Category Archives: Miscellany

Google Chrome through the eyes of a part-time nerd

I was going to write a belated Money Monday post about our new 27-inch iMac, but I wanted to include a picture. I know I’ve taken a picture already, so of course I looked in iPhoto first. It’s not there, so I found the camera, found the camera cable, hooked it up, and imported everything into iPhoto. It’s still not there. So I must have taken the picture with my iPhone, so I plug that in, and it has a dead battery. I wait until it has enough charge to respond, and then iTunes wants to update the software. I guess I could have said no, but I didn’t want to forget, so now it’s updating and has been doing for a couple minutes.

I don’t want to wait anymore. I’m in the mood to type. You’ll have to see our massively gargantutitanicolassal iMac later.

Last night, I finally downloaded Google Chrome, and that’s the inspiration for this post.

Like many of you out there, I use my web browser a lot. A lot a lot. So I want a really good one, and I’ve yet to find my dream browser.

(Disclaimer: I just want to say that I know about Firefox and OmniWeb. I used them long enough to decide I didn’t want to anymore, and I don’t want this post to be about them or a totally comprehensive rundown of every browser available for the Mac, k? Feel free to argue their strengths and weaknesses in the comments, or those of any browser I haven’t named, but don’t criticize me for leaving them out of this post. It’s just not what I wanted to write about.)

Opera is so very close to my dream browser. I love the UI so much. It’s highly customizable, has smart and innovative features, and although I’m not a huge fan of the default theme, it can be made pretty. I used Opera for a very long time. I even paid for it back when it cost money. I even applied for a job there, and even got an interview there, and was willing to move to Oslo to be a part of the awesomeness that is Opera. But I don’t use Opera anymore, because there were just too many sites that weren’t loading properly. I didn’t dig too deeply, and it may well be that those sites aren’t using valid code so it’s really their fault and not Opera’s, but as the end-user, I don’t want to care whose fault it is. I just want it to work. It was with great sadness that I started using Safari.

Safari is the browser that comes on Apple computers. It’s gotten a lot better in the past couple of years, and it generally does a better job with the pages I visit regularly, but I never found myself satisfied with the UI. In Opera, if you accidentally close a tab, you can command-Z (the “undo” shortcut in all programs) and it comes back. In Safari, there is no way to pull up the last closed tab, short of going into history and finding it, which may or may not be near the top of the stack. Ugh. There’s also no way to tell it to always open to a set of tabs or to the tabs from your last session. You have to open it to your homepage (or a blank page) and then go into History and click on “Open all windows from previous session.” That’s always what I want, and to have to tell it every single time is pretty annoying. I have several minor gripes about the UI that I won’t bore you with, but I will state that I have looked into a few add-ons and complimentary programs to use with Safari, and not all of my gripes can be addressed. I also think it’s kind of ugly, and having tabs that go upwards, not to mention tabs below the address bar, is just illogical. But it did most of what I needed it to do, and although my list of complaints is long, on a typical day, I could use Safari and be reasonably happy with the results. Still, I want better.

Although I fancy myself to be somewhat of a nerd, I don’t read all the nerd blogs and keep up with the latest nerd news. I’m not a cutting-edge nerd. I’m a stay-at-home mom nerd with non-nerd priorities who still likes to nerd it up occasionally. So I’m probably the last to find out that Google Chrome finally had a beta out for Macs. At least I knew what it was.

So I finally downloaded it last night, and here are my first impressions.

Positive Bits

1. The Finder window that opened after downloading had a shortcut to the Applications folder so that it was trivial to drag the program into it. I’ve seen this before, and it’s a minor thing, but not everyone does it, and I do appreciate it when I see it.

2. Any browser worth the time it takes to download will import your bookmarks from whatever browser you were using before. When I first started Chrome, it asked which browser to import from, which is nice, because you know what it means to ASS-U-ME. It also imported my browsing history. Wow. That’s slick as snot. I was already impressed not 5 seconds after installation. It also asked if I wanted it to be my default browser. Nice again.

