Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Google: The Source of All Knowledge Technical

Google: The Source of All Knowledge Technical

I LOVE the Internet. Not like. Not love. But LOVE. I remember back in the day when I worked at Lehman Brothers (yes, that Lehman Brothers) and I subscribed to a twice-weekly e-mail quiz game called something like "Name That Movie." The author would provide details about two films per game, usually including the year and a fairly detailed plot description, and the players would have to guess the name of the movie. That was when I became an IMDB addict! It was also when I learned that virtually anything we wanted to know (how long the Amazon River is | roughly 4,000 miles; who starred in the first Apple commercial that ran at halftime during the 1984 Superbowl | Anja Major; the lifespan of the average goose | 25 to 30 years!) was now available at our fingertips.

This was wayyyyyy before Wikipedia, when you really had to work for your information. I had an unfair advantage in the area of research, though, having grown up in libraries. My dad introduced me to the card catalogue when I was in second grade, to do research for a paper about the Great White Shark. I carried that knowledge into my first real job as a librarian at the Arizona Daily Star while I was in college. Back in the late 80s/early 90s, just before the Internet, people who wanted to know trivial information would call the newspaper to ask all sorts of random things. In a million years, I never, ever would have thought to call the newspaper to find out things like:
  • How do you spell Schwarzenegger?
  • Is Anthony Quinn really Greek?
  • How are Muriel and Margaux Hemingway related to Ernest?
  • What are the names of Santa's reindeer?
  • I know there's Doc and Sleepy, but who were the other 5 dwarfs from Snow White?
  • What are the words to "Auld Lang Syne"?
To quote Dave Barry: "I am NOT making this up!" It's been nearly 20 years since I left that job and I still remember the questions the public used to call and ask. The best were the bar bets. ("What was Johnny Unitas' nickame? My friend says it was "The Golden Arm, but I'm sure it was Mr. Football.") We didn't take so many of those calls in the Library - they usually went straight to the Sports department.

Fast-forward to today, when the Internet has become an indespensible tool, not just fining the answer to frivilous questions - although I admit I still use it to settle the occasional bet with my sister - but also for gathering all kinds of work-related information, including the latest on the new FCC ruling about testimonial use in Web sites.

Interestingly, though, I recently forgot TWICE to go there first for help with technology issues. I know - technology issues! The first problem was a piece of malware that had inserted itself onto my laptop and proceeded to cause weeks of headaches and frustrations. I was at my wits' end and ready to pay a computer tech a couple hundred bucks to fix it, when it suddenly dawned on me to look up the solution online. And there it was. Took about 20 minutes and no dollars - and my computer was free of the malware.

Then on Sunday, my Canon multiuse printer had a paper jam. Turns out it's a very common problem for this particular model of printer. There was no way to grasp the sheet to pull it out - gently or otherwise - because only about a quarter of an inch of paper was in view. Of course, I was in a hurry when it happened and had no patience or time to try to fix it, so I made due. Last night, I sat down with the same printer while I was calm and unrushed, but had no better  luck. Then it occurred to me that the manual might hold the solution ... but, since I had help rearranging my office a couple months ago, things got moved around and I had no idea where the flippin' manual was.

Suddenly, the light went off, bells clanged, and I did a happy dance. The Internet to the rescue! Google, to be specific!! Why hadn't I thought of it sooner? No matter - I thought of it now. So off I went in search of an answer ... and minutes later, there it was. "Remove the paper carriage and approach the jam from the 'underbelly' of the printer." If the writer of those precious words had been in the room with me, I would have kissed him (or her).

I remember many years ago, a tech guy showing me how to perform what is now a routine maintenance procedure on my PC. He said something that has stuck with me ever since: "It's easy when you know." Truer words were never spoken. Everything is easy when you know how to do it. It's when you don't know how that you have to stop, take a breath, admit momentary defeat, and then marshall your resources to go find someone who does know how. That could be your business partner, office mate, spouse, child, neighbor ... or the Internet.

So before you take a hammer to your computer, haul your vacuum cleaner to the Dumpster, or let the clock on your DVD player continue to blink 12:00 12:00 12:00 ad nauseum ... remember, somewhere, there is someone who knows the answer to your question/problem. All you have to do is find them and ask.

  • S-c-h-w-a-r-z-e-n-e-g-g-e-r
  • No
  • Grand-daughters
  • Dasher, Dancer, Prancer, Vixen, Comet, Cupid, Donder, Blitzen (and Rudolph)
  • Grumpy, Happy, Sneezy, Dopey, Bashful
  • Should old acquaintance be forgot,
    and never brought to mind?
    Should old acquaintance be forgot,
    and old lang syne?


    For auld lang syne, my dear,
    for auld lang syne,
    we'll take a cup of kindness yet,
    for auld lang syne.

    And surely you’ll buy your pint cup!
    and surely I’ll buy mine!
    And we'll take a cup o’ kindness yet,
    for auld lang syne.

For answers to your questions about writing, editing, marketing, or design e-mail Laura or visit Write |
Market | Design where we specialize in teaching our writers to think like marketers!

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