Grandma & Grandpa's Farm

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

Need or Want :: Necessity or Luxury

When a Cellphone Stops Being a Luxury

There are many times I have heard on "The People's Court" where the judge has said that "a cellphone is a luxury and not a necessity." Now I do know where she is coming from and agree with what Judge Milian is saying. However sometimes we must lift the brush we are painting with and make sure we are not painting too broad a swath.

It might seem strange, but perhaps the truly needy are the ones who need the "luxury" of a cell phone the most?

The people who are homeless and living on the street are people, just like you and me, who have needs and desires — and I am not just speaking of a desire to chatter with someone a block away on a cellphone.

If you are homeless and manage to land an entry-level job, you will hit obstacles because there are no regular ways to contact you. After failing to contact you a number of times through numbers at soup kitchens or shelter switchboards, your employer is likely to label you "unreliable" — costing you that job.

A pay-as-you-go or "no contract" cellphone might not cost very much for an inexpensive model and if you do not use it much, might not cost much to operate each month. But, it does give that important contact number for employers, potential employers, future employers, social agencies, and family to keep in touch with you. Some of this can be very important so that you don't feel like you've fallen off the face of humanity.

Granted when you are on the street and near cashless, your calls on the cellphone are likely to be short and to the point: "Hello...I'm fine...I'll meet you at the coffee shop on first and main in half an hour... see you there, you have my number." A person wants to minimize the minutes on the phone if you watch all the minutes you pay for in advance on the phone. Better to make appointments to talk in person for sure.

(image to right from Computer Finance)

...and then there are emergencies... have you noticed how far and in between the pay phones are now? How many folk would let a homeless person use the phone in their business or their personal cellphone even if they said it was a "911 Emergency"? That phone in the pocket could be a life saver.

So while a cellphone might be a luxury for the working poor who have homes and can afford a home phone, for the homeless... that phone might actually represent their home.

~ Darrell


"On D.C. Streets, the Cellphone as Lifeline" The Washington Post.

"That Homeless Guy Outside Starbucks? He Probably Has a Cellphone [Cellphones]" 23 Mar 2009 by Gizmodo; Computer Finance.

"Homeless find cell phones no longer a luxury" 23 Mar 2009 CTIA; Smartbrief.

"In America, Even The Homeless Have Cell Phones (Michelle Obama Edition)" 24 Mar 2009 by Nick Gillespie; Reason Magazine, Hit & Run.

"30% to 40% of D.C's homeless use cellphones" 23 Mar 2009 by Conner Flynn; SlipperyBrick.

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Saturday, March 21, 2009

A Little Bird

Tweet Tweet

I first opened a Twitter account a few years ago because I could never remember what sorts of music I listened to. This was awkward when friend would ask me, "What sorts of music do you listen to?" So I got the Twitty Tunes application for Firefox. This included setting up a Twitter account to go with it.

I now could have a widget to put up on Social Networking Sites (SNS), Blogs, and Websites which would show either the current song or the past 10 that I had listened to. Well actually it was the Twitter postings I had made, but when I first started I thought Twitter was all about the music you were listening to -- a side effect of getting exposed to it through Foxy Tunes and TwittyTunes. I used it to post my current listening list onto MySpace on my profile I have there -- so if someone asked what music I liked, I could point them at my profile.

To keep it current I just click my twitter button and then click post when it asks me if what it is suggesting is okay... that is because it defaults to the last type of action it took. TwittyTunes automatically fills in the name of the song I am listening to -- regardless of the music or video player -- and a link on Foxy Tunes that tries to find that song, album, track performer and other information. Now an important part is that it always asks you to confirm as not only does TwittyTunes allow you to this easily post what you are listening to, it also would allow you to instead post the website you are viewing in the exact same way.

When it asks you to confirm the post there is a ribbon selector -- one of those boxes with the arrow that allows you to make a selection -- for a few different ways to present what you are listening to as well as options for what page you are viewing instead; or even a plain text window like what Twitter normally has.

