Writing for PC Pro was one of my most demanding jobs. This piece about virtual private networks (VPNs) had two strands to it: an overview of the market in remote-connection technology and a hands-on look at a range of sample products.
For the overview, I read white papers and industry press. Once I had a feel for the current state of the market, I interviewed over a dozen networking professionals, academics and consultants, choosing the best interviews for inclusion in the piece. I also worked with the IT director of Swift Technologies, himself an avid PC Pro reader, to develop a real-life case study.
The hands-on element was more challenging, because many of the devices didn’t work as described. The SSL VPNs, in particular, seemed often to bear only a passing resemblance to the products described in their own user guides.
The answer was a painstaking process of testing and troubleshooting over two weeks: dialing into various gateways, installed at my home, from locations around Edinburgh, testing a range of settings, then dialing out and starting over. In the end, I got all the devices working.
My goal in writing, was to to keep to plain English as much as possible for a technology piece, keeping it uncluttered by jargon. Reading the piece today, it seems to have been included into the magazine almost untouched by the subs. I didn’t think they did that, on principle; so I’m going to take it as a win.
“Karl is one of those rare writers who not only understands technology, he also understands how businesses need to apply that knowledge. He’s a consummate professional who you can trust to hit promised deadlines; another rarity!” Tim Danton, editor, PC Pro.