Effective Messaging
No. 86
May, 2013

Lots of kudos for the video "Writing for the Web" mentioned in last month's issue. You can still catch the program online, and several people tell me they saw it on TV, too.

This issue features the last of three articles about Siri. It addresses day-to-day life with our personal digital assistants, including Will's custom-designed carrying pouch. And no I didn't make up a single bit of "Laughing with Siri," even though several people were incredulous. Obviously, they don't have Siri on their smart phones.

If you haven't seen the 2008 Apple Super Bowl ad about lemmings in a while, you might want to take another look. It's relevant to the story, but also worthy in its own right.

The second article is a reminder of the importance of taking time to make things right. It includes some tricks for finding those nasty mistakes that can be awkward to repair.

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In This Issue
Together with Siri - Last in the series
Typos and Other Uh-Oh's - Avoid embarrassment
Web Tips - 99designs
For the Road
Together with Siri
Phone pouch 2
Custom phone pouch

(This is the last in the series of three articles about Apple's Siri. We covered her history in March and laughed with her in April.)

These days I often hear my husband's voice coming from his office when he's not on the phone. No, thank goodness, he isn't getting senile. He's talking to his Siri, who sounds and behaves exactly like my Siri.

We both find Siri amazingly helpful with routine tasks like setting timers and adding reminders. She's also good at texting and writing simple emails. For longer emails, it's better to use the microphone in the lower left corner because Siri gets impatient and wants to send incomplete compositions. She can do calculations, too, which is terrific because I'm not good at them.

All the Same

It's impossible not to personify Siri. But I have issues with her lack of differentiation. Imagine if you wanted a dog and there was only one color, size and breed available. Consider ringtones. People actually pay to get distinctive ones. And for good reason. How many times have you reached for your phone when you heard your ringtone coming from someone else's pocket?

In spite of the fact that our Siri's are identical, in less than six months, we've each gotten quite attached to our iPhones. Will keeps his close to his heart in a custom-designed pouch that we had crafted by a local leather smith. His phone is useless without reading glasses, so there is a slot for each. I scoured the Internet for such a carrier, but found none.

Not needing reading glasses, I carry mine, like a Western gunslinger, in my right pocket. I won't buy any new clothes that lack pockets. And I shun garments in my wardrobe that don't have a place for my phone.

On Target

As mentioned in the first article, Siri's inventors sought to create: ". . . a human-enhancing and potentially indispensable assistant that could supplement the limitations of our minds and free us from mundane and tedious tasks." For sure, there's more to come, but as a first pass, we both give our current Siri a thumbs up.

I can just imagine Steve Jobs sitting on a fluffy white cloud in heaven looking down with pleasure at how Siri has wormed her way into the hearts and minds of so many earthlings. I just hope we aren't all lemmings jumping off a cliff.

Typos and Other Uh-Oh's

Uh Oh Girld
"Haste makes waste." "A stitch in time saves nine." These age-old adages were crafted in another era, but they apply exponentially in our high-speed, overwhelmed world. When ignored, they produce mistakes. I find a typo or two in an e-mail or on a Web site daily.

Because we're busy, we're tempted to ignore the little messes in our written world. Sometimes they don't matter. But you have to bother about some--specifically those that confuse, like setting a meeting for Wed. May 23. Ooops. Is that Thurs. May 23 or Wed. May 22?  Or when a "not" is missing as in "We will issue a report on this subject" when no report is planned.

To Err is Human

We all make mistakes. I recently got a "newsletter clarification" from someone who misspoke in their newsletter. The error had to be corrected because it gave the wrong impression about the work the newsletter author is doing. It takes courage to do that, and it might backfire in a positive way. Some people will scrutinize the original newsletter seeking the error.

I did a lot of proofreading in my first career in publishing. Here are some things you can do to stave off the "uh-oh's."

Tricks of the Trade
  • Pay attention to spellchecker. It doesn't catch errors in context or missing words, but it's a start.     
  • Read out loud. That will reveal a host of flaws including missing words and confusing or misleading text.    
  • Read line-for-line. This is good for really important documents. Take a piece of plain white paper and cover all but the first line of your printed copy. Keep moving the sheet down as you read each line. Like the "out loud" process, you'll catch most errors this way.    
  • Trusted reader. Web Words doesn't get out the door without the Will Ryan stamp of approval. My husband often finds errors I've missed and (though he loves my writing), he's a tough critic. If I get it by him, I'm pretty certain to please most readers as well.
Take a few minutes to re-read your own electronic words carefully. It's the best way to keep from crying over spilled milk.

Web Tips

Tips299designs lets you crowd source your graphic projects to a community of designers around the world. You describe your project and your budget. Contenders submit designs within seven days. Select a design and the designer gets paid. If you don't like anything you see, there's no charge.


Since their launch in 2008, 99 designs has hosted more than 200,000 contests. And the Australian-based company has gotten some pretty hefty investor funding as well.

Full disclosure, I've not used the site, but one of my client's did. And she got a very professional design for a reasonable price. You can check out the quality by looking at the many completed design contests on the site.  

And Finally . . .

Shawenon Communications collaborates with small businesses, solopreneurs, professionals and not-for-profits to get their messages across in the written word.

We specialize in electronic communications, including e-zines and other forms of email marketing, Web sites and social media.  We also ghostwrite articles and other business communications. As a solution provider, we resell Constant Contact's email marketing service.


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First name
Susanna Opper
Shawenon Communications

Creative Commons License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 3.0 Unported License.
For the Road 
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I'll be traveling when this email reaches your inbox, so I downloaded Constant Contact's Quickview app for my iPhone. That way I'll be able to monitor my opens rates just as I do from my desktop computer. I'll also be able to see the stats of my latest email, add or edit new contacts, create and edit contact lists and compose and edit an email.

To get your message to the people important to your endeavor, you need Constant Contact.

Be in touch to learn how your list can help you grow your business.

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