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WorldStart Video Fun

June 15th, 2010 by Steve

It’s coming!

In our last survey, we asked if anyone would be interested in watching WorldStart videos demonstrating our tips and tricks. A resounding 70% told us to go for it, so that’s what we did! (Err, are doing)

Well, we’ve made some progress, and it looks like we’re going to have something for ya in the next week or two. What we’re currently planning is a type of question and answer show. You send in your questions, we answer as many as we can each week. In addition, as we add new tips, we’re planning to add video demonstrations to them. We figure actually seeing how the heck we’re doing something should make it even easier to follow along.

So yeah, that’s the initial plan, but hey, if you have any ideas, we’d love to hear them – make sure you comment below.

Anyway, one of the fun things we’ve already done is to shoot the “intro” that we’re going to use at the start of each video. One of our staff members, Gretchen, is an amazing artist and after a pathetic combination of begging, groveling, and puppy dog eyes, we convinced her to do a cool chalk WS logo on our studio background.

We created a stop motion video by setting a digital camera up on an timer and having it pop a shot every 30 seconds while she worked – for a total of 128 individual shots! Then, we put them into a video, added a dash of Benny Hill, and, well, what do you think?

Like it? Yes? No? Maybe so?

Anyway, now you know one of the things we’re up to. We’re also planning a major change to the Computer Tips newsletter next week, so stay tuned.

~Steve

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What do you use?

June 12th, 2010 by Andy

A few weeks ago Gary, our resident tech-specialist and Commander Riker in-command at Worldstart, snuck up behind me and inquired as to why I use Yahoo as my default search engine over the vastly superior and pleasant smelling alternative, Google. After all, Google is the big daddy when it comes to Internet look-arounds, so why in God’s name would I be wasting my time searching through Yahoo, when I know I’m just going to end up at Google anyways?

…a good question -one which is easy to answer for me.

See, the Internet isn’t just about research and information treasure hunts to me; it’s a place I am so used to that, 9 times out of 10, I already know where I’m going to before I even boot up my machine. Yahoo acts as my spring-board, because unlike the blankness of Google, all the news I need is laid out right there in front of me on the main page. I know that when the name of someone famous shows up in the “Trending Now” section, that they’re either dead, in jail or got caught flashing a mini-bus full of nuns again. I can also get my stocks, headlines and sports scores, without lily-padding from site to site gathering info.  In fact, 20% of my daily Internet activity is accomplished simply by setting Yahoo as my default home page, and clicking back every now and again to see if I’m missing something. It’s like my constantly refreshing outside line to the rest of the world.

The searching on it sucks, though, which is why Gary prefers it –and he’s right to.

See, this poor dude gets asked a laundry list of questions each day -some of which, on a very rare occasion, even he doesn’t know the answers to. Through Google, he can start his quest for answers with a silver bullet and get the best results without all that other hodge-podge mucking up the screen. It’s a tool to him, not a news-and-views media outlet like it is to me.

And that’s just fine.

But I guess it ultimately depends on what your needs are out of a search engine. Do you like the sterile search box and a white screen, or would you prefer a busier kind of site to browse around on? Do you Yahoo? Does Google Rule? Or are you using something else?

I’m curious! Fill me in!

~Andrew

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Going Dark

June 5th, 2010 by Andy

I’ve talked about my Facebook woes in the past here on the WS Blog, and I’m happy to report that everything worked out fine in that area. My mom and I exchange wall posts, and best of all, she has no excuse in not knowing what’s going on in my life anymore – a problem we’d had in the past. Now she knows everything – right down to the brand of pickles I had on my sandwich last night.

Yeah, it’s all good there, but something’s gotta be done about Nick.

Who’s Nick, you ask? Oh, just an old buddy from back in high school that located me a few months back and asked to be my digital friend. At first it was good to talk to him, but after a bit I noticed a trend developing. Nick was posting songs, videos and random jargon at such an alarming rate that I was unable to see anyone else’s posts -even my moms! If I wanted to see what everyone was up to, I’d have to dig 3 or 4 pages deep to find it! What is this? Myspace!?

Funny thing is that I really didn’t notice how much he had been posting until he announced that he was going “dark” for awhile; not only from Facebook, but any form of electronic communication whatsoever. He said it would be like “being a kid again”; like “being 10 years old and stuck with just your imagination and a few toys” –in his case, books.

And as my other Facebook friends’ posts floated to the top again and Nick’s disappeared I realized something potent:

I could never do that.

