Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Technology Lesson: You and Your Digital Camera

I bought a new camera last month and was a little disappointed that (like iPods!) the manual it came with provided almost zero information about how to use my camera. I wasn't disappointed because I needed it—hopefully a degree in photography would preclude a need for instruction—but because I worried that Old People would need more than "this is your camera, and this is your warranty."

Here are some basics regarding you and your digital camera.

This is the front of the camera. The lens is on the right, and the viewfinder is above it. The latch at the bottom is where the batteries are. (More below.)

This is the bottom of the camera. The "hole" in the center is where you attach your camera to a tripod. (It screws.) The area on the right, where it says BATTERY, is where the batteries are. This camera takes AA batteries. Mine has a rechargeable battery. Batteries are usually stored under the camera. To open the latch you have to push down on the bottom and slide it to the right.

This is the latch when it is open and empty.

This is where the SD card is located. The card is a memory card and it stores your photographs. Some cameras can store a few photos on the camera without a card. (This is good to know if you run out of memory and you're in a tough spot.) SD cards are small and thin (below). Sometimes the card is stored with the batteries. (Your sparse manual will tell you.)

This is the camera with the card removed.

See? Itty bitty. Some cards, like this one from Photojojo, by Eye-Fi, upload your photos wirelessly! SD cards vary in memory size. A higher numbers means more space and more photos. But don't go out and buy the biggest one you can find! Do a little research to find a size and brand that works for you.

Irony! These photos of the camera are out of focus! This is the top of the camera. The large button is the shutter. The shutter is almost always on the right side of the camera. Some new cameras are all-touch screen and you have to tap the screen to take a picture. (On my new camera, the shutter is a long button on the right and the video button is a little button above it. Both are on the right.) The button next to it says ON/OFF. That's the POWER BUTTON. (...On my camera you slide a panel to turn it on. But the manual mentions that.)

This is the back of the camera. The black square is a digital viewfinder. You should probably use this and not the viewfinder above it to take photos. (Your pictures will be more accurate to what you see when you upload them.) The play button on the bottom left lets you view previously taken media. This is a universal symbol. The button next to it, with a trashcan, deletes media. The flower symbol between it selects MACRO settings. You use MACRO for fine details close-up. The symbol above the "play button" is the self-timer. (You turn it on by selecting that setting with the buttons, hold down the shutter, and position yourself during the countdown.) The lightening-like symbol is the flash. This turns the flash on and off. It also sets red eye. The knob has your photo settings. The "running man" is for action shots. The default setting is the green camera. The movie camera setting is video. The person with a hat is for portraits. The mountain is for landscapes. These aren't rules. Play with these preset settings to find what works for you.

This is the other side of the camera. This flap says AV OUT. It's where the USB CABLE goes. Your camera will come with a USB CABLE.

The small side goes in your camera. The other end goes in the USB port of your computer. It will look similar to your other USB CABLES. Insert both ends carefully.

The two covered slots are USB ports. Your computer will have at least two. Unless you have a Macbook Air.

This is the camera plugged in.

And this is the camera connected to the computer. Your camera needs to be ON for your computer to recognize it. When the two are together, you can upload photos, share them, and edit them. Make sure your eject your camera when you're done.

Any questions?

Lesson: How to Eject Your External Hard Drive
You and Your iPod Shuffle

Thursday, June 24, 2010

Technology Lesson: What to Do with RSS

RSS! I told you what it does in November, but now that you know, have you done anything with it?

You'll want an aggregator. As a reminder, an aggregator, or feed readers, collects your RSS feeds in one place so you may read many blogs at once.

I use Google Reader (because I have Gmail) but you might also want to consider Bloglines, FeedReader and FeedDemon.

When I find a blog I like, or expect I will want to read frequently, I go to its homepage, extract its RSS, and add it to Reader. (Some blogs my offer more than one RSS feed. When you follow these instructions below, the blog will probably let you know.)

 Naturally, I used my own blog as an example. This is what the Web site looks like.

See the address bar at the top of the page? The address bar has the address of the site you're visiting. At the end of the address is an RSS symbol. (It has a dot with two curves next to it.) If you click the RSS symbol you'll either go to the next screenshot OR you'll be presented a list of options, as seen above. My reader will take either option (and yours probably will too). 

