Thursday, December 31, 2009

Firefox: "The Most Disruptive Technology of the Decade"

Sitepoint has listed the Top 5 Web Technologies of the Decade, and Number One is Mozilla Firefox.

Their reasoning is that all of the Web 2.0 innovations were enabled by the tools Firefox provided.

"Without Firefox, Web2.0 may never have occurred. It changed the industry’s perception of what a browser was and what it could achieve. It deserves it’s place at number 1!"
Wow, I'm impressed. I've been using Firefox for years, but I never realized how important it was. Still more amazing that it can be the technology of the decade and be celebrating it's 5th birthday. So it's been around for only half of the decade.

I wonder if Chrome will have the number 1 spot for the next decade?

Wednesday, December 30, 2009

My Pet Peeve about Gas Pumps

I have a pet peeve about the kind of gas pumps where you pay by swiping your credit card.

Actually, I have several pet peeves about these devices, but I'll concentrate on the main one.

Why does it have to display the previous transaction amount until after you've swiped your own card. Every time I use one of these things, I feel sure they're going to charge me for the gas the person before me put in their car.

It seems to me that it would not be a difficult thing to have these machines programmed to zero out the amount once the previous person's card has been successfully charged.

As it stands, I'm always afraid that maybe the person before me drove off without paying and I'm going to get stuck with their gas being charged onto my card. Now, I know that most of these machines make you put in the card before you can pump gas, so I guess it would not be possible for the person to drive off and leave a balance that would be charged to the next person's card. But it also just seems possible that they could zero the amount out and not leave it up there till the next person starts to pump their gas.

This problem happens with several different gas companies, so it's not limited to just one brand. And it doesn't seem to matter if you press "pay outside" before you put in your card, the amount of the previous transaction is still displayed and you can't make it go away.

Am I the only person bothered by this?

Saturday, December 12, 2009

I got my wish -- Chrome history

I just blogged about wanting a drop-down mini-history attached to the back button on Chrome, such as Firefox has. I like being able to see the recent pages and go back several in one jump, rather than hitting back-back-back-back all the time.

So, today, I clicked on the Chrome back button in a leisurely way and held it there a bit longer than normal and there it was -- a list of my recent pages! I don't know if this is another new feature of the beta of version 4, or if I just didn't ever happen upon this before, but I'm really excited about this feature!

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

Chrome Wish List

I love Chrome.

It's fast. It works much better than Firefox did when Firefox was new. Though I know Firefox paved the way for alternate browsers, so that's nothing to hold against Firefox.

But Firefox is still my default browser. Most often, I have my laptop on the desktop, plugged into the VGA flatscreen monitor and USB mouse and keyboard. That way, I can use both the laptop's built-in monitor and the flatscreen. So I have Firefox open on the flatscreen and Chrome open on the laptop. The laptop has a wider screen, and I usually have more tabs open in Chrome.

But if I click on a link in an email, it still opens in Firefox, because that's my default browser. I generally right-click, open in new tab for links in a browser, so they open in whatever browser the page with the link is open in.

I have a couple of things I still need Firefox for. One is a neat little extension I just found that helps me save stuff I've entered into forms if something goes awry. Since I do a lot of writing in web forms, this is handy to have. But the other two things I use a lot are my Evernote and Taboo extensions. These are ways to save bookmarks and other notes in a different way than regular bookmarks. I use Taboo for links I've found for writing an article, ones I think I'll only need for maybe a couple of days and then don't want to have kicking around any longer. And Evernote -- Evernote can be used for a lot of things, but the way I use it in my browser is to save articles I don't have time to read now but may want to read later. I can't leave them all in an open tab because eventually that takes up too much memory, or one of my kids will come along and close all my tabs when I'm not looking. Accidentally, of course.

So what I've been doing is, if I have a tab open in Chrome and I want to save it to Evernote, I copy the url and open it in Firefox, so I can highlight part of the text, right-click on it and save it to Evernote. There may be a better way to do it, but that's what I came up with. Until today.

Today I downloaded the beta of Chrome 4.0 and it has extensions! At least for those of us with Windows and, I think, Linux. So now I have an Evernote extension for Chrome and I'm happy as a clam.

