Friday, December 16, 2005

Found on Yahoo News...

Keeping the blog going - it's a good place for me to keep stuff like this, and have been sharing it with friends of if any of my class peers are still reading - check this out against some of the lit we read...eye-opening!!

MARSEILLES, France -- Skirt-chasing playboy Daniel Anceneaux spent weeks talking with a sensual woman on the Internet before arranging a romantic rendezvous at a remote beach -- and discovering that his on-line sweetie of six months was his own mother!

"I walked out on that dark beach thinking I was going to hook up with the girl of my dreams," the rattled bachelor later admitted. "And there she was, wearing white shorts and a pink tank top, just like she'd said she would.

"But when I got close, she turned around -- and we both got the shock of our lives. I mean, I didn't know what to say. All I could think was, 'Oh my God! it's Mama!' "

But the worst was yet to come. Just as the mortified mother and son realized the error of their ways, a patrolman passed by and cited them for visiting a restricted beach after dark.

"Danny and I were so flustered, we blurted out the whole story to the cop," recalled matronly mom Nicole, 52. "The policeman wrote a report, a local TV station got hold of it -- and the next thing we knew, our picture and our story was all over the 6 o'clock news. "People started pointing and laughing at us on the street -- and they haven't stopped laughing since."

The girl-crazy X-ray technician said he began flirting with normally straitlaced Nicole -- who lives six miles away in a Marseilles suburb -- while scouring the Internet for young ladies to put a little pizzazz in his life.

"Mom called herself Sweet Juliette and I called myself The Prince of Pleasure, and unfortunately, neither one of us had any idea who the other was," said flabbergasted Daniel.

"The conversations even got a little racy a couple of times.

"But I really started to fall for her, because there seemed to be a sensitive side that you don't see in many girls.

"She sent me poems she had written and told me about her dreams and desires, and it was really very romantic.

"The truth is, I got to see a side of my mom I'd never seen before. I'm grateful for that."

When starry-eyed Daniel asked Sweet Juliette to send him a picture, Nicole e-mailed him a photo of a curvy, half-clad cutie she'd scanned from a men's magazine.

"The girl in the picture was so beautiful, I begged Juliette to meet me on the beach -- and Mom said yes," he recalled. "Mom says she was falling for me, too, and she just wanted to meet me, even though she knew I'd be disappointed when I saw her.

"As for me, I figured I was going to find the girl of my dreams.

"I guess that's about as wrong as I've ever been."

Daniel admits he and his mother could do little but stammer and stutter around each other for days after their cyberspace exploits came to light. And his father Paul -- Nicole's husband of 27 years -- wasn't too happy when the story hit the news and his beer-drinking buddies made him the butt of their jokes.

"Dad was ticked for a while and he forbid Mom to talk to anybody on the Internet ever again," said embarrassed Daniel.

Talk about anonymity!!!

Sunday, December 11, 2005

Proving the Thrust of Social Computing

In the course syllabus, and description, Johannes describes the computer as "places and spaces"...and while I totally agreed with that even before the course, what happened to me this week proves it beyond the shadow of a doubt.

The laptop I bring to school is my portable desktop. Basically I don't use any other computer - my kids use the desktop we have had for about 5 years, and we just acquired a 2nd desktop because with 2 kids (who, I might add, take after their mom and love the computer), it is necessary to have 2 computers. So I knew the laptop had to be the only place I could truly call my electronic home. When my old laptop (only 18 months old at the time) flickered and went black, I negotiated (hard!) with the store to uphold their extended warranty plan and replace it with market-value electronics. And when this computer came into my life it was only a couple of weeks on the market. I knew it was THE computer to have - kick-butt graphics card, 17" screen, huge hard drive, everything I needed. And I knew I'd make good use of it.

Wednesday night. Working on my project, and my reflection paper, and polishing up some logs and stuff for class. The laptop froze (it doesn't do that, not often - it has HT so it has been very reliable) and I pressed the "reset" button before going into the den to help my son with a problem he was having.

When I returned to the kitchen (sort of where I station myself when the kids are home and busy), the laptop was still rebooting. I watched and waited, but when it went to a blue screen and restarted again, I knew something was wrong. I closed it off completely, waited 5 minutes, and started it again. Same thing. Beginning to feel a sense of dread but not giving into it, I started it yet again. Played with trying to start it in Safe Mode, Last Good Configuration, all the offered choices. Nothing.

When I realized my computer was not going to work, I felt the panic rise. But when I say panic - sheepish to admit this - I mean panic. Tears. My son came in to see what was wrong and I told him I thought my computer had crashed. I tried again, to no avail. This time, it was full panic.

I knew the stuff was still on the computer, and I'd just have to get someone to fix it. But that wasn't a comfort - I needed everything fact, YESTERDAY...and frankly, I don't trust just anyone with my computer. When my son asked why I was so upset, through tears I proclaimed (and yes, this is what I said - been reliving it): "my whole LIFE is on there!"

Yes, I had 3 semesters' worth of school stuff on the computer. Yes I had a project in progress, articles saved up (though printed as well) for my reflection paper, all my settings and passwords and everything else...but there were personal things on here too. Not just pictures of my kids, recordings of their voices...but creative writing I have stored up...artwork - both artwork I have completed, artwork in progress, and digital materials for my graphics. There are emails saved on my laptop that were transferred from my other laptop which were transferred from the 5-year-old desktop. In essence, 5 years' worth of emails. 5 years' worth of memories, the trajectory of the past 5 years in which so much has happened in my life...truly important cherished sentimental material. And I could only feel the dread that it might be gone.

A friend comforted me, telling me that the data was still in the box, I just needed the proper key to access it. I was going to go to sleep and awaken to call the Geek Squad in the morning. But there was no sleeping for me that night...I was driven to at least TRY to find answers. So at midnight, I was on the desktop in the den, looking up the exact problem. I had managed to freeze the BSOD to where the error message was displayed. Unmountable_boot_stopped...and after searching for answers on bulletin boards, I found them. Seems this is not such an uncommon problem when the boot sequence cannot be followed. The solution was to repair Windows, using the recovery disk. Searched for it, and found it and came back to the den. By then, a friend of mine was on MSN and I told her what was happening.

She stayed with me while I went through the steps. I read many accounts of what to do and how to do it. I was very careful, because I did not want to - obviously - reinstall Windows. But after reading my manual, and all that I'd read even from MS's site, I was ready. And I hit the "start" button on the recovery console.

It was the longest 39 minutes of my life. And I told my friend Deb, that if I lost everything, at least I was the responsible one, rather than having trusted my "baby" to someone less committed to it than I. I told her that I wanted the computer to work, and this would be my wake-up call. Would it be a hard call or a soft one? I was actually holding my breath those last few minutes. And as it went to restart, I thought I had lost everything. I posted, "'s gone..." And she was SO sympathetic.