It is that simple to post the music, video, or web page you are viewing or listening to -- or other information -- without leaving the web page you are on or opening another browser window.

Here are your choices from the TwittyTunes box¹:

Listening to:
Listening a lot lately to:
Listening to a song I love:
Now playing:

Looking at:
Free Text
Free Text + URL

It is very simple to use and with Firefox, Foxytunes gives you a very easy way to post to Twitter as well as a nice way to control your music player from the bottom of your web browser.

But, you do have to be careful... You have to make sure that the last thing you put up wasn't "I'm browsing:" with the url for the current web page or it might be embarrassing if you were really planning on telling folks you were listening to Bach and you were looking at

~ Darrell


¹ I have discovered recently that posts starting with "@username" can be used to bring attention to the user whose name you include. The Twitter software will recognize it if you are looking for Twitter messages directed at you. I have noticed this being used on comment area of blogs and in forums as well lately. So on Twitter if I am following you and you start a message with "@Belgnorman" twitter will make it so that I can sort those posts out.

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Saturday, March 14, 2009

DWP - Futurist At Large

A Direction for Near Future Tech

With current technology there is a trend towards the combining of functions and technologies. Perhaps it is not a "Swiss Army Knife" of technology we are looking at, but when you look at all that is being included in some items like your typically carried Cell phones -- there is a lot there.

I believe that all Cell phones include a phone book in them to record the numbers of calls coming in or going out. This is of course more convenient when tied in with the service of call display which many if not most subscribe to or have included in their service. Most if not all the phones also have some sort of calendar function in addition to a watch function and at least rudimentary alarm function if not one that can be programmed in conjunction with the calendar. Combining these they often have a virtual appointment book ability which would have been the envy of any business executive 20 years ago.

Nearly everyone could if they wish, have access to voice mail as well for missed calls or be able to forward calls to or from a regular phone service to their mobile one. They also have options to send or receive text messages. The price for them of course varies depending on service contract and location. (Not to mention date, phase of the moon, tide, which direction the last dark bird flew past your gaze...)

Those are pretty well standard sorts of communication things you might expect.

A bit more than that are Internet capabilities including being able to access eMail, Internet Chat services, and actual World Wide Web access. You might pay a bit heftier dollar for that ability and even more if you would like to be able to plug your portable computer into your cell phone whether it is a Notebook or Net book computer.

Beyond that... many of not most cell phones have the ability to take digital photographs if not short digital videos. It seems to me that the 1 Megapixel resolution level is very common if not greater. That is a log greater than most people might need for use in digital images for the Internet. Of course we are not talking about the needs of photographers here.

The phones -- and we aren't talking about the expensive sort really -- very often include the ability to download and play games in addition to other things like "ring tones" and background art for the control screen that nearly all phones have. That is the same screen you screen your digital pictures and videos on as well as check your messages and everything on.

The phone as well can often be used to play music on and can do well as an mp3 player with only the addition of decent headphones or earbuds.

All those things on fairly normal cell phones.

Then we get to the "smart phones" which are virtually tiny computers with complete keyboards or alternate methods for data entry. Some have nearly gone away from keys completely opting for total touch screen control -- that allows for the entire top surface of the device to be used as the device screen. Those can act as total digital assistants... or PDA -- Pocket Digital Assistants -- like the Palm Pilots of all. They seem to have superceded the Palm Pilots if you ever try go shopping for them.

The mp3 player has expanded as well to include the abilities to record sound like a portable voice recorder. The mp players also routinely include FM radio recievers and have enough memory to allow them to carry digital computer files within -- thus acting as "pen drives" or "memory sticks". Of course the mp3 players themself can use memory cards which gets sorta circular. The mp3 player also expanded into playing video and being an mp4 player. This is where they overlapped or became or inspired or...(?) the portable video player. The really nice ones also forgo the buttons for touch screens... and are nearly identical to the cell phones with the same screens. They just don't have the cell phone function. Though the mp3/video player ones did gain the wireless networking capability tha allows them to comunicate wirelessly and hence the good ones can access the Internet and do everything else those cell phone ones can do. They even play the same games in the same ways... and I believe from the same sources. Did I mention the phones can download and play the same videos the video players can?

