Mid-Atlantic Technical Communication Conference
Society for Technical Communication
Philadelphia Metropolitan Chapter
March 22, 2014
• Roger Renteria
• Bachelor of Science,
• New Mexico Tech
• Brief cloud history
– From Mainframes to Data Centers
• What we use
– Programs, Services, Apps
• Plan for transition
– Add the cloud element
• Avoid the washout
– Ride out the storms
Business As Usual?
• “…with everything I
have to learn, I
whether I’ll ever
grasp all that I
need to know.”
Flickr / scriptingnews
Photo / NASA
Flickr / ajmexico
Flickr / schluesselbein
Plan to Soar
Flickr / nasahqphoto
Where do I start?
• Search for cloud technologies that are out
in the wild
• Does it add or replace some of my tools?
• SOS: Who can help me?
• Can I afford to change?
• Will this cost me more or less money?
• Is this worth my time and effort?
What tools are out there?
• Storage and Physical Replacements
• Collaboration and Productivity
• Remote Printing
• Writing and Research
• General Internet Tools
• We can install cloud tools on our computers
Making the Move
– Start out slowly, like you would normally.
– Make use of the free trials and free service!
– Not recommended!
– If you feel comfortable.
– It may not be the tool you want to stick with forever.
– If we don't soar into the clouds, we risk getting behind in
What works? What doesn’t?
– free vs. fee
• Time and energy
– convenience vs. motivation
• Testing or experimenting
– Were the changes a significant benefit?
– Were you able to easily learn new software?
– Were the nifty features helpful for you?
Flickr / mark_gilmour
Up In The Clouds
Flickr / alifetale
Actual TechComm Cloud Use
• Remote shared drive for MadCap Flare
• Develop documentation with Google Docs and
• Full computer backup
• Video conferencing and chat
• Purchasing software as a service (SaaS)
• Printing remotely
Ride the Storms
Avoid Cutting It Close
• Data portability or extractability
• Password recovery
• Data recovery
• Security and accessibility
• Accept the risks sometimes
Flickr / o
Mid-Atlantic Technical Communication Conference
Society for Technical Communication
Philadelphia Metropolitan Chapter
March 22, 2014
Good afternoon. My name is Roger Renteria. I’m a technical communicator based in Albuquerque, New Mexico. I currently am a Senior Member with STC. I have been going to conferences since 2006. This is the first time I’m presenting at a regional conference. I’m happy to be out here while we are going to be Seeking Sunshine in Cloud Technology.
Before we set ourselves aloft in the skies with cloud technology, I want to provide you with some background about myself. I attended New Mexico Tech, which is located in Socorro, NM. Without that degree and the people I met along the way through STC, I wouldn’t be here today. I earned a Bachelor of Science in Technical Communication. That bachelor of science blends the concepts of technical communication with a science and engineering background, which include the scientific research process, organizational management, and computer technology.What prompted me to start this discussion about Cloud Technology was that I found a gap which I can help other technical communicators out with the tools. I noticed through my volunteer work with the Society that people really want to learn more about the latest technology. I also want to share the wonders of freely available and often affordable services that we, technical communicators can use. Along with that, there’s so much potential to make better use of available technology.
Before we jump in, I want to give you a summary of what I am going to talk about in this session.I will quickly run through the evolution of cloud technology, from the beginning, where we are at now, the near future, and unknown.Also, the meat of this presentation which you are all here for is what we, technical communicators, can use to make our lives and jobs much easier. It may even help out your team or business. We’ll go through current applications, devices, and services that we most likely use and find out about the equivalent cloud systems. Lastly, we will make sure that you can avoid the washout with the potential pitfalls of using cloud technology.Throughout this hour, we’re going to pack a lot of information for you to take home today. At any moment you have have a question, please let me know and I will best answer it or we can chat after the session.So, here’s the fundamental question:
Can we keep our way of “doing business as usual” forever, or do we need to useonline cloud technology to accomplish our work? The answer is yes and no. As technology changes, our profession must adapt and adopt to a wide variety of online technologies that we may or may not have heard of.With that said, does it help us to keep doing the same work using the same or use similar tools that we have at our disposal? On the same token, we can complement those tools with some sort of flavor of cloud technology so that we don’t fall behind as a profession and show that we are adaptable to the insanely fast pace of technology.To give you some anecdotal evidence of the rate technology changes, I read a forum question on Quora.com which was quite striking. The topic was, “What is it like to be exposed to new technology after a 20 year prison sentence?” One responder said he was in prison for 25 years and he said that at the time he began his sentence in the mid 1980s, cell phones were large bricks and had no texting capability. Now there are smart phones that do everything. Even one prisoner who was incarcerated in 2007 said that smart phones were only in the hands of the technorati and early adopters. But when he was released after five years—everyone seemed to have a smart phone. He also was a web developer and felt he fell behind on the current technology. http://www.quora.com/Prisons-and-Prison-Life/What-is-it-like-to-be-exposed-to-new-technology-after-a-20%2B-year-prison-sentenceEven the iPad has ONLY been around for under 48 months. It’s still a toddler, but it has moved to transform how we do business mostly because of the portability and utility of this tool. Cloud technology is a big part of these portable devices. I have a friend who worked as a programmer for a Point of Sale application suite that uses the iPad. This user-customizable cash register and service ticket system uses cloud technology to track profits, taxes, and supplies. There are other applications, such as Square which use cheap smart devices to charge customers with the quick swipe of a credit card.So, let’s go back in time and check out how we arrived to cloud technology and how we technical communicators can use it for our benefit to maximize our effectiveness on the job and make our lives MUCH easier to operate.
