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In Our World

Do We Really Need All This Enhancement?

Throughout the course of my life, I find that I read different parts of the paper. When I first started, I think I probably only read the comics (they were probably called the “funny papers” back then). One day I started reading the sports section, because there was something or other that I found interesting. Then I found myself wandering into the business pages, even though I have no business aptitude. I find it interesting.

These days, I typically browse through most of the paper, typically still on my way to the business section or the sports, with a stop at the comics now and again. But what really gets me is why there is just about always an ad in the sports section for an enhancement of some kind or another. If it’s not for the best sex that I’ve ever had, it’s for the guy who ate plankton and cured his cancer. Now it’s not that I’m not happy for the guy or anything, but come on!

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In Our World

When Does Exaggeration Become Outright Lying?

The other day as I was listening to the radio – I don’t recall which station, though I could probably guess if I really had to put my mind to it – I heard an advertisement about an upcoming show. During this ad, they mentioned something about the “biggest bands” and how they were coming to town and naturally, that piqued my interest.

When you think of the biggest bands, what do you think? I’m figuring it has to be one of the bands that is on a perpetual farewell tour. Someone like The Eagles or Kiss or someone. Maybe even someone who hasn’t been around for a while, like AC/DC or Def Leppard. Now I know that the they aren’t everyone’s cup of tea, and that’s okay – they sold a lot of records.

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In Our World

Is the Fix (Unofficially) In on Television "Game" Shows?

A decade-and-a-half ago, the movie Quiz Show gave some of us younger pups (no comments, please) insight into the world of corruption amongst game shows like that we had never seen. It was the story of Charles Van Doren, the pretty boy who was given the answers on the game show 21, and how he walked into the living rooms of America, only to be taken down in a scandal like the world had never seen – mostly because television was so new at the time. It’s really amazing that game shows ever recovered. It’s likely the only reason that they did recover is that generation is gone (not gone, gone, but gone from watching).

The new generation grew up on a different batch of shows – reality shows – and now it seems like there may be more trouble brewing. The first season of the rehashed American Gladiators saw contestants apparently about to survive The Eliminator toss the rope just as they made it to the top of the daunting Travelator. The second season saw the events lengthened, but then a contestant with part of a leg missing had the very same Travelator turned off so he could complete the course (a nice gesture, but you get the point). While early competitors on American Idol get tossed for forgetting their lines, the final performance last night appeared to have white lines scrolling at least twice – surely they don’t want the final to be blown by contestants forgetting their lines, but that seems like an odd move by producers. Finally, the obviously superior David Cook (sorry, Archuleta) tanked his performance – so is it all just a scam?

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In Our World

Keyshawn Wins Best-Dressed Award (Really)

A couple of weeks ago, Keyshawn Johnson did his second round of broadcasting for the NFL draft, and I mentioned just how bad it was. To be fair, it was a bit better than it was last year. For someone who appears to totally lack the ability to shut his mouth, when the cameras are on and rolling for hour after hour of incessant coverage, Keyshawn totally clams up. It’s like he just becomes a different person.

What’s even more amazing to watch is that he is totally and utterly upstaged by Mel Kiper, Jr. of all people. Now this is no slight against Mel Kiper, Jr., mind you, but for the last thirty or so years, he has done next to nothing except pick apart the draft. He barely goes outside. Understandably, on draft day, he is surely an imposing force. But for Keyshawn Johnson to be intimidated by a guy like Mel Kiper? That’s almost impossible to fathom. Yet he is. Last year, perhaps – it was his first year at the desk. But it happened again. I wouldn’t be at all surprised if he didn’t make it back for a third year. Regardless, this year Keyshawn decided if he couldn’t out-talk Kiper, he’d out-dress him. It apparently worked.

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In Our World

Do You Have a Sense of Security?

As I’m eating lunch yesterday, who should be on the television but the Pope! He’s just pulling into Yankee Stadium in his Popemobile – a modified Mercedes that just looks wacky, with an enclosure on the back where everyone can see him, and presumably he is safe from someone who might like to kill him. But just how safe is he?

While he’s being driven along, it looks like the enclosure is completely sealed. Until a corner shot shows that his hand is out one of the windows. So obviously it’s not totally closed, and one of the seventy thousand or so people in the stadium could try and get something in that opening. Nice.