3. Tabs on top! I know this is one of those things like curly brace placement and vi versus emacs where all the nerds seem to have strong opinions, but seriously, I’m right about this one. The address bar contains the address of the page you’re viewing. It’s entirely dependent on what tab you’re looking at. So of course it should be on the tab and not above it. Duh. Otherwise it changes every time you click on a tab. It if isn’t on the tab, it should be constant.
Screen shot 2009-12-29 at 11.57.58.png

They also put the bookmark bar below the tabs, which I have mixed feelings about. My bookmarks are relatively constant. I can change them, of course, but they aren’t tab-dependent, so I expect them above the tabs. On the other hand, when I click one, it only affects the current tab. I suppose if forward and back buttons go on the tab, then this makes sense too. I haven’t used a browser that did it this way before, but it’s not something I’ll get upset over.

4. Spot on password management.

Screen shot 2009-12-29 at 12.23.43.png

One of my Safari gripes is that it asks if it should save your password when you hit the login button, but before it submits it. This means you could be saving the wrong information. If you’ve fatfingered your password, or you just plain can’t remember it and you aren’t 100% certain you put in the right one, you could end up saving the wrong password five times before you finally get the right one, and then you have six password records and only one is right. In Opera, it popped up when you hit the login button, and went ahead and submitted it as well, so you could wait and see if it worked before you picked an option on the pop-up. Chrome does it even better by waiting until you’re logged in to ask, and by asking within the window in a cute little yellow bar. No pop-ups! *heart*

5. Speaking of little yellow bars, the entire address bar turns yellow when you’re at a secure site. I love this. It’s so obvious. No more squinting to see if the infinitesimal lock icon’s itty-bitty semicircle has shifted 3 pixels or not. You don’t even have to avert your gaze from the page. It’s in your periphery.

Screen shot 2009-12-29 at 12.45.45.png

6. This is one of the many little things I missed from Opera. The favicon is on the tab instead of in the address bar. When you have a billion tabs open, you see the favicon instead of less helpful snippets of the page title such as “Th….” *cheer!*

Screen shot 2009-12-29 at 12.25.54.png

7. It seems every browser now has page thumbnails on your new “blank” tabs, so no surprise that Chrome does too, but they’ve upped it a notch. When you hover over a thumbnail…

Screen shot 2009-12-29 at 12.27.10.png

…you get the option to sticky it or remove it. By default it shows your frequently visited pages, but you can edit it. I’ve only seen one or the other: frequently visited pages or you have to select what pages you want there. Best of both worlds. Love it.

8. That’s not all they’ve added, either.

Screen shot 2009-12-29 at 12.27.16.png

It’s not quite as cool as Opera’s tab trash, but it goes a long way to making me stop caring about tab trash. Which brings us to…

9. …being able to open my last closed tab easily. This isn’t as intuitive as command-Z, but at least it’s friggin’ POSSIBLE.

Screen shot 2009-12-29 at 12.29.14.png

10. In Safari, I have to decide to always open every file type it thinks is safe, or no files at all. I download a lot of zips, and I like them to automatically open so that I can see immediately if there was an issue and I need to try downloading again. Sometimes people don’t zip their templates (a decision I’m firmly against, but nevertheless it happens) and then when I download them, Pixelmator automatically launches. Ugh. I hate that. Chrome lets me pick! I can always open zips but not Photoshop documents. *dance*

Screen shot 2009-12-29 at 12.27.38.png

11. I have the option of showing all my downloads in a usable way. This really takes me back to my Opera days. Aaah. But it’s prettier!

Screen shot 2009-12-29 at 12.27.54.png

12. When I open a new tab, it opens to the right of the current tab, instead of at the end. It also has very pretty animation when it happens. When the link I’ve clicked opens a new window, it opens as a tab without my having to press command. Halle-friggin-lujah! As if I should have to read minds or check source code to see if a link will open in a new window or not! This drives me crazy about Safari! It’s so rare that I want something in a new window, and I can’t tell Safari to never make a new window unless I explicitly ask for one.

