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TechCommGeekMom’s Excellent Adventure – A look back at STC Summit 2013

pogueaud-a1OK, I know it’s been more than a month since the 2013 STC Summit ended, but I promise this is the last blog entry I’m going to do about it. No, seriously. I mean it. I was writing up so many blog posts for the STC and about Adobe Day, that I think I got a little burnt out on writing, so I had to take a slight break for a bit, just to catch my breath, so to speak.

Even so, I’m hoping that you’ll enjoy this post which consists of images of me on the trip, just to prove I was there! Sometimes sharing the photos is much more fun, don’t you think?

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My first night in Atlanta was spent with a college friend of mind whom I hadn’t seen in person in at least twenty years! She took me to the oldest and largest drive-in restaurant in Atlanta called the Varsity. First-timers had to wear the hat! I made the best of it.
This was the greeting I had on the TV in my hotel room. I just thought this was cool. I was already feeling rather welcomed!
This was the greeting I had on the TV in my hotel room. I just thought this was cool. I was already feeling rather welcomed!
The Grand Hyatt in Atlanta was huge! This structure in the middle of the hotel's main lobby certainly captured one's attention!
The Grand Hyatt in Atlanta was huge! This structure in the middle of the hotel’s main lobby certainly captured one’s attention! My son even thought it was crazy seeing it through Skype while I was there.
On the first day of the Summit, I had the privilege of doing the Twitter feed for Adobe Day for Adobe. Thanks,  y'all! I'm there in the center with the light yellow shirt on.  --Photo courtesy of Maxwell Hoffmann
On the first day of the Summit, I had the privilege of doing the Twitter feed for Adobe Day for Adobe. Thanks, y’all! I’m there in the center with the light yellow shirt on.
–Photo courtesy of Maxwell Hoffmann
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I spent my afternoon with fellow STC Summit attendee, Kim L., and we visited the World of Coca-Cola. Here’s an old bottle from my home state of NJ!
Later, on the first night of the Summit itself, all the first timers were asked to stand up during the Summit opening. Again, can't miss me standing in the middle there.
Later, on the first night of the Summit itself, all the first timers were asked to stand up during the Summit opening. Again, can’t miss me standing in the middle there.
–Photo courtesy of  STC
I was shocked, in the middle of the opening presentation, to see my name "up in lights"!
I was shocked, in the middle of the opening presentation, to see my name “up in lights”! Thanks to STC’s Kevin Cuddihy for sending this to me.
The keynote speaker, David Pogue, was fantastic. I really enjoyed his presentation.
The keynote speaker, David Pogue, was fantastic. I really enjoyed his presentation.
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Here’s the entrance to the vendor showcase…which to me, was more like walking into a tech comm wonderland!
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If I only had the supermodel figure to match…Me doing my best presentation pose of the cool typewriter that Adobe was giving away.
–Photo courtesy of Maxwell Hoffmann of Adobe.
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Here I am during one of my many pitstops to talk with my friends Connie and Al from TechWhirl.
–Photo courtesy of Rachel Houghton.
On the last night of the Summit, I took a "field trip" on my own, and went to see a talk by documentary filmmaker, Joe Cross. He used to weigh 100+ lbs more than he does in this photo, and the film he made was about how he lost the weight through juicing for 60 days. If you are looking for inspiration for healthy eating, find the film, "Fat, Sick, and Nearly Dead." It's an awesome movie. And yes, I got to meet Joe in person, obviously.
On the last night of the Summit, I took a “field trip” on my own, and went to see a talk by documentary filmmaker, Joe Cross. He used to weigh 100+ lbs more than he does in this photo (he’s a hottie now!), and the film he made was about how he lost the weight through juicing for 60 days. If you are looking for inspiration for healthy eating, find the film, “Fat, Sick, and Nearly Dead” and check out RebootWithJoe.com. It’s an awesome movie. And yes, I got to meet Joe in person, obviously.
Oddly enough, people would come to talk to me not about being TechCommGeekMom, but rather because of my notetaking set-up that was color coordinated! It's just a regular iPad3 and Apple wireless keyboard, but the iPad cover is by Brookstone, and there's a matching "skin" that I got for the keyboard from either Amazon or eBay very cheaply. For whatever reason, it captured a lot of attention! Hey, at least I kept my word that I would use mobile exclusively at the Summit, and I did!
Oddly enough, people would come to talk to me at the education sessions not about being TechCommGeekMom, but rather because of my notetaking set-up that was color-coordinated! It’s just a regular iPad3 and Apple wireless keyboard, but the iPad cover is by Brookstone, and there’s a matching “skin” that I got for the keyboard from either Amazon or eBay very cheaply. For whatever reason, it captured a lot of attention! Hey, at least I kept my word that I would use mobile exclusively at the Summit, and I did!

