Friday, July 31, 2009

A plague of SPAM

My business email has been a relatively safe haven from SPAM since I opened the account in June 2007. Whether this is indicative of poor marketing on my part, or because of the fact that I use that address almost solely for business correspondence, I have been happy to stay off the SPAMmers' collective radar. Up until recently, the only unsolicited emails I received were for Indian marriage web sites (weird, eh?).

But July has seen an uptick in the amount of email squirreliness perpetrated upon my business account. On a daily basis, I receive one or more emails from obviously spamtastic addresses, with one-word subject lines like "rambunctious" or "supercilious." Fortunately my email provider sees them for what they are and forwards them to my spam folder, but because it also occasionally forwards legitimate emails to that folder I always check it before permanently deleting the contents. This week, the SPAM even transformed into SPIM (SPAM+Instant Messaging). I got a handful of IM requests from the same address before I reported it (declining the request the first time I got it apparently only validated my email address, which apparently gave the green light to keep on a-sending the SPIM).

I have been SPIM-free for two days now, and I'm hoping that trend holds. I'm not sure there's anything else I can do to slow the SPAM, as it's already being treated as garbage by my provider. Any suggestions? Anybody else being unusually deluged with SPAM? Do you think having SPAM in the title, body (repeatedly) and tags of this post is going to get it blocked from any search engines?

Wednesday, July 29, 2009

I hear what you're writing

I've noticed a disturbing trend on TV of late . . . text on the screen (often in annoying graphic layouts, but that's another rant for another day) accompanied by a voice-over or talking head who is speaking the words as they appear on the screen. Not summarizing. Not paraphrasing. Saying EXACTLY what is on the screen.

Attention producers of my local news promos and national prime time TV teasers: if I can read it, I don't need to hear it . . . and if I can hear it, I don't need to read it. This applies to presentations, and it should apply to television as well. If I wanna read my TV, I'll turn on the closed captioning.

Monday, July 27, 2009

Back to the grind

I'm back from a nice, albeit not a relaxing, vacation. After a week of driving my mom to visit relatives, actually visiting the relatives, and a midweek trip to the Hocking Hills region of Ohio for a zipline tour (SO FUN!), I was completely exhausted by last night. It was great getting to spend time with my mom, though.

And now here I am on Monday morning, preparing to meet with a brand new client. Not a bad way to start a new week!

Monday, July 20, 2009

Analyze this

This is my last post until the 27th . . . it's vacation time!! Woohoo!

I thought I would leave you with this gem of an article from Smashing Magazine about Google Analytics. It's a fascinating read if you are considering using the free service, and even if you already use it. I had no idea GA had some of these capabilities!

One of my clients directed me to the article, and I thought I would do you, dear reader, the same favor. Happy reading, and I'll type to ya again next week!

Thursday, July 16, 2009

10 books

One of my friends tagged me on a Facebook quiz/meme/note thingy that instructed me to list "ten books you've read that always stick with you." However, one of the rules said to list the "first ten books that come to mind."

These are vastly different lists. The first books that come to mind are mostly what I'm reading now, or are connected by stream of conscious to something I'm reading now--none of which necessarily "stick" with me . . . so I think I need to make two lists, which is in direct opposition to another rule, "do not think about this." But since I am typing this here and not on Facebook, I don't feel compelled to follow the rules to the letter. So here are my two lists. Let's see if there's any overlap.

The first ten books that come to mind:
  1. Where the Red Fern Grows
  2. The Misadventures of Jusin Hearnfeld
  3. The Observations
  4. The Tenth Circle
  5. My Sister's Keeper
  6. Never Sniff a Gift Fish
  7. Fluke
  8. Interview With the Vampire
  9. Living Dead in Dallas
  10. California Demon
And the ten that stick with me:
  1. Where the Red Fern Grows
  2. Fluke
  3. Tales of Mr. Pengachoosa
  4. Green Eggs and Ham
  5. Illusions: The Adventures of a Reluctant Messiah
  6. Romeo and Juliet
  7. Great Expectations
  8. The World According to Garp
  9. The Talisman
  10. Bag of Bones
What are your "top tens?"

