Archive for the ‘writing’ Category

Mind your step…

October 26, 2007

Although as a parent, I’m twice removed from this situation  (I have only one child, and she’s a ‘she’), I did grow up as the younger of two boys, so  Tony Woodlief’s post made me genuinely guffaw this morning. Mind your step. 😉

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The Feasibility Lingo of Engineers

August 16, 2007

Via this Usable Help blog post, comes a great article lucidly describing how to understand Engineers when it comes to feasibility.

If you want a clear and simple discussion of the terms impossible, trivial, unfeasible, non-trivial, hard, and very hard from an engineer’s perspective, then you should definitely check it out.

One misunderstanding by some non-engineers is how the word ‘trivial’ is used. In our discussions, trivial just means that we know the solution to a specific problem. It doesn’t mean that the implementation of that solution is necessarily easy. So for example, the design of a specific portion of a structure might be trivial but actually building it might be a nightmare.

It’s definitely an interesting read for anyone involved with solving problems – isn’t that all of us? 😉

Speed Linking? Didn’t know it was called that – but I like it.

June 26, 2007

David Airey posts about ‘speed linking‘. I had never heard the term before, but I’ve seen plenty of it. In fact, Kent Newsome’s Evening Reading posts could be termed speed-link posts and are among my favourite reads.

It’s actually a pretty accurate term too. I find myself zipping through Kent’s ER posts very quickly. I find them to be low commitment – that is, I go in knowing they’re not going to be in-depth dissertations on a single topic – which in itself is not necessarily a bad thing. I enjoy a good long well-written post, but at times I want something lighter and fast-paced. He gives me his quick take on a variety of topics and provides the links should I want them. No pressure. In and out.

And it’s not a simple link blog post. I get to see what things are piquing Kent’s interest at the moment along with his take on them. And it’s fun – because I never know what I’m going to find in there. The writing style has a lot to do with it too. Someone pointing me to their delicious links or to their Google Reader shared feeds is NOT the same thing.

I’m not sure how long Kent (or David) spends crafting these things. I fly through them quickly and they ‘read quickly‘ if that means anything, but I imagine they’re not so quick to put together. I’d be interested in hearing for instance how long it takes Kent to put together one of his evening reads. David? Kent?

It’s All Text

June 14, 2007

Via Chromatic’s post at the O’Reilly OnLamp blog, I tried out the It’s All Text Firefox extension and I have to say I love it!

This extension lets you quickly bring up your favourite text editor any time you need to enter text on a web page. I find my own Blogger comment entry box for instance woefully small and inept. With this add-on installed, I can either right-click in the text box and choose “It’s All Text” from the popup menu, or click the semi-transparent edit button that the extension puts at the bottom right of text boxes. If you haven’t set an editor preference yet, it’ll ask you to do so the first time.

From then on, once you do it, your editor of choice (gVim in my case) will pop up and when you save the document, the text gets pasted into the text box. Nice and simple.

I don’t think it works in Gmail’s rich text mode when composing an email, but a quick switch to plain text mode reveals the edit button once again. You shouldn’t really be in Rich Text mode anyway should you… 😉 Of course you can always compose the bulk of the text in plain text mode and then once it’s been pasted in, switch to rich mode to add links and such.

All in all, a very useful tool. If you do a lot typing on the web and miss using your favourite offline editing tool, check it out.

Planting The Seeds of Decent Grammar

June 8, 2007

Faithful readers,

Having read this blog, you know full well that I am not much of a grammar nazi. But I try to use proper grammar and full, reasonably coherent sentences. Sure, I throw the odd semicolon around with wild abandon, but I don’t normally go around chastising people for their dangling gerunds (I looked that up btw). However, I draw the line at the increasing use of “Good” as a response to “How’s it going?” or “How are you doing?”.

I attempted to head this off at the pass this morning as I drove my sub 6 daughter to school:

“How is so-and-so doing?”, I asked.

“Good”, she replied.

Attempting to seize the opportunity and right the listing ship, I tactfully say, “Y’know… it’s proper to say ‘well’ when someone asks you how you’re doing or how is it going.”

