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Archive for November, 2006

Be an anomaly

Thursday, November 30th, 2006

This isn’t aimed at the journalists in the room, but apparently only one thing matters on your resume… This is a very interesting take and rather true. You either sell yourself or you don’t. Nobody else is going to do it for you. (Well, unless you hire an agent, which is entirely beside the point.)

I also like this statement:

You want to go further? You want to catch the attention of the other intelligent people out there who will listen to you and appreciate you because of who you are? You want to step outside the classification that successfully stifles about 99.9% of our ridiculous corporate culture? Be an anomaly.

It’s true. And I think it works in my favor. I definitely have some skills — especially Web skills — most of my peers don’t. I am able to think in both a content-oriented and technical-oriented way (i.e. I know what people want and how to realistically go about creating it). I also have a new media mindset that most in the industry are just now developing, that is if they will ever develop it. I’m either lucky or cursed because of this. I haven’t figured out which yet, but I’m hoping it’s lucky.

I’m hoping I’m the anomaly that catches someone’s attention, piques their interest. But not just any someone, someone who gets it. Someone who sees the future and not the past. Someone who is less worried about people not reading the newspaper and more worried about how to get the news people do want, how they want it out there faster, better. Someone who looks at my resume and sees what I can do and not what I have done. My mindset is a little more forward than most in the business, which again will either be good (“hey, look a forward thinking journalist with skills to match interest”) or bad (“girl who can’t pick a discipline or decide between new media and old”). We’ll see.

I’m thinking what the recruiter from the St. Louis Post-Dispatch said is probably true, “2007 will be the year of Internet for most newspapers.” It will be sink or swim, and they’ll be looking for people like me who can bridge the gap. At least, that’s what I’m hoping.

Not cut out for fake news

Thursday, November 30th, 2006

Of course I’m a huge Daily Show fan. (Who isn’t?) So, when I came across this The Most Important Trivia Game Ever on the Comedy Central site, I had to play.

Basically you are tested on your knowledge of pop culture, important people, geography, etc. in the hopes that you can get more “scoops” than other players. The premise is you’re a journalist trying out to be a fake news correspondent for the Daily Show. But I’m kind of bad at the game. At best, I’ve come in second. I’m blaming it on the fact that I’m tired and my reflexes are slow (it’s 2:30 a.m.), and I’m at a weird angle (lying on my bed typing on my laptop). It’s still fun though.

I’ll have to spread this around the office so they’ll stop playing the stupid game where they shoot a kitten as far as possible.

Why I avoid oil changes

Wednesday, November 29th, 2006

After I dropped off the last $300 Kent State will ever squeeze from me at the Bursar’s Office this morning, I decided I’d stop at Starbucks and then grab lunch before going back to the newsroom. As I was leaving Starbucks, I happened to notice the oil change sign, and it reminded me that I needed to get the oil changed in my car. Needed is actually an understatement. I absolutely had to.

My father actually yelled at me — my parents have never yelled at me — last weekend when he took my car for a few hours to get new tags for my license plates and get it e-checked. He noticed the sticker I’ve been avoiding eye contact with all semester. The sticker that reminded me I should have taken my car in about 2,200 miles ago.

It’s not that I’m a horrible car owner. Well I’m not the most responsible one, as anyone who knows about the window that wouldn’t roll up can attest. I kind of let it chill for a month before I had time to take it in for repair only to have the shop tell my mother, who told my dad, who called and laughed at me, that it wasn’t working because the window lock was on. (I still contend that when they fixed the issue with my gear shift they bumped something that fixed the window. There is no way it was the window lock. I tried that and everything else just about every day I got in my car.) I just don’t have time to worry about things that don’t actually prevent me from getting from point A to point B. So, I try to ignore them as long as possible, which is why I took my car to get an oil change today.

I pulled into the oil change place and popped my hood. About five minutes later, I noticed the one guy step back and say, “What the heck is that?” Now, you know it’s a bad sign when the man working on your car deems it necessary to call “hey look at this” to two other people. I gulped.

Apparently, as I learned today, your coolant is supposed to be neon green. He held up a container with some of mine and said, “Your coolant is brown, and it smells bad.” I just looked at him and asked how much.

Add an extra $80 to the oil change and factor in the Starbucks and the Bursar’s office, and I easily spent between $400 and $500 dollars today. Gulp. Considering that’s half a month of the editor’s salary at the Stater, I’m pretty much screwed.

Still, I guess it’s better than the last time I got my oil changed. That was the day they told me my back struts were broken. I still don’t know exactly what struts are or how they break, but I do know that they cost about $500 to replace, even when your grandpa hooks you up with one of his friends. In fact, I’ve only recently finished paying my grandparents back for that one.

Sometimes not knowing is better. It’s easier to ignore, which is exactly why I avoid getting my oil changed.

