Archive for March, 2012

Everyone loves to blame the big, bad capitalists at Microsoft, seldom acknowledging when they do something right or when their product is wrongly suspected…

Browsing around and reading blogs, I came upon a few that would not display properly. I mean really bad. Headers, menus, columns, and navigation missing or whacked.

Screenshots of the same page with and without tracking protection

I wrote to a couple of webmasters telling them they had a problem with their site and received some kind msgs back saying it looks okay so everything must be fixed now. I revisit. Still whack. Now my OCD kicks in and I want it to work right, dammit! I open the Firefox browser and look at those pages again. Wow! They look fine here. But I like Internet Explorer. Like my 13-year-old car, I’m familiar with it.

Summoning my pseudo-geek persona, I search for ‘IE9 display problems’ and come up with a ton of forums and discussion boards with several people complaining about the same thing. All the answers said it was an IE9 bug and recommended Google Chrome or Firefox or Safari instead. That wasn’t gonna work for me.

I started thinking about changes I’d made recently since this problem just started happening. After Sunday’s discovery of Google’s intrusive method of tracking me, I beefed up tracking protection in IE9, adding http://ie.microsoft.com/testdrive/Browser/p3p/google.txt. BTW, they were all blogger.com/blogspot sites. In case you don’t know, blogger.com belongs to Google. Since that was something new, I disabled it. Dayum! THE PAGES ARE NOW DISPLAYING CORRECTLY IN INTERNET EXPLORER!!!

Yes kids, if you don’t let Google track you, you don’t get to look at stuff they control. Like blogs on blogger.com. For all my friends who still use blogger.com, come on over to WordPress. You deserve more respect.

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I don’t know how I get to some of the places I’ve been. I mean online, of course. Although it’s probably happened a time or two when I’m in the car.

Yesterday afternoon, I ran a search for writing. Bazillion sites in the results. So I narrowed it to blog writing. I’m still new at this form of writing and I know it can be better. Much better. I’m smiling as I write this because yesterday a blogger I follow posted a how-to article on that very subject. Check out Kana’s Chronicles. Good stuff.

mastermind-matrix-800Following one of the hits, I signed up for Writing.com and saved a few articles as pdf files to be read later. I followed links to six more websites, created shortcuts to some and dashed off an e-mail to a webmaster with a badly broken style sheet.

Some years ago, I signed up for elance.com, a website that connects freelancers with clients, but never did anything with it. After my foray into blog writing, I decided to search for freelance work, hoping to find similar websites that don’t require paid membership to use it well. I visited several but they weren’t very forthcoming about fees. Some had lots of contracts posted, others not so much, and one where most of the jobs were of the envelope-stuffing variety for which they are willing to pay enormous sums. I used to work as a writer for an insurance broker, preparing proposals and marketing materials so I wasn’t completely out of my element.

Time to eliminate some of the chaff. Narrowed search to freelance writing and followed a link to yet another bid/contract site. On this one, I looked at some of the listings and came across one that was very explicit about their search engine optimization (SEO) requirements. Which led to a search for pagerank checkers/software. Which led to a search for search engines (beyond Google and Bing, Yahoo and Zippy). There are actually quite a few. More than 250.

My mind wandered to things I need to do before I start any serious self-promotion for freelance work. Like get up to speed on MS Office 2010. I used to teach MS Office but that was when Office XP was the latest and greatest. They’ve rearranged everything and taken away some features I loved. Oh well. Thus the search for free tutorials for Microsoft Office. Which reminded me that they are discontinuing a favorite freebie, Microsoft Reader. Created when ePublishing was in its infancy, it was orphaned years ago. Born prematurely, I knew the end would come. Sigh.

Of course, that led me to a search for ebook publishing software because soon my OpenWorks Publisher will be obsolete (okay, it already is obsolete). I followed a link that hasn’t been updated in two years but the list of articles was interesting. In the writing category…”7 Ways to Unblock Your Creativity.” Click. Perusing the article, suggestion #4 said “Do a mind map.” Oh yeah. I’d seen software for that a couple of years ago. Ooooh. A link to a website about mind mapping. Click.

From there to the software page where they list several companies that make mind mapping software, including an open source freebie which I downloaded, of course. These software packages run about $250.00. Little bit too pricey for a test driver.

