All posts by Scott Prentice

May Meeting: Agile and Techcomm

Join us Tuesday, May 13, 2014 for an educational evening of opinions and well, more opinions on the subject of Agile and Techcomm (roundtable-debate).

We have three knowledgeable people who will present various sides to this story, Shelley Horwitz, Mike Ziegenhagen, and Mark Weddle. After a short presentation from each, we’ll go into roundtable mode and discuss the pros/cons among the group.

Here’s Wikipedia’s entry on Agile Software Development.

If you are unable to join us in person, we plan to offer remote attendance via GoToMeeting (possibly audio-only).

Info from Meeting

You’ll hear lots of opinions from the group on the recording .. if you have opinions you’d like to share, please post them as comments below!

March Meeting: Contracts 101

Join us Tuesday, March 18, 2014 for an informative and insightful talk by Sandy Shepard of Good Solutions, Inc. from San Rafael, CA. Even if you’re not currently involved in contract negotiations, you won’t want to miss this one! Sandy has a wealth of information, and is a really nice person as well.

CONTRACTS 101: Contracts govern our work lives. Often we don’t realize that in our excitement to close the deal, we are cutting our own throat! What you don’t know can hurt you! And, those handshake deals” we often have aren’t worth the paper they’re written on! In this informal talk, Sandy will touch on some contractual “traps” that often catch the unwary.

SANDRA J. SHEPARD, Esq.sandy-shepard
Sandy Shepard is President & Founder of Good Solutions, Inc. a strategic business and transactional legal consulting firm. She has extensive general knowledge and experience in the intricacies of business transactions and a results-oriented business perspective. She knows first-hand how “Legal” can often be the killer of a timely deal. She tries to be approachable enough that her clients seek permission – not forgiveness.
Sandy has been “on the Internet” since 1988; her first publication was as a contributor to the first multimedia business/law book in 1996. She has extensively spoken on the subject since this time; her SWATlaw® series aims to demystify the legal arena for anyone believing a Berlitz course is mandatory for mastering “Legalese.”
Sandy’s experience includes working in the Business Affairs department at LucasArts Entertainment; as counsel for Mindscape/Broderbund; and legal director for The Learning Company during its $3.5 billion acquisition by Mattel. She has negotiated and drafted hundreds of small to multi-million dollar deals worldwide, including securing licenses from the likes of Tom Clancy, Stephen King, National Geographic, and Beatrix Potter. She left Mattel for the “dot com” arena; as General Counsel to Scene7, she handled all legal aspects of mergers/acquisitions that swelled personnel from 55 to over 350 and was responsible for helping integrate all procedures, personnel and offices nationwide before making a run for an IPO. She ultimately handled Scene7’s acquisition by Adobe, and left to form her own law firm and coaching business.
Sandy is a member of the Association for Coaching, a non-profit dedicated to promoting excellence and ethics in coaching, and is a certified business success trainer. Her coaching clients pressed her to put her words to paper, and in 2007 her book Fempowerment: A Guide to Unleashing Your Inner Bond Girl was published by Mollydooker Press, and The Fempowerment Playbook, a compatible workbook, was published in 2010. Her latest book, Passive Income 101: a guide to paying for college without selling your soul, written for a high school/college audience contemplating the merits of attending university, reached #1 in its category on in December.
Sandy is a graduate of the University of California, with a quad-major Masters in International Affairs from George Washington University. After a successful career in the business arena, she obtained her doctor of laws degree cum laude from U.C. Hastings College of The Law, and was a lawyer at a prestigious San Francisco law firm. She also has an Associates degree in sexology, and certificates in advanced bartending, feng shui, authentic movement study & practice, and bodywork. She is working on her nutritionist certification. Sandy has been interviewed on ABC-TV a half-dozen times as a coach and author, honored as a “Woman In Action” by Women’s Initiative, and featured in the San Francisco Chronicle both as a legal expert and for pole dancing. She was featured in the coffee table book Fearless Women by MaryAnn Halpin.
Sandy has crewed hot air balloons, and once upon a time was a biplane “batboy” for the Flying Circus Barnstorming Airshow in Bealton, VA. Sandy is an enthusiastic member of several non-profits, including two local land trusts, the Association of Former Intelligence Officers, and the Marines Memorial Association. She has volunteered as a California State Park docent/Civil War re-enacter and baker on Angel Island, and learned organic farming and draft horse training with the Amish. She completed five marathon races in the past year; she has completed numerous triathlons and open water swims (including Alcatraz), and finished the Ironman Triathlon (2.4 mile swim, 112 mile bike, 26.2 mile marathon) in 16:58:51 – last woman over the line, but happy. Way to make ABC-Sports.

Good Solutions® legal and business consulting
1537 Fourth Street, #9
San Rafael CA 94901-2737
415-937.1063 (vox) *
SWATlaw®: We get in, get it done, get out — you get the glory.

Twitter can be useful

[Originally intended as an email to the NBComm Yahoo group .. repurposed to the blog.]

