Monthly Archives: October 2016

Contributing to Mekon’s Bitesize on Business Rules – 2: Why You Need to Be in Control of Your Business Rules

(A note beforehand: This post is attributed to both Business Rules and S1000D blogs on this site, since the post and especially the article referenced in it, relate strongly to both topics in equal strength. This means that subscribers to both blogs will receive the notification on this post twice, once for each blog. I apologize in advance for this inconvenience.)

Discover of how and why business rules are vital to your success in this second article I have contributed to Mekon‘s Bitesize series on S1000D Business Rules.

This article is about what can go wrong if you are not in control of your business rules. It also underlines the importance to have a good understanding and overview of your business rules’ current status and its relation to the current state of your product or service.

Click here to go to the article.

Picture: like in music also in business rules you need to control all the “tones”.

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(Photograph © librestock.com under key-phrase “to be in control”)

A new S1000D blog category with a strange name – A Fiction Writer’s Musings on S1000D

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Recently, I self-published a book and I made a presentation. These two events, or rather the whole creative thinking connected to them brought me to this idea. To start a new category on my S1000D blog called “A Fiction Writer’s Musings on S1000D”.

It might appear strange, but if you have seen my presentation at this year’s S1000D User Forum in Seville you might be able to guess why.

A year or even a month ago, I might not have been sure myself what this is all about, but now I am convinced that this is a good idea.

The epiphany came when I exclaimed in a discussion in a break between the forum’s sessions in Seville, “Data modules are so much like scenes in a novel!” And after that I couldn’t stop the flow of realizations. “Just as scenes, data modules have a start (for a procedural data module it is preliminary requirements), an end (close-up requirements) and one setting (a unit or assembly). And in a way just like the scenes in a novel they tell a very short and self-contained story, or a future short story, that is how the given procedure is to take place.”

The previous statement during the presentation I made at the S1000D User Forum in Seville this year, claiming that technical manuals are books, whatever format they are in or however interactive they are, only strengthened this flow of parallels between books in general and S1000D conformant technical publications in particular.

After the User Forum I jotted down a list of topics I could think of when relating S1000D and its constructs to story-telling, and I came up with seven of them immediately.

Already at the User Forum and also after, during the training courses on S1000D, I started bringing up these parallels and the result was inspiring. Aha reactions and wide smiles of finally understanding a complicated topic. And I felt that after bringing such parallels forward, about the matter I love so much to those who start dealing with it and dread it (like I did twelve years ago), I felt that they began to like S1000D and the ideas behind it or at least started to look at it with curiosity.

So yes, this is the main reason and motivation behind this category: to take fear from such a substantial and multidimensional standard, and also to show its brilliance and again multidimensionality as well as also connect it to what we all already know and love, story-telling.

I wish both, you and me, an interesting, curious, fun and valuable journey on this yet unpaved ground.

Copyright © 2016 by Victoria Ichizli-Bartels

Cheerleading for Writers: Z – Zeal

This is the last article in “Cheerleading for Writers”. I hope you enjoyed the blog collection (which will become a book soon). It was a joy for me to write it. Writing it boosted my energy to work on my other projects.

For this last article I have chosen the word zeal.

Here is what Oxford Dictionaries (https://en.oxforddictionaries.com/definition/zeal) say on its definition online, “Great energy or enthusiasm in pursuit of a cause or an objective.”

And I think there is no better word to end this (future) book with.

Because this is what cheerleading is meant for: to motivate in finding, discovering, tanking this great energy and enthusiasm to pursue what we love to do.

I hope the articles in this series made you smile, helped you see how strong and amazingly creative you are. And especially, how unique! There is no one like you and no one can write your stories like you do. Only YOU can. Even somebody else’s stories, like fairy tales, if you tell them and put your perspective, your feelings, your thoughts into your retelling of them, the stories will be completely different. They will become your stories.

So, go on, soak up the life, its stories, its colours, take it all in, experience it, and share it with the world how you see and percept it. The light generated by your prism of seeing (and feeling) is one of a kind.

Happy, happy writing, dear writers friends!

 

Picture: Sweet poppy blooms in October. Plants are definitely some of the most zealous of creatures.

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“Cheerleading For Writers”, copyright © 2016 by Victoria Ichizli-Bartels

Cheerleading for Writers: Y – Yearning and Yawning: The Alleged Yo-yo Effect of Curiosity

Here is one of the dialogs I had with myself about the powers that inspire us and bring us to places we had never expected visiting, before we dared to jump into the ocean of creativity.

“Passion, curiosity, searching and keeping an open mind for wonders, these all help us wake up in the morning and step into our days with enthusiasm.” The worrying me draws her brows together in spite of the positive statement she just made. She seems to need this facial movement to let her fully express what she is going to say next. “But what about those moments when we yawn, when we have had enough, and simply need a nap or another kind of break from our curiosity driven natures?”, she asks.

“What about them?”, the laid-back me raises her brows.

“Do they bring us back to the points where we where at the beginning, just like a Yo-yo does after reaching the top?”

“I don’t think so.”

“But it does feel like that all the time!” The worried me pulls her shoulders up. “We are often knocked off with exhaustion after reaching the top. All that elation lasts maybe a second, and then, Boom!, the head is empty again. Aren’t we supposed to move forward?”

