Tools, Technical Writing, & You with Ben Goddard
Writing elegant code is one thing, but communicating how it works to the wider world is another. This is where technical writers come into the mix and today on the show, we have one in the hot seat! Ben is a technical writer for a company that specializes in remote team collaboration software and he joins us to talk about how he got into the profession, what his workflow looks like, and the kind of value that people like him bring to teams. We hear about Ben’s technical background and how he decided to switch from a troubleshooting role into something more creative and fulfilling. He talks about his favorite tools for note-taking, image editing, writing, and refining his work. We also hear about how he relates with tech teams to learn about a particular product, and what his iterative process of research and writing involves. And if that was not enough, Ben dishes out some great tips for how programmers and technical writers can collaborate more effectively. Today’s conversation also meanders into many other subjects aside from technical writing, so expect to hear the panel’s thoughts on image processing gadgets, Apple versus Staedtler styluses, game programming using Bash, and a whole lot more!
Key Points From This Episode:
- Ben introduces himself with the standard greeting in the artificial language Esperanto.
- The value of technical writers and Alex and Tessa’s experience working with them.
- Ben’s background as a technical troubleshooter and how he got into technical writing.
- The procedure followed at Ben’s company to release articles explaining how new products work.
- Tools Ben and his company use for note-taking, templating, storing, and publishing.
- The favorite tools of Alex, Ben, and Tessa’s for writing, presentations, and more.
- How to get the best deal on a Photoshop subscription and which apps are a good alternative.
- Different cameras and image processing technology the panel has encountered.
- Building things in the most complicated way: CodePen meme templates and Ben’s shell scripts.
- Ben’s love of interactive fiction and how he learned if-then logic building MUD games.
- How bad the design of the Apple Pencil 1 is and why other styluses are better.
- The panel’s knowledge of sentence structure and gendered words in different languages.
- Tips from Ben for how programmers can communicate more effectively with technical writers.
- More tips from Ben for how programmers without technical writers can create good documentation.
- How dev teams without technical writers can advocate for hiring one.
- Where to find Ben online.
“I decided I would maybe not like to troubleshoot things and that it might be fun to teach about technical things, translate technical speak into something that was more digestible.” — @blipsandbleeps [0:04:49]
“I do a lot of writing on gut, at least for first drafts. You know, what sounds correct to say, and then I’ll use a tool to help me make sure that it’s the right sentence structure.” — @blipsandbleeps [0:34:55]
“It’s a fun part of the job to learn about how a thing works. We very much enjoy working with developers and learning about products from their point of view.” — @blipsandbleeps [0:41:42]
“Not everybody needs a technical writer but if you are trying to convey information to as wide an audience as possible it is good to hire somebody who is good with words.” — @blipsandbleeps [0:49:20]
Links Mentioned in Today’s Episode:
- Bear App
- Docs to Markdown Google Docs extension
- Adobe Photography Plan
- Polaroid Now Plus Camera
- Game Boy Camera
- Ellen Korbes’ photography project
- Plus Ergo Grip for Apple Pencil
- STAEDTLER’s Noris digital stylus
- Josh Darnit, YouTube (dad who follows instructions)
- Glass Reflection, YouTube
Find Ben Goddard online:
[00:00:10] AR: Hey, everybody. Welcome to Enjoy the Vue. I'm Alex. Today on our panel, we have Tessa.
[00:00:17] T: Hello.
[00:00:21] AR: Our special guest for this episode is Ben. Ben is a technical writer, and works for a company that specializes in remote team collaboration software. Hello, Ben.
[00:00:34] B: Saluton.
[00:00:36] AR: So um, Tessa,
[00:00:39] T: Wait, we're just going to ignore that. What was that?
[00:00:42] AR: Yeah. I mean, I was just going to — I figured he's more intelligent than I am. He was using some fancy word. Ben, what was that?
[00:00:48] B: I was baiting you for a question there. Saluton is the standard greeting in Esperanto, because I'm a nerd.
[00:00:56] T: It's like a made-up language, right?
[00:00:59] B: It is a constructed language. Yes.
[00:01:03] AR: Is it constructed how? I don't…
[00:01:07] T: I think it's like Klingon on, but for language nerds.
[00:01:11] B: Yeah. I mean, this is older than Klingon.
[00:01:14] AR: Got it. Got it. Yeah, that makes more sense. All right. All right. It's Klingon, but for normal people.
[00:01:19] B: I guess. Origins in the late 1800s. I think it was created in order to bridge other languages together. It's meant to be easy to learn, no matter what language you speak.
[00:01:32] AR: Interesting.
[00:01:33] B: I think.
[00:01:35] AR: Okay. I've heard of Esperanto before, but I don't know that I've ever really dug into it very much. That's super interesting. Moving right along, Tessa, have you ever worked with a technical writer before?
[00:01:46] T: Yeah. Actually, my first job, I think I've mentioned this on the show before. My first full-time job as an engineer, I worked at a place with a technical writing team. We had a manager for their team, and then there were two technical writers. I think it was really great, because it forced us to regularly document things in a way that had more context than you might naturally include if you were only writing it for the sake of your team. Because with each release, we had to write a detailed log about what we were adding, or changing, maybe include screenshots, so that the technical writers would be able to understand and then translate those into both public release notes and updates to our documentation. Then if things were unclear, they would come by and either give us notes on how to do better next time and/or ask us questions, because there were things that maybe were good enough for the release notes, but not clear enough to write documentation on.
[00:02:40] AR: Wow. Okay. Before my current job, I have never worked with technical writers before. I have not been in situations where I've had technical writers.
[00:02:51] T: I've also worked with engineers who used to be technical writers. That's also great, because they have a lot of explanatory comments and documentation about their code. That makes it nicer to read.
[00:03:01] AR: Yeah, that sounds handy. Ben, you're writing technical documentation. You're a technical writer, I suppose. Do you write a lot of technical documentation? How did you get into technical documentation and technical writing?
[00:03:17] B: Yeah. Well, I started, let's see. Before I was a technical writer, to bring you on the journey with me here. My whole post college career, essentially, I've been a technical troubleshooter in different scenarios. I worked in operation centers, doing a lot of software troubleshooting, and a lot of network troubleshooting. Basically, reacting to things that broke, and then opening tickets and trying to fix these things with other people. After doing that for quite a few years, I decided I wanted to do something a little bit more creative and technical writing sounded creative to me at the time, and I suppose we'll get into whether or not it is.
I found a job in Florida doing technical writing, and I did a whole bunch of interviewing and I got the job. I essentially just decided I would try this and I'm still doing it today. That was back in 2012.
[00:04:10] AR: I find it interesting that you came from a very hands-on, fixing things background and moved into writing about how things work.
[00:04:19] B: Yeah. I've always been a computer guy, as my family would say. I went to college for information systems, which at the time was 50% business, 50% putting together computers and just starting to wet our feet a bit with networking at the time. This is back when Novell was a big thing. Just landed in a job doing network troubleshooting with a friend and followed that for a while. I was pretty good at troubleshooting things. So, I don't know, decided I would maybe not like to troubleshoot things so much, but it might be fun to teach about technical things, translate technical speak into something that was more digestible by the user.
