Category Archives: I’m a geek

Picture-1

Follow Me To The New RSS Party!

Picture-1

First off? We’re having internet issues in our house. This is why my presence here and everywhere else online has been a bit sporadic. I apologize for this. Without regular blogging my left eye starts to twitch and I acquire an unexplained limp. If I don’t solve these technological issues soon, I’ll be rotating around the “Free Wi-Fi” locations around here.

Secondly? Did you hear that they’re shutting down my favorite RSS feed reader in July? I mean – FIRST they took away the ability to share and comment on the thing – and now they’re getting rid of it? All together? Kim is not a happy camper.

For those of you who don’t know what RSS is or a feed reader, let me give you an easy summary. RSS is – literally – “Really Simple Syndication”. Basically, any website that creates regular content, creates RSS feeds of that content without any bells and whistles. Just the basic HTML of the content itself. Then, “Feed Readers” like Google Reader allow you to subscribe to those pages, and it funnels those RSS feeds all into one location. So, if you read a lot of blogs/news/magazines type sites, you can read all of their updates in one location. You don’t have to keep bookmarks or remember links.

Google Reader used to let you “share” out items you really liked. I loved this feature because my “shared” items also displayed on my blog. And then any of my friends in Reader could comment on those items. So, it gave us a little community to discuss articles and entries. And then? THEN? Google took that function away. And a small part of my soul died.

But now? NOW? They’re taking away the entire reader. Basically they want us all to use Google+, which we won’t do simply out of spite now. So…where do we all go? WHERE DO YOU GO?

Picture-2

On Twitter yesterday, some key peeps decided to start using The Old Reader. Evidently you can A) Share items and B) Comment on those shared items. Which I have already done with this entry.

What are you waiting for? GO JOIN! FOLLOW ME! I’LL FOLLOW YOU BACK! These type of communities ONLY work if we all go. We need to ALL go over there and start following each other and start sharing items and talking about them and creating what we used to have on Google Reader. PUH-LEASE? If you read more than 5 blogs or websites a day, you will love having a feed reader. It means you only have to make one stop every day to see all of your favorite websites. And their entries ONLY show up if they have new content. So, if they don’t update regularly you can still follow them without stopping by their site constantly for updates.

If you’ve never used an RSS reader before and have any questions/confusion – just post a comment here and I’ll help you out. If you have, then you may be like me and appreciate the excuse to start over with your subscriptions. Don’t you still have those blogs on your Google Reader that you don’t know why you still follow? You don’t ever comment or even read their entries anymore. Why are you still subscribed? Well, now you can just start over with the ones you actually want to read!

Or – if you want – you can import your subscriptions from Google Reader. I did not do that because I knew I needed to prune my list a bit, but if you like your list as is? Easy as pie!

Come join the party! We’re leaving Google Reader before they shut the place down, and we’re setting up at The Old Reader, I can’t wait to see you there!

34 Comments
gmail

Entry #5,972 Trying To Convince You To Switch To Gmail

gmail

If you use Gmail? Feel free to move on past this blog entry. But if you don’t? Especially if you hand out your work email or your home-based internet provider email address when asked for one? Then I’d like to (try once again to) convince you to get a Gmail account and begin the transition in your life TODAY. It may take a little while to get everything switched over, but if you can set up an auto-forward on your old email it will make the transition so much easier! And I plan on convincing you it will be WELL worth it. Especially if you ever manage groups via email.

I manage several email lists at any given moment. Sometimes I’m soccer Mom, sometimes I’m Coach’s wife. Often I have lists of parents of cast-members or theatre classes. I have board member lists and book clubs. Over the last three years I’ve become quite the email fiend in association with all of my volunteer jobs. This has made me quite the expert on all things email related and I see situations time and time again which could be more easily resolved if everyone just used Gmail! So I’m going to try to convince you to do the same.

Again.

(This is quite a popular topic around here. But, as someone who sends and receives dozens of emails a day? I consider it my obligation to keep fighting the good fight.)

