/*/* Gary's Resume
Gary's Resume Page

Gary P. Swope
Documenting the world, just so you know.”
M: (650) 269-6331

http://www.gpsproductions.com
gary@gpsproductions.com

Click HERE for a Microsoft .DOC version of Gary's resume.

Visit Gary's Portfolio page.

 

All About Gary

Who is Gary?

...and Why Should You Hire Him?


ATTENTION: Hiring Managers, Technical Recruiters, HR Administrators and everyone else.

If you are reading this, you are probably trying to find a skilled candidate to fill a specific technical writing role within your organization. Continue reading and you will understand why you should hire Gary (Gary P. Swope - A.K.A. GPS). In case you were wondering, his initials are indeed "GPS" and have been long before that silly satellite navigation technology came along. In fact, Gary started using "GPS Productions" as far back as the mid-1980s. So when he says "He was GPS before GPS was GPS", it's absolutely true.

So what can Gary do?

With his 20+ years of experience working in cutting-edge high technology sectors for some of Silicon Valley’s most ground-breaking companies, Gary has acquired a broad range of technical skills. Though some have called him a computer whiz and others a computer nerd, Gary prefers "technology enthusiast". The truth is, he has an unquenchable curiosity in anything technical. In addition to being multi-skilled, highly knowledgeable and thoroughly experienced, he is above all else extremely modest. OK seriously....

Here's what Gary can do

  • Gary is a seasoned Technical Writer for diverse audience types and technical levels, who has produced a wide variety of multi-platform informational publications in a broad assortment of media formats (PDF, HTML, HTML Help, MS Doc, Google Docs, Google Sites, FrameMaker, InDesign, Visio, hard copy, CD-ROM and more).

    Gary has produced hundreds of technical documents, some of which were hardware and software product installation and configuration manuals, product requirements, functional specifications, API and SDK documentation, reference design guides, Web Services integration documentation and diagrams, system administration guides, UI (user interface) copy and wire frame prototypes, Internet and Intranet web sites, FAQ lists, HTML help systems, quality assurance (QA) test plans / test matrices, employee guidelines, department reports, sales & marketing copy, web-based support articles, blogs and more.

  • He is a highly skilled Quality Assurance Engineer experienced at testing hardware, software, network and web environments. He is proficient at detecting, analyzing, conveying and resolving defects. He is extremely savvy at diagnosing and resolving PC problems. He is a guru at repairing broken PC computers and is a master builder of custom PCs from scratch.

  • Gary is a veteran Technical Support Engineer with over five years of experience efficiently handling phone, fax,email and web based inquires in a high volume, high pressure support environment. In fact, in a one year stretch as a Technical Support Engineer, he personally handled and resolved over 10,000 customer support inquires (via phone, fax, email, postal mail, CompuServe and BBS). He has also written, produced and published numerous Technical Support related documents, Knowledge Base articles and Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ) entries.

  • He is a talented Webmaster with In-depth knowledge of web design, HTML, XML, CSS and site hosting. He has been webmaster of many domains, and has been running his own site (gpsproductions.com) for going-on 15 consecutive years.

  • Gary is also an accomplished Graphic Designer with expertise producing program graphics, technical illustrations, network diagrams, UI layout designs, application icons, logos, marketing collateral and multimedia in many different formats (jpg, gif, psd, pdf, ai, bmp, tiff, vsd, cur, ico, avi, mpg, Flash and many more).

Technical Writing

"Documenting the World....Just so you know"

Gary's Technical Writing Page

As a senior level Technical Writer, Gary has spent more than 18 years creating, writing, producing and editing technical publications for companies in some of Silicon Valley's most exciting high tech sectors. He has expert knowledge of Adobe InDesign, FrameMaker, Photoshop, Illustrator and Dreamweaver, as well as all Microsoft operating systems, Office suite applications (especially Word, Excel, Outlook, PowerPoint and Visio). He is also a master of Google tools and LibreOffice applications.