This is what happened when I clicked the page. Think of it as a preview of what's fed to your feed reader.

 Then I copied the feed from the address bar. I immediately signed in to Google Reader...

Where I clicked ADD A SUBSCRIPTION...

And pasted it. After I clicked ADD, Lessons for Old People was added to my feed reader.

Additional Resources:
Top 10 Windows RSS Feed Readers and News Aggregators, About.com

Technology Lesson: RSS
Technology Lesson: Web Aggregators

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Culture Lesson: Ghost-Riding the Whip

Ghostriding the Whip, by Jeffrey Rowland

Ghost-riding the Whip is when a probably young, certainly foolish, person puts his or her car in gear and exits the car to walk or dance beside it. Sometimes the person might "car surf" on the hood or trunk of the car.

Urban Dictionary's definition:
The act of putting ones ride in neutral, opening all doors, placing the volume dial on 10, and simply rollin. One can also take the process up a notch and actually exit his/her ride. Once outside of the ride, one can dance and flow to the beat.
Wikipedia provides a history of the act. I could summarize, but then I'd have to explain sydeshows and hyphy, and I just don't feel like it.
Ghost riding is an activity that has been practiced in the San Francisco Bay Area for many years during what are called sydeshows. The popularization of ghost riding the whip is a byproduct of the popularity of Bay Area music and hyphy culture in general. The term "ghost ride the whip" was given nationwide exposure in E-40's 2006 song "Tell Me When to Go".[2] Oakland rapper Mistah F.A.B.'s hit song "Ghost Ride It", further popularized the term due to the song's consistent playtime on radio and television stations throughout the United States. The song references actor Patrick Swayze, lead star in the 1990 film Ghost,[3] sparking internet references to ghost riding as "going (Patrick) Swayze". Finally, ghost riding is a minigame in the hip-hop-culture-centered video game Pimp My Ride.[4]
Yes, yes, I know, you think this is assinine and dangerous. You're correct! YouTube features plenty of videos of teens ghost-riding and injuring themselves, others, and damaging their car. (Kendra from The Girls Next Door and Kendra damaged the car she was driving when she did this several years ago.)

Here's an obligatory video example featuring two older people.

Additional Resources:
Ghost-riding, Wikipedia
Car surfing, Wikipedia
Ghost Ride the Whip, Urban Dictionary

Thursday, June 17, 2010

Culture Lesson: Icing Bros

Now that Facebook co-founder Mark Zuckerberg (probably) does it, I guess I have to explain what "icing bros" is. Ugh.

Icing is a drinking game. (Though the phrase often includes the word "bro" it is not gender specific.) The person who is "iced" is humiliated by kneeling on the floor and drinking Smirnoff. (Embarrassing because it tastes bad and is considered less masculine than other alcoholic beverages.) The drink is often hidden or cleverly disguised, so that there is more "humor" to the "game" over simple handing the beverage to the victim.

I thought this was a fake phenomenon at first, but no. It's real. Seriously. This is one of the "it" things of the summer. (Thus obligating me to tell you.)

The rules, as copied from Wikipedia:
The game has two rules:

  1. When presented with a Smirnoff Ice the target must drink it while kneeling. This is referred to as "getting iced".

  2. When "getting iced" a target can present their own Smirnoff Ice to cause the original initiator to be "iced" instead. This is referred to as an "ice block".

The New York Times suspects this is a viral marketing campaign via Smirnoff. Here's what they have to say about the phenomenon:
The premise of the game is simple: hand a friend a sugary Smirnoff Ice malt beverage and he (most participants have been men) has to drink it on one knee, all at once — unless he is carrying a bottle himself, in which case the attacker must drink both bottles of what Mr. Rospos described as a “pretty terrible” drink.

Amid suspicion that the trend is an elaborate viral marketing campaign by Smirnoff, which the company has denied, new icing photos are posted daily on various blogs, Twitter and Facebook — including scenes from graduations and weddings — and sent directly to a Web site, BrosIcingBros.com. The speed with which Mr. Rospos and a group of his friends from high school adopted the game mirrors the rapid spread of Bros Icing Bros from the Web to backyards, living rooms and cubicles around the country, exploding from obscurity in May into a bizarre pastime of college students, young professionals and minor celebrities that counts among its targets the rapper Coolio, the actor Dustin Diamond and members of the rock band The National. A campaign online aims to ice Ashton Kutcher, who often serves as a kind of Kevin Bacon of Web memes, linking disparate areas of the Internet in fewer than six degrees.