  • Web-Based – As long as you have internet? You can get to your email. Doesn’t matter who your internet provider is, or where you work. As long as you can get online? You can ALWAYS get to your email. And the address will NEVER CHANGE. I know people keeping Comcast or Knology services for YEARS just because they don’t want to change their email. Or people who lose tons of contacts when they switch jobs because they were only using their work email. You don’t have to worry about that with Gmail.
  • Google’s Servers Are Probably More Dependable Than Yours – If you are using a work email address, you have probably had your share of email issues when something has happened with your email server. Especially if you work for a smaller company. Sometimes this even happens with the big-name internet providers like Comcast and Knology. But in the 7+ years I’ve been using Gmail? I’ve never lost an emails due to “server issues”. So, if you’ve ever had that happen? Please trust that it would NOT happen with Gmail.
  • Autofill Email – As long as you’ve emailed someone once, their email address automatically goes in your contact list and therefore, it’s part of the pool of email addresses Gmail searches as you type. This comes in SO HANDY For me because I often can remember part of an email address and as long as I type part of it, Gmail handles the rest. When I start a new email list (Soccer Team Parents, or Cast Parents For “X” Musical) I try to be diligent about adding the first and last name associated with the email list. That way – the autofill even works when I type part of their name. The autofill makes my life EASILY a million times easier.
  • No Trash – You have to make a point to deliberately delete an email. Gmail even keeps spam emails in an archive! Since you don’t ever “delete” email, you only “archive” it – it is always there to retrieve. Not a week goes by where I don’t have to locate one email from the past. There are so many different ways to search, I always find it easily. Since Gmail keeps all emails, it keeps all attachments so as long as someone has emailed me a file at some point in time? I can retrieve it.

I know it’s a pain in the ass to switch email, trust me. But if you do it NOW, you will be free to get a new internet provider, or change jobs, or just live your life WITH AWESOME EMAIL. For free.

Go forth! Be happy! Use Gmail!

5 Comments
youtubekids

Before You Share Out Videos Of Someone Else’s Kids

I’ve been online creating content involving my kids for almost TEN YEARS. There are things I’ve learned along the way that the average internet user or parent may not know. I often feel obligated to pass along the wisdom these years have brought me. Today? I’m going to talk to you about viral videos involving kids! FUN!

The internet is full of funny and amazing videos. And a lot of them are posted on hundreds of different channels being shared out on millions of Facebook walls. I share videos out all the time without really paying attention to where it came from. Flash Mob! Skinning A Wolf! Hexaflexagons! I love internet videos! SHOW ME ALL THE VIDEOS!

But when it’s a video of someone’s kid? I stop a minute, and I pay closer attention.

I saw this video on Facebook the other day and immediately clicked “share” to put it on my own wall.

And then I immediately deleted it, because I saw it was posted to some generic “FUNNY VIDEO” wall and I wanted to find the original and share THAT instead.

AND I COULD NOT FIND THE ORIGINAL.

See? You can quite easily grab other people’s videos online and post them to YouTube under your own channel. And then, when people share them out on FB or other channels, that “thief” gets the ad revenue. For your bloggers out there? It’s essentially content scraping. Just in video form.

I found the video several places on YouTube, but they were all generic channels. Obviously not the original poster.

SONGRESULTS

LOOK AT THOSE RESULTS! And NONE of them are the parent’s upload. NONE OF THEM.

I don’t care too much if it’s some widespread commercialized video, like a flashmob or a performance of some sort. I especially don’t fret when it’s adults in the video. (Although, if it is a performance, I would like the actual performers getting the ad revenue for me sharing it out.) But – when it’s someone’s kids? I want to avoid sharing something they didn’t intend to be shared.

So…I gave up. And I didn’t share it out.

Then…TODAY…it popped up in my feed again but THIS TIME – it was the original. Here’s the description on the video:

…Yes, this is the original. I posted it on Facebook first and someone snitched it from there and posted it on YouTube. So I decided to post it here so if anyone was going to get credit for it, it might as well be the one who made it! Either way I’m having fun watching all the attention its gotten…and for me the best part about it is that my daughters got to make a lot of people smile and laugh…HOW COOL IS THAT!

Obviously the songs in this video aren’t mine, but my daughter makes one all hers, haha!

