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My First Two Weeks at Canary Systems

Yesterday, I completed my first two weeks as Canary Systems' technical writer/documentation specialist. I must say, that it was not what I was expecting at first, but I found that the

In the first week, I was introduced to some of their proprietary software called MultiLogger Suite. This is a tool that allows users like geologists, civil engineers, and miners to call up instrument readings remotely to see what the conditions are in their environment. I had never experienced software like this, and I was frustrated at first. No matter how many times I tried to read the most recent user's guide, I could not figure out how to perform certain tasks or understand how it works. I tried asking my direct contacts about what the program did for users and how it worked, but I was still confused after they explained MultiLogger.

Fortunately, I asked one of the engineers for help. He set up some basic instruments in my office, and we ran MultiLogger to see how the program interacts with the hardware. He did a good job explaining what data was being collected, and I asked more specific questions about how the software relates to the other programs Canary makes, and this really helped my understanding.

After three days of acquainting myself with their software, I received my first assignment as a technical writer. One client's users were having trouble understanding an alarm notification email generated by Canary's program Insite. I was tasked with creating a help guide not just for these users, but one that can be furnished to any users who are confused with the alarm system in Insite. I had the Insite user's guide next to my keyboard and I drafted six pages' worth of text and images. I used my writing skills that I've honed over the years, along with my fresh set of eyes to the software to write an easy-to-understand and professional document. My boss and the IT manager were impressed with my work and they are currently forwarding sections of it to the client.

My next assignment was to update the MultiLogger Suite Installation Guide for this year's release. I asked the IT manager what his requirements were, and he insisted that I update the screenshots in the guide, in addition to clarifying the instructions for readers. With this information, I set off and ran the installer on a virtual desktop. I took screenshots of every screen in the procedure, and I simplified some aspects of the 2014 release guide to make it more readable for 2015. This is almost done; I just have a couple of screenshots left to put into the guide before it's ready.

Currently, I'm working on my biggest project to date. I'm working on the user's guide for MultiLogger Suite 2015, a document with over 100 pages of text and visuals. So far, I found that it's a lot of work, as I have to update the new features list, the screenshots, and improve the readability of the guide. I have to correspond with the subject matter experts and the employees who worked on the new features so that the readers are kept abreast of what's new for 2015 and they can successfully use the software. This project has given me lessons on how to budget my time, set deadlines, and accept the fact that I'm on a learning curve at this company. I'll run into more of this as my career progresses, so I'll take this as it comes and work with it to create good documentation.

So, there was some adjustments, but I think I'm starting to find my groove at the company. I'll learn new topics, and once I become familiar with the software and how it's documented, I can help create a style guide, documentation cycles, and work better with the IT and marketing departments to really improve how Canary reaches its users. This is going to be a great ride.

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