A Guidebook for Planning a Trip to Disney World

For many people, planning a vacation is a simple task that requires little more than a date and a destination. I know many people who at the spur of the moment decide to head to the beach for an impromptu vacation. They have a wonderful time at their vacation spot and plan no further than the day ahead about food or activities.
When planning a Disney World Vacation, one can still have this laid-back approach to the trip and still have a great time but with just some extra planning a great vacation can turn into a magical one. There are so many things to see and do at the Disney Parks that it can be nearly impossible to accomplish them all in one trip. Having a plan for a Disney Vacation maximizes your time and efficiency in the parks. Also, front loading your planning before you arrive in Orlando allows you to be more in the moment with your family and loved ones you are vacationing with. With a plan, you can ensure that your time is well spent. This is especially important considering the cost of most Disney trips.
My project for EH 603 – Technical Editing will be a guidebook on how to plan a trip to Walt Disney World in Orlando, Florida. It will cover why having a plan is crucial to your trip and ways to maximize your activities and meals. The information that I plan to include will be a guide of things to consider when you are planning your trip as well as a tracker on how to maximize your day in the park. It is easy to be overstimulated and distracted while meandering around the different lands and pavilions. Knowing how you are going to spend the day will keep you from wandering aimlessly. It will also keep you from wasting lunch and snack credits that you prepay for in your package. The excel sheet that I use as tracker includes scheduled meal and ride reservations as well as a place to list everyone in your party’s must-do activities or shows. There is a listing for snacks and extended park hours. I spent a lot of time planning for my family’s first trip to Disney two years ago. I did not have a spreadsheet then and we spent some of our vacation that could have been dedicated to memory making, wandering around not sure of what to do. We got home and realized that we missed some of the activities that we didn’t want to miss. We also did not spend out snack credits wisely and ended up bringing home bags full of Mickey shaped rice Krispy treats. I most definitely would have rather had a churro in the park!
I often say that I am a cautionary tale of what happens when parents don’t take their kids to Disney. I did not get the hype of why grown people got so excited about going to Disney World until I took my own kids two years ago. I have discovered the magic of Disney as an adult. Part of it, I believe, is that I can fully immerse myself in the planning of the vacation at least 180 days prior to check-in. It is more than a spur of the moment vacation and I enjoy the freedom of being with my family at the parks and not having to make all the decisions for a spell. The plans have already been made and it is magical just to be in the moment with my favorite people. I am writing this paper because I want to share that with others who are traveling to Disney with their favorite people too.

An Interview-Based Study on Writing Instruction in Engineering Programs

For the fulfillment of Project 3 in EH-603: Editing for Publication, I plan to complete and edit the proposal for my master’s thesis, which will near its completion at the end of the Spring semester of 2018. The thesis will be completed and defended by the end of Fall 2018.

My thesis will examine the current state of engineering student writing skills in modern institutions, focusing specifically on the College of Engineering and its undergraduate programs at the University of Alabama Huntsville. Through interview-based research, I aim to take an inventory of the types of writing assignments engineers at UAH receive and how they would characterize their writing assignments, both in terms of how much they enjoy the assignments and whether they perceive them as practical to their respective careers. The research will be structured in the form of individual oral interviews with students in the Electrical, Computer, Mechanical, Aerospace, and Chemical Engineering programs, a survey of the UAH engineering course catalog, and examination of individual course syllabi. The objective is to gather as much information as possible on any writing-intensive courses and assignments. I will also describe research-grounded solutions to the existing challenges with attempting to integrate writing into engineering curricula and point to areas where more research is needed to address the unanswered questions and problems that persist. Ultimately, I aim to report on the implementation of writing activities in required courses other than freshman composition and suggest avenues for additional research on the value of the writing integration.

My thesis will be structured as a report on a research study, in which I will have chapters dedicated to an introduction, a literature review, the methodology, and one or several chapters on my findings and the discussion of them. The proposal will offer a brief overview of the of writing instruction in engineering programs, the experiences that led to my interest in the problem, and the research questions I aim to answer through my research. The current problem that I will examine is rooted in the fact that engineering instructors often rely too heavily on introductory college writing courses to prepare their students’ for the amount and the varieties of writing each particular discipline demands. Thus, introductory college writing instructors are often faced with the task of integrating strategies and rhetoric specific to various discourse communities in their general composition courses. The difficulty with integrating writing in the disciplines into one writing course is the diversity of disciplines that exist in modern institutions. A freshman level college writing course at UAH might see a rough average of 33% engineering, 18% science, 15% each of business and nursing, and less than 10% humanities students (“Facts and Figures”). The disproportionately high percentage of engineering students is not unusual in most STEM-intensive institutions. Moreover, engineering students do not represent one broad category; each group of engineering students may represent several distinctive concentrations within the principal discipline. At UAH, for example, approximately 30% of engineering students select Mechanical Engineering as their concentration, 20% select Aeronautical, and 14% select Electrical Engineering; the remainder represent an amalgamation of Chemical, Industrial Systems, and Optical Engineering (“Headcount Enrollment”).