Step-by-Step Documentation Planning

Gary provides the following step-by-step benefits:

  • He helps evaluate your target audience and the message you want to send.
  • He analyzes the content involved and organizes it to be disseminated.
  • He recommends the best communication solutions for the message you want to deliver, be it printed, web-based or bundled, or any combination thereof.
  • He ensures that your product documentation is factually accurate, professional looking, and user-friendly.

Types of Technical Publications:

Below are some of the types of technical publications Gary has written, designed and produced.

Gary's Product Documentation

  • 3D technical illustrations and infographics.
  • Administrator's guides.
  • API (Application Programming Interface) documentation
  • Hardware and software product manuals and installation instructions.
  • Network architecture diagrams.
  • Product data sheets.
  • Product graphics (logos, icons, banners and application animations).
  • Product help systems.
  • Software development kits (SDKs) and integration guides.
  • Web application guides.
  • White papers.

Gary's Design Engineering Documentation

  • Engineering document templates.
  • Functional specifications.
  • Patent application documentation.
  • Product requirements documents (PRD).
  • Reference design manuals.
  • System integration and web services diagrams.
  • User Interface (UI) design, layout and copy.

Gary's Quality Assurance Documentation

  • QA databases for tracking product defects.
  • QA test coverage matrices.
  • QA test plans.

Gary's Technical Support Documentation

  • End-user based Technical Support content.
  • Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ) lists.
  • Knowledge Base repositories.
  • Technical Support department procedures best practices guides and run books.

Gary's Web-Based Documentation

  • Google Sites
  • Intranet sites
  • Knowledge Base repositories
  • Web articles and blogs
  • Web-based, inline application HTML Help Systems
  • Wiki-based document collectives

Gary's Corporate, Sales and Marketing

  • Departmental procedures
  • CD/DVD inserts
  • Corporate HR handbooks
  • Corporate literature design templates
  • Marketing collateral
  • News letters and press releases
  • Patent application documentation
  • Product data sheets
  • Team status reports
  • Technical sales copy
  • Training materials
  • White papers

Gary's Online Help

Gary has experience creating web-based help systems that are user-friendly and effective. Using the latest authoring tools and development techniques, he creates a wide variety of help-based products including:

  • Application help files ready to be included in a software product.
  • Context-sensitive help (mouse-overs).
  • HTML Help file source code to PDF deliverable.
  • Stand-alone text help documents.

So Why Does Gary Write?

Before Gary became a Technical Writer, he spent 5+ years providing Technical Support and Quality Assurance for several companies in the computer graphics industry. While doing so, he came across a large number of frustrating, incomprehensible and/or unintelligible product manuals and technical documents. He also heard directly from end users, OEM customers and third party application developers who were annoyed by (and therefore quick to point out) the ambiguities in the documentation they were provided. So Gary learned first hand how to deliver effective technical documentation.

Starting Out

It soon became clear to Gary that many of the product manuals he relied on to perform his Technical Support / QA duties were at best lacking critical information or at worst full of outright inaccuracies. Many companies overlook (and underestimate) the importance of providing proper technical documentation for their products. Let's face it, putting together a User Guide, for example, is often the last thing on the mind of the busy Project Manager.

As a Technical Support Engineer, Gary made up for a lack of proper technical documentation by writing his own product support documents. It did not take him long to compile dozens of these short support nuggets of knowledge. Those snippets would later became integrated in an automated email system Gary designed that would automatically reply to specific customer inquires. Eventually he created and deployed a complete Knowledge Base repository which made his support documents available to customers worldwide. In doing so, many thousands of dollars were saved as customers could now find answers to their problems online, rather than having to call or email the company for Technical Support assistance.

Moving On and Up

After his initial stints in the Technical Support world, Gary moved into software testing, taking a position as a Software Quality Assurance (SQA) Engineer. He became responsible for executing many different types of QA tests, including Performance, Usability, Use Case, Regression, Acceptance, Security, Module Integration, Post-Deployment Verification, White Box / Black Box and Stress Testing. SQA gave him the opportunity to hone his writing skills by authoring department test procedures and product test coverage matrices.

Eventually he gravitated to Technical Writing and its related fields: Knowledge Management, Document Control and Content Engineering. In fact, one day when Gary asked one of his previous managers for a reference for a possible Technical Writing opportunity, his ex- manager replied “Sure, I bet you would be good at that.”

