Thursday, April 29, 2010

Technology Lesson: Facebook Anatomy

Facebook can seem overwhelming if you're a new user. It uses a lot of its own jargon, and even the standard activities may not make sense if you're not a seasoned social networker. I'm outlined some simple and common activities below to help new, or simply inexperienced, Facebookers below.

This is when you respond to someone or something in the public area of Facebook. This would include status updates from friends and groups, discussions in groups, photos, videos, and links posted by friends, and the walls of friends and groups.

This is a thumbs up sign located beneath content (status updates, photos, albums, links, video, etc.) If you click LIKE, your name will be added under the content. ("YOUR NAME likes this." or "5 people like this." Your name will be listed with those four other people.) There is no dislike button, so make sure you don't click any thumbs unless you really, really, really like something.

Think of the message center as your Facebook-only inbox. Messages are sent person-to-person, person-to-group, group-to-person, group-to-members, and person-to-people. These messages can only be viewed by the sender and recipient. You can not visit a person's page and see his or her messages.

News Feed
This is the area you see when you log in. It displays status updates and activity (joining groups, commenting other friends—mutual and not mutual—posting photos, etc.) in the center column. You can post your status or share information above, and you can comment and engage in discussions here too.

Status Update

This is a person's...activity. ("FRIEND is going to the gym." "FRIEND loves the weather!") The area to update your friends on your inner thoughts is at the top of the news feed and the top of your profile page. Make sure you don't fill this in with a comment to someone else by accident. That would be a major faux pas. (See also: Updating your Facebook status)

This is the main feature of a person's page. It shows activity (adding friends, sharing content, etc.) and status updates. You can comment on a person's activity or leave a public message here. What people see from you will depend on the person's privacy settings.

Additional Resources:
Facebook lessons

Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Culture Lesson: Commonly Confused Pretty-Eyed Actors

I once engaged in a fierce debate with a co-worker regarding Paul Rudd. She insisted that Rudd starred in Father of the Bride, while I insisted that the actor she was thinking of someone else. I added, "But that guy and Paul Rudd were both on friends! It's just that Phoebe married Paul Rudd." She refused to budge, and I let her gloat because I wanted to stay friends.

I guess it's possible that all attractive pretty-eyed brunette actors look the same, so I thought I'd put a guide together. You know, in case you end up in this debate too!

Paul Rudd (40)
General Information: Dreamboat; part of Judd Apatow's entourage, appearing in The 40-Year-Old Virgin and Knocked Up.
Acting Credits (roles Old People will remember): Clueless, Sisters, Wet Hot American Summer, Friends, Anchorman, The 40-Year-Old Virgin, Reno 911!, Knocked Up, Forgetting Sarah Marshall, Role Models, I Love You Man
Role on Friends: Mike Harrigan, Phoebe's husband. Stolen with glee from Wikipedia:
  • Michael "Mike" Hannigan (Paul Rudd) — In "The One with the Pediatrician" (Season 9, 2002), Joey forgets he promised Phoebe a double date. After pretending someone called "Mike" will be joining them, he desperately yells "Mike" in Central Perk. Mike Hannigan replies and is roped into the date. The date does not go well but they go on a second one in "The One with the Sharks" (Season 9, 2002), which is equally as bad. In "The One with the Boob Job" (Season 9, 2003), he and Phoebe decide to move in together. Phoebe suggests that one day they could get married but he tells her that, after his messy divorce, he never wants to get married again, and they break up. Unable to be apart from each other, they reconcile in "The One with the Memorial Service" (Season 9, 2003). In "The One in Barbados, Part 1", he proposes to her at the same time as David. She turns both of them down but tells David that Mike is the man she wants to be with. In "The One After Joey and Rachel Kiss" (Season 10, 2003), Mike is dumped by Precious, the girl he has been seeing since breaking up with Phoebe. In "The One Where Rachel's Sister Babysits" (Season 10, 2003), he proposes to her, and they are married by Joey in "The One with Phoebe's Wedding" (Season 10, 2004). In "The One with Princess Consuela" (Season 10, 2004), he changes his name to Crap Bag after Phoebe changes her to Princess Consuela Bananahammock. He makes a brief cameo in "The Last One", bringing over a "Welcome, Baby Bing" banner to Monica and Chandler's.