I’m sure I’ll be forced to someday, but not for any great length of time (barring a zombie outbreak or nuclear war, that is), so why even hypothesize? I love my technology! I’m actually just about to switch my phone service over so I can use my shiny new Droid as my full time phone. That means Internet anywhere and all the media streaming my brain can handle!

But if I did go off the grid for awhile, I wonder what would happen? I already read quite a few books during a month’s time, so how many could I put down if I didn’t have the Internet, gaming, my Droid, TV and all the other stuff I usually occupy my time with?

The mind boggles…

So what do you think? Could you survive without the Internet for a month? Could you turn off the TV for a few weeks? Share your thoughts! I’d love to read ‘em!

~Andrew

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Top Tech Support No-Nos

June 4th, 2010 by Gary

A word of warning on this one. If you can’t take a joke and laugh at yourself, don’t even bother reading this.

Seriously….

Tech support… everyone needs it every now and then.

You know how it goes. You get some program / gadget and the damn thing just won’t work right. No matter what you do, you continue to have trouble. Believe me, I know how you feel.

You see… I know your pain because I am tech support. When it comes to support, I have done it all. Before working for WorldStart, I had several years of telephone tech support under my belt. Within these years, I have heard every last tale.

Today, since I know it all, I am going to share with you the top tech support “no-nos”. Just to reiterate my message above, this will probably offend each and every one of you.

1. You are not a comedian.

A very important thing to remember when calling tech support is that they have heard it all. Starting the conversation with a little joke like “I’m a computer idiot, LOL” or, “I hope you’re ready for a DOOSEY, LOL”  to set the mood is not a good idea. Tech support is not there to be amused by you. Tech support is there to fix your problem and move onto the next person.

2. We don’t care how good you are with computers.

If I had a dime for every time some called me and started by telling me how good (or bad) they are with computers I would be a millionaire. Again, tech support does not care about your skill level. Everyone is treated the same and there is a reason for this. You see, computer “skills” are a relative term. You may be the pro in your house, until I step into the room. I may be the best computer tech at WorldStart, until they hire someone better.

The bottom line is that YOU are calling THEM for HELP. If you are calling them, all you need to do is follow their directions. Your computer skills don’t matter at that point.

3. Errors might not mean anything to you, but they do to tech support.

OK, this might be the single most annoying thing ever for a Tech support rep. I can’t tell you how many calls I’ve had that go something like this:

“I keep getting this error and it says something about the thing not working.”

WOW. That was so informative. I definitely know exactly how to fix your issue (that was sarcasm).

When you get an error, TELL US WHAT IT SAYS.  Every last little detail. Errors weren’t put on your computer just to bug you. They actually tell you what is wrong.

3.5 The Path actually means something to tech support.

This is closely related to #3. When you get an error, usually it gives a path to the bad file. It goes something like this: C:\program files\…

When people call tech support they like to skip this as if it doesn’t matter. I honestly don’t know why. It would be like me calling you and saying “hey come over to my house. My address is 123 blah blah blah numbers numbers numbers.”

Not very helpful is it?

Again, errors are important. Every last word.

4. Details, Details, Details….        Details.

Let me say it again, Details.

Have you ever contacted tech support and said “this thing doesn’t work”? If you have, this one is for you.

I look forward to the day that tech support can read minds and see through the phone, but until that day comes, we’re just going to have to rely on the customer explaining the problem.

I don’t know how else to explain this. WE CANNOT SEE YOUR SCREEN. In order to help properly, you need to tell tech support exactly what is happening. Where did you start, where are you now, what happened when you clicked that button, at what point did you run into a problem and what was the problem?

5. Don’t click unless you are told to.

This kinda goes with number 2.

Calling tech support can lead you into some uncharted computer territory. You might see things on your computer that you have never seen before. You might be asked to click thing that you have never done before. This is why you should never click ANYTHING unless you are asked to.

This happens to me all the time: ME: “Right click on My Computer”. CUSTOMER: “OK, I’m in the device manager. That’s where you wanted me… right?”

UGH. So, it becomes pretty obvious. I can’t read your mind, you cant read mine.

6. Your computer does not actually have a mind of it’s own.

Now this is just hilarious to any tech support rep out there. At least once a day, someone will say to me “my computer doesn’t like me today”, or “My computer doesn’t want to do that”.

Believe it or not, computers don’t have feelings. They are machines. They simply do as instructed by a set of programming parameters.

Tech support will always see it this way. When computers “misbehave” they simply have a conflict with the instructions that they are given. Tech support is there to find the conflict and resolve it. We are not computer counselors, we are computer repair specialists.

