Technical Writing - Content Development
Quality Assurance - Technical Support
Graphic Design - Infographics
Sound Design - Audio / Visual
Gary P. Swope
“Documenting the world, just so you know.”
M: (650) 269-6331
Click here for a MS Word 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 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 his company's name as far back as the mid-1980s. So when they say "He was GPS before GPS was GPS", it's absolutely true.
So what can Gary do?
With 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 wiz 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 an experienced 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 include 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. Gary is extremely savvy at diagnosing and resolving PC problems. He is a guru when it comes to 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. Gary has been webmaster of many domains, and has been running his own site (gpsproductions.com) for going-on 15 consecutive years.
Gary is also a creative 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).
How can Gary help your company?
Gary is adept at applying himself to a wide variety of responsibilities and has held positions in Technical Writing, Content Management, Quality Assurance (QA), Technical Support (Levels I and II), Graphic Design, Web & UI Development, Systems Engineering and A/V Production.
Top 15 Ways Gary Can Help Your Company Today
- Gathers Your Ideas: Gary gathers and converts raw data and ideas into web-based, printed or multimedia communications that transfer knowledge to your users.
- Gets You Organized: By making the organization of technical information invisible to the reader, Gary transforms disorganized information into a consistent interface and voice.
- Fixes Wording: Gary crafts congruent statements out of disjointed ideas not only in product specifications and engineering documents, but in customer facing publications. He fills in gaps in thinking to increase customers understand and appreciation of your company and its products.
- Corrects Errors and Cuts the Clutter: Vigilant about accuracy, Gary finds flaws in logic and fixes technical errors quickly. He flushes out ambiguity and removes irrelevant detail from documentation so as not to confuse your readers.
- Asks Questions, Takes Notes: Gary conducts thorough interviews with technical staff to gather data for his documentation. He presents subject-matter experts as extremely knowledgeable and articulate in any and all product documentation. Gary makes effective use of communication practices to foster harmonious relationships with team members and subject-matter experts.
- Learns it, Does it: Gary takes ownership and pride in his work. He learns fast and works hard to grasp complex technical concepts.
- Edits and Rewrites: Gary is an accomplished copy editor who advises where rewriting is needed, he does not rewrite on a grand scale, unless asked.
- Suggests Change: Although he may make suggestions for improving company documentation, Gary does not demand changes without reason.
- Keeps Your Style: Likewise, Gary maintains the original style and does not alter style without just cause.
- Gives the Reader what They Want: Gary designs documentation that contributes to the creation of happy, repeat customers and to the positive public perception of the products and organization he represents. Customers find Gary’s documents a good reason to use and therefore continue to purchase his employer's products (rather than those of a competitor).
- Helps the User Out: Gary is a user advocate, consultant and advisor, with the customer's success in mind. Gary sees the product from the end user's (or reader's) view point.
- Uses Technology to Connect: By staying current with technical writing trends, practices, tools and technologies, Gary harnesses the latest digital architectures to convey information to customers in a variety of media formats (PDF, HTML, XML, print, etc.).
- Juggles Multiple Projects and Publications: Although he is certainly capable of juggling multiple projects concurrently , Gary can also be a focused specialist. Either way, he is dependable and flexible.
- Gets it Done on Time: Gary is highly organized and proficient at delivering technical publications on time for deadline specific products.
- Saves your Company Money: By anticipating and addressing potential user support questions within his documents, Gary produces technical publications that reduce and alleviate the demand for customer technical support, thereby reducing your costs and saving your company money.
What will your Company Gain by Hiring Gary?
Top 10 Things Your Company will Gain by Hiring Gary
- An experienced Technical Writer, Quality Assurance Tester and Technical Support Engineer with a positive and outgoing attitude.
- A skilled documentation expert that can produce and deliver product manuals, user instructions, sales/marketing literature, web copy, Application-based HELP systems, or any combination thereof.
- Someone who can take ideas and find solutions to difficult problems.
- A writer who is detail oriented and vigilant about accuracy, yet speedy and prompt at providing deliverables.
- An engineer who learns fast and works well under pressure.
- A "techie" with strong analytical, trouble-shooting and problem-solving skills.
- Someone who works well with others yet is comfortable working independently.
- Someone responsible and dependable.
- Someone who takes ownership and pride in their work.
- A realist who is flexible and willing to compromise.
- Bonus: Someone who knows much, but is not afraid to ask questions when he doesn't understand something. With numerous friends, colleagues and contacts within the high technology computer industries, Gary can easily call upon a professional or subject matter expert to assist in a project when necessary.