“Hmm, it’s a good question.” The laid-back me leans back in her chair and puts her hand around the espresso cup standing on the table in front of her.

“I know!” The worried me leans forward and seems to want to crawl into my computer in an attempt to make the things go faster.

The laid-back me sips her coffee and says, “I have an idea. What if the creativity and the achievements connected with it are like a great cup of coffee? What if after drinking it up, you feel so wonderful that you are already looking forward to the next one. This is the next step you’ve been talking about.” The laid-back me takes another sip and continues. “At the same time you are aware that the coffee in a dirty cup with cold coffee stains won’t be as good as the one you just had. So you go and wash the cup. This is what the elation and euphoria about your achievement do. They wash and free your mind for the next portion of creative challenge. But before you, the cup, can have another coffee, you need to dry up and get warm again for the next portion of coffee.” The laid-back me finishes her espresso and stands up to wash her cup.

The worried me opens her eyes wide and notices herself leaning back in her chair.

Epilogue: Yawning is not an enemy of yearning to be creative. It is rather it’s partner, making sure that we get a break, get “washed”, warm and ready for the next creative leap forward.

P.S. Yawn became one of my favourite words after I read, at 24, a sweet tale in German, where a little baby yawned and caused the whole world to yawn, which according to the author was a good thing because on this day all went early to bed. This was the very first story I read in full in German language and it immediately became one of my favourite. Before this story, I thought of yawning as something unnecessary or even annoying, but after reading the story, which made me smile and feel unexpectedly and extremely happy, I now enjoy when people yawn around me.

Picture: Speaking so much of yawning — of course I had to search in stocks online for a picture of a someone yawning. I found this sweet puppy.

BarnImages: free high-resolution photography for your website, blog, app, and any other need. http://barnimages.com/
Credits: http://barnimages.com/

“Cheerleading For Writers”, copyright © 2016 by Victoria Ichizli-Bartels

Cheerleading for Writers: X – X-ing Out (Or a How to Face Self-Edits)

In the article starting with an E, we’ve talked about editing, and what emotions might rush through us when we open a file with our manuscript sent to us by our editor.

Recently I have found myself struggling with self-edits. As I write this article, I am in the process to incorporate the second self-edits of my soon-to-be-published book on business rules, mainly targeted at small businesses. The self-edits on paper went on some days easily and a bit slower on others. But they didn’t stagnate for a few days in a row. However incorporating them into the manuscript on my computer did. For more than three days in a row.

The reason was simple. The pages were full of hand-made notes. In case of some pages it seemed sometimes that changes needed to be made on every row. Apart from that I realized two chapters had to change places. This would mean at least some modifications of the text inside those chapters, but maybe also those adjacent to them.

I didn’t expect so much change to come in the second self-edit. I thought something like that came in the first self-edit, not the second. Today, I am actually not quite sure which of the self-edits was harder for my previous books, but my brain had this idea of self-edits gradually becoming easier with each new edit. I guessed wrong. At least for this mentioned non-fiction book.

Was this erroneous expectation the reason for my procrastination? I don’t know now, I didn’t know it at that time and it probably didn’t matter at all.

What mattered was how to move from there.

Inspired by my “gamified” style of work — my notebook with to-do lists carries the name “Victoria’s Game Book” — I came up with the following idea. “Why not give myself a point for implementing each change, whether it is a X (deletion), insertion, or both, in the text?” I thought. “If I do so, then I would concentrate on each step, because points can only be gathered one by one in this case. While working on one of those changes I might forget about the daunting appearance of the whole project and just be busy gathering those points.”

I can report now, this approach helped. I stopped counting the points for each edit and incorporated change at some point, but this approach did let me step over my procrastination and reclaim fun in working on every stage of my projects again.

I read recently that playing games at work might be very motivating but also with some negative by-products. One of these negative side effects was the apparent decrease in productiveness after the motivating game had finished.

But what if we don’t stop playing? What if we take every step in the projects we pursue as a draw or turn in a strategic game?

Do you remember the famous quote by George Bernard Shaw, “We don’t stop playing because we grow old; we grow old because we stop playing.”

We don’t have to stop playing at all. Life is a fun game. Let’s play it. Let’s stay young.

Each project has of course its game rules and we are the game designers, who develop and adjust them. The main adjustment we have to make is how to bring the fun factor into the project we have to carry out. And remember, we ourselves, are also the customers, the players of these games we design and develop.

Gathering as many points I can for the given project is definite fun for me. Once I managed to gather 15 points in a day, by addressing many small and urgent tasks. I felt extremely elated by the end of the day.

Now I am off to my next project game of today, which happens to be the self-edit work I mentioned above. As I edit and post this article for the Cheerleading for Writers, I gladly report that I have a good chance of finishing this previously seemingly daunting second self-edit today.

And what’s your next project game?

Picture: I saw this dress a couple of weeks ago while walking down my favourite pedestrian street in Aalborg. I guess wearing a Pokémon dress would definitely gamify one’s day. How can you be possibly be overly serious wearing that dress? 😀

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“Cheerleading For Writers”, copyright © 2016 by Victoria Ichizli-Bartels