Friday, April 29, 2011

QR Codes coming to us quickly

Look closely at the images accompanying this blog post. These are known as QR (Quick Response) Codes.

Soon, very soon, we're going to be seeing these in lots of ads or in printed text. If you have a smart phone, for example, and your smart phone has the correct scanning software, you can scan a QR code with your phone; then you'll be taken to more information--more text, a website, picture or video.

Read all about QR Codes at this link.

For now, know what they are and get ready for them to become a part of your everyday life in 2011 and beyond.

QR Codes--already big and burgeoning in Asia, but still sort of a curiosity in the U.S. Look for them on business cards, signs, magazines, newspapers, buses--any place where you might need more information. (And we'll inevitably soon begin noticing them on t-shirts.)

Definitely something to keep your eyes on...

Thursday, April 14, 2011

Tighten your writing

The rules about writing say that less is more.

Make it terse.

Keep it simple, stupid.

Omit needless words.

Tighten your writing!

That's what a student of mine, along with yours truly, did today in my Feature Writing course. We took an 822-word published story and, using our editing scalpels (our brains), reduced it by about 50 words. And we did this without loss or distortion of meaning.

Puts me in mind of that great 1968 funk song "Tighten Up" by Archie Bell and the Drells.

Turn your sound up and click here to have a listen.

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Anna Douglas and her staff shine brightly

Congratulations to Johnsonian editor-in-chief Anna Douglas.

Anna, who will receive her degree from Winthrop in a few weeks, was honored Friday by the S.C. Press Association as the "S.C. Collegiate Journalist of the Year."

She and others on her staff appear in the picture with this blog post.

From left: Tiffany Barkley, Anna Douglas, Jonathan McFadden, Connor De Bruler, Paul Ricciardi, David Thackham, Joseph Henderson, Devang Joshi and Amanda Phipps.

Kneeling, from left: Jessica Pickens and Claire Byun.

(Photo by Judy Longshaw of University Relations)

Tuesday, April 5, 2011

Quote of the week

It comes from NASCAR's favorite driver, Dale Earnhardt Jr., who, upon finishing a close second a few days ago in a race at Martinsville, Va., wiped the sweat and tears from his eyes and said this:

I ain't won in a long time. I was thinking at the end I was meant to win the damn race.

Ain't it just a shame, Dale Junior. (That's Junior pictured with this blog post.)

I used to think "Ain't" was not a word, but guess what? Google defines it this way:

Ain't is a colloquialism and a contraction originally used for "am not", but also used for "is not", "are not", "has not", or "have not" in the common vernacular. In some dialects it is also used as a contraction of "do not", "does not", and "did not" (e.g. I ain't know that). ...

Friday, April 1, 2011

Tennessee man is "flush" with court victory

What's that old saying about one person's trash is another's treasure?

Case in point is William Terry of Oak Ridge, Tenn. (That's a photo of Terry with this blog post.)

Seems Terry wanted to grow flowers in an old commode that he had in his front yard. The city powerstructure cited him as violating an ordinance prohibiting from displaying such on his property.

Terry, however, insisted he had a right to grow daffodils in the old commode. He took the city to task (meaning to court.)

Guess who still has an old commode, with flowers growing out of it, in his yard?

Read about it in the following story, posted on and sent to me a few minutes ago by friend Jamie Low. (Thanks, Jamie!)

City's citation about potty planter tanks

Judge rules Oak Ridge man may keep using bowl for blooms

By Bob Fowler
Posted March 31, 2011 at 11:43 p.m.
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OAK RIDGE - William Terry won this bowl contest.

Oak Ridge's municipal judge Thursday dismissed the city's citation against Terry for putting an old toilet bowl in his front yard and using it as a planter.

The city said the commode is rubbish and violated the city's property maintenance code.

Terry argued that it's a flower potty and a good way to recycle something that would otherwise have wound up in a landfill.

City Judge Robert A. McNees III on Thursday ruled the city code definition of rubbish "is so broad it could apply to most containers and thus overbroad for the purpose of including Mr. Terry's commode.''

According to the judge's four-page order, "a city can enact ordinances purely on aesthetic considerations but must do so in a way that its citizens can understand.''

The city's toilet bowl crackdown is part of an ongoing effort to clean up neighborhoods.

McNees' order praises that effort. "The city's actions in trying to enforce its ordinances and clean up its neighborhoods should be applauded and continued,'' the judge opined.

Terry, an Anna Road resident, was flush with victory when told of the judge's decision.

"That is so awesome,'' he said. "I think it's absolutely wonderful for flowerpots everywhere.''

Said Terry of his toilet, centered under his porch and flanked by daffodils: "It is a flowerpot. It had been recycled. Everybody knows that except for the city.''

City officials last winter sent Terry a notice that his toilet, which at that time included its broken reservoir, violated the city's property maintenance code.

"It's all an interpretation of who is right,'' city code enforcement supervisor Denny Boss said Thursday.

Terry ditched the broken reservoir but also appealed the notice, prompting the city to cite him into court.

In court last week, Terry presented pictures he had taken of unsightly planters and other eyesores he'd spotted in the city.

Terry said he was stunned by the publicity the case received.

Next up, he said, "I might get two toilets and put them beside what you could call my driveway.''

Bob Fowler, News Sentinel editor, may be reached at 865-481-3625.