OK, that’s all i have for now, but I’m sure there’s more that I’m not thinking of currently.

I know that some of these will come across like me telling you that tech support doesn’t like you. I assure you that this is not the case. Most tech support people, me included, actually enjoy fixing computer issues for people. I can’t speak for everyone, but I truly enjoy being able to resolve a problem for a customer. It is very satisfying to know that I was able to make someone’s day a little better.

The entire point of this post is simply to point out that there are productive tech support calls and there are wasteful, time consuming tech support calls. If you can avoid the 6 and a half “no-nos” above, your problem will be resolved faster. This saves more time for tech support to get to the next person that needs help.

If everyone follows these rules, everyone will get help faster and not wait on hold as long.

One last word (or paragraph) of wisdom about tech support that most people don’t think about. When you are on hold for tech support, the support rep is suffering right along with you. You see, when you are waiting on hold, this means that every tech support rep is currently helping someone else. It also means that as soon as the support rep gets off their current call, another one comes to them immediately after. This is the most terrible thing that anyone can experience. Imagine call after call with no break in between. This gets even worse when every call starts with a complaint about the hold time.

Just think about this the next time you call for help.

~Gary

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Just To Mess With Your Mind…

May 20th, 2010 by Steve

OK, I promised in my last blog that I’d be in a better mood and have some fun. So, I figured, why not entertain myself by messin’ with your head a little. And I found just the YouTube video to do it.

Somehow, this guy got a set of four wooden balls to seemingly roll uphill. Magnets? Vortex? Aliens? (Hey, they always get in on my conversations, why should this be any different).

Well, take a look at what happens and see if you can figure it out before the trick is revealed. They got me on it, but then again, my kids trick me all the time. Just ask my daughter. She’s the one wearing the new clothes that I swore I wasn’t gonna buy.

Anyway, here ya go – well worth the 1 minute and 37 seconds it takes from your life. Well, unless of course you’re having a heart attack or something.

Cool or what?

~Steve

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Let’s Hear it for Betty White!

May 13th, 2010 by Andy

I hate Saturday Night Live. The show hasn’t been funny in almost two decades, so I avoid it like the plague. Give me the halcyon days of Michael Meyers, Adam Sandler; the lost-before-their-time talents of Chris Farley and Phil Hartman. Heck, take me back to John Belushi, Dan Akroyd and Laraine Newman while you’re granting wishes! It’s all better than the drivel spewing out of Lorne Micheals’ latest troupe.

…and then along came Betty White to host SNL this past weekend.

She’s88 (and a half) friggin’ years old and ten times as funny as these hack jobs. The woman has pitch-perfect delivery, is amazingly expressive and hit all of her cues like a sniper rifle. An 88 (and a half) year old sniper rifle aimed right at the funny bones of all the viewers lucky enough to watch her perform this weekend. In the past I may have said I’d be merely “upset” when Betty White shuffles this mortal coil, but I’ve upgraded that status to “crying my eyes out”. She’s shown me that the oldschool is still the best school when it comes to comedy, and that a little bit of aged dignity can go along away – even when she’s calling someone a lesbian and referring to a fellow cast member as “Poocasso”.

It was the first episode of SNL in years that I’d watched for more than just seeing a band I liked performing a song I’ve probably already heard before.

I’ve always loved Betty White, too. I’m not writing this because of some BW Fanbus that just roared into entertainment town, although Facebook, a paragon of fan-centric culture, was the reason she got on SNL in the first place. I’d known her characters on Mary Tyler Moore and the Golden Girls and I even tuned in to watch the celebrity roast of William Shatner; one: because my dad looks and acts like William Shatner and two: Betty White’s roast. It was “White gold”; although I can’t mention its content on these hallowed pages.

Oh, and Betty White’s hosting job on SNL also garnered the best ratings the show has seen in 18 months. Now that’s impressive! Maybe Lorne Michaels will do more to listen to the online community, because this stuff just seems to be writing itself! If you want people to watch your show, just give them something worth watching! Genius!

If you’re in disagreement, or just haven’t been keeping up with Madame White lately, I suggest popping over to Hulu.com and having a look at some of the sketches she was in (which was all of them, I believe). Hey, I never said the SNL cast was stupid; just not too good at comedy.

~Andrew

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Do You Have A Hobby?

May 12th, 2010 by Rose

Well do you?

What is it?

Hi Everyone, Rose here.  I have another question for our readers – what is your hobby?  What do you do to help pass the time? What is the thing you do to help yourself relax?