While research on the theory behind WAC/WID pedagogy suggests promising results in terms of bridging the gap between the humanities and the sciences, there is still plenty of room for additional research on its practical applications. ABET has taken enormous strides in furthering the value of communication and rhetoric by encouraging STEM programs to integrate more communication skills and collaborative learning environments in their curricula. Kristin Walker, among many other WAC/WID advocates, indicates that “such integration is necessary in order to prepare students to work successfully in a global, diversified workplace” (369). This perspective is not unique to writing instructors, as engineering faculty tends to agree that the cultivation of writing skills is extremely important to tailoring professional engineers (Zhu 34).

Epistemic Theories and the Evolving Structure of Technical Communication

I’m taking the opportunity presented by my final project for EH 603 and using it to expand on some of the idea’s contained in blog post that I made for my personal website and make it suitable for submission to Intercom, the Society for Technical Communication’s magazine. My blog post, Structure and Assumptions in Technical Communications and Philosophy, was written after thinking about a technical writer’s job responsibilities for a previous class’s assignment. It occurred to me that one of the main responsibilities of a technical communications professional is to properly structure information for use by the intended audience. Contemplating how to properly structure information brought to my mind some epistemological theories I studied while completing my undergraduate degree in philosophy. For those that don’t know, epistemology is the branch of philosophy concerned with the nature and justification of knowledge. I will focus on how epistemological theories about the structure of knowledge can be applied to structuring user guides and manuals. I think that linear structured user guides can be analogous to a foundationalist theory of justification and coherence theory can be analogous to the modern online help experience without a linear construction.

In the original blog post I also discussed using a philosophic understanding of assumptions to better understand the audiences for technical writing. I’m going to drop this part to focus exclusively on structure because I’d rather not try to split my attention between what I feel could be two separate articles. I think that this could wind up shortchanging each topic and wind up with an article that doesn’t cover structure or assumptions in as much depth as I would like.

In order to rewrite and expand my original blog post into a format suitable for Intercom I read a number of Intercom articles and examined the author guidelines page. My original post was only around 600 words and according to the guidelines page my target length should be around 2000 words. The longer length will require more depth when discussing epistemological theories. I will also need to be cognizant that my intended audience consists of technical communications professionals, so philosophical jargon and terminology will need to be avoided.

Exploring the analogy between the structures of knowledge and user help will require citing some sources to fully expand upon the epistemological theories. I believe that the most difficult part will be accurately summarizing the epistemic theories in order to use them as a lens to better understand structuring information as a technical communicator. I want to use publicly available sources for the article so that the reader can view anything I cite without worrying about finding access to sources that are behind a paywall. I will use the Stanford’s online dictionary of philosophy for general reference. I’ll be referencing to Ernest Sosa’s paper “The Raft and the Pyramid: Coherence Versus Foundations in the Theory of Knowledge” which is publicly available online. If I require more sources I will make sure that the they can be accessed easily by the public by finding them through use of the google scholar function.

I hope to use this article to show how philosophical theories can be used to better understand other subjects such as technical communication. In this way the article can function as an example of how philosophy can be used practically. I hope to combat the popular misconception of philosophy as esoteric and practically useless. I think that philosophy can function as a strong base for those looking to enter into technical communication field.   

-Christopher Matthys

Works Cited

“Author Guidelines.” Intercom, https://www.stc.org/intercom/author-guidelines/ Accesed 1 April 2018

Matthys, Christopher. “Structure and Assumptions in Technical Communications and Philosophy.” 22 October 2017, https://www.variousinterests.net/blog/2017/10/20/75qgzve7klenw4t4jwjmat2iqerzc7

 Zalta, Edward N. ed. The Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy, https://plato.stanford.edu/index.html

EH 603 P3 – Raising Awareness for Autonomous Sensory Meridian Response (ASMR)

 

I. Introduction 

Have you ever watched Bob Ross paint his forests and mountain scenes and all of a sudden felt tingly shivers begin in your scalp and run down your spine? If you have, you probably have ASMR. Watching Bob Ross paint his happy little trees may be the oldest known example of how ASMR has gone from something personal (I thought it was just me) to something rapidly becoming globally recognized.

                                                                                                    

Bob Ross

 

Autonomous Sensory Meridian Response (ASMR) is a previously unstudied sensory phenomenon that is characterized as a relaxing, tingling sensation that begins at the scalp and travels through the arms, down the spine and legs triggered by audio and visual stimuli. Triggers may include audio and visual stimuli such as plastic crinkling, flipping pages of a magazine, and most popular, whispering.  People who experience ASMR claim that it greatly reduces insomnia, mild depression, and chronic pain without the need for costly and potentially harmful medication. Others who experience ASMR use its benefits to help them focus on problem-solving tasks that require high concentration. 

