Thursday, October 28, 2010

Culture Lesson: Flops

A flop, in sports, is when a player fakes a foul. In basketball, a flop is when a player throws him- or herself on the on the floor by falling backward, with great emphasis, as a result of having been "pushed" or come into physical contact with another player. Wikipedia explains the benefit: "The hope is that it will appear to the official that the defensive player was knocked off of his feet by the offensive player's contact, thus prompting the official to call a charging foul against the offensive player."

Flopping is somewhat new to the American sports world, and is considered a negative impact.

A flop, in sports, is when a player fakes a foul. In basketball, a flop is when a player throws him- or herself on the on the floor by falling backward, with great emphasis, as a result of having been "pushed" or come into physical contact with another player. Wikipedia explains the benefit: "The hope is that it will appear to the official that the defensive player was knocked off of his feet by the offensive player's contact, thus prompting the official to call a charging foul against the offensive player."

Flopping is somewhat new to the American sports world, and is considered a negative impact, as it's cheating. (And whining.) It also looks like bad sportsmanship, as the the player is lying or exaggerating instead of relying on smarts and athletic prowess.

Internet historians (and This American Life) agree that the practice was introduced to American basketball by way of soccer. It's also suspected that Derek Jeter's attempt at flopping this season was influenced by the World Cup, where the practice was prominent. (Now the proclivity to falling on the field for seemingly no reason at all makes sense!)

Additional Resources:Flop, Wikipedia
Crybabies, This American Life
Is Derek Jeter ready for the World Cup? , ESPN

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Technology Lesson: Keeping Applications in Your Dock

Your Macbook comes with applications pre-loaded into its dock, but sometimes you want to add or remove programs to suit your own needs. Here's a quick way to secure an application in your dock.

1. Open your Finder. It's in your dock.

2. Click APPLICATIONS in your Finder window.

3. Find the Application (program) you want to open. In this lesson, it's iTunes. Double click the application to open it.

4. Wait for the application's icon to appear in the dock. When it does, hold your mouse over the icon so a menu pops open above it:

5. The bottom half of the menu is related to program operations. Click KEEP IN DOCK to add this application to your dock.

If you want to remove a program, you'll follow a similar plan. Hold the mouse over the icon and click REMOVE FROM DOCK.

See how easy that was?

Thursday, October 21, 2010

Vocabulary Lesson: And Then I Found Five Dollars

"...And then I found five dollars" is a phrase Young Hip People use to end a boring or irrelevant story. Ideally, the phrase is used during an anecdote that seemed exciting before it was shared, but was actually boring, mundane, or irrelevant. (Happens to me all the time.)

The phrase is used to make the story more interesting, provide an ending quickly, and acknowledge the lack of excitement in the anecdote.

The phrase is best said with excessive exuberance or almost monotone. It's important that your tone of voice imply that you did not find five dollars and are acknowledging both the end of your boring storing and its irrelevancy.

It's possible that your anecdote is fascinating and worthy, but is ill-received. In the event that it happens to you (and it's far more likely—your stories are always great), you may use this colloquialism. In this case, you're acknowledging that your audience is bored and are alleviating an unpleasant response.

Additional Resources:
And then I found five dollars, Urban Dictionary

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Technology Lesson: Importing Photos Using iPhoto

Today's lesson is specific to Apple computers. It's also only one way of downloading photographs from your digital camera. It's worth noting, however, that it's a very easy method!

1. To start, turn on your computer, and log in if necessary.

2. Find your digital camera and its USB cord. (Read more about using your camera here.)

3. Connect your camera to the computer with your USB cord to the USB port. If you are using a laptop, the USB port is on the side of the computer. If you are using a desktop computer, there are USB ports in the back (and sometimes in the front).

4. Turn on your camera. If this is the first time you've connected your camera to the computer, your computer may need to recognize the camera as a device. It won't take long. (You might not even notice.)

5. Open iPhoto. I keep iPhoto on my dashboard, but you probably don't. Go to your FINDER. (That's in your dashboard.)


Find iPHOTO in your applications.

6. iPhoto should find your camera. Your camera will be listed under DEVICES. It will probably be selected by default.

(esio trot is the name of my iPod, which was also connected to my computer while I wrote this lesson.)

7. Select the photos you want to download. You can select more than one photo at a time. You can hold COMMAND while you click, or sweep your cursor over the photos you want. If you want to download everything, click A while holding COMMAND. (Or click SELECT ALL in the next step.)

8. Click IMPORT SELECTED. (OR SELECT ALL if you want to import/download everything.)

This won't take too long, but feel free to multitask while you wait for your photos.

9. iPhoto will ask if you want to delete the imported photos from your camera or if you would like to keep them. I usually click delete, because it saves me time from having to delete photos when my SD card is full. However, I think you should click KEEP ORIGINALS. I think you should back up your photos on an external hard drive when you clear your camera manually.

10. You're done! Now you can edit, e-mail, and enjoy your photos!

Technology Lesson: You and Your Digital Camera

Thursday, October 14, 2010

Technology Lesson: Apple Finder

Did you buy an Apple computer lately? Do you need help?

