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.