I am a freelance technical author, based in Blackwater on the
Surrey/Hants border in England, close to the M3 which runs from London
To contact me, send a mail message.
I can get involved in your documentation projects on a full-time or
part-time basis, depending on my availability.
Although I work mainly as an individual, assisted by my wife Fiona who
does various administrative jobs, I also have the support of a wider
network of qualified and experienced technical authors who are members of
the ISTC Independent Authors' Special
Interest Group. Collectively we are able to manage large and complex
projects that may require the use of additional resources at short notice.
Low Cost Publishing
for Industrial and Retail Markets
In addition to my technical authoring work, I have an interest in
ancient history and have written and published a book called
Forgotten History of the Western
People: From the Earliest Origins. This was formatted to print-ready
condition using Microsoft Word for the pages and Paint Shop Pro for the
paperback cover. Copies are produced using small volume digital printing,
typically 25 or 50 at a time, although there is no lower limit to a print
run. The printer, Lightning Source, runs a fulfilment service so that my
book is offered for wholesale distribution and is available in retail
shops by special order. When a book is ordered through the fulfilment
service, a single copy is printed and sent to the shop, a process known as
"print on demand". I also have my owneCommerce
website, linked to WorldPay, so that people can place orders and
they are supplied from the copies that I keep in stock.
Small volume digital printing costs slightly more than offset printing,
(about £2 extra per copy) but huge savings can be made by printing
exactly the number you want, and there is no need for long print runs. The
benefits are as follows:
- For commercial and industrial purposes, you can print the number you
need for a specific business requirement. For example, if some of your
clients or business colleagues are coming to a meeting, you might want
to give each of them a manual for your latest product.
- If you have written a book for retail markets, you don't have to go
cap in hand to a publisher saying "Will you publish my book?".
The setup costs for digital printing are typically less than £100,
so that it becomes easily affordable to individual authors. There are
other costs associated with marketing and distribution, but we are
looking at a few hundred pounds and not thousands. You can take control
of the situation and publish your own book, and I would be happy to
offer a consultancy service to anyone who is embarking on this process
for the first time.
I can also assist with the preparation of eBooks, which look the same as
printed books except that they are distributed electronically and are read
from a computer screen or hand-held device. Files downloaded from the
Internet can be linked to the user's hardware or zip disk to protect the
author's copyright and prevent redistribution.
I have written an article on eBooks and Print on Demand, for the
Spring 2003 issue of Communicator, the journal of the
Production of Manuals and User Guides
I have a wide experience of technical authoring in a variety of
industries, including computer software and
I write and publish manuals using appropriate documentation and graphics
tools such as Microsoft Word, FrameMaker, Ventura Publisher and Paint Shop
Pro. I can also use SGML (Standard Generalised Markup Language) to create
structured documents. If necessary, I can prepare PostScript output files
for printing the finished manuals.
I can also produce documentation in the form of on-line help
Computing and Engineering Documentation
I have experience of producing manuals and help text for the engineering
industries, where the products and systems are usually computer-based to
some extent. My work has included the following:
Starting from either finished or development versions of a client's
product, I evaluate and test it, and write about it from my observations
and results. Since I initially approach a product as a new user, the
documentation reflects the user's point of view. During the testing
period, extensive consultation takes place with engineers, programmers and
designers to make sure the documentation is correct. Sometimes I might
recommend changes to the product if I think it might be helpful to the
Chemical Engineering Documentation
During my days as a permanent employee, I worked as a Chemical Engineer
for British Petroleum on the following projects which were all
- Separation of gas, oil and water, and in particular the use of porous
materials which have a coalescing effect on oil/water emulsions, causing
them to separate. I worked on a small-scale pilot plant in Gainsborough,
Lincolnshire, to remove water from the oil coming out of a "nodding
donkey" type oil well. Then I went to Qatar and worked on a
full-scale test plant which separated water from oil which came out of
the ground under pressure.
- Evaporation and dispersion of liquefied petroleum gas (LPG) in the
event of spillage. I carried out practical field tests at the BP Kent
Refinery, involving an open barrel of LPG mounted on a stand with a
pivot bearing. The barrel was tipped over by pulling a rope and the LPG
evaporated on contact with the ground. The gas cloud was measured by
thermal conductivity meters mounted downwind. I also carried out tests
in which an open vessel containing different substrates, such as sand,
clay and gravel, was placed on a weighing machine and a measured
quantity of LPG was poured onto the substrate. The evaporation rate was
measured from the change in weight. Then I worked on mathematical
models, written in Fortran, to predict the evaporation and dispersion of
liquefied gases under a variety of conditions. The model calculations
were compared with the field test results to make adjustments and obtain
I am a member of both the Institution
of Chemical Engineers and the Institute
of Scientific and Technical Communicators. I will be pleased to hear
about any documentation requirements within the chemical engineering
industry, whether they are related to the above projects or otherwise.
