Thoughts…Words…

Tips for Technical writing in English

Posted in Community, Education, Empowerment, Income Generation by udoit on March 4, 2012

Recently, my friend asked me to review some technical document and requested me to give some suggestions to improve it. The following paragraphs are my response. The paragraphs titled as Original Version are from the received document and the rest of them are my comments and suggestions.

Original Version

This summary provides a description of the Proposed Service offering from ABCSoft to XYZSol.

The service offering includes:

  • Technical Support Services with (ABCSE) ABCSoft certified Engineers
  • Logging and Reporting
  • POC for ABCSoft Products
  • Vulnerability Assessment

Objective is to enable ABCSoft Customers and Partners to get most from ABCSoft products after the initial sale and installation. ABCSoft specializes in Information Technology with specific focus on Technical Support Services and Cloud based POC as a service offering, these services include support from ABCSoft certified Engineers and Lab resources, which could be remotely accessed over the cloud to do demos/POCs. ABCSoft offers years of professional experience and expertise while providing a low cost solution to solving your network security support needs.

My Version

ABCSoft specializes in Technical Support Services and Cloud based Proof of Concepts (POCs) as a service offering with emphasis on enabling ABCSoft customers and partners to get most from ABCSoft products after the sale and installation. This summary describes ABCSoft’s proposed service offering to XYZSol.

The service offering includes:

  • Technical Support Services with ABCSoft certified Solution Engineers (ABCSE)
  • Logging and Reporting
  • POC for ABCSoft Products
  • Vulnerability Assessment

These services include support from ABCSoft certified Engineers and Lab resources, which could be remotely accessed over the cloud to do demos and build POCs. ABCSoft offers years of professional experience and expertise to your network security support needs with competitive prices.

Reasons for my changes

Always use full form during first time followed by acronym, subsequent occurrence can be just acronym. In this case, the acronym POC is used without full form.

The word Objective in the last paragraph of the Original version was bit confusing. I guess it mentions about the proposed service offering’s objective however the words chosen for that sentence are more appropriate to describe the objective of ABCSoft.

I am not sure demos and POCs are interchangeable. To my knowledge, you build Proof of Concepts to demonstrate the capabilities. It was bit confusing.

The words like “low cost” don’t give desired feeling to the customer, it sounds like “cheap”. Instead competitive will be a good word.

Original Version

We provide business aligned security solutions by combining the widely accepted IT best practices, models and standards using the perspectives of people, process, technology, organization, and integration. Our approach starts by having an unambiguous understanding the business strategy and we follow a structured way to define and categorize the enterprise process, technology and capability requirements.

However for any enterprise to successfully execute the business strategy, information security plays a key role in ensuring that strategic capabilities are securely planned, developed, and implemented. We obtain a thorough knowledge of security requirements, risk assessments and risk management. As Information security management system is our primary objective, we implement a security policy, its objectives and activities reflect the business objectives of the organization.

My Version

We provide business aligned security solutions by combining the widely accepted IT best practices, models and standards using the perspectives of people, process, technology, organization, and integration. Our approach is, first understand the business’s strategy clearly then follow a structured plan to define and categorize processes, technologies and capability requirements.

Information security plays a key role in any enterprise to successfully execute the business strategy. It ensures that strategic capabilities are securely planned, developed and implemented. As Information security specialists, we have thorough knowledge of assessing and managing security risks and our mission is to implement security policies that align with the objectives of the organization.

Reason for changes

The problems in the above two paragraphs are grammar and usage of words, especially the order of the words. English language prescribes a natural order for words in a sentence. Unfortunately, the natural order of words in English and Tamil (other similar languages) are opposite. Therefore, our writings (most of the time) will have confusing order of words. For example, look at this simple sentence: John practices Karate every day. Here the verb – practices – is sandwiched between two nouns. It is the natural order of words in English but in Tamil verb usually goes to last. If you follow this rule it will be easy for the reader to find what the subject is, what the verb is and what the object is. Once the reader identifies these three (subject, object, and verb) then it’s easier for them to understand the sentence. For example, consider the following 3 sentences:

  • John practices Karate every day to keep fit.
  • John stays fit by practicing Karate every day.
  • To stay fit, John practices Karate every day.

The 3rd sentence is a perfect sentence; still do you like the 3rd sentence? In my opinion, it is bit confusing because you cannot clearly identify which is Subject and which is object.

