Arts, crafts, and the Internet

October 27, 2009 at 11:37 am (Internet surfing, Personal life) (, )

I have always enjoyed art–painting, drawing, sculpting–even music and drama. Now that I have graduated college and work full time, I try to keep the arts in my life. I also enjoy teaching, but try as I might, I don’t have a very commanding presence, so it’s hard for me to keep the attention of a large group of kids. You know how those teachers growing up were either so likeable or so scary that you listened when they talked? That’s my theory. They had the commanding presence, I don’t.

So, I never pursued teaching, but I still can do one on one or teach very small groups. I asked my aunt who homeschools her two children if I could teach them art as a part of her curriculum. She was very excited and, to my slight dismay, volunteered me to teach the children of three more homeschool families she knew.

I wasn’t sure if I was ready for this, but I accepted. Now to come up with an art project. I remembered a “ocean life” art class from my middle school involving chalk and stencils of sea creatures.

I couldn’t find said stencils anywhere (ok, I didn’t look very hard!) but I decided I preferred making my own stencils. Enter Internet Services! I just did a Google search for sea animal stencils. I found the most fascinating and widest variety of sharks, dolphins, shells, and fish. It was so easy! And free! I then printed them out and tranferred the shapes to pieces of cardboard. Voila!

The class turned out very well! Part of that was probably because half of the kids didn’t show up. <_< But even so, we all had fun and I’m looking forward to next month’s class. I even think I’ll be able to handle all four families. In the meantime, I must say, the Internet’s vast resources never cease to amaze me!


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Bing: Explore Microsoft’s New Search Engine

June 23, 2009 at 12:16 pm (Internet surfing) (, , , , , , )

For your next online purchase, you may want to try, Microsoft’s new “decision” search engine. Perhaps you have tried it already and you haven’t noticed any difference from other browsers, other than the pretty picture backgrounds on Bing’s homepage.

If you’re not sure where to start or what Bing offers, click the “Tour Bing” link in the top left corner of the home page. The features are most convenient when you have a Microsoft account, which may be worth your while. You may also want to change your preferences, which can be found under “Extras” in the top right corner.

From the homepage, you will see a column of options on the left side if you want to focus your search results. If you click on these options, such as “Shopping” or “News, more subcategories will appear that may assist your search.

If you search from the main bar, more options will be available based on your keywords next to your results. Here are a few examples:

  • Search: Honda Civic, sidebar options include: Used, Parts, and Videos
  • Search: Border Collie, sidebar options include: Breeders, Training, and Adoption
  • Search: Yosemite, sidebar options include: Lodging, Weather, and Camping

Each search results page also include related searches, sponsored links, and search history.

Bing is termed “The Decision Engine” because it offers more than just search results, most of which are related to buying decisions. For example, if you search for “mountain bike”, you will see a “Shop for mountian bike” heading above the website results. This feature includes brands, prices, and guides, where you choose more specific results. These links take you to a page that shows an image, price, and description with the option of going to that website.

Bing helps you compare businesses at a glance. Suppose you type the keywords “hotel San Diego”. The first result is a “Listings for hotels near San Diego, CA” feature that itemizes names of hotels—including a link to their website and their phone number—next to a map showing all their locations. A link for directions is available for each hotel, which directs you to a driving directions page similar to MapQuest. If you click on the name of the hotel, you will see a simple rundown of reviews, prices, and contact information, etc.

You can get local information like traffic and weather simply by typing those keywords into the search bar. Check on flights and track your packages by typing the flight or shipping number. Review your stocks’ statuses on a table by searching for the ticker symbols in a row followed by “quote”. Ask basic trivia or math questions in the search bar, like “who wrote the constitution” or “how many liters in a gallon” and Bing will have the answer.

Bing offers some interesting interactive features as well. Each website result has hover option to the right that brings up a summary of that site and other related links. If you hover over images results, you can see the size, name and a link to related images. Videos on Bing will begin playing if you hover on them.

As with any product or idea, Bing is most helpful for certain occasions, preferences, or needs. If you want to find a specific website or lesser known topic, Bing is probably not going to be any better than another search engine. In fact, the “helpfulness” could become an annoyance if you’re an experienced surfer who’s not interested in the latest deals and fads. Most of Bing’s features don’t ever require you to leave their website, which is very helpful for shopping, comparing and researching simple trivia, but sometimes completely irrelevant to your searches. That doesn’t mean you should not use Bing for those reasons, the normal search results are still available in plain sight. You just won’t always need the extras.

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