Then there are the portable game players -- they have gotten more and more powerful and gained the ability to network wirelessly as well, and you can access the Internet as well as computers with them. Many of them have touch screens and they can be used to play videos or watch pictures on -- much like the mp3/video playes I have mentioned and the cell phones.

There are also eBook players out there whose purpose is to hold and display eBooks in various formats. They connect either through networking cables or more commonly now through wireless networking.

I might finally mention the digital picture frames which are very limited and the PDAs that I think morphed into the "smart phones" and mostly disappeared.

Perhaps the edges between these things are very much blurring -- especially if you take into account the notebook/laptop computers and their slightly smaller cousin the net book. I do see a direction that things might take with this blurry tech fog.

I think that people will start thinking of what their primary focus is and then go for the device that handles that best. Then they will purchase a device that does that best -- meaning with all the features of that dedicated device -- and have that device fitted with all the other features that would be convenient not to have to carry as separate devices.

Here is an example of what I am speaking:

Let's say I have a hobby that is photography. I would go to a camera shop and purchase a nice camera. It would have the lenses or a lens system that I would want. (I am not a photographer, so please bear with me as I am not so conversant with the terms and stuff.) Having chosen the camera I would also have a camera that would have digital memory for digitally recording the images as well as recording them on film. (Providing it took film photographs as well as digital ones.) It would be able to record sound and some video as well. The camera would be able to play mp3 files as a music player through headphones or ear buds although they might be bluetooth wireless ones. I would also be able to watch video content on the display screen of the camera if I should so choose. The camera would also have wireless networking to connect with WiFi hotspots or my computer and if I should choose I should be able to activate it to a cell phone plan and use it as a cell phone with a handy blue tooth headset. Not to mention using the camera for "texting" messages or as an address or date book.

Conversely if my prime usage were as a student, perhaps all of these functions might take place through a portable computer -- probably a net book for portability -- that I would use for all those functions.

I guess the idea sort of falls apart if you don't want to carry the large item everywhere, like when you don't want to carry the net book to everything, or the camera, or the digital tape recorder, or the electric guitar (with the phone etc. built in...)... But for the photographer, videographer, reporter, author, or other person who always carries their tools around with them...

Hmm, I guess they aren't building them into paint brushes or pens quite yet... but how about those scientific or engineering calculators... they still make calculators don't they?

~ Darrell


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Grumpy Old Man -- Drinking Problems

More Than DUI or Alcoholism

There is more to a "Drinking Problem" than driving drunk or under the influence; or issues of alcoholism to my mind — or at least not what I think people might traditionally consider.

Now I am not 100% prudish. If someone were to take a "nip" from a flask on public transit during rush hour or at a sporting event I'd look the other way — especially if they did so discretely and they were not bothering others. You must of course remember that for the most part here in Canada, drinking in public is frowned on. Meaning you aren't really allowed to drink in public unless at a licensed establishment. Of course, now many stadiums do sell alcohol, however they frown — legally — on BYOB¹. Public drunkenness is right out!

Getting back to public transit... I had the pleasure — displeasure — of sharing my bus-ride with two "gentlemen" who were travelling home from some job or practical job training which involved scaling poles or trees. They had their climbing belts and gear with them. That included rather nasty hammers, spikes, and husky ropes. I noted later that it also included some "belts". The one fellow really reminded me of my upstairs neighbour who more often than not would spend his recreational time "boozed up". It was only a short while later where I realized the resemblance -- though I admit I could be wrong and greatly biased. Here too was a man who drank whenever he was not working or at least he drank at any time he could do so. This included the time he might be commuting on the bus. I am going to assume that didn't include the time commuting to work as he likely had to be somewhat sober for work.

