As I learn…

December 20, 2009

While working on our beta project, one thing I’ve learned is the importance of allocating enough time to manage issues. Tasks that should be minor often take the most time… I haven’t quite figured out why yet, but suspect that darn Murphy and his Law are behind it.

In the past two weeks, I’ve juggled all manner of problems including a broken RSS feed (I broke it by mistakenly deleting the category used to pull the feed), a server crash, and conflicting priorities on projects. I don’t have access to the software I have to document on one project and on another, those teeny minor problems are turning out to require huge chunks of time to manage.

Here’s an example… on my beta project, I’ve been recording videos for YouTube that last no more than 2 or 3 minutes. These videos are software demonstrations, which means I am recording a task in real time, using the subject software. Sounds easy, right?

And it should be.

But I seriously underestimated the time needed for post-production. Things like adding text callouts or audio narration take hours to do properly, even for a 2 minute video.  End result is that I have lost entire days just working on one task.

Then, there are software issues. We use AuthorIT for our documentation. I am not sure why, but the recent upgrade from 4.x to 5.x has been a nightmare for us. This stable and reliable product is now anything but. Topics won’t save, publishing books now frequently prompts Out of Memory errors even on machines where RAM is maxed out. Not Responding errors are also popular.  Another tool I use, Adobe Captivate, has a quirky “Error” message. That’s it. Just the word “Error.” It took me the better part of two days to discover the cause of the “Error” error was a screen resolution set to an odd number before converting to . AVI format.

As we beta test the product, improvements will require that I reshoot all video demonstrations. This time, I am ready for the various challenges software quirks and that Murphy guy are planning to throw at me.


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