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Technical Writing

Giving Directions

Giving Directions

Background: This would be an example aimed at employees of a credit union. Graphics are not included because this writing sample was originally written for an online form which stripped out all formatting from the source document.

How to Change your Alert Notifications for Members

Members can control and change all alert notifications that your credit union has previously set to “Editable” within the Administration Console. As an employee, you’re able to edit these same notifications for the Member upon request.

Adding a New Alert Notification

  1. Log into the Administration Console.
  2. Navigate to the menu Account Lookup.

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  1. Enter the account number and click Submit.

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  1. Scroll down to the bottom of the page to the “Alerts” section.
  2. Click the Add New Alert button.

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  1. Choose an alert category from the drop-down menu. For this example, we will choose Low Balance.

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  1. Enter the parameters of the new alert, depending on the type you chose. In this example, enter an amount in the Amount field, “10.00.”

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  1. Click the Submit button to finish.
  2. Verify that the new alert notification is now listed in the Member’s list of Alert Notifications in the list below.

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Deleting an Alert Notification

  1. Log into the Administration Console.
  2. Navigate to the menu Account Lookup.

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  1. Enter the account number and click Submit.

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  1. Scroll down to the bottom of the page to the “Alerts” section.
  2. Navigate to the list of alert notifications the Member already has.

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6. Click in the check box next to each alert notification you are wanting to delete.

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  1. Choose Delete from the drop-down menu.

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  1. Click the Yes button in the pop-up modal to confirm your choice or click Cancel to return back to the Alert Notifications list to make changes.

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  1. Once you have deleted the notification, verify that it no longer appears in the Member’s list.

Updating an Existing Alert Notification

  1. Log into the Administration Console.
  2. Navigate to the menu Account Lookup.

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  1. Enter the account number and click Submit.

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  1. Scroll down to the bottom of the page to the “Alerts” section.
  2. Navigate to the list of alert notifications the Member already has.

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  1. Click in the check box next to each alert notification you are wanting to update.

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  1. Choose Edit from the drop-down menu.

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  1. Change the value in the space provided based on the alert notification requirements. In this example, we will update the Low Balance Alert Notification to read “15.00” instead of “10.00.”

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  1. Click the Submit button to finish.

Important:

Not all alert notifications are able to be edited or deleted due to current FDIC regulations and or other applicable laws. If you see an alert notification in the Member’s current Alert Notification list but it is grayed out, then it is not eligible for editing or deleting. Neither you, nor the Member will able to change this. If you have any other problems with the process or need further assistance, please call technical support at 1-888-555-HELP.

Technical Concept: Database Design

Technical Concept: Database Design

Note: This was originally written as an example of explaining a technical concept in simple terms. The form it was submitted to did not allow for graphics to be embedded. Placeholders have been added to the document, as an example of where graphics would be placed.

Behind every computer program, software package or mobile app, exists a database in one shape or form.

A database is storage place for pieces of information the software can draw upon to display back to the user. Databases can be written to, read from, or even updated.

How you design the database will determine the ease in which the software can retrieve the pieces of information and whether or not the data is stored correctly.

What’s Under the Hood

Databases are made up of things called tables. A table holds rows of information. Each row holds a set of information for only one person or item. Every row runs into columns. Each column contains individual pieces of information for that person or item.

EXAMPLE: A table of names and mailing addresses will be made up of rows, with each row containing the address of each person. Each row will run into columns that contains a first name, last name, house number, street name, city, state, and ZIP Code.

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Simple vs. Complex – Examples

Some databases are simple and some are very complex.

Simple:

If you’re using a computer game, like “Solitaire” then the database behind it may be very simple. The only pieces of information it might be storing are the:

  • Card Value: (number or letter)
  • Card Suit: (Spade, Club, Heart, Diamond)

It may store one or two more variables and it will likely only have one table of information to draw from.

Complex:

If you’re using something like an online banking software, then you’re dealing with a complex database design. You’ll have several tables of information. You will most likely have a table for:

  • Customer Addresses: First Name, Last Name, Street Address, House Number, City, State, Zip Code, Phone Number, Foreign Number (Yes or No), Email address
  • Customer Login Information: Username, Password, Last Login Date, Last Login Time, Failed Login Count, Last Failed Attempt
  • Checking Accounts: Type (Personal or Business), Interest Rates, Minimum Balance Required Amount, Monthly Fee Amount
  • Loan Accounts: Type (Personal or Business), Interest Rates, Approval Code, Date Opened, Past Due (Yes or No), Past Due Amount, Fees, Minimum Payment, Date Closed, Payoff Amount
  • e-Statements: Enrollment Date, Disclosure Date, Number of Statements Available

This is not all of the tables of information you would have for this type of software. As you see, the more functions that are performed within a software, the more tables that are required. The more tables you have to have, the more important it becomes to make sure the database is designed so that each table can be linked together in logical ways.

