Roger Hart

Roger is a Technical Author at Red Gate, currently working on SQL Compare 8. He also enjoys literary modernism, RPGs and beer festivals.

17 March 2010
17 March 2010

Ad-hoc taxonomy: owning the chess set doesn’t mean you decide how the little horsey moves

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There was one of those little laugh-or-cry moments recently when I heard an anecdote about content strategy failings at a major online retailer. The story goes a bit like this: successful company in a highly commoditized marketplace succeeds on price and largely ignores its content team. Being relatively entrepreneurial, the founders are still knocking around, … Read more
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12 February 2010
12 February 2010

Supporting users if they’re not on your site

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Have a look at this Read Write Web article, specifically the paragraph in bold and the comments. Have a wry chuckle, or maybe weep for the future of humanity – your call. Then pause, and worry about information architecture. The short story: Read Write Web bumps up the Google rankings for “Facebook login” at the … Read more
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02 February 2010
02 February 2010

What is a "technical communicator" anyhow?

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“Technical communications” is, let’s be honest, quite a vague term. I think this is fantastic. More than that, I think it’s important. Some folks don’t agree. I’m deeply baffled as to why. What a technical communicator isn’t In a discussion about what constitutes technical communications experience, the phrase “Ergonomics is not technical communication” popped up. … Read more
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23 November 2009
23 November 2009

What if bad documentation gets there first?

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I read an interesting blog snippet a while ago about information visualizations and their capacity to set change our view of the world. It asks whether we as information designers have a moral responsibility to our users that governs how we model their worlds (“First, do no mimetic harm.”). I feel like that about documentation … Read more
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17 November 2009
17 November 2009

Email? Pah – pointless! It’s just boobs and Nigerian banking scams

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There’s a technical communications email discussion list I’m part of. It has a bit of bickering about commas, sure, but also interesting things. Some of those things make me cranky. Recently, discussion turned to social networking, and I got quite, quite cross indeed. Essentially, there are technical authors who don’t see the point of Twitter … Read more
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09 November 2009
09 November 2009

Slouching towards content strategy

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Over the weekend, I read Anne Gentle‘s book Conversation and Community: the Social Web for Documentation. It’s quite good, although since I’m writing a blog, and you’re reading a blog, we may not be the demographic to extract the most value from it. But that’s not important right now. In it, she talks about “content … Read more
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25 September 2009
25 September 2009

Technical communications – the business of eliminating poetry?

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I just got back from the Technical Communication UK conference. It was pretty good, with excellent presentations from (among others) Chris Atherton, Gordon McLean, Matthew Ellison, and Kath Straub. Looking back over my notes, for Kath Straub’s presentation Reading between the words… Using text formatting to increases persuasiveness and actionability of copy I’ve written: “O … Read more
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23 July 2009
23 July 2009

Continuous Integration with SQL Toolbelt

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Sometimes, you wish you had a tool to run a software development process exactly the way you need it to run. You click your heels together and then realise that you already have the means to do it. By combining tools that can work in command-line mode, or can be automated in other ways, you can sometimes save a great deal of time and tedium. Roger Hart rummages into the SQL Toolbelt and comes up with some practical examples for providing Continuous Integration, along with the code!… Read more
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30 June 2009
30 June 2009

How to Recognise Different Types of Trees from Quite a Long Way Away

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At last night’s Information Design Association presentation, David Sless talked about benchmarking research for credit card statements. This was quite interesting. Almost as interesting was that he seemed at near circumloquitous pain to avoid the word “usability”. I can’t help but think that this may be a problem. At the IDA conference this year, David … Read more
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09 April 2009
09 April 2009

Words like things

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<p>Did anybody go to the Information Design Conference last week? If not, you missed a fascinating presentation by <a href=”http://www.infodesign.org.uk/2009-conference/speakers/wong.php”>Michèle Wong</a> on semantic, mimetic, typography. I’m not really able to do it justice here – it was a dense, detailed presentation on some pretty big ideas. This, unfortunately, is rather more whistle-stop. In fact, when … Read more
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27 March 2009
27 March 2009

When to be quiet: does video need audio?

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Yesterday I gave a rather bumbling presentation to the Cambridge ISTC group on video for user assistance. The first thing I did was apologise to anybody who had read my previous blog, since the talk repeated most of it. Reciprocally: if you went to the talk, sorry. This blog recapitulates some of yesterday’s discussion and … Read more
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24 March 2009
24 March 2009

Video for user assistance, a few questions

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Working on SQL Compare 8, I spent some time thinking about video. It’s a bit different, it’s fun, and it’s a good excuse to watch things on YouTube and call it “research”. As a way we communicate (technically) with our users, it’s also an area that rather interests the Technical Communications team. Surprising, that. We’re … Read more
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