Category Archives: Technology and Social Media

Anything with wires; Facebook, Twitter, blogging, chatting, phones and such.

Seemingly stilted

Few would argue, in this technological age, that we often interact with one another more via electronic media than face to face, even voice to voice. We’ve talked about this here before.

Isn’t it interesting, when we communicate with someone over a prolonged period via only technology—without ever meeting or even speaking—how our impressions are shaped, based solely on e-mail or social media interaction? What happens, then, when we later come face to face with these same people? How do they match up to our expectations, and we to theirs?

I’m currently working on a writing project for a client (actually, a client’s client), with whom all interaction has been via e-mail. Until Friday, when I visited her work site.

Her name is Bea. I’d gotten to know Bea over the last month or so, passing ideas, comments and drafts back and forth. And, presumably, she has gotten to know me.

My mind had sketched a picture of Bea, based on the only Bea I’d ever known—Aunt Bea, from The Andy Griffith Show. I imagined Bea to be roly-poly, with a bouffant do, speaking in a shrill, quivering voice. (I suppose she could have been more of a Bea Arthur, but that Bea never sprung to mind until this moment.)

I arrived onsite Friday afternoon as a woman greeted me. She was about my age, with my length hair, maybe a little shorter, a little darker, same basic style. Dressed casually. Normal voice.

We shook hands, smiled, said things like, “It’s nice to finally to meet you in person.”

I could see that was puzzled by my appearance.

She commented, “For some reason I pictured you as being English, about 65, writing by candlelight,” as she made a writing gesture in the air. Pen-writing, not keyboard-writing. The gesture was as though her air pen had a quill on the end of it.

Wow. She had formed an impression of me, based on my writing, in my e-mail messages and in the copy I produced, and basically come up with Lady Mary Wortley Montagu.

Perhaps it’s the nature of the content that elicited my stilted style. Or is it simply the way I write, admittedly more formally and politely when addressing a client’s client?

Now I ask you – those of you who don’t know me personally – based on what you read on this blog, how do you picture its writer? And no fair peeking at my Gravatar.

Go ahead, I can take it.

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Filed under All Things Wordish, Marketing/Advertising/PR, Movies, Television and Radio, Technology and Social Media

Part-timers disease

Now then.

More than two months ago, I announced here that I’d be letting out a little slack in the blog, to free up mental energy for a busy work season. I was buckling down to pressing obligations and, until those were tended to satisfactorily, there’d be no time for frivolous writing. Big mistake.

If you’re wondering how my September 23 resolutions turned out, I indeed completed the work, meeting all deadlines. To top that off, I pulled off the largest closet cleaning in 20 years.

Then, I erected more barriers. Believing I couldn’t clear my head enough to get my blogging groove back if obligations remained, I addressed, signed and stuffed 230 Christmas cards and finished 95 percent of my shopping. I even have most of my out-of-town packages ready to go in the mail.

But every time I sat down to tap out what used to be a free-flowing daily ditty, my skin itched. My teeth clenched.

Oh, sure, I’ve sneezed out a handful of posts this month, but they’re not my best work. And they’ve troubled me all the more for their awkward sparseness.

In an attempt to reverse my blog atrophy, I spent yesterday afternoon re-reading my blog posts of last November and December. I didn’t even recognize the writing.

This setback has proven the validity something my father once said. Over the last few years, people asked if he had considered shifting his writing and performance schedule into a lower gear. His answer was always that part time doesn’t work. The frenetic schedule kept him sharp and productive and able to maintain the rhythm. I see now that he was absolutely right.

(To give equal time, my mother suggested that, if I cleaned out my closets, things might flow more freely in other areas of my life. She too was right.)

Today is the first Monday of the season of Advent. Yesterday our priest encouraged us to take up renewed discipline—of the spiritual kind. I do intend to do that and, now that I’m ahead on many of my Christmas preparations, I might even have energy left to artificially resuscitate my inner Erma Bombeck, William Safire, Roseanne Roseannadanna, or whoever else I feel like being this season. Maybe even myself.

Did I really begin with “Now then?” That makes no sense.

