Magic Jewball

all signs point to no


Oh, I WILL have a good day, Janey

Filed under : Life in general,The Internets
On March 16, 2010
At 11:15 pm
Comments : 11

After all, it could be the last one of my life. While I was sitting in the Spring Break dead-empty library today I received this message via Google Voice:

Hm. This was kind of what I had been imagining but I hadn’t realized the receptionist would be so up front about it. Don’t you wish your dentist were as honest about what your visit entailed as mine is? By the way, Tamara Ross is “tomorrow’s” and my dentist’s name isn’t really Dr. Cassius, although death by knockout might be more merciful.

This could be the best Google mistranscription I’ve received since “We’re gonna do it now in the parking garage.”

As for “Transcription useful?” on the bottom right, there doesn’t seem to be a box for “burst out laughing on an overworked and undercaffeinated morning” so I’ll just go with Yes.

The Police – Murder By Numbers


I have three blogs and I cannot lie

Filed under : The Internets
On February 1, 2010
At 3:45 am
Comments :Comments Off

Do you remember your first website? Trick question! Most people don’t have websites. Or do they? Is your Facebook page a website? I think so. You put the content out there and it appears on the Worldwide Web. And if you choose to make your privacy settings a certain way, everyone who knows your name and has access to Google (and that’s everyone, isn’t it? Except maybe in China) can see it. But not everyone’s even on Facebook, even though it would seem to be so. Every time I take a class and it’s a mix of tech people and non-tech students, they go around the room with the introductions on the first day and there before your eyes are the extremes of web savvy. So to the question, “what social media do you use (i.e. Facebook, Twitter, etc.)?” you get the following two people to the left and the right of me last week. The first one is in my program, so I have heard her rattle this off before, “I’m on Facebook and Twitter and LinkedIn and WordPress and -” well, you get the idea. Then you have the lady on the other side of me who said, “I don’t know what I’d use Facebook for and I don’t know what Twitter is.”

Obviously, I’m more like my first example there but it wasn’t always so. Back in the days of Web 1.0 I was merely a consumer of what existed on the Internet. I had gotten AOL in 1994 and I remember thinking when it went unlimited, “will I really spend more than ten hours a month on this thing? Maybe I should pay by the hour.” Nowadays, of course, I spend ten hours on the web every ten hours. But the thing that really made me see the web’s potential was planning a vacation in the mid-90′s completely on the Internet. I went to Cornwall and retraced the plot of my favorite book, going down into a tin mine, seeing ancient ruins where love scenes had taken place, staying in a room overlooking Land’s End (the real one, not the mundane clothing purveyor). I even went to a scholarly conference about Daphne Du Maurier because, well, it was there and I was there. Why not? I found that on the web too. This was the greatest thing ever!

I did author some content. I was a regular in a forum, something I still am, but it’s a different one. I never really found my place there but I made some friends and wrote a few things. But mostly, I just surfed. I didn’t really think about this change until lately, when I’ve had to consider which of my three blogs I’ll put in a signature line or on my Facebook page or Twitter description. Because it’s so easy to start a blog, why not start one? I thought about it again when one of my Facebook friends, a fellow blogger, asked about Tumblr, like, “I have a Tumblog, what do I do with it as compared with my other blogs?” And that’s the way I think too. It’s there, let’s use it, the purpose will become apparent later. I also thought about it while reading Emily Gould’s recent post. She’s the one from Gawker who wrote the NY Times Magazine story about blogging. Most people hated it but I loved it. I think I’m one of the three people who wrote supportive comments on the NYT site. This post, though, is about how she spoke to a High School class about blogging and as someone studying how to use technology in schools, I found it fascinating.

Even more fascinating, though, was a comment from the teacher saying,

It’s funny; as soon as we were done, one of my students said, “I wonder if she’s going to blog about this.” Since it was a captive audience of high school students, I really didn’t think you would, but that goes to show how naive I am about this stuff, though a wiser voice (my student’s, apparently) prompted me to go and check today.

Ironically, one of the questions asked to you was if your daily actions are ever affected by the fact that you might later blog about it. You answered a resounding “no” followed by a brief rant about how lame that would be. However, the immediacy with which you blogged about this experience does make me wonder.

This guy doesn’t really get blogging, it seems to me, and that’s OK, except he’s teaching the subject. This sort of worries me and is part of the reason I’m paying Columbia $40k to get a Master’s in the field. And my point’s a little different from hers (she made hers well, you can go see), it’s that, why not? The technology is there, why not use it? If someone invents some new kind of social media, I’ll probably try that too and see what it can do for me and what I can say that might interest you and what you’ll say that might interest me. This is one of the reasons I had to leave the music business. I was just tired of the whole, “it’s new, I’m afraid!” attitude. That guy who was always only half-joking when he’d say, “so the Internet, huh? Not just a passing phase!” And if being an author of web content makes you an attention whore or a navel-gazer, then I guess we all are. Because these days, it’s just the phone. If you’re not on Facebook, you don’t have a phone. Writing a blog is just like writing a newsletter except, depending on who you are, a lot more people see it and they get to talk back. And if you don’t want to see it, you just don’t look. But why complain about the people who write it? Unless you only read, chances are that someone in a t-shirt sitting on a sofa is writing what you’re reading (I’m in my Local H one, in case you’re wondering. I got it free from my second label). And we do care about other people’s lives. Those people looking you over on the subway are wondering why you’re smiling to yourself or what you’re furiously scribbling in that notebook. And some people want to tell you. Now we have the web and we write it for each other because someone wants to write and someone else wants to read.