Granted he needn't be staggering drunk, but drunk enough that anyone around would note it and many would find themselves uncomfortable around him. His travelling partner, another fellow pole climber — who probably also worked very hard at work — was snorting back a few on the bus with him. The two of them weren't making a huge scene, but — and here is where the "drinking problems I am referring to come into play — were making the young woman (24-25) and young man (14-16) sitting by them very uncomfortable. The young man nearly jumped out of his skin when the empty "mickey²" flew past him to land on the shelf at the back of the bus.

Perhaps the high school student and the young college student should not have been upset by two hard drinking, hard working men enjoying their leisure time in their company... but we aren't talking about a pub or bar, nor even a restaurant or BBQ. We are talking about public transit just at the beginning of the rush hour. Somehow I think that people should be able to take advantage of public transit without being forced to face hard drinking.

The drinking problem is people being made uncomfortable... if I seem out of line consider this. The two men are incapable of restraining themselves from drinking for their trip home -- or even the 20 minutes the bus ride lasts. Twenty minutes is the entire duration of that bus route from start to finish. Perhaps they had had to endure a previous bus ride, but even so... if they could not wait to start drinking until the got where they were getting to, it shows that even sober they had issues of controlling their actions. These also were men carrying piked hammers and hatchets in addition to climbing spurs and ropes. They were rough looking customers who I think would take more than equal numbers of police to subdue if it ever came down to it.

So we have two fellows who "might" have problems controlling their impulses when sober, drinking on the bus while armed.

I think that this is in reality a "drinking problem" and not meaning their drinking problem but that of everyone around them.

I still haven't mentioned them talking about how they always liked to have a bottle in their pocket. That was in case someone came up behind them, so that they would always have something they could hit them across the face with, and how they never liked people who approached them from behind or who might talk behind their back... and when I heard them talking about it, I got the impression that people might pick fights with them half-way regularly. I wondered if their actions brought any of this onto themselves?

But that is the "Drinking Problem" I am referring to... that of making everyone around them uncomfortable without regard.

For that matter — yours truly even felt uncomfortable around them, not knowing what they might do — or not do — and I am not a small person.

~ Darrell


¹ BYOB -- Bring Your Own Bottle.

² A 375-ml (13.2 imperial fluid oz - 12.7 US fl oz) bottle of liquor such as whiskey.

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Wednesday, March 4, 2009

Found in my notes - a personal bill of rights

Personal Bill of Rights

I found this personal bill of rights on a folded piece of paper tucked away in my secretary after my move last Fall. The list includes a couple paragraphs about it afterwards which I will include at the end of the list. I figured I would post it here:


   1. I have numerous choices in my life beyond mere survival.
   2. I have a right to discover and know myself.
   3. I have a right to follow my own values and standards.
   4. I have a right to recognize and accept my own value system as appropriate.
   5. I have a right to say no to anything when I feel I am not ready, it is unsafe or violates my values.
   6. I have a right to dignity and respect.
   7. I have a right to make decisions.
   8. I have a right to determine and honor my own priorities.
   9. I have a right to have my needs and wants respected by others.
  10. I have the right to terminate conversations with people when it leads me to feel put down and humiliated.
  11. I have the right not to be responsible for others' behavior, actions, feelings or problems.
  12. I have a right to make mistakes and not have to be perfect.
  13. I have a right to expect honesty from others.
  14. I have a right to all of my feelings.
  15. I have a right to be angry at someone I love.
  16. I have a right to be uniquely me, without feeling I'm not good enough.
  17. I have a right to feel scared and to say "I'm afraid."
  18. I have the right to experience and then let go of fear, guilt, and shame.
  19. I have a right to make decisions based on my feelings, my judgement or any reasons that I choose.
  20. I have a right to change my mind at any time.
  21. I have a right to be happy.
  22. I have a right to stability — i.e., "roots" and stable healthy relationships of my choice.
  23. I have the right to my own personal space and time needs.
  24. There is no need to smile when I cry.
  25. It is OK to be relaxed, playful and frivolous.
  26. I have the right to be flexible and be comfortable with doing so.
  27. I have the right to change and grow.
  28. I have the right to be open and to improve communication skills so that I may be understood.
  29. I have a right to make friends and be comfortable around people.
  30. I have a right to be in a non-abusive environment.
  31. I can be healthier than those around me.
  32. I can take care of myself, no matter what.
  33. I have the right to grieve over actual or threatened losses.
  34. I have the right to trust others who earn my trust.
  35. I have the right to forgive others and to forgive myself.