“No it’s not Daddy.”

“I’m pretty sure it is, cupcake.”, I reply, deciding immediately that this is neither the time nor place to introduce the concept of verbs into the conversation.

“No. I’m right, and you’re not Daddy.”

Perhaps weakly, I resort to the standard, “This would be a good thing to ask Mrs. X”.

Mrs. X being her teacher of course. The one person who can overrule whatever nonsense it is that Daddy tries to pawn off on her as knowledge.

Based on a multitude of similar conversations I’ve had with her in the past, this tactic usually works. Normally, I won’t bring it up again right away, but (hopefully) I’ll notice her slipping in the ‘well’ in place of the ‘good’ on her own accord.

Perhaps the job is just to plant the seed. All you can do is water it, care for it, and hope it grows.

Conversation with a Facebook Refugee

June 5, 2007

A friend of mine recently told me he was 'done with Facebook'. Naturally, I asked him why. He said that old "acquaintances" were coming out of the woodwork, and while it was great that his wife was (and still is) a Facebook member, he was uncomfortable seeing scrawlings on his wall from partners from days gone by. Clearly, he didn't want to deal with the potential problem of the 'crazy ex-girlfriend'.

He also lamented the fact that it became a way for friends and acquaintances to shoot cheeky responses around at each other. Now if you combine this with his demographic (mid to late 20's – very recently married – but very much a guys night out type of guy) you can safely assume the banter back and forth was not always G-rated (but probably quite fun.)

We soon got around to discussing the things people do and write on the web. And that while it might be fun to post outrageous things on someone's "Wall", you can't really count on being able to take them back. And further, you can't count on something you write (anywhere on the net) being really deleted or somehow disappearing into the ether after a year or two.

Now this guy is not that tech-saavy – doesn't blog, frequents YouTube but not Digg – you get the picture. So I thought it'd be fun to show him the Internet Archive's WayBack Machine. Needless to say he was amazed that so much of what has (and is) going on on the net is being archived and captured.

I have a feeling that most people in the mainstream who are now just starting to generate and publish (however inadvertently) things on the net, don't really get the potential permanence of it.

As I've said several times before, be proud of what you write (or at least not embarrassed) and you'll do fine. If you don't, you'll never know when it might come back and bite you.

ps – While I have never found Facebook very compelling, my interest in it is declining even further day by day. But then again, so is my interest in Twitter. But that's another story, for another post.

Funny Pseudo-Anti-Mac Article/Rant

February 5, 2007

What do you get when you mash together sweeping generalizations, top-notch writing, sharp wit and the mac vs pc debate?

This article. [and hundreds of Digg comments as well ;-)]

He spends much of it taking the piss out Mac owners, so if you’re sensitive in that respect, be forewarned. 😉

Random Notes on Random Notes…

January 15, 2007

Reading through Hugh McLeod’s random notes on blogging, I realized he had both missed something and illustrated something at the same time. Blogging with humility *and* blogging with authority are not mutually exclusive.

Humility builds respect and adds to your authority, arrogance and snarky-ness take away from it.

Hugh’s list reads very snarky to me. Almost snarky for snarky’s sake. Good for building readership maybe, not so good for building authority IMO.

Doc Searls (and Jon Udell) on the other hand, are masters at blogging with authority sans arrogance.

Freefall… positively…

December 23, 2006

Talk about a positive outlook. Here’s an extremely entertaining and well-written guide to surviving a 35,000 ft freefall. If you do manage to exit the aircraft at 600mph, at least you can be prepared. Here’s a small excerpt of the greatness that is this article:

Snow is good—soft, deep, drifted snow. Snow is lovely. Remember that you are the pilot and your body is the aircraft. By tilting forward and putting your hands at your side, you can modify your pitch and make progress not just vertically but horizontally as well. As you go down 15,000 feet, you can also go sideways two-thirds of that distance—that’s two miles! Choose your landing zone. You be the boss.

At least somebody is thinking ahead. 😉