13. I can drag a window into another and turn it into a tab.

14. Is it just me, or is this like 10 times faster than Safari? I swear pages don’t even load; they just appear.

15. The Omnibar. I’ve been saying “address bar” because I don’t want to confuse people, but it’s actually called the omnibar because it’s more than just an address bar. I think this is meant to be a major selling point, and it’s simply not for me, but I do like it.

Screen shot 2009-12-29 at 13.22.50.png

In the above example, we see a few things pop up when I type “quin”: the option to search for exactly what I’ve typed, the option to search for suggested search terms based on what I’ve typed so far, a suggested site I’ve never been to based on what I’ve typed so far, and items from my history and bookmarks based on what I’ve typed so far. It happens as I type, so each letter I press gets me new suggestions. Note that the last two don’t have “quin” anywhere in them. It searched the content of those pages. Very nice, though not new to me. What’s new is having all these in one place instead of having separate search field and address bar. I like that it’s in one place, but it doesn’t excite me as much as Google seems to think it will. Still, thumbs up.

(Note: I have Inquisitor installed, so I’m used to suggested search terms in Safari. It just occurred to me that Safari doesn’t have that by default, so maybe this will look more impressive to some of you.)

16. The whole URL highlights when I click anywhere in the omnibar. It’s the little things.

17. Most importantly, it seems to render all my regular sites perfectly fine, and even does a better job on one of them than Safari did. (Note to Mac-using INs: the PIP button works!) I’m sold!

Negative Bits

1. I don’t particularly like the look of bookmark folders. It functions like an ugly drop-down menu that doesn’t look like a drop-down menu until you click on it. In other words, before you click, it isn’t obvious what’s going to happen on the screen. Safari’s little downward arrow next to the folder is more elegant. The way Chrome displays the bookmarks over to the side instead of directly below the folder seems awkward and unnecessary to me.

Screen shot 2009-12-29 at 12.28.37.png  

2. There is no way to open all of the items in a bookmark folder at once. I found this surprising since it’s been in both Opera and Safari for ages.

3. There is no bookmark management tool. To delete a bookmark, you have to go to the site, click the bookmark star, and then click “Remove.” Clunky! Apparently the Windows version does have a bookmark manager, so I have to assume it will eventually find its way to the Mac version too. Surely, right?

4. There’s no built-in RSS reader, which isn’t really a negative since I use Google Reader anyway, but the upshot of this is that there’s no RSS button in the address bar and I have to go hunting for it on the page. I like knowing it’ll always be in the address bar if there’s a feed. Look in one place, and if it’s not there, then the site has no RSS, and if it is there, just click and now the feed URL is in the address bar for each copy-paste into Google Reader. I miss that.

Probably positive bits

When I was reading about Google Chrome, I liked what I read about how it handles pop-ups, but I haven’t experienced it yet, so I reserve final judgement until I’ve BTDT. I do know that Safari’s handling of pop-ups doesn’t impress me. There’s just one setting: block them or don’t, and it doesn’t always work perfectly. Some get through that I don’t want, and some don’t get through that I do want, and there’s no way to fix that. It seems like Chrome will do a better job, very similar to what I had in Opera, but I want to see it in action.

When "bored" is not strong enough

Last night, I was more than bored. I don’t think it’s possible to convey the amount of boredom accurately, but I’ll try anyway.