Here’s the thing: Someone can post a video to Facebook not realizing it could be stolen and posted to YouTube, where someone else can make money off of it. This is even easier on YouTube. There are ways to prevent this in both cases, but the average person on Facebook doesn’t understand YouTube and might not realize what they’re setting up to happen. Also – some of the “privacy” settings on Facebook are so confusing it’s hard to tell who you’re allowing to view your uploads. So – I NEVER BLAME THE PARENTS when these videos go viral. I’m just not going to help the spread if I can’t find proof that they condoned it.

I just worry sometimes that these cute kid videos were not intended for general consumption by the parents who filmed them. There was a video once of a kid getting reunited with his favorite toy. It was sweet! The boy cried! But it went viral and on the original video the parents added a comment along the lines of, “Our kid is not happy with the attention he’s getting because of this video. Please don’t try to contact us for interviews.”

That was a buzzkill. I obviously didn’t share that one.

So, I always try to avoid sharing videos out anywhere (Facebook, Twitter, this here blog…) unless I feel pretty certain it’s the original poster/parent’s video that I’m using. AND that they seem okay with it. Sometimes it’s really hard to tell and I just try to go with my instinct. But in this case? It was obvious to me – a frequent YouTube user – that all of the videos I saw originally were NOT the original poster.

And then the one today? It was obvious it WAS the original. Easy Breezy.

Here’s another one that went viral this week:

This parent uploaded it originally themselves on YouTube so their video showed up at the top of the results. But still! It showed up under other channels too!

MADRESULTS

See – Dad’s video at the top…easy to find! But still – there are other people using that same video trying to get some of the ad revenue from it’s popularity.

If you want to be responsible and try to share only the parent’s upload, always go to the YouTube page of the video first. Look at the user name – is it something like “Funny Kid Videos!” Then it’s probably a content thief. Also, look at the “About” section. Is it pretty bland and non-descriptive? Think about it – if it were YOUR kid – how would you describe the video? Does it just say “Kid’s Favorite Song”? Then it is probably not the parent’s video.

If there’s no YouTube channel, and it’s just uploaded on Facebook, the same rules apply. The original poster of the video I saw with the baby in the carseat was on a Facebook page called “Awesome Videos”. You can be pretty certain that’s not the parent’s page.

I like to Google the titles plus the word “original” and sometimes that leads me to the right post. Sometimes? It’s simply the one with the most views. (Like with the girl and the train.) If it’s not – sometimes the videos will at least source the original in the description. There are some people who try to be courteous thieves when making ad revenue money of other people’s content! If a news channel runs a feature on a popular YouTube channel, they’ll upload their feature to their own channel. In those cases, they’ll usually link to the original.

Just be wary. Not everyone is a YouTube or internet nut like I am – so you may not have considered that these videos are being stolen and then rebroadcast to put money in the pocket of a random person on the internet. But…now you know! And you can be more careful when sharing out the funny videos!

Because – seriously – they should be shared. They bring smiles and joy to the world! There’s nothing wrong with that. I just want to make sure we have the parent’s blessing before we spread the joy their child brings.

8 Comments
doctorw

Tumblr, Twitter, Facebook…OH MY!

When I find stuff I like on the internet, I like to post it somewhere on one of my pieces of property on the web. But I don’t put everything I like on every property. Believe it or not? There’s actual logic to the way I spread the things I love online.

Facebook

I put the most wide assortment of things on Facebook. It’s the way I keep in touch with most of my real-life friends, so anytime I stumble across anything that any of them would like? I throw it on my wall. I have running friends, so I’ll post good running articles I find. I have Nerdfighter friends so I might post a link to the latest John Green autographed item I’m drooling over. I have Whovian friends so I might post links to trailers for the newest season, or interviews with Matt Smith.

