Making Sense of the Internet of Things

One of today’s hottest technical trends is the Internet of Things (IoT). The idea is to network together physical objects containing electronics, software, and sensors on the Internet so they can collect and exchange data, offering improved efficiency, accuracy, and economic benefit. Each “thing” is uniquely identifiable through its embedded computing system (that is, byContinue reading “Making Sense of the Internet of Things”

The Mac Plus User’s Guide, 30 Years Later

In 1986 I was already a veteran computer software technical writer, documenting applications with command-line interfaces on operating systems that were the grandparents, uncles, and aunts of UNIX and then Linux. (One of my colleagues wrote an entire manual for a sort utility—excuse me, the Sort. I tell you, those were heady days.) My division’s softwareContinue reading “The Mac Plus User’s Guide, 30 Years Later”

The Source of Bad Writing: Don’t Let It Be You

Stephen Pinker, publicizing his book The Sense of Style, kicked up a fuss with his piece “The Source of Bad Writing,” which appeared in the Wall Street Journal last September. He began: Why is so much writing so bad? Why is it so hard to understand a government form, or an academic article or theContinue reading “The Source of Bad Writing: Don’t Let It Be You”

STC Election 2015: Who I voted for

The 2015 STC election is currently open. If you’re a member, you should have received a link to the election website (send email to if you have not). Please vote! The Society needs your active involvement. You can find out more about the candidates here. Not that anyone asked, but here’s who I votedContinue reading “STC Election 2015: Who I voted for”

Update on Certification

I haven’t been able to say anything about certification for quite a while now, but there’s news from STC. From president Kit Brown-Hoekstra’s mid-term status report, in the February 2015 Intercom magazine: For the past year and a half, we have been working to restructure certification to improve scalability and ensure its financial stability. WeContinue reading “Update on Certification”

Error messages: Does anyone really care?

Recently one of the engineering managers at work mentioned a bizarre error message he’d read about: “Shut ‘er down, Clancy, she’s pumping mud!” Thanks to Google, I quickly verified that it was a real message, from the Texas Instruments 990 minicomputer, indicating a condition that the programmer never expected would happen but eventually did. (Isn’t thatContinue reading “Error messages: Does anyone really care?”