When we last left our hero . . .

November 6, 2007

. . . she had fallen off the blogging horse and went missing in the wilderness for forty days.

We’re happy to report that she is back in the saddle!

I was so overwhelmed with work and personal stuff recently that my blogging suffered and I shamefully neglected reading my favorite tech comm bloggers except for the occasional peek at what Tom Johnson was up to.

In September and October I was traveling every other week to deliver training at power plants. My trainees were shift workers, so our classes were held at 6 and 6:30 in the morning. A couple of the plants were in remote corners of Maryland, so my wakeup call was at 4:30 and I had to be on the road by 5:30 am. Training sessions were 1 1/2 or 2 hours long with 1/2 an hour breaks  in between. Lunch was brought in and then we kept on going until the night shift guys came in at 4:30 pm. After a day like that, all I wanted to do was have a glass of wine, grab a dose of comfort food for dinner, and hit the sack.

Add to all of that the unpleasant experience of being herded through the Hartsfield-Jackson security lines (don’t forget to take off your shoes!), jittery nerves during turbulent flights, unexpected delays, and being away from my loved ones. Boo-hoo.

Not surprisingly, when my last trip ended, I came down with an ear and bronchitis that knocked me out for a full week.

In the meantime, Steve and I decided to move out of the apartment we’d been living in since 1999. We bought a house and moved in last Friday. In between trips out of town, I was madly packing while trying to find time to do the fun stuff like picking out a refrigerator, washer, dryer, couch, etc. The movers pulled up to the apartment just as I was emerging from the fog of affliction. It took 8 hours to move all the stuff and another four days to clear out the jetsam and flotsam in the apartment that we failed to pack or decided to toss. Argh!

We’re now happily unpacking in our wonderful house. Abby is adjusting well to her new surroundings and getting to know the dogs in the neighborhood.

As we set up our new appliances and began to learn how to use them, I was reminded of my earlier defense of the manual and the ongoing need for good user documentation for mechanical things. I figured I’d better get back to my blog. Over the next few days I’ll also troll through my aggregator to see what the others are writing about that may need the benefit of my comments and opinions.

As you might know, I’ve missed out on a lot of STC activities lately, but I’m off to the Atlanta Council meeting tonight to see what’s up with the chapter and humbly offer my volunteer services once more.


Three Hollys and a Flash lesson

June 26, 2007

When I was young, I asked my mother if Methodists were opposed to drinking. She said, “Well, in theory, yes,” she answered. “But in my experience whenever you get four Methodists together, you’ll always find a fifth.” As a ten-year-old I didn’t get the joke, but I was reminded of it today.

It appears that whenever you have two Hollys in a Flash presentation, you’ll always find a third and maybe a fourth.
Some of you may remember that I won a free Flash class from echo-eleven last February when Holly Quarzo gave her presentation at the Atlanta STC‘s chapter meeting. That night we had three Hollys in the room and everyone had a good chuckle about it.

This month I finally found the time to attend the class, which started today. Naturally, Holly Quarzo was the instructor. Lo and behold, when we went around the room to introduce ourselves, a third Holly was also attending the class! Weird.

We took a break mid-morning so that Holly Q. could participate in brief phone meeting. When she returned to the classroom, her eyes were wide open. “You’ll never guess the name of the woman I was talking to. . . .” Yep, another Holly. Creepy.

I’m not sure how much I will actually use my new Flash skills, but I couldn’t see turning down the opportunity to learn something new (and pretty cool). The echo-eleven offices near Perimeter Mall are very nice and their classrooms are set up differently from other computer training rooms I’ve seen. Next to each student’s monitor is a smaller monitor that displays what the instructor is doing. There’s no projection on a big screen at the front.

Ms. Quarzo is an awarding winning Macromedia (now Adobe) instructor. As someone who has been conducting a lot of computer training, I was curious to observe her methodology. Would she have toys for the participants? Use storytelling techniques? Spray the room with subtle aromas to keep us alert? Bribe us with candy?

No, none of these things. Her presentation style is informal and natural. She knows her subject inside and out, conveys her enthusiasm for the software, and moves the training along in a crisp, well organized way. Even though she’s an expert, I never felt that she was dumbing it down for us. My classmates ran the gamut of experience, yet she kept us all engaged without leaving the newbies in the dust.

Good lesson for me in Flash and in how to conduct effective computer training. Day two is tomorrow, so I’d better stop now and get a good night’s sleep.