th3 Smartphones: As important as deodorant?Some people are a bit too e-connected: carrying their smartphones around like fifth limbs, endlessly checking their screens, ignoring their children in favor of cat photos or an updated Facebook status.

The recent Bank of America “Trends in Consumer Mobility Report” indicates just how wired some of us have become. Nine out of 10 respondents said their smartphones are just as important to their daily lives as deodorant and toothbrushes.

I see a distinct difference: If you forget to use the phone your coworkers won’t look trapped when you enter their cubicles.

Just 7 percent of respondents find it annoying when someone checks a phone during mealtime. Personally, I think that unless you’re waiting for the transplant center to call about that kidney, you should back away from the phone now and then. Meals eaten with other people are an excellent place to start.

If they had to give something up to be able to get access to a cellphone, the majority of respondents (45 percent) said “alcohol.” Which, of course, would solve the problem of drunk-dialing.


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th7 Heading to Austin, Texas. Got any insider tips?I’ll be in the Lone Star State’s capital city for a few days in early August. Anyone who lives there/near there or has visited a lot have any insider tips to share?

DF has suggested the Harry Ransom Center, at the University of Texas. I’m also interested in the Texas State History Museum. And, of course, in good barbecue.


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th6 Information wants to be free. Writers want to be paid.A post on my daughter’s website might get under some writers’ skins. Not mine – and not just because she’s my daughter.

Why I refuse to have a donate button” helped me clarify something that’s been twigging me lately: the proliferation of “please pay me” buttons on personal websites.

Newspapers and other sites are experimenting with paywalls to recoup at least some of the costs associated with professional writing (and, presumably, professional standards). So why not bloggers?

To my daughter, at least, the pay-to-read mentality comes across “as either grandiose (let’s face it, none of us is the NYT) or greedy.”

“Asking readers for money just seems crass,” Abby writes. In part that’s because she associates pay-me buttons with paid content, aka “sponsored posts,” aka “stuff some company pays you to run.” While she acknowledges that not everyone would feel this way, Abby says she’s less likely to return to a blog with a donate button unless “there is a good reason why the person actually needs help.”

To some extent I can see the purpose of a button: It’s like paying for a magazine subscription. Sites that put out great stuff have writers who put great effort into the posts.

Lots of sites don’t.


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th 2 Five years and counting.  In 2010 I was living in Seattle but traveling a lot. Having recently obtained a college degree in midlife and quit an apartment management job, I was happy finally to be able to go places: Los Angeles, Chicago, New York, Philadelphia, London, Phoenix, Anchorage.

Although I made my living writing for MSN Money, I wanted another place to sound off. On April 30, 2010, I started this website as my playground for words.

I couldn’t have imagined the changes that would take place in five years’ time. But really, how many people can accurately predict their futures?

Now I’m no longer living in Seattle, working for MSN Money or traveling very much. Still got the degree and the website, though — and a wonderful relationship.

To celebrate the fifth anniversary of my first post, I’m having a really big Friday giveaway.


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How I Make Money Blogging Picture 2 Help with starting your blog. Some people write for love. Others write for money. I say it’s possible to do both, by starting a blog and monetizing it.

Although I dislike that neologism, I do embrace its underpinnings, i.e., that the laborer is worthy of his hire.

This week’s giveaway, an e-book called “How I Make Money Blogging: The Beginner’s Guide to Building a Money-Making Blog,” can kick-start your own efforts to be rewarded for your thoughts.

Some people make a little money blogging. Some make a lot. The book’s author, Crystal Stemberger, is in the latter camp. She really works it, running a handful of sites and also acting as ad-sales goddess, mentor, consultant and freelancer. Apparently she is allergic to sleep, because she recently added yet another specialty: pet-sitting.

Not everybody wants to work 24-7. But if you want to start a blog or if you’ve got a site and want it to start paying its way, this e-book can help. A lot.


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