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November 2013 Newsletter

Dear *|FNAME|*:

I want to share a story with you about when I, too, found the new digital technology overwhelming. I tell you this new technology can be an ogre or it can be an angel, it all depends on what you do with it.

My son had moved to California with a new wife and eventually two small children.

A little bit of history: As an English major, writing long emails came naturally to me. The new generations (those coming after the baby Boomers) are growing up with computers and they operate on a different set of priorities. It was time for me to learn new ground rules.

This is what my son said to me:

“If you don’t know how to use emails properly, Mom, please call me, but please, please don’t tie up my computer with your long-winded diatribes, I am just, just too busy. “

I use the word “diatribe” but my son was more polite. Yet “diatribe “ is how I now see those old emails. Blush for shame! Yes this is my confession!

It was a time for me to wake up, and wake up fast!

Sttressed!

There is such a thing as ‘netiquette’ and it has a lot to do with etiquette. Both have as common ground “respect & consideration”.

A little bit about emails:

An estimated 147 million people across the country use E-mail daily. Have you, you who get my emails every month, have you ever stopped to think just how your emails are being received? Like good manners in daily life, it really helps if you can assume the viewpoint of the person getting your email. So having turned over a new leaf I am going to ask you a question: What do you really want to hear? Please email me at lynn@picturelady.com to let me know of what home problem areas you want me to research and address for you. For now I am going to share some of the lessons that I have learned about writing emails.

Netiquette

Ten Tips to Help You Master Email Netiquette

  1. Quality-check your emails before you send them. This is a discipline that is really a courtesy. I suggest that you always spell-check an email and in addition ALSO reread your emails with “fresh eyes.” Grammar, spelling and typo errors show you up as an amateur.

  2. Keep emails short and confine them to only one subject. Long-winded emails that address multiple subjects are confusing and they tie up attention. No-one has time to sit and figure out what you are trying to say. This doesn’t really limit you, because you can always send more than one short email for each different subject. It is totally okay to send more than one email a day.

  3. Keep negative emotion out of your web communications. Especially avoid writing in caps as this is equated with SHOUTING. A good trick is to ask a question. “What difficulties do you have getting a job” rather than “I told you if you didn’t get a degree, etc., etc.”

  4. Ask before you send attachments. Many IT departments or hosting companies block attachments and they often fail to tell you why or even that your message failed to arrive. So it is good practice to ask before sending an attachment and to call after you have sent an attachment to make sure it arrived.

  5. Resize pictures before adding them to an email. It is fun to take pictures with a phone camera and send them out to your friends, but these phone pictures are typically several megapixels in size, which means they can be slow to load and they tie up disk space. For this reason service providers and IT departments often block emails with pictures, (There are better programs like Facebook, Picasa, Pinterest and Instagram for sharing pictures.) If you absolutely must add a picture to an email, first resize it (we use Irfanview), go to “image’ which will give you the option to cut down the size of the picture.

  6. Be very careful when using the broadcast option in email. Broadcast is very handy when sending out multiple invitations or something that you want to tell many people, but the problem is that good communication goes from one person to one recipient and the message has to be acceptable for both. When sending a message to many people (while it may save time) there is always the chance that it could ruffle the feathers of someone who finds your message offensive. So whenever sending to “all” keep your communication short and factual and avoid opinions and be sure to have the switch “reply to all” in gmail turned off in the routine.

  7. Only discuss things that are public in emails. It is wise to keep private communication to face to face conversations. It is so easy to copy and share emails that you must have heard of the embarrassing message that was sent to everybody in the office. With such emails you also put yourself at risk. In these days with heightened NSA surveillance what you are saying may quite well be misunderstood. Rule of thumb: If you can’t post your message on a public notice board for all to see, don’t send it as an email. Write a letter or arrange a face to face meeting. The Post Office is still safe, but if you use them, call and tell your friend to expect your private letter.

  8. Should you acknowledge all emails received? This is a point of judgment. In Gmail, conversation threads are kept together and if you do not have anything to add to the conversation it is better to let it just drop when it is ended.

    On the other hand it is nice to know by whom and when your messages are read. I recommend a free program “Signals” to put your mind at rest that your message was actually opened. It will tell you when an email was looked at, and even how often it was viewed. It won’t tell you how well your message was received for that is up to you; this is a measure of how well you have mastered “netiquette!"

  9. How to start your emails: Your subject line is the most important line in your email message. Most people these days get too many emails and many delete emails without even reading them. Your subject line should introduce you and summarize what you have to say. This gives the receiver the choice to read or not read what you have to communicate.

    Because you can’t be sure that you are always noticed and remembered, a short reminder of who you are and what the email is about is good form. You can also give a ‘short” sentence to present a common reality.

    ”How wonderful that you were able to go to Alaska on a cruise in the summertime. I look forward to hearing all about it.“ Or, "I am writing to you because (or about)...“

    An email is less formal than a letter and your address can be whatever comes naturally to you, such as, "Hi!" or "Good morning xxxx" or "Hello!"

    We know how to start a letter: "Dear XXXX" and of course you can use that form of traditional address also.

  10. Ending your emails: Always end with something warm. Then even if it is a business letter, you will be remembered with kindness. Examples: "Wishing you good health and all good things" or "Kind regards."

    It is handy to have a short signature that gives your contact information. The key here is “short” - no more than two or three lines. Your signature should never take half a page. It should have your name and phone number, but website and mailing address are optional.
Typist

Are computers feminine?

In Spanish nouns are either masculine or feminine. So is a computer masculine or feminine?

From the male viewpoint:

Definitely feminine! La computerdora.

  • No one but their creator understands their internal logic
  • Even the smallest mistakes are stored in long term memory for possible later retrieval
  • As soon as you make a commitment to one, you find yourself spending half your paycheck on accessories for it

From the woman viewpoint:

Definitely masculine – el computerdor

  • In order to do anything with them, you have to turn them on
  • They have a lot of data but still can't think for themselves
  • As soon as you commit to one, you realize that if you had waited a little longer, you could have gotten a better model
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