Client Spotlight: Backbone Media

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I am very excited to announce that I am now writing / blogging for Backbone Media. http://www.backbonemedia.com/

Of course, they are right up my alley. Backbone Media is a Tech company, focusing on developing and marketing web sites for small and large businesses. Blogging is one marketing tool they use.

The first client I am writing for is SPK and Associates, a Technical Consulting Firm, similar to what I worked for during my 10 years in the industry. I am basically writing about what I know – Software Testing, Project Management, Test Management, Process Improvement and more. It has been good, as I was starting to let the dust settle on my Tech Industry experience.

Check out SPK and Associates blog: http://www.spkaa.com/resources/blog . I write as part of the SPK Blogging Team.

My articles are:

http://www.spkaa.com/how-bug-analysis-improves-software-engineering-postmortems

I look forward to more work with Backbone.

Schroader Family Writing Services Has Moved

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City Hall in Meridian, ID, USA

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Schroader Family Writing Services has moved from New Plymouth, Idaho to Meridian, Idaho.

Honestly, in the mostly virtual world of Freelance Writing these days, I am not sure this move matters much. If I had more local clients, I am sure the update would be needed and appreciated. However, most of my work is online, which leaves me to update a lot of W-9s, but not much more.

Which is good, because I just moved with a 1-year-old, a 3-year-old and a 5-year-old. Obviously, I have plenty to do:-)

For those that read my blog, be it friend or professional, the move went well. We had a lot of help from friends and we are very grateful for them. We are almost unpacked and I have been sending off some queries already to find some additional clients. And I actually miss writing in the middle of all that packing and unpacking stuff.

Now if I could find somewhere to market my “Simple Living” column idea,…

Client Spotlight: Textbroker

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My newest client as a Freelance Writer is Textbroker.
MSNBC
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I have been writing for Textbroker for over a month now. I just write a little here and little there, and I have completed 8 articles for them so far. Since writing for Textbroker is ghostwriting, I am not able to post the articles on my blog. However, I do have the copies and can send them as samples to any perspective clients.

I have been writing articles about Technology, Business, and Health and Wellness. The writing has been challenging, and I have learned a lot in just the short amount of time.
 
I plan on writing for Textbroker until my queue is full of direct clients.

Business Writing Services: Marketing Email Sample

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Back in my tech days, a friend of mine and I considered starting our own IT Consulting Business. We both ended up getting busy with other projects, but I know that I enjoyed writing up the Business Plans, Marketing Materials, and Marketing Emails. Below is a sample of one of the Marketing Emails:

 Marketing E-mail – Tech Projects

 Hello,

 Are you sure that you are shipping the right product? Is your project behind schedule and/or over budget?

We can help your company get back on track. A&G Quality Assurance Consulting Services will save you time and money by implementing the various solutions to the following issues that can impact a project:

  • Engineering does not have all of the information of what the product should look like
  • The project/product keeps changing
  • Lack of communication
  • Losing touch with the Customer’s wants and needs
  • Lack of resources

 Solutions:

  • Requirements development and management – A complete set of Requirements that are complete, testable, and unambiguous can help Engineers understand what the product should be, thereby alleviating lost time to reworking the design and code. We can develop solid Requirements and implement Change Management for you, to ensure your ability to get the product right the first time through.
  • Requirements and other documentation review and testing – Testing documentation before or during the start of coding can eliminate as much as half the bugs typically found in a project. We can test and review this documentation, which can mean saving weeks worth of code rework and bug fixes.
  • QA Processes and communication – even some simple processes can alleviate headaches and schedule slides due to miscommunication between Management and Engineering. We can develop and implement a QA plan to make your project more efficient and effective.
  • Using the right life-cycle methodology for the product – if a product or project keeps changing to meet new developments in the market, then a methodology that has shorter time frames with specific negotiated features can help you respond to the market quicker. We can strategize with you to design and implement the best methodology.
  • Usability Studies and Use Cases – Keep your finger on your current and potential markets by sitting down with Customers and finding out how they will really use the system. This can decrease time to market and increase sales. We can run Usability sessions and lead Use Cases development efforts to achieve this effect.