When the log-in screen began to show, I saw an icon in the top left-hand corner, for my wireless mouse (also a fingerprint reader) and thought, "that wouldn't be there if everything were reset...". When the log-in said, "lissa" and "loading personal settings", the same heart-stopping thought came to mind. And when my wallpaper (never been so happy to see Rene Magritte's work than just at that moment) and all my icons began to show up, I shouted aloud. Sheepish but triumphant, I reported to Deb that all was intact. I checked anyway - first thing was my email program. All folders were there and intact. I was limp with relief...

Of course, my cat thought I was totally nuts - especially when I proclaimed, "Spirit...I did this. I DID THIS!!!" and he opened one judgmental green eye and yawned at me. But it was so much more than recovering the data.

Okay not THAT much more *grins* after all, it was all the data that I had feared was lost. But it was such a strong sense of pride in my achievements and my own determination, as well. I felt a stronger positive self-efficacy, and suddenly it was "I CAN do whatever I set my mind to doing!"

But what lingers is how deeply felt was the positive despair at the prospect of losing all that I have on the hard drive. When I said, in panic, "my whole life is on there"...I don't think I realized just how true those feelings are. Is it normal, or somehow obsessive to have so much, and attach so much meaning to mere electronic data? In discussing the feelings with a friend the next day, I knew that no, it wasn't something out of the ordinary, though logically, deep down, those memories are not lost to me even if their electronic representatives were to be. It was a bit of the packrat in me, perhaps...but I am extremely relieved to have the stuff back - and am backing up even at this writing.

That, perhaps, is the greatest lesson of all: back up the hard drive on a regular basis!!!

The fact that I was held together, emotionally, by a woman who has become my FRIEND...someone I have not yet met (but will) and who truly "speaks my language"...someone who was online the same time I was, and who was instrumental in keeping me semi-sane...goes, again, to show how the internet and its many facets have played an integral part in my social life...

Of course, the prospect of going without my laptop for another 60 days (the time in which the store "tries" to find a fix for an irreparable machine) was not a tasty one. I went through 2 months with the old laptop not functioning as it should (the display was gone, though the computer was able to be hooked into an external monitor so I could use it through my first semester in the program) was inconvenient, at the very least, and frustrating at the very most. I've become very used to the mobility of my wireless internet-able laptop. And I have plans this holiday to be away for 3 nights with my family, but with wireless at the hotel, and nothing to do but veg out and enjoy doing nothing, my laptop is an integral part of those plans (as it has been for the past 2 holidays with the same provisions).

More than ever, I am aware of how great a part in my life the laptop, its mobility and its connectivity...I'm not ready to give up the luxury. And it took an all-nighter to panic, then research, and fix a problem that would have had me without the computer. Am I addicted? Some might say yes. But does this not prove just how much we DO rely on our electronic social space. And from all the literature I've read through this semester, I am not alone...

And they said the Internet would never last....!

Thursday, November 10, 2005

On Senior Bloggers

Very interesting headline - obviously blogging has created not only a wave but a stereotype. Take this story, for example: and check out the first line. Bloggers are typically "alienated adolescents and middle-aged pundits" - huh??

Obviously the stereotypes in our world still hit the extremes but with the blogging wave so strong and so popular, that description really surprised me. Blogs have been publicized so often and in such positive lights (the Iraq war bringing blogs to the forefront due to soldiers communicating this way; the hurricanes, mainly Katrina, bringing blogs to the forefront as "first-hand reporters" blogged their experiences - to name 2), the stereotypes have long since been banished.

But the story is interesting nonetheless. And I think it's written to not only show that blogging by seniors is breaking stereotypes but also that computer usage itself (especially the internet) is doing the same.

Tuesday, November 08, 2005

Online Relationships - when they work

By now, I'm sure everyone is aware that I not only sanction the validity of online relationships, I have a few of my own. Close friends whom I would invite into my house if they lived in the same city. People with whom I have talked with on the phone, online, in voice chats and in emails. People with whom I have made plans to meet (one was foiled but I have met others) and people whom I definitely believe I WILL meet - someday.

I wanted to tell of a relationship I had the pleasure of watching grow, and culminate in the ultimate of relationships. It began, for me, when I joined a large list group of rubber stamp artists. Linda was a "main character" on the list, someone who posted often and who was well-known and well reputed. Her posts were funny and poignant, informative and friendly and she welcomed me to the list when I posted a "newbie here" intro. Linda's nickname was "Giggles" - and I soon found out why: it personifies her bubbly self.

I soon found out the Linda had been undergoing treatments for leukemia and was posting from inside a plastic isolation bubble - unable to have visitors as the chemo had wiped out her immunities, she found solace in the company of others - online. Not only that, she is a very talented artist and I soon found out, firsthand, how talented she was when I participated in a swap of cards in which she also participated, and was lucky enough to receive a "Giggles original".

I found out that there had been a card-a-day campaign - unbeknownst to Linda, one of her friends had organized a round-robin where those who signed up sent her a card on their promised date, and that would ensure that she would receive mail every day of her isolation. The spirit on this list was awesome and inspirational and I did sign up and sent her a card of my own.

Then came Don - aka Peter Pan. Don had his own story - divorced, having lost a 13-year-old child to a tragedy (I never found out what, and never asked), he was NOT a rubber stamp artist. He and Linda "met" while she played trivia online, and he was usually in the virtual room in which she played. Don and Linda began to chat, began to talk on the phone, and became closer. It was a safe observation that they were becoming a couple.

Don moved from California to New Hampshire when he found a new job and a new life. On his way across the country, he stopped in Ohio - and stayed for a few days with Linda. Their relationship was cemented on that visit. But he had to go on, and she had to stay. Until she was diagnosed with a secondary tumor, a liver tumor, caused by all the chemicals in her body, and told that there were experimental treatments in Boston. She moved in with Don - who lives 45 minutes from Boston - and that was just the beginning.

I had the honor of attending their wedding in 1998, which took place at a rubber stamp artists' convention just outside of Boston (an annual convention at which I had met a myriad stampers from the online list). I not only attended, I was a bridesmaid and acted as their publicist. They knew this story was going to hit the news - the wedding took place DURING the convention, on the floor, and stopped the house in its tracks.It was truly an emotional happening for those of us who knew Linda and what she had been through, but the feelings were palpable in the convention center itself. As their publicist, I sold an article about the wedding to an international rubberstamping magazine, and it was one of their top-selling issues. The wedding had become a happening throughout the artistic community and across the 'net. When I talked with Linda and Don about this article, I asked what they wanted my perspective to show. Linda was very specific.

She said, "I don't want this to be a cancer survival story. I want it to reflect how I found friends and family on the Internet and how I met my husband online."