I don't know. I just checked out what technical writing was all about and landed this job and learned a lot more on the job, obviously, than from what I could figure out on my own, and just enjoyed it a lot. Here I am.
[00:05:19] AR: Yeah. You got tired of fixing things for people and were like, “Look, I'm going to write this down for you. You need to follow my directions.”
[00:05:26] B: When you're troubleshooting things, especially in an operations center environment, as I said before, it's like things break, and you have to fix them quickly. Most of the times, there's a lot of pressure there, when you're responsible for making sure systems are running, or software is doing its thing, or if somebody's network connection breaks, and they're losing thousands of dollars a minute thing. There's pressure there to fix things quickly. Technical writing is not quite as time sensitive as that, I guess. You get to learn about a thing, understand it, and then write something that is useful. That appeals to me, definitely.
[00:06:06] AR: Cool. Now that you're doing technical writing stuff, what is your day-to-day like? Are you just sitting there just writing constantly? Or is it…
[00:06:20] T: On a typewriter?
[00:06:22] AR: Yeah, on a typewriter, clearly, because that's how computers work. What does your day-to-day vaguely look like?
[00:06:30] B: Sure. We use an intake form. Anybody that needs something written about a piece of the main product that the company makes, they'll be like, “Hey, we have this new feature coming out, and we need this article on it, or these set of articles.” Or they'll be like, “We need something written about this piece in order to explain it better,” kind of thing. They'll fill out a form and that generates a JIRA ticket, which then goes into our backlog and on a regular schedule, me and the team.
There's three people on the team, not including the manager. We regularly review what's in the backlog, and then we prioritize what needs to get down sooner, and then we jump in on. As far as the tools and the processes we use, or I use, I'm definitely using a computer right. I mean, I suppose, I could write on a typewriter and then scan it in and then do some OCR magic, and that's a lot of work. We try to do as little jumping around as possible like that. I write, just in markdown, I write an article, I paste it into Google Docs, somebody else reviews it. Then eventually, we translate that to the article on the website. That's the basic idea.
[00:07:48] T: To take a slight tangent here, I feel like, this is related to your past in troubleshooting. I'm curious to hear more about both the specific tools that you use every day for technical writing. Also, it seems like, you like to use a lot of different kinds of productivity and helper tools. I don't know if that's a Ben thing, because we had another Ben on the show that loves that stuff. Yeah, we'd love to hear more about it.
[00:08:15] B: When I said before, I write things in markdown, that was both true and a little bit of stretch, I guess. I use a note-taking tool. I'm a Mac guy. I put all my notes into bear on the Mac, which is essentially markdown that automatically syncs to iCloud, and then that shows up on my phone and on my other devices if I want to. Anytime I'm in a meeting, or learning about a thing, I can cut and paste stuff into bear, and then organize my thoughts in there.
Then generally, we do our first drafts of a thing in a Google Doc. I just have a Google Doc with a template that I put together. We write a thing in there. As we're writing, if we have questions, we talked to the subject matter expert for the particular thing that we're working on. Sometimes it's a developer, sometimes it's, I don't know, maybe the product manager themselves. Anybody that knows a lot about the thing that we're writing about.
At some point, we get to a draft of that document, whether it's anywhere from a half a page to a couple pages long, usually. The team will do a peer review, and then we have other people look at the content before it gets finalized and then converted to its final form. Just to focus a little bit more on tools, I guess, so once we have the Google Doc draft, then it gets converted into markdown. There is a plugin for Google Docs. I think it's docs to markdown. It's nothing super fancy. Essentially, you click on a button and it converts it to markdown and then I take that and I paste it into an actual markdown editor.
Trying to remember the name of the one I use. StackEdit is good for markdown editing. It shows you a live preview of the content you're working on. I basically tweaked the markdown to make sure that it looks okay in actual preview form. Then I paste it into our actual publishing platform. Most of the time, we use readme.com as our publishing for our documents, or API documents. I go into readme, I paste it in there. I make sure that it looks okay in that version as well. Then essentially, we publish it and then it goes live.
I use some other tools, I guess, as far as putting things together. For images, I'm usually capturing things in Snagit on the Mac. That's pretty straightforward. Don't do too much with Snagit, other than maybe cropping, or doing some minor picture editing. I have Pixelmator on the Mac as well. I'm using an old version of Pixelmator. It's essentially a much more affordable Photoshop replacement. That's if I want to do anything crazy, I'll throw it into Pixelmator graphics-wise.
As far as where we store all this content, we have a corporate Google account, so we're just using Google Drive. That's why we're also using Google Docs, so we throw all of our images in a folder and all of our work in progress, content, all these Google docs are also in another folder, and we organize stuff that way. It's pretty simple and straightforward.
[00:11:16] AR: I would imagine that that part of it is a little bit more transient, depending upon company and stuff. If you had a company that was using OneDrive, you could do it there. If they were all in on Dropbox or something, you could easily do it through that as well. That part of it is a little bit more flexible as to — that's more company infrastructure to a certain extent.
[00:11:39] B: Yeah. This process I'm describing is specific to this company that I'm at now. Previously, it was probably less organized. Generally, I've been either the only technical writer, or maybe one of two technical writers at accompany. That's just how it goes sometimes. We use whatever tools we want, and they don't necessarily match up amongst the team. Someone might be writing in Microsoft Word, yuck. Someone might be writing in a DOS-based text editor. I don't know. There's tools that are more attractive to depending on who's using the tool, I guess. I heard you say, “Hey,” Tessa. I'm prepared to defend my hate for Microsoft Word.
[00:12:21] AR: This is now a show about opinions about editors. We have reached the spicy stage.
[00:12:28] B: You guys did a tools episode a couple of weeks back, I think it was.
[00:12:30] AR: Yeah, we did.
[00:12:33] T: Yeah. I just find these online document editors, the options and stuff are sometimes hidden away. Or the right-click menus and stuff, because it's in the browser, they're not as convenient, so that's really annoying. I actually haven't used Word in a while, but I'll take PowerPoint to my grave.
[00:12:50] AR: PowerPoint has gotten better. I used it recently for something and I was pleasantly surprised by some of the options that it had, but it was still rough. I'm right there with you.
[00:12:58] T: I feel like, it's always been the same. For me, Keynote always crashes my computer and slides.com, I don't understand how people use it without burning down the planet. It’s so upsetting.
[00:13:10] AR: I used slides.com all the time.
[00:13:12] T: Of course, you do.
[00:13:15] B: It's nice to have a local application on your machine for speed and knowing it inside out and being able to customize and things like that. I think of PowerPoint, I'm thinking somewhere between 1996 and 2005, as far as aesthetic — lots of word art with gradients and things like that. I don't know. If it works, it works. Whatever tool works best for you to get the job done, great. I just saw a lot of things go wonky in Microsoft Word, so I try not to use it anymore.
[00:13:48] T: The one thing I will say is I haven't yet seen other, slide editor specifically, but maybe also, just document editors in general that have flowchart builders, which PowerPoint and Word have built in. There are a lot of situations where I need something like that, and I don't want to custom drag a bunch of squares and arrows and stuff. I like that option specifically. That was one of the things that I was trying to find when I was looking at other slide editors and getting frustrated about.
