RE: Conferences in the early 21st Century

Subject: RE: Conferences in the early 21st Century
From: Sean Brierley <seanb_us -at- yahoo -dot- com>
To: TECHWR-L <techwr-l -at- lists -dot- raycomm -dot- com>
Date: Thu, 28 Aug 2003 08:29:17 -0700 (PDT)

Well . . . I guess it depends what you get out of it,

For example, last year because of budget I could not
attend FrameUsers. I wanted to, in part, to get a
leg-up on FrameScript.

Since FrameUsers was out, I bought FrameScript
personally and taught myself--betweentimes and my
personal cost was about $250 plus labor (free, I
guess)--with much help from the FrameScript list and
particularly Rick Quattro (and his book,!!

With what I learned I was able to improve accuracy by
creating automations that took care of me having to
remember to do certain things manually. Plus, the
automations sped up my process. The savings and
benefits to my employer were immediate and, in terms
of time and accuracy, immediately measureable.

Now, fast-forward to August 2003. I get tasked on
short notice with two unusual projects--and given no
time to do them in. I spent 6 hours on a weekend
trying to FrameScript some particular automations that
would have saved at least 6 hours of manual work per
project--and been applicable down the road. I couldn't
do it. Out of time to play, I had to go the manual

Perhaps, had I been able to attend that FrameUsers
conference and not been entirely self taught, I would
have already had the skills needed to create that
FrameScript and saved 12 hours (on these two projects,
there will be more) and not blown down an additional
six hours in vain.

That's just one real example.

Now, am working to attend this Fall's FrameUser
conference. Our programmers are working in .NET and
using XML for commenting in our applications. I
predict, at some point, that XML commenting is going
to become "documentation." My experience is in
unstructured FrameMaker and my self-taught XML
experience is really more aking to XHTML and is more
Notepad.exe-oriented. At the same time, the "honor
system" of document tagging and tag use here is less
than perfect, which requires some time (on some
projects) for making the creation of HTML Help run
smoothly. Perhaps SGML can address the need to enforce
templates and the ability to deal with some XML
documentation? With this in mind, I see the conference
as giving me a leg-up on FM+SGML and XML (particularly
in conjunction with FrameMaker). Can I self-teach?
Sure. At what cost and what will I miss? High and a
bit, for sure. I believe my ability to meet a sudden
request and a tight deadline will be improved if I
have the leg-up that the conference can provide.

I am an employee. I use the tool within these narrow
parameters. Sure, I know the other stuff exists
outside my daily scope but I cannot get there, other
than as a self-taught hack, and then at a snail's
pace. There may not be the immediate payoff that there
would have been with FrameScript, but there is
definitely a measureable payoff to such things as the
FrameUsers conference.

Another way to look at this is, for example, PDF. Not
me, but how many FrameMaker users have had trouble
going to press, creating PDF, and automating their PDF
process. What automation is available? Well, Dov
Isaacs and Shlomo Perets will be at the FrameUsers
conf. and presenting. So, those folks needing a leg-up
on PDF will definitely see immediate improvement.

Does that make sense?

My only question is one of $170 rooms . . . and
whether an expensive location adds more attendees than
it drives away. As was said, probably it's a wash.



--- kcronin -at- daleen -dot- com wrote:
> I've always wondered how people talked their
> employers into forking out
> thousands to send them to seminars about tools
> they're already supposed to
> know how to use.
> I can see being able to pitch an STC conference, or
> some other
> multi-faceted gathering, where the employee could
> conceivably learn about
> new solutions to bring back to the company. Or I can
> see subsidizing
> attendance at seminars that deal with the actual
> documenting. But to spend that much just so you can
> hang out with people
> who use the same word processing software? Hats off
> to you if you can pull
> it off. I'm not saying the conferences are
> worthless, just amazed that
> some can get their bosses to pay for them to attend.

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