April 2011  
UpWrite Press Writing eTips

“No one means all he says, and yet very few say all they mean, for words are slippery and thought is viscous.”

Henry Brooks Adams, The Education of Henry Adams, 1907

Word Pair of the Month: discreet, discrete

It is interesting to note that just a slight shift of one letter—in this case the t—can create a word that sounds the same but has a whole different meaning. The word discreet with the t at the end means “prudent” or “modest,” as in the sentence The author was discreet regarding rumors about the candidate’s private excesses.

Meanwhile, if you move the t between the e’s, you have discrete, which means “separate” or “distinct,” as in the sentence She moved a discrete distance from the disruptive students.

To help you keep the two words straight, remember that when the t separates the e’s, it spells discrete, which means “separate.”

April Writer’s Forum Question

We all worry about safety, whether at home or at work, and recent world events certainly have the capacity to fray our sense of security. What measures have you or your office taken to assure the safety of yourself and others?

Our responses revealed a wide range of security issues. Here are two quite separate concerns:

Terry Kendall-Wu of Los Angeles worries about physical safety. We live not far from an earth fault line. Our office building is relatively new and built to withstand earthquakes. But what’s happened in Japan has been a real jolt that has increased our concern. We recently had a company in-service on how to handle disasters like that, and we are supposed to have regular earthquake drills. I guess all you can do is anticipate the worst and prepare as best as you can.

Sam Oliver in Philadelphia commented on growing concerns about cyber safety. It’s scary to think about how easy it is for some people to hack computer systems or tap into bandwidth for information. My office recently switched over to a cloud-based computing system, and although the business doesn’t handle anything top secret that would endanger the free world, we do need to protect the information we collect from clients. We use a specialized cloud security system, but the recent breach at the Epsilon marketing firm has only made our worries increase.

We all live in a changing world, and change can be scary. Our recommendation is to prepare for the worst while always striving for the best.

A Final Thought

In her song, “Both Sides, Now,” Joni Mitchell wrote, “I really don’t know clouds at all.” Many of us may feel that way about cloud computing, a seemingly inevitable shift in information technology. Every new technology carries its risks, of course, but knowledge can help to increase confidence. We recommend reading Discovery’s “How Cloud Computing Works”. (By the way, if you’ve been using an online e-mail service like Gmail, Hotmail, or Yahoo! Mail, you already have some experience with cloud computing.)

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Write for Business Blog

Entries so far for the month of April include…

Staff Articles

Arrangement of a Sentence

Using Punctuation


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