STC Houston - Dateline Houston - January/February 2006

Vol 45, Issue 3

January/February 2006

STC Houston - Dateline Houston - January/February 2006

Issue Home Page

Printer-friendly version

STC Houston - Dateline Houston - January/February 2006

Chapter News

Articles: [Volunteer Spotlight] [The STC Houston Forum] [Awards Banquet] [November 2005 Program Review] [Program for January Meeting] [Administrative Council Meetings] [Employment Committee]

Volunteer Spotlight

Cindy Pao, Information Developer, BMC Software, Inc.

Thanks to all of our STC Houston volunteers. Plainly put, you are the best!

October Volunteers

With a dedication to STC Houston that's just plain scary, these October volunteers lent a hand:

Luette Arrowsmith

Cathy Bettoney

Pat Bishop

Jewel Darby

Robert Delwood

Jamie Diamandopoulos

Trena Fellers

Alyssa Fox

Bill Gearhart

Pat Golemon

Jim Hunt

Mac Katzin

Linda King

Ann Liggio

Dean Liscum

Deborah Long

Jowell Lydon

Mitch Marcum

April McAnespy

Sherry Michaels

Paul Mueller

Elizabeth Navarro

Rick Sanchez

Yvonne Wade Sanchez

Deborah Silvi

George Slaughter

Jennifer Smith

Meredith Tabor

Rebecca Taylor

Jocelyn Williams

Nicole Wycislo

Melanie Boston

November Volunteers

Gobble gobble! These volunteers weren't too stuffed to help out during November!

Veronica Acevedo

Patrick Caldwell

Jim Casey

Kate Compton

Jewel Darby

Jessica Dickerson

Ann Diebel

Trena Fellers

Carol Hale

Molly Johnson

Linda King

Ann Liggio

Dean Liscum

Deborah Long

Jowell Lydon

Elizabeth Navarro

Cindy Pao

Debbie Phillips

Lori Pinder

Crystal Rawls

Sandra Rybarczyk

Maureen Sahualla

Rick Sanchez

Yvonne Wade Sanchez

Mark Stevens

Joy Thompson

Jocelyn Williams

Who's Missing?

Maybe I've made a mistake-forgotten to include a name or two? Or maybe we're missing your talents on our volunteer force! If you're up for a challenge or a new skill to add to your resume, let us know! Cathy Bettoney, vice president over volunteers, wants to hear from you. You can send her an e-mail message at

The STC Houston Forum

Creating and Providing Value

by Rick Sanchez, AspenTech, Inc.

The management of the STC Houston Forum would like to recognize the efforts of Steve Brunet, STC-Louisiana Co-Manager and Forum Moderator, who has called the members of the STC-Louisiana Forum into action.

In his post, Steve addresses the need to gather and use the forum as a "key means of communication, information sharing, and discussion of issues, announcements, and news affecting technical communicators in our state, chapter, and profession." Steve's suggestion embodies the basic premise behind the STC Houston Forum. Moreover, in his subsequent post,, he employs the tool for its intended purpose. He uses his post to call the audience members into action. Steve expertly initiates a discussion in the STC-Louisiana forum by highlighting his involvement in technical writing and suggesting many interesting discussion questions that entice the reader to ponder his or her own involvement in the field of technical writing.

The management of the STC Forum hopes that by highlighting Steve's efforts, his call to action will be well received and that other members of the community will be encouraged to take on a similar and proactive approach to forum participation.

Getting Involved
A reminder: these interactions are taking place between registered users. You can view these interactions by visiting the STC Houston Forum at; however, if you want to post a comment, you must become a registered user.

Getting Started
Begin by using the "Getting Started" forum, which provides instructions for registering and provides help to use the features of the forums. To register, follow the instructions provided in "STC Houston Forum Registration" at

Questions and Comments
The STC Houston Forum is here to serve you, so take advantage of this local benefit. If you want to learn more about the STC Houston Forum or if you want to express your concerns, ideas, or recommendations, please contact Rick Sanchez at

Awards Banquet

Honoring the Winners

by Cindy Pao, Information Developer, BMC Software, Inc.

The conclusion of the STC Houston 2005-2006 competitions is close at hand, with the Awards Banquet right around the corner. On this very special night we will gather together to honor technical communicators who have been judged the best in the area. I hope you will join Mistress of Ceremonies Susan Tacker, the administrative council, and me!

The Houston Club
811 Rusk

Friday, February 3, 2006
6:30 p.m. networking and entry viewing
7:30 p.m. dinner and awards ceremony
9:30 p.m. additional viewing and entry pickup

$35 (members)
$40 (nonmembers)
$35 (student and unemployed members)

Banquet Invitation Lost in the Mail?
Banquet invitations were mailed to all STC Houston members in December. If you did not receive your invitation, please check your mailing information at

November 2005 Program Review

DITA and XML with Tom Magliery and Bob Manning

by Cindy Pao, Information Developer, BMC Software, Inc.

We have seen the future of structured authoring, and it is XML!

Tom Magliery and Bob Manning stopped by Houston in November to tell us about DITA-which stands for Darwin Information Typing Architecture-and XML, these being hot topics in the tech comm world.