I don’t want to date this photo to an exact year, but I am going to make a good guess that this is an IBM mainframe computer used in the 1960s. I know that these were shared computing devices to calculate large datasets which would require a lot of time to compute. Otherwise, the time it would take to count or calculate by hand would take too much time and be tedious at best.
Plenty of these machines were found mostly in companies, government facilities, and universities. For the origins of cloud technology to begin, we have to start somewhere. Storing data, sharing data, and running data was important to make these organizations run day-to-day operations. Instead of a ledger which recorded every transaction, that medium was moved to a larger, more centralized and automated systems. I won’t get more into these details besides that they were large, expensive, and essentially changed the way we did business.I even remember my dad telling a story about using an IBM punch card machine to run calculations for the Bureau of Indian Affairs. He often said it was a difficult and complex machine which required constant attention to make sure that the system ran without issue. Also, my mom had a short-lived career feeding a punch card machine.Here, we have a photo of a punch card computer that NASA used.
Later on, those large machines would then be connected with terminals. Most of these systems were connected to a central machine. I’d like to call these legacy systems which only worked with certain networked systems. This picture here is a terminal used by Eastern Airlines. Basically, the terminal would just show the information pulled directly from a main computer located elsewhere. I would like to call this the transition from remote computing to desktop computing. At least with this system, we have familiar key layouts similar to a typewriter and interface similar to a television screen. Now it’s connected by a line to a main computer. Yet with any terminal, it relied on a constant connection to the main computer to function. We’ll get back to this later, but I want to emphasize that this terminal would essentially rely on a connection to the main computer and when that connection failed or the main computer stopped working, the terminal would stop responding as well.
Now we fast forward to the current. Data centers are popping up everywhere. Now to think about it, do these look familiar to those main frames from a while back?Basically these data centers are just thousands of computers serving up everything from computing power, remote storage, video streaming, audio streaming, and telephone routing. You may think this would be ridiculously expensive for a company to build an operate. Yes, that’s quite true, but why would you want access to one? How about renting time and space on one? Amazon, Microsoft, Google, and other companies lease their excess infrastructure and do the heavy lifting for a variety of services. For example, Netflix, Spotify, and Pandora use cloud services that are powered by the big cloud providers. Even the Obama for America campaign operations used Amazon’s cloud services to serve all of the applications needed for their efforts. It was highly documented in a couple of ArsTechnica.com articles and also featured as a Case Study on Amazon’s website.http://aws.amazon.com/solutions/case-studies/obama/http://arstechnica.com/information-technology/2012/11/built-to-win-deep-inside-obamas-campaign-tech/http://arstechnica.com/information-technology/2012/11/how-team-obamas-tech-efficiency-left-romney-it-in-dust/What is ironic is how the campaign worked out well, yet the HealthCare.gov website didn’t fare out as well. This was a contribution of antiquated infrastructure, technology, and high expectations of people using cloud technology. They can be hit or miss sometimes and everything built by humans is susceptible to break sometime.My previous job at the community college had its own on-site data center to serve over 30,000 students and 2000 employees. That data center housed everything from distance learning, file storage, email, academic records, financial data, video conferencing, switched telephony, and enterprise-wide deployment tools. I believe only a few employees, including myself, even knew the extent that the data center provided so many vital services. People live within a stone’s throw away from the data center that nobody knows about. When my college’s data center went down, the systems that relied on the data center would be limited or cease to function, much like the Eastern Airlines terminal I talked about earlier. In essence, it’s now nice to keep those systems running—albeit with limited function is better than no function at all.