There were upwards of 40-45 people who came to Boston specifically for this wedding. We were from Canada (2 of us - myself, and someone from B.C.), all over the USA, and one person came in from New Zealand to witness this event. Linda wanted that reflected in the article, and I believe I did just that. The comments that I got on the article after it came out (via emails and the list) were all along the same lines: those who were there relived it; those who were unable to attend felt that they'd been there. And though the article was definitely a contributor to that, it was based on everyone who had watched this friendship become courtship, love, and marriage, via the exchanges online between Don, Linda and the rest of us.

This is only one incidence in which the 'net has brought two people together. It is by no means the sole example. In my own experience, I have been witness to many successful online relationships as well as those which have NOT worked. I have more to tell...but that will be in another entry (saving something for your suspense factor *g*).

Saturday, November 05, 2005

Community - The Definition

In (at least) one of our classes, and then individual group discussions, the notion of community came about. It was a stated concern that we are redefining the word along electronic lines, and somehow devaluing the face-to-face community sense that has been so longstanding.

This week's reading - the Markus article - defines community thusly:

A community is a group of individuals with some common interest and stronger communication flows within than across its boundaries

I'm heartened by this definition because though I see the concern of expanding the word "community" into electronic terms, I have felt the sense of community as a part of online groups. Traditional groups and communities are seen as such but so was "communication" seen as a traditional sense before the computer and even telephone lines overtook the old fashion pen-and-paper communications.

I think that as the world and technology continue to evolve, so will our definitions have to be broadened to accommodate the new abilities and standards we set for ourselves, whether or not we choose to partake of them.

Wednesday, November 02, 2005

Showcase - Part IV

Fictional Narrative To Illustrate Usefulness

The tools described here (and even those left out – the myriad tools available for the cognitively disabled as well as computer users with challenges in motor skills) would be very helpful in a school setting, whether that school were to be an elementary, secondary, or post-secondary setting. The practicality of this is not as feasible, however, due to the high cost of tools such as the Braille Readers and the implementation of screen readers into labs which might contain technology older than today’s standards (and we all know that school computer labs do not always hold the most cutting-edge technology). Instead, I have chosen to showcase the accessibility tools in a distance education setting.

Distance education is catching on as a palatable, viable and popular choice for those pursuing higher education. While not as widely available in primary or secondary education, there were numbers available for schools in the U.S. offering distance education for such students. The numbers were low (in 2002-03 approximately one-third of public school districts in a given region, where the number rose in rural areas) but no such numbers could be found for more recent years or Canadian statistics. However, distance education is prevalent for post-secondary studies, on into adult education, with major universities offering asynchronous instruction for full-fledged programs, selected course studies, or even some websites of major corporations offering modular courses “for fun and instruction” (as in the case with Hewlett-Packard’s Online Learning Center found at or even Barnes and Noble’s Online University which offers everything from book clubs to courses on computers, liberal arts, and life improvement – some paid, some free for the asking).

With the increasing popularity of distance education, the disabled computer user can now learn from the comfort of one’s home with the tools s/he needs in order to take full advantage of the offerings which are available. There are multiple advantages to computer-mediated communication and distance education for the disabled user. In an article by Margaret Debenham (2002*) she quotes H. Rheingold’s 1993 study where he cites two major reasons for CMC to benefit the disabled:

o Remove the initial challenge of having to explain a handicap to able-bodied people, thus enabling disabled people to be treated as thinkers and sharers of feeling in the same way as able-bodied people are

o Enable those with disabilities to join in a conversation with no greater delay in communication than other computer users. (Rheingold 1993)

She goes onto quote Coombs’s finding that in a CMC setting, disabled users were more likely to share personal information than if they were face-to-face with able-bodied users. It can be concluded that CMC removes the emotional barriers of perceived stigma in a disabled user’s world when s/he can communicate via the computer.

Distance education also means that a disabled user would have no transportation worries to compound the educational experience. Learning from the comforts, and safety, of home would remove the need and expense to travel to a campus or community center.

As well, those disabled users who are equipped with the tools to assist computer usage could now engage in self-improvement as well as academic courses, even peer-tutoring with other disabled users. It is certain that a new computer user who is visually impaired would need guidance as to what works and what does not, what tips and tricks are “out there” in order to facilitate usage of a computer when faced with those challenges. With these tools, their ability to be integrated with all programs from utilitarian to chat-based software, the more experienced user can now become mentor to the less skilled, perhaps intimidated, user who needs that extra hand to show him/her that yes, it CAN be done – despite the challenges, and due to the assistive tools. With these hardware and software packages, web designers’ awareness of accessibility standards, and distance education opportunities, self-esteem, self-confidence, skills and renewed enthusiasm will all become benefits to the challenged user, courtesy of enhanced and technological advances. As stated at the beginning of this showcase, the computer is no longer a luxury merely for those who can afford to use it for functional purposes; the computer is a window and doorway to the world at large, with the advent of the Internet and the social elements which have become so much a part of today's computing. Education has taken a turn in that direction, embracing and addressing the social aspect of the student as well as the academic, the technology as well as the textbook. Combining all these factors - sociality, academia, technology and the will to overcome challenges - this medium can soon become the smooth path for all users to engage in all types of computer-mediated communication and learning.

*Debenham, M. 2002. Computer Mediated Communication (CMC) and Disability Support: Addressing Barriers to Study. York: TechDis (HTML version) or (PDF version).

Showcase Part III

(I'm not crazy about the backwards order of these posts...but it'll have to do - such is the nature of the Blog)

Braille Displays

A Braille display is a device which does exactly as its name says: displays input and output in Braille. Connected to a keyboard, there are pins which will rise up and down, displaying text line by line (also known as “refreshable Braille display). Found at, these do not come cheap: depending on the model, the price runs anywhere from $2000.00 to $7000.00 USD.

The visually impaired not only include those with limited or no vision, but also those who have color blindness. This particular condition cannot be alleviated for computer users on the user’s end, but rather on the site developer’s side of the equation. In fact, for the Internet to be made accessible to all users – disabled or not – there are standards and conditions which are prescribed and recommended in order to include all groups of users in the equation. This will be discussed in another section.

For color blindness in particular, there is a website which will simulate the appearance of any website according to a specified colorblindness (Deuteranope – a form of red/green color deficit, Protanope – another form of red/green color deficit, and Tritanope – a very rare blue/yellow deficit). The page is found at and if you go to “run images” or “run webpages” at the left, the simulation is easily done. The results are quite enlightening and very relevant, as will be illustrated later in this showcase.

There are pages which can test a site for accessibility, to be outlined further in this showcase.

The Hearing Impaired

While computers are fairly “more” accessible to the hearing impaired than to the visually impaired (i.e. the hearing impaired have no trouble using a mouse or navigating a screen) there are audio cues and enhancements which help the user identify errors, task completion or need for input (AbilityNet p. 1*) Built directly into Windows XP, Sound Sentry is an assistive tool which gives visual cues to the hearing impaired. Also in the Accessibility package of Windows XP is Show Sound which, when enabled, has the programs display captions for the speech and sounds which are output by the programs on the screen.