Gratuitous YouTube Clips:

George Newbern (47)
General Information: Newbern is best known for his work in Adventures in Babysitting, Father of the Bride, and Designing Women (if you're my mom). He does a lot of voice work for video games and cartoons.
Acting Credits (roles Old People will remember): Adventures in Babysitting, Poochinski, Father of the Bride (I-II), Designing Women, Theodore Rex (VOICE!), Chicago Hope, Friends, Providence, Saw VI, Nip/Tuck
Role on Friends: Danny, Rachel's brief boyfriend. As lifted from Wikipedia (because, please, I can't remember everything from that stupid show):
  • Daniel "Danny" (George Newbern) — A man who has been on an around-the-world trip and returns in "The One with the Yeti".[e 76] Rachel and Monica encounter the bearded man in the basement of their building and think he is a Yeti. Rachel is attracted to him but plays hard-to-get by pretending not to be interested in a housewarming party he is throwing in "The One Where Ross Moves In".[e 77] They eventually get together, but Rachel dumps him when she discovers he has a "special bond" with his sister in "The One with the Inappropriate Sister".[e 78]
Gratuitous YouTube Clips:

Andrew McCarthy (I can see how this mistake might happen if you're my mom; 47)
General Information: McCarthy is the heartthrob of the Brat Pack era.
Acting Credits (roles Old People will remember): St. Elmo's Fire, Pretty in Pink, Mannequin, Less Than Zero, Weekend at Bernie's (I-II), The Joy Luck Club, Mullholland Falls, Kingdom Hospital, Lipstick Jungle
Role on Friends: NOT APPLICABLE
Gratuitous YouTube Clips:

Additional Resources:
Paul Rudd on IMDB
George Newbern on IMDB
Andrew McCarthy on IMDB
Characters of Friends, Wikipedia article

Thursday, April 22, 2010

Vocabulary Lesson: QWERTY

QWERTY stands for the first six letters on a keyboard. (Go ahead! Look at yours! It's the top row at the left.)

History via Wikipedia:
The QWERTY design is based on a layout designed by Christopher Latham Sholes in 1874 for the Sholes and Glidden typewriter and sold to Remington in the same year, when it first appeared in typewriters. It was designed to minimize typebar clashes,[1] became popular with the success of the Remington No. 2 of 1878,[1] and remains in use on electronic keyboards due to the network effect of a standard layout and the failure of alternatives to provide very significant advantages.[2]
And from Cecil at The Straight Dope:
In what is generally considered the first practical typewriter--designed by an American inventor named Christopher Sholes and a group of cohorts in the late 1860s--the type, arranged in a sort of circular basket under the carriage, was prone to frequent jamming at typing speeds in excess of hunt-and-peck. (Another problem, by the way, was that type met paper on the underside of the cylinder, so the typist couldn't read the fruits of his or her labors without lifting up the carriage.) To solve the jamming problem, Sholes and company, who had originally arranged their keyboard in alphabetical order, decided to put the most commonly used letters (or what they thought were the most commonly used letters) as far apart as possible in the machine's innards. The next year, 1873, they turned their invention over to the Remington gun company of New York State, and their keyboard has been standard ever since, despite the fact that succeeding improvements in typewriter design quickly rendered it ridiculous.

Of course, a superior system exists. It's called the Dvorak Simplified Keyboard, or DSK, after inventor August Dvorak, who developed it while a professor at the University of Washington in Seattle. Among other improvements, the DSK puts all vowels in the "home row" of keys--the second row from the bottom--and favors the right hand slightly. Numerous studies have proved that it can be learned quite easily even by experienced typists, and that it makes for faster, less fatiguing, and more accurate typing than the conventional system. But habit, apparently, dies hard in the typing biz--the DSK was patented in 1932.


According to legend, the seemingly random layout of today's keyboards has its origins in the limitations of the first typewriters. The early machines were crude and prone to jamming if you typed too fast. The QWERTY keyboard was designed to place the most commonly used letters on the opposite sides of the keyboard, making jamming mechanically less likely. Legend has it that the QWERTY keyboard was also made intentionally clumsy (only one vowel in the home row, for instance) in order to slow down typists and further reduce the possibility of jamming.

Within a relatively short time, of course, typewriter engineering had improved sufficiently that jamming was no longer a major concern. But by then, the story goes, people were used to the QWERTY keyboard and we've been stuck with it ever since, even in the face of allegedly superior alternatives such as the Dvorak keyboard. Advocates say research proves the Dvorak is easy to learn and makes typing faster and more accurate. But it's never made much headway because of the crushing power of standards, even stupid ones.

Of course, you already knew that. Today QWERTY is used in advertisements for cellphones to indicate that the technology YOU! MUST! BUY! RIGHT! NOW! includes a full keyboard.

(A cell phone with a QWERTY keyboard.)

Which is what I was eventually going to get to. When you see QWERTY in regards to an electronic item, it means, FULL KEYBOARD!

Additional Information:
QWERTY, Wikipedia
QWERTY, Webopedia
Was the QWERTY keyboard purposely designed to slow typists?
, The Straight Dope

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Technology Lesson: Browsers

A web browser is the program you use to surf the web. (A browser can also be used access and view content provided by servers in private networks.) to Most computers come with the software already installed. Macs are pre-installed with Safari and PCs are pre-installed with Internet Explorer.