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In Our World

The Dilemma of Paid Reviews

An interesting comment was raised on my review of Web Hosting Bluebook. Someone by the name of “Internet Marketing Blog” (if you follow their link, you get a blog by the name of “Money Maker Jobs”, and someone posting under the name of “admin”, so finding out the real name isn’t easy) mentioned that “this is the internet” and we’re here to sell people BS. I think that this is an interesting comment for many reasons. Most notably because, as I mentioned in my follow-up comment, that the commenter himself mentions on his own page that “money is not everything” – so if money is not everything, what else is there?

I certainly have a number of thoughts on the subject, but if we’re all here to sell people BS, that implies that money is, indeed, everything. Looking at the monstrous page offered by our commenter, we see 12 posts spread over three months and eight categories, along with four Google boxes. So obviously, our friend is all about the money. But without much content. And I’m wandering now, so let me get to the point, which is that much of what I do is offer reviews. I offer reviews of products, such as keyboards, I’ve reviewed many pieces of software, including downloadable software and services (most recently TypePad). I also review our government. This site is full of reviews, in fact, and I’d venture that all of them are pretty honest.

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In Our World

The Lost Art of Thinking Critically

In my job, I am often called upon to solve problems – in fact, most of my job is less about writing code or making things pretty (no comments from the gallery, please) than it is figuring out how to make things work the way that they are supposed to. Often, the issue is actually to get everything back the way it was before a wayward upgrade skewed the normal operating procedure to a point where everything went slightly haywire.

Over the weekend, for instance, against my better judgment, I took on a job to implement an upgrade. With steps in hand from the company who supplied the software, I felt mostly confident that we could get the job done relatively quickly. Unfortunately, as we were nearing the end of the process, everything went absolutely nuts. Suddenly files were inaccessible and nothing would work. I still have to admit that I just don’t know what went wrong – it’s like there was a forgotten uninstall process that someone just left waiting to explode. At that point, the most useful skill was not knowledge, but being able to figure out how to restore some semblance of order.

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In Our World

Finding Deals at CompUSA Doesn't Get Any Easier

CompUSA continues to go out of business, and it seems that they are going to be at it for a while longer. The signs on the corner say that the discounts have reached 20-40%, and if you step inside, you’ll see that some of the shelves are now bare, but there is still a lot of merchandise left. Perhaps most importantly, you’ll see that even though the discounts aren’t going down very quickly, the real reason that the merchandise isn’t moving appears to be because the prices on the items left are actually going up.

That’s right, the product left on the shelves is actually being marked up while the discounts are ever-so-slowly drifting down. Not too long ago, networking equipment was at the 10% discount level. One item in particular – a Belkin Bluetooth adapter that was recently $29.99 has now been marked up to $39.99. So you could have had it for about $27 ($29.99 * .9) or now you can get it for about $32 ($39.99 * .8). Sweet.

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In Our World

Do You Value Your Time or Your Money?

The other day as I was in the grocery store, I was struck by the absurdity of just how far one woman was going in her pursuit to get a discount on a package of hot dogs. Now don’t get me wrong – I’m all for scoring a discount and all, especially when it involves little to no effort, and even more so when we’re talking about lots and lots of money. The greater the reward for the least amount of effort, the more exciting the prospect.

But in this case, there apparently was an ad in the weekly circular that said something to the effect of Beef Franks on Sale. Now if you ask anyone – especially my wife – if I am a stickler for language, I am. When it comes down to what someone says or what someone meant, I will almost always side with what someone says, because after all, that is what they said. I have no way of knowing what they meant. We even have our own little joke about it, saying that I have a condition – which may or may not be true.

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In Our World

Do You Write for You, Your Readers or Google?

I mentioned last week that some of the most successful posts (at least in terms of popularity) were written when I simply wrote, rather than ones that I felt I had to write. Just yesterday, Darren Rowse talked about thinking like a blogger – in other words, not struggling to come up with posts, but actually changing your mindset so that you begin to get into that process of creating content.

I’ve been thinking about this for a while, and I have to say that there are definitely times when I wonder who I’m writing to when I create entries. Way back when I wrote The Angler Fish (the eleventh entry ever!), I had no idea that it would end up well-ranked at Google. I just wrote, because I had a question that I needed answered, and I wanted to be able to find the answer later. There are other times, when I will put something together that is more of a tutorial. This may be for my own memory, but it is also for others to learn too. Finally, I will sometimes find myself writing for Google. Invariably, the last sort of post ends up being something that no one wants to read and Google will never index well.