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Pam Blehert
Technical writer and graphic artist

Recent Work at 3e Technologies International

I am in the process of updating this.

Samples of some vector graphics

   

3Com Samples

During employment at 3Com Corporation's DSL Development Lab in Vienna VA from October 1999 to June 2001, I worked on a number of print and online projects to document DSL modems.

The 3Com HomeConnect ADSL modem Dual Link Quick Start "Map" (done in Pagemaker) was a solution to our observation during Beta testing that the user failed to read the manual. We felt that, if we gave the user something simpler, easy to spread out (like a map), and clearly a step-by-step procedure, the tendency to just "plug in the hardware" would be overcome. I was the sole technical writer and graphic artist in charge of this project. [View PDF file]

I worked on the html user's guide for the above product as well, but, unfortunately,I don't have a copy of that. We decided to use html for the user's guide because some users (particularly in the home market) were having trouble with PDFs. I used Dreamweaver templates to ensure consistency throughout the pages of the guide.

During this time, I was asked to set up a local intranet for the DSL Lab and did so in my spare time. It started as primarily a repository for PDFs of documents that the two technical writers were working on, sort of a reference area for people in the organization who needed to keep in touch with the progress of the products. By the time the DSL lab closed, it had become quite elaborate, with an entire sub-site devoted to technical data for the System Test group. I have included a picture of the front page template, which I developed, here:

We were developing a cost-reduced PCI modem which could be used by a number of different internet service providers. Because it could be configured for the variety of Windows platforms, the installation instructions were more complex. The basic (generic) manual was used as a model for translation into Korean and Spanish and was the basis of a "Self-install Kit" which 3Com and BellSouth partnered on.

Because we wanted this to be very user friendly, I used PageMaker rather than FrameMaker as the publishing software. PageMaker is more flexible for page layouts. The cover looks very much the same as other 3Com publications for the HomeConnect line. The inside incorporated more color and icons that would help direct the reader. You can view a PDF of the complete document.

Here is the cover:

 

And one of the illustrations:

We were also developing a DSL Gateway (or router). While I assigned the other tech writer overall responsibility for the production of the install map, I did contribute the illustration used on the front panel. Just a word about this: 3Com had chosen a florescent green as the unifying color for this product. We wanted to incorporate this green into the guide and we needed to show the user that the first thing he or she needed to do, when he got the Gateway, before plugging in any wires, was to put the install CD in the CD-ROM drive and set up the PC. We didn't have an adequate picture of the CD that would be used because it hadn't been printed yet. The message was communicated simply by putting a line drawing on the cover as shown here.

I had sole responsibility for the writing and illustration of the online user's guide for the Gateway. (I should mention, however, that the template and colors were preselected by 3Com.) I spiced it up a little with some cartoons and photographs. I've linked a sample page from the draft version as a PDF file. Keep in mind that this product is still under design at this time and I unfortunately didn't make a copy of the final html site. Here's a picture of the "final" cartoon from the page "The Big Picture" that shows some of the many reasons that a Gateway is useful for you. Notice that the picture shown here has become more generic (not specifically targeting the home market) than the sample in the attached PDF.

I also used Photoshop to include text in a photo of the back of the Gateway which clearly showed what the different ports were.

And, since we had found that users got confused about the various cables, I included shots of the cables. One is shown here.

By the way, the PCI modem continued to be developed in Rolling Meadows once the Vienna Lab had finished the initial design.. I was assigned to help with the technical documents for that production. 3Com was going through a major design change, in the meanwhile, and the new cover of the manual looked like this:

The basic design was established at the corporate level, but once I received a template, it was my responsibility to massage the text for the particular product in Illustrator and add the photo, which I took with our digital camera and masked for transparency in Photoshop. Essentially, I cut my teeth in Illustrator on this project, as prior Illustrator tasks had involved the much simpler procedure of opening a file and changing the part number and copyright date.

 

And here is a sample spread from the resulting manual.

And, just because I know you'll be interested (and this is one of the few opportunities I get to toot my horn), here is the text and drawing of "A Typical Installation".

And now I think I've bent your ear long enough, and I should leave you with a little bit of "the magic of DSL!"

  
Last updated: November 8, 2002