I will close this with another surprise I got, which I think is appropriate. Jamie Gillenwater did a lightning talk about 101 things to love about tech comm, which included a few quotes of mine. I was honored that she actually used some of the feedback I had sent her! Her last slide was a quote of mine, too, and considering I had forgotten that I gave her this tidbit, I thought it was pretty good, if I do say so myself! I was especially honored that she used this one, as I still find it to be true, especially after my experiences at the 2013 Summit. 

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I hope you’ve enjoyed this little photo essay. I really enjoyed my time at the STC Summit, and I really hope that I’ll be able to go next year to the conference when it’s in Phoenix!

Things have been very busy for me at work, to the point that it’s been difficult to keep up with things here on the blog. But fear not! There is always more to come on TechCommGeekMom! Stay tuned!

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Another one of those 2012 Tech Comm Years in Review? But it’s MINE…

MP900309664It’s December 31st, 2012, and the end of another long year has come. This is the time of year when everyone starts to see the year in review posts and articles all over every media source imaginable. I’m no different– I’ve already posted a Top Ten Posts of 2012 for TechCommGeekMom.  But this post is more about my reflection of the year–and what a year it’s been!

This is not to say that everything has been coming up roses for me this year. Upon reflection, there were a lot of good things that happened over the past year that were never expected and were really great. There were also things that were definitely not so great.

The not as great things included problems that my son was having at school that greatly affected his behavior, me getting pneumonia for a month last winter, losing my full-time job, and being laid off my part-time job. Just those things alone could easily make it a bad year, especially if you knew some of the details of the school problems my son was having.

But there were so many things that outweigh those negatives that for once, I can actually say that 2012 was a pretty good year for me. The first big thing was that I graduated from NJIT with my MSPTC. That was the result of two and a half years of blood, sweat and tears–sometimes literally–to get it finished. It was so much a part of what I did for a while that I actually miss it. The fact that I actually graduated, with honors no less, is surreal. I can’t believe that it’s all finished and done, when I feel like I should still be taking a class or doing something more, like writing up another paper.  I was very fortunate to have made several friends in the program, even through this virtual program, and make connections that I think will benefit me for life. The knowledge I gained from the program will also serve me for life as well, I am sure.  I know that NJIT was proud enough of my recent accomplishments enough to feature me as one of its “poster girls” for the Continuing Education program by featuring me in a promotional video for the school. I’m honored and still surprised that they picked me, but appreciate the nod of approval nonetheless.

The other part of what made this year exceptional was this blog. What began as a combination of a class assignment and something to do on a whim has taken on a life of its own. I don’t think anyone, especially me, would have expected anyone to be reading it with the gathering that I’ve collected over the past year. Social media has truly been key to many of the successes I’ve had this year.  I’m glad that I started to become more involved professionally with Twitter and Facebook especially, in order to connect with other technical communicators. Not only did I seek to learn from other technical communicators in the past year, but I used social media as a means of marketing this blog so that my voice could be heard amongst the many great voices out there. The amazing thing to me is that my voice was heard.