In our recovery process, we begin to discover that we have rights as individual human beings. As children and even as adults we may have ben treated by others as though we had few or no rights. We may have ourselves come to believe that we had no rights. And we may be living our lives now as though we have none.

The above personal bill of rights are taken from a compilation of several groups and may be considered until you have your own personal bill of rights that is a part of your recovery.

Rivercrest Hospital, San Angelo, Texas, 1991

I am not sure where I picked up this list, but know it was at least 10 years ago and probably in some program or other — perhaps at business college in their personal development segment — and it is on a piece of paper that was possibly printed on a word processor rather than a computer printer. Anyhow I think it is worthy of reading through even if you might think it a little "flower child". I won't tell you which one I have checked off on that list in particular, though even after all these years, I remember checking it off.

~ Darrell


¹ A "secretary" is a small desk in the form of a bookshelf with a leaf that folds down for a writing surface. Mine is a small bookshelf that my Grandfather made for one of my Uncles and was passed down to me when I was in Grade School.

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Tuesday, January 27, 2009

The Family Tableau

Family Life - Home Cooking

I wonder how many families have foods that are a bit unique to their family? I am thinking of foods that are quite possibly ethnic in origin that might not be so familiar to your friend's backgrounds. They are foods that might not seem unusual if you live in a community where your parents and grandparents -- uncles, aunts, cousins, and of course siblings -- grew up in. But if you no longer live in the lands of your parents... these dishes might be out of the ordinary.

(image to above right from Mennonite girls can cook)

For some of you there might be two completely separate sets of cuisine -- one from each parent's family -- or only one if your parents come from the same culture.

I come from in some ways three backgrounds. One is the fairly common generic Canadian-Average American one of bacon & eggs, pot roasts, fried chicken, macaroni & cheese, and that sort of thing. The other two are a bit more exotic though not Earth shattering.

Mom's parents originate from Norway and a few tastes have entered my culinary vocabulary from there -- though mostly it was diluted by way of New York and Alberta. There were a few things that basically only came out at Christmas time like Fattigman Bakkels or Cookies (image to left - image from which are deep fried and dusted with sugar. There also were cheeses and other foods that normally weren't bought or served except for during the holidays.

Dad came from a Mennonite community in Southern Manitoba that had come to North America around 1875 and hold cohesively as a community even today. There are many dishes I remember from our visits to family there which we have taken out here to the West Coast of Canada. Among many others is a favourite of my Sister's and mine, "Wareneki" or "Vareneki" -- in particular "Blueberry Wareneki".

Wareneki are one of those foods that sort of turn up all over the place in one version or another. I find they are different from perogis though some consider them the same. I think some would consider them a stuffed noodle or liken them to ravioli I guess. Anyhow the translation of wareneki I have seen is "fruit pocket" though I wonder if simply "pocket" or "dough pocket" might be more true?

Basically you make a dough and roll it out, then you cut out circles and put the fruit in the centre with a bit of sugar and press the edges together. You carefully put the sealed pockets into boiling water to cook and then serve with a cream sauce. Now my Grandma and relatives tend to make squares and fold the corners in so that the points meet in the center giving a squarish wareneki rather than the more crescent shaped ones shown in the pictures I am including, but I am sure they taste the same... I think the more square ones might hold a bit more of the sweet fruit filling.

(image to above right from Mennonite girls can cook)

Now the two pictures from "Mennonite girls can cook" show cottage cheese wareneki or "Glums Wareneki" rather than the blueberry wareneki, but they are fairy illustrative. Some people also make saurkraut wareneki, but I think they are spoil sports. I guess I grew up with the treat of blueberry wareneki from freshly picked blueberries while other folk might remember other fruits more.