The game has exposed the mercurial line between guerrilla advertising and genuine social media trends, raising questions about how young consumers can know when they have co-opted a brand for their own purposes, and when that brand has co-opted them.

“Guys who would never buy Smirnoff before are even buying it now to shield against attacks,” said Kevin Wolkenfeld, a junior at the University of Central Florida in Orlando who documented the phenomenon for the school paper. (According to the rules, the only way to block an attack — besides simply refusing to participate — is by carrying a bottle.) Most players — a widening swath of the campus, he said — would probably stop “if it turns out they’re being used to market a drink they really don’t like.”
And a little more on the game from The Awl:
Shockingly, yes. While commodities traders at Goldman Sachs don't appear to be chugging Ices at their cubicles (yet!), the phenomenon has so far invaded laxer corporate environs. [UPDATE: An icing at Goldman Sachs—on the premises, no less—has just been confirmed by an employee that asked to remain anonymous.] A friend at Vice reports that someone brought a 24-pack into the office just this morning. Bros have been Iced during early-morning meetings at IAC's CollegeHumor office. I've also heard of this going down at advertising agencies, including Wieden+Kennedy, the Portland-based giant behind Nike.
My generation, by and large, is composed of morons. Friends, I will not kneel on the floor and drink your cleverly presented Smirnoff Ice. I will not Ice Block you. I will just refuse to participate.

Additional Resources:
Did Mark Zuckerberg Ice His Bro?, Valleywag/Gawker
Icing (drinking game), Wikipedia
Popular New Drinking Game Raises Question, Who’s ‘Icing’ Whom?, The New York Times
Guest Op Ed: Why Bros Get Iced, Bro, The Awl

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

Technology Lesson: How to Cut and Paste

Remember when you had to cut and past manually? Remember what a pain that was? I don't! I'm not old! (Ha!) (Kidding.) Your computer can cut and paste text and digital content! It's simple, easy, and saves time. Unfortunately, I know someone who hasn't mastered the concept yet. It's time to convince that person to save some time!


Highlight the text or material you want to copy. (Sometimes you can copy an image, but sometimes you can't. It varies based on your Web browser or program, copyright, and material.) After you've selected the content, you have three options.

The first option is to hold down the CTRL key on your keyboard and the C key. (If you are using Apple, hold down the COMMAND button. Older models might have an Apple logo on it. Never call this key "Apple." ALWAYS CALL IT COMMAND.)

The second option is to go to the EDIT menu in your program and click COPY.

Finally, you can RIGHT CLICK the highlighted area with your mouse and click COPY. (Mac machines do not right click.)


The first option is to hold down the CTRL key on your keyboard and the X key. (If you are using Apple, hold down the COMMAND button. Older models might have an Apple logo on it. Never call this key "Apple." ALWAYS CALL IT COMMAND.)

The second option is to go to the EDIT menu in your program and click CUT. When you cut something, it's removed from the area you cut it from. This is good if you want to remove something, but if you're not comfortable with these activities, stick to copying. (Then, when you want something removed, you can just delete it.)

Finally, you can RIGHT CLICK the highlighted area with your mouse and click CUT. (Mac machines do not right click.)


Place your cursor where you want to paste your content.

Again, you have three options. Keep in mind that it's easier to immediately paste content after you have cut or copied it. If your program crashes, you'll lose the material your copied or cut, and if you cut or copy twice, you'll only paste the most recent information unless you have access to your clipboard. (Which varies.)

The first option is to hold down the CTRL key on your keyboard and the V key. (If you are using Apple, hold down the COMMAND button. Older models might have an Apple logo on it. Never call this key "Apple." ALWAYS CALL IT COMMAND.)

The other option is to go to the EDIT menu in your program and click PASTE.

Finally, you can RIGHT CLICK the highlighted area with your mouse and click PASTE. (Mac machines do not right click.)

You did it! You go, Glen Coco.