[00:14:19] B: Yeah. It's nice if, I don't know, the less tools you have to accomplish a task, that's also nice, if the writer, or the document editor that you're using also does good graphic stuff, then you don't have to flip between things, if you're just trying to get something done quickly.
[00:14:35] AR: Use the tool you're most comfortable with is ultimately, I think, what it comes down to.
[00:14:41] T: Well, speaking of comfort, Ben, I was curious if you heard of Photopea, or Photopia. I'm not sure how you say it. It's relatively new. It's basically, a one-to-one of Photoshop. Even the short cuts are the same, but in the browser. It's been the hot topic on our YouTube over the summer. The blur and stuff doesn't look as good. Beyond that, it’s freaky how similar it is. You can even import Photoshop files. Yeah, might be something worth checking out if you haven't already.
[00:15:14] B: I hadn't heard of it. Yeah, I'm glancing at the website now. Obviously, it looks just like Photoshop at a glance. Interesting.
[00:15:21] T: It is great for making fast memes, I will just say.
[00:15:26] B: Okay. I admit, perhaps embarrassingly so that I use memegenerator.net, or whatever the Google result is, if I type in Captain Picard meme, whatever I need to – whenever I need to make a meme, it's usually, I try to get it done in 30 seconds, because someone somewhere – my punch line is time sensitive. Someone will make a joke and I try to make a meme as fast as I can. I am seeing on the supported file types for Photopea to support GIMP, which is another one worth mentioning, I guess, just because it's been around forever, and it's free and it's Linux or Unix. Does Unix even exist anymore?
[00:16:03] T: Yeah. Those seems to be the selling points of GIMP, all right.
[00:16:07] B: Yeah. GIMP got things done, and it didn't cost anything. It was also clunky and very Linuxy. There's trade-offs, I guess. Photoshop is so expensive. Even if you're paying monthly for it, it's still expensive. Unless, you're making money as an artist, or your company is paying for it, there's probably an alternative that's more affordable.
[00:16:31] T: Although, apparently this still isn't widely known. If you subscribe to the photographer package, which is Photoshop plus Lightroom, it's $10 a month. If you subscribe to Photoshop by itself it's $20 a month. If you want to subscribe to Photoshop, definitely go for the photography package.
[00:16:51] B: Do you think there's a big photo is participating in that somehow, like Canon or Nikon? They're influencing Adobe to push that?
[00:17:00] AR: Kodak's revenge.
[00:17:01] B: Kodak’s revenge.
[00:17:04] T: Or polarized. That's a good question. I don't know.
[00:17:06] AR: Polaroid’s revenge.
[00:17:08] T: It was handy for me, because that was right around the time that I was getting into photography. I was like, “Perfect.”
[00:17:14] B: I recently spent some time at Walt Disney World on vacation. I saw someone there, a youngster. someone under 30, probably like you guys who had a — it was a polaroid camera. No, it’s an Instagram branded — It was something between Instagram and Polaroid. It looked like an old Polaroid with the red button and the pop up.
[00:17:35] T: Maybe an Instax camera?
[00:17:37] B: Maybe. It actually spit out a self-developing film that you could then flap around unnecessarily.
[00:17:45] AR: Some of the Polaroid stuff is actually coming back in style, because retro is always vogue.
[00:17:52] B: Hipsters.
[00:17:53] T: Well, I feel it was the impossible project was selling Polaroid stuff, and then Polaroid went out of business. Now, they're still running again. I don't know how that's working. They are refurbishing their own old camera stock and rebranding it and reselling it as special limited editions.
[00:18:11] B: Bringing this back to technology, or keeping it within technology, I'm definitely a little bit older than y'all, and maybe older than the audience of the show a little bit. When I was 13, my dad brought home a digital camera, which we had never heard of before at the time. It shot, oh, gosh. It was probably 256 by 256. 16 shades of grey images, and it was this big, heavy thing. We were told to do not drop it, because it was so expensive. I totally forgot about that until now for some reason.
[00:18:48] T: That reminds me, I got used and lost a tiny film camera. It's as long as my index finger. I love the tiny, tiny digital and film cameras.
[00:18:59] B: I would use this digital camera, I'm trying to remember what brand it was at the time, just to take still black and white shots. Then I could plug it into my Apple to see and bring those images in as whatever the resolution of the Apple 2 was at the time. It was 211 by 180, or something ridiculous. You can actually have real images in the games and the programs I was writing at the time in basic. It was a big thrill back then.
[00:19:29] T: Yeah. I think the earliest digital camera that I know of is the Gameboy camera.
[00:19:34] B: Oh, yeah. Very similar to that, as far as quality. Yeah.
[00:19:37] T: I saw somebody recently hook theirs up to a Raspberry Pi or something, so that they could print Gameboy camera photos to their computer. I thought, “Oh, that sounds cool. I would never go through that much work, but it sounds cool.”
[00:19:50] B: There's an iPhone app that creates similar imagery to that. It looks somewhere between a Gameboy and the original Mac pixelated digital images. You can take your images and film print and do that, and then post them on your socials or whatever it is you youngsters do.
[00:20:09] T: Yeah. Speaking of things youngsters do, my impression was up until this point that Alex made all of his memes in code pen. I thought, anytime he had to do something with a photo, or an image.
[00:20:20] AR: I mean, that's true idea. I do a lot of things in code pen like that. That is a fair assumption. I will whip out some CSS and make something like that.
[00:20:31] B: You have a template with a spot for an image and then a space for an overlay for text and stuff like that? Is that how it works?
[00:20:39] AR: That would be smart. I should actually set one of those up. Then have it already have the drop shadow you need on the text, so that it's always correct. That’s a great idea. I'm going to do that now.
[00:20:49] B: There you go.
[00:20:50] AR: I should make web components so that you can — it'll just be like, “Okay, here's the text at the top and the text at the bottom.” Then it'll be like, put an image in, here's the text to the top, text to the bottom. It'll just be like, “Okay, cool. Deal with it.”
[00:21:04] T: Yeah. I mean, you can set that up for our episode images, and it wasn't a headache at all. I'm sure you got this.
[00:21:12] AR: Only took a couple of days. It's fine.
[00:21:15] B: Yeah. I'm thinking speed is not an issue, if you're using that though.
[00:21:19] T: The goal is always, what is the worst way you can implement this possible, platonic ideal?
[00:21:24] AR: What's the most overly complicated way that you can engineer this? It's not necessarily the worst way that you could implement this. It's always the most complicated, useless way of implementing it.
[00:21:34] T: Come to worse, right?
[00:21:37] B: That's how I write stuff myself. I’m not a big proponent of Vue. I would say, I'm very much a Vue newbie, but I do a bit of geeking out on the computer, other than technical writing. I like to write shell scripts. I'm self-taught. That means my stuff is definitely not optimized. It goes probably the longest possible way to do a thing. Instead of storing something in a variable, it's dumping a file to the hard drive and then looking at that file, and then running it through various commands to get the output I need, kind of thing.
[00:22:12] AR: I mean, that is the Unix way, is not you just chain a bunch of commands together and make it do a thing. I believe, that is the Unix philosophy.