Web Accessibility

The Internet has much to offer in its guidelines on accessibility. If a page passes the accessibility test, it can be much more user-friendly to those with visual impairments and in some cases, makes the difference between a viable page and one that is useless. As mentioned before, given the high visual nature of computer use in general, this impairment is the one which faces the most challenges and thus is the one to which more assistive tools are addressed in this showcase. The W3C (Web Content Accessibility Guide) has a checklist which can be found at - it is recommended that all websites be checked against this list for accessibility of content.

There are other tools which will evaluate web pages for accessibility. One such tool is called WAVE and is a product offered by the WebAIM site (Web Accessibility In Mind). WebAIM ( is a site which provides articles and utilitarian sites and tools specifically for the accessibility of sites. WAVE’s output is a graphical interface of a submitted URL (if you enter any URL on their page at as it assesses the content and design for accessibility. Not only is it interesting to check pages against the criteria provided, it is vital to the future of web design if designers are to keep in mind the increasing number of disabled users flocking to the Internet, now made more accessible through the use of tools such as the ones described here. According to AbilityNet, " An accessible website is a staggering 35% easier to use for every visitor!".**

*AbilityNet Factsheet, March 2005, retrieved on October 27, 2005 from

**AbilityNet Homepage, retrieved on October 27, 2005 from and based on a report from the DRC (Disability Rights Commission) Formal Investigation Report: web accessibility, April 14, 2004; found at and retrieved on October 28, 2005.

Showcase: Part II

Visually Impaired

For the visually impaired there are tools which bring the computer to life. Screen readers do exactly that – they are voice synthesizers which read the page displayed. There are a variety of programs which are quite comprehensible, and some which are completely impossible to understand. Screen readers will read what is displayed and what is typed. Several examples include:

LookOut – found at; you can try the sample voices on this site, and these are the some of the best ones that have come to attention thus far. They are still not natural-sounding voices, but are good tools to be used to aid computing for the visually impaired. The company puts out a different software package which translates the screen output to a Braille display (to be covered later in this showcase).

JAWS – found at; the “virtual showroom” with a short flash movie on some of the features offered by this program shows that this is a more extensive program, offering integration of its voice synthesizer with every type of application available, including chatware. JAWS offers a very clear synthesizer capability as well, with voices provided by NeoSpeech, found at This company offers many different TTS (Text-to-Speech) functions and a demo can be found on their website. JAWS provides for output to refreshable Braille displays in its package.

Window-Eyes will provide you with a challenge if you go to their demo and try to understand what is being said. Their product is found at and was not the most effective TTS program found. You will understand why when you visit and try to listen to the sound clips (hint: do so with closed eyes).

Home Page Reader, an IBM product, is another similar software package. Found at, there is a 7.5-minute clip from a PBS show which featured this software in a segment. Home Page Reader is more of a browser than a software package but its developer promises future improvements, such as Adobe Reader capabilities, and even using it for Flash media.

(cont'd next post)

Showcase: Accessibility for the disabled computer user

This showcase will be presented in several posts, so as to break up the length of it. While it is rather extensive, I have barely scratched the surface of all that is available to research in this field. I am piqued, and will revisit the topic often. Without further ado...

Accessibility tools for disabled computer users

The computer is no longer a single-dimensioned tool to be utilized for functional purposes alone. It has become, as we are exploring in depth, a place for socialization and socializing to happen. The computer offers many different facets to the individual, from the functionality of word processing, spreadsheets, calculator features, and agenda/calendar/datebook aspects, to the social aspects of chatware and voice chat. The Internet has afforded computer users tremendous ability to reach out across time and space, make new friends, keep in touch with old friends or faraway family members, and enjoy the excitement of mingling with others even as they remain in the comfort of their own homes.

But for a long time, the disabled computer user was prevented these affordances due to the various limitations placed upon him/her. Visually challenged, the hearing impaired/deaf, quadriplegic, even color-blind users were left out of the new revolution, unable to fully take advantage of the web at its best. Now, though, there are a myriad tools and sites to bring the World Wide Web home to everyone. For the purpose of this showcase, the challenges facing the visually impaired – given the nature of computing in general – will be the bulk of the research, while accessibility on the web will also be covered, and a brief note on hearing impairment and computer users who face those challenges. It would be impossible to cover all challenges facing the disabled in this one showcase but has sparked the desire to go on and do the research for future projects or merely for the sake of the knowledge. Technology is a burgeoning field, and accessibility tools are being developed just as quickly as the technology moves. There is a lot out there, but much left to go.

Accessibility refers to the ability for many types of users to be able to access the web (or computer software/tools) including those with disabilities. Not only are there tools in order to help the disabled, but there are rules governing pages on the internet, where those pages are specifically government and educational sites; these sites must follow the guidelines of the W3C, to be covered in this showcase.

Monday, October 24, 2005


Okay, the unthinkable has happened - my blog has been spammed! For the past 2 days I've received email stating that someone has posted a comment on my blog. Eager to check out what's been said, I ran to log in, only to find spam mail! I mean, really! I realize a blog is public space but getting spammed with ads? I'm not sure how that happened but am curious to know if anyone else on Blogger is getting these - I deleted the first but have left the last 3 (two about working at home and one about the windows service pack 2 - which is not that at all)...I'm really not sure what to do about it. So if anyone's gotten spammed on their blogs, please let me know if you've done anything about it.


(and I do draw the line at spam being seen as anything social in computing...*g*)

Sunday, October 09, 2005

The Truth is Revealed...

Is this a riot or what??!!

Extending Class Discussion...Online conversation

Drafted Sept 27/05 10:00 p.m. - finally!

Well, I knew it would be a dynamic class, just from the topic alone - which is one with which I identify with, rather strongly. I have had an "online life" (I so hate the distinction) for years. And it began when my now-12-year-old was 3. It began by way of the art that I began to take up - the art of rubber stamping. Really fun, showed me that I DO have a graphics side (which has since grown ONLY due to my being so active online!) and my self-confidence in this area began to increase. I found a group of stampers across the globe, a group which helped me to discover new techniques and ideas, and I then joined swaps - where we were given themes, we had to create 5 identical items (cards, magnets, bookmarks etc) according to that theme, send our items off to the host or hostess of the swap who then sent back 5 different items to every participant. I even hosted several swaps - one of which was actually where I was the hostess receiving cards acknowledging Scottie Hamilton's newly discovered cancer, and wishing him well - we got over 75 cards which I sent off to Scottie (to an email addy I found online for his fans).