Thursday, June 10, 2010

Technology Lesson: How to Find This Blog

Does your son, daughter, husband, wife, brother, sister, or irritating neighbor write a blog? Are you having problems finding it? Are you my mother and unable to find this blog, even though it contained a lesson on bookmarking, an introductory How to Use This Blog post, and a special delivery with each post sent to the inbox? You are? Let me help.

Type "Lessons for Old People" in your search bar (fig. 1)  in your browser or through a search engine (fig. 2).
fig. 1
fig. 2

Note: If, for some reason, "Lessons for Old People" becomes a commonly used term, add the word "blog" to your search.

You'll type "Lessons for Old People" because that is the title of this blog.

Your search result will look something like this:

You'll want to click on "Lessons for Old People." Because that is the title of this blog.

You can visit this blog directly by typing http://lessonsforoldpeople.blogspot.com. You will not reach this blog by typing http://lessonsforoldpeople.com. It's because I'm too stubborn to pay Go Daddy for a domain name, and paying for macaroonshindig.com is as much as I'm ready to dedicate to a .com address. (For now. Savvy readers, do you have any recommendations?)

When you've arrived at this blog you should bookmark it. You'll never need to Google the blog again!

Technology Lesson: How to Bookmark
How to Use This Blog 

Tuesday, June 8, 2010

Technology Lesson: How to Google

Google is one of the world's leading search engines. It was founded in 1998 by Larry Page and Sergey Brin. Today Google is more than a proper noun, it is a verb used offhandedly to replace "go home and look [it] up on the Internet."

Here's how Google explains its product(s):
When you visit www.google.com or one of more than 150 other Google domains, you can find information in many different languages (and translate between them), check stock quotes and sports scores, find news headlines and look up the address of your local post office or grocery store. You can also find images, videos, maps, patents and much more. With universal search technology, you can often find all of these things combined in one query.

"Google" is a "play" on googol, the name for the number with 100 zeroes (or 10 to the 100th power).

So, how in tarnation do your Google? Thanks to the power of browsers, you have some options on how to start, and thanks to Google, you have incredibly accurate results!

1. Go to www.google.com.
2. Type your desired search. Looking for cat photos? Type "cats".  Click "Google Search" or ENTER. If you click "I'm Feeling Lucky" Google will skip the search results and take you (directly) to the first result.

This is what the results page looks like:

Google has a column of ads on the right. You can ignore the ads. The column in the middle is your search results. The column on the left, the sidebar, will help narrow your search. (So will the navbar at the top of the screen.) You can eliminate the Web pages and see just photos by clicking IMAGES on the left or IMAGES on the top.

Wow! Now you can click on the photo you want. (You can also finangle your image settings by color and image type!) Or bask in the glory of kitty cats. You can also do this with books, video, and consumer goods.

Here are some other tips:
DON'T write your search in the form of a question.
DO include important details regarding your search. (Looking for a business? Include the town and state in your search.)
DO read the results of your search carefully. (You'll waste time clicking on sites you don't need.)

Additional Information:
Google's About page
How Google Works
Google Corporate
Googol, Wikipedia
Google Guide

Technology Lesson: Google Bomb
Technology Lesson: Browsers

Boulean method
I'm Feeling Lucky button
Tabs at top

Boring facts about history, data, usage, etc.

Thursday, June 3, 2010

Culture Lesson: Tea bagging

Disclaimer: This post is NSFW.

Have you been using the term "tea bag" without discrimination? Have you been slinging it around in insult or compliment to your peers? Do you have any idea what tea bag actually means?

If you're a right wing nut job, probably not. If you're and Old Person, probably not. Luckily you have me! When I'm done defining "tea bag" you'll never use the word without considering its use ever again.

First, obviously, a tea bag is a small pouch containing tea leaves. You dunk it in hot water to make tea. This is most literal definition of tea bag. You already know what a real tea bag is and what it does.

The second definition, the one for which Old People are using with reckless abandon, is a self-appointed term by right wing nutbags. (Please note that the right wing nutbags have yet to acknowledge the irony in the third and most significant definition.) These people (ed: whom I loathe) use the term as a reference to the Boston Tea Party, a 1773 even pre-dating the American Revolution. The colonists dumped tea (which they would have otherwise consumed) in protest of taxes. The nutbags are also protesting taxes. And immigration, and Obama, and Health Care, and a lot of other things.