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Filed under Family and Friends, Holidays, Marketing/Advertising/PR, Technology and Social Media

Fortitude foretold

Man Versus Machine has been a recurring motif over the course of this blog. It seems I’m destined to face the techno-beast again and again.

I’m not technologically adept. But I’m nothing if not persistent. Dogged. Relentless.

For 20 years I was coddled by onsite tech support. Most of that time, all I had to do was punch in four digits and someone appeared in my office, tapping away until life was good again. In the late 90s, corporate resources became constrained and Y2K gave way to the tech support principle known as RTFM.

One of the things I miss about working in a conventional job is onsite tech support. The last 10 years I’ve had to fend for myself. I’m not sure I’ve acquired much skill but, out of necessity, I’ve become a bulldog. When some gizmo goes kaflooey, I hammer it until it succumbs (a popular tech support principle of the self employed).

In the past three weeks, I’ve suffered the dysfunction of three computers, endured an ISP conversion gone horribly wrong, lost my business phone line, gazed as my Garmin gave up the ghost and watched my four-in-one crumble into nothing. I was afraid to make toast.

Yesterday I awoke at 4:00 a.m., in a puddle of hot and cold sweat, palpitating with anxiety and set on getting at least one or two of these things straightened out.

At 11:45 last night, I realized I was still in my pajamas, I hadn’t eaten, but I proudly had wiped out a few gremlins. I decided to take a break and read the paper, which had been sitting on the kitchen table all day.

I flipped to the horoscope. Don’t you love reading your horoscope when the day is already done? I find it’s much less foreboding that way, and too late to act on flimsy advice.

Mine read: “It is sometimes hard to let things go. Then again, being just a tad obsessive does have its benefits. For instance, you can focus intently on something you want to accomplish and not quit until it’s done.”

I’m not quite done. But today’s another day. Do I dare peek at what the stars portend?

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Filed under Technology and Social Media

Hello, nose. Meet grindstone.

No dessert until I finish my dinner.
No TV until I do my homework.
No shopping until I clean out my closet.
No new blog posts until I turn in my writing projects.

Sorry, I just had to put these declarations in writing. In front of a community of witnesses.

Actually, the grown-up version of that first one should be: No dessert if I finish my dinner. As far as those others go, it’s time to ramp up the self-discipline. I’m grateful to have a busy work schedule this Fall; much of it entails lots of writing.

Given looming deadlines and a busy travel schedule, it’s hard for me to justify writing recreationally. So, Word Nymph may have to put down her feather pen a little more often, so she can concentrate on her day job.

This also means that the new fall TV schedule will have to go on without me. I had even blocked out time from 1:00 to 2:00 this afternoon to watch the final episode of All My Children, so that I could write here about how the serial had changed since the last time I watched it (30 years ago), but I just can’t justify it. Books and mags remain neatly stacked for my return. Fall fashions will await me at Lord & Taylor, as the next personal project, making room in the closet, stands in the queue behind other obligations. I might even have to sit out National Punctuation Day this year—it’s tomorrow and, alas, I’ve made no preparations.

However, the work does yield good travel tales, as well as opportunity to observe regional language differences. Maybe I can weave an epic tale when things settle down.

While you may see less of me around here, may I rely on you to stay in touch?

Please post a comment now and then, and tell me what I’m missing:

  • How did All My Children end? Did Erica Kane find happiness? Is there peace in Pine Valley? Is Susan Lucci finally free to overindulge in Boston creme donuts and Popeyes chicken and biscuits?
  • Who’s interviewed in Vanity Fair’s latest Proust Questionnaire?
  • Is the bow blouse still (back) in fashion and will I still be able to get one?
  • Has Mark Zuckerberg caved to public outcry and put Facebook back the way we like it?

All right, I’ve procrastinated long enough.

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Filed under Beauty and Fashion, Movies, Television and Radio, Reading, Technology and Social Media

Size matters

When the alarm sounded this morning, there were visions of lumens dancing in my head.

It was obvious that I hadn’t adequately cleared my cranium following yesterday’s marathon search for a new portable LCD projector. After hitting six stores, I came home empty-handed and light-headed.