How Databases are Linked

Databases are linked together with something called a “Primary Key.”

A primary key is a specific piece of information that is unique to every person or item in the table.

Example keys could be an account number or a random number assigned by the database. Databases can have “Secondary Keys”, but the primary key is the absolute unique identifier of the person or item in question.

Linking databases together properly allows the software to retrieve information related to a person or item, by referencing the key we choose in the design stages, from more than one table at a time.

In the next chapter, we’ll take a look at keys, how to decide which ones to use, and when.

Summary

Database design should be done before any actual coding takes place. All of the relevant factors should be taken into consideration and the information organized into logical groups that could be placed into tables. Each individual piece of information should have its own column. Databases can be simple or complex and should contain unique identifiers assigned to each person or item being referenced.

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Terms

Table: a space that holds all of the information logically grouped together that has a common theme like an address table, color table, or a login information table.

Primary Key: a unique identifier to the person or item being referenced. Primary keys cannot be duplicated or changed once assigned in order to work properly. Keys are used to link tables together.

Secondary Key: another key used in addition to the Primary Key, in order to retrieve information on a person or item.

The Rise of Verifiable Credentials Technology

The Rise of Verifiable Credentials Technology

The concepts of verifiable credentials and self-sovereign identity have been shrouded in mystery and potential complication for end-users trying to sort out what it actually is, how to tell when it’s not, and more importantly, which vendor they should trust (and why) when an individual first discovers these concepts.

Verifiable credentials and self-sovereign identity aren’t new concepts. For example, Evernym did a great job in this blog post at explaining what self-sovereign identity (underpinned by verifiable credentials technology) actually is, how businesses can easily use it, and what it means in terms of security, in a “explain it to me like I’m five” kind of way.

When done in a privacy-preserving way (no personal information is ever logged onto a ledger, even in hashed form, unless you want it to be), this technology fundamentally shifts everything in the way we make statements or claims about ourselves or other people, organizations, or things. To top it all off? It’s possible for the end-user to choose which piece (or combination of pieces) of information to share, with who, and under what restrictions, and without having to have those same pieces of information stored in some central database somewhere.

It’s the stuff that makes privacy experts and GDPR enthusiasts involuntarily drool.

I’m excited to see that the technology is more openly and now rapidly, touching other industries. The original technology is first and foremost about identity attributes as verifiable credentials, but for me it goes far beyond that.

To me, that’s just where the possibilities begin.

Any Kind of Credential, not just Identity

The technology already stands and is built-in for almost any type of credential you want to verify.

The ability now exists to provide hard, nearly tamper-proof ways of being able to prove statements made by you or someone else. This, right here, is the backbone and in my opinion, the key to solving the issues of trust between individuals, companies, governments, and other entities.

You can combine your credentials (claims you make about yourself), just like you do now with paper credentials, to prove certain statements you make, but in a privacy-preserving and much more secure and trustworthy way. You can now verify the source of the information, along with the information itself.

In other words, you can make statements about yourself, your situation, your background, or your experiences, and have it verified in a matter of seconds (for shorter claims) and maybe minutes for much longer ones.

This leads to deep and wide, life-changing use cases, across several industries.

What would it be like?

  • What would it be like for Recruiters to be able to instantly verify job or salary history prior to submitting candidates for open positions?
  • What would it be like for a mortgage company to be able to verify all of the information entered on the documents prior to submitting the documents to underwriting? Could there be some cost savings involved?
  • What would it be like for landlords to be able to nearly instantly verify a potential tenant’s residential history while screening their applicants?
  • What would it be like for insurance companies to be able to know the facts of a situation while processing a claim, for all parties involved? Could investigations become shorter and claims processed faster? Could there be less litigation involved? Could this make prosecuting fraud more effective?
  • What would it be like for health care providers and patients, alike, to be able to verify the credentials of their doctors, nearly instantly, and on demand, regardless of the type or specialty?
  • What would it be like if someone could know, nearly instantly, the true and correct source(s) of the information they’re reading, regardless of the platform or publisher the end-user is getting it from?
  • What would it be like for the court systems if the credentials of every single officer of the court (including the local sheriff) could be validated on the spot, prior to trusting personal information to them? Could the damage caused by those who are illegally posing as officers of the court be stopped before it begins?
  • What would it be like for people dealing with multiple government agencies across state lines? Would people still have to call a DMV in one state for them to fax paperwork to some obscure office of another state’s DMV just to clear up some administrative paperwork delay? Or could they now just present the credentials: their fine has been paid, hold’s have been released, or that yes, their CDL credentials and endorsements are legit, and the person standing at the counter could simply see that what they’re saying is true without waiting?
  • What about the undocumented refugees in other countries? What would it mean for them, to be able to prove their identity, their original home country, or their birth dates, when all of their documents were destroyed in war?
  • What about people who find themselves caught up in the world of human trafficking? Being able to prove who they are, even though their identifying documents have been taken from them, is sometimes the key to rescue.