Tom, an XML Technology Specialist with Blast Radius, gave an overview of DITA and later gave a demonstration of the Blast Radius product XMetaL. Bob, a Senior Systems Engineer with Idiom, gave us more information about DITA and also demonstrated his company's product, WorldServer.

DITA 1.0 was adopted as a standard in June of 2005, and the DITA technical committee is currently defining DITA 1.1. DITA technology lets you reuse content, automate producing and publishing, and globalize your content faster and cheaper. A DITA architecture incorporates topics, maps, content reuse, and specialization to produce information deliverables.

You can also use DITA document types to produce different kinds of documents. For example, you might have one DITA for software, but a different DITA for hardware. Using topics and maps, a writer can create individual units of information and then use a map to organize the topics in different ways and create different documentation deliverables.

The presentation also addressed some of the "gotchas" of implementing a DITA architecture. You or your company must plan carefully so that you minimize the effects of the learning curve and adoption of the new technology.

Product Demonstrations
With the Blast Radius tool, XMetaL, you can create DITA content in a graphical user interface, rather than manually coding. The Idiom tool, WorldServer, is a centralized system through which you can author, globalize, and produce documents. The WorldServer product can work in conjunction with XMetaL.

More Information
If you would like more information about these presentations, check out the STC Houston website, where the PowerPoint presentations are posted. These presentations contain links to websites with more information about DITA.

Program for January Meeting


by Cindy Pao, Information Developer, BMC Software, Inc.

To inspire you to contemplate your current state of employment and help you change it, should your ruminations prove unsettling, the January meeting is all about employment. The beginning of the year is a time for thinking about the future. Unless you're independently wealthy, your choice of employment will consume a large portion of that future.

Terry Devlin of TCM International will discuss networking and rapport building. Robin Kessler of The Interview Coach will explain how to write an effective resume.

About Terry
Terry Devlin is a career counselor with TCM International in Houston. He holds a Master's degree in counseling from the University of Houston and is a licensed psychotherapist. He has more than 15 years of experience guiding clients in career-related areas.

Terry will be speaking on the topic of networking and rapport building. "Opportunities present themselves at third-level contacts!" That's a mantra that he guides his clients to understand.

Terry will explain the importance of third-level contacts and provide a method for helping people extend their networking to that level.

About Robin
Robin Kessler is the co-author (with Linda A. Strasburg) of Competency-Based Resumes: How to Get Your Resume to the Top of the Pile. Robin is president of The Interview Coach, a human resources and career consulting firm that is based in Houston.

Robin also teaches interviewing skills and business and professional communication as an adjunct professor at the University of Houston-Downtown. She has more than 20 years of experience improving resumes, interviews, presentations, and organization communication as a human resources professional, consultant, and career coach.

She has written articles about speaking skills and organization communication for publications including HR Magazine, Employment Relations Today, and the Houston Chronicle. A native Houstonian, Robin received her BA and MM (MBA) from Northwestern University.

Hilton Houston Westchase
9999 Westheimer

Tuesday, January 10, 2006
5:30 p.m. networking (hors d'oeuvres)
6:20 p.m. announcements
6:30 p.m. program

$10 (members)
$15 (nonmembers)
$5 (student and unemployed members)

Administrative Council Meetings

The STC Houston administrative council met October 11, 2005 at Net IQ Corporation. The minutes from the September 13 meeting were approved, as were the Reconciliation Summary, Transaction Detail, and Balance Sheet reports from September. Employment committee manager Gary Foster presented the STC Employment Survey results for 2005. Final discussion and adjustments were made for next year's budget, and the budget was approved. An executive session was held to discuss Associate Fellow nominations.

The administrative council also met November 8, 2005. The minutes from the October 11 meeting were approved, as were the Reconciliation Summary, Transaction Detail, and Balance Sheet reports from October. The STC Employment Survey, newsletter articles, banquet ticket rates, and administrative council holiday dinner were also discussed. The administrative council did not meet in December.

The administrative council will meet January 10 at the Hilton Houston Westchase, immediately following the STC Houston program meeting. For more information, contact Cindy Pao at

Employment Committee

Honoring the Winners

Gary Foster, Employment Committee Manager.

The Employment Committee has been staying busy covering the Internet and Houston Chronicle and then posting all findings on our Employment Bulletin Board. A special thanks goes to Louise Horton and Elizabeth Navarro for researching the Internet and Chronicle.

The market for technical writers has been a little above average for this time of year, although November and December are typically flat months due to the holiday season. I am not saying there aren't jobs out there, but companies will typically wait until after the first of the year to hire.

Employment STK
The Employment Committee has been busy making plans for the upcoming STK. Members of the committee have been discussing different topics and presenters. Yes, the Employment STK is scheduled for January 28. It will be held at the Christ the King Lutheran Church, 2353 Rice Blvd, from 1:00 to 5:00. So come prepared to spend the afternoon with us and learn.

A special thanks goes to Janis Rudd for coordinating with the church and contacting individuals to present topics of interest.

More details will follow within the next few weeks as we firm up our topics. Be sure to visit our web site for the latest job posting.

The 2005 STC Houston Salary Survey was completed in October. Many thanks to the people who participated in the survey. The survey results should be posted on the Employment web page.

Copyright © 2006 Houston Chapter, Society for Technical Communication
P.O. Box 42051, Houston, TX 77242-2051 | 713-706-3434