Tuesday, January 05, 2010

Internet Oddities

My new year enthusiasm must have worked yesterday because in spite of the dentist appointment and need to run errands along the way, I still managed to hit both my time and production goals. Yay! I didn't get any exercise or housework done, though (other than washing dishes). Ballet starts again tonight, which means I'll likely suffer through this first class after letting myself get a bit out of shape.

In other news, the Internet is a funny place, and a number of oddities have struck me lately.

One I probably can't blame on the Internet itself. I've been having e-mail issues, mostly because my e-mail software is too outdated to work with the server's current security settings. With one mailbox, I can receive but not send mail, and with the other I can't do either. That means I've been resorting to web mail, and my web mail seems to eat messages. Random messages keep disappearing from my mailbox, and it's usually the crucial ones (or I guess I only notice the crucial ones). At first I thought it was because I was being careless and accidentally deleting things, but I've been really, really careful lately, and messages are still vanishing. Fortunately, I've been able to track down the people who sent me messages I know have vanished, but it's embarrassing and annoying. Since I got a nice royalty check from Japan that I wasn't expecting at all, I'm planning to get a new computer soon, along with the software to go with it, and that should help. This computer is more than five years old, and that's a lifetime in computer years. And, yikes, my version of Office is nearly ten years old (I bought it eight years ago). The IRS can't accuse me of unnecessary computer purchases.

Meanwhile, I have Google Alerts set up for my name and the titles of all my books. That brings me all kinds of information. For one thing, most of the content of these alerts seems to involve free (and illegal) download sites. That is so not cool. On the up side, it seems like people are still finding and blogging about these books. I also got my first notice of a fanfic relating to my books at Fanfiction.net. I think that means I've arrived. It's flattering to know that I've inspired someone that way. However, I will not be looking at any of these stories. I'm not entirely comfortable with a professional screenwriter working with my characters, and I'm getting paid nice amounts of money for that. I'd probably get creeped out by fanfic (especially given the content of most fanfic I've seen). So, I'm in this weird state of feeling kind of pleased about the fact that it exists while also being a little unsettled. I guess I'll stick with just seeing the Google Alerts without ever, ever following the links.

Someone has a blog called Damsel Under Stress, which complicates the Google report on that title, and I haven't figured out a way to exclude those posts from the reports. There's also a Damsel Under Stress t-shirt that doesn't seem to have anything to do with my book (and that I think I might want to buy).

In other oddities, can anyone explain to me the purpose of pop-under ads -- those that open a new window behind the one you're reading? I suppose they're less annoying than ads that cover the page you're reading, but I don't really see the point because most of the time, the windows just get closed unseen when I quit the browser. Otherwise, I check for them and close them immediately, and then I'm just irritated. Netflix is the worst offender. It also seems like regular ads on most pages are the problem with pages loading. If you're selling ads, you should have a server good enough to keep up with the traffic because it defeats the purpose if people give up and move on to another site when the slow ads keep the pages from loading. I suppose it's possible that this has something to do with my outdated browser (thanks to my old computer), but then it's kind of silly to build your ads around only the latest software because it limits your audience. Ad technology should really go to the lowest common denominator, not just those with the latest and greatest. Because, you know, people aren't going to upgrade their computers just to see your ads, and putting lots of animation in your ad isn't going to make me more inclined to look at it or buy your product.

On these ads that I don't pay much attention to, I have noticed a running theme, especially in the ads that strike me as junk ads (they're not from any known company and aren't too different in content from most of the spam I receive). These advertisers really seem to think moms, especially single or stay-at-home moms, are the ultimate product endorsement. I'm not sure why it should matter to anyone that a single mom came up with a surefire way to whiten teeth. The only mom I'd listen to on that subject is my dentist. Then there are the moms who've supposedly found the one rule that will help you lose belly fat and the stay-at-home moms who've found a great way to earn money at home. Do they really think that there are that many people who'd see something like that and think, "Well, if a mom said it, it must be true."?

Ah, it feels better to get those rants off my chest. And now, to work!

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