Issue 21, 26 August 1999
In this issue...
Feature article: Collecting your e-mail when travelling
Resource of the week: Technical Communication WebRing
Tip of the week: Finding more information on using FrameMaker
Handbook of nonsexist writing is available
Announcement: ASTC meeting in Melbourne, Australia
Many editors (traditional as well as electronic) communicate as much or more by e-mail these days as they do using the telephone. If you're in that situation, you may need to collect your e-mail when away from your home or office.
Managing e-mail when travelling can be easy or frustratingly difficult, depending on your situation. I've just helped several international visitors collect their e-mail under conditions that were quite outside their previous experience (mainly not having any local dial-up number for their internet service provider (ISP). This experience made me realize that most people, even those who use e-mail daily, aren't familiar with how it works, and reminded me that only a couple of years ago, I was in that state of ignorance myself. So... I hope this article and the next one will help someone. If you have information to add to what I've said, I'd be delighted to receive it.
My apologies to the Mac-users among us. This article describes methods that work for users of Windows 95 and similar systems. I'd love to add some Mac-specific details to my notes, if someone would send me some information!
In most cases, all you need to collect your e-mail is some way to connect your computer to the Internet-usually a phone number, username and password for any internet service provider (ISP). Once you are connected to the Internet, you can pick up e-mail from any account anywhere, as long as you know the account name, address and password.
Well, almost any account -- it needs to be:
- Not on a company server that's accessible only through a direct dial-up
number to the company's intranet. If your account is on a company server,
see "Collecting e-mail from a company account."
- Either a POP3 account (explained later), or an account that has a Web-based access method. (Web-based access can be optional, as with AOL, or the only access method, as with HotMail or Yahoo! CompuServe accounts will soon be optionally accessible on the Web, too, I'm told.) If you're collecting your e-mail using Outlook Express, Netscape Communicator, or Eudora, you probably have a POP3 account. If you're on Compu- Serve, you can optionally set up your account to be POP3; GO POPMAIL for details.
This article describes several common situations:
- Collecting e-mail from a company account
- Avoiding long-distance phone charges
- Dealing with attachments
- Collecting e-mail using your own computer and account
Part 2 will cover:
- Collecting e-mail using your own computer and someone else's account
- Collecting your e-mail using someone else's computer
- Collecting your e-mail using a public-access internet connection
If you're collecting e-mail from a company account, be sure to find out before you leave:
- What phone number to use to dial in, and how to set up (or change) that
number in your e-mail software.
- What if any programs, setups, or passwords you need to enable you to collect your e-mail remotely. For example, to collect Lotus Notes e-mail, you need to have Notes installed on your computer and configured to "replicate" your e-mail database on the company intranet.
Your system administrator should be able to tell you what you need and how to set it up. Arrangements vary so much that I can't begin to give you a step-by-step procedure.
Another possibility is to have your e-mail redirected to your personal account while you're away from the office. You'll probably need to ask your system administrator how to redirect mail, and be sure to test that it works-before you leave on the trip!
If your ISP doesn't have a local dial-up number where you're going, or a 1800 (or similar) number you can call, you have two choices to avoid making a long-distance telephone call:
- Get a second account with an ISP that does have a local dial-up number
where you're going and connect to the Internet through that account.
- Use someone else's account to dial a local telephone number and connect to the Internet.
In both cases, once you are connected to the Internet, you can collect your
mail from your usual e-mail account, as described in:
Collecting e-mail using your own computer and account
Collecting your e-mail using someone else's computer (next time)
Downloading large attachments can be a problem, either because you're using your own machine but running up a large hotel telephone bill, or because you're using someone else's machine and the files are too large to fit on a diskette. You therefore need to ensure that your mail doesn't download automatically, and that it stays on the server until you download it or delete it. (If you need that big file now for your work, you can choose to download it; but you may not want to waste time and money on a newsletter from a hobby group, for example. You want to collect that file later.)
Somewhere in the settings for your account will be a checkbox for "leave mail on server" and another one to skip downloading messages over a certain size. Select settings that are relevant to your situation.
Here's what to do when you have your own computer and a local telephone number for your ISP:
- Change your dial-up information to use a different telephone number.
- Dial in to the new telephone number and connect to the Internet.
- Open your e-mail program and send and receive your mail as usual.