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

Tick tock

I spent my weekend cleaning my house (and doing a spot o' drywall repair--turned out pretty good) in preparation for my mother's arrival this Friday. As I was pondering how it can take so many hours to clean such a small house, I realized it was because I was too easily sidetracked by minutiae:
  • I wasn't just putting my CDs in the rack, I was alphabetizing them
  • I wasn't just dusting, I was rearranging the contents of my shelves
  • I wasn't just cleaning my desk, I was separating my writing utensils by type
I do this in my work sometimes too--and it's never a good thing. One of my clients has a quote taped to the wall above her computer that says "Don't let perfection get in the way of good." It's something I should keep in mind.

My mother doesn't care if The Pixies precede Poi Dog Pondering, or if Grandma and Grandpa are facing the same direction on the bookshelf, or if my highlighters are mingling with my ballpoints. Of course, it's not quite the same story with my clients--they expect, deserve and pay for a certain level of quality from me--but it's still in my best interest (and theirs, if I'm working against a deadline or a tight budget!) if I take a minute to stop, look at my work, and ask myself if I'm letting perfection get in the way of good.

Friday, July 10, 2009

Testing . . . testing

As I noted a few posts ago, I've been having issues with the scheduling feature of Blogger (my secret is out: I'm usually not even awake when my entries post at 7 a.m.).

The problem seems to have started when I decided to disable word verification for comments. In order to troubleshoot the issue I have temporarily (or permanently, depending on the outcome of the aforementioned troubleshooting) re-enabled the word verification. My apologies to those of you who don't like typing random strings of letters (I personally think it's fun to see the combinations they come up with--I am more annoyed by being forced to sign in before commenting), but I see no way around it at the moment.

I'm writing this at 12:03 p.m. on Thursday, July 9th.

Best case scenario: You'll see this post Friday morning at 7:00, and word verification will stay enabled.

Worst case scenario: You'll see it when I remember to check to be sure it published or when I go to write a new entry and realize this one never posted, and it's back to the drawing board.

Let's see what happens . . .

Wednesday, July 8, 2009

A banner month

July is shaping up to be a really good month:
  • One new client with two new projects (again, thanks for the referral Patty!)
  • One existing client with continued project work
  • Two old clients resurfaced with small projects
And to top it all off, my mom is coming for a visit mid-month, and I get to take a week off to hang out with her. Yay!

Saturday, July 4, 2009

Friday, July 3, 2009

Happy 4th (almost)

On the eve of the 233rd anniversary of our country's independence, I took a day off--sort of.

My agency client's office is closed today, and I have no other active projects. I did, however, have a telephone interview with a prospective client--it went well, and hopefully laid the foundations for a long and beautiful business relationship. My thanks go out to my friend and fellow entrepreneur Patty for the hook-up!

I also took my car in for service, which ate up a sizable chunk of my afternoon (who knew an oil change, tire rotation and complimentary car wash could take over two hours?). I'm now spending some time catching up on my Facebooking and blog reading and trying to decide what's for dinner. Suggestions?

Thursday, July 2, 2009

Every day I write the book

On Nova the other night, there was a segment about a man named Luis von Ahn. He originated the reCAPTCHA program, which--at least until I watched this segment--I thought was just a way of stopping spam by making sure I'm not a robot when I create an online account.

Little did I know that every time I have to verify my humanity on a site that uses reCAPTCHA, I am also helping to digitize old books and newspapers. Fascinating!

In unrelated news, what's going on with Blogger? I have had to manually publish this and yesterday's post (which was supposed to post on Tuesday) because they didn't publish at their scheduled time. Anybody else who uses Blogger experiencing this?