(images above to left and right from

To me though blueberry wareneki were like eating dessert for dinner!

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~ Darrell

(I have also posted this on my Xanga site.)


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Friday, January 9, 2009

Grumpy Old Man -- Sticky Fingers

Why is it so Hard to Get People to Let Go of Your Money?

I have noticed that sometimes there can be a tendency for people to have problems letting go of money. I am thinking of especially when it is your money owed to you by them. It seems like some people expect that deposits are something that they can expect to keep unless someone makes a fuss. I have to admit to being pretty lucky with it and have had great relationships with my landlords, but have seen exceptions that people have run into.

There are many good people out there who are prompt with returning deposits whether on rentals or whether a matter of overpayment or simply in having to make change at a later date for some reason. Perhaps I just run on a different sense of financial respect? I really do not like owing people money and would rather pay early or pay a bit more rather than pay a bit too little.

Yet again and again when in money situations I find people being shorted because someone was being... is this where the term "tight fisted" really comes in to play?

Most friends of mine have taken to making sure that when in groups at restaurants that the get a separate check. That is because far too often a group bill gets shorted and the last person in the restaurant has to make up the shortfall even taking into account the money people have added for gratuities. Even double checking the bill to ensure there is no overbilling the money comes up short so very often. My closer social circle has tended to be the ones footing the bill for the shortage. That is why the tendency for us to want separate checks. We trust each other when we go to restaurants, but though we don't know who is doing it in larger groups, we don't like the burden even if we might  be able to afford it.

If someone were to be polite enough to ask in advance for a bit of help with a meal, that would be different.

But I wonder how many damage deposits are forfetted simply because it becomes awkward for the renters to get it back? The landlord -- if it is a matter of rental property -- just doesn't come through with the damage deposit right away even though no damage is done and having moved out of the area it becomes difficult to contact and get back to them. So the landlord can just pocket the money. It is something I hear happening fairly often. But like I said there are great landlords out there and there are also so very many people who skip out on their rent leaving landlords with whole suites full of furniture to deal with disposing of.

The problem really seems to be where it is "someone else's money" involved. That is like the old problem where someone gets a cell phone in someone else's name. Because they are not paying the bill directly very often people just are not careful of the minutes and charges on the phone like they might be if they paid the bill directly. The same goes for when utilities are included in rent. People have a greater tendency to leave lights burning or water running if they do not see the bill directly.

I think often people have to feel the money leaving their pocket or to know it is a cost to them

I wonder if this is something that is getting worse or if it has always been this way? Were borrowed horses always ridden harder? Did people of old have problems getting colateral back or were fingers always sticky?

~ Darrell


Aditional images from Image*After.

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Wednesday, January 7, 2009

The Worth of a Writer

Isn't a Writer an Artist or Craftsman?

I thought I might look at freelance writing. I joined a site that actually does offer an exchange for folk who are looking for freelancers to write web sites or other projects and for those offering those same skills. One category is copywriter. I have surely been surprised at what is being looked for...

Most of the ads I see for freelance writing are looking for people to write 500 - 1000 word articles for 50¢ to $1.00 each. They want between 25 and 30 articles a day and sometimes 50. They tend always to state that they must be original work and that the rights all go to the person paying for them. Perhaps that is the going rate for a writer -- a penny a word -- but what bothers me is that they don't seem to really care what the content is, so long as it can "pass copyscape"... and of course most seek perfect English. I note some are 10¢ per 100 words.

Some of the ads come outright and say they will show you how you can find articles that you can use to base yours on, but they want you to know that you can't just reorder the sentences or change a word here or there.

At that rate of pay -- to my mind -- I don't think that any real research is being sought. They are essentially seeking plagiarists, albeit very good plagiarists. I say very good plagiarists because "Copyscape"¹ is a service online that can be used to detect online plagiarism even when the copy has been modified.

A person might ask why these folk are wanting to pay for these 500 - 1000 word long articles? -- There are a number of reasons, but the tend to have financial basis I find.