Step 1. Change your dial-up information to use a different telephone number
I recommend that you don't change your normal account information. Instead, to change your dial-up information, first create a new icon for your travelling needs. You can change phone numbers in it as often as you need, without accidentally losing (or forgetting) your normal dial-up information.
You can set up a separate "travelling connection" icon before you leave home:
- Open Windows' Dial-Up Networking folder. In Windows 95, this folder is
usually found under Programs > Accessories; in Windows 98, it's usually
found under Programs > Accessories > Communications.
- Double-click the Make New Connection icon.
- On the first page of the Make New Connection wizard, give the connection
a name, then click Next.
- On the next page of the wizard, fill in the telephone number information
and click Next. If you don't know what phone number you'll be using, just
put in some fake one and change it later when you find out the real one.
- On the next page, click Finish.
- Make a shortcut (icon) on the desktop for the Travel Connection.
Step 2. Dial in to the new telephone number and connect to the Internet
The first time you use the new connection, don't let your e-mail software dial it automatically. First verify that the information is correct.
- Double-click on your Travel Connection icon.
- On the Connect To dialog:
- Check that your User name is correct, or change it if necessary (for
example, if you are using your second account).
- Type the password for the dial-up account you are using, but don't
select the Save password checkbox (for security reasons).
- Verify the telephone number, then click Connect.
- Check that your User name is correct, or change it if necessary (for example, if you are using your second account).
Note: the next time you use this connection, the user name and telephone number will be those you used this time. You can either set up your e-mail software to use this connection automatically, or you can continue to make the connection manually.
Step 3. Open your e-mail program and send and receive your mail as usual
I hope you don't need to be told how to do this!
Betsy Pfister writes, "I have a small Web site that seems to be helping young tech writers, judging from the e-mail I receive. In my article at http://www.frii.com/~bpfister/experience.htm I mention that technical writers should learn about technical editing if they want to improve their writing. I thought you might enjoy reading it." Note: this link is obsolete.
I did indeed enjoy it, and I can see why people find it useful. I also enjoyed reading the other articles Betsy has put on her site. In addition, I learned about TComm, the WebRing for Technical Communicators. For more information, go to: http://nav.webring.yahoo.com/hub?ring=tcomm&id=14&hub (Note: this link is obsolete.)
In addition to the user guide and online help, you might like to try:
Adobe Framemaker 5.5 Classroom in a book, Adobe Systems Inc., 1997, ISBN 1568303998.
Mastering FrameMaker 5, by Thomas Neuburger, ISBN 0782117120. This book is out of print, but a revised edition (for FrameMaker 6) is expected to be published in 2000.
FrameMaker for Dummies, by Sarah O'Keefe, IDG Books Worldwide, 1999, ISBN 0764506374.
Adobe user forums: http://www.adobe.com/support/forums.html
Irene Wong firstname.lastname@example.org writes,
"What about checking for copyright problems/permissions etc. If it is OK, does the owner want an acknowledgment? Is that there? I think Tarutz in editing a whole document in 30 minutes advises looking at the "legal" side of what is in front of you. It applies for editing illustrations, something I did for a major bicentenial publications (and a little since)."
Dr. Victoria Wicks Wicks@Springer.de writes,
"I bought my copy of The Handbook of Nonsexist Writing for Writers, Editors and Speakers by Casey Miller and Kate Swift in England last year. It is the 3rd British edition published by The Women's Press in 1995 (ISBN 0-7043-4442-4). Maybe anyone who needs a copy can try and order it from England (via http://www.bookshop.co.uk or similar). I find it is a valuable resource and very entertaining as well."
Any readers in the Melbourne area are welcome to come along to an informal ASTC (Vic) meeting to hear me (Jean Weber) lead an informal discussion about "Editing Online Help and Web Sites". The session will be on Wednesday, 1 September 1999, starting at 6:30 PM, at Borders Books and Music, 500 Chapel St., Shop 1 South Yarra, Victoria. (I'm told it's in the Jam Factory, at the Corner of Chapel Street and Garden Street.) $5 for non- members of ASTC (Vic). We'll finish by 8:30 PM at the latest; those who wish can then join me for a meal at a nearby Italian restaurant.
Talk summary: What's the same or different about editing online help and web sites, compared to editing printed documents (topic length, chunking, navigation and retrieval aids)? What do you look for? What are some of the usability and accessibility issues? How do you mark up your edits?
© Copyright 1999, Jean Hollis Weber. All rights reserved.
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