Tag Archive for Webtech Wireless

Nothing Exceeds Like Excess

HotelScribe

Somewhere in the back of my head, Ernest Hemingway cautions me to avoid excess. I’m usually attentive to the perils of excessive adjectives, and in fact, that’s mostly what gets cut in the first edit. I admire his terse style, although to write like Hemingway is to risk becoming a parody of brevity.

Last week, I wrote one of the longest sentences ever. In a story I wrote for Webtech Wireless, I needed to pull together several disparate ideas in as few words as possible. To reinforce the sentence, I put the punch at the end, echoing the point made in the title.

Last week at the 2013 Management Conference and Exhibition, Bill Graves’ “State of the Industry” keynote address quoted from Bob Dylan’s classic song, “The Times They Are a Changin’”, and this year’s Critical Issues in the Trucking Industry – 2013 report by The American Transportation Research Institute (ATRI) gives further fuel to idea that the trucking industry is in the midst of profound changes.

Read 2013 ATA Critical Issues and the Road Ahead

Another way I curb my writing is to search out the verb that most efficiently coins the action. As a rule, the verbs “to be” and “to have” describe action least effectively. Usually, replacing them with more descriptive verbs moves the story along nicely. In the sentence quoted above, I use “to be” like brakes on a train. “To be” only appears at the end to stop the forward movement of the sentence.

And then this week, I reviewed a concert for the Vancouver Observer and wrote an article with a series of long sentences. Here there was another reason for long sentences: Sometimes they give a sense of breathlessness to writing. Especially, when pierced with a few short sentences that once again stop the action dead in its tracks.

Pianist Anna Levy took a few moments to describe how the relative thaw in artistic expression in the Soviet Block countries during the 60s allowed for Fantasia’s creation. What’s all the fuss? Well. It has jazz in it.

Read Colin MacDonald’s Orchestra: A Pocket Full of Fun
PDF

Carrie G. Koens, Weaving Influence Social Marketing

I personally enjoyed today’s blog post, Jason. Makes it so much fun to promote! Well done. And I loved learning about the background of a Webtech Wireless employee. You just never know what people do when they aren’t at work! 🙂 I appreciate the personal touches you’ve been using on the blog recently.

—Carrie G. Koens, Weaving Influence Social Marketing

Mary Cecilia MacPhee, Senior Inside Account Manager, Webtech Wireless

The timing was impeccable for this well-written article. I used it at  my meeting—and it generated a lot of questions.  Great Work Jason.

—Mary Cecilia MacPhee, Senior Inside Account Manager,
Webtech Wireless

Readiness

tarogato-Jason-HallJason_Hall_clarinetsLast week was my birthday and, in the spirit of simplicity, I sent out a single invite through Facebook to my nearest and dearest friends to drop by my place for drinks.

Several drinks into the evening, somebody said “Play us something on the tarógató” and the crowd chanted “Jason, Jason, Jason”. Last year, I had a tarógató hand made for me in Budapest. A tarógató is a Hungarian form of clarinet with a melancholy sound somewhere between an English horn and a soprano saxophone (nothing like a clarinet).

My background is classical music (although I’ve been exploring improvised types such as jazz, blues, and Balkan music in the last few years), so playing spontaneously isn’t something I’m accustomed to. Nonetheless, I had several little ditties to play along with  stories of their origins:

  • “Kuruc dalok”, a Hungarian recruiting song used to entice young men off to war.
  • “Margot Labourez La Vigne”, a humorous medieval French song that admonishes Margot to keep working the vines and to stop flirting with local soldiers.
  • An old dance written by none other than King Henry VIII

It’s music performance the way I like it best—warm, intimate, and in the company of friends. There was much cat calling and hilarity too, especially around how Henry VIII could find time to write music whilst chopping off the heads of his wives. “He didn’t chop their heads off himself—someone else did that. That’s how he had time to write music”, one of my friends said.

I was happy that I had a few tunes that I could play (and stories about them) on a moment’s notice. Later, I got thinking about how great it would be to have other “party pieces” ready that describe who I am and what I do. If anyone asks me about what I do as a marketing/technical writer, I should have a story to tell him or her.