Except for one thing. I wish Chrome had a little drop down arrow next to the "back" button, like Firefox has. I love being able to see a list of websites I might want to go "back" to, rather than having to hit "back," "back," "back," "back" repeatedly. I wonder if there's an extension for that?

For a new browser, I guess that's a pretty short wish list. Bring on Chrome OS!

Monday, September 7, 2009

What I Write About

Often, lately, people ask me what I write about.

Mostly, I write about what I can get paid for. I write articles for a website called Demand Studios who contracts with writers and editors to supply articles for several different websites. The one I tend to have the most articles published for right now is eHow. How it works: there is a list of titles to choose from. Some are things I'd never write about (Kawasaki Engine Troubleshooting, for example, or Homemade Recumbent Bicycles). Others are titles I either know about (printing brochures or writing resumes) or can do research about (sciatic nerve pain, or paper vs. plastic recycling). They pay me per article as long as the articles meet their editorial requirements.

I also write for sites that pay you by how many people read your articles. The two I'm working on right now are Associated Content and Suite 101.

And, I want to start making blogs on various topics and see if I can make money on advertising. So far, I just have one and I just started it. I don't even have a domain name yet. It's about creation science and you can see it here.

Monday, July 20, 2009

It's not really a lollipop

Lollipop, lollipop, oh, lolli- lolli- lolli- lollipop
budum-bum bum

I keep singing this song, because it's being played all the time on a TV commercial.

When I was a kid, Life Savers came out with a Life Saver lollipop and they used this song in the commercial. Lollipop, lollipop, Life Saver Lollipop . . . I still remember it.

But the current commercial that's using this song isn't about lollipops. Despite the fact that they show conveyor belts making bright colored -- somethings -- there is no food item being sold here. Instead, it's one of those new small, low-powered laptop computers that people call netbooks.

Dell's netbooks come in 6 bright colors. A voice-over announcer who speaks in that kind of voice you hear over a loudspeaker and ignore, tells you the features of these computers, but I didn't catch the details. I was too involved in watching the elephant feet stamp the bright colored globs flat, and then this little robot on wheels cuts off the edges so it's a rectangle. Then it get's stamped with the Dell logo and it's all set. Is that really how they make these things?

Honestly, I want one. Small portable laptops in bright colors? And at a low cost, compared to full-featured laptops? You don't have to say more, I'm there! Sign me up, these look nicer than my little pink Asus Eee PC. I bet the screen's a bit bigger, too (though the commercial didn't tell me -- at least I don't think it did).

So, I'm the audience. I'm their target market. Yet, this commercial made me think these things are made of plastic. Or gum, or high fructose corn syrup. More suited to helping me deal with that grumbly feeling in my tummy around 3 in the afternoon. Not something I'll use to check my email. I mean, in my experience, sugar and a computer keyboard don't really mix all that well. Tends to make the keyboard sticky, if it doesn't render it completely useless.

So I'll go on singing this song and wishing they still made Life Saver lollipops, but I don't think I will really buy a Dell mini.

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Half a geek is better than no geek

There was this strange Monty Python sketch about "Eric the half a bee." It started out (I think) with someone wanting to get a license for his pet fish, Eric. But -- I can't remember -- either Eric was dead or they didn't give out fish licenses. For some reason there was a problem, but the gent really wanted a license of some kind, so he caught a bee and wanted a license for his pet bee, but then, somebody squashed the bee, so then it was half a bee. Really, all I remember is the half a bee part.

I'm half a geek. Here's how I know. I used to be a geek. I love technology. I've been using the internet since 1992, before Al Gore even invented it. I've owned 10 computers, and that doesn't count those that were or are only used by my children or my husband, nor does it count the 2 netbooks I own. See, I'm a geek, I have a netbook. I also have 3 working mp3 players (no, none of them is an iPod). I'm typing this on a laptop that's hooked up to a 2nd monitor on my desktop. Beneath the desk is a desktop computer -- if I were to take the laptop on the road, someone could attach the monitor back to the desktop computer, plug the USB keyboard into the USB hub and grab the mouse that's stuck at the back of my keyboard drawer and the desktop computer would be right there, ready to use. Do all of these things prove I'm a geek?