[00:22:32] AR: There is another podcast that I listened to, they had competition one year between the three podcasters. I know I'm awful.
[00:22:40] T: Ubuntu Brutay?
[00:22:44] AR: I think, it was the Ubuntu Podcast. They, for as a special episode, they each put together a game, but they had to use Bash to make a game. The entire game had to be written in Bash. One of them was like, “I've made a thing. It's a self-playing MMO. It's networked, so you can actually run several versions of it on the same computer, and they'll all play together.” It was doing network stuff in Bash. Then another one was some text MUD type thing, where like, go north, go west, or something like that, I think
[00:23:24] T: MUD, meaning a multi-user dungeon or whatever?
[00:23:29] AR: Yeah. Multi-user dungeon. The third guy is like, “So, I've made a bullet hell shooter that has Xbox controller support. You can sit there with your Xbox controller and play a Bash game.” He demos it and it was so fast, and so clean. Everybody was just like, “What have you done?”
[00:23:55] B: That's how I learned if then statements. We're going back to Apple soft basic in the late 80s. I'm a big fan of interactive fiction. Text adventure type stuff, which the online version was MUDs, multi-user dungeons. A lot of the programs I wrote as a kid were essentially text adventures. If this happens, then show this thing. I still love it to this day. There's actually a coding language. I don't know if it's technically a coding language or not.
There's a language out there that you can write stuff in called inform. I believe, the latest version is seven or eight. This thing is old. It’s essentially made for writing texts adventures, or interactive fiction. If you like that stuff, and you're into coding, or hacking, it's worth checking out. I'm not sure if there's a better package out there these days. Last time I used this thing was probably 2009, or so. It's very interesting.
[00:24:53] AR: I know that there's frameworks and stuff to do that and other languages. I didn't realize that someone had made an entire language just to do that. That's really cool.
[00:25:04] T: I think there's a couple. There's one that's based on Vue, or built in Vue. I think, Twine. Twine has some Vue relationship. If we want to be pedantic about languages, I believe it's programming languages that people get particular and gatekeepy about, but coding languages, I think they care less.
[00:25:23] AR: We were talking about older cameras and technology and stuff. Ellen Corvis, she posted — They?
[00:25:33] T: I don't know.
[00:25:34] AR: They posted a while back a video, where they were talking about using this digital camera. It starts off pretty normal. How do you get photos from your camera onto your phone? Sort of the concept. They were like, “Oh, okay. It's really simple. First, you do the thing, and you take a couple of photos and takes a couple selfies.” Then it was like, “All right. Then the next thing that you do is that you remove the memory card,” and presses a button and a floppy disk comes out of out of the camera, and then puts in a USB floppy drive into the phone and sticks the floppy in. It's like, “And then you transfer the content once it's acknowledged that the disk exists. Then you can just transfer the pictures off. It's really easy. It's great. You just pull up this big memory card and just do that.” It's the funniest video. It's so fantastic.
[00:26:21] B: I have questions. Is there a record scratch when the floppy disk — That's probably a 1.44 meg disk, right? Yeah.
[00:26:31] AR: It is gloriously serious. At the same time, ridiculous. It is brilliant. I'm trying to find the tweet that it’s…
[00:26:40] B: It is the USB floppy drive self-powered? It can't be.
[00:26:43] AR: I mean, it's USB-based. Yeah, it has enough power to power a floppy drive.
[00:26:48] B: From the phone that it's plugging into? I don't know what the power requirements are for a floppy drive. I guess, they're not that high. I'm still impressed that I can plug my Apple pencil into the iPad, or my iPhone and have it charge in 20 minutes.
[00:27:02] T: I don't want to think about that, Ben. That sounds so awful. It’s like an iPhone lollipop or something.
[00:27:09] B: It's definitely a design issue. I have an Apple Pencil 1.0. In order to charge them, you pop the eraser off the pencil and it's got a lightning — a male lightning adapter. Do we still call them male and female? It's the one that you plug into the other thing. It needs to be plugged into either a device, or an adapter, which plugs into a cord, which plugs into a power supply. Not great. It's like that Apple mouse that had the charging port on the bottom. I'm an Apple nerd, definitely. I'm part of the cult of Apple. I will gladly admit that there have been some missteps over the years.
[00:27:50] T: Yeah. I know some people say, it charges really fast or whatever, so it doesn't matter. I have definitely had those moments, where I've needed to use my MX Master plugged in. I'm glad that it doesn't have the thing on the bottom.
[00:28:05] B: Yeah. Plus, if I'm on a plane, for example, or in a situation where I'm sitting with my iPad in my lap, and I've got an Apple Pencil sticking out the end of it, and there's children or pets around, which is often the case, you just worry that somebody is going to come out of nowhere and snap and that's it. It's definitely precarious. You're charging nothing.
[00:28:28] AR: Yeah. Somebody I know has a iPad and the Apple Pencil, too. I had not had the opportunity to use an Apple pencil on an iPad before. They let me play with it.
[00:28:40] T: Only on a piece of paper?
[00:28:43] AR: They let me play with their iPad and the Apple pencil. I want an iPad and Apple Pencil now.
[00:28:53] B: The Apple Pencil is a very slick piece of hardware, I think. It's definitely a stylus, but there's so much more to it than that. It's got pressure sensitivity in the tip. I don't know how much pressure sensitivity, but it knows if you're lightly pressing, pressing hard, etc., etc. It knows if it's tilted as well. Just because of that, it can act more like a pencil. If you're tilting in that side, the texture changes to something that's more appropriate, depending on the software you're using. It's very impressive to hold and to play with. I mean, that's how Apple's stuff is. As soon as you touch the thing, you want it, and they're very good.
[00:29:30] AR: They're very good at that.
[00:29:31] T: I don't know. I've got to say, we've talked about my weak fingers before. No product has made me feel as frail as the Apple Pencil. I tried it in the store and I was like, “I don't like it.” It was the first edition. I was like, “Maybe I’ll like the second edition.” The pencil is just so hard. I feel like, when I'm holding it, my bones hurt and I don't even hold the pencil that hard. Then the tip not depressing, even though with traditional or normal pens and pencils, I like to have a really hard pencil and really smooth piece of paper.
Somehow with the Apple Pencil, it's really off putting. I had to add this huge cushy grip to mine. It’s called the Plus Ago. Somebody recommended it. I was like, I don't love it, but the pencil itself is so hard that I can't use it. Whereas, with Samsung's products, since they use Wacom technology, I can have a lot of custom styluses and stuff, or styli. I have this Stettler pencil-looking one that I really like. It feels exactly like a real pencil. For me, having that depressing stylus that has a slight rubbery tip to add a little bit of friction is a much better experience.
[00:30:42] B: It's an interesting balance, as far as the texture of holding the thing in your hands and the weight of the thing and the temperature, I suppose, because it is cool to the touch. It's definitely different than a pencil, or a pen, or a brush. The fact that you're pressing down on glass, when you're drawing is definitely different than, obviously, paper, or canvas, or even a Wacom tablet is, I don't know what their material is. It's more plasticky, or rubbery, or something. It's interesting balance that they have to hit, as far as all these things.
[00:31:15] AR: I am not a connoisseur of writing implements on screens and stuff. It’s all new to me. Clearly, I have a lot to discover about this.