Many companies do not start their projects with Quality Assurance staffing or Vendors in place because they feel that they can not afford it. The truth of the matter is, studies over the past 10 years of technical projects show that too many project fail or fall behind because these techniques and process are not implemented from the beginning, thereby actually costing the company more money in the long run.

Please contact us if you are interested in learning more:

Email: samplemail@xyz.com

Phone: 123-465-7890

We are available on a very reasonable hourly contract basis. Our resume and references are available upon request.

Also available for:

 

 

Technical Writing: Sample

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Although written a few years ago, this Technical Writing Sample of an Internal Communication of a Post Mortem Web Application Project Analysis is a good example of my skill in both Business Communication and Technical Writing.

Root Cause Analysis

Introduction

After the XYZ 2.0 product delivery, an informal Root Cause Analysis was completed by the QA Department. It is considered informal because:

  • Only one person from one department analyzed the bugs. Generally, this should be completed by 2 or 3 people from a couple of different departments (PM, Dev, QA).
  • Not every bug was analyzed, only a sampling (about ¼).
  • Only bugs from the closed list were sampled (vs. all bugs touched during the phase).

Methodology

Each bug was analyzed and put into one of the following classifications:

  • Requirements – these are bugs that are usually caused by no, or unclear, requirements. Development does not know something should be implemented or implemented the specific way.
  • Code – coding errors and code integration bugs.
  • Test – this includes incorrectly logged bugs, test not knowing correct functionality (which borders on being a Requirements bug), and issues that can’t be reproduced.
  • Suggestions – all of the suggestions and requests for new or improved features.

Findings

Out of 77 bugs analyzed, the number in each classification of bug was as follows:

  • Requirements: 10
  • Code: 35
  • Test: 14
  • Suggestions: 18

Implications

What do these findings mean and what can we do to improve our Project and Development processes going forward?

With Code issues being the highest, this suggests that Quality Processes need to be put into place to keep bugs from happening in the first place and to have the Developers finding bugs before the code is delivered to QA. These Quality Processes could include:

  • More unit level testing to be done by the Development Team
  • Code Inspections and walkthroughs
  • Write Unit tests, then code (Extreme Programming technique)

Although Suggestions being the next highest is a good thing, this would imply that Development, Support, and/or QA Team members are not being involved enough in the Requirements phase. We could improve our product quality by tapping into all of these resources during the requirements phase, instead of just during the test phase.

14 bugs in the Test category is not completely bad, but this number would be lower if documentation was kept more up to date and if there was more project documentation.

Only 10 bugs in the Requirements category suggests that we are doing a pretty good job of gathering, understanding, and implementing requirements.

Additional Recommendations

A more formal/empirical bug analysis needs to take place on upcoming releases when time allows.

Christian Writers Market: Published Article Clip

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My foray into freelance writing started with a look at what I knew and what I was passionate about. My heart, first and foremost, is for writing encouraging words to children and our youth today. Therefore, I started with the Christian Writers Market, focusing on writing for Children and Teens. Below is the article (before edits) accepted for syndicated publication by Churchmouse Publications last year (2010).

Bored No More – 10 Ideas for Teens and Young Adults

Are you bored? Are you spending your days flipping between Twitter, email, and Facebook waiting for “something” to happen? Are you thinking there should be something more that you should be doing? How about finding fun, joy, and spiritual fulfillment in a project to help someone else? Here are some ideas that should take the “bored” out of your heart and replace it with peace.