I don’t know how I got where I went next. I’m actually going to include the link to this one: litemind.com because this site has a lot of really informative articles including What is Mind Mapping- (and How to Get Started Immediately). I signed up for the author’s free eBook and then followed a link from his Study Matrix Mind Map to another website, IQMatrix.com. Amazing. Go. Don’t worry. New window. I’ll be here when you’re done.

Confession: I always thought mind mapping was just for brainstorming and organizing random but somehow related ideas. More. So, so much more. Check it out.

Last note: I wrote the other day about Google’s covert recording of our lives. I’ve decided I don’t mind being molested if a) I know it’s happening, and b) I benefit directly from it. I could not have recalled all the places I’ve been today if not for Bing.com. I log in with my Windows Live ID so I can collect the reward points. In return, Bing not only rewards me, they maintain a history of my searches and the links I followed from the results. I can delete it or stop the recording, but I like it. I’ll get rewards points if you click on my link to their site and you decide to sign up.

By the by, Bing also restricts ads to the righthand column instead of being comingled with the search results, suggests similar or related searches that might narrow the results for you, and if you search for something that has images, thumbnails appear in the results list and a larger image pops up when you mouse over it. Dang. They’re just doing it way better than Google.

scarecrowHow many directions can I go simultaneously? A wise scarecrow once said, “People do go both ways.” That’s what I want to do… I want to create things using fabric and yarn and paint and beads and paper. I want to take pictures. Good pictures. I want to participate in the 365MakeSomthingEveryDay challenge. I want to cook and bake every day. I want to develop my ideas for inventions. I want to write. Fiction. Nonfiction. About Project Red. A series of books detailing DIY projects paced over several weeks (for those of us who are easily overwhelmed by the size of the task). I think I have a lot of experience with BIG projects. Everything can be a BIG project.

I want to learn more so I can do more with website and graphic design. I want to read that growing stack of books. I want to walk 3 miles every day and use those Butt Bible videos. I’m a craft wonk. A creative wonk. A cooking wonk. A word wonk. I used to be a techno wonk but I blinked while staying home with Nerdy Girl for the past few years.

Focus. I need to focus. I have an idea that I think would sell very well on craft sales sites. I’m about to start prototyping it, but I’m still noodling design options in my head. Meanwhile, I was thinking I need to develop an online presence on sites where potential buyers will view my shameless self-promotion. I’m also debating continuing to use the WordPress domain and server or pop over to GoDaddy.com and snag a couple of domain names and some space where I have complete flexibility and the WordPress blogging app. I was even thinking about sharing server space and offering my services to other artisans who don’t want to be geeky at all. Do I want to be an inventor and artisan or do I want to be the webmaster and marketing department?

I’m laughing at myself because even as I read this, I can feel that Puppy Dog Syndrome come over me and I’m over-engineering the project, aren’t I?

I’d love to know I’m not alone in my diverse interests. I’d love to hear how you find time and the ability to focus on the really important stuff.

Doing some ‘puter/’net housekeeping chores, I attempted to log on to my Google account. Something I haven’t done in a very long time. I couldn’t complete the task because I have cookies blocked on my ‘puter. Well, not completely. I have to give permission for 3rd-party cookies to be stored on my computer. You should do that too and I’ll show you why.

Go to Google’s Privacy Policies. You don’t have read the techno-babble or legalese. Just read the section under the “Information we collect” heading. Got the heebie-jeebies yet? If you said no, did you read far enough to see where they say they may collect info about your mobile phone, including phone calls, people you call, GPS coordinates of where you are, etc.? Is your phone or your next phone an Android?

If not, try this one… Google’s info blurb about the Network Advertising Initiative (NAI). You can OPT OUT of advertisers placing cookies that track your online behavior and “tailor” advertising to your interests and habits.

I’m really rethinking that Google account. It seems I need it for Youtube, but there aren’t any other services they provide that isn’t available somewhere else with less intrusive practices. I don’t even use their search engine… Check out yippy.com. It’s a great search engine that groups results into clouds. They are adamant about not tracking your behavior or collecting information about you. They’ve also got parental controls/filtering if you need that. Open-mouthed smile

Even Microsoft’s Bing.com is better about respecting your privacy. Check out Microsoft’s Privacy Policies. And their map tool is much nicer than Google Maps.