Let's review browser currently available to you!

Chrome is a Google-engineered browser. It was released in 2008, is free, and open source. (See below for more.) As far as I know, it does as much as other browsers too, and more. (I don't use it. I'm waiting for my plug-ins—software added to enhance my browsing experiences—to catch up.) Chrome is said to have great security.

Firefox is the most popular browser. Released in 2004 and provided by Mozilla, the program is open source, which means Firefox is "liberally licensed" and the source code is available to users (this is usually unavailable and under copyright) so that improvements may be made to the software. (This is a very good thing.) Firefox's features include tabbed browsing, cross-platform support, phishing detection, an option to clear all private data, customizable pop-up blocking, and private browsing.

Internet Explorer is probably the default browser on your computer. It was introduced by Microsoft in 1995. It is immensely popular.

Netscape Navigator was released in 1994, by Netscape Communications, and is considered the first commercial browser. Netscape Communications is now owned by AOL. The browser's development ceased in 2008.

Opera is a browser preferred for mobile devices (people say that it is fast). (I'm sort of unimpressed.) It was released in 1996 by Norwegian-based Opera Software Company. Nintendo has a hold on the browser—it comes with the Wii and is the browser used for the DS and DSI.

Safari is Apple's default browser. (So if you have a Mac, Safari is probably on your computer.) Apple released it in 2003 with Mac OS X. Your iTouch and iPhones are also equipped with Safari. Here are some features!

Additional Resources:
Browser Informaion, W3C Schools
Web Statistics and Trends, W3C Schools
History of the web browser, Wikipedia
Free and open source software, Wikipedia
Features of Mozilla Firefox, Wikipedia
Day Two: No One Even Attempts Hacking Chrome at Pwn2Own Competition, Lifehacker

Thursday, April 15, 2010

Technology Lesson: How to Log In to Blogger

Today's post, by request, details how to log in to Blogger and post to your blog. This lesson requires that you already have an account (my mom does). Blogger is connected to Google, so you'll need a Gmail address if you sign up.

Go to This is what you'll see:

Type your e-mail address and password in the log in fields located at the top right of the page:

(I wrote Type your address and your password.)

Click SIGN IN to log in. The SIGN IN button is light blue and located beneath the log in form:

Blogger will re-direct you to your DASHBOARD. This is your "home" on Blogger. It will list your blogs with Blogger and provide short cuts to editing posts, publishing new posts, and changing your settings. If you click the Blogger logo at the top of the screen from another page it will re-direct you here. This is what MY Dashboard looks like:

To write a new post, click NEW POST. The button is blue and located beneath the blog's title:

Fill in the fields on the next page. This includes your subject, content, and tags/labels.
The row beneath TITLE: includes options to modify your text, including the font you use, font size, font color, text alignment, and spell check. Go wild!

When you're satisfied, click PUBLISH POST. The button is ORANGE and located beneath the text box where you've typed your post. The BLUE BUTTON next to it says SAVE NOW. Blogger will save your work as you go, but it's always a good idea to click SAVE NOW if you intend to save your post as a draft before you publish your post. The grey text next to SAVE NOW indicates the most recent time your post was saved.
When you've finished, Blogger will provide a link to your new post.

You can also set a time for the post to publish automatically. (I write all of my lessons in advance.) Click POST OPTIONS, the blue link located beneath the text box and above the PUBLISH button. Edit the post date and time to your specifications. (You can also specify comment permissions and backlinks.)

Any questions?

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

Technology Lesson: How to Delete Your MySpace Account

I signed up for MySpace in 2004. At the time, I was one of the few people I knew on MySpace. The social networking, a bastion of bad taste, has since become the Internet's graveyard, containing abandoned accounts rife with photographs of its users scantily clad in front of bathroom mirrors. I logged out in 2007 and vowed I'd never return. And I didn't! Until February 2010, when I logged in to delete my account. It seemed like a waste to go to the arduous task of logging in without creating a lesson, so I've provided instruction and screenshots just in case any Old People need assistance.

Please note that the final step in deleting one's account requires e-mail confirmation. If you can't access the e-mail account you use to log in to your account, you should change your account settings so you can complete the final step.

1. Log In.

It's possible that you'll need to reset your password, because you haven't logged in years, and you can't possibly remember what you password was. If so, click FORGOT YOUR PASSWORD? beneath the Log In button.

MySpace will send you an e-mail and ask you to reset your password:

Go ahead and log in when you've reset your password.

2. Click MY ACCOUNT, located at the top right of the screen next to SIGN OUT.

3. Click ACCOUNT, located in the list under ACCOUNT SETTINGS.

The text will appear red when you click on it.

