GreenLance Communications: News • Media • Reviews

Monday, December 21, 2015

How I Script a Script

Did you know there are rules for screenwriting? Actual rules. And when you don't follow the rules, you get beaten with a yardstick -- or ignored by Hollywood. Whichever hurts worse. Whenever I fancy myself a screenwriter, I hire an assistant to help me follow the rules. OK, "hire" is perhaps too strong a word; "open" may be more accurate.

Celtx is a terrific little piece of software, absolutely free, that will write scripts, storyboard scenes and sequences, sketch setups, develop characters, breakdown & tag elements, schedule productions, and prepare and circulate informative reports for cast and crew. (Yeah, I plagiarized that description from Celtx' website. Ssshhhh.) In between screenplays, it also writes comic books. Not kidding.

Now if Charlie Sheen could just download an assistant to help him follow the rules, all would be well in Hollywood.

Saturday, November 21, 2015

How I Get My Adobe On

Noupe.comMany decades ago, we spent a long weekend in a Lotus 1-2-3 workshop. By Saturday night we were experts on everything spreadsheet.

Now we're wishing for a weekend seminar on Photoshop...but the local community college is putting all its continuing ed energy kidding...Introduction to Facebook! Become a Mystery Shopper! Cupid's Cuisine! Sigh.

lynda.comSo we're finding ourselves having to create our own weekend Photoshop workshops. Fortunately, these workshops are free, and allow us to attend class in our underpants. For print tutorials, we've become quite fond of Noupe, and for video tutorials, we're growing even more enamoured of Lynda. Both resources provide intensive, Adobe-in-a-Can delivery of knowledge by folks who seem pretty knowledgable about their product. Time to dive in now. We won't come up for air until we're experts!

Tuesday, October 20, 2015

How I Check (Yesterday's) Weather

Weather UndergroundEver wonder where the weatherman gets his information? "Yesterday's low was xx degrees, two degrees below our record, set back in 1948, of xx+2 degrees." I mean, you can't just know this stuff, right?

Turns out, you can. Courtesy of Weather Underground, the free weather resource that predicts tomorrow's climate, and records yesterday's. After typing in your zip code -- sorry, people of Mozambique and Madagascar; your weather isn't good enough to track -- scroll down to the History & Almanac heading, and read up on hour-by-hour weather, any day in history. Assuming, that is, that history started in 1931.

Friday, September 11, 2015

How I Conquer the Travel Bug

Back in the early 80's we had our first bedbug encounter, at a trashy little rathole in southern Taiwan. Head to toe. Those nasty critters left scars! We'd pay good money not to do that again! Fortunately, we don't have to pay good money. The Bed Bug Registry is willing to warn us for free -- well, so long as we stay in the US and Canada, or on a cruise ship. Next trip to Asia, we think we'll take a good flashlight and a sturdy shoe.

Thursday, August 27, 2015

How I Know When I'll Die

Living to 100I'm about to have a birthday. Interestingly, it's the birthday that marks the halfway point of my life. How do I know? A little calculator called Living to 100 told me so.

The calculator measures factors such as social interactions, medical condition, family history, diet and exercise...all the things your doctor says you need to take care of...and tells you how long you're expected to live. Ouch.

Turns out that if I want to live to 105, I need to get my backside onto a treadmill. Who knew?

Thursday, July 16, 2015

How I Hassle Myself

Hassle Me
I operate many mailing lists; sometimes a week or so can go by without my remembering to moderate the messages -- and then all sorts of chaos ensues.

I've found the solution: Hassle Me, a helpful little resource that sends me abusive emails every few days reminding me to go moderate my lists.

Use it to remind yourself to go to the gym ("Get off your fat backside, you lazy twit"), eat fruit ("Lay off the burgers, you massive carnivore!"), or to think positive thoughts about yourself ("You're really quite lovely, and not at all obese.")

Sometimes, you just need to be nagged.