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What will I do…?

Posted in Community, Education, Empowerment, Income Generation by udoit on June 28, 2011

Oscar Wilde’s quote – “We are all in the gutter, but some of us are looking at the stars” – tells you to try your best no matter what, then rewards will follow. Marichelvam – a high school graduate – from an angler family in a small village located in southern (most) India proved that the above-mentioned quote is true not just a wit or sarcasm. His achievement in the 2011 statewide High school examinations and the manner that he achieved is unbelievable, breathtaking and above all it delivers the message “do not complain, stay focus”. In this post, we will see Mari alias Marichelvam’s achievement, the challenges he faced (is facing) and what it means to me.

Marichselvam

Marichelvam

During third week of May 2011, a bunch of Mari’s classmates came to his house, lifted him and screamed with joy “Mari you scored 490 out of 500 and you are the District first.” Why he did not go to see the statewide High school exam results? What is the reason behind the fact that he was busy with helping his mother to collect firewoods and turning them into coal? Mari’s father worked as a labor in fishing boats, and he wanted Mari to study well so despite his medical conditions (brain tumor), he insisted Mari to continue studies. Unfortunately, two months before Mari’s statewide high school exams, his father died because of brain tumor. When Mari decided to quit his studies to help his mother to win bread and take care of his elder sister, his mom advised him to continue studies. In addition, she sent Mari to his eldest sister’s house to stay and study with more focus. His eldest sister and her husband (brother-in-law) always helped Mari’s family in all regards and encouraged him to continue his studies. When two of his exams over and he was preparing for his Math exam, his eldest sister had heart attack and died on the way to the hospital. His brother-in-law, returned to home with his eldest sister’s body, told him “we will delay the funeral so you continue to prepare and finish the Math exam”. Mari spent the night besides his eldest sister’s body preparing to Math exam and he attended his eldest sister’s funeral after finishing the exam. When he came back from the funeral, he continued to prepare for the next day Science exam and then the following day he finished his social studies exam also. He scored 100 out of 100 in Math and 99 out of 100 in Science. I have no words to describe his achievements, scoring 100 and 99 in Math and Science respectively is an extraordinary achievement, but the manner that he achieved is an unheard event. In the history of humankind did anybody achieved this feat?

Mari's family

Mari with his sister and mother

Let us see the background and the challenges Mari faced (and continues to face) in his life. Mari lived in a small village located at a coastal district called Ramanathapuram district with one sister (two other sisters were married) and parents . His father worked as a labor in fishing boats that fished in Gulf of Mannar. Like Gulf of Aden, Gulf of Mannar is one of the most dangerous places due to Sri Lankan navy’s frequent and unjust attacks on Indian anglers. In addition to this hazardous working condition, his father also suffered from brain tumor, despite all these, he insisted Mari to study well. His eldest sister who was middle school topper like him could not able to continue her studies due to social and financial reasons. However, she and her husband supported his family financially. Unfortunately, Mari lost his father and the eldest sister before the exams. Mari also suffers with severe headaches for the past two years due to a heart condition, which can be cured by a surgery and the doctors advised him to wait for that surgery until he turns 21. Even though, everybody regards (including me) him as an achiever, he considers himself as a sinner because while everybody was grieving for his sister’s death, he was preparing for exams. He still cannot able to get over that fact and weeps frequently.

What I learn from his life, in other words what it means to me? Besides, it is breathtaking, unheard and unbelievable etc; it rises following questions. What I did so far in my life? What will I do when I face these kinds of challenges? Am I going to look at the stars like Mari? On the other hand, am I going to complain about the gutter’s filth and stinkingness? I am not sure, but I decided to stop complaining.

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Education, Hard work and Progress

Posted in Community, Education, Empowerment, Income Generation by udoit on December 6, 2009

Reducing the gap between rich and poor is an interesting and the most controversial subject for many years. One of the popular solution to that problem is reducing the gap in the early school education’s standards. President George W Bush’s No Child Left Behind (NCLB) Act’s focus area was to cut the achievement gap between well-off and lower-income students or between minority students and non-minority students. This post tells success story of one such a program “Sarva Shiksha Abhiyan” (SSA). SSA is Government of India’s effort to universalize elementary education by community-ownership of the school system. It is a response to the demand for quality basic education all over the country. The following paragraph is from SSA program’s monitoring report.