My hobby is woodworking.  That’s right, I can pretty much make anything out of wood.  However, the current project is something for WorldStart.  See, a couple weeks ago we sent out a survey asking our readers if they would be interested in computer tips on video.  The response was overwhelming, so here I am starting to do my part by build a desk for Steve and Gary to use while they are taping the tips.

Wonder how in the world I got interested in woodworking?

Well it happened when I was in the 7th grade.  The junior high I went to in Ann Arbor had a woodworking shop.  Well, of course I took the class, and did not have any clue what do with most of the tools and machines in the room.

Well, I was a fast learner, though, and loved everything I was doing.  It was so relaxing, and figuring out projects and how to build them came very easy for me too.  There I was, a young girl who just fell in love with chunks of wood because you could make any thing out of them.

I took the classes all 3 years in junior high.  Then I got very lucky because when my parents moved to Toledo the high school offered wood shop.  I jumped all over it! Got to take the classes for the next 4 years.  By the way that is how I met Steve (yes that’s right we are high school sweethearts). Thanks to the public schools I got 7 years of training and my husband (who’s still in training, BTW).

So all these years later I am still at it.  I love it!  I make everything and anything.  I have more custom furniture in my house now then I ever did in the past.  I mat and frame Steve’s photos that we want up in our house.

The best part is Steve’s grandfather, who is 85 years old, likes to do woodworking as a hobby too.  So whenever he is in town for a few days we always come up with something we can make together.  How cool is that? I get to make projects with Grandpa so then every time I look at the finished piece, I think of the time we spent together on the project.

The one thing that amazes people is that I do not draw out plans – most of the projects are done from my head.   Makes it easier to adjust it.  Once I think I have it figured out,  I get started.  It drives people crazy because they just can not see it like I can when I describe it. I just say, “Trust me! It will be done the way you want it.

Yes I still have some of the projects from my school days.  Our daughter Becky has the wooden box I made in ’87.  The doll cradle I made my senior year of high school is sitting in the attic waiting for the next little girl to come along in the family to play with it. (No, won’t be from me!)  That is the great thing about hobbies.  A lot of your work will be around a long time to reflect back on and to be passed along to the next generation.

So here is my question to you  – What is your hobby or what you do to help you relax when you had a long day?

I can’t wait to see what you say.

~Rose

PS -  I wanted to say I loved all the response on the construction barrels in your area.  I was laughing so hard at some of them, Steve came over to see what all the commotion was about!

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How Our Children Are Getting Dumber

May 7th, 2010 by Mike

The United States, as a whole, is getting dumber. At least that is the case when compared to the rest of the industrialized world. Among 36 industrialized nations that were examined by The Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development, the US was ranked 18th in secondary education.

Now a lot could be said about that opening fact. However, one of the main questions that many, including myself, ask is “Why?” “We’re America, we’ve always been #1 at everything, what happened?” Well, looks like it’s time for a reality check and often times reality doesn’t fit inside our preconceived notions. So why exactly are we falling behind others in the area of education? My own personal opinion rests mainly on the amount of funding our public education receives here in the US. For 2010, the national budget calls for approximately $46.7 billion to go to the Department of Education. This is even up 12.8% from 2009′s budget. $46.7 billion may sound like a lot, but let’s compare that to the budget for military spending, which happens to be approximately $663.7 billion. Tack on $52.5 billion for Veterans Affairs, $42.7 billion for Homeland Security, and you’re talking nearly $759 billion. In case you’re following and doing the math, that is 16 times more than the education budget!

There’s an old cliche that goes by “knowledge is power.” This is true and I think it’s something we here in the US should listen to. What good is pumping money into a military budget when we are not adequately educating our children in science, math, and history? With the world advancing in technology the way it is, you can no longer rely on becoming a power by brute force alone. You need intelligence and educated individuals. You NEED education. So here’s a note to the US. Put more money back into education and back off some on the military budget. You’d be amazed at how quickly you gain more respect in the world (it’s been waning quite a bit lately).

~Mike

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Our Worst Environmental Disaster – Ever

May 2nd, 2010 by Steve

OK, I’m ticked.

Pissed really (can I say that?)

What am I on about? The massive oil spill in the Gulf and – once again – our government’s completely inadequate response to a crises. (Not to mention BP’s incredibly poor response, but who’s really surprised about that?)

Let’s look at a timeline, shall we?

The explosion happened on April 20th – 12 days ago – and we’re just NOW starting to seriously ramp up our efforts to contain this thing. Anyone with an ounce of sense would have realized we needed to respond to this in a MASSIVE way when it happened – the minimalist approach doesn’t work.

