Monday, January 30, 2006

Copy Edit the World

Accuracy and attention to detail are important for all kinds of writing, so budding media writers need to hone their proofreading and editing skills. That's why I assign students to "Copy Edit the World," an exercise which offers credit for finding and correcting errors (typos, AP style errors, etc.) in newspapers, magazines, web pages, and other published materials. (Thanks to Frank E. Fee Jr. of UNC-Chapel Hill for this exercise.)

Every semester, I award bonus points to the students who find the most egregious and embarrassing errors. Last fall, Charlene Crooks won my "worst of show" award for a JMC convocation committee fundraising letter, sent to JMC alumni and friends, in which she found not one but two sentence fragments. Ouch!

Fall '05 Copy Edit the World honorable mentions included:
  • a billboard outside a drug store saying "See are new store!" submitted by Kyle Hansen.
  • a postcard advertising "hot imported European beds" (we figured maybe they were stolen), submitted by Victoria Gothot.
  • a tag on a container of lime juice saying it was "natural strenght," submitted by Seychelle Martinez.
For a more recent example, here's a Mercury News article that shows what can happen when when errors go uncaught. Yes, it's called public humiliation.

Sunday, January 15, 2006

Fun at MacWorld '06

Going to MacWorld is just plain fun. Hordes of Mac afficionnados gathered in the bowels of Moscone Center to ooh and ahh over new computers, software, iPod accessories and other swell gadgets.

Here's what I came home with:
  • Cable yoyo, a handy little device for corralling power cords (wish I'd got several)
  • Belkin TuneTies, a silicon figure "8" for stashing iPod earbuds and cables
  • Visual QuickProject books from PeachPit Press on Adobe InDesign (which I use) and Dreamweaver 8 (which I plan to get). Feel free to ask me for a loan.
  • Robin Williams' guide to Mac OS X 10.4 Tiger, and Scott Kelby's book on Tiger Killer Tips (I plan to upgrade soon)
  • A green Chums flip case for my iPod (I like my pink one, but I want better access to the scroll wheel), and a lime green aluminum iPod carrying case (I know, it's overkill...but it was really cute and only $11).
  • Drive Genius, software for maintaining your hard drive
  • A software three-fer: Intego's Net Barrier, VirusBarrier and Personal Back-up (can you tell this is the year I've decided to get serious about computer security and maintenance?)
  • A big pile of handouts on more interesting software, equipment and gadgets

Here's what I coveted:
  • The new MacBook Pro laptop...faster, thinner, lighter...what's not to like?
  • iLife '06...iPhoto has more oomph and Garageband now supports podcasting.
  • SavetheiPods, a clear protective covering for iPods (they ran out...I plan to order it)
  • Browseback, software for saving and searching your browser history, and saving web pages as PDFs for future reference
  • Delicious Library, software for easily cataloging music, software, movie and book collections


By Wendell Berry

We will see no more
the mown grass fallen behind him...

In the day of his work
when the grace of the world
was upon him, he made his way,
not turning back or looking aside,
light in his stride.

Now may the grace of death
be upon him, his spirit blessed
in deep song of the world
and the stars turning, the seasons
returning, and long rest.

In loving memory of my father, Thomas E. Fernald, who died December 21, during the longest night of the year. He was 86.