This school built and acquired facilities, equipment and other provisions worth Indian Rupees Rs.1,000,000 (about USD $25,000). It has Internet facility and a Science laboratory having instruments worth Rs.50,000 (about $1,250) with separate sections for Physics, Chemistry and Biology. There are separate toilets for men and women staff, boys and girls students. Each classroom has a TV. Movies and other programs are broadcasted from library and Headmaster’s room during lunch break. There is a spacious noon meal center facility that can accommodate hundred students. The school with compound wall and various blocks such as class rooms, library, lab and storage rooms looks like a college campus.

Mangudi middle school - Noon Meal center

Noon Meal center

Story Highlights 

  •  Middle school in a small village transforms its status due to a visionary Headmaster, supportive villagers, teachers and students.
  • Passion and hard work combined with Government and community involvement can make anything possible.
  •  An Institution stands for its motto “Education, Hard work and Progress“.

It is neither about a Private school nor a Public school in wealthy neighborhood of a City (State/District capital). It is about Mangudi Panchayat Union Middle School, located 7 kilometers from Aranthangi, Pudukottai District, Tamil Nadu. The Mangudi village’s population is 1,581 and 241 children study in that middle school with 0% dropout rate. If this school in a small village without proper road access can do so much, why other schools with better road access cannot do none of these? Let us see the reason.

Mr. Jothimani, Mangudi middle school’s Headmaster is the key person behind these achievements. During his 20 years of experience as school teacher and teacher training instructor (includes one year as SSA program instructor), he completed over 200 training courses on teaching and school management. All those knowledge and experience combined with his relentless efforts, enabled to create a “dream school”. Whatever he taught in SSA program about community-owned education system, was implemented in Mangudi Middle school through villagers, village education committee and Tamil Nadu Endowment Trust (a trust constituting Tamils living in all over the world).

Headmaster Mr. Jothimani

Mr. Jothimani (on the left)

“If this school in a small village without proper road access can do so much, why other schools with better road access cannot do none of these?”

Mr. Jothimani, his team and Mangudi villagers proved that poor children can get best education with community ownership and a good leadership. In summary, they reduced the gap between the Poor and Rich in village children’s school education. Mr. Jothimani is awarded Tamil Nadu state best teacher award for year 2009. It is really an honor to that award. I want to finish this post by listing more features of Mangudi middle school:

  • Promotes hygiene and health awareness among children. Children who are not able to take bath in their homes, can take bath in school bathrooms.
  • The school has separate pits for bio-degradable and non-degradable wastes. The pits are constructed at the cost of Rs.10,000 (about $250).
  • The school garden has both ornamental and medicinal plants. The school has over 50 trees like ‘Pungan’ and ‘Neem’ giving cool shade and healthy air.
  • Under a Savings Scheme, children deposit small amounts every month (recurring deposit). When they graduate out of the school, the accumulated lump sum will be handy for their higher educations.
  • Special training is given thrice a week for interested students  to develop oratory skills .
  • Received Tamil Nadu State government’s best elementary school award for 2007-08, Unicef’s ten star award for hygiene and sanitation facilities and a several awards from various organizations.
  • Students has good knowledge of desktop productivity softwares, like word processors, PageMaker and PowerPoint. Students prepare PowerPoint presentations as part of their group assignments and do presentations in their class room.
  • There are several student’s committees to oversee and do various day-to-day activities like Records maintaining, Library management, Drinking water facilities, and Hygiene oversight. 200 out of 241 students actively participate in these committees.

References:

http://www.luckylookonline.com/2009/10/blog-post_03.html

http://www.educationforallinindia.com/SSA1.htm

http://ssa.nic.in/ssadoc/mirowno-2-1st-oct-06-31st-march-07/TamilnaduAlgappaUnversity.pdf

http://georgewbush-whitehouse.archives.gov/news/releases/2002/01/20020108.html

http://www.educationforallinindia.com/SSA1.htm

Related News:

http://www.hindu.com/2007/09/15/stories/2007091558230200.htm

http://www.thehindu.com/2009/07/11/stories/2009071150510200.htm

http://www.hinduonnet.com/thehindu/thscrip/print.pl?file=2008122950860200.htm&date=2008/12/29/&prd=th&