This is the Tumblr of ATTW (, an active organization of teachers, researchers, and teacher/practitioners of technical communication across a range of academic and professional institutions.
Association of Teachers of Technical Writing
July 2, 2014
ATTW Web Editor Position Call for Applications

ATTW’s Executive Committee requests applications for its web editor position, to begin September 15, 2014. The web editor will assist the ATTW by implementing and maintaining networked resources that enable the continued growth and development of the organization. The technical and creative work required in the position also offers opportunities for, and may contribute to, the applicant’s digital research agenda.

Parties interested should send the following by the August 22, 2014 deadline to Michele Simmons at

  • letter of application responding to the needs noted in the following description,
  • vita, and
  • a letter of support from the applicant’s administration (department chair and dean) both for release time and graduate student assistance (to be jointly supported by ATTW up to $3,000 per year if needed).

The ATTW web editor will have the following duties:

Read More

March 9, 2014

One of the big questions you have to ask yourself when looking for a cheap alternative is whether you can live without picture in picture (i.e. the webcam footage of the user pulling faces as they do the tasks). It might be the industry standard nowadays, but a few years ago things were very different. Back in the 1990s it was normal to scale screen footage down to VHS resolution and record it onto tape, making the footage impossibly blurry (1024×768 down to 330×480 is never going to be legible). Later on, it became fashionable to record onto DVD-Video, which is higher resolution (720×480), but still fairly unreadable. If you wanted, you could add a hardware video mixer and a second camera to allow picture-in-picture of the user’s face. This was fairly common but not particularly useful since it didn’t escape from the fact that you could barely make out what was happening on screen.

The big breakthrough came when screen recording software appeared, allowing pixel perfect full-resolution recording along with audio via an attached microphone. Apps like Lotus Screencam and Camstudio were among the first entrants. Since then, masses of cheap screen recording apps have appeared, though not all are appropriate for user testing – some output strange video formats, others slow the test machine down or crash after 20 minutes. To save you the trouble of finding out the hard way, here’s a list of recommendations.

(Source: )

March 8, 2014
Google Breathes New Life Into Project Ara With a Developer Kit and Conference

Tech Republic (02/28/14) Conner Forrest 

Google intends to revitalize interest in its ambitious Project Ara by releasing a developer kit and holding the first in a series of developer conferences for the modular smartphone, which is designed to let users upgrade individual components without purchasing a new phone. Motorola’s Advanced Technologies and Projects group will host the conference in mid-April, and Gartner’s Ken Dulaney says Google’s strategy reflects its classical approach of opening new technology to the market for experimentation. “As an open project I think it has legs,” he says. Project Ara’s goal is to open-source smartphones’ hardware elements and reduce electronic waste while giving control back to smartphone owners. There are questions as to whether Project Ara will appeal to everyday consumers, as well as whether the average smartphone user wants such a level of control. “This isn’t going to be an average person’s phone because they don’t want that kind of complexity,” says Forrester Research analyst Frank Gillett. “But, this is an opportunity for innovation.” Gillett also notes a modular model promises to offer some interesting mix-and-match opportunities as components continue to shrink and modular design gets better.

View Full Article

The Next Wave of Cars May Use Ethernet

Computerworld (02/28/14) Lucas Mearian 

Automakers are no longer using Ethernet in cars just for on-board diagnostics, and are now using the technology in advanced driver-assistance systems and infotainment platforms as well as to connect rear vision cameras to a car’s infotainment or safety system. Automakers view Ethernet as a good way to provide the necessary bandwidth for connecting different data-streaming sensors, including two- and three-dimensional and infrared cameras, in addition to radar sensors for sophisticated driver-assistance systems. Industry experts also envision using Ethernet to connect a display head unit and telematic transceiver systems for global positioning systems and vehicle-to-vehicle communications. The Open Alliance and the IEEE 802.3 working group are leading the effort to create a single Ethernet standard, and the first draft is expected this year. The two groups are working to establish 100 Mbps and 1 Gbps Ethernet as de facto standards. However, Ethernet could increase the number of proprietary auto networking specifications ten fold or more. “By around 2020 or so, we estimate there will be about 100 million Ethernet ports worldwide in automobiles,” says TE Connectivity’s Patrick Popp. “Ethernet is here to stay.”