Basically – it’s mostly unoffensive, entertaining, happy things. The only time I ever post anything the least bit controversial or possibly upsetting to anyone – is when I post my Gay Rights Support type items. But that’s because Gay Rights is SUCH an important issue to me, it’s such a deal-breaker issue, that I’m okay if I lose friends over posting that stuff. Now – I don’t post anything antagonisic or offensive to the other side! But if my side has made strides towards national marriage equality in any way? I post the links celebrating that so that everyone who knows me in real life knows where I stand on that issue. And that if they are not on my side, they are against me. And while I’ll continue being cordial and friendly to you in the real world – even if you’re on the other side – we can not be more than casual friends. Not when the equality of my friends and family is on the line.

OH MY GOD. Sorry about that. TANGENT MUCH, ZOOT? Anyway! Facebook is the my generic light and fluffy area of the web! LIGHT AND FLUFFY!

Twitter

Now, I get MUCH more political on Twitter. I tend to post links to a lot of articles about Reproductive Rights and Freedom of Religion. I post 100 million times more things about Gay Rights. I tend to retweet snarking commentary from political tweeters I agree with.

It’s not always “nice” stuff but so much of my Twitter community was developed around the 2008 election, that’s just how it all unfolded. Also, most of my real-world friends aren’t on Twitter so I can tweet that stuff and not worry about offending anyone. I still try not to be too ugly, or retweet anything too offensive, but I do post a lot more links to articles in support of entitlement programs, healthcare, reproductive rights, and gay marriage. My community there is a bit more political, so it brings out that side in me.

(Although – lately? I’ve not been very active on Twitter. Not sure why. I need to remedy that.)

Pinterest

I love Pinterest, I really do. But I don’t use it much anymore because it makes me sad that I don’t have more time to make great meals and awesome crafts. It actually made me really down on myself for awhile. I would pin all of these great project ideas and recipes and crafts and just die a little everytime I looked at all of the pins I hadn’t even tried to complete yet. I’m too insecure about my status as a Mom and a Wife to subject myself to daily reminders of all of the awesome things other people are doing that I’m not.

I still like to browse the “GEEK” category for smiles periodically, but I don’t do much with my Pinterest account right now. But when I do…it’s mostly to pin recipes. That’s what I go there to seek out, things to cook. So – if I find a recipe I want to catalog somewhere? It goes on Pinterest.

Tumblr

Oh, man. How do I describe how I use Tumblr? Basically – if it’s an animated GIF? It goes there. That’s the essential qualifier. Oh – and if I found it on another Tumblr – it goes on mine because the “reblog” link it just too easy to use. But other than those obvious things, it’s really hard to explain how I use Tumblr.

Picture 2

I agree with everything John Green said about Tumblr. Even though I’m someone’s Mom and am on Tumblr. I still agree because it’s just such a fun place that no one has figured out how to explain OR monetize so it’s still being used by a very select group of internet peeps. Mostly teenagers. SUPER-TALENTED teenagers who do amazing graphics and GIFs for any fandom you follow.

So – I guess Tumblr is where I’m a fangirl. I follow Tumblrs dedicated to all of the things I’m a total geek about: Glee, Harry Potter, Doctor Who, Nerdfighteria, Anything Whedon or Avengers…You know…geek stuff! I browse my Tumblr dashboard when I need a smile, and I reblog stuff that I think would make the average geek-like-me smile too.

(SIDENOTE: I do NOT pull up my dashboard when there are children around. The downside of Tumblr is that you never know when one of the blogs you follow will suddenly decide to post something pr0nographic in nature. I have a NSFW filter turned on, but that doesn’t matter if they don’t tag their stuff NSFW. It hasn’t happened in awhile as I think I’ve cut out most of the blogs that will do that periodically, but still, every few weeks it’s like Klaine, Fat Amy, Cohen Family, Regina Phalange, NAKED MEN, Luna Lovegood…)

And sometimes I’ll reblog something political or some sort of intellectual social commentary post, because in between all of the pop culture blogs I follow, there are a few political tumblrs out there. And tons of gay rights Tumblrs because I’m convinced at least 90% of the blogs I follow are run by someone from the LBGT community. But mostly? It’s fandom stuff. Stuff I might be hesitant to post anywhere else because you might have to be on my side of geeky to get it.