Last year, I wrote a winning award application for Webtech Wireless. The fallout from that was a stream of related documents and the CEO saying, “Now, we can now call ourselves an award-winning software company”.

Now, I have a handy one-pager to share about how I helped Webtech Wireless win its first-ever technology award.

 

Making Hay of Story Threads

In the Rumpelstiltskin fable by the Brothers Grimm, a young maiden makes a pact with a gnome to help her fulfill her father’s boast that she can spin hay into gold. It’s this bit of alchemy that reminded me of the many threads that can come together to make a good story.

More than Marketing Bumpf

The challenge in writing an ongoing blog about the same technology (as is the case at Webtech Wireless where I write), is to write about more than just the products and services the company offers. That gets stale really fast. I try to keep it alive by finding interesting threads that tell stories indirectly about the benefits of our goods and services. So, not a direct sell but value given in the vicinity of our goods and services.

For example, my May 23, 2013 blog post, “Fleet GPS: The Needle in the Haystack” brings several seemingly unrelated events together and tells them in a way that reflects favourably on Webtech Wireless’ offerings.

Here are the threads the provided an interesting story about Webtech Wireless’ GPS fleet tracking technology:

  • Recent tornadoes in Oklahoma galvanizing the media’s attention
  • Other severe weather in Oklahoma, drought. Did you know it’s been going on there for three years?
  • Due to drought, the price of hay is going up.
  • As the price of hay goes up, theft of hay bales is on the rise.
  • To counters this, ranchers and farmers are turning to technology in the form of GPS locators placed in hay bales to help track them.
  • A recent article lambastes the perception that Intelligent Communities are always urban. The writer says that rural areas stand to benefit from new technologies.
  • Oh, did you know that our wireless GPS locators are really good for tracking assets to prevent theft and help with recovery?
  • And by the way, several of our clients have been nominated for Intelligent Community awards (here, I rely on SEO to tie this thread in as we have several articles about Ville de Québec and other clients of ours that were nominated).

These stories by themselves don’t relate closely to our products, but put together into a narrative they spin a tale that, if not gold, is a step up from the usual marketing bumpf that plagues many blogs.

Read the article: “Fleet GPS: The Needle in the Haystack

C.G.Koens, Implementation Specialist & Editor, Weaving Influence

Ottawa-noel“You all are really going above and beyond on the blog posts! Jason, really enjoyed your post today about Ottawa and I LOVED the picture. In my experience, people are more apt to click through a link with a fun picture – so well done. Thanks for making my job easier (and more fun)!”
—C.G.Koens, Implementation Specialist & Editor, Weaving Influence

Death by Powerpoint – My Writing: September 18 to 24

This week, I attended the TMW Transforum to find out all I could about fleet management in North America. The scale of this event is staggering as are the numbers in trucking—2 million long haul trucks in the US. While here, I attended a talk on agile software development and found myself staring down that old barrel—death by PowerPoint.

Microsoft needs to include in its software something that prevents slides with long bulleted lists to fade from view while the presenter is speaking. It’s impossible to follow both at once. To make matters worse, the presenter had trouble pronouncing some words in the presentation leading me to suspect that the presentation wasn’t his own.

Going Down the Road with Terry Fox actually tells the back story of the Trans Canada Highway (the highway Terry Fox ran), that transportation route so vital to Canada’s economy. Incidentally, Webtech Wireless—the company that produces GPS/AVL solutions for transportation—had several runners in the 32nd annual Terry Fox Run.

Is Your Doctor Putting Your Disability Claim at Risk? asks if procrastination on the part of doctors can affect the speed and success of a disability claim. Your disability claim.

5 Autumn Driving Tips to Keep You Safe provides some tips to remind you to drive safely as fall brings a different set of driving risks. Watch for Bridges, Shadows, and Intersections, or a pile of wet leaves near a neighbourhood intersection.