Testimonials: What People are Saying about Gary
"Gary was, and is, one of those incredible types to manage! You don't need to give direction or guidance, but instead point him in the direction he needs to go, and he will figure it out and do it on his own! I had the tremendous opportunity to work with Gary a couple of times in the Bay Area, and I hope to have the chance to do so again in the future. Regardless of the role, Gary will be your A player!" - Mark P. (Gary's manager at Philips and Telocity).
"We hired Gary to create and maintain documentation for our portfolio of products and services provided by the Video Program in Cisco IT. Gary is a great technical writer that works well with his clients' team providing great results and value." - Firas A. (Theater IT Leader - Emerging Markets, Cisco Systems).
"Gary is very detail oriented & was a pleasure to work on projects with. He is calm under pressure while never compromising anything. Gary would be a great asset to any team." John E. (Portfolio Manager & Wealth Management Advisor).
"Gary did a really great job, It's clear, straightforward and professional. Thanks." - Donna S. (Senior Marcom Manager).
Gary, thanks for all your hard work in putting this together. Your creativity and initiative are impressive! . Joseph R. (Project Manager).
Looks great! Everything is fine. I appreciate Gary's efforts in making this happen on the "internal" website. Thanks. Sravan (Software Developer).
Hi Gary, These are excellent. I do like the format and style. We will have a meeting with Cisco reps on the 3rd and we can discuss the project with them while using these excellent slides. Thanks a lot. Best Regards. Seyed (Project Manager).
Hi Gary, Thank you, thank you, thank you! This looks really, really good, I may have some changes out of my meeting at 10am, if so I will let you know. Best, Kaylee.
This is perfect, thank you Gary, I really, really appreciate it!!! Best, Kaylee ( BMU Diagram Rev 1.03)
Hi Gary, This is really really good. Thanks! My apologies for not being able to get back to you sooner. We'd like a few more changes; see below: Thanks again, Zehra - Third-Party Software Developer.
Gary - this is amazing! Thank you so much for super quick turnaround. The diagram looks great to me but I'll check internally to see if we need any edits. Thanks again, Zehra
Milestone / eBay Network Standards: Campus Enterprise Diagrams.
These look great! I appreciate your formatting the Visio’s I sent you with the templates. Amazing as always Gary! Thanks, Faizal (Project Manager)
Gary, thanks.. This reads really well. Best regards, Jay P., Vice President of Sales (Company Website Content Rewrite).
"Documenting the World....Just so you know"
As a senior level Technical Writer, Gary has spent more than 10 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 and Office suites (especially Word, Excel, Outlook, PowerPoint and Visio).
Step-by-Step Documentation Planning
With every documentation project, Gary provides the following step-by-step benefits:
- He helps evaluate your target audience and the message you want to send to that audience.
- He analyzes the information involved and organize the content to be disseminated.
- He recommends the best communication solution (printed user manual, web-based HELP system, marketing brochure, or a combination thereof).
- He ensures that your finished product is professional, high-quality and user-friendly.
Types of Technical Publications:
Below are several lists indicating some of the types of technical publications Gary has written, designed and produced.
Gary's Product Documentation
- Hardware and software product user's manuals, administrator's guides and installation instructions.
- Web and application-based system configuration guides.
- Network architecture diagrams.
- 3D technical illustrations, infographics.
- Product graphics (logos, icons, banners and application animations).
- Product help systems.
- Product data sheets, white papers.
- Software development kits (SDKs), software integration guides.
Gary's Design Engineering Documentation
- Product and application requirements
- Functional specifications
- Reference design documentation
- Application User Interface (UI) design layouts
- System integration diagrams
- Engineering documentation templates
- Patent application documentation
Gary's Quality Assurance Documentation
- Quality Assurance test plans
- QA Testing coverage matrices
- QA databases for tracking product defects
Gary's Technical Support Documentation
- Technical Support content / Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ) lists
- Technical Support department procedures best practices guides and run books
- Technical Support / Knowledge Base repositories
Gary's Web-Based Documentation
- Web-based, inline application HTML Help Systems
- Intranet sites
- Web articles and blogs
- Knowledge Base repositories
- Google Sites
- Wiki-based document collectives
Gary's Corporate, Sales and Marketing
- Product data sheets, white papers, marketing collateral, literature design templates, CD Inserts
- Technical sales copy, news letters and press releases
- Training materials, corporate handbooks
- Department procedures and status reports
Gary's Online Help
Gary has experience creating online help that is user-friendly and effective. Using the latest authoring tools and development techniques, he can create a variety of help products including:
- Application help files ready to be included in your software product.
- HTML Help files for web-based applications.
- Context-sensitive help (mouse-overs).
- Stand-alone text help documents (readme.txt).
So Why Does Gary Write?
