Tag Archives: Television

Not doing this when searching? It’s like watching ads on your DVR.

Since the DVR arrived we almost never watch live TV.  In fact, on the rare occasions when I do, I still zipping through the ads and can’t understand why the fast fast-forward button has stopped working.  When I catch myself watching ads needlessly I curse and wonder if, one day nearer my death, I’ll regret all those wasted moments.

And yet I recently discovered that 90% of people are wasting time searching the Internet because they don’t know one very simple trick.  In fact, analysis suggests that people who know this trick are, on average, 12% faster than other people using when searching the web.

So…here it is.  On any web page pressing Ctrl-F will bring up a search box where you can type in a word and immediately jump to that on the page.  Go ahead, try it now to look for the word amazing…I’ll wait.

Not only does this magic key work on ALL web browsers, but also in office tools, PDF files, and pretty much anywhere else where there is text to be searched.

And there are many other keys that can save you a lot of time too and, since I’m on a roll, I’ll throw a few of my favorites in here:

  • Ctrl-Z = Undo.   This works even in places where no undo button exists.  I can’t tell you how many times this baby has saved me.
  • Ctrl-A = Select All.  The next time you need to select everything in a document or web page, just make sure your cursor is in the text you need and use this.
  • Ctrl-P = Print.  I think that one is self explanatory but, again, it works in many places where no print button exists.

Using just these four simple keystrokes will save you hours.  The only question now is what are you going to do with all that free time?

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Filed under Education, Technology

The Witching Hour

I don’t know exactly when it happens…but somewhere between 3:30 and 5:00pm my children go through a metamorphosis.

They look the same, other than a slightly wild look in their eyes.  But during this time their tiny molecules turn into miniature black holes, irresistibly drawing in any sibling that strays within 100 feet.  Once inside this gravitational well, it doesn’t matter how many times you separate them, they will snap back to together within a few moments – complete with an irresistible urge to interfere with homework, destroy artwork, and generally just not understand that the joke is sooo over.

At first I couldn’t understand what was happening.  I would call Joanne in the early afternoon and life would be clam and idyllic.  We would have a nice chat, some laughs, talk about what we were having for dinner etc.  A few hours later I would arrive home to discover screaming children, a house in disarray, the air thick with screams of “Stooooopp!” and “Daaan!“, and a dark thundercloud would be hovering menacingly over Joanne’s head. At this point I would try my best to restore some semblance of order – usually by shooing the kids as far away from Mom as possible – and then I would keep my head down until after dinner.

Sometimes dinner would satiate the kids and normality would be restored, at least until the next day.  But other times, the food just provided fuel, resulting in the kids being banished to the basement where the noise was at least bearable.

“What  happened to my happy wife and kids?” I used to wonder.  But, having now seen this phenomena first hand, I know what happened – the ‘Witching Hour.’  A dark time when evil spirits enter the bodies of children.

I have yet to find a cure.  We have tried talking to them, shouting, pleading, the sign of the cross and standing the children in pentagrams – nothing works!  Even the potent twin forces of the TV and the Wii aren’t enough to combat this force of nature.  I have often wondered what kind of laws we would be breaking were we to get a set of those dog collars with the little electrodes in them…Just saying….

Perhaps, as they grow older, they will learn to resist the demons.  I’m reliably informed they learn to control these urges just around the time the go to college. In the meantime, thank goodness for wine, custom molded ear plugs, and interior doors that close!


Filed under Children, Life - or something like it, The Human Condition

Losing the Big Picture

In 1984 my daily commute into London involved reading a news paper on the train.  I would start with the columns that interested me most, and then work my way through the rest of the paper to pass the time.  TV likewise was a take it or leave it affair – there was no ability to record shows for later. The evening news covered a broad range of subjects and you either watched all of it or risked missing something important.  News back then seemed more balanced, fair, and wide-ranging – a far cry from the controlled media that George Orwell had predicted in his classic novel “1984”.

But, in today’s on-demand world, people have access to so many sources that one never has to read or listen to “the rest”.  Instead we subscribe to only those sources that interest us, and nothing more.  While this is great for ensuring that we are entertained, it also tends to lead to a mindset that is narrow and one-sided.  Republicans will read stories about the latest lunatic ideas proposed by Democrats, while the Democrats are doing the same thing.  And the same story is repeated by Christians, Hispanics, Yankee fans, and just about every other group imaginable.

Is this a problem?

When people only hear only one side of the story, they assume that everyone else agrees with them and proceed as though they have ‘right’ on their side.  This gives people a skewed view of the world where they might not even recognize when there is a legitimate “other side“.

Left unchecked, this one-sided thinking is reinforced over and over, resulting in strongly held beliefs that can be completely out of alignment with reality.  An example of this was seen in a recent post on NPR citing the “Top 5 Things Parents are Worried About”:

  1. Kidnapping
  2. School snipers,
  3. Terrorists
  4. Dangerous Strangers
  5. Drugs

In spite of media sensationalism keeping the top 4 in the forefront of our minds, they actually have a very low chance of ever becoming reality.  Children are far more likely to be killed by someone they know than by a stranger.  And, while the top 3 grab headlines, the chances of them becoming reality are very slim indeed.

Clearly what we worry and care about is heavily influenced by the media.  So when the media you are exposed to is narrowly focused or exaggerated, then so is your world-view.

I was discussing this with some friends recently and one of them openly stated that if he hears of a plane crash he is only interested in the number of Americans killed.  This was not said as a matter of bravado, or to shock, he was just being completely honest.  Others at the table said nothing, but did not disagree, so I don’t think he was alone in this view.

Personally, I try to fight this by subscribing to feeds that cover a range of subjects – usually put out by the BBC or NPR, since they tend to avoid the sensationalism rampant in other news media.  But I feel as though I am in the minority.

George Orwell’s vision of 1984 painted a bleak world where the prescribed news reporting reinforced the message of the Overseers.  While perhaps our government isn’t providing this one-sided view, we seem to be doing it to ourselves.

Perhaps George was right – he just missed the date by 25 years…


Filed under Life - or something like it, The Human Condition