Gary has since gone on to write and produce hundreds of product manuals, user guides and other technical publications. He actually enjoys researching and documenting solutions for difficult technical issues. You might say that he has made it his duty to consistently produce the highest quality, most accurate and visually aesthetic technical documentation possible.

Adding Some QA to the Mix

In addition to writing and producing technical documents, Gary uses his previously acquired QA skills to provide much needed testing of the hardware or software for which he is documenting. After all, one can not write professional technical documents when one finds glaring bugs and gaping holes in the product. Through his experience, Gary has learned that Technical Writers and Quality Assurance Engineers can and should work closely together, and by doing so they complement each other. Technical Writers often identify product defects overlooked by standard QA test methodologies. Likewise, QA Engineers have a knack for finding technical anomalies in the ongoing documentation.

Writing and Working with Others

Experience has taught Gary to build strong relationships across all departments at an organization. He works well within a single team, but can also work independently or across multiple teams. He has worked closely with engineers, developers and product managers not only to gather data for his technical documents, but to help resolve urgent technical issues.

Quality Assurance

The Quest to Discover What's Broken

Gary's QA & Consulting Page at GPS Productions

Gary spent a number of years, early on in his career, as a QA Engineer, discovering and identifying hardware and software bugs. He has performed many types of quality tests including white box, black box, module integration, regression and acceptance testing. He is highly proficient at detecting, analyzing, conveying and resolving defects.

QA Achievements:

  • In a single year as a Lead QA Engineer with one particular company, Gary personally identified over 350 critical defects in hardware, software and network infrastructure.
  • Gary was once promoted to the Network Deployment QA Team responsible for verifying post-deployment functionality of web-based production network environments.
  • He has created defect-tracking databases and produced guidelines for QA procedures and test methodologies.
  • As a Technical Writer at a different company, Gary individually uncovered over 50 significant bugs within the final 6 months of product development.

QA Tested Products:

  • Web-based utilities for managing and monitoring interactive kiosk terminal networks.
  • Web-based SaaS (Software as a Service) applications.
  • RFID (Radio Frequency Identification) hardware, networks, software and firmware.
  • 3D video graphics accelerators and audio hardware, software, drivers and BIOS code.
  • DSL technologies including: DSL hardware, associated software, web-based Operational Support System (OSS) and DSL line provisioning support systems.

Product Testing and Working with Others

As mentioned earlier, during the technical writing process, Gary provides much needed Quality Assurance testing of the product that he is documenting. He has learned that when Technical Writers and Quality Assurance Engineers work closely together, they complement each other. His technical writing knack gives him the ability to identify product defects overlooked by QA engineers. Likewise, QA reviews of ongoing documentation can help uncover errors not noticed by the writer. With hardcore QA experience, Gary is capable and comfortable performing the duties of both roles.

As a QA Engineer, Gary has worked closely with Product Managers and HW/SW engineers to not only report significant bugs and/or product defects he identifies, but to learn as much as possible about the product he will be testing. He also makes it a priority to provide follow-up regression of his open bugs, while personally seeing to the resolution of each.

Technical Support

Learning from the Ground Up

Gary's Technical Support & Consulting Page at GPS Productions

Getting Started in Technical Support

In what was then his first real computer industry job (Technical Support Engineer), Gary learned the nuts, bolts, screws and wires of computers. He is now extremely savvy at diagnosing PC problems. Gary can repair faulty PC computers as well as build them from scratch, one part at a time if need be.

Now after handling thousands of technical support inquires, he has mastered the "People" skills required to efficiently resolve customer support inquires in a high volume, high pressure environment.

Gary has provided technical support to outside application developers and partner system integrators. He has been promoted to second level Technical Support Escalation teams and has been assigned Technical Liaison responsibilities on behalf of his support colleagues.

Serious Numbers - Serious Support

In one particular 12-month stretch as a Technical Support Engineer, Gary personally handled and resolved over 10,000 customer support inquires via phone, fax, email, postal mail, and web posting.

