Update: You can win one of three signed copies of this book here.
In this article, I interview Joan Lambert, author of Windows 7 Step by Step. At the conclusion of the interview, I share some highlights of her book and invite you to get your own copy.
Interview with Joan
Joan, thank you for taking time to share a little about yourself. Before we talk about your profession and book, I’m sure Windows Guides readers would like to get to know you better; tell us a little about yourself:
When did you first decide you would make a career of writing and helping others with software?
I’ve been contracting for Microsoft on and off since I was 17, and have always had a passion for technology. When I returned to the United States in 1997 after living for six years in New Zealand and working in non-technical fields, I joined my father’s company, which eventually became OTSI. I participated in the development of training materials for the original Microsoft Mastering Series, and was assigned to a product support position in which I ended up writing Help files, frequently teaching myself new technologies and features as there was a necessity to explain them to customers My first foray into book writing came several years later, and entirely by accident. As the Business Development Manager for OTSI, I had negotiated contracts for my company to write the Access 2002 Step by Step and FrontPage 2002 Step by Step books, with the assumption that two of my business partners who were experienced writers would write the books. It turned out, though, that I was the only FrontPage expert in the office, and the book ended up on my plate.
You’ve written 25+ books on Windows and Microsoft Office; why did you pick Windows and Office to write about?
I’d have to credit that to a combination of what clients have asked for and what I know well. Being a small business owner requires that I wear many hats and as such, need to be proficient in Windows, Office applications, SharePoint products and technologies, Exchange administration, server deployment, virtualization, accounting, and a host of other things. It would be fair to say that my days are always busy and never boring.
You are an owner at Graceful Impact, Inc. and President at Online Training Solutions, Inc. What is one key lesson you’ve learned as a president of a company?
Our people are our most valuable asset. In my 13 years at OTSI I’ve worked my way up from dataprep specialist to president. I’ve had the great pleasure and honor of working with and learning from an amazing team of talented and dedicated people. Over the years our business model has changed dramatically due to a variety of factors. We currently have a full-time team of eight fabulous women—many of whom have been with the company over 10 years—who unfailingly and without question do whatever needs to be done to turn out outstanding products. We also have a great team of contract resources we can call on to help us through busier times. We enjoy an excellent reputation with our clients, as evidenced by our longstanding status as a Microsoft Preferred Vendor, and that’s due to the dedication and quality focus of each of our team members.
How do you find time to preside at OTSI, manage Graceful Impact, Inc. and still write books?
Not very well, I’m sorry to say J All that and I have a six year old too!
I imagine you’re pretty good at getting a computer to help you with your workload; has Windows 7 aided in this? How?
Windows 7 absolutely rocks. Apart from the sheer speed advantages, there are so many user-friendly features built in to Windows 7 that simplify the entire computing experience. The Snap-to-Screen window management feature, for instance, which allows me to maximize windows in a shared pace, is something that I find myself constantly using…and it doesn’t work on my Windows Vista computer, which is frustrating and embarrassing…since I keep dragging windows off the screen and expecting them to snap into place.
As I read your book, Windows 7 Step by Step, I found it’s designed for users who consider themselves beginners, users with intermediate computing skills, or anyone in between. This description appropriately describes the demographic of subscribers to Windows Guides; however, there are many readers with advanced computing skills. What value does your book hold for these readers?
In our Step by Step books we make an effort to bridge the gap between marketing-speak and real life. I’ve been working with Windows 7 since before the original Alpha release. During the product development lifecycle, a lot of information is gathered together and eventually disseminated to the public; my experience has been, though, that the marketing materials describe features in a way that doesn’t necessarily make sense to even a dedicated Windows fan like myself. For example, there’s a lot of information available about WHAT you can do on a Windows 7 computer; we try to concentrate more on why and how you would use a feature to your benefit. And we include a lot of well-focused graphics to aid both visual learners and experienced Windows users in getting the information they need and want.
Windows 7 is packed with many new features; which feature is your favorite?
The Snap-to window management feature, which I mentioned before, allows you to drag a window or window frame to quickly resize or reposition the window. Another useful (and fun) feature is the Shake feature that closes all other open windows when you “shake” the title bar of one window. (This is particularly useful if you tend to have a dozen or more windows open at any one time, as I usually do). The new Aero Peek feature, which turns all the open windows transparent when you point to the Show Desktop button so you can see the desktop, is neat too.
If you could rebrand the Windows name, what would you call it? Why?
Tough question! I understand the concept of “Windows” in the context of the frames that programs and system controls are displayed in, but the operating system itself is so much more than that. I can think of all sorts of not-very-marketable names, so it’s probably best that I keep those to myself. All I ask is that they continue using version numbers so we can all keep up.
What is your number one tip for Windows users?
In my experience, whether you think a particular version of Windows will work for you or not, you’re right. Have faith, and Windows 7 won’t let you down! And if you need any tips, buy my book! Windows 7 Step by Step, available at every excellent book retailer near you.
Windows 7 Step by Step Details
Experience learning made easy—and quickly teach yourself the essentials of working with Windows 7. With STEP BY STEP, you set the pace—building and practicing the skills you need, just when you need them! Learn to manage windows and folders, sort and filter files, create an efficient Windows working environment, and safely access the Internet. You’ll learn how to install and manage software and hardware, create and manage homegroups, share content with other computers and computer users, and instantly locate content stored on your PC or network. You’ll also learn how to fine-tune your PC’s performance and resolve common problems. Plus, the supplied practice files give you a chance to hone your skills and put the book’s lessons to work.