[00:31:30] B: I think it's made the Apple Pencil, or maybe the one that you're using, Tessa, has made styluses more accessible than they used to be. I mean, the early tablets, or rather, the early styluses, you had a pressure sensitive thing that you were drawing or writing on, but did not have a screen light. You had to look up at the screen as your hand is moving down there drawing, or painting, or whatever. There was a disconnect. I think, it might have been Cintiq, or someone like them that came up with the actual screen that you use the stylus on. You got real time results under the point where your tool was touching the glass. It made it easier to follow along and learn this stuff, I think.
[00:32:14] T: Yeah. Like we've always, or had for a long time, the primitive pen inputs in a cash register, like the credit card screen, or a Nintendo DS. I will say though, I am resentful that Apple seems to get all the fanfare for this stylus stuff, when what's his name? Steve Jobs was so outspoken about how you don't need a stylus, or whatever, that's really backwards. When Samsung came out with a note, a lot of people were like, “Who needs this giant phone?” Now they're the stylus company and I'm like, “That's not fair.” I just learned through this podcast, I can use this pencil with my drawing tablets, too. I'm like, that's great. Anyway, I love this stylus so much.
[00:33:01] AR: Now, when we play drawing games, you'll be unstoppable.
[00:33:04] T: Hey, I've been using my trackpad, because you complained it's on there.
[00:33:08] AR: You still do better than all of us.
[00:33:11] B: Are you saying the Apple Pencil is compatible with non-Apple devices? Or are you talking about a different stylus?
[00:33:16] T: No. I'm talking about the Staedtler, the Noris pencil that looks like real-world pencils. It uses Wacom technology. A lot of the styli are interchangeable, but not always. When I was grabbing the link for our show notes, I saw them using it on it a Cintiq. I was like, “Oh, maybe it'll work with my tablet, too.”
[00:33:33] B: I would like to call attention to the fact that she said styli, because I don't think I've ever heard that spoken before. I'm sure it's correct, because you're good at those sorts of things. Let's just give you some massive points for that.
[00:33:44] T: The only one that I'm confident about is octopus, technically would not be octopi, because the stylus-styli — I think, stylus, yeah, that's Latin, because I do remember that from class, specifically. You have a tabula and this stylus. I could be completely wrong though. The octopus though, that's a Greek word. If we were going to pluralize it as if it were a Greek word, which we usually don't do, then it would be octopodes.
[00:34:12] B: These are these sorts of things that technical writers have memorized. We know all of these rules in our heads at all times. We never have to consult anything. We just know that…
[00:34:23] T: You were just testing me.
[00:34:24] B: Yeah. That's how we get hired in the first place. Not true at all. Not true at all.
[00:34:28] AR: That's like your whiteboarding test. They go, “Okay, here's a list of words. Make them plural and what is the group of them called?” From memory on a whiteboard, you have to write all of them down.
[00:34:39] T: Also, here's a sentence. Diagram it out.
[00:34:43] B: Yes. No, I would say my technical language skills, not my technical writing skills, but knowing which parts of a sentence are which, the subject and the predicate, that's about as far as I can get, I think. I do a lot of writing on Gut, at least for first draft. What sounds correct to say? Then I'll use a tool to help me make sure that it's the right sentence structure.
[00:35:09] T: Yeah. I mean, I feel like you probably know better than most of us anyway.
[00:35:13] B: Me?
[00:35:15] T: Yeah. I bet, a lot of people are like, “What's a predicate?”
[00:35:20] B: See, now you're calling me out here.
[00:35:20] AR: I mean, I wasn’t going to ask, but…
[00:35:23] B: The subject is what the sentence is about and the predicate is the other part. That's all I remember. I know nouns, verbs and adjectives. Thank you Mad Libs. If we all know what Mad Libs are, I'll be very happy. That's again, a product of, I think, from my past, growing up in the 80s. They still make them.
[00:35:44] AR: I'm learning German, because my niece speaks German. She's bilingual. I'm trying to learn German, so that I can talk to my niece. I'm discovering that I may actually have to find somewhere to study this, sentence structure stuff. Because in German, you have weak nouns. The word that you use in front of it to describe it changes based on whether or not it's a weak noun or something. It is so confusing when you don't understand sentence structure.
[00:36:16] B: Wow, I've never heard of that before. Generally, when I try to speak Spanish, or read Spanish, or French, it's male versus female nouns and try to know which one is which. I still don't understand why motorcycle is feminine. I mean, why not? I don't know why some things are feminine and some things are not. Like, tennis ball will be feminine and, I don’t know, a snake will be masculine. Or, what? Who made up these rules? Somebody a long time ago.
[00:36:47] T: They're not the same across romance languages, which I didn't know, and was tough for me when I tried to switch from French to Spanish. I was like, “What's going on?”
[00:36:57] AR: Yeah. German, at least has the neutral. You have male, female, neutral. There are things that you're like, “Why is that neutral?” Because it's girl is [inaudible 00:37:05], but you put das in front of it, which is neutral. It's like, “What?”
[00:37:14] B: Instead of feminine?
[00:37:15] AR: Yeah. Okay. It's apparently, because the ending makes it neutral. I don't know, I had to go talk to my brother-in-law and my sister and be like, “Why?”
[00:37:25] T: Just enforcing all of your gender norms on German. Okay, Alex.
[00:37:29] AR: I'm trying to learn the language. I'm trying to understand.
[00:37:32] T: Sounds like, your nouns aren't the only thing that's weak.
[00:37:37] AR: Yeah. A lot of things.
[00:37:37] B: Then there's formal versus informal, like in Japanese. When you're first meeting somebody versus somebody you know, you say things differently, because of formality. It's interesting.
[00:37:51] AR: I think, there's a lot of languages. English is the one language where you don't have that.
[00:37:54] B: English is just everything mashed together.
[00:37:59] T: Well, we do. It’s just unspoken rules. Everybody has their own set of rules. If you write best to somebody, they might be really offended, or they might be really pleased.
[00:38:11] B: That's why you go with your gut.
[00:38:12] T: Nobody signed off an email to me with cheers. I will block you.
[00:38:17] B: Oh. Why? Why not?
[00:38:20] T: I don't know. I don't like that sign off.
[00:38:23] AR: I'm now going to be signing all of our emails as ‘cheers’.
[00:38:27] T: Because you email me so often.
[00:38:28] AR: I'm going to now.
[00:38:30] T: I forgot what we were talking about before we got into German. Oh, right. Word endings. My big word nerd moment was when I finally try to watch that curse word show that everybody loved on Netflix. I couldn't get past the first episode. I think, Nicolas Cage was in it. They were talking about the word — One of the experts that they have on to talk about the etymology and things, I was like, “Oh, she's the person that does all of the word videos on merriamwebster.com.” It's actually from her that I learned about the octopitis things. I never thought in my life, I would be in a position where I recognize somebody from Merriam Webster, but there it is.
[00:39:11] B: I thought, you're going to say it was grammar girl, or one of those more famous Internet word nerds.
[00:39:18] T: Grammar girl, is someone I haven't heard about in a while.