Good deals

Tuesday, November 28th, 2006

A couple places to look for deals that I came across today:

  • Some of Hearst’s most popular magazines titles are offered at $5 per subscriptions, at least until Friday. Great gift idea for siblings, etc. You save a bundle and they get a gift that literally gives all year.
  • Also, CNET’s Holiday Treat Calendar is full of good offers and discounts. A lot of the ones so far are just tips. But hey, they’re free and helpful.

(Th)indecision about a new phone

Tuesday, November 28th, 2006

I need a new phone. I currently own a Razr. And I hate it. I remember drooling over it when I first saw the prototype in WIRED magazine a few years back. So, I finally broke down and bought it last year when I lost my phone. This was before everyone else had a Razr, back when the magenta one had just been released. Now, I’d say this is the most over-hyped, over-sold product on the market. I don’t know if it’s just my phone or T-Mobile or what, but my phone sucks. Plus I’ll admit, I like being ahead of the technology curve not behind it… so I need to upgrade.

Several of the guys in my office have smart phones and BlackBerrys. I like the idea of being able to be connected wherever I am, and in fact, I often check my e-mail, get movie times, find directions, etc. on my Razr. On a smart phone this would be more automatic and intuitive. Plus, it just sounds cool. The problem is their phones are HUGE. I’m a huge fan of small electronics, as anyone can tell you. My camera, my cell phone, my iPod. I can fit them all in my pockets, probably even all in the same pocket if I so desired. I like that. I can just grab it and go without worrying about it sticking or falling out. That’s a big factor for me.

Lucky for me, companies are starting to realize that slim is in and are responding with delightfully tiny products. Currently, I’m considering the BlackBerry Pearl, which is the smallest and cutest of the ones I’ve seen. It also has multimedia, a 1.3 megapixel camera and the BlackBerry namesake. But there are a few things that make me hesitant. It’s T-Mobile exclusive, and as a current T-Mobile customer, I know that coverage is spotty. Also, there is no wi-fi on it (a standard feature on most other smart phones) and the qwerty keyboard has two letters per button instead of the more standard one. So some things to consider.

Other phones I’ve looked at include the Motorola Q, which also comes with a whole set of pros and cons including how much I hate my current Motorola phone and that my Mac may not play nice with it because it runs Windows Mobile. It’s also significantly wider, though slim enough for my taste. But still it’s not out of the running. And finally, the Samsung BlackJack, which is the one I’ve researched least. But it looks good and has features I’m looking for in a phone. It has some of the pros and cons of the other phones, and is really the middle ground between the other two.

In the end, I’ll probably end up with the pearl, just because, as horrible as it is, form may preceed function on this one. I’ll also need to see, feel and hold each phone in person before I know for sure if it’s a good fit. But it doesn’t matter right now. I won’t make a purchase until my contract runs out next month, and even then, I’m going to wait to see where I end up. I would hate to sign a new contract with a company that gets crappy service where I take a job. It would be Findlay all over again, where my cell phone barely got reception in my apartment on Main Street. (What kind of company doesn’t have at least decent reception in the center of a city?) Plus, who knows. The job I take may well dictate the phone features I find necessary and important. Either way, suggestions welcome.

Speaking of Kent being uncool…

Monday, November 27th, 2006

City Manager Dave Ruller is sending mixed messages. One day he’s proposing a survey to find out what can make Kent cool, and the next day I read the Beacon and find he’s seriously considering a “sin tax” in Kent.

I don’t know who he thinks frequents the bars downtown, but in case he didn’t realize, it’s mostly the young adults he wants to keep and attract to the city. Akron or even Cleveland for that matter are not so far away that they couldn’t draw away some more patrons. (I know plenty of people who already go there instead of Kent’s “vibrant bar district.”)

I know a balanced budget is a balanced budget and the city needs to achieve it somehow, but all things considered, even a nickel more is going to put some people, especially broke students, off to the idea of sticking around.

Signing off, sending the wrong message

Sunday, November 26th, 2006

The NYTimes has an interesting article about the message you send with your e-mail sign off.

The sign off (think “Sincerely,” “Love,” or “Yours truly”) is something that is almost universally an afterthought in e-mail. As an often informal communication method, it’s easy to disregard the importance of that final line. But, as the article points out, doing so could inadvertently signal a brush off or be so informal it makes your recipient uncomfortable.

As for my sign-offs, I’m pretty conservative and predictable. I usually end with “Thanks, Meranda” or a simple “~Meranda.” Although the article says no ending makes you seem cold, I think the tilde softens the ending without making it awkward.

In other reading, I also took some time to skim this list of 99 tips to make your e-mail more secure and productive, which I came across on Lifehacker.

Some of my own suggestions that aren’t on this list include…

  • Use a temporary address when you sign up for access to random Web sites. There are several places that exist for this purpose including Mailinator, My Trash Mail, Temp Inbox, Mail Expire and a dozen more.
  • Don’t sign up for sites, use a registration someone else has already created. Go to BugMeNot.com and type in the site you need access to. Chances are some one else has already taken the time to register, and if they haven’t, use one of the temporary inboxes above to do the next person a favor.