The computer industry has spawned a growing number of technical authors,
to fulfil the need for clear documentation of complex products. Many
technical authors are doing it as a second career, having already become
qualified and experienced in something else. Is there now a need for
technical authors to go back to where they came from, taking their new
skills with them? See the Discussion
While other sectors of the economy have suffered a downturn since
September 11th, renewable energy has continued growing. First there was a
drop in the price of oil, because of the recession, then the price began
to rise again because of instability in the Middle East and uncertainties
in the oil supply. There are concerns that the Western World has to become
self-sustaining in its energy supply, giving a boost to the renewable
energy industry which has been steadily growing for some years. The major
sources of renewable energy are:
- Solar energy
- Wind turbines
- Wave power
- Photovoltaic cells
- Biomass fuels
The fastest growing area is the use of wind turbines, although it has to
be used in combination with other systems, otherwise we get no power when
the wind drops. A solution to this problem is the use of wind power to
electroyse water into hydrogen and oxygen which can be recombined in a
fuel cell to produce electricity according to demand. Hydrogen will also
become important as a motor vehicle fuel, with some companies expecting to
bring fuel cell vehicles into service from about 2004 onwards.
I will be interested in working on any projects associated with
Security System Documentation
I am interested in the documentation of domestic, commercial and vehicle
security systems. I have no specific expertise in this area, but because
of my experience in other related fields I believe I can soon pick it up.
Besides, the best user-friendly documents are produced by someone who is
new to it. I am always ready to try something new. See my article on
I am the Beat Coordinator of the local Neighbourhood Watch and I
regularly distribute police information to Group Coordinators.
Help Text Authoring
Have you noticed that during the last few years, printed manuals have
been getting thinner? That's because the increased sophistication of
Windows hypertext has encouraged people more and more to use on-line
Various types of Help system have been available since the earliest
versions of Windows. They all have various features in common, including
text and graphic hotspots so you can jump between topics, display popups
and execute commands. There are also keyword searches, bookmarks,
user-defined annotations and browse sequences. All of this makes is
possible for you to find information very quickly.
Windows Help (hlp) files are created by using Microsoft Word to produce
the source documents, and then running a Help compiler.
HTML Help (chm) files are created by using an HTML editor to produce a
set of Web pages, then running an HTML Help compiler. This type of help
filecan interact more easily with the internet.
I can produce Help text to suit all your authoring and publishing needs.
HTML Web Page Authoring
HTML (Hypertext Markup Language) is the standard format for documents
that are intended for uploading to the World Wide Web. Send me your text
and graphics, together with your instructions about links to other pages,
mailbox fields and other special features, and I will make up your pages
for you. If necessary, I can also upload your pages to the Web, depending
on where they are being hosted.
animated and dynamic, and gives them the ability to process data and
perform calculations. The Search button at the top of the
navigation pane at the left of this screen displays a form which activates
display, you need to go to the home page.
When you display the form and specify a valid search string, the program
will search this site and display a matching list of topics.
This search engine is entirely client-sided and has been placed on the
server by uploading web pages in the usual way. No server-sided
programming has been required. Note: I could have used a
number of proprietary search engines, but I chose to do it myself as a
Please contact me if you require any web page authoring that uses
Multimedia is the combination of different types of media in a computer
program, including text, graphics, sound, video and animation. I can
produce multimedia programs using the following tools:
- Macromedia Director.
- Microsoft Multimedia Viewer Publishing Toolkit. This is basically an
extension of the Windows Help system which includes multimedia features.
- ProStar MiniCat. A purpose-made tool for catalogue programs with
self-calculating order forms.
The formats used are:
- CD-ROM for high-volume programs that require up to 600Mb of data. I
can write your program and produce a finished and fully tested master on
recordable gold disk, then send it out to a pressing plant for
replication, together with artwork for labelling and packaging. I have a
demonstration program featuring a collection of guitars that I
photographed at a local shop.
- Internet for low volume programs and demos, using Java.
- Video tape for short animated demos, useful for exhibitions.
Other Technical Authors
In the UK:
ISTC Independent Authors' Special
Society for Technical
Communication - USA, with Chapters in
Blackwater Valley Small
North East Hampshire
Economic Forum (NEHEF)
Bible Discussion. A discussion of
Bible topics with links to other Christian and Messianic pages.
History. Tracing our
origins from very ancient times.
Movement. Keep the pound and save democracy.
UK Independence Party.
Leave the EU and save Britain.
||Updated February 2003