I get the feeling that many of you don’t use Twitter. I totally understand the desire to avoid getting sucked into yet-another-social-network. Twitter is different. Yes .. there’s plenty of inane and completely useless noise on Twitter, but there’s also a fair amount of good info to be found. The trick is avoiding the noise and just gaining the benefit of the useful info.

Of the various social networks available today I find Twitter the easiest to benefit from without spending huge amounts of time getting sucked in. That’s not to say that you can’t get sucked in and spend huge amounts of time, but that’s totally up to you. I actually find that I learn about important events (local, international, and global) on Twitter before reading about it through traditional media.

First .. you don’t even have to set up an account to make use of it. You can read an individual’s tweets or follow a hash tag by just going to and doing a search. This is a great way to dip your toe in the pool without a huge commitment.

Starting with this last week and going for the next couple weeks are some techcomm conferences that you can follow on Twitter. It’s a great way to get an idea about what’s going on at a conference without being there ..

Keep in mind that you’re getting the perspective of only those attendees who Tweet .. which may or may not be a good thing. You’ll also notice that hash tags can collide! (#ICC2014 is the tag for the Intelligent Content Conference, but it’s also apparently the tag for the International Champions Cup!)

The great thing about Twitter is that the tweets are short. It’s easy to scan and skip over those that are not useful, and follow links of those that are.

If you do decide to set up an account and post tweets of your own, it’s a very low bar with minimal overhead and requirements. No confusing permissions and settings. What you tweet goes out to whoever wants to read it. People will follow you if you tweet about things that interest them. You can follow people who tweet about things that interest you, and if they start tweeting about things that don’t interest you, you just stop following them. Easy.

You can follow @NBComm on Twitter as well, to see the fascinating things that we tweet about!

Join us at TC Camp, Jan 25

Many of us from the North Bay Communicators Network will be heading down to TC Camp on January 25.


TC Camp is an Unconference focused on Technical Communications issues, skills, challenges, and the various applications used by technical communicators.

The purpose of TC Camp is to provide a local bay area conference for technical communicators that is driven by the members of that community–writers, editors, designers, and the people who support them.


If you’d like to carpool, email <>, or join in on the discussions on our mail list ( Looking forward to seeing everyone there!

January Meeting: Making the Most of WordPress

Want to learn more about WordPress and how you can make the most of this useful tool? Join us on Tuesday, January 21!

  • Basics – We’ve all heard how easy it is to set up a website with WordPress, but what’s really involved and what are the fundamental pieces?
  • Plugins/themes – Once you’re up and running, how do you add more functionality and customize the appearance?
  • Where is it used and how can you use it? – Not all WordPress websites “look” like WordPress websites. What are some of the different ways the WordPress technology can be used?

Our presenter will be Chris Burbridge – Chris is a WordPress expert with nearly 20 years experience working with technical teams and laypersons to use technologies, combined with a knowledge of writing and business, to communicate effectively.

For more information, visit

If you have specific WordPress questions, send them in ahead of time and Chris may be able to work that in to his presentation.

This meeting is scheduled for Tuesday, January 21 at 7pm and will be completely “virtual” through GoToMeeting. Space is limited, so RSVP to <> if you’re planning to attend.

November Meeting

Our first meeting is scheduled for Thursday, Nov 21 at 7pm (till 8:30 at the latest). This will be a virtual meeting through GoToMeeting. We’ll discuss the following items ..

  • Future meeting schedule
  • Future meeting venue(s)
  • Website features .. what do you want to see?
  • Call for volunteers to manage portions of the website

We will also have a walkthrough of the website back end (WordPress) to familiarize people with the features and options available.

If you’re interested in attending, please send an email to <>. We will send out the GoToMeeting invitations earlier in the day on Nov 21.

If you’re unable to attend, but want to help out, send us an email and we’ll let you know what’s needed. Feel free to continue to post ideas to the “Ideas” forum and we’ll discuss those items at the meeting.

Attendance is limited to 25, so be sure to RSVP early (I can’t imagine that we’d have that many people, but you never know).

STC-NorthBay .. what’s next?

Our meeting on October 29 was well attended and quite productive. We have decided to create a new group that is not directly affiliated with STC to support communicators (of all types) in the North Bay. This group will meet regularly (frequency to be decided) and will likely alternate between educational meetings and socials. We hope to continue meeting at the Petaluma Senior Center since it seems to be a central location and has WiFi (so we can offer remote attendance).

We are hoping to locate a sponsor who will fund the meeting venue, but we have a plan for that so shouldn’t be a problem.

The new group will be called “North Bay Communicators Network”, and will have a web presence at

The success of this group will depend entirely on involvement and support by the members. There will be no dues and no membership requirements. If you want to be involved, you are a member.

We will be setting up a new maillist for the group, which you will need to subscribe to if you want to receive emails and information.

You are, of course, encouraged to renew your STC membership and affiliate with one of the other local chapters if you’re benefiting from that organization. This new group is not intended to be a replacement for STC, but to provide local and more personal support for communicators in the area.

More info will be sent out in the coming days/weeks.