So, now we’re going to plan to soar to the clouds. I chose this picture of the shuttle launch because a lot of preparation is needed before changing applications and moving to the cloud. You want to make sure that you plan ahead before making the jump. Not doing so can result in some lost productivity.
Where do I start?
Cloud Storage and Physical Replacements * DropBox will let you switch between work and personal accounts * Google Drive Add-ons * Hello Fax * Mapping Sheets * Track Changes * Google Voice * Skype * Uber ConferenceCloud Collaboration and Productivity * Mind Meister * Mind Mapping * Google Drive/Docs * Microsoft Office 365 * Microsoft OneNote * Evernote * Red Pen * Adobe Creative CloudCloud Printing * Cloud Printing with Google * Google Cloud Print * Cloud Print Apps * FedEx Cloud PrintingCloud Writing and Research * Hemingway * Google Scholar * After The DeadlineGeneral Internet Tools * Down For Everyone or Just Me? * Google Oppia * Online Education Tool * PowToon Animated Videos and Presentations
We have these installed on our computer. We can make the best use of them using the cloud.Listed here, left to right: Box, DropBox, Google Voice, Evernote, Microsoft One Drive, Pandora Music, Google Hangouts, Google Drive, Microsoft Office Online. There are many more coming out every day, but these are some examples that people use, including music, during their work day.
Next, we’ll talk about cloud printing. It’s a tale of two printers because there are a couple of options out there and they’re pretty cool.The first one is Google Cloud Print and this will also tie into the second option, which is using FedEx Office.How many sheets of paper do you print at home? Is it worth buying a printer?Cloud printing, remote printing! At home, I don’t own a printer. For a good reason, I hardly print anything on paper. I don’t remember the last time I used my ink jet printer—in fact I think I sent it to the recyclers because it was too old and out in the desert the climate is arid enough that the ink would dry up. This may not work for you, but I stopped buying ink and reams of paper. Since most of my printing will be only in black and white, I decided to ditch the printer.
Even with that same token, there is Adobe Creative Cloud. Which we can purchase a subscription to use Adobe software and with that subscription be able to save directly to the cloud and share quickly.There are even tools that were just born using the internet and natively run only on the internet, such as Wikipedia. It’s out there as a collaborative tool. Others I would put into that category include Confluence. Those are systems that are on the There are other tools out there that are quickly moving to the cloud, such as AuthorIt and Microsoft Office.
From Paul Pherson“I think that it is _always_ worth your time to try something new, even if you don't end up using that new thing. By trying new things you have a broader understanding of what tools are out there and what they can accomplish. That helps you make better business decisions in general. Even being able to say, "Yeah, tried that and here were the problems with it..." can help your organization make the right decisions about how to move forward on an every-changing playing field. “
Here’s the gritty and probably the hardest part of cloud technology is avoiding to put yourself in a tight spot. Anything that humans build is susceptible to failure. The internet is no exception.What do you do when the internet goes out?What happens if your computer suffers damage?What if your laptop or device is stolen?My most recent experience was trying to print out sign in sheets for the blues dance community that I run. That night, I stopped at the Fed Ex Office near our dance studio and tried to print some sign-in sheets. That night it was stormy and unexpectedly—the power went out!Another great story was last September when my friend sent me better and detailed directions for our four-day camping expedition. I went out a day ahead to meet up with a good friend of mine in Denver. Before setting off to the mountains, I stopped at a FedEx Office and printed the directions from my cloud drive.
What will we see next?Will we have better experiences?More connectivity? * IBM Watson * Pew Research Internet Project - Digital Life in 2025 * Changes in IT that went Hybrid * The Web at 25
I want to thank the Philadelphia Metropolitan Chapter for setting up the 2014 Mid-Atlantic Technical Communication Conference. Without the support of everyone involved in STC and the Philly Chapter, this would not have been possible. I also want to thank every one of you that took time to attend my presentation. I hope you received a lot of new information that you can take with you and apply to your careers and everyday work life.If you would like to speak more about cloud technology, WordPress, websites, social media, science, or technology, find a me after the presentation. I’d love to talk with you more. Also, don’t forget to pick up a business card on your way out and again thank the STC Philly Chapter volunteers and officers for putting together such a great event.