[00:39:21] B: I think she's still going. She's been around for 10, 15 years, probably. I don't think she's a girl anymore, though. I mean, I think she's probably a woman.
[00:39:30] T: Probably wasn't when she started.
[00:39:31] B: Right.
[00:39:35] AR: We enjoy watching British game shows. There's one game show called Countdown. We like the comedy version of it, which is eight out of 10 cats this Countdown. Anyway, Susie Dent is the dictionary corner lady on that show, and she is hilarious.
[00:39:51] B: She's bloody brilliant, I would say. She's very fast. Very smart.
[00:39:55] AR: I like keeping up with her Twitter account, because she'll occasionally post the word of the day and it'll be something fantastic.
[00:40:03] B: Yeah, I love eight out of 10 cats. Sorry, eight out of 10 cats does Countdown. There was initially two shows. There was Countdown, which is the word show. Then eight out of 10 Cats was more like math numbers, stuff, right? At some point, someone said, “Why don't we merge these two things together?” It's fantastic. I don't think I could watch a show just about trying to see how many ways you could make a number out of smaller numbers. When it's combined with a geeky word show, it works. Yeah.
[00:40:34] T: I was really sorry to hear about what happens to her brother, though. It can't be easy to go from being an up and coming district attorney to having half your face burned off by acid and turning into a supervillain.
[00:40:49] B: Okay, there's a joke there.
[00:40:51] AR: Very funny.
[00:40:52] B: I was being very respectful and quiet.
[00:40:54] AR: Super clever.
[00:40:55] B: Yeah. Harvey Dent reference there.
[00:40:57] AR: Yes. Batman.
[00:40:59] B: Yeah. It is unfortunate.
[00:41:01] T: Going back to writing, a lot of us haven't worked with technical writers before and/or may never work with technical writers. For the people who may work with technical writers in the future, do you have any tips on how they can work well together, or things that they can do to communicate more effectively with technical writers?
[00:41:24] B: Sure. At least from my point of view. It's not like I speak at technical writing conferences, or I hang out with technical writers other than the people I work with. Technical writers, like myself, we like working with other people, especially smart people that know the product very well, which are most of the people I reach out to for more information. It's a fun part of the job to learn about how a thing works. We very much enjoy working with developers and techy people and smart people and learning about products and things from their point of view.
It's a requirement. It's part of the job. I've heard technical writers being called jack of all trades, master of none. I don't know. That seems to apply in my case. I'd say, I'm a techy guy. I'm a geeky guy. I like knowing lots of things about lots of things. I'm not really an expert on any of those individual things that I'm writing about at work.
As far as tips on working with technical writers, be prepared to give them lots of information, because we're going to act like a sponge and soak up as much about a thing as we can. Then generally, I tend to gather a whole bunch of information, squirrel myself away and write about things for a bit, and then come back and say, “Is this right?” That's my process. I do a lot of information gathering. I write a thing, and I go back to the smart person, or smart people and say, is this correct? How can we make it better? You don't have to be a good writer, or good with words, or good with any language in particular. In order to work with a technical writer, you just have to know about the thing that you know about. Don't be shy. Don't worry about stumbling over certain things. It's okay. It's our job to gather the information and ask the questions and make you feel comfortable about the thing that you know about.
[00:43:27] AR: Other things to note is don't feed them after midnight, and don't get them wet, I would say is…
[00:43:34] B: Yeah. But midnight where, right? There's moisture everywhere, so how wet?
[00:43:41] T: I believe that the moisture, the problem there is that it voids the warranty, right?
[00:43:46] B: Right.
[00:43:47] AR: They're not rated for water resistance.
[00:43:52] B: Now, I'm thinking about the time I couldn't get my Furby to shut up. I put it in a drawer to leave it in the darkness and it kept talking.
[00:44:01] AR: It’s like, “It’s dark in here. Please, let me out.”
[00:44:07] T: I got to say, the things that Furby artists are doing today are just incredible. There's large Furbies, giant Furbies. I’ve seen a lot of weird Furby things.
[00:44:19] B: I'm just impressed that there is such a thing as a Furby artist. Congrats to all you Furby artists out there.
[00:44:26] AR: Yeah. I think, somebody made a Furby organ.
[00:44:31] T: Yes.
[00:44:31] AR: You can play a keyboard and each of them is a single note. [Inaudible 00:44:32] like that.
[00:44:37] B: That’s somewhere between terrifying and hilarious. I'm not sure where.
[00:44:42] AR: It is both. Yes.
[00:44:43] B: Yeah. It is both.
[00:44:45] T: I don't know what to call them, besides Furby artist. You know, I shared one weird Furby in my art class server. Since then, it's basically become a the worst Furby thing you've seen in competition. Imagine Alex's project of Furbies.
[00:45:01] B: Without spoiling any part of the plot, there's an animated film on Netflix called The Mitchell's Versus the Machines. I'm not part of it, but I feel like I need to mention it. There is a scene with a Furby, or a bunch of Furbies that is probably the best part of the movie. It's a great flick. If you haven't seen it, check it out. The Mitchell's Versus the Machines on Netflix. Very funny.
[00:45:22] AR: Okay, we'll have to do that.
[00:45:23] T: I think, we talked about it before, because I mentioned that one of my screenwriting teachers was talking about, make sure that if you're writing a script for an animated thing, it needs to be animated. I was like, “Well, what's a good example of a script that you could tell me to be animated?” He was like, “Well, I haven't seen the script, but the Mitchells versus the Machines is a perfect movie.” I found it very overly stimulating for me. I get why people like it. There's so many things going on on the screen that I was so exhausted after I watched it.
[00:45:52] B: I call them add movies. I have ADD myself, so I'm allowed to say that, I think. Yeah, movies that there's just so much going on, you can't not be entertained or stimulated by watching it. Very fun.
[00:46:03] T: Yeah. I did wonder if it would be appealing in that way. Yeah. For people who don't have a technical writer, what are your tips on how to make sure that your documentation works okay?
[00:46:17] B: This is forcing me to think, in a way I don't normally think, because I am the technical writer that's usually there.
[00:46:24] T: I hope you have your own checks to make sure the docs work okay.
[00:46:28] B: Yeah. I mean, well, you probably want to — as far as consistency, you probably want to pick the person who is maybe the best writer in your group, or the best at gathering things and putting them together. Maybe not the best at writing English, or whatever language you're writing in.
[00:46:45] T: Esperanto.
[00:46:46] B: Esperanto. Just to have a consistent voice, or tone. Well, I'd say, if this person is you who's listening, you want to be able to take the instructions and boil them down to as simple steps as possible, especially if you're writing about steps. As simple description as possible. You want to make it, so that when somebody looks at the page, or the screen with this content on it, that they don't immediately cringe, or scream, or run away, or not ever want to look at it again. It needs to be accessible, as accessible as possible, visually and complexity-wise, I guess. You don't want to have a giant block of text on the screen, or just all pictures on the screen. You want to have combination, somewhere between the two. I don't know if that's helpful.
[00:47:35] T: I mean, it reminds me of an exercise that my writing teachers would give me, and sometimes they had to walk through with programming students, where you give instructions on how to make a sandwich or something. I think, there's some dad on YouTube also, that will have his kids write instructions. He'll follow them exactly, and they never work out. I'm sure there's a balance between too much and too little detail.