When my second son was born, my husband was in a job which took him out of the house pretty much 7 days a week, sometimes 18 hours a day. Our older son was facing challenges (we didn't know what he was facing, and so-called experts wanted to [mis]diagnose him as autistic), I had a nursing infant, and was alone with all of this. It was overwhelming. My art was my therapy, but so were my friends across the world. Opening up the computer was a saving grace to me. Suddenly I was out in the world, socializing in the baby's naptime while my 3.5-year-old was playing, and I found myself opening up to these people. I had met some of them at artists' conventions the year before and 2 years before, but they were my online support group and my "escape"...and many of them are people I still chat with, on and off, to this day.

From there, I branched out - finding different groups and learning digital graphics as well. Began to learn HTML on my own, and attended online classes with a rubber stamp artist whose job is web design. Again, the "online world" was teaching me more than I could have imagined.

Won't go into the evolution of my escapades online (sounds so mysterious doesn't it *g*) but I can honestly say that the few people with whom I am close online (and when I say "close" I mean that if they showed up at my doorstep it would be as easy to invite them in as it would be had we met for coffee or lunch the day before) are people I trust with *me*. In fact, there are a very few people "online" who know me better than even my own family. I have questioned, often, why that is, why that happens. I have studied those online relationships I have witnessed (which I'll get into when we discuss that aspect of it, in class) and have tried to understand the phenomenon. I know it has a LOT more to do with it than convenience, anonymity, "safety"'s more than that. But I have my theories and will keep them for Online Friendships/Relationships.

Have I experienced "fallings-out" online? You bet! Have I had them often? That usually happened with the same people - many of whom I have let go their own ways. I found there were a lot of shallow people I "met" online and those were the people I never trusted with my real "self"...not my innermost thoughts, feelings, ideas. There is still an acquaintance I have, someone who is difficult to talk to at times - does NOT like to hear things about herself and has bristled when I have broached the truth with her. I redefined the boundaries of our friendship and now, it is an acquaintance but I don't have the same friendship I have with others I have "met". With those...I can truly say there are special connections, sometimes to the point of being psychic. One who can tell, just from the way I open conversation, what my mood is (usually with, "Okay, what's wrong?" when I type my first greeting...). These people - and I can count them on one hand - are the people with whom I have phone conversations, online conversations, emails, and send snail mail. The limitations that prevent face-to-face meeting vary, but if it were possible, it would happen - and I am not so certain it never will...

So ...miscommunications. It was mentioned, in class, tone of voice, eye contact, gestures, facial expressions, and the like are all elements of conversation which cannot be replicated in online conversation. I agree. I'll never forget the 3 elements my teacher looked for, in a high school communication-arts class: eye contact, saying the other person's name from time to time, and touching a forearm here and there. So yes, they are important.

BUT...I have found that with skills and sensitivities, those things can be CONVEYED...maybe it's my writer's side, but I have learned how to "paint the word pictures"...and I have always tried to soften a potentially ambiguous remark with smiles, or emoticons (depending on the venue) or gentle humor. Example...I might say something and then put, in brackets, "she says with a wry smile" - it softens any misinterpretation.

Of course, there are those who will ALWAYS look for the negative...but I cannot be occupied with fragile egos and huffy attitudes. I've encountered WAY more of those than I'd care to document - in my online AND my offline! Those people who will complain about something and then eschew my advice (asked-for advice) on the topic are those who have gone away from my circle because I have either blocked them (more about that in a minute) or changed my chat name/address. I am not harsh - I err on the side of being TOO nice...but I also have my fill of those people who try to take advantage of my good nature.

Social norms...mores...etiquette...blocking people, ignoring them, "going invisible" to them...this takes the technology and brings conversation and relationships to different levels. Am I guilty of it, of course I am! But - to quote a well-known character - not that there's anything WRONG with it...sometimes it is merely in self-preservation that I must block out the "noise".

Is it rude? Probably. But I won't block people indiscriminately nor will I do it at some times and not at others. When I block people, it is usually permanently (if I cannot change everything over from my chatware) or temporarily till I finish what I'm doing or can deal with them again.

More mishaps that I have encountered - though am not guilty of propagating...there is one person I chat with online - she has, often, c&p'd huge chunks of conversation she has with others - mostly the man in her life (an online relationship that has gone the next step but only on occasion - long, sordid story I won't go into here) - and asked my opinion. I have no desire to see intimate conversation between two individuals...and they wouldn't invite me to their tête-à-tête conversations, nor into their bedroom so why would it be okay for me to "see" what is being said? This is something I struggle with; it is something that seems to happen often in the online world but something I struggle with because I no more wish to become that c&p than I wish to be recipient of it...

This is where the dangers come into online communication. Where people just reproduce entire portions of their lives - private or not - for the sake of being ABLE to do so! And breaks all kinds of social etiquette - online AND offline!!

This same person asked me to become a part of her graphics site - a site that mainly designs avatars for chatrooms. They call themselves "freelancers" and there is nothing involved in terms of remuneration, only artistic gratification. I was asked to join (though I've absolutely NO free time to do this work for them) and she made sure to tell me that the recommendation to join their group came from 2 others in the group. I asked her who, and she told me - these are people I do NOT know (the proverbial weak ties, I suppose, in her social network). I asked why they'd ask me to join and she said they like the way I stretch my artistic abilities. Again I asked, specifically, how they would KNOW such a thing. She said - almost flippantly - "Oh, because they've seen some of the work you've done." You guessed it - she's SENT my work to them...she says "oh, I was discriminating, I didn't send ALL of it," but it still affected me to the point of knowing I would refuse even for that reason alone.

Given the question from class (how has it changed my behavior when a communication mishap occurs), I can rightfully say that my behavior has already changed because of her revelation - no longer will I share graphics I wouldn't put on my own website. I don't do anything that I am not proud to share but there are things I have done that I don't feel belong in the general public. Will it change her behavior? No. Has her behavior changed since the day I asked her to refrain from telling me the nitty-gritty details of her conversations? No. She still tells me things but she paraphrases instead of sending me transcripts. Same thing - different cloak...

My behavior toward people like that changes in terms of my conversation style. Usually I will not run to open chat windows with this type - and if they begin conversation with me, I am armed with wariness that comes from the experience of history. Is it great to converse that way - of course not. But she is, despite incredibly frustrating, rather harmless. She sent my graphics to others? Okay...not tragic. But a red flag. She gives me her personal version of Desperate Housewives? Not horrendous - I can usually find something to do to either get offline, or change the topic subtly or point blank say, "This really isn't appropriate to be sharing with me," but it doesn't have me running for the hills. Why do I keep her as a contact? Because except for the not-so-fatal flaws, she is someone I talk to about graphics (though lately, she tells me I've been teaching her more than she ever taught me) and she's someone to chat with on most other topics too. Close friend? No. But no reason to throw the baby out with the bathwater.

