: HP and Lenovo Take Charge

One of my pet peeves about laptops is battery life. That's pretty much a high-priority statistic for any device that isn't constantly plugged into a power outlet. To squeeze an hour or two from my four-year-old Lenovo, I have to switch off WiFi and Bluetooth, turn down the screen brightness to something just above "completely dark", and try not to spin the computer's cogs and wheels too much. Maybe I could just power the darn thing off a bunch of Energizers: I was really hoping for this to come true : Laptop batteries that last 30 years without needing to be recharged. Based on beta-voltaic power cell technology, this baby will be able to power your laptop until you retire (if only the computer lasts that long). Alas, it is not yet an on-shelf item at Office Depot. But, what's this I hear? Super-dooper laptop battery life for real and on sale right now? Let me put my beer down next to the other empties for a second and splash some cold water on my fac

MEGAComm 2011: Take Aways

On Sunday I attended the MEGAComm conference for technical and marketing writers. It was great to meet up with old TW buddies, attendees and presenters from past conferences. Lunch was delicious - a smorgasbord of salads, hot dishes and conversation. It was fascinating to share the lunch hour with David Sommer , Director of Strategic Operations at Net Translators . We had an engrossing conversation about the challenges of ensuring the quality of thousands of simultaneous translation projects while managing a globally dispersed network of translators. The keynote speaker, Jeff Pulver , gave an entertaining and thought-provoking talk about social networks. It is he who is directly responsible for me joining Twitter (yes, you can now follow me on Twitter: @ykarp.) The crux of Jeff's talk was that it is highly beneficial to join a social network. If you get involved in a community by having something useful and meaningful to share, you may find that opportunities present themselve

Lessons from a Couch

I was looking around at the electronic devices we use everyday. None of them are single-function, for example: My mobile phone is also my camera, diary, MP3 player, GPS device and multimedia device My camera is also a YouTube uploader, GPS tracker and a photo-editing device My desk phone at work is also an address book My MP3 player is also a radio and a storage device My e-book reader also surfs the web Mark Zuckerberg recently announced that HTC has developed a number of smart phones with Facebook deeply embedded into the interface and that there are dozens more planned for release in the near future. I recall the good old days when a phone was used to make phone calls. Now, every device we have needs to be able to do more than one thing. In fact, one of the hallmarks of a modern smart-phone is that it is "multitasking" - that it has the ability to run two or more applications simultaneously with the ability to switch between them. Older smart-phone operating syste

For Better or for Worse

I was faithful for a long time. I still am, although I have to admit that I did sample others. That was back then, when I felt the need to experience it in a new way. I don't brag about such things, but neither am I ashamed. Society nowadays is quite permissive. I try not to think about those times. I suppose they were a series of weak moments. I can't guarantee that I won't find myself vulnerable to those urges once again, it just depends how my mood takes me. A flight of fancy, a whim, the lure of exotic emprise. No, it's not their looks. To me, they are what they are, fancy adornments don't move me. Maybe I am attracted to the plain ones. Yes, I think that's it. The more they try to entice me, the less likely I am to stray to them. It's cruel to say, but I like them functional, rather than pretty. She is probably watching me, silently somehow, but rarely showing that she is. I know that she knows that I know, but that hasn't stopped me. She hasn&#

You Are Batman

I recently changed my computer's wallpaper. It used to be a picture of stars forming , photographed by the Hubble telescope. The desktop is now a deep black, with an imposing picture of Batman set off to the right. Not the camp Adam West Batman from the 1960s, but a serious Batman who is on a dangerous mission to protect Gotham city from deranged villains. Aside: See my November 2007 blog post called " Not Everyone Can Be a Superhero ". I see this picture several times every day the thought crossed my mind that we, as Technical Writers, have what to learn from Batman. I'm not saying that the Caped Crusader is a perfect metaphor, but he does have what to teach us. Batman is Focused Whenever Batman is on a mission, he knows what his goal is and he goes after it. However, Batman does have an overview of the larger picture. Taking down a villain often has an effect on the rest of the city, the political landscape or for him, personally. So Batman is accutely aware

The Career Oracle Speaks

When I was a kid in high-school, we had to make one of life's major decisions. In preparation for our final year of school, at the age of 16 or 17, we had to decide what subjects to study so we could choose a university course, so that we could embark on a career, so that we could plan the rest of our lives. I am in two minds about that system. On the one hand, high-school aged kids are at the apex of their learning careers. Kids are like sponges, they soak up information and retain it. The older you get, the more difficult it is to learn and retain information. I am not going to link to some website that shows statistics and studies about this issue. If you are over 30, you already know this. If you are under 30, learn something now before it's too late. But despite their tender age, or because of it, a 16 or 17 year old needs to seize the opportunity to learn. Waiting for life experience to shed some light could delay the decision indefinitely. On the other hand, a high-s

The Managerial/Technical Conundrum

[ NOTE : This blog post replaces a previous one by the same name that was mistakenly uploaded before it was ready.] Technical experts and engineers invariably reach a point in their careers where they have to decide whether to remain in a technical role or to move into a managerial position. For some, the decision is very easy. They may have absolutely no ambition to be the boss; they may recognize that their personalities are not suited to managing people or projects; or they might simply love the technical nature of their job, which they don't want to give up. Alternatively, the thought of a management position may be an attractive one. Perhaps they will finally have the power to make decisions, affect change and manage projects the way they see fit. After years of slogging it out as a programmer, they can finally move into a role where they don't necessarily have to learn every new popular programming language; a cursory understanding will suffice. Also, sitt