First, let me say that I’m not one to get bored very often. There’s so much that I want to do that the idea that I wouldn’t be doing any of it doesn’t even make sense most of the time. I’m also fairly good at making the best of it when I have to do something I don’t want to, although certainly foul moods can be at play from time to time. Last night, however, I was lying in bed trying to sleep, so there wasn’t a lot to do aside from lie there. Unfortunately, I wasn’t tired at all. I wanted to be tired. It was the right time to be tired, but I wasn’t tired.
After lying there for a long time, my eyesight poor enough that I couldn’t read the clock to tell you how long, I became hungry, and I reluctantly got up and had a snack. I knew I’d have to start over with my efforts to become tired after leaving the bed, but I also knew I’d never sleep with a hungry tummy. After the snack, I was horizontally bored for another eternity.
I was so bored, that when Dagmar woke up wanting to nurse, I was elated to have something to do. I know some women apparently see nursing as some kind of enjoyable, lovey-dovey bonding time, but it’s never been like that for me. It’s something that happens, and that’s it. And in case you’ve never nursed a baby, I use “something to do” in the loosest possible terms. I mean, the baby latches on, and the baby gets the milk out, and the baby drinks it. All I do is… not get in her way. So being elated at this development, for me, is the best way to express just how bored I was. It’s kind of like saying I was elated to discover a blade of grass so that I could watch it grow.
Usually when Dagmar wakes for a “midnight snack,” it doesn’t take much to get her back to sleep again. This time, not so much. Maybe she could sense that I wasn’t actually tired and she wanted to take advantage of it, or maybe the same forces that kept me from being tired were at play with her. For whatever reason, she wanted to be a bouncy, squealy ball of glee at… um… some time after midnight. My eyes could only discern the fact that the time was made of three digits instead of four.
I put her back in her crib against her protests, and tried to convince both of us that we should be tired.
At some point during this most ridiculously-lengthed night, I mulled over how I might address the fact that I neglected to post the most recent Money Monday, and before that, the Frankly Foreign Friday. I came up with many clever ideas, but this morning I’m just going to say screw it. I forgot.
It is in this mindset that I am when I discover I’ve been tagged to list six things that make me happy. I can’t decide if this is the best or worst day to have such a task before me. Let’s see how I feel at the end of my list.
The rules:
Link back to the person who tagged you. (Oh! I did that already! Score!)
List six little things that make you happy.
Tag six bloggers and let them know they’re “it”.

Six Little Things that Make Me Happy
1. My husband switched computers with me, so now I have a bigger screen, a faster processor, and a better video card for my digiscrapping enjoyment.
2. My lovely readers helped advance me to the final round of Scrapping Survivor.
3. Bacon. Nothing particularly timely about that one. I just like it.
4. Getting mail. I have really fallen off the ball over at Postcrossing, and I haven’t gotten any mail in while. I need to do that again. I like getting mail, even if from random strangers.
5. Saying “random” incorrectly. You all know I can be really anal, but for some reason, I rather like how the meaning of “random” has morphed in colloquial use. I say things like “random strangers” and I like it, even though I know it’s wrong.
6. I have the absolute, number-one cutest daughter EVER.

OK, I admit it. I am in a better mood after that. I did start to list a couple things that I realized weren’t completely happy, and I had to change them, but overall I was thinking of happy things so that’s nice.

I have so many things to blog about but I think I need to do something else… nothing in particular, just something else… first. Like stare at my impossibly adorable daughter.

Tag, you’re it:
Jane, Catherine, Rachel, Kelly, Cara, and Jen

Maybe when I’m in an even better mood, I’ll actually make those into links. For now, that’s what you get. It doesn’t mean I don’t love you, though.

I need you guys!

I’m in a Scrapping Survivor competition and voting ends today. We can use any method we want to get votes, and I am resorting to begging all of you. Pleeeeease!

You will need to make an account at GingerScraps, but it only takes a second and your information is safe. You never have to go there again* and you’ll forget all about it.
Then you vote for lorryfach in that thread. That’s it. You will make me SO happy. You just don’t even know. Thank you!
*If this works, and I make it through to next week, which is the LAST week, I’ll probably beg again. Otherwise, you never have to go there again.


I seem to be starting a tradition of posting grammar and usage information on Thursdays. I’m not sure I want to come up with a cute name and all that, because I’m not sure how long this will last.