Wednesday, June 3, 2015

How I De-Junk My Mail

OptOutPreescreenI may have been amongst the first three people to put myself onto the Do Not Call registry. Before the registry, I had nearly stopped answering my phone altogether. Just couldn't bear the relentless solicitations for life insurance, time shares and credit cards. Since the registry, blissful silence from the commercial sector. These days the only people who call me are friends and clients.

So now I've added my name to the junk-mail version of the DNCR. OptOutPrescreen is operated by the four credit-reporting agencies. Signing up stops credit card issuers and insurance agents from checking your credit to mail out those obnoxious You're Pre-Approved! offers, thereby discouraging -- but not quite eliminating -- the daily overstuffing of the mailbox. Reducing clutter is just my tiny contribution to the sustainabilification of the planet.

See how I just totally coined a new word?

Thursday, May 14, 2015

How I Swipe (Free) Artwork

Stock.XCHNGIt's time for the biennial -- okay, bi-decadal -- update of our primary website, so I've been out hunting for artwork. Lo and behold: I stumbled into a third of a million images, all legit, and all free, at Stock.xchng, a free stock photo gallery.

Just goes to show: People are pretty darned cool. Oh, and generous. This is just a great time to be alive. Merry Christmas, fellow web builders!

Friday, April 3, 2015

How I Got Me a System

FlyLadyYeah, Superman may be the Man of Steel, but my hero is FlyLady, the Woman of Steel Wool.

When I was a child, housecleaning was not part of the curriculum. I would spend hours staring at the mess in my bedroom, wondering how other people did it. Eventually I'd just shove everything under my bed and into the closet, and call it good.

Is it any wonder, then, that I grew up to be an Adult Who Doesn't Know How to Clean Anything? Or that some of my children grew up just as poorly educated?

But it's never too late to learn; FlyLady has rescued me from the second half of a lifetime badly lived. Now my sinks are shiny and my toilets are scrubbed. It's a start. We're tackling clutter, one room at a time.

Are you Born Organized? If so, please share your best housekeeping tip by clicking that Comments link below.

Saturday, March 21, 2015

How I Get Reasonable

ReasonPolitically, I consider myself a screaming moderate. Conservatives annoy me. Liberals annoy me. Polemics of every ilk annoy me. Without getting all Rodney King, can't we all just acknowledge one another?

The online magazine Reason is left-leaning, but its tone is relatively moderate and careful. When writers are able to make sound arguments without name-calling and caricature, I listen. Coming soon to Greenlance, the right-leaning equivalent of Reason.

Tell me where you get your intelligent, thoughtful, non-polemical political fix by clicking that Comment button one line down.

Friday, February 20, 2015

How I Evade Sue-er Rats

I have a confession: I have a law degree. It's not something I share lightly, for I hold pretty much the same opinion you have of -- if not most, then at least, some -- lawyers.  There are bad people in every walk of life, but attorneys and tax collectors have the peculiar capacity to destroy lives. That's too much power for any mere mortal to be entrusted with.

OverLawyered provides clear and convincing evidence of abuses of the legal system, with its daily chronicles of a jurisprudence system run amok. Unfortunately, the epidemic is spreading. OverLawyered now documents almost as many abuses outside the US as it finds within our fair borders. It's an eye-opening read that ought to shock every citizen with a conscience.

Tell me your bad-lawyer story by clicking the Comments link below.

Saturday, January 3, 2015

How I Make My Red Pen Fly

The SlotThis fellow Bill Walsh has been doing what I do, for nearly as long as I've been doing it. He wields a red marker. He uses it unmercifully. He's my sorta people.

The Slot explains to the curious what a copy editor is. For a good time, I read Walsh's Sharp Points columns and watch his blog about editing errors he finds in newspapers that ought to know better. Too often, I discover I've been making thoughtless editing mistakes of my own. It keeps me on my toes alert.

Are there online resources that help you stay up-to-date on your own career? Do tell!