Vademecum (Vah-duh-MAY-cum) is from the 17th century Latin vade mecum (go with me).
A vademecum is a small useful guidebook, handbook, or manual, designed to be carried around constantly and referred to often by craftsmen for quick reference. Printers have their Pocket Pal, coders have the O'Reilly Pocket Guides, creative writers have their Strunk and White (not that they ever use it), there is even a handbook of forms and meters for poets. Building contractors, engineers, navigators, soldiers ... they all have a little pocket guide of basics to carry with them.
Technical writers for the software industry have massive style guides which change from company to company. We have thick volumes about how to quantify quality, and how to qualify both.
What we are going to do here (as we can get to it between contracts) is create a vademecum for the software technical writer, a handy reference book for those whose job is to instruct, a small book to turn to when you need a quick refresher on basic principles.
Some of what we'll include may seem obvious to those whose job is just technical writing. These days, however, so many of us are illustrators, XML coders, publishers, interactive help designers, etc., that a return to some basic principles is in order. We know how hard it is to remember to simplify a sequence of steps when some idiotic SCORM hook just won't fasten in properly. We know because we've already made that mistake.
So this little book is, in its own way, a chronicle of our own successes and failures, and perhaps a guide to help you avoid the mistakes and improve on our record.
Good luck with that!