  1. Help someone who is sick or disabled – Find a friend and go visit with someone who is sick or disabled. The first thing that they probably need is someone to say hello and listen to how they are feeling (think about how much you want your mom to listen when you don’t feel good). You could then find out if they need an errand run (which would probably be the most fun of the tasks), housecleaning (which is why you brought a friend, maybe you could sing together or tell a stories while you clean), or bringing frozen meals to heat up (challenge the friend to cook the best meal – but don’t lose sight of what is important here). The helper here often ends up being more blessed than the one being helped.
  2. Do a secret mission – Find out about a need that someone has and try to fulfill that need – secretly. For example, if you find out there is a family whose father does not have enough work and they are struggling financially, you could gather up some food from friends and quietly drop it off at their door, being sure to disappear before they pick it up. Or, maybe an elderly couple are out-of-town and you trim up their yard for them. There is something exciting to a secret task like this.
  3. Visit the elderly in Nursing Homes and other facilities – If you and some friends or siblings can sing, play an instrument, or even read a story, setup a time to go to your local nursing home and perform for them. This is a great way to get experience using your talent in front of a usually supportive audience. For further blessing and growth, stay for a little and chat with some of the folks. This is something they don’t get enough of and you may just be enthralled as they “perform” for you, telling you stories of their youth and such.
  4. Join a group – There are many different groups out there. Some are service oriented (i.e. Big Brother / Big Sister), some are focused on learning (i.e. Scouts), and some are focused on a talent (i.e. a worship group) and some combine a little of everything (i.e. 4-H). This is will help you meet new people if you don’t know many people in your area and can open the door to all kinds of opportunities. You will learn and grow, and you may find many ways to serve others. Obviously, the group should not conflict with your Christian values.
  5. Collect “stuff” for a fund-raising Garage Sale – People generally like to give away stuff more than money, so you should have an easy time gathering up items. You should choose what the charity is ahead of time and theme your sale around that. Maybe only gather up items that relate in some way or decorate based on the charity and theme. For example, the charity could be an orphanage in Kenya. You could then have the focus be on children’s clothing and / or lightweight summer clothing. You could decorate with an African theme and have photos of the orphan children placed around the tables at the sale. Do what sparks your interest and your heart.
  6. Go on a Prayer-walk – You could take a walk around your neighborhood and pray as you go. Pray that the Lord shows you the needs of the people around you and to shows you an open door to share the gospel with someone. Pray for someone in the neighborhood that you don’t like or maybe even did something wrong towards you. Pray for the people in the neighborhood who look like the meanest, scariest, or weirdest. Do it for many days in a row. It is one of the biggest faith builders to see God answer prayer and it should leave you feeling connected and peaceful with the Lord.
  7. Create a Volunteer Scavenger Hunt – This is good if you have a lot of charity organizations near you and you would like to see which one you really want to get more involved in. Make a list of the charities, an item that can only be gotten by volunteering there, and set a minimum number of hours each participant needs to work at each one. The winner could be the one who gets the most items on the list, but in the end, you should all be winners by the time and effort you gave.
  8. Call or visit a friend – Maybe you have a friend who needs to know more about your faith or why you believe what you do. Or maybe you have a friend who is not currently in a good situation and needs to get out of their house once in a while and spend time with a Christian family. Maybe they posted something on Facebook and you have a feeling they need to talk about it. Go and get a bite to eat or visit a park or something that allows you time to really talk, and talk, and talk.
  9. Make something for someone – Have you been wanting to try wood burning, or bead making, or trimming bonsai trees? Maybe you cook, sing, or read dramatically? God asks us to use our talents. You might give this a try initially to bless someone, find you have a real talent for it, and find your future vocation in the process.
  10. Read your Bible and pray – OK, this isn’t exactly a project for someone, but sometimes, when we are searching for something, what we really need is just some quiet time with the Lord.

Breaking Into Travel Writing

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A symbol depicting a palm tree.

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Actually, I don’t have any “secrets” of breaking into travel writing, as I am just starting out on this little endeavor. But don’t go away to quickly, as I do have a starting point, and that is something many aspiring writers lack.

And who knows, maybe I will discover some secrets as I go.

The first thing I am doing is getting some practice. I discovered, when planning my trip, how helpful TripAdvisor was for finding hotels, restaurants, and things to do. Therefore, I thought that this would be a great starting place to practice some simple travel review writing. It does not pay anything, but you do get feedback from other users of the site, and that is worth quite a bit to the novice writer.

Here is a link to my Trip Advisor profile if you want to see what I am writing: http://www.tripadvisor.com/members-reviews/ASchroader .

Check back again soon to see what other writing adventures I am about to embark on!

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