[00:47:59] B: Yeah. Try not to overthink it. You might think you have the best and clearest instructions in the world, but you're never going to hit a 100% on that audience. There's always going to be someone that misunderstands what you wrote. If you really are writing for an audience, or trying to get somebody to understand something, or do something, then you probably want to test those steps out on other people. Listen to feedback. Don't take anything personally, write as clearly and concisely as possible and be open to improving it, I guess.
[00:48:30] T: Yeah. I guess, documentation is one of those weird areas where you don't actually own your writing. It's not going to save by then.
[00:48:36] B: Yeah. Unless, you're the developer and the writer at the same time, and that's sometimes the case. Usually, technical writers are writing about something that somebody else made, and another person is an expert in and then a third group of people are going to be using the thing. You're trying to bridge the people that know about a thing with the people that don't know about a thing, but need to know about it. Making relationships happen.
[00:48:51] T: The last part of my three-part question is, let's say that you don't have a technical writer, and you also don't want to write the docs yourself. How would you advocate for hiring a technical writer? What could you say they would add to the team?
[00:49:15] B: Well, we make stuff better. We make stuff easier to understand. I'd say, it's not everybody necessarily needs a technical writer. If you're trying to convey information to as wide an audience as possible, it's good to hire somebody who's good with words. If you have a technical product, or any product that needs to be understood by humans, I think is where a technical writer would fit in there. For example, I mean, most people know what an Ikea catalog looks like. If you don't, you can hit the Googles. It's instructional steps presented in a simple way that people can understand. It's mostly pictures. That is technical writing. Taking a concept and explaining it simply to the largest possible audience.
If people didn't have those steps, would they be able to assemble the furniture? Probably. They might mash their thumbs more with a hammer, or get angry at their significant others more. It's an important role to have, as far as, again, bridging the gap between understanding a product and explaining it to your audience. If you're selling a product or a service, you probably need clarity there.
[00:50:25] AR: What you're saying is that in order to — if you don't have a technical writer, and you want a technical writer hired, write really bad docs and be like, “Well, if we had a technical writer, these would be a lot better. Maybe we should hire one.”
[00:50:39] T: I mean, if that's the bar, I think a lot of people really want a technical writer and have not been getting on.
[00:50:46] B: Yeah. There's always examples of bad writing, or bad ways to convey information. I guess, at some point, someone has to make the business decision that we have to look more professional and be able to better explain our stuff to our audience. You can always hire a contractor, technical writer. There's resources online for temporary technical writers. I think, once you bring a technical writer into the fold, and if they're competent, and they can explain your product and make things look better, and be more understood, I think, you’d want one by your side forever, he said with a glimmer in his eye.
[00:51:25] AR: With that, Ben, where can people find you on the Internet?
[00:51:30] B: I'm glad you asked, Alex. I am available on the Interwebs. To be honest, I don't do too much social media stuff. I am on Twitter. On Twitter, I am @blipsandbleeps, all one word, obviously. I mostly use Twitter for information searching and reading news and things like that. You could DM me on there.
[00:51:48] AR: Maybe keeping up with your favorite podcasts about Vue?
[00:51:50] B: Keeping up with my favorite podcasts.
[00:51:52] T: And podcats about Vue.
[00:51:54] AR: Podcast. The only one.
[00:51:56] T: Well, I was also plugging cat, Enjoy the Vue Cats.
[00:51:59] AR: Oh, yeah. Your favorite Vue cats.
[00:52:02] B: And podcasters. Yeah.
[00:52:05] AR: Now, it is time to move on to this week's picks. Tessa, would you like to go first?
[00:52:12] T: Wow. What an honor to be chosen first. Yeah. My first pick, it's this book that I've seen the title from time to time. I'm like, “Oh, that does sound interesting, but I feel I would be upset if I read a book with this title, because then I probably would want the thing that the title said, and I don't have kids, so I haven't read it.” A friend of mine told me, it's great for everybody to read. She especially likes the audiobook. I was like, “Okay, I'll check it out.” The book is, The Book You Wish Your Parents Had Read, and Your Children Will Be Glad That You Did, by Phillippa Perry. It's a book about parent-child communication.
I think, I recommended another communication book a few episodes ago. This so far, seems very similar. It talks a lot about how experiences you have in early childhood can affect the way that you behave in adulthood, especially with your children. It's interesting, because it also alludes to when experiences get coded into our genes, which can be passed on. That's a completely different book. It's interesting. I've already had a couple of wow moments and then completely forgotten them, so I can't share them today. If I remember, I'll share them.
My other pick is completely different. It’s the jet 90 cordless stick vacuum. For most of the year, I wanted to get the Dyson V15 Plus, if I could, even though I feel it's a very extravagant purchase. Specifically, because it has an attachment for vacuuming hair. We've talked on the show about me having hair and also, recently my brush broke. Now I need to get a new brush, and I barely use it. Here is the problem. I had a discount for this vacuum that has also, it comes with this bend thing that it sucks out all the stuff from the vacuum. I haven't tried that yet.
I tried to vacuum for dusting. I’m like, I don't really have any big vacuum needs. I don't like carpet. I use it mostly for that. Then also, I used it to vacuum the fleece in my cages. It gets all the fur and stuff out of that. It's been good enough for my use. It comes with a million attachments. I've heard it's lighter than the Dyson. Yeah, if you need a vacuum, Samsung has a lot of sales, so that might be something worth checking out, if you don't have carpet. I heard it works okay on carpet, too.
[00:54:23] B: This is an upright, like a standard plug-in type of vacuum. It's not a handheld unit, right?
[00:54:29] T: It's a handheld stick vacuum. It also comes with this attachment that you can bend to different angles. I like that too. I can vacuum the top of my bookshelf and my fan and stuff like that.
[00:54:41] B: Cool.
[00:54:41] T: Wow. Okay, cool. Ben, do you have any picks for us?
[00:54:46] B: I've got a bunch of stuff I'd like to share. TV this week, myself and my girlfriend have been binging What We Do In The Shadows Season three. It's a comedy. It's on Hulu. It's about vampires. Very funny. It's a spin-off of the movie of the same name by Tyco, ATT and Jermaine Clement, I believe. It's great if you like funny stuff, if you like vampires. It's definitely not for kids. There's some gross stuff in there, but it is funny. Highly recommend that. Speaking of spooky stuff, we recently watched Old, the movie by M. Night Shyamalan that has been in theaters for, oh, gosh, probably two months now.
[00:55:25] T: Is this the one on the islands?
[00:55:28] B: Well, it's a secluded beach at a resort. Yes. The premise is, whoever's on this beach ages incredibly fast and OMG, what do we do about that? I'm not normally a horror movie guy, but this was, I thought it had lots of good twists and unexpected moments. Even though the premise sounds silly, it was still very entertaining for me. I do recommend. I guess, I'm a comic book guy. I love reading comic books in my spare time. The one I've been sucked into in the last two weeks is called Murder Falcon, which is a great title, because it's ridiculous to say and recommend on a podcast. Murder Falcon by Daniel Warren is the book. There's only eight parts to this. Eight issues.
