Latest Technology Writing

December 10, 2013 Leave a comment

As some of you know I specialize in both technology writing and financial writing. Lately, I’ve been publishing some nice, long, articles over at Tom’s IT Pro. If you’re familiar with Tom’s Hardware, it’s the same family of publications. My author page is here.

These recent articles are about Microsoft’s System Center 2012 R2 release. For those of you not aware of System Center, this is Microsoft’s suite of tools for enterprise-level computer and system management. System Center covers everything from installing and upgrading software across thousands of computers, to monitoring, updating, and automating just about anything and everything a system administrator would ever need to do. Theoretically, if you had the entire suite set up and working correctly, you could run and entire company’s IT department from a single location using nothing but these tools. That isn’t how the real world works, of course, but that’s the idea.

Software distribution and updating is handled by System Center 2012 R2 Configuration Manager.

I’ve also written an article about System Center Operations Manager 2012 R2 and some other nice articles.

And finally, here is an overall look at whether System Center 2012 R2 is worth the upgrade or not.

Deeper look at Microsoft System Center 2012 R2It’s always interesting to take these deeper looks into new software. The trick is finding useful information since the products are so new, there usually isn’t a lot of stuff out there. Fortunately, Microsoft does some pretty extensive betas these days, and their own engineers have taken to occasionally making blog posts or writing TechNet articles that have just the right information. Digging them out can take effort because Microsoft puts more effort into linking their main marketing page and materials, but once you get an idea of where to look, then it come pretty rapidly.

Finding the information beyond what is in the press release is the hallmark of a good freelance technology writer. If you have a project and are looking for someone to help, you can find me at ArcticLlama, as always.

New Colorado Logo

September 4, 2013 Leave a comment


Hey, that’s what I said.

After a long process, and frankly, design by committee, Colorado ends up with a new branding logo that is… basic, plain, cliche, blah. Take your pick.

colorado logo brand

It cost $1.1 million in real dollars and $1.5 million in “pro-bono work.”

It’s a mountain (shocker) with a CO on it (the official state abbreviation). The color is the same green that’s been on the basic license plate since I was in elementary school. For all of that money and time, one has to wonder, couldn’t the local 4th graders have come up with basically the same thing?

Here are a couple of articles about it if you are interested in looking further into it:

Logo Design Love


The Denver Post

Can’t Pinterest My Articles

I’ve heard of Pinterest. I mean, who hasn’t.

However, I’m a busy sort, what with being a work at home dad, a professional freelance writer, a web developer, and so on. So, when I first visited Pinterest, I took a look, decided it wasn’t really for me and moved on.

Help me pin thisLater, I decided that I might like Pinterest. I liked the idea of visual bookmarks, even if saving magazine pages of wedding dresses and floral arrangement isn’t for me. However, I seemed to have an intermittant error where sometimes, when I tried to save, or pin, stuff to pinterest it would work.

Yes, I’m on Pinterest. Here’s a list of everywhere (mostly) I am.

Why Can’t I Pin This?

I wondered if there were some permissions things, or other stuff that maybe I wasn’t getting right, so I tried to pin some stuff from my own blog posts. That only worked sometimes too.

So, why won’t pinning to pinterest work all the time?

It turns out that as an image focused social media site, Pinterest requires an image to pin something.

I knew this.

What I didn’t know what that the image had to be a certain size. The real catch is that it won’t go get the bigger version of a thumbnail in order to pin it. In other words, if you have a really great 500 x 300 image but you post with a 100 x 33 (or whatever, I’m not doing math this early in the morning) thumbnail, it won’t pin that article or that image.

So, if you want to be able to pin your articles, or more importantly, if you want other people to be able to pin your articles to Pinterest for you, you have to use big enough images. Make sure your thumbnails aren’t too small and if your bandwidth isn’t a problem consider just using the bigger images inline to give your readers one more place to link you online.

Passive Voice Is Not Always Wrong

April 19, 2013 Leave a comment

Long ago, writing authorities decided that passive voice was “weaker” than active voice, and therefore, discouraged. However, no one has ever proclaimed passive voice to be grammatically incorrect. This leads to some head-butting with editors from time to time.

passive voice graphicEditors, of course, follow the various rules of their own publications, as well as the established rules of the English language and grammar usage. Their job is to ensure that the various writing styles and voices of writers are accommodated* while still preserving the integrity and readability of the publication. In pursuit of this mission, editors almost always demand that passive voice be eliminated.

*’are accomidated’ is passive. Note, that it is not WRONG, jut passive. To make it active, you need to switch the sentence around and use the main active verb ‘accommodate.’

There are certain topics that make it hard to eliminate passive voice. More specifically, there are certain sentences that make eliminating passive voice difficult. When talking about something that someone may choose, or not choose to do, or allow in the future, passive voice is hard to get away from without making the sentence awkward. I notice this most when writing about taxes.

Tax rules and regulations often offer taxpayers a choice. A sentence must, therefore, make it clear that there is a choice. Using the word may, or can, is a good way to show that there is a choice. Next, most tax advice or tips involves what the taxpayer will do in the future. Add it up and you end with passive phrasing.

“A taxpayer is allowed to take a deduction.”

That sentence is passive, is allowed.

Fixing it requires a different subject, or verb.

“Tax code allows the taxpayer a deduction.”


“A taxpayer may take a deduction.”

While I understand the concept of avoiding passive voice, it is still my contention that the first sentence conveys the information most accurately in terms of tenor, sound, or feel, even if the others are grammatically the same information.



If you were wondering, yes, I am writing something and the passive is bugging me🙂

Are iPads Good for Kids?

March 14, 2013 Leave a comment

Are iPads Good for Kids?

Confused by all of those naysayers who blast parents for “using the iPad as a babysitter?” Don’t be. When handled properly, an iPad is a wonderful toy for children of all ages.

Pre-Registering Voters

There is an bill winding its way through the Colorado Legislature – HB1135 – that would allow for “pre-registration” of teens for voting. The idea is that these folks would already be registered to vote when they turn 18, thereby increasing the turnout in elections.

My main thought is that it isn’t really that hard to register to vote in Colorado. This isn’t one of those states where they passed new voting requirement laws. In fact, you can register by checking a box when you renew your drivers license when you turn 18. With so many voters out there being very uninformed, isn’t a minimal level of effort a reasonable barrier to entry for the most uninformed and un-involved members of society? Or am I missing something here?

Windows Server 2012 Features

February 9, 2013 Leave a comment

I write for the blog of the computer training company, TrainSignal. Frankly, I’m proud of the various content I’ve published there over the years, and I think the vast majority of it is both informative and worthwhile. It was no exception when I published an article about the new features in Windows Server 2012 that have people excited.

The fun part was that the official Windows Server twitter account posted a (unsolicitied) link to the article. It’s always nice to get a little extra validation. I assume, if nothing else, that the article is at least technically accurate since they bothered to link it🙂

windows server 2012 tweet

Have a nice day, especially those of you who are not stuck in a blizzard.