Now, the one who gossiped to me about a mutual friend, then turned around and did the same with that person about me? GONZO!! *g*

(Stalled long enough on editing this draft! But I think the topic requires close examination and will probably revisit it in future postings)

Monday, October 03, 2005

Theory into Practice...

(George is on the bank, Gracie in the water - in the background is a guinea fowl - one of the most delightful birds to watch)

Well, I experienced what has to be the epitome of this course's title...

Back to the Pond, and my little love-geese, the Egyptian geese who sit at the water's edge every night. George and Gracie - so named by moi-même (*g*) and the names stuck to the point of being used by National Geographic personnel!

Friday night, I read a post the the geese had been stalked by a hyena - and after some "horrible goose noises", neither had been seen. Yes, I need a life, yes, I'm way too attached to a couple of birds halfway around the world who are destined to become hyena food or a lioness snack someday anyway. But I got worried. (yes I am grinning sheepishly but hey, I wasn't alone!) I posted to the list that I would really like to see the geese, it would put my mind at ease. Several people said they'd THOUGHT they had caught a glimpse of the birds but then they weren't so sure. I was concerned...

Went into the yahoo chat room - this is a room that is created whenever a yahoo group is established. Every yahoo group has file upload capabilities, messages and posts and chat features directly on its home page. A few of us were trying the chat room this week. That evening, I went in, and no one had seen George and Gracie. I knew this was insanely overdoing it but I just could not help it..!

There is a "pondie" on our list named Armel - a very pleasant, friendly man in Arkansas (originally from Orleans, France). He had mentioned a couple of times that he was chatting with "the famous Dr. Z" - Dr. Zox is a gentleman in Maryland - not sure how he is affiliated but he is (self-named) the remote camera guru. Once when the camera was down, he was on the phone to Real Networks in Seattle, and online with Mara, the camera operator in Botswana. Armel had some insider info for us, and had told us right from Dr. Z's lips, what was happening with the camera.

The dawn broke in Africa (11:30 p.m. our time), the night after the birds went missing, and I posted to the list that this was not a good thing but I was rather concerned. Others joined me in the same emotion, and a person posted that she HAD seen them before sunrise. I thanked her but mentioned I'd be happy to see them for myself. Armel wrote to the list, "Lissa, would you be happy with a close-up?" and thinking he had a screenshot, I said "That would be awesome!"

In the chatroom, we can continue to watch RealPlayer (I'm even doing so now as I write this - the player can stay "on top" even while other tasks are being performed). Bunch of us were chatting, and suddenly there was a zoomed-in shot of two VERY noisy Egyptian geese - George and Gracie! Someone in the room said, "Lissa, there's your closeup!" I was thrilled (as you might imagine) and rather relieved. (and before anyone goes and makes the "crazy woman" sign in front of my blog, I was NOT the only one *g*)

After a few minutes of taking continuous screenshots, I went back to the chatroom. As we were talking, Armel entered. He said, "Lissa, did you get your close-up?" I smiled and said yes, and then it dawned on me. I said, "Wait, Armel...did you do that??" He said yes.

He had - either on IM or in email - asked Dr. Z (in Maryland) to ask Mara (in Botswana) to zoom in on those geese...because this list member in Montreal was worried about their well-being!!! So for at least 15 minutes, George and Gracie were front and center for anyone (everyone) around the globe who was watching...just to reassure me...! Now...if that isn't Social Computing - what is???

In fact - 12:42 a.m. right now and a list member named Rhonda just posted to the list:

For Lissa - George and Gracie are fine. George is mouthing off, as usual.


I feel extremely lucky to be a part of such a caring group. I have always loved animals, always cared about their welfare...and to connect with people who obviously share that to the degree that I do, and to do it in such a magical place (the Wildcam) is what it's all about.

Our latest cause célèbre is Weeble - this is a young elephant who does not seem to be well. For 2 days, he has been at the Pond non-stop. He is a solitary elephant who plays with, rather than drinks, the water, and who submerges himself for long periods of time. He seems to be weak, too skinny, and at times just stands at the embankment, not able - it seems - to raise his leg to exit the Pond, and rests his trunk upon the water's edge. It was disconcerting from the start but is now even more disturbing, as we wondered - over this past evening - every time his trunk submerged, if it would resurface for another breath. He was at the Pond all night - mostly in the water. At one point, another elephant joined him - almost standing guard as he performed this ritual. It was shivers-inducing.

On the Blog at the Nat'l Geo site, many many other "viewers" are worried about Weeble. They are pleading with Pete - the gentleman who carved out this little oasis - to intervene on the elephant's behalf. Not sure how this will play out - but it is definitely (in the words of one of the list members) "the ultimate reality show".

And it has brought together people from all across the globe, on the site's Blog, on the email list, and in a chatroom where we talk about everything from kids to families to our careers or academic pursuits.

There will be another entry shortly after this one - I brought up the topic of our course, and a few of us engaged in discourse about those who "get it" and those who don't. It was then that I wrote the list, asking if there is anyone who minds my quoting or paraphrasing some of the wonderful statements, thoughts, philosophies which emerge from the posts, those which are relevant to social computing. Thus far, no one seems to object.

The Pond has brought together many people in all walks of life. Today, we acknowledged - with graphics, posts, and emails - the birthday of our list founder. Suddenly, we are not strangers sharing screenshots (grrrrrrrrreat alliteration!) - but we are friends finding friendship (MORE alliteration!) - and all because we have the common interest of a technological window on the world...

This world might be complicated - but it's the slices of fresh air and sunshine that make it a little more palatable and a lot more interesting!

(Off to watch Weeble - he's submerged again...*sighs*)

Saturday, October 01, 2005

In the interim...

With a holiday dinner to prepare (9 people in total and many hours of cooking and cleaning - single-handedly [who, me, complain?]), blogging is not - okay - SHOULD not be a priority. But it is for so many reasons - last night, on the Pond site, so many things arose that spoke of Social Computing, demonstrated it, and melded two worlds into one. I will do so when the soup is on, but for right now, just have to post this - cracked me up, and not for the right reasons (what are the right reasons? Oh, basically looking at it and saying, "Ha Ha, those silly computer junkies!") - instead, I sheepishly identify...

Enjoy - have a great lovely Saturday (gorgeous weather I cannot take advantage of *sobs*) and watch this space - I hope y'all will see how the computer becomes more than just a thing to open up and type upon, when my new blog entry goes up later...

And I STILL have a draft of a post-class post, to be put up after editing. I am not all-type/no-action, really I'm not! (it's the soup! The cooking! the cleaning! *g*)

Wednesday, September 28, 2005

So here's a new addition to a social network...

Began online...will probably go offline as well...

Received email from someone on the new group - the "Pondies" as we call ourselves, we "Pete's Pond" fans...she emailed me off list to tell me that she saw I am a Montrealer, and so is she. We mused about that in a couple of back-and-forth emails and that was that.