May I first recommend looking into classes at your local Apple store? Apple offers classes and workshops for customers. These classes include a general overview showing you how to use your computer and more detailed lessons showing you complicated things you can do with your computer. Of course, I'm available too!

The most important thing is your Finder. The Finder is a visual representation of your file system. (The Finder is actually software.) It manages your files! This is what Apple has to say about Finder:

Introducing the Finder.

The Finder is like home base for your Mac. Represented by the blue icon with the smiling face, it’s one of the first things you see when you start working on your Mac. It lets you organize and access practically everything on your Mac, including applications, files, folders, discs, and shared drives on your network. You can also see rich, high-quality previews of the contents of your files. The Finder takes full advantage of the advanced technologies in Mac OS X — such as 64-bit support and Grand Central Dispatch — so it responds more quickly to your actions.

You can access the Finder on your dock. Your dock is the bar at the bottom of the screen. It allows you quick access to your applications:

This is your Finder:
(Click the image to view it larger!)

The sidebar on the left allows you to navigate the Finder window.

Devices is where you can access your hard drive and any external devices (such as iPods and cameras). iDisk is a remote file host. You'll need a MobileMe account to use iDisk.

Places is where you can reach your items. It lists users (parapluiesdoux), applications (your programs), downloads (downloaded files will go here as a default), documents, and your desktop (the screen you see with the background).

You can also find files and programs based on when you used it last. You can find items from today, items from yesterday, or last week.

Finder is an important part of your user experience. Make sure you familiarize yourself with it!

Additional Resources:
What is Mac OSX, Apple

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Technology Lesson: HTTPS

HTTPS, or HTTP Secure, or Hypertext Transfer Protocol Secure, is a combination of HTTP and SSL, which stands for Secure Sockets Layer. I know it's bad form to define a word with its root, so in Old People Language, HTTPS is what you see in your address bar when you're using a secure connection.

Like logging in to your LinkedIn account:

Or your LinkedIn account:

Or anything you'd consider secure, really. Now, this tip isn't foolproof, but when I'm worried about something I'm logging in to, I check for the s in my address bar. HTTPS does have its limitations, so it's not a guarantee for Internet safety.

Additional Resources:
HTTP Secure, Wikipedia
What is HTTPS?, Instant SSL

Thursday, October 7, 2010

Culture Lesson: CosPlay

Cosplay, short for "costume play", is when nerds people dress up like their favorite fictional characters and parade around other nerds. This is a lot like LARPing, except Cosplay doesn't mandate one follow a script or improvise action related to the fictional universe. (And LARPing isn't always based on a fictional universe—sometimes it's just a time period or theme.)

The term can be used as a noun or a verb. (Because it's made up! Awesome!)

Cosplay is generally reserved for comic conventions, such as Comic Con, or an event where the character is relevant. Cosplay usually focuses on characters from anime, video games, and comic books. Science fiction and film characters are also frequently chosen. Think of Cosplay like Halloween, for adults, in a niche category, and without candy. (Or booze.)

Here's part of a definition lifted from Urban Dictionary. It's informative and contains more positivty than my cobbled together definition:
Cosplay is a popular hobby of teen-aged girls in Japan, and is also prominent amongst anime fans worldwide. Sometimes, cosplays can be very good; with a well-crafted, well-fitting costume that looks like its original reference. Such cosplays often require hours of hard work, and considerable seing talent.
Or, informatively lifted from Wikipedia:
Cosplay (コスプレ kosupure?), short for "costume play",[1] is a type of performance art in which participants don costumes and accessories to represent a specific character or idea. Characters are often[citation needed] drawn from popular fiction in Japan. Favorite sources include manga, anime, tokusatsu, comic books, graphic novels, video games, hentai and fantasy movies. Role play includes portrayals of J-pop and J-rock stars, Taiwanese puppet characters, science fiction characters, characters from musical stories, classic novels, and entertainment software. Any entity from the real or virtual world that lends itself to dramatic interpretation may be taken up as a subject. Inanimate objects are given anthropomorphic forms and it is not unusual to see genders switched, with women playing male roles and vice versa.
Performance art! See how nice that is! Of course, when I thought I'd have to dress up for Halloween, I was going to draw a red dashed line on a white shirt and call myself spell check, so my snark is far from appropriate.

Additional Resources:
Cosplay, Urban Dictionary
Cosplay, Wikipedia

Culture Lesson: LARP

Tuesday, October 5, 2010

Vocabulary Lesson: Commenting Lingo

Navigating the comment section of an article is difficult to navigate. The conversation often goes wildly off-topic, the commenters are sometimes hostile, and the environment can turn at a moment's notice. To make it worse, people have a unique short-hand for communicating, making the actual comment hard to decipher.

Allow me to help you.

BB Baby

"First" or "1st" or anything translating to first is an obnoxious comment left to indicate that the commenter is the first to comment. This is really annoying and almost never includes additional commentary. This is always frowned upon, and often banned or frowned upon.

IA I Agree

MTE My Thoughts Exactly

OP Original Poster

TLDR or tld;r stands for "too long; didn't read." This is also advised against as it is also posted alone, and while one may interpret it as a necessary way to let the author know that

Vocabulary Lesson: Web Jargon and Internet Slang (Abbreviations)