 

 

When is “is” a Poor Verb Choice? (My writing: Sept 10 to 17)

Like so many ineffective charitable organizations trying to come to a mutual decision, the “to be” verb can wring its hands and drain the life out of your writing.

Consider this example:

Our goal is to pave the way for sales to create and land opportunities. We will be delivering content for the next platform.

These two sentences have been robbed of their power by an overuse of the verb “to be”. Along with its only slightly more energetic mate, “to have”, “to be” is very passive.

As in life, sometimes “being” is perfectly acceptable. Other times, action is required. Being is important and is therefore important in writing, but only where appropriate. To improve passive writing, I check the vicinity to find other more powerful verbs stymied by the “to be” verb. In the example above, I found “pave”, “create”, “land”, and “deliver”—all excellent verbs that when set free, will transform your writing.

Here’s my revision:

Our goal paves the way for sales to create and land opportunities. We will deliver content for the next platform.

Read my latest posts:

Webtech-Wireless-Temperature-MonitoringCargo Temperature Monitoring Helps Reduce Hunger draws an interesting line between food security, food wastage, and the trailer temperature monitoring solutions Webtech Wireless provides in the transport of food.

 

http://www.disabilityclaimdenied.caAging and Accessibility Go Hand-In-Hand describes baby boomers create demand for universal design. September 23 to 29 is Active Aging Week, and Canada’s aging boomers are smoothing the path for people living with disabilities.

 

 

http://www.disabilityclaimdenied.ca4 Healthy Ways to Reduce Engine Idle showcase idling and its affects on health. As parents idle in front of the school, important lessons are being learned—and lost. Why not introduce your family to a few new habits and skills?

Farewell Summer; Hello Adjectives (My Writing: Aug 27 to Sept 3)

I’m considering what it would be like to write entirely without adjectives. I think Strunk & White would approve, but might I become terminally boring?

One of my activities as an editor (with technical writing credentials) is to question what we in marketing call “bumpf”. Bumpf is the motherhood and apple pie that promises everything, cannot be argued with, but ultimately delivers very little. For example, saying “Using our patented XW500 technology will make you happier, bring you the results you deserve, and keep your assets secure,” says nothing at all—it’s bumpf.

Adjectives are like that too. I smile when people overuse words like “amazing”, “fantastic”, and “awesome”. The little voice immediately wants to know how that can be so. “Don’t tell me. Show me.” I don’t suppose my writing is the most sober ever, but I do try to keep my adjectives in check by using them as descriptors of real things. I try to avoid letting them fly about my writing like so many escaped helium balloons…

Here’s my writing for the week. You be the judge:

Webtech WirelessIn Vision, Venture, Velocity (Aug 28, 2012) – I describe three “V”s for Webtech Wireless’ email campaign. I highlight the City of Vaughan’s Public Works department, (which I visited in June), preview the APWA (American Public Works Association) Expo we’re attending, and describe a news story about The fastest road in America, a challenge for those concerned with excess speed on the highways.

 

City of Vaughan Embraces a Four Seasons Solution is a blog post I wrote based on my interview with the Public Works department. It describes how overlap jurisdictions and rapid growth and increasing demand for GPS/AVL technologies.

 

Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder Approved by WorkSafeBC describes the traumatized dog-sledder who won a claim with WorkSafeBC, but the seven-page report quickly gained the attention of international media for months to follow.

 

How to Save a Few Lives without Breaking A Sweat prepares British Columbians for the news that the Labour Day week-end can bring harsh statistics: more than 575 of us are injured in vehicle accidents on an average Labour Day weekend.

My Writing: Aging Infrastructure and dangerous motorcycling (August 7 to 13)

Town of HempsteadFresh Life for Long Island’s Aging Infrastructure describes how communities, such as New York State’s town of Hempstead, which boomed over 50 years ago and now suffer from aging infrastructure problems, are using GPS technology to do more with less.

 

ICBCAutoInsuranceClaimsLawyermotorcycleBC’s Most Beautiful and Dangerous Motorcycle Roads is a quick survey of the most frequently mapped BC roads are in the province’s interior and north regions, describing where in the province most motorcycle accidents occur.