Wednesday, July 09, 2008

But Pappu can’t write saala!

As a documentation manager, I have had enough opportunities to interview people for technical writing positions. And to me, each of these candidates are interesting in their own ways – some are smug like a Cheshire cat, some oh so docile, and then there are others who would start interviewing you back.

Last week I interviewed this dude, yes, I call him dude with a purpose. He was dressed to kill (impress?), got this Yankee twang, and his attitude was contagious. The interview process started with a telephonic round and I must say he impressed the hell out of the HR lady. She passed him on to me. After my call with him, I was sure that we could move him to the next round where we meet candidates in person.

I asked one of my peers to have a chat with the dude and let me know what she thinks. After 15 minutes, she comes back all mighty impressed but with a rejoinder, “if this guy does well in the written test, you will never have to worry about low visibility of the tech pubs team. This guy can be an ambassador for the team and his communications skills are excellent”.

Music to my ears? Definitely! Personally, I like vivacious types and dude seemed to fit the bill in all respect. He had a great attitude, knew the nuances of tech writing, and replied positively to all the typical yada yada you ask a prospective tech writer.

So, armed with my conviction that we have a good candidate, I fixed a date and asked dude to take a writing test. Dude was a little hesitant about the test but accepted to take it anyway.

I sent out the test to our in-house editor, a person with immense experience in her job, and I had also added a foreword about how we all liked this guy. After evaluating his test papers, she sent back a detailed feedback and ended her message with the note, “whatever you say, Joy, but this Pappu can’t write saala!”

I am extremely sad because I kind of liked Pappu!


Anonymous said...

Brilliant write up...powerful usage of words Joy!! :)
The ending by the in-house editor was awesome...influenced by the pappu wala song I guess!! ;)
Thanks for visiting my blog!! Its an honour to know that i've been an inspiration of sorts!! :D

Kavita Lad said...

Fantastic!! Absolutely visual writing...good one, Joy!

Achilles said...

lol ... good one :)

Estel said...

how very true!
even i realise that i ll be a pappu - minus the dude.
can you refer to good material on a tech writer's skills - expected?

Joydeep said...

Hello Estel!

Thanks for asking! Sometime this week, I will come up with a post on good technical writing skills and where to go looking for them.

You might already possess some of those skills like good communication and a hold over the language. Most technical writers in India learn on the job. And to get past that first interview, proclaim yourself a fresher.
Chances are that you will be tested on your language skills as opposed to your technical writing skill - as a fresher you are expected to have none.

Did you read my most recent post? If not, here you go:


Resolving PDF Problems!

You need to send that PDF file by close of business to your product manager/SME and the file won't just print. What do you do?

Listed here is a set of common PDF issues and solutions:

Pain: When you right-click a Microsoft Office file to convert to Adobe PDF, the application returns the message, "Missing PDFMaker files," and does not create an Adobe PDF file.

Solution: Remove Adobe PDF from the Disabled Items list in the Microsoft Office application.
To manage your Disabled Items list in a Microsoft Office application:
1. Open the Microsoft Office application (Word, Excel, Publisher).
2. Choose Help > About [the application name].
3. Click Disabled Items.
4. Select Adobe PDF from the list, and clickEnable.
5. Quit the Microsoft Office application, and then restart it.

If the error message continues to appear after you enable Adobe PDF, then check the security level for macros in Word:
1. Choose Tools > Macro > Security.
2. In the Security dialog, click the Security tab.
3. Choose Medium or High.
4. Do one of the following:
-- If you chose Medium, then click OK.
-- If you chose High, then continue with steps 5 through 7.
5. Click the Trusted Publishers tab.
6. Check Trust all installed add-ins and templates.
7. Click OK.

PDFMaker and the right-click context menu should function again.

For more, see

Pain: Images look fine in MS Word, but after converting to PDF, image quality is poor.

Solution: Save your image in JPG or TIFF format and embed the image into your Word document to publish using Adobe PDF printer. PNGs are not suitable for word to PDF conversion, TIFFS work much better. Use high quality print setting while converting to PDF. Also, standardize the resolution settings of your desktop (1024*768) and the DPI setting in your screen capture software.

Watch this space for more!

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