You see, I have immediate need for a teeny-weeny portable projector to show presentations around the country. The most striking lesson I learned is that one man’s portable is another man’s albatross.

1000-lumen bulb

You might already know all this, but here’s what else I’ve learned:

  1. It’s all about the lumens. For the unenlightened, a lumen is a unit of luminous flux, or brightness. The more lumens the better. Any fewer than 1,000 is considered impotent.

  2. The challenge is finding mega lumens in a small package. Two pounds—about eight inches in length—is an ideal size, yet a portable projector must be able to be stored in a small space, and not arouse suspicion at the airport.

  3. They actually make a “pocket projector.” One salesman boasted that, at 50 lumens (pfft!), his packs as much punch as a thousand. Nice try, mister.

  4. There’s a difference between an LCD and a DLP display. Apparently, looking at a DLP can give you a headache of not-tonight-honey proportions.

  5. While I can grasp such measures as resolution, contrast ratio and viewable screen size, I’m puzzled by something called “throw ratio range.” I gather that’s the distance it’ll go when it suffers performance anxiety in front of an audience and I hurl it across the room.

1 Comment

Filed under Technology and Social Media, Travel

Chat it up

There’s a new blog I’ve started reading; I thought you might like it too. It’s a football blog.

I know, I’m not much of a sports fan, and I know next to nothing about football.

I do enjoy good writing, though, and I’m learning that sports writing is different from regular writing. Style guidelines are different—numerals are permitted within text and there’s a whole field of vernacular out there with which I’m unfamiliar.

Word Nymph is going into a busy work period these next few weeks, and could do with a lighter writing schedule. So today, I’ll point you to another blog. Chat Sports covers professional and college football, basketball, baseball and hockey. The San Francisco-based company encourages sports audience interaction through social networking and news on team-specific websites.

A couple of weeks ago, my son, an avid sports fan and recent college graduate, signed on part time with Chat Sports as a writer covering the Baltimore Ravens. He has written three columns to date which, if I understood the content, I’d find entertaining and insightful.

Check out his writer page, get to know him, read his posts, drop him a comment. Or jump into the chat on the ChatRavens page.

Yes, we’re still a Redskins family. But it’s fun to have another team to follow. Now if I could just understand what they’re doing out there on the field.

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Filed under Family and Friends, Sports and Recreation, Technology and Social Media

Slow it down, run it back

I don’t suppose the White House, the organizers of political debates or the NFL would consider checking with me first.

The last two nights, I had conflicts that precluded my watching national events or otherwise attending to entertainment needs. I’m still catching up on what happened.

Wednesday night, I twitched and trembled when a social commitment kept me from watching Republican candidates debate the nation’s affairs and poke each other in the eye. I trusted I’d catch enough clips in the morning to catch up, but even a broad scan of news channels—as well as newspaper accounts and commentary—failed to bring me adequately up to date.

Thanks to my cousin, I was able to read the full account online and now feel completely caught up and entertained. The piece even culled the notable language twists and gaffes, just as I would have, had I tuned in.

Last night, the President graciously agreed to address a joint session of Congress at an early hour so as to not delay kickoff of the 2011-12 football season. Problem was, I was on my way to a special dinner and had to listen to the speech on the radio on the way over.

No problem, you think? The president—any president—addressing a joint session of Congress is my red carpet. I like to catch the lead-up commentary, be there for the knock on the door, hear the President announced and closely watch the procession down the center aisle. I note whose hands are being shaken, who gets a wink or a pat on the back, who sits with whom, what colors the women are wearing and the sneers on the faces of members of the opposing party. You don’t get that on NPR.

As if there weren’t enough entertainment on the menu, I also missed my brother’s live interview with Food Network Star winner—and Sandwich King—Jeff Mauro on his weekly culinary radio program.

I have a busy work day ahead but I won’t lie, I’ll be slipping in some personal time to catch up on everything I missed.

You know, they really ought to invent some sort of device that allows you to record programming for future viewing.

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Filed under Movies, Television and Radio, News, Politics, Technology and Social Media