Just like Hurricane Katrina, we’re reacting to problems instead of responding preemptively to them.

Now, the situation is grave. The spill have recently tripled in size and shows no signs of slowing. We’re told that it could take months to stop the oil leakage, and frankly, they’re not even sure HOW much oil is spurting out each day.

Oh, and it’s not just the gulf states that have a problem. Currents may take this through the FL Keys (likely destroying the only living coral barrier reef in North America) and up along the Atlantic seaboard. Hope you weren’t planning on spending the summer at the beach.

Let’s not forget the toll this will take on wildlife. Mark my words, it won’t be long before you see piles of oily bird and animal remains stacked up along what was once pristine shoreline. Areas that were once teeming with animals will be oily graves. We’ll be the unfortunate witnesses to birds caked with crude as their once delicate bodies bob lifelessly up and down in the waves. Over dramatic? We’ll see.

Alabama estimates it could face a spill on the scale of the Exxon Valdez – every two days. For MONTHS.

And I certainly hope you don’t make a living that has anything to do with the Gulf. Fishing (commercial and sport), oyster farming, shrimping, and tourism are going to be decimated by this.

Although I’m no expert on this stuff, I do have a question – why the hell didn’t we scale up to whatever level we’re going to be at in the future, (say two weeks or so from now) IMMEDIATELY after this happened? You know eventually we’ll have a record amount of cleanup equipment down there, so what’s the hold up? Why not do it now? Why didn’t we do it days ago?

Again, I’m not an expert, but seems to me that if we would have mobilized faster, there may have been a chance to keep most of this contained within an area we could work with. Now it’s painfully obvious that we’re paying catchup.

Gee, is that crude coming ashore?

Should we maybe get a towel?

With the resources BP has, why aren’t they doing more? And a bigger question – why didn’t they have a plan for this? You’d think with all the record profits they made over the last few years, they could have spent some of those billions coming up with “what if” plans and solutions for every possible scenario.

Yeah, yeah, I know they claim they actually do have a plan to that involves sticking a dome over the leak or something – note that this dome wasn’t built in advance, – or even started the day this happened. It almost seems to me that there was never really a plan – or the plan was to come up with a plan if something happens.

Personally I don’t think BP ever thought this could happen, or worse, they knew it could and knew there wasn’t much they could do to stop it before it rose to the level of a disaster. Now we’re trying to shut the barn doors after the proverbial oily horse has already run away.

Obama is heading down there to say a few words. Yeah, that’s probably about as helpful as it sounds.

Not to armchair quarterback, but I wish he would have said a few words to the National Guard the day this happened and focused the full resources of the federal government on this problem then. It’s going to come to that anyway, only now we get hundreds – probably thousands – of miles of ruined shoreline waiting for someone else to do it.

Once again, we drop the ball. Reminds me of a famous quote:

“Those who don’t know history are destined to repeat it.”
~ Edmund Burke

What do you think? Feel free to comment, and I promise I’ll be in a better mood for my next post.

~Steve

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I Want Flying Cars

May 1st, 2010 by Gary

I figure it’s been a while since I’ve had a good ol’e fashioned rant on here, so now seems like a good time. Are you ready? Good!

I WANT FLYING CARS!

Whew! Glad I got that off my chest. Now I can explain a little better.

I remember being younger and watching the entire Back To The Future trilogy. The first part of the trilogy ended with a scene that would forever change my life.

Doc Brown comes cruising wrecklessly into the driveway to tell Marty that they have to go “back to the future”. They hop into the delorean and back out of the driveway. At that moment Marty exclaims “Hey Doc, do you think we have enough road to get up to 88mph?”. Doc Brown replies “Roads? Where we’re going, we don’t need roads!”

The car lifts off and disappears into the sky.

WOW. What a way to end a movie. You almost have to see the next one, right?

I’ve gotta say, they had me hooked. I was a believer. Flying cars were coming to a car lot near me. SOON.

For those of you that don’t know, the flying delorean in the movie was fictionally created in the year 2015. By my best math, that’s less than 5 years from now. I’m starting to get worried about the future of flying cars.

There are a couple prototypes out there (If you want to see one, click here), but they are not anywhere near what i was imagining in my head. These prototypes look like personal planes, not cars. They barely even work.

My childhood dreams are in major jeopardy! Someone please help to straighten this out!

Where are the advancements? Where are the production models? Where are the skyways!

Seriously, in the movie, almost everyone had flying cars in 2015. We are nowhere close! Am I the only one that cares?

~Gary

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