But I have to admit something. I'm totally confused when it comes to Twitter. Well, not totally. I signed up. I followed a bunch of people. Actually, a bunch of people followed me, too. People I don't even know -- the most recent one was Jim the Realtor (not his real name). But, except for once when I entered a contest, I have not ever "Tweeted." Not only that, I'm not sure what all of these things are: @ message, RT, these strange # codes. I don't know what they mean and I don't know how to do them. All I do is follow people and see what they're up to. If I want to say something, I go to Facebook. Or if it's something longer, I can come here and blog.

I knew the first time I had to ask one of my kids how to do something complicated with the DVD player or the computer that this day would come. I'm losing my geek cred. I'm over the hill and fast approaching the state that I used to laugh at my mother for. The state of being technologically clueless. My son left the browser in full screen mode, and I had to ask him how to get it back to normal. I brought up the program guide on our TV and it only listed certain favorite channels -- not only did I not know how to get the rest of the channels but I didn't know we even had that function nor how to set it up. Now that we have several hundred TV channels, I have to ask my family the numbers of my favorite channels because I keep forgetting. I spent 15 minutes the other day looking for a way to share a link to a website on Facebook. My kids can figure this stuff out without even looking it up, and yet I remain unable to do or remember more and more things that have to do with my beloved technology.

I'm getting old, and technology is leaving me behind. I'm not going to give up. I'm only going kicking and screaming, but believe me, my mother is laughing at me from heaven because I used to make fun of her when she couldn't figure out how to run the VCR.

Bing! Pros and Cons

Bing is a new search engine, made by Microsoft. I guess Bill wants to compete with Google and he picked Google's strongest product to go up against.

Bing is pretty. Each day, there's a new picture. A really cool picture. You'll immediately want to know more about it -- where is it? what is it? why is it like that? Hover your mouse over the photo and you'll see hotspots where you can get more info. Click and you'll get an answer to one of the questions the creators think you might want to know. Therefore,

Bing is informative. You learn stuff by going there. It's like closing your eyes and pointing your pencil at a map of the world -- only better, because you instantly get to see what it looks like. And they pick someplace that looks cool and interesting, not dull and boring. Therefore,

Bing can be an inspiration for writers suffering writer's block. Or a diversion for those who just don't want to write about what they're supposed to be writing about (like me, I'm supposed to be writing about the Pantone Color Matching System. Boring!).

But is Bing a good search engine? The ads say it's a "decision engine" but they don't define that term. If "decision engine" means it decides what you want to know about, then, yes, Bing is definitely that. And it does that very well. Will that compete against Google? No way!

Does Bing bring up better search results than Google? Well, mostly, when I go there, I get distracted and forget what I was going to search for. I've learned about beautiful cliffside villages on the Meditteranean, and I've learned that in Iceland they have cute little houses half-buried under the ground that remind me of Hobbit holes and look like they should belong in New Zealand. I saw neat pictures of the Great Barrier Reef from space. The one time I did search using Bing, I ended up with results that looked almost exactly like those I got from Google for the same search.

But I try to go to Bing every day, just to see the new photo for the day. I even made it the home page in Chrome, which is, well, not my default browser. But I thought the irony of making Bing my default browser in Chrome was too funny to pass up. However, it doesn't work right in Chrome; when you want to go back and see yesterday's photo, you get an error message.

Bing and it's owners sure are helping the economy by buying lots of ads. Will that help Bing topple Google from top of the search engine market?

Only time will tell, but I don't think so.

Sunday, June 14, 2009

Blogging again

I haven't posted here in a really long time. Why? Because I've been busy writing other stuff. I've written over 250 Guides at

I'm starting to write for another company and I'm hoping to start some blogs and also set up a website for my husband's window blind business. So I'm still busy, and I'm still not sure about what to do with this blog.

I don't really want to write about writing. And there are zillions of websites that can tell you how to be a freelance writer better than I can.

So I might start some blogs about subjects I do want to write about, and leave this one as an archive where anyone who wants to know about my writing can go to find samples.

The rest of June looks like it will be really busy and I'm hoping to do some new blogs in July. So stay tuned.