Before Gary became a Technical Writer, he spent 5+ years providing Technical Support and Quality Assurance for several computer / technology companies. While doing so, he came across a large number of frustrating, incomprehensive 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 what it is that the customer needs when it comes to effective product technical documentation.
It was soon clear to Gary that many of the product guides and manuals he relied on to perform his Technical Support / QA duties were at best missing critical information or at worst full of outright inaccuracies. Even more unfortunate is the fact that many companies tend to overlook (and underestimate) the importance of providing proper technical documentation for their products. Let’s face it, putting together a User’s Guide, for example, is often the last thing on the mind of the busy product manager or software engineer.
Capitalizing on these literary shortcomings, Gary took it upon himself to write short customer support oriented documents that addressed specific customer inquires he repeatedly saw as a Technical Support Engineer. It did not take long for him to compile dozens of these short support nuggets of knowledge. Eventually he created and deployed a complete Knowledge Base repository which made his support documents available to customers online. 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 help.
After his initial stints in the Technical Support world, he moved into software testing, taking a position as a Software Quality Assurance (SQA) Engineer. He became responsible for executing many different types of Quality Assurance 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, you would be good at that.”
Gary has since gone on to write and produce dozens (probably hundreds) of product manuals, user’s 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 polished 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 with all departments at an organization. He works well within a team as well as independently across multiple teams. He has worked closely with engineers, developers and product managers to resolve urgent technical issues and implement functional enhancements all while consistently delivering technically accurate and visually aesthetic documentation..
Quality AssuranceThe Quest to Discover What's Broken
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.
- In a single 11-month period as a Lead QA Engineer with one particular company, Gary personally identified over 350 critical defects in hardware, software and network infrastructure.
- As a Technical Writer at a different company, Gary individually uncovered over 50 significant bugs within the last 6 months of product development.
- 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.
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 in the Technical Writing panel, during the technical writing process, Gary also provides much needed Quality Assurance testing of the products for which he documents. 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 for which he will be testing. He also makes it a priority to provide follow-up regression of his open bugs, while seeing to the resolution of each.
Learning from the Ground Up
Getting Stated in Tech Support
In what was then his first real computer industry job (Technical Support Engineer), Gary learned the nuts, bolts, screws and wires of computers. Gary 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.
Now after taking thousands of technical support inquires, he has mastered the "People" skills required to efficiently handle customer support inquires in a high volume, high pressure environment.
He also gained critical experience providing technical support to outside application developers and partner system integrators. He has been promoted from first 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.
- Implemented email reply system that connected to knowledge base and which generated automated reply Email containing one of over 150 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.
- Web-based, enterprise applications for health care services.
- Web server and portal development applications (Sun Solaris and Red Hat Linux)
- 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
Product Support and Working with Others
As a five time Technical Support Engineer, Gary has learned to build strong relationships with all departments at each organization. He has learned how to work with and ask questions of software developers and product engineers with the goal of resolving technical issues reported by product users.
Graphic DesignEye-Catching and Accurate
Gary has a wide range of graphic and visual design experience. He can create custom artwork and a recognizable brand for any enterprise or can modify your current designs for any print application: Logos, Letterheads, Business Cards, Signage, Advertising.
He can create 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 and Microsoft Visio).
Graphic Design Accomplishments:
Some of the graphics he has produced include:
- Product Logos and Icons
- Hardware Product Decals
- Product Box Graphics
- Technical Illustrations
- Network Diagrams
- Software Installation Program Graphics
- Application UI Design Layouts
- Marketing Collateral
- Multimedia - Animations
Graphics and Working with Others
As a Graphic Designer, he has learned to be an excellent listener, so as to interpret exactly what his client wants and be able to deliver the most accurate representation of what was requested.
Audio Visual EngineeringMusic, Sound and Video Productions
- Veteran sound engineer with stagehand experience in small theater and large concert productions. 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 audio production tools and music sequencing software (Cakewalk Sonar, Sony Sound Forge, Vegas, Acid Pro, Adobe Premiere and Cubase). 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, he has worked with Concert Stagehands, Lighting and Sound Reinforcement Designers and Event Producers. As a Music and Sound Producer, he has interpreted his clients' requests and translated them into something that is appropriate, high quality and compelling.
Technical and Personal References
Gary can provide numerous professional, technical and personal references as well as samples from his extensive portfolio. Many samples of his work are available at the GPS Gallery.
Writing Consulting Graphics Sound Gallery Downloads About Home
- Accurate and Professional Technical Documentation
- Product Quality Assurance Testing
- First and Second Level Technical Support Services
- Complete PC Hardware Repairs
- Stunning Graphics, Logos and Illustrations
- Audio Video Engineering and Music Production
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