Well, tonight, a bunch of us were in the Yahoo chat room for this group - waiting for the dawn and the color to return to the picture. This chatter walked in and I recognized her name - so we started to chat, along with the others. She said, "Funny, we're in the same city and yet here we are, watching a sunrise half a planet away." I said, "Yes, isn't life cool?" Then I said, "I'm a West-Islander, Cleo," She said, "No way! So am I!" She then said, "DDO." I flipped and said, "Okay, are you next door?"

Turns out we are within walking distance of each other - her kids are younger than mine but she homeschools them. We are fast getting to know one another. When another list member entered the room and we all introduced ourselves (chat names are different than our name in emails), both Cleo and I rushed to tell Gayle that we are neighbors. And Cleo said, "And we meet in Botswana." It was so well phrased...and made me realize just how small - and large - this world is...both on, and offline...

Pretty cool...

Okay, that's my musing for tonight - off to watch more animals at the Pond, and then to bed. I have a draft saved to publish tomorrow - more thoughts about tonight's class, and will tweak and publish tomorrow. G'nite all!

Sunday, September 25, 2005

Time and Tools - Response to Francine

Francine - began this as a comment in your blog's "Time and Attention Management" section but it turned into a tome so I've decided to blog it here...('cause then I can play with the HTML)


Read this entry. Interestingly enough, as a writer, I am a proponent of various ritualistic tools - MUST be pencil and MUST be smooth (I use the Mirado pencils - they are awesome). I bought paper in the States years ago - tons of it - looseleaf with wide spaces (not the margin, the spaces themselves) - my handwriting is not the best, and especially when I'm in creativity mode, I fly across the page. So wide-spaced paper is another tool I've relied upon, as well as a good (preferably old-fashioned wood-and-metal) clipboard.

With the advent of computers in my lifestyle (and I DO mean life*style*) that changed. I found it much easier to sit down at the computer and let my fingers fly across the keyboard to create - with greater speed ('cause I'm a really quick typist) and accuracy and legibility (important!!) - the myriad ideas plummeting through my mind. I found myself creating short stories that were not only easily written (both in a physical and creative manner) but easily tweaked (I'm an admitted tweakaholic - have already tweaked this comment *mumble mumble* times) as well. It opened up the world to me. But was still not as portable as the writing.

Then, 2 years ago, as a gift to myself using part of an inheritance my mom left me, I bought my first laptop. WOW...good morning world! I had just become proficient at digital graphics as well, and I had been doing HTML and web design for a couple of years but this? This became my home-away-from-home. The laptop became my studio, my desk, my clipboard, my journal, my coffee shop, my arcade, my jigsaw puzzle table, my newspaper, my TV (with CNN online!) my window on the world, my mall, and my stereo (Harmon Kardon speakers, bay-bee! *g*).. .but then, 18 months after the new revolution...the display on my new toy flickered...and died...and the store put it in for service but - because I was in Learning Theories and needed the computer where all my work was stored - let me keep the machine at home. Hooked it to an external monitor and worked for 60 days from my kitchen table. So, I was no longer mobile..but I was still connected. It was suddenly a reversal of convenience even as it WAS convenience defined...

60 days later, the extended warranty I'd bought from the store allowed me a new computer. After bargaining with them (okay, ARGUING my point), they conceded to giving me the machine I own now - a real state-of-the-art machine. It is a laptop but more of a portable desktop (you've seen it - it's a monster *g*) - 17" screen, 256 MB Radeon 9600 dedicated graphics, the works...and I was back to being mobile, wireless, and happier than ever.


There is a book I like to refer to, called "The Writer's Book of Days" contains writing exercises - block-busters, boosters, whatever one wishes to call them - one for every day of the year. Along with the book's offerings, the exercises have kept me writing - even if it is forced at times - to the point of maintaining creativity in times of perhaps lesser inspiration. The book says, at its beginning, and I quote portions of it:

"Writing practice is best done by hand"*

And then - with the heading: Why Write By Hand

"Ah, what technology has brought us! First the typewriter, then the word processor, now the computer, even the voice-recognition computer. Why write by hand when there's all this technology, the nanosecond response to the very flick of the finger, the ability to alter sentences, relocate paragraphs, erase, or rearrange whole chapters with macro magic. And how our fingers fly. At last we can almost keep up with our thoughts. With all this, why still write by hand?

Legions of writers still do, and for their own good reasons. For example: feminist scholar and writer bell hooks said there's something about handwriting that slows the idea process. When working on the computer, she said "you don't have those moments of pause that you need." Writer and monologist Spalding Gray (my note: the late Mr. Gray) believes writing by hand is the closest thing he can get to his breath, and novelist Anne Tyler said the muscular movement of putting down script on the paper gets her imagination back in the track where it was. Master horror writer Clive Barker said that for him, handwriting is "the most direct association I can make between what's going on in my mind's eye and what's going to appear on the page."*

She goes onto give more reasons, including:

- Writing is a physical act; you should do it with your body
- Writing muscles include the hand and the heart.
- Writing by hand is sensual; it allows you to feel the movement of pen against paper.
- You can feel your heart beat when you write by hand; sometimes you can feel your pulse in your fingers.
- You are in control when you write by hand (no low battery or malfunction or save command or crash can interrupt you)
**my note: Windows XP has made even crashes palatable with its recovery feature in Word**
- You can write anywhere when you write by hand.*

She encourages writing by hand - even if only for a month of practices to try it out, especially if one is accustomed to (and most at home at) the computer for writing. When I took this book off my shelf (after a couple of years of its sitting there, cover uncracked), I went back to writing by hand. It was awesome - it felt right, it WAS portable (however, it was pre-laptop days) and it was primal. Then I began to share my writings with select people in my life - and one of these being an (*cringes at the term*) online friend - and it was necessary for me to digitize my writing. At the same time as doing the writing exercises, I was continuing to write creatively, on the computer. So I went right back to doing it that way.

Judy Reeves mentions writing in terms of time management. She likens writing to making an appointment with one's writer-self and managing that time. Not canceling the appointment. Perhaps changing the time from day to day, but keeping it as a routine. Writing in one's calendar the amount of time one will devote per day. 10 minutes one day. 2 hours another. Managing that time, sticking to it, making it priority and following through.

Took this book away with me on Labor Day weekend, and began to re-read it, with every intention of revisiting its pages of writing prompts. But the time management, the commitment aspect and the habit-forming element of writing spoke loudest to me.

Then, when Leona brought up her concerns, and we talked in class about manufacturing a blog for class struck me that this is precisely what the assignment can lead to. Sitting down grudgingly at an appointment (who likes the dentist's chair?) and feeling better once one is done...and then, that leading to more and more good habits (yes I floss more diligently before and after an appointment *lil grins*)...blogging has become that for me. I find myself - especially these last few days - turning to my bookmarked blog and adding to it. I will - hopefully - get more introspective, more insightful and more inspired as it goes along. But I have to say - I can see this blog reaching far beyond the final date of is feeling good and is inspiring me to do more - creatively, academically, personally - in so many ways.

