Tag Archives: Google

Thankful #6 – #12

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Today’s list of blessings is comprised entirely of websites. What an amazing time we live in, with a world of information (and misinformation) right at our fingertips. With the aid of the internet, we can be either madly clicking paragons of productivity or ravaged wastrels lounging atop a throne of empty pizza boxes in our underwear. Either way, here are some of the websites I’m thankful for:

6. WebMD. How else could I find out all the things I didn’t know were wrong with me? By the way, today I either have mild wrist swelling caused by overuse or creeping bone cancer. Could be either, according to WebMD.

7. Google. It’s the search engine whose name became synonymous with searching for things on the internet. I’ve tried a number of others, but always come back to the megalith of internet construction. Not only is it the most comprehensive and useful, but the Google doodle occasionally provides hours of entertainment.

8. I Can Has Cheezburger. Life can be brutal, man. Some days, we get knocked down so many times that staying down starts to seem like the best option. On those days, I like to fill my brain up with cute hedgehog babies in teacups and puppies wearing tiny fedoras. I like to imagine that I live in a world where my cat has something clever and pithy to say about the mess  I left in the kitchen, and where every animal, from cow to platypus, is blessed with a rapier sharp sarcastic wit. Cheezburgers for everyone!

9. Lifehacker. This too-practical-to-be-believed website has tips and tricks for everything from making your own bicycle-powered battery to optimizing your Google searches. I just recently used it to find a good (and free) language learning app. No matter what you want to do (deseed a pomegranate, interview for a job, water your plants), Lifehacker has a tip for you! Never again will I have to suffer from excess pool noodle accumulation. Thanks,  Lifehacker!

10. Wikipedia. It’s exhaustive. It’s crowd-sourced. And it’s mostly accurate. To think, my parents had to spend $300 in 1995 for an actual printed set of World Book encyclopedias. It was out of date before we received it.  And it didn’t even have an entry for the Hollywood Freeway Chickens. Well-researched accounts of roving feral chicken bands living in the urban jungles of Southern California are exactly the sort of thing I look for in a good encyclopedia.

11. Craigslist. Buy stuff. Sell stuff. Even meet people (if you’re brave/crazy), and get a chuckle out of seeing the weirdness of humanity on full display.

12. The Marriage Bed. There’s a vicious rumor going around that Christians don’t like sex. I’m pretty sure I’ve debunked that idea at length in other posts, however, if you need more convincing, check out The Marriage Bed, a website that celebrates sex in the context of Christian marriage. There are general discussion boards that are open to click through, as well as boards that address more specific interests; those can be accessed by registering on the site and opting in to the boards you’d like to read. There is also a library of articles and helpful links. Whether you’re facing challenges in your sex life or are just looking for some new ideas, The Marriage Bed is a great resource!

10 Things My New iPhone is Good For

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I admit it.  I’d been coveting an iPhone for quite a while.  However, we had been Verizon customers since time immemorial, locked into a succession of satisfying two year service plans, and since the iPhone is exclusive to AT&T, I had given it up as a lost dream. I spent a lot of time checking out the Verizon versions of touch phones, hoping to fall in love with one of them the way I already adored the iPod Touch I got for my last birthday.  But to be honest, there just wasn’t any chemistry.  Apple had ruined me for all other touch interfaces.

Trust my wonderful, darling geek to know my heart.  For my birthday at the beginning of August, he canceled our Verizon plan and bought me my very own iPhone 3Gs.  After spending a couple of weeks playing with it and exploring its delightful secrets, I’m convinced that it is my favorite of all the gadgets Paul has ever bought me.  And that’s saying a lot.

I carry it with me everywhere.  I sleep with it next to the bed.  I’ve even dressed it up in a cute little outfit, green to match Penelope (my laptop):

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And now this new technology is touching my life in ways I never even dreamed.  Here are just a few of them.

10 Things My New iPhone is Good For:

1.  Settling restaurant arguments. Did ZZ Top release their first album in 1971 or 1973?  What was the host’s name on that old game show “Let’s Make a Deal”?  What are the main physiological differences between Vulcans and Romulans?  Before the yelling escalates and dinner rolls are thrown, I can whip out my iPhone and use my anywhere data plan to google the answers.