The Trifecta

Every once in awhile, something comes along that is SO AWESOME that I post it everywhere. Regardless of your level of nerd, your political affiliation, or your affection for pop culture. Everyone…everywhere…on every social media platform will see something that hits all of my layers of interests. And when that happens? A little geeky, gay rights fairy somewhere get’s his wings.

doctorw

5 Comments
5x7_cushion_card

My Favorite Thing About Christmas


I spend between $200 and $300 dollars on Christmas cards every year, between printing and postage. To put things in perspective, most years I spend more on cards than I do on my kids…I take Christmas cards that seriously. (Dear Kids: I’m sorry. It’s because I enjoy graphic arts. If I could play with fonts on your Christmas gifts? I might spend more money on you. This is one of the many perils of having a geek for a mom.) This year we hit closer to $300 because I ordered folded cards and actually pre-wrote a note to be printed in them! Why this extra expense?

Well…I keep EVERY photo card we get EVERY year. They stay in a publicly displayed sleigh and I go through them every Christmas to look back on the kids and the families we stay in touch with. But this year I realized…some of them were so old I couldn’t place them with families any more! And I worried about the same thing with our cards so NOW, if anyone keeps cards like I do? They’ll always be able to know who we are! Even 20 years from now!

(I AM NOT LYING ABOUT TAKING CHRISTMAS CARDS DAMN SERIOUSLY, PEOPLE.)

(AGAIN…Sorry, Kids.)

So, the graphic above is the FRONT of the card and the inside has a quick and short note explaining our awesome year of performances and races. I mention falling a lot because I’m that self-deprecating by nature, it even makes it’s way into my Christmas cards. Basically? It’s like a short blog entry, but with less talk of boob sweat.

But! As life goes on and families and friends change, our list grows and I can NOT spend more than $300 on cards! So, inevitably people have to get cut from my list and it BREAKS MY HEART.

I’m wondering if any of you have to do the same thing? I was a little aided this year because I lost my most recent address list, so I’m having to use an older one. I filled in a lot of the missing people that I’ve added in the last few years, but I’m sure I’ll forget someone which will really upset me. Again…because I take this very seriously. But, when I am trying to cull the list there are some people who will never get cut…EVEN IF THEY’D LIKE TO BE.

  • Any who has ever complimented my cards and/or letters. I AM A SUCKER FOR FLATTERY, PEOPLE. I design these cards myself and just use Shutterfly to print them, I put a lot of blood, sweat, and tears into these things. If someone compliments them? They’re on the list FOR LIFE.
  • Aunts and uncles. I became an aunt for the first time two years ago and I became one again 3 weeks ago. As an Aunt I can tell you that I will ALWAYS want to know what’s going on in my nephews’ lives, so I assume our aunts and uncles feel the same way.
  • People who send me cards. I mean, that’s a no brainer! If I’m on YOUR list, of COURSE you’re on MINE!

I mentioned above that I design these myself. That’s because no service offers enough slots for photos to make me happy! One or two years I’ve been short on time and have cheated and used a “fill in the photo” type card, but most years I design it myself so I can use ALL OF THE PHOTOS! The most common compliment I receive (besides how awesome my notes are…BECAUSE THEY ARE. I AM THAT AWESOME.) (And modest.) is that people like I put pictures of Donnie and I on the card. It seems most miss seeing what the parents look like as the years past.

I think this is hysterical because I make sure everyone gets represented on the cards equally. Some of our aunts and uncles have never met our kids and probably care more about how life is treating us, so why wouldn’t I include pictures of us? Also – I’m a narcissist who enjoys talking about myself so I have to include pictures with that. I mean – I hate pictures of myself but I hate more not talking about myself, so it all balances out to a well-represented Christmas card.

Like I said at least 20 times before…I take these things VERY SERIOUSLY. I’m currently in the depths of addressing over 100 cards by hand and they’ll be in the mail by week’s end. I always try to keep several on hand in case I get cards from people not on my list, or – especially this year since I lost last year’s address list – in case I forgot anyone. But most of these cards will be in mailboxes next week and all of that thought, time and money will finally be well-spent.

And to my kids who would really like it for me to use that money on them instead? Think of something I can buy you next year that allows me to spend a week in Photoshop playing with fonts and maybe I’ll consider it.

19 Comments