I can understand your reasoning in blogging so that you wouldn't have to lug around a laptop to keep your notes and research together. I will - I know - eventually do the same. order to blog...I need the laptop because there are times I am somewhere with it (school lounge, or away on holiday) and open it up and start writing or doing graphics. In fact, it has become a happy burden to bear for's my all-in-one. It's like I joke with my (non-computer/online-oriented) husband, "I'm a cheap date. Computer...wireless connection..I'm good to go." For those in my world can empathize, I need not explain. The computer has not only helped me as a tool, it has helped me manage my time more efficiently - in creative, social, and now academic ways - and has helped me to expand my horizons, truly to all parts of the globe.

* Judy Reeves, A Writer's Book of Days, New World Library, California, Copyright 1999

New Group Acceptance

Well it happened yesterday - and I was tickled pink. It came from the Owners of the list...which was even more of an honor. They wrote:

Hello Lissa,

We sure like the frames you put around your shots. Two questions: "How?" and: "Is it easily done?".

We vinden de lijsten om jouw plaatjes erg leuk. Twee vragen: "Hoe?" en: "Gaat dat makkelijk?".

Pemmie en Eddy

The owners are dutch - as is a great number of the list members - and I have found that many of the North Americans are trying their hand at the translation machines. Quite humorous (translating into dutch and then back again is a riot).

I was beaming when I got that email...and wrote back instantly:

Thanks, Pemmie and Eddy - I do my graphics work in Paint Shop Pro - and for me, it's a passion, so easy or not, I love it. Some are easily done, some take more work. The longest process is adding the text (and deciding on my colors/effects). It's really a great love of mine, and doing it with these pics is a bonus upon bonus!

Thank you for the kind words!!


I'm validated as an artist whenever anyone comments on my work...but this was more than artistic validation. It was full acceptance of my work and how it fits into the list norms. I also got comments on the "incredible romantic" that I am (mostly 'cause I named the resident Nilotic Geese - George and Gracie - and commented on how sweet they are together every night *G*) and someone else followed up that compliment with a post about my poetic soul.

What I find interesting is that I don't reveal too much of my self unless I am REALLY comfortable with a group. And yet, those in the group were able to see - from a couple of my posts - my poetic and romantic side. Wonder what else is showing..?! *gulps*

Saturday, September 24, 2005

New Group - Great Class Experiment

Well, this was an interesting follow-up to class discussion on legitimacy and belonging. Friend of mine sent me a site where a live 24/7 webcam is set up at a pond in Botswana, and I have become a fan (okay, an addict) of watching the animals come to the area. I have been doing screen shots (one uploaded here to give you an idea) and it has been educational for me and my kids.

**You can find the site here.**

Reading through the site, I noticed a Blog section. It is run by administration but is an ongoing community chat place as well, with posters sometimes carrying on conversations within minutes of each other's postings. I also read of a yahoo group set up for those who take screen shots or wish to see them. All of this is linked to the main site and is very well done. Immediately, I jumped right in - sent my first posting to the blog section and signed up for the yahoo group.

I didn't know the rules of the group - and the only "rule" posted on the site is that offensive posts/language will be deleted. Makes sense and is fairly obvious (and universal to most groups). When I do a screenshot, I don't simply send the capture - I play with the graphics ('cause I'm a graphics junkie too) and I hadn't seen that in the group when I first joined. But I decided to just do it - and if it was asked of me to send the raw capture, I would gladly comply.

I'm proud of my graphics abilities, but I do it for myself to enhance a photo - to me, an untreated photo is like sending out handwritten essays to one's professor. Thus far, no one has commented on my graphics, but no one has asked me to refrain from doing so either. Being a member of other groups - mostly graphics - I am fully aware of minimum and maximum size requirements for emails and attachments, and am always considerate of those on dial-up (for whom loading can be frustrating if attachments are large). So I managed to keep my pictures and their graphic enhancements down to a minimum, and thus far, no one has complained.

I joined the group on Tuesday - and have become what I term a "main character" - posting frequently, getting friendly with the members, and slowly drawing back the curtain on those things about myself (and my self) that I wish to reveal. One woman did the same, even mentioning how last night would have been her 10th wedding anniversary had her husband not left their marriage, and she was planning on toasting the day/night with a glass of wine and the webcam feed - I admire her candor, and her strength, and I wrote her back, disspelling her fears of being too "chatty" (as she had mentioned and apologized for) and giving her my personal email to snag so we could chat off-list.

Today's conversation revolves around how we all want to get on a plane and go volunteer to run the camera at the Pond. And more personalities are coming to the fore. I don't know what previous posts have been like, but since I've come into the group, I've gotten to see more humor and jocularity than one might have expected from a simple "send your screenshots here" group. Last night, late (not telling HOW late, nuh-uh *grins*), the camera was out - the "remote camera guru geek" wrote the list - we didn't even know he was a member! - to give us first-hand info on the outage, and sent us pics taken directly AT the site, by the camera operator with whom he was in touch via email. So not only are we a group of enthusiasts, the Head Honchos are watching/participating and obviously appreciative of our efforts.

It did not take long - a day or so - for me to feel comfortable and a part of this new group but I have to admit to some trepidation as to how my pictures would be received. Thus far - utter acceptance and this has encouraged me to do and send more.

Found it interesting, given my new awareness of social computing...

Saturday, September 17, 2005


Friend of mine sent this to me - it completely defines a point that was touched upon this week, and one I think we can all relate to - enjoy the laughs!

Thursday, September 15, 2005

Google Blog Development

Found this interesting:

It looks like blogs are becoming more mainstream - not for us young folk anymore. In fact, I got my 73-year-old father interested in what blogs are and how they work. Not to say he will actually begin his own (he's just getting comfy with composing email anew, in lieu of replying to one sent to him so he doesn't have to retrieve the email address of the person involved) - but in explaining the workings of blogging, I was able to help him see the usefulness of them. Who knows where it could lead - he knows he has a geekette in the family (and I say that with pride, fellow G's) - and one never knows if he might even decide to try his hand at it! That would be a coup...

Wednesday, September 07, 2005

Haloscan commenting and trackback have been added to this blog.

Musing Number One

It occurs to me that social computing is a pretty selective activity. I have to wonder, as someone who considers herself to be quite social via electronic media AND in person, how it has come to be that those who are not as social online tend to look down upon the lifestyles created by online communities, online friendships, online anything.

Is this something that others have found, either with significant others in their lives, or friends (the misnomered "real-time" friends), or family members who disdainfully proclaim, "you spend so much time on that COMPUTER, why don't you get out more?!"....? It's a question I've pondered for years....

Comments and experiences are more than welcome....