These, my friend, are just the very tippy top (just a shaving really) of a much larger and extraordinarily beautiful iceberg.

After my exposure to this technology, I began to see how this technology could directly affect the legal, law enforcement, and forensics industries.

Anything you say, can, and will be held against you.

If you’ve ever dealt with law enforcement, any kind of matters dealing with the courts, or have been involved in any kind of investigation, you know firsthand about:

  • the invasive questions,
  • the waiting,
  • the lies that may be told by opposing individuals,
  • and the time, mess, and the mental and financial drain involved in just having facts being admitted, heard, and or upheld by the those in authority.

Instead:

  • What would it be like if an attorney could know, nearly instantly, if most statements made in initial pleadings are true or false, — before they get filed with the court and served on the other party? Could an attorney fight more effectively for their client or maybe avoid time-wasting cases altogether? What would this capability do for due process, discovery, depositions, and expert testimony, and cross-examinations?
  • What would it be like if a potential client is able to instantly verify or nullify the accusations being levied against them, being able to prove to the attorney they’re about to hire — just the essential and ultimate facts, without the background drama?
  • What if the courts and Department of Child Support could verify DNA results to determine parenting before enforcement letters are sent, just because the system told them to? Would this save the administration money and make their enforcement efforts more effective?
  • What if an individual can prove their true identity to the law enforcement officer on the spot, before they’re arrested for looking like someone else, or just happening to have the same name as someone the police are searching for?
  • What would happen in the cases of evidence searches if the chain of evidence could be cryptographically proven without revealing sensitive information about either the accused or the victim?
  • What would happen if the findings of the lab results are verified and logged with this technology? What would happen if attorneys could “search the ledger” to see which credentials have been revoked and why during their cases?

What would all of this mean for justice, criminals, false accusations, and the time it takes to process it all?

Wouldn’t these capabilities change “the game” just a teeny-tiny bit?

Just think about that for a few minutes.

Trust me when I tell you, this goes on and on and on, right down through every process and procedure that currently exists for any industry. Seeing the possibilities that exist for the legal, law enforcement, and forensics industries, is nothing short of exciting.

It’s the stuff that makes ME involuntary drool.

Keeping verifiable credentials technology, with privacy-preserving protocols, privacy-by-design methodologies, zero-knowledge proofs, and rules that state no personal information is ever stored (even in a hashed form) on a ledger is important. I would love to see it eventually adopted into the legal, law enforcement, and forensics industries.

Doing so, isn’t just a passion or a need. It’s helping Lady Justice keep her scales balanced, those with authority accountable, and removing the backlog of administrative delay and error found at every level in almost every process within legal, law enforcement, and forensics.

Verifiable credentials technology preserves truth first, so that law enforcement, officers of the court, their supporting staff, and those involved in investigations can do their jobs far more efficiently.

  • Less mistakes are made.
  • Less sorting of who’s telling the truth and who isn’t happens.
  • Investigations, cases, and all other related matters are wrapped up more quickly and fairly for everyone involved.
  • The financial blow back for administrations, departments, individuals, and families, are inherently reduced.

This technology changes lives for the better across every spectrum, when it comes proving personal identity attributes (like your birth date or eye color), and statements being made for or against a person (like those made on a resume or on pleadings that have been filed with a court). It can save reputations. It releases truth and equity from the bonds and prejudices of who has the most money, who’s in a hurry to clear their docket for the day, or who can verify (or obscure) the truth on paper and to the jury the most. In some cases, it saves lives and rescues others.

The use cases are nearly endless. When you stop to break down processes within processes of everyday work, patterns, and behavior, you start to see how verifiable credentials, done in this privacy-preserving way can, and just may be, the “magic bullet” you’ve been waiting for.

The paradigm shift is here and it’s happening. For more information about this technology, you can contact Evernym at www.evernym.com or Sovrin at www.sorvin.org.

This article was published first at: https://www.linkedin.com/pulse/rise-verifiable-credentials-technology-misty-s-bledsoe/ on 8/22/19.