ASMRtists such as GentleWhispering (Maria), WhispersRed (Emma), and EphemeralRift upload ASMR videos to their Youtube channel several times a week. GentleWhispering, for example, has gathered over 1 million subscribers dedicated to listening and watching her perform tasks such as folding towels, cooking, and roleplaying as a travel agent or librarian. ASMRtists, such as Maria, have earned millions of dollars a year and have turned creating ASMR videos into a full-time career.

                                                   

WhispersRed (Emma) gently brushes her microphone.

While ASMR has not been clinically studied, there have been a few university studies using both controlled and uncontrolled groups. The studies aim to better understand ASMR through a scientific and medicinal perspective by considering what ASMR does to the body physically and neurologically.

                                                                                               

EphemeralRift
 

Other ASMR studies are less scientific and focus more on the critical perspective. For example, one peer reviewed article covers the feminist view by studying the intimacy created by the female voice. Another article, in particular, speaks of the new aesthetics of video media. Other articles cover the definition of ASMR and compare it to the opposite of misophonia, a mental condition in which certain sounds produces in the hearer anger and anxiety. Or, most interestingly, a type of synesthesia, the sensory phenomenon defined as the stimulation of one area of the brain which produces automatic, involuntary experiences in a second sensory or cognitive neural pathway, i.e. visual or auditory stimuli creating an automatic, involuntary, corporeal reaction.

II. Statement of Purpose

The purpose of this report is to gather information and raise awareness surrounding ASMR through various scientific, medicinal, and critical perspectives. The likelihood that someone has experienced ASMR in his or her lifetime is highly likely, but without exposure of the ASMR phenomenon, many people with this unusual condition would never know that real scientific studies and critical perspectives are on the rise. Furthermore, increased awareness will allow the benefits of ASMR to possibly replace potentially harmful and addictive anxiety, sleep, and pain medication.

III. Resources

If you are interested in learning more about ASMR, or would like to know how people are discovering ASMR, please visit:

Gentle Whispering ASMR at Youtube

ASMR University at  ASMR BLOG

 

But, chances are simply typing “ASMR” into Google will get you the best results!

 

EH603: Project 3: A home computer tech guide for

EH603 Final Project.

For this project in EH603 Technical Editing, I am creating a guide to home computer use. This guide will cover the following tasks for Windows 8.1 and Windows 10:

  • Connecting to/Setting up a wireless network
  • Adding a printer
  • Changing the screen resolution
  • Where to find useful tools in Windows 10

This guide is intended for people who are not as tech-savvy to help them setup or troubleshoot issues with their home PC on their own. I am someone who is the tech-guru of the family. Whenever someone has an issue with their PC or laptop, I am the one to be asked. We all have that person in our family whom we call on to help us with our home computers (perhaps you are that person!). When it comes to changing settings on your computer, sometimes it would be more helpful to have a visual guide rather than calling/texting your family’s tech-guru.

The idea for this help guide document came to me because I know how difficult it can be to find out solutions to problems online on your own. Oftentimes I have found when looking for a solution to a problem that there can be many answers, incomplete answers, or confusing answers. And usually the instructions lack any visual aids or don’t specify what Operating System the instructions are for. With this document, I hope to have a one-place guide for some common computer woes that users have. In a sense, this guide can be your family tech-guru on paper. 

The guide’s purpose is to help users with various computer settings and to partially serve as a troubleshooting guide. The ultimate hope is that with this guide, a less tech-savvy user will be able to learn and understand their computer better and be able to perform these tasks without the guide. 

The tasks I’ve chosen to cover are tasks that I believe are the most commonly used by home computer users. For example, in my own experience I’ve known someone who didn’t realize they could change their WiFi password (instead of using a predefined password that contained many characters and symbols). Knowing how to do this task allows the user to set their own unique password that is easier for them to remember (or give out to friends and family). 

I have chosen to cover these tasks in Windows 8.1 and Windows 10 as most PC’s will have either of these Operating Systems included. Some PC’s may still have Windows 7 on them, but the differences between Windows 8.1 and Windows 7 is not great. The Windows 8.1 tasks should operate nearly the same in Windows 7, so a Windows 7 user should be able to use this guide as well. 

The latter task (finding useful tools in Windows 10) stems from personal experience in trying to find some common useful tools that were moved in Windows 10. As someone who changes computer settings a lot (for work), when we upgraded our PCs to Windows 10 I could not find where the Control Panel was. Of course I could just type it into the search bar, but I preferred having it there as soon as I opened the Start Menu. With it located in the Start Menu (in Windows 8.1), I would not have to remove my hand from the mouse to start typing (or type with one hand until I got the search result).