As Bredemarket, and in my previous positions, I have written a number of technical pieces of varying lengths. Many of these were designed to communicate non-technical concepts to a technical audience.
I just completed such a piece on Saturday. And no, it wasn’t a blog post or white paper, or even a web page analysis.
It was a set of instructions on how to use three remotes to access three pieces of entertainment hardware.
A couple of years ago, lightning hit the home of one of my relatives. While the home was for the most part undamaged, her living room television set was fried. So for the past two years, she has had to go to her bedroom when she wanted to watch TV.
So on Friday, my wife and I trooped down to the store and purchased a smart TV, along with a newer DVD player, and a swivel mount to hold the smart TV on her cabinet.
Early Saturday afternoon, the mount, TV set, and DVD player needed to be set up. In true Bredemarket fashion, I did not get involved with the drilling or any of the other hardware installation; two friends took care of that part. (I know my limits.) They even took care of the cabling, so that both the cable box and the new DVD were connected to the new TV via the two HDMI ports.
Once that was done, it was time for the software guy (me) to go through the TV setup, and then to pair both of the new entertainment devices with the existing cable remote. If all had worked well, all three of the devices could have been controlled through the single cable remote, with some minimal instructions to my relative on how to switch between all the devices.
(It is relevant to note that my relative is a senior citizen, so the instructions needed to be easy-to-understand AND minimal.)
Sadly, all did NOT work well. I ran into two problems.
- First, despite trying all of the suggested codes, I was unable to pair the DVD to the cable remote.
- Second, even if I had successfully paired the DVD, the cable remote was lacking an all-essential “TV input” button, so the cable remote on its own could not switch between the TV’s HDMI1 input (cable) and the HDMI2 input (DVD). The cable company offers newer remote controls, but that didn’t help me on Saturday.
So that’s when the writer kicked in. Using my non-preferred word processing platform (Notes on my iPhone), I drafted a short document with four sections:
- The introductory section: “When watching [cable system], the [cable system] remote can control [cable system] functions plus the TV volume (and turning the TV on and off)”
- Five steps “(t)o switch from watching [cable system] to watching the [brand] DVD” (using both the TV remote and the DVD remote, but not the OTHER DVD remote that looks similar)
- Five steps “(t)o switch from watching the [brand] DVD to watching the [cable system]” (using both the TV remote and the cable remote)
- A fourth section, “John’s technical notes,” in case someone other than my relative wanted to figure out what was going on
I didn’t try to incorporate graphics into my Notes text, so I had to use textual descriptions such as “the circles control.” After initial testing (me) and a second test (my wife), the instructions were printed.
Technically the project is not complete because the document has not gone through the final testing stage (my relative), but this is probably the most important document that I’ve written this week.
Yes, the project that I completed for my client on Friday was also important, but you have to keep family happy.
And no, Bredemarket cannot offer this service to paying clients because I usually work…um, remotely.