It's essentially about a guy is down on his luck. He used to be the lead singer of a metal band and bad things have happened, and he's trying to get his life back together. Then all of a sudden, a large man/falcon comes through from another dimension called The Heavy. They have to fight evil by shredding on his guitar, basically. It's equal parts, I don't know, Bill and Ted's and heavy metal stuff and superhero adventure ridiculousness. It's fantastic. Check that out. I'm also an anime guy. I am definitely not an otaku, but I try to be. I enjoy anime, but I'm not an expert by any means.
[00:56:56] T: An otaku, just means somebody that's really, really into something. Or I guess, here really into anime.
[00:57:04] B: Right. It used to have quite negative connotations, I think. But it's since been more acceptable to use. It's a geek, I guess, in Japanese.
[00:57:12] T: Yeah. Now that all the anime fans have grown up.
[00:57:14] B: Right, right. I probably have, I don't know, 20 or so different anime on my list that I'm intending to check out at any given time. This one was recommended by a YouTuber, Glass Reflection. He picked this one, because it was his, I guess, his favorite comfort anime of the year. I started checking this out at the beginning of the pandemic. I'm slowly working my way through it, but I really enjoy it. It's called a YuRu Camp in Japanese. Why you are you camp? It's about a bunch of high school girls that go camping. That's about it. That sounds weird to explain.
[00:57:51] T: Yes, it does.
[00:57:54] B: Yeah, it does. It's comedy, slice of life. It's just fun to watch. It really is comfort anime, I guess. It's just relaxing and silly. Recommend it. The one other thing I had on my list, I just started reading it this week, it's a book called Wildwood by Colin Meloy. This is a young adult, middle grade, I guess, novel. It's about a girl whose baby brother gets kidnapped by crows and take into this mysterious wild woods in the Portland, Oregon area. Fantasy adventure stuff with a spooky twist.
I'm going on vacation to Portland in the next two weeks, so I decided I would read this book. Also, it's being made into a movie by the movie studio Laika, who make Coraline and ParaNorman and Boxtrolls and Kubo and the two strings and this stop motion flicks. This is their next movie. I'm reading the novel and it's quite good so far. Yeah, check it out.
[00:58:54] T: I think, they use Blender, right? Another open-source free software.
[00:58:59] B: They are stop motion. I don't know if Blender supports — I think, Blender is mostly CGI.
[00:59:04] T: Oh, that's right.
[00:59:07] B: I mean, they do have CGI elements in their films. They're not strict only hands-on, stop motion puppets. Maybe. Not sure.
[00:59:15] T: Cool. All right. Well, this week my pick is I picked up the Razor Kishi game controller. It is a game controller for your mobile phone. I've been doing a lot with Xbox Game Pass Ultimate, where you can stream games from the cloud. I've been wanting a smaller screen, so that if my wife is doing something with the large screen, I can sit next to her and still play video games, and we can have quality us time where we're not doing something together. I picked up this controller and it has been working lovely. It is very comfortable. I look forward to continue using it until the steam deck comes out, because I'm definitely getting one of those.
[01:00:04] B: You're using it with your phone, like your phone is on your lap and you're using it?
[01:00:09] AR: No, no. The way that it works is you plug your phone into it, and then it wraps around your phone. It's like holding a Switch, where the controllers are on either side of the screen, but it's for your phone. You can play video games. It's not Bluetooth. It's actually connecting through the charging port and controlling it that way. There is an iPhone version, and an Android version. There may be one that's actually for the iPad, if you want to use your iPad, like the way that it grips on to it is a little bit bigger, so that'll work.
[01:00:42] B: The games are streaming over your Wi-Fi, from your Xbox?
[01:00:47] AR: Yeah, you can stream from your Xbox. You can stream just in the cloud. I also have Steam Link set up, because I have a couple of gaming rigs. If there is a specific PC game that I want to play on my PC, but I'm not at my PC, I can do that. Just so that we're all clear, I'm not playing games that require you to have millisecond latency reaction times. I don't play games like that, because…
[01:01:12] T: People say latency?
[01:01:13] B: He did say latency. I was going to ask about that.
[01:01:16] AR: Yes.
[01:01:16] B: The correct way.
[01:01:17] AR: I have no idea, but that's the way I say it.
[01:01:19] T: I only heard latency.
[01:01:21] AR: I think, it depends on where you're from. I'm from the south wheel. We have more southern A's here. Latency is…
[01:01:29] T: But you say route, right? Not route, or do you say route?
[01:01:32] B: It depends. It depends.
[01:01:34] AR: Depends. Depends. Yeah.
[01:01:36] B: It's all the pick and logs. They're influencing your brain.
[01:01:39] AR: Yeah. If you're going somewhere, you are taking a route. If you are trying to do something in Vue, where you need to know what path you're on, it's a route.
[01:01:49] T: Yeah, that's what I'm talking about.
[01:01:51] B: Maybe.
[01:01:53] T: I guess, it’s like playing a Switch, if you don't have your switch connected to your TV, because then, it's not like playing the Switch.
[01:01:58] AR: Right.
[01:01:59] AR: Those are my picks for the week. Last thing, Ben, what headphones are you wearing? Do you like them?
[01:02:08] B: Thank you for asking, Alex. I am wearing the Bose QuietComfort 15. These are the wired noise cancelling model. These are old. These are 2011, but they still work great. When I bought them, they were about 300 bucks. It was a splurge purchase. I'm not normally an expensive headphone dude. I usually use what comes with the thing that I'm listening to. They are quiet. They are comfortable. I've been using them for 10 years and I love them. Highly recommend it. They have a Bluetooth version now that is supposed to be just as good. A little bit more expensive. Yeah.
[01:02:43] T: Do they sit on your ears? Or do they go over your ears? Is there any pressure on your head? Are you sensitive to headphones?
[01:02:52] B: They're the cup kind. That is over the ear, right? On the ear is flat. Is that correct?
[01:02:57] AR: Yeah, I think so.
[01:02:59] T: Yeah, on the ear is touching your ear.
[01:03:01] B: No, they completely encompass my ears. I don't have any issues with that. They don't pinch my ears. My ears don't get too hot, or anything. They're super comfy like that. You said something else. I can't remember what the other part of the question was.
[01:03:13] T: Do they put pressure on the top of your head?
[01:03:15] B: A little bit, but not much. It's got some good leather padding with some foam underneath it and I haven't had to replace that. I have replaced the cups once, maybe twice over 10 years. The actual cups on the phones themselves, but it was cheap, and they work great
[01:03:33] T: Cool. Awesome. Well, that's all for this week's episode. If you aren't following us on Twitter, head on over and find us @enjoythevuecast. If you like pictures of cats, you can also follow us @enjoythevuecats. Be sure to subscribe to the show on your pod catcher of choice. If you have time, leave a review, because it really helps us get up there and have better visibility.
Finally, the first rule of Vue Club is, be sure to tell at least five, or six colleagues about Vue Club. Thank you for listening. Remember, enjoy the Vue.
[01:04:17] T: Are we Vue Club? Is the show Vue Club?
[01:04:19] AR: Yes.
[01:04:21] T: Okay. Bye.
[01:04:21] A: Bye.
[01:04:25] B: Bye.