Slides from the STC New England InterChangeNE Conference in March 2014. Serious content wrapped up in a fun delivery.
On March 29th and 30th, I attended InterChange 2014, STC New England’s annual conference at the UMass Lowell conference center in Lowell, Massachusetts. The conference is well planned and well attended. Local conferences have an advantage over the international Summit conference because they are shorter and cost less for the travel, room and board, and the shorter length keeps you from wandering around on the fifth day sleep deprived and overloaded. The smaller size allows you to recognize faces and develop real relationships with your fellow technical communicators.
This post is about Day Two. You might also enjoy reading Day One.
Day Two: Say hello to InterChangeNE
On March 29th, seven terrific speakers will give presentations. All of us will have breakfast together, then attend the keynote speech, then choose three of the six presentations on the program.
It’s hard to choose and I’m wishing for a time machine.
During breakfast, I meet Karen Smith and Patricia Gale from Autodesk and make a note to attend their presentation about agile documentation. Karen and Patty will be previewing their Summit presentation here for us at InterChangeNE. Since their presentation is at the exact same time as my Lightning Talk, I’m glad to see it today.
Cindy Currie-Clifford delivers the keynote speech to open the conference. She talks about the history of the InterChange conference. The New England chapter has a rich history, spanning decades, transitioning organizations, and partnering with industry and academia. I was both impressed and overwhelmed with the scope of Cindy’s talk.
Mostly what I remember about Cindy’s talk is that it snows during the conference. It snows a lot. Cindy had photos of huge mountains of snow.
Social Me: Taking Control of Your Online Image
Brenda Huettner brings us a grab bag of social media savvy and gives us permission to google ourselves.
Brenda is funny and engaging and taught me a thing or two about interacting with the web.
In this photo, Brenda explains how our kids are blocking us in Facebook without us even knowing it.
While Brenda was talking, some of us took photos of her and posted them to Facebook. Brenda opens up her Facebook newsfeed and sees herself on the screen. Awesome!
Here’s a photo of me, Cindy Currie and Anna Pratt (left to right) taken by conference chair Rick Lippincott. Rick is a talented and prolific photographer and took a bazillion awesome photos of the event. Check them out on his flickr photostream.
Happy hour is a fun way to unwind after the presentations of the first day and the rain falling outside just makes it feel warmer and friendlier inside this local Irish pub.
We had dinner at Etsogo Sushi and Asian Restaurant.
I really should say “We had our first of several dinners at Etsogo.”
We really like this place. It has a family atmosphere and Rick Lippincott knows the staff.
The sushi was amazing with lots of choices for American tastes with cooked fish and shellfish, wrapped in layers of avocado and covered with sauce.
Go there if you’re anywhere near Lowell and tell Irene “Hi y’all” from me.
Now to go to bed so I can be well rested for Day Three.
On March 29th and 30th, I attended InterChange 2014, STC New England’s annual conference at the UMass Lowell conference center in Lowell, Massachusetts. This was my first local chapter conference although I have attended many of the summit conferences held by the STC mothership. I was really impressed. The local conferences are typically smaller and shorter, eliminating the sleep deprivation and overwhelming size of the summit, while offering many opportunities to learn, share, and eat with other technical communicators.
But I get ahead of myself. First, I have to get there.
Day One: Say good-bye to Winchester
Before any of us goes out of town, we have to leave an out-of-office message. My email message said
Howdy! Thanks for your email.
I will be out of the office until Wednesday April 2nd, with some limited access to email. My cell is 540.303.0323. Don’t be shy about calling or texting if you need me.
I also left a note on my keyboard for anyone dropping by on foot. What do you think of my self portrait?
And I knew I’d be in the doghouse if I left the house empty of food, so I made a last minute run to Food Lion.
I’d be gone for four whole days, during which time I’m pretty sure the grocery store must have been closed because I returned to a house that was once again empty of food.
Okay, I know this is not the same as leaving frozen versions of home made gourmet meals in the fridge.
So we’ve taken care of the office and we’ve taken care of the home place.
Time to get on the road.
We like to have a good book with us when we travel.
This trip we take along a book about the future in which life is so bad and resources are so scarce, people have chosen to live out their lives inside a video game.
The book is nice and long, 17 hours total dedication to epilogue, so we have plenty of entertainment as we go.
Can’t tell you how it ends because we aren’t finished yet. Perhaps another long road trip is in our future.
And now, I’m saying “we” instead of “me” referring to the travelers.
I forgot to tell you that my favorite son, Jim Dill, is along for the trip.
We make great time up until we hit traffic on I 84 in Hartford Connecticut.
Going the speed limit through Pennsylvania.
Stopping and almost every rest area.
Somebody always has to “rest” on a long trip.
We passed through a town called “Frackville” where you could buy coal at the local gas station but you could not buy gas there because the tanks were empty.
We eventually found a station with gas left in the tank, checked in on Foursquare, and got back on the road.
And then we hit a wall of traffic at Hartford.
Jim decides this is a good time for a nap and when he wakes up he has to take a wicked pissa.
We are downtown, stopped in traffic, and far from an exit. We talk about going by the side of the road but decide to tough it out.
We make a note of the traffic and our location and make plans to stop way ahead of Hartford on the way home.
Nobody peed in the car nor by the side of the road but somebody came close that day.
UMass Lowell at last
Navigating in Boston in the dark was a little tricky and we ended up doing 6 leaves of a cloverleaf intersection so we could have a second chance of making the right ramp onto the Lowell Connector. Very confusing.
The conference center is lovely.
Check-in was a breeze.
The staff is fantastic.
My friends greeted me with hugs and an invitation to join them at the bar.
We’re not in the car now, after 12 hours of travel.
Life is good.
The food is spectacular.
We order a steak and the crab cakes.
Our new best friend, bartender Amy, takes a photo of us relaxing by the fireplace. We instagram with the conference hashtag #InterChangeNE.
We leave a big tip and retire early so we can have an awesome day two at the conference.
I’ll write more about that tomorrow.
Stay tuned for Day Two.