Today I want to talk about homophones. These are words that sound the same, but aren’t the same. The famous example is to, two, and too. Most people seem to understand how to use those, though, so I don’t want to talk about them. There are a couple of homophones that really trip people up, and are much more interesting to talk about.
I peeked out my window.
Window sales peaked in July.
The sales figures piqued my interest.

I got a sneak peek at the next Harry Potter book.
Harry climbed to a mountain’s peak.
Ron was jealous and raged in a fit of pique.
I’m just a little tired of people giving “sneak peaks” or having things “peek my interest.” It’s easy to remember peek because the two e’s in the middle look like peeking eyes. Admit it. They do. At least, now that I’ve pointed it out, they do. It’s also easy to remember pique, because it looks fancy, and doesn’t the phrase “pique my interest” sound fancier than “sales peaked in July?” I thought so too. Both mountain and peak have a’s in them that don’t really sound like a’s, so maybe that will help you remember.
Sweat poured out of my pores while I pored over a puzzling puddle of porridge.
People are so convinced that “poured over” is correct that they’ll start arguments about it. They’re still wrong, though. To pore means to examine closely. Although I can imagine some poetic, roundabout way that pouring over something makes sense, it’s actually just a misspelling. This should be easy to remember because people aren’t liquid.
That’s all for today. I think I’m going to change my poll in a minute, though, so check out my main page for that.

The Death of Ferdinand de Saussure

(Bloggies: This is all the rage on Facebook right now. I think about 1/3 of my friends have posted it for themselves.)

Using only song names from ONE ARTIST, cleverly answer these questions. Pass it on to people you think will actually do this are curious about and tag me. Try not to repeat a song title. It’s harder than you think.

Your Artists:
The Magnetic Fields

Are you male or female:
A Pretty Girl is Like…

Describe yourself:
A Chicken With Its Head Cut Off

How do you feel about yourself:
Absolutely Cuckoo

Describe where you currently live:
In My Secret Place

The first thing you think of when you wake up:
Babies Falling

If you could go anywhere, where would you go:
Sugar World

Your favorite form of transportation:
Railroad Boy

Your best friend is:
The Trouble I’ve Been Looking For

Your favorite color is:
Busby Berkeley Dreams

What’s the weather like?
Summer Lies

If your life were a TV show, what would it be called?
If There’s Such a Thing as Love

What is life to you?
Time Enough for Rocking When We’re Old

What is the best advice you have to give?
Let’s Pretend We’re Bunny Rabbits

If you could change your name, what would it be?
Abigail, Belle of Kilronan

Your favorite food is:
The Cactus Where Your Heart Should Be

How you would like to die:
Suddenly There is a Tidal Wave

Your soul’s present condition:

The faults you can bear:
Fear of Trains

How would you describe your love life:
Sweet-Lovin’ Man

What are you going to post this as:
The Death of Ferdinand de Saussure

Reader Request: Commas!

After the overwhelming success of my apostrophe feature last week, I was asked to do a similar feature on commas. I admit that commas are not my specialty, but I decided to do a bit of research and report back. It’s a bit trickier to explain commas without giving a lot more of a grammar lesson than I expect people to pay attention to. I’ll give it a go.