The nature of the ads seem to preclude the idea of students seeking to get out of writing essays -- although a person might be gathering short essays for a company they have or are setting up to sell such small essays to students. There is another clue as to the use of these articles! One statement from one of the more legit seeming ads reads:

I want an article writer who can produce error free unique SEO type quality articles. I want 100% original articles that pass copyscape and must be written in USA, UK english because most of our client is USA and UK based. (sic)

The important clue here is the term "SEO"² -- Search Engine Optimization. That refers to methods by which a web page designer might make it so their web page appears higher up on a listing of pages that come up in a search engine like "Google" "Yahoo" and "Live Search". The point behind the SEO is to bring more people to your page and one of the reason is to bring people in to see the advertisements on your page rather than strictly for them to see the content of the page. The purpose of the content is not the point of the page, but rather getting people to see the ads on the page. The people who run the search engines wish to keep the people using their services happy -- they have their own clients that they sell advertising space to -- so they don't want people who do searches to come up with pages that are useless to them. What this means is that they don't want their search engines tricked into showing pages that really don't have the information their clients want.

By having actual short articles on subjects which have certain words and terms inside them, the articles will be more likely to bring traffic to a page even if that article is just something with little actual content to it and no new material but only a rehash of other information -- which might not have even been understood by the paraphraser.

It is a step better than following a link to a page full of ads that have nothing to do with what you are looking for. But I have started finding more and more often results to searches where the pages are nearly copies of each other, but with different ads. I also find quite often links which lead to obscure search engine results pages... each with their quota of ads.

The thing is -- getting back on topic -- if I am writing professionally and someone pays me 50¢ for a piece of work, they are going to only get 50¢ of work from me. Perhaps they are looking for $10 of work... Perhaps there are enough hungry people out there who bite at that rate of pay and will write regardless of the use their work will be used for. Perhaps it is a benefit that all rights go to the person paying including any byline. You don't have to worry about that work coming back to haunt you.

Writers used to use pseudonyms for that purpose when writing stuff they didn't necessarily want to be associated with.

Still... I wonder if this sort of thing will reduce the worth of writers and authors? An author writing this sort of thing simply for the money -- is that what they call prostituting them self?

Of course... I am writing this column for no money at all... just for the experience.

~ Darrell


¹ "Copyscape -- Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia".

² "Search engine optimization -- Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia".


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Thursday, January 1, 2009

Too Real

When is it too much toy?

"Talk To Me Elmo" is an interesting toy. Now I have not seen one in action in person, but I have heard one in action over the phone being played with by my friend's 2-year-old and have seen the slightly more venerable "Tickle Me Elmo" which started that toy ball rolling. It was very interesting listening to "Elmo" chattering away with my "niece" while my friend was on the phone. My friend described how Elmo was flapping his arms and how my niece was flapping hers and later how she had set Elmo up at her drawing table expecting Elmo to do some drawing.

(image to left of "Talk To Me Elmo" from USA

Now I don't think that "Talk To Me Elmo" is quite up to doing any drawing... yet ... but it did get me wondering about what people have said in the past about the effect of television on children. I was wondering about the effect of such life-like toys on children. There was always this controversy about how children might not understand the difference between reality and fiction, or reality and fantasy with the television offerings they had. That was combined with the large number of hours of TV viewing that children were starting to have.

Toys like the new Elmo might be bending that line further. Perhaps not too much problem with the current generation of Elmo toys, but what about the near future?

This Elmo can interact with the child at least by touch and "...remembers a child's name and habits..."¹ according the the 2005 article on USA The current one I know does much and probably more than the 2005 edition.

I am not sure if we should be worried or at least be concerned over the direction toys might be taking in blurring the boundaries between toy and reality... or is it toy? These toys are small robots and computers and the children are becoming very comfortable with them.

Of course perhaps we have to watch about not the boundary between reality and illusion, fiction, or fantasy -- but rather the boundary between life and automation.

~ Darrell


¹ "New tech toys walk, talk and play tunes this Christmas" Sept 6 2005; Angela Moore; Reuters -- Tech Products..

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