View Full Article

March 7, 2014
Computer Coding More in Demand Than Languages, Survey Shows

The Guardian (03/02/14) Ben Quinn 

Software programming should take priority over modern languages in British schools, according to a survey of more than 2,000 adults across the United Kingdom. Fifty-two percent of participants selected coding as their top choice, compared with 38 percent for French lessons, 32 percent for Spanish, 25 percent for German, and 24 percent for Mandarin Chinese. offers the Hour of Code, a series of free tutorials designed to show students the basics of programming in an hour. The tutorials feature well-known characters from apps and games. “While we want to demystify the world of coding and make it fun for kids and their parents, the research shows that more and more people are realizing that these skills will be inherent as the digital world becomes the everyday,” says Avid Larizadeh, head of Hour of Code UK. Games Workshop founder Ian Livingstone says programming is no longer a niche skill as computing has become essential knowledge. “Code powers innovation and creativity,” Livingstone says. “Learning to code will enable children to become problem-solvers and digital-makers for jobs that don’t yet exist.”

View Full Article 

Phone’s Wi-Fi Hotspot Acts as SOS Beacon in Disasters

New Scientist (02/27/14) Paul Marks 

Researchers at the Fraunhofer Institute for Applied Information Technology have developed an app that turns a smartphone into a wireless SOS beacon that could help rescuers find people who have been trapped in collapsed buildings after natural disasters or bombings. The researchers say they noticed the messages people sometimes broadcast by changing the name of their home Wi-Fi networks and thought a short SOS message could be inserted into the name field of a phone’s Wi-Fi hotspot as well, which broadcasts a radio signal without requiring Internet access. Rescuers can then read the message with their own Wi-Fi app. The researchers developed a victim app and a seeker app, both of which are based on robust and receivable Wi-Fi radio. With the victim app, a trapped person can write a 27-character message, and a seeker app up to 100 meters away can pick it up, according to the researchers. The researchers want the victim app to be incorporated in Android or iOS operating systems because users do not expect to be in a disaster and are unlikely to download the app ahead of time.

View Full Article

March 6, 2014
Meet Oppia, Google’s New Open Source Project That Allows Anyone to Create an Interactive Learning Experience

TechCrunch (02/27/14) Rip Empson 

Google has launched Oppia, an online, open source education project that enables users to develop interactive activities for educational purposes. As educational content is increasingly delivered via video and short message service, Google says it often lacks opportunities for interactivity, dialogue, and feedback. Oppia will serve as a framework to enable anyone to quickly create interactive learning experiences and add them to their site. Google calls Oppia a “smart feedback system” that asks the learner questions and adjusts instruction based on responses. In addition, Oppia collects information on learner interaction and content provided, which is shared with content creators to enable them to refine lessons. Based on an extensible framework, Oppia allows developers to add their own inputs and extend the range of potential formats and response types that are compatible with the system. The system also enables users to collaborate in developing and editing explorations, with version control. Parameters can be linked to a particular learner, which enables teachers to build deeper interactive experiences. Google says Oppia is not officially a Google product, suggesting the company intends for developers to take ownership while the community assumes maintenance.

View Full Article

Battery-Free Technology Brings Gesture Recognition to All Devices

UW News (WA) (02/27/14) Michelle Ma 

University of Washington computer scientists have created AllSee, a gesture-recognition system that runs without batteries and enables gesture control for electronic devices that are hidden from sight. Existing TV signals serve as AllSee’s power source and a way of picking up gesture commands. The system uses a small sensor that attaches to an electronic device, with an ultra-low-power receiver that detects and classifies gesture data from wireless transmissions. The sensors detect specific amplitude changes of wireless signals in the air created by various gestures. Because the sensors use power from wireless transmissions, they use three to four times less power than existing gesture-recognition systems, enabling mobile devices to leave the gesture technology always enabled. Unlike AllSee, existing gesture-recognition systems must be manually enabled, require that devices be within sight, and drain phone batteries if left on. By attaching sensors to household devices, the researchers say AllSee could enable users to interact via gesture with everyday objects and connect them to the Internet as the Internet of Things becomes a reality.

View Full Article

March 5, 2014


VIDEO: Cross-Platform UX Research in the Multi-Screen World


(Source: )

March 3, 2014
Necklace Projectors Will Throw Emails Onto the Floor

New Scientist (02/17/14) Paul Marks 

Researchers at the University of Ulm have created a projector that is embedded in jewelry to enable consumers to use their hands or the floor as a screen for reading email and other digital information. The Ambient Mobile Pervasive Display projects an SMS graphic in front of the user, who then uses hand gestures to view who the message is from and to read it on their hand. The researchers believe the device could fulfill most functions that normally require a screen, and could perhaps be particularly useful in navigation. A three-dimensional sensor helps the system switch from hand to ground projection by calculating the distance to the ground and to the user’s hand to immediately adjust focal length. A test version of the system used a laptop carried in a backpack to control the projector and transmit updates to the device. The team believes it can scale down this system, and a consumer version could be ready for indoor use within two years. In April, the researchers will present their work at the ACM CHI Conference on Human Factors in Computing Systems in Toronto.

View Full Article