Sunday, July 29, 2012

I'm (unofficially) a Google power searcher

Hi all,

Remember back before Google, you could tell a person's expertise with the internet depending on which search engine they used?

Google has absolutely obliterated the rest of the field, and I'm kinda glad they did.  Their motto of "Do no evil" is awesome, and I feel completely happy giving them everything I search for online in return for their awesome service of giving me what I need, and quickly.

Still, with great power comes great responsibility, and Google's innovations have been landing on deaf ears for the past while. To combat this slide, they created this awesome online course designed to teach everyone the different features of Google which are available to anyone.  If you knew the features existed - awesome for you -the course still gives an excellent way of describing to the members of your social circle who are less Google-literate.

The highlight for me was Google Images - something I have seen a lot, and have even used occasionally, but mostly for these posts, and nothing more.  It has now become a go-to for searching, as it seriously changes how I search.

Here's an example which didn't work out, but it gave me some practice:

My son's third birthday was this last weekend, and his Aunt gave him some plastic dinosaurs for his present.  I knew there would be some questions regarding the dinosaur's name, or race, and I'm sure I learned it at some point, but the name wasn't coming to me fast enough.\

I had learned the week previous that all Google Images needs is a picture of the item (with the searching item taking up as much of the frame as possible), and if you drag that photo into Google Images, it will look for visually similar photos which are available.

Here's the pic I took:

and the results:

Nope. But, put in the word Dinosaur, and it shows me that this race of dinosaur was in the movie Dinosaur from Disney.  Having recently watched it, and wanting to know more about the races in it, my wife found a page describing them all.

So there you have it Google didn't completely solve my issue, but it gave me the tools to make it happen!

If you've got the time, I highly recommend Google's Power Searching course.  You won't get a  certificate for completing it anymore, but it's still cool.

Sunday, July 22, 2012

Steam is awesome!

Hi all,

I know I'm super late to the party, but Valve's Steam service for offering video games is awesome.

I joined last week to get ready for a LAN party my friends were having, and was pleasantly surprised that I stumbled onto a sale.  Before I could say "Minimum Requirements", I had 6 games in my cart!

The main game I wanted to play (Day Z) required the purchase of some beefier equipment than I had, so I'm typing to you now from my new laptop, which I think I will actually keep this time.

The experience with Day Z was awesome, and I think I've picked up my previous addiction of gaming. I downloaded a game I love (Star Wars: Knights of the Old Republic - some creative tweaking needed to get it to run on Windows 7), some franchises I've missed out on (Batman Arkham and Assassin's Creed) and psyched to try out Rockstar's L.A. Noire.

I now intend to make the most of the kids napping and play video games for several minutes.

Take care all!

Thursday, July 5, 2012

Thank you Suzanne Collins

Hi all,

My wife inspired me to read (or more accurately, have read to me in audio book form) the Hunger Games trilogy. I'm about 1/3 into the second book, and I'm already convinced it's awesome. It is what every dark future tale should be - thinly veiled warnings for our time.

As she so wisely said, the books are very cinematic, and I look forward to watching the movies,  but for a totally separate reason.  The books are beautifully subversive, but the movies will be cool. Both extremely valid as far as I'm concerned.

Hopefully the trilogy's popularity will spawn more subversive stuff, because I feel like the more we as a society are subtly warned about the dangers of excess in fiction, the more wary we'll be in reality.