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Publications > Dateline Houston > October 2002 > Chapter News

Volume 42, Issue 3

November 2002

Chapter News

November Program Meeting
Web Design

Stefani Twyford, president of Ariel Graphics, a Web design and marketing firm, will share her knowledge about the basics of Web design.

Understanding the concepts, issues, and mechanics of Web design is important for creating an effective Web site. Initial design versus redesign, layout, navigation, color, typography, browsers, conceptualization, and logo integration are among the many factors to consider in Web design. Stefani will discuss tips, tricks, and best practices for designing a web site and talk about some of the common design pitfalls and solutions.

Stefani is president of the Houston chapter of Digital Eve and is a founding member of Digital Eve International. Her company, Ariel Graphics, has been providing Web design, online marketing, and e-commerce solutions for small- to medium-sized companies in industries ranging from art to management consulting since 1996. Ariel Graphics designed and developed, a web site that sells video and audio products for children. In October 2000, NBC Interactive voted the Best of the Web.

Send your questions to Cindy Pao at


Hilton Houston Westchase and Towers
9999 Westheimer Road


Tuesday, November 12


5:30 p.m. networking (hors d’oeuvres)
6:20 p.m. announcements
6:30 p.m. program


$10 (members)
$13 (nonmembers)
$3 (student and unemployed members)
$6 (student non-members)


During our networking hour, the tables will feature discussion groups on various web design topics. The topics are:

  • Creating web forms and databases
  • Frames
  • Chunking and Single Sourcing
  • Authoring Tools
  • Navigation Devices
  • XML, HTML, SGML, and ASP
  • Searching
  • Readability and Scrolling
  • Graphic Design
  • Metadata


A drawing for various prizes is held at the end of each general meeting. Proceeds benefit the Marx Isaacs Student Scholarship Fund.

STC Houston–Proud
Thanks to Our Volunteers

Thanks to the many volunteers who helped with STC Houston business during the past month. Your efforts are appreciated.

Drum Roll, Please

Thanks to Lisa Anderson, Cathy Bettoney, Melanie Boston, Lori Buffum, Phaedra Cook, Jamie Diamandopoulos, Stephanie Donovan, Theresa Dunson, Erika Frensley, Gary Foster, Mary Gwynne, Jim Hunt, Diana Jaques, Mary Kuna, Terry Lambert, Julia Land, Ann Liggio, Melody Locke, Errol Mayer, Linda Oestreich, Melinda Patrick, Brenda Pereira, Kim Lee Shaw, Deborah Silvi, Jennifer Smith, Jeff Staples, Rebecca Taylor, and Jocelyn Williams.

Know someone else who should be mentioned? Let your committee manager or director know about it, and we’ll publish their name.

Current Volunteer Openings

If you are interested in getting your name in front of the Houston technical writing industry and in improving your interviewing and writing skills, we have a need for you! We need someone to interview new STC Houston members and publish their information in Dateline Houston.

If you are interested in becoming involved in the Online/Information Mapping Special Interest Group (SIG) or the Online Documentation SIG, we also need someone to help coordinate that group.

Want more info about where to volunteer? Check out the STC Houston web site at or contact Volunteer Coordinator Mary Gwynne.

STC Employment Committee

by Gary Foster, Senior Technical Writer, Kitba Consulting Services

Mark your calendar! January 11, 2003, has been reserved at the Westchase Hilton for out second annual Employment Share The Knowledge (STK) seminar. Hours are between 10:00 a.m. and 2:00 p.m. As the time comes nearer and plans are finalized, I will post more details.

An interesting discussion about recruiters and their ethics was a hot topic of discussion on the STC Houston mailing list the other day. Recruiters are paid to get job leads and to fill those positions. The discussion concerned the ethics of how a few recruiters get their job leads. The recruiter would tell potential employees that they had a job that was ideal except for one small area of expertise. The recruiter would then ask the potential employees to give information about hiring contacts from a previous employment—then not follow through with the potential ideal job.

Yes, this could very well be a scam. My advice is to know your recruiter and work closely with him or her. A recruiter can be your best ally or your worst nightmare. If you don’t know a reputable recruiter, ask an individual at one of our STC meetings (I haven’t been steered wrong yet.).

Prior to each program meeting (the second Tuesday of each month) we sponsor a get-together for people looking for employment. The get-together starts at 5:30 p.m. and ends at 6:30 p.m. We discuss what works well in interviews and give advice on resumes and what the job market is like for Houston and the surrounding areas.

Our STC Employment web site is next to none. The web site enables you to see who’s looking for staff and who’s looking for work. We designed the web site so that it is easy to post job openings and to post your professional qualifications when looking for work. Houston has been fortunate this last year and has averaged at least two job postings per week.

Even if you are not looking for employment at this time, visit our Web site just to see what the job market is doing. My goal is to inform companies that when they need a technical communicator, they call one place—STC Houston.

Go to the STC Houston employment web site at to access our employment resources, which include a bulletin board, jobs database, mailing list, and salary survey.

From the Members
Make Writing Pack a Personal Punch

by Marc Levinson, Freelance Writer

A lot of times we as communicators wonder whether there’s anyone on the “other end” of our communications. Here’s one story that proves there are.

I come from a background in television journalism. Even though TV is a mass medium, as a news producer I always tried to write to just one person. There’s an old trick to making your writing more personable: Imagine starting every story as though you were excitedly telling it to your best friend. “Hey Chris, did you hear what happened on the freeway this morning?” Then whatever comes next is how you start your script.

The theory is that this will get you out of the habit of “reporting” the news to your viewers and more into the flow of “sharing” the news with your friends. The twist is that you never know who your friends are. One of the most meaningful scripts I ever wrote had to be 10 percent good writing and 90 percent luck. It was back in June 2001, when all the media were going full-out covering Tropical Storm Allison and its aftermath. Although the rains had receded, Houstonians were now coping with a massive cleanup.

My TV station had a reporter doing a live shot from downtown Houston, and this is the essence of the lead-in I wrote for the anchor to toss to the reporter:

“Tropical Storm Allison hit downtown with the force of a George Foreman knockout punch. But by working together, businesses are pulling themselves off the canvas and starting to rebuild.”

Wouldn’t you know it—Foreman was watching our newscast that day. He later said he felt like the anchor was addressing him personally. George was moved. So moved that he got up, grabbed his checkbook, and wrote out a check on the spot to the American Red Cross for a quarter of a million dollars!

George wanted to make his donation anonymously (or as anonymously as one can when the signature on the check is that of the former heavyweight champion of the world).

But TV news being the self-promotional machine that it is, this donation became a story of its own. A couple of them, in fact. We did one story on the reason behind George’s donation, then another one when we presented his check to the Red Cross.

But the bottom line—and what I’m proudest of—is that, because of those few lines that I wrote, victims of one of the biggest disasters to affect our neighbors got a little more help in their efforts to put their lives back on track. And it’s all because I was trying to tell a story to a friend—a friend who turned out to pack quite a punch.

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P.O. Box 42051, Houston, TX 77242-2051 | 713-706-3434