Brotherly … uhm … Something?


My family’s got a Birthdays Calendar shared through Google I Think, which is great because with all the marriages and children added to the family the past decade-plus I’ve realized I really don’t have a grip on the birthday of anyone who joined the family after 1979. The only thing that could make this a more useful service is if I ever remembered to look at it.

So, now, this is why I’ve found it suddenly alarming that I got a mail reporting my father had made an update on the birthday calendar, to wit, “CANCELLED @ Annually” for a couple weeks from now. It’s definitely not the birthdate of any of my siblings, so I have to conclude it’s the birthday of one of my siblings-in-law that’s been cancelled. I haven’t heard of any sources of particular tension in the family lately either, but it’s easy for me to miss that sort of thing either. Part of me feels like I should be warning them not to take any blacksmithing and shaving offers they get the next couple days, but part of me does feel like, well, my father must have pretty good reasons even if I haven’t heard them yet, right?

It’s so hard to know what to do when you get a mail like that.

Things I Didn’t Know Computers, Kitchen Science Could Do


I don’t want to be too chatty about work, because most of my time at work is spent remembering how when I was seven I wanted to grow up to be the astronaut responsible for drawing Popeye, but sometimes fate demands it. Today while trying to work out a problem that I believe will best be resolved by blackmailing our web servers, one of the co-workers had cause to try asking Google a question, so, yeah, here’s the autocomplete.

What we entered: 'can i substitute url for'. What Google offered: 'for baking soda', 'for eggs', 'for baking powder', 'for buttermilk'
Google’s auto-complete has gone completely mad.

Clearly, more people than I realized have been cooking for Tron.

I’m tempted to look at any of these auto-complete results, but I just know I’ll be disappointed, since somewhere a couple years ago Google decided that it’s just going to ignore some of the words you actually searched for in favor of the things it figures you ought to look for instead, and while I’ll probably be better off learning more about how to make buttermilk pancakes using web site addresses in place of the baking soda, eggs, baking powder, and buttermilk, I don’t want to give in to the peer pressure. Also, I don’t know if you need baking soda or baking powder for pancakes. Someone should make a web site that says whether you do.

Poising For Success


I don’t want to sound like one of those people who’s averse to making money by blogging. Actually, I think the idea is a pretty good one and if I can’t make money myself by blogging then I’d like to see it done by someone like me, keeping in mind as ever that there are few people who are more like me than I am myself. I know two of them.

Also I have to admit that I don’t know who these people are who are averse to making money by blogging, but apparently there’s a lot of them, since pretty much everybody who starts following my blog turns out to be writing about how other people can make money while blogging. I suppose everybody in the world has to know something that I don’t, even if it isn’t just what the back of my neck looks like, so what the heck. Maybe I need to figure out what’s needed to make money while blogging.

If I understand what I see properly, the most important thing is search engines. I had always thought search engines were these shadowy corporations in thrall to the surveillance state and working hard to divert queries like “who invented photocopiers” into investigations of “are sloths ticklish?” and DeviantArt pictures showing what the Signing of the Declaration of Independence would look like if everybody in it were Care Bears and “if sloths are ticklish how long does it take them to laugh?”. Maybe I’m not using it right, but the point is, I figured that if you were around, sooner or later a search engine would find you, and the search engine would get some money for it, and you would not.

But apparently that isn’t enough, and you have to get yourself optimized, so that a search engine has a chance of finding you. I think a search engine that can’t find me isn’t trying very hard. I stick around the house most of the time and don’t do a lot of travelling, and even if I’m somewhere unexpected I can be picked out as the person who clearly picked his own clothes without thinking about the fact that other people were going to have to see me dressed like that. If you can’t find me, surrounded by people who are wincing and not looking too directly at my shirt, then nothing I do to optimize is going to help. Of course, I’m not the one making money at this, so maybe Google is earning its vast profits by helping people to pretend they haven’t noticed me. I guess we all feel like that some days.

Another piece is that I have to give some way of classifying everybody into one of the major characters from The Wizard of Oz. I don’t doubt the benefits of classifying everybody, since I’ve been on the Internet long enough to know one of the most popular activities on it is protesting that you were put into the wrong group by some web site’s classification scheme and making sure all your friends know about it so they can be classified wrongly too. About the only thing people like better is taking dialect quizzes, because people love to think about how they’re the only ones who deploy the English language sensibly and everybody else is crazy, but classification pages give you more repeat readers because people have already heard about the soda/pop division and they’re getting kind of tired of “in line” versus “on line”.

What I don’t know is why it has to be The Wizard of Oz. I mean, I know the obvious, that we all think what it would be like to be the Tin Man visiting the Emerald City and have a huge circular feather duster rubbing the backs of our knees to a rich shine, but can that really be enough for everyone? I mean except for the people who’re looking to be grabbed by enraged apple trees. Maybe that’s the categorization I can use for my fortune: which Wizard of Oz characters figure everyone can be sorted into groups of Wizard of Oz characters based on what scenes and which ones don’t. Yes, I suppose that will do it.

After that I guess I have to make a whole bunch of tweets in which I say I wrote this thing, and if you don’t go looking at it enough to make me rich then I have to tweet it again. That’s going to be really hard. I hate making a spectacle like that.

Some Autocomplete Joys of Life


This is one of those wonderful little things that really exists and that I just ran across. If you go to Google and type “www” into the search bar, it comes up with auto-complete suggestions of http://www.google.com, http://www.facebook.com, http://www.yahoo.com, and http://www.youtube.com. At least it does for me. I can’t explain why but the Yahoo auto-completion particularly makes me giggle. Enjoy!