For the record, my first website was the free one from my ISP so I could put my little Gates film up. I remember each time I made a change how afraid I was to click the button that would make it live. People can see this, I remember thinking. Now I don’t worry that much, it’s so easy. Tweet, click. Status message, click. Blog post, click. New bakery item, click. YouTube video, click. And I don’t even really use my phone. One day I’ll probably say that about these things too. But I hope me writing for you and you writing for me sticks around, I really do.

Title is, of course, a play on:
Sir Mix-A-Lot – Baby Got Back


You hurt my peewings

Filed under : The Internets
On September 9, 2009
At 11:30 pm
Comments : 11

Since I’m at school, I have a couple of Technology and Society questions with multiple choice answers. Have a go! Write in your own answers if you wish!

1. If someone follows you on Twitter, ostensibly it’s because they like what you say, right? I mean, if they’re not a spammer or a pron site… that’s different. So you follow them back, not only to be polite but to interact, because they seem OK. Let’s say after a couple of months you realize that 90% of their Tweets (apologies if you hate the twee language… see what I just did there?) is comprised of bad puns and quotes by other people. This is not really why you signed up for Twitter, it was about having a dialogue and sharing interesting thoughts and content, and so you subsequently unfollow them. Immediately, like within an hour, they unfollow you. Does it mean:

a. they never really liked what you said, they just wanted you to follow them.
b. they did like what you said but now they are mortally insulted and so they say good day, sir!
c. dropping them somehow changed the content of what you Tweet.

OK then.

2. If your blog is now more autobiographical than ever and someone who professes to be a good friend of yours (and they are, seriously, under almost any definition) and knows about your blog e-mails you to check in. That person asks several good, friendly questions about your life, all of whose answers are in the last two weeks of your posts. Should you:

a. point out that they should read your blog.
b. write out all the same answers that you just posted in your blog.
c. feel hurt.
d. a and c
e. b and c
f. realize that no one is obligated to read your blog, Becca, you always said that.

I thought so. ~sigh~

Title comes from Maureen’s adorable daughter. I wish there was a song with that title but there isn’t. Yet.
Boston – More Than A Feeling


Lost in transcription

Filed under : Reader of the Month,The Internets
On July 27, 2009
At 9:00 pm
Comments : 5

Google, what can’t it do? I have Google Voice, which used to be called Grand Central, and rings all my phones at once. That way, people don’t call me on my cellphone, which has about 60 minutes a month, when I’m sitting right next to a landline. Also, I can tailor my voicemail message to different numbers so if you know me as Becca, you get “you’ve reached Becca” and if you know me as something else, you get “you’ve reached something else.”

It also has a fantastic service which transcribes voicemails so you don’t have to dial in and listen to several minutes of, “just calling to say hi, but also, did you get Barb a present for her birthday? I was thinking of something I saw on Amazon. You know what? I’ll just e-mail you a link. So, um, yeah… yeah, I’ll just e-mail you. Later! Oh, right, this is Sam. Did I say my phone number? You probably have it… well, I’ll just e-mail.”

Hell, Barb’s already had two more birthdays since I started listening to that. But Google transcribes them so you don’t have to go through all that plus the whole, “press 7 to delete, press 2 to explode your brain” rigmarole. It’s just like an e-mail! Except when they’re not so good at it. While I was in Baltimore, I finally met up with our second Reader of the Month, Steph! She was delayed a bit and called me to let me know that she and Mr. Steph were on their way. Why, it was clear from the transcription!

So, to sum up, Steph and her husband couldn’t make it to the restaurant at Harborplace on time because they were doing it in the parking garage. Also, someone was watching, so that made it extra special! I made sure to let Warren, whoever the hell he is, know.

LL Cool J – Doin’ It


And on a lighter note

Filed under : The Internets
On July 17, 2009
At 5:00 pm
Comments :Comments Off

Most of my readers are from outside the New York area, but even you, I know, visit. For you and for residents of the beautiful neighborhood I call home, the Upper West Side, please check out my friend’s new blog My Upper West. It’s full of the things people in other NY ‘hoods have been enjoying on their own local blogs for years: news, events, store openings & closing, real estate reports, star sightings, and so much more. He and his wife blog all day and night, just for us.

Seriously, this place rocks and now we finally have a blog! Woot!