The Importance of Proofreading

I don’t claim to be an engaging writer. I claim to be a mostly competent writer. Then I read drivel like this from my last post:

The fact that we share a cell phone and me having an iPhone that spends all day in the diaper bag and/or Kate’s purse kind of defeats the point for me.

Ew. Really? I re-read all my posts before I publish them. How in the world did that pass muster? Fortunately, in the ever-changing medium that is the web, I can sit down the next morning, realize my temporary insanity, and change it to something like this:

Kate and I share a cell phone. That means my fictitious iPhone would spend all day in the diaper bag and/or Kate’s purse. Doesn’t that defeat the point?

Proofreading is good.

Overheard in My House – Coveting

God said something to the extent of “thall shalt not covet”, right? Drat. Too late.

me: Laura let me play with her iPhone this morning.
me: now I covet. dammit.
Kate: think of the monthly charges!
me: I know.
me: forget the monthly charges, think of the up-front charges. doesn’t stop me from coveting.

Laura did let me play with her brand-spanking new iPhone this morning, and boy is it nice. If I had several hundred dollars to burn and nothing better to do with it (like feed my family), I’d totally pick one up. Kate is right, though. It’s the monthly service fees that are killer. Starting at $60/mo. That’s like twice what I pay now. Kate and I share a cell phone. That means my fictitious iPhone would spend all day in the diaper bag and/or Kate’s purse. Doesn’t that defeat the point? Kate probably wouldn’t mind, though.

Still, from my 15 minute trial run, I have to say it is certainly the sexiest cell phone I’ve ever laid hands on. Apple knows user interface design. Damn.

Web Page Design – Collins Electric

Way back in August of last year, I posted about the business card design for Collins Electric, the business of a good friend of mine. He hired me to build him a Web site for his business. The business card was just an extra added bonus thrown in by yours truly. See the wonderful service you get here at. . . er. . .Pat Campbell Industries Inc.? I might need to work on that business name.

Well it’s been nearly seven months, and we’ve finally got the content for the site finalized. I’m proud of this work, as it’s the first time I’ve actually been PAID for freelance web design. I considered bronzing the check as a memento, but decided against it. Kidding. It was paypal so bronzing wasn’t really an option. Unless I bronzed my computer. Think Kate would accept that as an excuse to buy a new one? Somehow I think that “Sorry hon, you can’t use the computer, it’s been bronzed for posterity” won’t go over real well.

Head over to to see the fruits of my labor. And if you ever need an electrician in Fredericksburg VA (or the surrounding vicinity), give Billy a call. He does good work.

How you SHOULD be reading your blogs.

Standard Feed IconHow do you read your blogs? Do you have a list of bookmarks that you check each time you’re in front of your computer? Do you use somebody else’s handy sidebar list that’s organized by the most recent update? Do you (god forbid) google each site you want to check and use their results to take you where you need to go? Do you put a drunk monkey in front of your keyboard and let him type away until something interesting appears? Each of these involves some varying level of tedium (although the monkey may be mildly entertaining until the poop-flinging begins). THERE IS A BETTER WAY.

Feed Readers. I’ve posted about them before. For those of you who already use a feed reader to keep track of blogs, news, and pretty much any content posted on the web that interests you, disregard this post. Hopefully this is most of you. For those of you who don’t, let me encourage you again to give them a try. Google Reader and Bloglines are both fine readers. If you like those and want to experiment, there are a number of other web-based feed readers, as well as many stand-alone readers that you can download and install locally.

What, you might ask, are the benefits?

  • Eliminate Clicks – Say you have 15 blogs like this one that you check every day (gosh, I’m honored!). If those blogs are like this one, they only update (at best) once a week or so. So that’s 6 useless clicks per blog (90 for all 15 blogs, if you’re keeping track) per week. Now use a newsreader. Chances are at least one of your 15 blogs was updated on any given day. Every time you visit your newsreader, you’re saving yourself time (your mouse-hand will also thank you for eliminating the repetitive stress of all those clicks)!
  • YOU are in Control (i.e., Why Feed Readers are Superior to Mailing Lists) – Some blogs allow you to receive updates via email (although this has become more rare with the explosion of RSS feeds). With a feed reader, you don’t have to expose your email address to anybody. You don’t have to give your email address to a shady web site owner (like me!), exposing yourself to spam. You don’t have to rely on anybody to take you off the list. If you want to stop reading the feed, remove it from your reader and you’re done!
  • Customize Your Reading – Use your feed reader to create “mini publications” for yourself. I roughly organize my feeds into categories by topic: web design, friends’ blogs, comics (gotta have the daily Dilbert), Flickr photos, etc.
  • Feeds for Everyone – There are feeds out there for just about everything you could want to follow on the Web. For instance, did you know that there is an RSS feed for your Flickr photostream? I follow my friends photostreams (public photos only, unfortunately) so I know when there’s a new photo out there by one of my talented friends like Shannon or Lou Ann.
  • It’s so Easy – Wonder if a site has a feed? The answer is probably ‘Yes’. Look for the feed icon that accompanies this post (or some variation thereof). The orange icon is pretty standard, but some sites use custom colors.

I would be remiss if I did not present the one major drawback to the convenience of using a feed reader. It’s SO easy that you may find yourself subscribing to more and more content on the Web. Your feeds can eventually become like those magazines you subscribe to that lay around your house waiting to be read. But at least on the Web it’s free!

There are plenty of other reasons to use a feed reader, not the least of which is “Pat told me to.” So what is your current procedure for reading blogs? Would you consider a feed reader? If I push it any more will you stop reading THIS blog?

Mommy Fun vs. Daddy Fun

Self portraitI love going home from work. It’s not because I’m relieved to be away from work, but rather, I get greeted at the door by a dog whose tail is wagging vigorously and a toddler with a big huge grin on his face. To top it off, Kate is usually cooking up something yummy for dinner. I know, I know. It may sound a little like a Cleaver family paradise, but I’m definitely not going to complain. Because really, who has it better than me?

Anyway, the time between when I get home and when Simon goes to bed is often special Daddy-Simon time. He and I play and roughhouse, generally having a good time in the process. Kate has often made comments to the extent of “you guys have so much fun together.” Earlier this week I pointed out that she and Simon have plenty of fun together, too. She agreed, but thinks that it’s a different kind of fun.

I definitely get the pleasure of getting Simon riled up and laughing like a fool. I love being goofy with him: making faces, tickling, playing chase, and roughhousing. And he eats it up. Kate gets more of the quiet moments: story reading (non-bedtime), art projects, long walks with Simon and the dog, etc. When he is upset or hurt, she is definitely the one he wants, not me.

I’m totally okay with this dynamic. I enjoy the quiet moments too, but not as much as the raucous gut-busting laughter that I can induce on occasion. That’s one of the things I’ll want to remember most from being a dad.

For you parents out there, do you seem to have distinct mommy/daddy types of fun as well?