The activists in this movement are starting to distance themselves with the word. (Even the ones with offensive signs!) The Washington Post chronicled the movement and the term in May.  David Wegel writes:
In some cases it was by people who did not know that "teabag" is also a sexual term.* In other cases, protesters knew that the term was sexual and hurled it at the Democrats.
Wegel, a republican himself, insists the nutjobs know the word and are having fun with it. (Though most of these people are anti-choice and oppose sex education.) I think he's covering his own ass. Anyway, he also writes:
The turning point, as The Week points out, came when MSNBC's Rachel Maddow and CNN's Anderson Cooper started making "teabag" jokes. And that was the start of tea partyers viewing the term as a snooty slur by coastal elitists. That's why I don't use it, even though "---bagger" rolls off the tongue easier than "----partyer."

Here's Rachel Maddow on the movement:

(How interesting that Rachel Maddow has a different interpretation of Wegel's photograph than Wegel does.)

So, Old People! Feel free to make savvy jokes! You're savvier now, and you wouldn't be here without a sharp brain and a sense of humor.

The Daily Show With Jon StewartMon - Thurs 11p / 10c
IndigNation! Populist Uprising '09 - The Enragening
Daily Show Full EpisodesPolitical HumorTea Party

The third definition is a sexual act! Again, to clarify, it seems only the Young and Knowledgeable recognize the irony here with only a few nut jobs recognizing the words' devious meaning. I'd like to provide the following paragraphs courtesy of Wikipedia, as I am a prude. I am also giggling like a third grader:
To tea bag is a slang term for the act of a man placing his scrotum in the mouth of a sexual partner. The practice resembles dipping a tea bag into a cup of tea when it is done in a repeated in-and-out motion. As a form of non-penetrative sex, it can be done for its own enjoyment or as foreplay before other activities, such as oral sex.
The practice has also been mimicked in online video games, as a practical joke, and in hazing incidents. The scrotum only touches the face or head in some of these instances, though sometimes more activity is involved. The activity has become more prominent in the media, and the term is used to ridicule the Tea Party movement or by members themselves in irony.

Wikipedia also says, "Tea bagging is not always carried out consensually such as when it is done as a practical joke." This is the most important explanation of the term as a sexual act, because that's how it's best known among the young and immature (like me!)

But wait, there's more! It's important we get sex columnist Dan Savage's commentary! In a 2009 Savage Love column he writes:
A teabagger dips sack; a teabaggee receives dipped sack. It's a little confusing, I realize, in that it's the opposite of a blowjob: The person with a dick in his or her mouth is giving the blowjob; the person being sucked is receiving the blowjob. But language is funny that way.
This is a term Young People just know. (Much in the same way we just know Facebook and the words to "Bitches Ain't Shit".)

Sorry, Mom.

Vocabulary Lesson: NSFW

Additional Resources:
Tea bag (sexual act), Wikipedia (WARNING: INCLUDES NSFW GRAPHICS)
Hump! 5, Savage LoveA People's history of 'teabag', The Washington Post

Tuesday, June 1, 2010

Vocabulary Lesson: Baller

Baller: Really freaking cool, used only in situations to distinguish significant achievement and status. Sometimes these qualities are related to those similar to a successful athlete.

Also, from Urban Dictionary:
A thug that has "made it" to the big time. Originally refered [sic] ball players that made it out of the streets to make millions as a pro ball player, but now is used to describe any thug that is living large.

(Note: The man pictured at the link is not baller.)

This is a word Old People shouldn't use unless they have a full grasp on the understanding. Because its etymology is rooted in urban and hip hop culture, Old People are especially prone to looking...old when the word is misused. Moreover, when a word is rooted in urban slash hip hop culture, and a person of privilege uses it, the person risks looking insensitive or rude.

Not that a person outside the person can't use it. In the interest of honesty, I've been working the word in to my regular conversation in the interest of personally reviving it in my social circle. Because the correct opportunities have not arisen, I've reserved baller for non-baller situations, like, These Oreos are baller. DO NOT DO THIS.

Additional Resources:
Baller, Urban Dictionary
Baller, The Online Slang Dictionary
Baller Alert, "For women who want the ballerific life!"