Gary's Technical Support Achievements:

  • Produced over 100 support related documents, some of which resulted in the elimination of thousands of potential customer support inquiries, thereby saving his employer and clients thousands of dollars per document.
  • For employer A: investigated and documented solutions for problems reported by corporate partners: Dell, HP, Logitech and Corel.
  • For employer B: verified and documented product defects reported by OEM customers: Compaq, Gateway, HP, IBM, and Toshiba.
  • Designed, implemented and administered databases used for call tracking, knowledge base management and Return Merchandise Authorization (RMA) administration.
  • Integrated email reply system with knowledge base to generate automated reply email message from over 150 possible technical articles.
  • Acted as primary Technical Support contact for internal users.
  • Generated weekly Failure Analysis reports and Technical Support statistical analysis summaries for Management team.

Supported Products:

  • 3D video accelerator chips, graphic adapters, audio cards, drivers and BIOS code.
  • Computer-based, home theater and audio/video convergence products.
  • Electronic Data Interchange (EDI) system, network and client transactions
  • Web-based, enterprise applications for health care services.
  • Web server and portal development applications (Sun Solaris and Red Hat Linux)

Product Support and Working with Others

As a five time Technical Support Engineer, Gary has learned how to find answers. He is not shy when it comes to asking questions. His ultimate goal is to produce documentation that is so effective that most product users will never need to contact Technical Support for help.

Graphic Design

Eye-Catching and Accurate

Gary's Graphic Design Page at GPS Productions

Gary's Web Gallery Slide Show

Gary has a wide range of graphic and visual design experience. He can create technical illustrations, infographics, custom artwork and a recognizable brand for any enterprise: logos, letterhead, business cards, signage, advertising.

He creates graphics in many different formats (jpg, gif, psd, pdf, ai, bmp, tiff, vsd, cur, ico, avi, mpg, Flash and many more) and has expertise in many graphics applications (in particular Adobe Photoshop, Illustrator, Microsoft Visio and GIMP for Linux).

Graphic Design Accomplishments:

Some of the graphics Gary has produced include:

  • Application UI Design Layouts
  • Hardware Product Decals
  • Marketing Collateral
  • Multimedia - Animations
  • Network Diagrams
  • Product Box Graphics
  • Product Logos and Icons
  • Software Installation Program Graphics
  • Technical Illustrations

Graphics and Working with Others

As a Graphic Designer, Gary has learned to be an excellent listener, so as to correctly interpret his client's needs and deliver an accurate representation.

Audio Visual Engineering

Music, Sound and Video Productions

Gary's A/V and Sound Engineering Page at GPS Productions

  • Gary is also a veteran sound engineer with stagehand experience in small theater and large concert productions. He is highly proficient at installing, operating and maintaining audio, video and computer related equipment.
  • Professional level knowledge of sound design, acoustics, music theory and digital audio production. Extensive experience working with mixing consoles, signal processors and effects (VST and DirectX).
  • Lengthy background in multimedia development and the use of computer based Digital Audio Workstation (DAW) production tools and software (Reaper, Cakewalk Sonar, Sony Sound Forge, Vegas, Acid Pro, Adobe Audition, Cubase and Ardour for Linux). Advanced knowledge of digital audio encoding formats and MIDI instrumentation.
  • Seasoned music producer, songwriter, arranger and session guitarist with a plethora of chops and recording studio know-how (including music writing and producing credentials for TV, movies, radio, web and multimedia projects).
  • Skilled at configuring and troubleshooting complex commercial Audio / Video equipment, home theater products, equipment racks, satellite, telephone systems, plasma/LCD, Projection systems, media rooms, monitoring and speakers.

Working with Others

As an Audio Visual Technician, Gary has worked with Concert Stagehands, Lighting and Sound Reinforcement Designers and Event Producers. As a Music and Sound Producer, he interprets his clients' requests and translates them into sound that is appropriate, high quality and compelling.

See Gary's Sound page.

Technical and Personal References

Gary can provide numerous professional, technical and personal references as well as samples from his extensive portfolio. Many more samples of his work are available at the GPS Gallery.

 

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