Tag Archives: Tech Writing

course guarantee syllabus boilerplate


In keeping with the commodification of the teacher-learner relationship, I’m providing students in my classes with this guarantee.

I can guarantee that what we are studying in this course, both subject and method, is applicable outside the classroom in your daily and your professional life. This course is designed so that what you learn during the course you can use in other situations and other courses, both at the university and elsewhere, now and later in life. However, there is no guarantee that you will actually make use of what you learn in this class outside of it, any more than buying a toothbrush guarantees you will use it to keep your teeth and gums healthy. That use now and later is solely up to you. Don’t squander what you learn.

Maybe the last sentence is too much, but I’m hoping it will stick with students. Free to share and adapt.

24/7 is not as long as you think

A variation on the elevator pitch and the 160 character tweet, this one from the 2008 Ig Nobels

The ceremony saw the ever-popular 24/7 lecture series, where leading researchers from around the world discuss the technical details and ramifications of their work in 24 seconds, then explain it in layman’s [sic] terms in 7 words.

And to keep the ceremony moving

an eight-year-old girl [is] kept up past her bedtime whose role is to ensure that acceptance speeches are capped at 60 seconds.

The kiddie doesn’t sleep ’til the ceremony is over.

cooking for engineers

Barbecue Pork Ribs Baby Back or Spare – Recipe File – Cooking For Engineers

When the cook lives in a technical mindset, the kitchen becomes a problem space and cooking an analytical solution.  Michael Chu’s instructions – words, pics, layout -  are models of clarity and enjoyment, from an engineer’s perspective:

After about 1-1/2 hours for baby back ribs or 2-1/2 hours for spare ribs, the meat should have shrunk away from the bone substantially. The temperature of the rib meat should be over 180°F which means much of the collagen in the meat has probably converted to juicy and unctuous gelatin (the reason we love ribs).

But what’s really nifty is his recipe layout, like this one for ratatouille:

Someone’s been reading Tufte.