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Meeting Recap: Open Mic Event (or Improving Presentation Skills Doing Shameless Self-Promotion)
2010, Q2 (August 07, 2013)
by Christina Eftekhar

Christina Eftekhar
Christina Eftekhar

The second annual open mic event was held at the Cameron Village Library on Saturday, May 22nd. Several STC Carolina members and a few non-members gathered to share their expertise and experiences. This year, most topics focused on the trend of open-source technologies, where users demand access to free tools and information.

Greg Thompson, principal of Renaissance Information Design, shared his presentation, "Free and not quite so Free Business Management Tools for Freelancers." Greg shared pricing for Microsoft Office, Salesforce,WebEx, and GoToMeeting. Instead of using these expensive "usual suspects," freelancers may want to consider open source and inexpensive software, including:

  • Google Apps (such as Google Docs) and OpenOffice instead of MS Office
  • Zoho for customer management
  • Carbonite for backup and restore
  • YouSendIt for transferring large files
  • Skype for IP conference calls and screen sharing
  • Yugma instead of WebEx

Greg's presentation spurred a lengthy discussion about Web 2.0 and cloud computing, which allowed for a graceful transition to Peggy Harvey's presentation on Twitter. Peggy shared her experiences with Twitter, especially how it helped her get a free iPad at this year's STC Summit.

Peggy also shared many helpful do's and don'ts for branding with Twitter; how to use third party Twitter applications (such as Tweetdeck); and how to know what and whom to follow. Peggy's talk led the way for a useful discussion about professional uses for other social media sites, like LinkedIn and Facebook.

Sheila Loring shared her five tips to help technical writers make their lives easier, or at least keep their head in the game: simplify your writing; keep learning; embrace new technologies; network; and learn to play well with others.

Elaine Abousalh presented her volunteer project, translating video subtitles using dotSUB, a web site where anyone can upload videos and add subtitles in most any language. Elaine walked the audience through setting up an account, uploading videos, working on "open" videos, and adding subtitles. Interestingly, TED, a popular web site that hosts videos of discussions and presentations, is currently working with dotSUB on their Open Translation Project.

Rounding out the afternoon, Betsy Kent recounted a first-hand experience with PDF security — or more accurately, the lack thereof. Betsy shocked everyone with the statistics of how many viruses in the last few years were spread using PDFs. She gave some tips and several resources that explain how to make sure your PDFs are less likely to be used as conduits for malicious code.

In addition to lunch at several hotspots in Cameron Village, attendees enjoyed expert advice, interesting discussions, and, of course, new connections.

Look for next year's open mic event on the calendar of events page.

Christina is a technical writer based in RTP, North Carolina. Christina can be reached at c dot s dot eftekhar at gmail dot com. End of article.

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