February 2012  
UpWrite Press Writing eTips

“Like stones, words are laborious and unforgiving, and the fitting of them together, like the fitting of stones, demands great patience and strength of purpose and particular skill.”

—Edmund Morrison

Word Pair of the Month: farther, further

The best way to remember the difference between these two words is to note that farther is concrete, suggesting a measurable distance, sometimes far away. For example, you would say We moved the desk farther from the door.

On the other hand, further is theoretical. It suggests a greater degree, but not a measurable distance, as in The psychiatrist delved further into the patient’s past. As a verb, further means “to advance or propel,” as in He used his charm to further his cause.

February Writers’ Forum Question

As technology advances at breathtaking speed, some devices that we couldn’t live without before are now becoming passé. How are you keeping up? Have you bid a fond farewell to an electronic helper, or are you loyal to some item that could be replaced with something newer, faster, or smaller? Share your thoughts with us. Also note that we will include the type of device but not the specific brand in our posts.

It seems a lot of formerly necessary devices are being replaced today, many of them by the smartphone, which appears to be winning the electronics race. For example, when she got her smartphone, Angie Rodriguez of Houston bid farewell to her voice recorder:

I have always carried a little voice recorder to keep track of my thoughts. I used it to record notes on meetings, to dictate letters, and generally to keep track of my day. Well, with my [smartphone], I have a recorder app, which means one less item to tote around. It’s convenient and easy to use, and I can even download my voice files to my computer and organize them, something my old, dated recorder couldn’t do. Sweet!

Jasper Dell, a marketer based in New York, has this to say:

Since I can buy and play music through either my [smartphone] or computer, I no longer use my CD player. I haven’t gotten rid of my CDs yet, but eventually I will load them all into my computer, and then I won’t need the disks. Still, I’m a little insecure about just getting rid of them all—no files are totally safe, even if they’re backed up on an outside drive. Sometimes it’s nice to have the physical object in your hand.

Charles Yu of Chicago bid farewell to another old staple:

When I got my new [smartphone], I was blown away by the high-quality photos and videos it took. I used to use one of those little video cameras, too, but on my last vacation, I left both my camera and videocam at home, and I didn’t miss hauling them around at all. In fact, I am considering selling both of them online. Who needs them when I have a compact little phone that does the same job with just as good or better results?

Julia De La Rosa has totally come over to the “dark side” with her smartphone:

It’s becoming the world of the [smartphone], and I love it. I don’t even use my [GPS] anymore because I have an app that does it in my phone. How simple is life nowadays?

And there are other devices that are quickly becoming electronic multitaskers. Jeffrey Weiner, a paralegal in New York, has discovered one:

I thought my laptop was a fantastic leap forward from the old desktop PC, and my notebook computer was even better than that. But things are moving faster and getting smaller, and now I rely on my [tablet computer] to do everything I did on the notebook. I even have a Bluetooth keyboard so I can use the [tablet] for writing documents, too, and the whole package is still more compact and easier to carry than my old notebook was.

Malik Patel of Las Vegas goes to a real extreme:

You won’t believe this—I hardly believe it myself—but I no longer own a TV or radio! I can stream TV shows and radio stations through my laptop, so what’s the purpose? Maybe it’s odd, but it works for me. I have Wi-Fi throughout my house, so I can watch or listen wherever I want. I have an MP3 player that works on an alarm timer for my bedside table, so even there I don’t need a radio.

A Final Thought

We hear a lot about style guides for writing —those little (or huge) manuals that tell us what to capitalize, where to place commas, and how to format bibliographies. Truth is, there are quite a few specific style guides out there, with perhaps the most prominent being the AP (Associate Press), MLA (Modern Language Association), and Chicago Manual of Style. Most organizations, even individual companies, have their own style manuals. Check with your supervisor or office manager to find out if your company has its own guide, or if there is some other manual you need to follow.

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