1. You use them to surround parenthetical and non-essential expressions. I don’t want to have to define that, but these are usually times that you would pause if you were speaking aloud. Here are a couple of examples.
“Excuse me, ratty-haired moron, but did you know you were sitting on my cake?”
“I prefer to sit on cake, not chairs, when the sky is clear.”
The moron, ratty-haired as he is, sometimes gets frosting in his locks.
The baker, who hates the moron with the fiery passion of a thousand ovens, would like to be reimbursed for the cost of the lost cake.
The baker who hates the moron with the fiery passion of a thousand ovens is Steve. The other baker is Edwin.
2. You use them between describing words that are describing the same thing, if those words can be swapped. I know that sounds weird, but it will make sense in a minute.
I do not like the cake-sitting, ratty-haired moron.
I do not like the ratty-haired, cake-sitting moron. (comma!)
The moron bathes in the deep blue sea. (what? no comma???)
The moron bathes in the blue, deep sea. (ack! That’s why! They can’t be swapped!)
This is another case where speaking pauses usually line up really well. Even if someone were speaking slowly on a self-hypnosis CD with a backdrop of waterfalls and crickets, they would not say “the deep… blue… sea.”
3. You use them after introductory elements. Once again, spoken pauses will be helpful here.
After sitting on the cake, the moron tried to comb his hair.
Meanwhile, the baker fumed.
4. You use them in a list of three or more things. A comma between the penultimate list item and the conjunction is called a “serial comma,” “Oxford comma,” or “Harvard comma.” The use of the serial comma is hotly debated amongst punctuation nerds. In most cases, it doesn’t matter and you can do whatever you want. I prefer to use it because I pause there when speaking.
The moron sits on cakes, plastic bags, digital cameras, and bearskin rugs.
The moron sits on cakes, plastic bags, digital cameras and bearskin rugs. (I don’t like it, but it’s technically correct.)
In rare circumstances, using the serial comma can clear up potential confusion. I’m stealing this sentence from Wikipedia because I do not want to come up with another one myself.
My favorite types of sandwiches are pastrami, ham, cream cheese and peanut butter and jelly.

Is that a cream cheese and peanut butter sandwich? Ick! It can also create confusion.

I know the baker, Steve, and the moron.

Is Steve the same person as the baker or not? The world may never know!

5. You use them to separate parts of geographic locations. Some people think you need a comma after the final part and some people think it’s optional. In these cases, it’s usually a good idea to pretend it isn’t optional so that everyone is happy.

I was born in Panama City, Florida.
I now live in Herlev, Denmark.
I was born in Panama City, Florida, USA, Earth, on a sunny Tuesday.

6. You use them with dates. If two adjacent parts of the date are both words or both numbers, you need a comma between them. If you needed one of those commas, you also need a comma after the last part unless a terminal punctuation mark already goes there.

I was born on Tuesday, March 7, 1978.
Thomas and I were married on March 30, 2007, in Kokkedal, Denmark.
Thomas and I were married in March 2007 in Kokkedal, Denmark.

7. I don’t see any way of getting around the grammar lesson with this one. I’m sure that I screw this one up sometimes, but now I have to try not to. You can use them when joining particular things with particular conjunctions, but you don’t have to. If you are using a coordinating conjunction (for, and, nor, but, or, yet, so) or a correlative conjunction (both/and, neither/nor, etc.) to join independent clauses, then you use a comma. Take the conjunction out and if you are left with two things that could stand on their own as sentences, then they are independent clauses. The comma goes before the conjunction.

The moron sat on a cake and liked it.
The baker was upset, and the moron didn’t care. This is an optional comma.

The important part of this rule is that it highlights when you can’t use commas.

*The moron sat on a cake, and liked it. (not an independent clause)
*The baker was upset and, the moron didn’t care. (incorrect placement)
*The baker was upset, because the moron didn’t care. (wrong kind of conjunction)

Two ways I saw to help remember the conjunctions were the fact that all the coordinating conjunctions are short, and the fact that the first letters of each spell out “fanboys.” Pick the one that works for you.

You are now tasked with correcting my comma failures when you see them.

About Me

Since I’m getting more viewers that are less familiar with me than I had originally anticipated when I created the site, I thought I should add a bit about me in the sidebar. I’m not happy with the way the profile gadget works on Blogger, so I thought I’d make a post here with stuff about me, and then I can link to it for the benefit of future viewers. Just in case they happen to care who that ranty lady whose ranting they’re reading.

My name is Lorry Lee Fach-Pedersen. I’m named after my father, Larry, and not the vehicle, and it is not short for Lorraine, Lorretta, Lorrelei or anything else. My maiden name is neither Fach nor Pedersen.