Now, I did have some unexpected help along the way. As I’ve explained in the past, it was an early post in which I vented my frustrations about learning tech comm software that someone heard me very loud and clear.  It was someone at Adobe, who not only heard me, but also wanted to help me.  That person was Parth Mukherjee.  It was very early in our contact that he wanted to help, and offered me a webinar. What, me? A webinar for someone just out of grad school? Yes, crazy as it sounded, that what he offered me and I took it. I’m glad I did. Along the way, I got to know Saibal Bhattacharjee, Maxwell Hoffman, Ankur Jain, and Tom Aldous at Adobe as well, and they constantly provided me with more opportunities and support throughout the year–many more than what are listed here. The biggest highlights of this relationship for me were doing the webinar in June that gained me initial greater exposure, and when I was invited to be one of Adobe’s guests at their “Adobe Day” pre-conference event at Lavacon. For a gal who is still new to the field to be invited to “run with the big boys and girls” was a thrill! I learned so much at the Adobe Day conference, and I had a chance to meet and get to know some of the people that I had not only gotten to know through social media, but people I revered and respect in the field.  There have been so many good things that happened to me thanks to Adobe, and I don’t think I can ever thank them enough. As I’ve also said many times before, I was a big fan of Adobe’s before the connection with Adobe’s Tech Comm team, but now they’ve allowed me to become truly loyal to the company with everything they’ve done for me personally that they didn’t have to do. Thank you so much!

I also had an opportunity this year to express my technical communications knowledge in a different way–I was able to teach a virtual class in business and technical writing to Microsoft Korea through the World Learning Company. It was a unique opportunity to present information not only so the students could understand the information, but I truly wanted my students to learn the information so they could use it more often in their everyday business communications. I got great feedback from the end-of-class surveys as well as directly from the students themselves that I made it easier to understand these complicated language nuances, especially since English was a second language for nine of the ten students I had! It was a great opportunity to flex my knowledge muscles to help other people become better writers, and I enjoyed it thoroughly.

A big part of this year was all the people I met who helped me along the way. In addition to those at Adobe and NJIT, I met SO many individuals along the way that helped me through this first year of being an “official” technical communicator. I’m sure I’ll be missing someone from this list of tech comm and e-learning professionals, as there were so many, but off the top of my head, they include RJ Jacquez, Mayra Aixa Villar, Miriam Lottner, Toby Price, Barrie Byron, Jamie Gillenwater, Sharon Burton,  Christie Fidura, Shay Shaked, Marcia Riefer Johnston, Colum McAndrew, Renaldo Lawrence, Joe Ganci, Sarah O’Keefe, Val Swisher, Jackie Gerstein, Anita Horsley, Scott Abel, Chad Udell, Alyssa Fox, and Karen Mahon. Each person here, and many others whom I met through social media or in person, contributed to my knowledge base and growth not only as a technical communicator and e-learning specialist, but also as a person. I thank each and every one of you for your support in taking me under your wing, but also for your friendship.

I also want to thank Gary Woodill, who is one of the m-learning gods in my eyes, for retweeting my tweet promoting my Whitepaper, thus giving it his understated blessing. That was a big deal to me for you to acknowledge it and deem it worthy of retweeting the link.  Also many thanks to TechWhirl, especially Craig Cardimon, for promoting two of my blog posts in recent editions of the “Tech Writer This Week” feature on TechWhirl.com. For me, that was a huge indication that I have “arrived” in tech comm.

So, as you can see, 2012 was actually a very good year for me. Sure, I didn’t have a full-time job, and I had illness and issues that were beyond my control at home, but for me, this has ended up being one of the best years that I’ve had in a long time. My first full year of being a technical communicator hasn’t been without some bumps along the way, but through this blog, my school connections, and all the new social media connections I’ve made in the past year, I wouldn’t change a thing. What a whirlwind for a “newbie”! I can only hope that I will continue to have the support of all these wonderful people, and be able to truly practice what I’ve learned over the past year in my new adventures as a Web Publisher for BASF in 2013.

This was the year of building, and I’ve gained a fantastic foundation. Now is the time to continue to grow and move onwards and upwards! I’m anxious about 2013, but having this strong foundation, I have a feeling that it’s got the potential to be another great year.

What are my resolutions for 2013? Well, I don’t know about resolutions, but I know that some of the things that I hope to achieve, other than a firm establishment in the tech comm field, is to go to the STC Summit in May (I hope), and maybe some other conference as well, if I can afford it. I want to meet so many more people in tech comm, and absorb the  information given by the best and brightest in the field. This year, I was the new kid on the block, and in 2013, I want to be part of the next generation of technical communicators helping to take the field further.

Thank you to everyone reading this, and have an incredibly Happy New Year!