4. Scroll to the bottom where it says ACCOUNT CANCELLATION. Click CANCEL ACCOUNT.
5. Choose a reason (if you desire) from the list provided on the next page. This isn't mandatory, but I picked a reason anyway.
MySpace will provide additional information in a pop up window to dissuade you from leaving the site. Click NO THANKS, because you can not be convinced otherwise. ¡Viva la Revolucion!

6. Presuming you are as hellbent as I am to delete you account, you need to click CANCEL MY ACCOUNT.

7. ...And now you need to confirm with MySpace, that you are totally sure about this. Myspace warns:
WARNING: Cancelling your MySpace account will permanently remove all of your profile information from MySpace, including your photos, comments, blog entries, videos, and your personal network of friends. This information cannot be restored.

You may re-register your current email address after cancelling, but you will need to rebuild your personal network from scratch.
Gosh, I hope so. You can provide comments here. I don't have anything to say to MySpace, so I skipped it.

So click CANCEL MY ACCOUNT again.

MySpace wants to send you an e-mail.

8. Check your e-mail. The confirmation message is probably in your inbox. Follow the instructions. (If you don't, your account will remain active.)

9. You'll see a screen that's very familiar. For the third time, click CANCEL MY ACCOUNT.

MySpace will provide confirmation with an estimated time for deletion. (About 48 hours.)

You did it! You had to be consistent, but you deleted your MySpace account!

Thursday, April 8, 2010

Culture Lesson: The Mighty Brontosaurus / CC BY-NC-ND 2.0

The brontosaurus was believed to be a long-necked, leaf-eating, tiny-headed dinosaur. The brontosaurus is not real. (Of course, if you want to live your live as a brontosaurus lover, you have my full support. I just want you to know the truth.)

...I know. This is hard to take, but as the result of scientific discoveries since the late 80s--when my deep, abiding love for the nonexistent entity began--has proven that what you and I think of as the brontosaurus is really the apatosaurus.

At some point, during my early childhood, the brontosaurus became the brachiosaurus—which might be different than an apatosaurus; when I was little the brontosaurus and the brachiosaurus were the same dinosaur—became a brontosaurus with a bump (and sometimes nostril as a brachiosaurus) on its head:

We are left with the apatosaurus. From Wikipedia:
Apatosaurus (pronounced /əˌpætɵˈsɔrəs/), including the popular but obsolete synonym Brontosaurus, is a genus of sauropod dinosaur that lived about 150 million years ago, during the Jurassic Period (Kimmeridgian and Tithonian ages). It was one of the largest land animals that ever existed, with an average length of 23 m (75 ft) and a mass of at least 23 metric tons (25 short tons).
No one is more sorry than I, Old People.

Additional Resources:
Apatosaurus article, Wikipedia

Tuesday, April 6, 2010

Technology Lesson: How to Delete a Friend

Earlier this week we learned how to add a friend. Today we'll examine how to delete a friend. Why might this come in handy? You went on a date with a guy who you didn't end up liking much. (Why do Date Lab participants insist they're still Facebook friends? I wouldn't.) Or you have an old friend you don't speak much to anyway and provides too much personal information. I could go on, but the decision is up to you, and you'll know when it's time.

We're using my sister again. I asked for permission to delete and re-add her, and she said it was OK.

1. Log in to Facebook.

2. Using the search bar, type the name of the person you are seeking to delete.
Click on the name that pops up. You will be directed to that person's page.

3. Scroll to the bottom of the page. At the bottom of the left column will see this section:
Click REMOVE FROM FRIENDS. A small pop up box confirming the removal will appear (and disappear before someone like me can take a screencap).

Congrats! Quick and painless, unlike the impending conversation with your former Facebook friend regarding gun control.

Thursday, April 1, 2010

Technology Lesson: How to Add a Friend

So! You think you know how to use Facebook, but you don't know how to add friends. So far, all nine of your friends are people who added you. Let's change that!

For this lesson I am using my sister (who I was already friends with, but I needed a stand-in), who is also a as-of-yet unpublished contributor. Let's thank her for her participation!

1. Log in to Facebook.

2. Using the search bar, type the name of the person you are seeking to add as a friend.

3. Facebook will provide names, groups, and fanpages. Since my sister and I have mutual friends, her name is at the top. If you don't see the person you are looking for (for example, there are many John Smiths), click People and scroll through the options.

4. When you find the person you are looking for, click ADD AS FRIEND.

Facebook will then display in that area that the request is pending.

5. If that person confirms you as his or her friend you will receive an e-mail:
The e-mail will also suggest friends. In this e-mail, it suggested family members and family friends. (Usually it's people I don't know.)

Now up that friend count, Old People!