Monday, June 30, 2008

"The Game Is Afoot"

"Come, Watson, come! The game is afoot. Not a word! Into your clothes and come!"

-Arthur Conan Doyle, The Adventure of the Abbey Grange.

In the above, Conan Doyle evokes the image of a hunt, with the game moving around and ready to be stalked [for only a boor would attack a creature at rest]. Good writing, both in blogs and elsewhere, has an element of the hunt in it as well. We search our minds [and a thesaurus, when necessary] to add the correct word. We use a favorite search engine to gather the correct information. Why? Because we want to look good in our writing [and yes, there are some good reasons for this; If you are a money blog writer, you want your readers to think you know what you're talking about (especially if you want to sell them something). Even if you're a casual blogger, it's important to be accurate when you write. If you don't have the interest in what you're doing to do necessary research, why should I invest my time to read your blog?]

Case in point: when I was thinking about writing this post, I remembered [or thought I remembered] that Conan Doyle had written a Sherlock Holmes story with the phrase, "The game's afoot". But I wanted to note which story it was from. My first search was "the game's afoot". It gave me several interesting facts, including that Shakespeare had actually used it first in writing [Henry V, if you must know]. But I couldn't find which story it was from. I searched again, using the phrase, "Sherlock Holmes quotes". Success! The first site listed had the quote [corrected to have Holmes saying "The game is afoot"], which story it was from, even a link to the story itself, if I were interested.

Unless you have one of those legendary "photographic" memories it is exceedingly dangerous to depend on your remembrance of a particular quote or historical event. A mangled quote or incorrect date may not change the point of your posting. but it does make what you say subject to question. If the details are inaccurate, the thinking behind your words may seem faulty to a reader.

Of course, fiction writers can't research an event they're making up. Then again, well-researched details, worked into your writing, will make your post look more "real". So take the time. Do the work. Get the right information. And Dr. Watson says hello.
"Writing is hunting, and as humans we are born to it"
-"Grumpus", When Things Get Dark.
-Mike Riley

Wednesday, June 18, 2008

Cat Tales: The Firefox Chronicles, vIII

Like many in the Internet-connected world, I was eagerly awaiting the arrival this week of Firefox 3's "official" beta, Release Candidate 1. But not so eager that I wanted any part of Tuesday's scrum. Oh, as a promotional gimmick, creating a new world's record for "Most Downloads In A Day" is a good one [although Guinness, the traditional arbiter of such matters, currently has no such record posted]. I just had a sense that the chaos [I've always wanted to name a cat that, by the bye. There are days it fits one or more of The Woman I Love's and my three cats] of hundreds of thousands [actually, an estimated eight million] of downloads couldn't be good for Mozilla's servers*. [It wasn't. Delays, crashes, and mayhem were the order of the day. Sounds like Chaos the Cat, doesn't it?]
Therefore, I went to the download site Wednesday morning, after work, encountered no delays [the FF3 .exe file downloaded in under three minutes, using broadband connections], had an easy instillation ['wizard'-driven install], and was able to look over the thing in a matter of minutes [after putting down the leftover cereal milk for Chaos, sorry, Buddy. The other two felines are Malachi and Webster. If I can figure out a clever way to do it, I'll tell you about all of them in a future post. Otherwise, just accept that those are the cats' names. Move on. Don't dwell on these otherwise meaningless asides].
I didn't have a huge amount of time to look over the new browser. But I did notice it really is faster than FF2 and its descendants. It has a clean look, and, as usual, add-ons/extensions are quick 'n' easy to install [one problem of using open source, and allowing just about anybody to develop new functions for the Fox, is that a lot of those extensions aren't yet updated to work with FF3. But I expect this will be sorted out quickly. You'll have the chance to find out what does and doesn't work during the installation process; those extensions that work are automatically carried over to FF3].
Should you drop your current browser for Firefox 3? I dunno. I use IE 7 at work, and Firefox at home. Is one noticeably better than the other? I dunno. Do I believe Firefox is less-likely to be virused [is that a valid verb?] than IE? Oh, yeah. And, like just about everything I recommend, it's free. Worth the experiment, if you have any uncertainty about your current browser.
-Mike Riley
* Riley's First Law - Unless there is a limited amount of a desired item, picking it up on Day 2 is perfectly acceptable.

Tuesday, June 17, 2008

Good Advice Is Where You Find It...

This isn't going to be a long post. But I just read an incredible article, with lots of useful advice and information for every blogger. And the amazing thing is that I read it on "The Cleveland, Ohio Real Estate Blog"! Take a few minutes and read:, by Cecelia Sherrard. Take notes. This one has some great ideas, written from an interesting perspective. Well worth ANY blogger's time.

Sorry I haven't been here much lately. I've been working on the 100th post at one of my other sites: AFTER MIDNIGHT [].

Once that celebration wraps up, I'll make it up to you, I promise. We'll all go for ice cream...

-Mike Riley

Friday, June 6, 2008

They Just Want To See Me Angry, Don't They?

You know, it's been a while since I've bored you with an entry on EntreCard. So let's see how quickly YOU get irritated when you think about the social networking/promotional program.

Understand; I like EC, and in most respects, I'm very happy with it. But one thing really sets me off: the number of droppers who DO NOT HAVE an EC widget on their sites. I'm really starting to get tired of people who pick up credits on my site, but refuse me the opportunity to do the same. Strictly speaking, this is a behavior of individual 'Carders, so I shouldn't, in theory, have any reason to be angry at the service. But I am. If EC can track which sites have visited mine [see "Drops Inbox"], it should be able to check for its widget on those sites. No widget, no credit for cards dropped that day. Seems fair to me.
Now, for most of us, it's the weekend. Go out and enjoy it, if you can. But don't tick me off...
-Mike Riley