This week El Kaiser explores the Deep (Dark) Web and J.D. has a Hopefully Helpful Hint for Jammers looking to improve their writing skills. In the news researchers hack cars at DefCon; abusive trolls force Twitter to promise the addition of an abuse button in the U.K.; Google debuts new hardware and updates the Zagat restaurant guide; Apple rumors heat up…again; and Netflix will add Klingon and Vulcan subtitles to classic Star Trek film.
Let’s face it — English was not everyone’s favorite subject in school. Some people loved it, but others found daily classes about grammar rules, spelling, punctuation and all that little type-y stuff as about exciting as watching Windows 95 defrag itself. Sure, voice calls and video chat are modern forms of communication here in the Internet broadband era, but even then, a lot of interaction between people still takes place in written form.
If you feel insecure about your writing and grammar skills — maybe English wasn’t your thing in school or maybe English wasn’t even your first language — there’s help online. Take, for example, new Tech Writing Handbook, courtesy of the gang at iFixit.com.
The Tech Writing Handbook is divided up into 11 chapters and one appendix. The manual guides the reader through the process of writing documentation — starting with research and building from there. The book also discusses adding photographs and other visuals to accompany and enhance your writing. Even if you don’t actually do any writing yourself, the manual is worth a look just for the logical steps it presents on how to explain a topic or task. In exchange for your contact information, you can also download a printable PDF that you can also keep on your tablet for those offline moments.
Need more help in wrestling the English language to the ground? Consider:
- Purdue Online Writing Lab
Brought to you by the English Department at Purdue University, the main Online Writing Lab page rounds up 200 free resources that cover writing (and teaching writing). You can also find information on research, grammar and mechanics, using style guides and more. You do not have to be a Purdue student to use the site.
Although it’s linked to a $15 offline grammar book, this site is a useful for its explanations of grammatical rules, including punctuation. It also has links to a blog and online videos explaining grammar usage.
- Grammar Girl
Need short, friendly tips to help your writing and find answers to questions like, “can I start a sentence with a preposition?” or the whole “who and whom” quandary? Call on Grammar Girl and she’ll help you out.
- Grammarly Instant Online Grammar Check
Have something you’ve already written and want it proofread? Grammarly is an online scanner that claims it can find and correct over 250 types of grammatical mistakes. It’s a paid service with fees currently starting at $30 a month, but you can try it free for seven days. If you don’t have a proofreader or copy editor reading behind you, Grammarly could come in handy.
These are just a few of the resources out there. You can find many other sites to help you out, like other grammar guides and online dictionaries — and mobile app versions as well.
Need a break from your studies? Chill out with a little classic Schoolhouse Rock.