P.S. I seemed to recall and have now verified that the Android operating system software development is open source but Google is leading it. To quote from the Android website FAQ: “…Google has committed the professional engineering resources necessary to ensure that Android is a fully competitive software platform. Google treats the Android project as a full-scale product development operation, and strikes the business deals necessary to make sure that great devices running Android actually make it to market.”

That new cell phone may just be an iPhone or a Windows phone instead.

I was born the year John Kennedy was elected president. While air travel was common, many people and first-class U.S. mail still traveled cross country by 3-day train trip. Like most middle class families, our house had one phone. It was black, had a round dial, and we had to dial 5 numbers to make a local call.

The year Ronald Reagan was elected president, I worked for a bank using a teletype machine. And 5 years later, I was using a computerized typesetting machine, complete with 5.5- and 8-inch floppy disks (they were the predecessors of USB flash drives and much, much bigger). That was the year after Apple introduced the Macintosh computer in a bleeding edge commercial depicting society as an Orwellian mass of lemmings following IBM’s lead (IBM was the company that introduced the personal computer to most people by making them something you didn’t have to build or program yourself).

With personal computers came a new buzzword: Desktop Publishing. Everyday people could now print documents, advertising, newsletters, and yes, even books, without going to the local printing shop.

Tens years later, millions of people were signing up for America Online (AOL) using the software that came on a 3.5-inch floppy disk that arrived in their snail mail. I got my first windows computer and was teaching computer and internet intro classes at a computer school.

When Nerdy Girl was born 2 years later, I got my first cell phone. After living through all these technological changes, the one that stands out and has me happy-dancing today? Youtube. After several attempts when I was younger, I’m learning how to knit. It could only happen with the availability of instructional videos posted by hundreds of really nice knitters.

Okay, I’m guilty of rambling again. But thanks for reading to the end. What’s your life-changer?

Living with Puppy Dog Syndrome

Posted: March 10, 2012 by Nerdy Woman in Perspectives
Tags: , , , , ,

A few years ago, Nerdy Girl and I were both misdiagnosed with ADHD (aka ADD). The fact that we could both focus on one thing for hours and hours at a time seems to belie that diagnosis. I’ve since discovered that what we really have is PDS. Puppy Dog Syndrome. Like a puppy who has lots of kids to play with, we are easily distracted by something that grabs our interest, only to abandon it when something else is noticed in our peripheral vision.

That is the only explanation I can offer for months of absence from blogging and Facebook and other online pursuits. I’ve been distracted. But I’m back and determined to be more consistent. I’ve resolved to ramble less, be more focused, keep my posts shorter so writing time doesn’t become a marathon session that needs to wait. Not to mention posts being less tedious to read.

I do want to point out the positive aspect of PDS…I have many interests and curiosity about almost everything. Nerdy Girl says I’m easily amused and entertained. She just shook her head the other day when I showed her the NOAA’s online education website (who knew we could learn about meteorology in the comfort of our own home?).

Thank you, friends, for hanging in there through 2 or 3 paragraphs. Stay tuned as I delve into a renewed interest in knitting and crocheting, the creative process of inventing and the onerous process of seeking patents, and 365 days of creativity that started with a book (of course) and a choice of colors for my laptop.

Mom is making me crazy. Kaiser Permanente is making me crazy. CALIFORNIA IS MAKING ME CRAZY. You see, my family has health insurance. Mom goes onto the KP website to set me up for a doctor appointment. I don’t mind leaving things like that to Mom, since that is what moms do and I am an incredibly lazy person (I trust she won’t send me off to Dr. Frankenstein or someone like that).

Turns out, she can’t do that. The law in CA says that from 12 to 17, teenagers have complete privacy concerning their medical care. Mom doesn’t get to know anything about what medical care I’m receiving, or set appointments, or anything like that. I can get an abortion without letting her know, but I can’t get a second set of ear piercings or a tattoo without her consent. (Damn)

They won’t send me the temporary password for my KP account via email, either. Because, you know, Mom could get into my email and get the password. THE HORROR of Mom knowing what I’m up to! D:

We’re waiting for the temporary password to arrive through the snail mail so I can get into my account (Never mind the fact the Mom gets to the snail mail before I do, and could get my pass either way…).

It’s screwy, that’s all there is to it.