2.  Helping me find myself. I get lost.  A lot.  It doesn’t matter who is giving the directions; my ability to misunderstand and muddle them knows no bounds.  But the Map application on my iPhone can zero in on my current location using its internal GPS and ping the map exactly where I am while giving me directions to where I want to go.  It even follows me as I travel so I can make sure I’m sticking to the path.  It does everything except yell “turn left, dummy!” (Perhaps that feature will be added in the next software update.)

3.  Entertaining grouchy kids. Movies, music, video games… my iPhone has everything a tired Mommy needs to help her kids weather that extra-long wait while getting the winter tires put on the car.

4.  Keeping the world apprised of my every fascinating thought and action. I have an application on my iPhone that allows me to write entries on my blog from anywhere I go.  I also have one that hooks me up to Twitter, and one that puts me in touch with every one of my 400 Facebook friends at the touch of a button.  Whether I’m eating a cheeseburger, walking to the bookstore, or catching a cold, I can tell everyone what I’m doing at every moment of my day.

I cannot, however, make them care.

5.  Figuring out what’s for dinner. Picture this: I’m standing in the middle of the grocery store, trying to decide what to feed my family tonight.  I know that back home in the pantry, I have some chicken breasts, tortilla chips, and a can of Rotel.  I open my iPhone and tap the BigOven application, then enter the names of these three ingredients in the search box.  Up pops a recipe that uses them all: King Ranch Chicken, 15 minutes to prepare, bakes for one hour.  Looking at the recipe’s other ingredients, I toss cream of mushroom soup and some cans of chicken broth into my cart and poof!  Dinner is served!

6. Videotaping chance meetings with celebrities. Actually, that should probably say “videoing” (“video-ing”?), since tape hasn’t been involved since the eighties.  Whatever.  But the next time I bump into Dick Van Dyke in the produce department at the grocery store, I’m whipping out my iPhone and setting it to record every delicious moment of stuttering, nonsensical adoration.  (Plus, it might come in handy as evidence when I get called into court to defend myself against stalking charges.  After all, singing “Chitty Chitty Bang Bang” off key isn’t a crime in the technical sense.)

7.  Discovering new music. A few years ago, there was a Diet Coke commercial starring Adrien Brody that I loved, purely because of the music.  I didn’t know what song it was, and there was only a fifteen second clip of it on the commercial, but I found myself humming that fifteen seconds over and over again until I thought I would go mad trying to figure out what it was.  Determined to buy the song and enjoy the whole thing, I kept trying to catch the lyrics so I could google them.  Eventually, I found out that it was “Callin’ Out” by Lyrics Born, and I purchased it on iTunes, but the whole process would have been vastly simplified by my iPhone and the free application I just got: Shazam.  Hold the iPhone receiver up to capture the song in question, and Shazam will use the song’s acoustic fingerprint to find it in the vast database before displaying the title, album, artist, and release date, as well as a purchasing link to iTunes.  Wow.  Just…wow.

8.  Finding out if it’s a snow day without getting out of bed. When the weather outside is truly frightful, there’s a good chance that life will be temporarily postponed due to snow accumulation.  Now I can just reach across to my iPhone and call up the local news web site to check school closings, all without touching a toe to the cold floor.

9.  Studying my Bible. When the teacher in my Bible class asks everyone to turn to a verse in the Bible, I get out my iPhone and look it up on YouVersion, my Bible application.  I can bookmark favorite verses, search by keyword, and view other people’s commentaries.  I can choose from a dozen translations.  There’s even a daily Bible reading schedule.  I used the same program on my iPod Touch, and it was one of the first things I loaded on my phone.  I used to feel a little self-conscious about firing up my electronic Bible at church, but lately there are a lot more people using them, and I can usually spot three or four other glowing screens from where I’m sitting.  What can I say?  I’m a trendsetter.

10.  Talking on the phone. That’s right.  Lest we forget, the iPhone is, first and foremost, a phone.  A phone with lots of cool phone-related features, like photo caller ID, visual voice mail management, and integrated contacts, along with all the usual cell phone offerings–speaker phone, conference calling, voice dialing, and the like.  There’s only one impediment to pure perfection.  I can’t find a good Chewbacca ringtone anywhere.