I was born March 7, 1978 on Tyndall AFB near Panama City, Florida. I now live in Herlev, Denmark (in the Greater Copenhagen Area) with my wonderful husband Thomas, our wonderful daughter Dagmar, and our wonderful cats. I have a graduate degree in geeky things. I’m a former Mac Genius and current happy housewife.

Q&A with my readers!
– Do you like dogs?
I have never had a dog as a pet, but I would love to when I finally have a living situation where it wouldn’t be cruel to do so. I used to volunteer at a shelter, and I was desperately in love with a German Shorthaired Pointer there, but my landlord was not impressed. (She did end up getting adopted by someone else though. Yay!)
– What is your favorite film of all time?
Brazil, or Annie Hall. I can’t decide.
– If you were a tree, what kind of tree would you be?
– vi or emacs?
– Do you think that last question was impolite?
No, but I almost didn’t answer the tree one. 😛
– What kind of geeky things?
I’m a Master of Computer and Information Sciences with a minor in linguistics. I think my geekiest title, though, has been Beer Administrator for the Twin Cities Linux User Group.
If you could live anywhere in the world, where would you live?
I’d live in a larger home than my current one. Oh, you mean location? I’ll live anywhere that’s reasonably safe, has public transportation, gets snow at least once a year, and is populated by people who generally respect personal liberties. Denmark is a pretty good fit, but I’m open to other places. My husband is pickier, though. He doesn’t want to have to learn a new language. Since I won’t go without him, I think we’re stuck in Denmark unless he decides to find a job in the UK or Northern California.

If you want to know anything about me, please ask in a comment to this very post on my blog. (Facebook viewers: click here to go to my blog. Facebook comments to this post will be ignored due to the purpose of this post.) If you have trouble commenting, I’ve found that sometimes you have to hit “preview” a couple times before it gives you the word verification on Blogger. If you get an error, just try hitting “preview” again.

I will answer any question you ask that is about me, possible for me to know, polite, understandable, and lacks incorrect apostrophe usage. I get to decide if your question is polite, and I am the final authority on the matter.


By popular demand, here is when to use apostrophes.

1. You use them in contractions, which is when you turn two words into one word. It goes where the letter or letters would be if you didn’t make it shorter. This is not optional. It has to be in the word, and it can only be in one place. You can’t put it wherever you want.
do + not = don’t (The apostrophe replaces the o in not.)
you + all = y’all (The apostrophe replaces the ou in you.)
2. You use them in most possessives. If the thing that is doing the possessing is a pronoun, there is no apostrophe. This is absolutely a consistent rule. I’m tired of people claiming that somehow the possessive form of it is inconsistent. You don’t say hi’s or he’r or m’y, and you don’t say it’s for a possessive. If the thing doing the possessing ends in an s, the apostrophe goes at the end. For most things, you add an apostrophe and an s to said thing.
My sister’s boyfriend’s babysitter’s robot is pink.
Its shoes’ laces are green.
3. You use them for stylistic shortenings, usually to mimic speech. Like contractions, the apostrophe goes where the missing letters would be.
Frankly m’dear, I hate fish ‘n’ chips.
4. You use them when you write a year in two digits instead of four. It replaces the first two digits (these days, that’s typically 19 or 20).
I was in Mosley’s class of ’96.
5. You use them to make single letters plural.
Mind your p’s and q’s.
Dot your i’s and cross your t’s.
PLEASE NOTE: This is the only bloody time it’s used in a plural. For real. That’s it. Just that one case. Period. Here are some correct plurals that do not use apostrophes.
I have two cats.
I have 100 CDs.
I love to take photos.
I know 10 Thomases.
I was born in the ’70s.
I am human, and sometimes I make mistakes. I think I’ve covered everything, but let me know if you think of something I forgot. I’d check over what I wrote, but I have a daughter tugging at my arm.