Dear Guru: Mustard Sally
Why do we put mustard on hot dogs?
—#Kzinti #from #Twitter
I’ll be happy to answer that perceptive question. But first I feel the urge to sing.
Mustard Sally, think you better slow your mustard down.
Mustard Sally, think you better slow your mustard down.
You been running all over my hot dog.
Oh! I guess we’ll have to have your mustard on the ground.
Yo, cat! Sup? I have to say thanks for the question. I relish this opportunity. I shall endeavor to layer my response. Yep. Like an ogre. Ogres have layers. Onions have layers.
Continue reading →
Mr. Spock, where are you?
Tonight the Google Let Me Down
Sung to the tune of “Tonight the Bottle Let Me Down”
Tonight the Google let me down
Displayed results without my search term not around
An image search for “Spock” with nothing found
Tonight the Google let me down
So yeah, there I was on the Google. I wanted a new wallpaper, so I did what I usually do: Google Image Search (GIS) with the exact dimensions of 1920 x 1200 (which just happens to be my display resolution).
I have found that I can get interesting wallpaper results by omitting “wallpaper” as a term and searching images that just so happen to match the dimensions of my desktop. I like to be different I guess. (For my personal safety I keep “safe search” at moderate. If I set it to “anything goes” I’d likely be buried in porn, and that’s no good. Google is, after all, one of the largest purveyors of porn in the Universe. Or so I’ve heard.)
Being in a logical mood, I decided to use “Spock” as a search term. I was hoping to find results of a type never before encountered.
As usual, some of the results were representative of the search term and some were not. Also, as not, there was a surprising number of frisky images of women in bikinis. Now what do they have to do with Spock? Highly illogical.
Want to try the exact search for yourself? Click here.
I kept scrolling down the image results looking for a suitable wallpaper that I could meld with, but none really moved me. Gradually, however, I began to become aware of something. Spock wasn’t in very many of the results.
I took a screenshot of the results. By only page 5 Spock was strangely no where in sight. Four of the results in this shot actually pertain to Star Trek but no Mr. Spock. There’s a couple video game shots, a Robert Downey Jr., a sexy girl in a hammock, a jumbo jet, and a refreshing glass of Coke. I guess I have to ask, “Hey, Google! Where is the Mr. Spock in this equation?”
One thing is certain. I won’t be trusting my past or future to Google computations for time warp (beta).
Google is imperfect. Abyss will sterilize. Along with all the carbon-based life forms infesting the third planet of this solar system.
Bill Gates and bikinis
Wha? Misleading headline? Oh, I’m so sorry about that. Yeah, sure I am.
So here’s the deal. Every morning at work before I start the day, I like to grab a new image from the internet and use it as my desktop wallpaper. Rather than going to wallpaper websites and browsing their wares, I prefer to search for images directly using a “Google Image Search.” (GIS.)
It’s easy and can be fun and bring lots of surprises. The way I do it is by going to the Google home page, like normal, and searching for a term, like “beaches” or “star trek enterprise.”
Then, on the left column, if click the “Images” link and it will automatically restrict the search to images that – somehow, someway – match your term.
And then, just for fun, again in the left column, I click the “Exactly” link under “Any Size” and enter the dimensions of my desktop. In this case, 1920 x 1200, and click the search button again.
The only other thing you need to know about GIS is the “SafeSearch” setting. By default, at least on my computer, is the “moderate” setting. This seems to equate to PG or PG-13. You can also set it “Strict” for (mostly) work safe images. And, of course, you can turn SafeSearch “Off” if you be loving everything the internet is capable of. (Personally I never use that setting.)
I think it goes without saying, though, that the SafeSearch system isn’t quite perfect.
So there I was at work using the above procedure (with the “moderate” setting) and I decided to try the term “bill gates.” I still don’t know what possessed me. Bill Gates??? I must have blacked out for a moment.
The results load up and I start scrolling down. There’s a promising wallpaper. It’s a classic Windows image that looks like a rock has been thrown through the screen. Very promising indeed. There’s also some Star Wars and the obligatory video game screenshots sprinkled in. This is about what I’d expect, except, perhaps, a little more Bill Gates?
Then, down around page 2, wait a minute. What’s this? Pictures of women. Pretty women. And lots of them. Hmm. I keep scrolling. The more I scroll, the less clothing they seem to be wearing. Bikinis seem to be trending. Holy shit! That one is practically naked!
I quickly scroll through all 10 pages of images. There sure are a lot of scantily clad women coming up for the term “bill gates.” Wow. I’m at work, though, and everyone and their momma can see my computer, so I quit the browser lest I get labeled as the office pervert.
Apparently Google and I disagree slightly about what is considered “moderate” in a SafeSearch.
I quickly reload my browser and type in “death star.” Ah. Much better. But what’s Uhura from Star Trek doing in there?
Curse you internets!
Image hunting techniques for bloggers
See that little doodad widget over there? No, not there. In the column on the side of this blog where stuff is. Yeah, there. The one that says, “Blog with Integrity.”
What does that mean?
Yes, even a Guru of Negativity can still maintain his integrity.
One of the ways I try to blog with integrity is by respecting intellectual property rights. I try to write my own stuff, and when I use a source, like Wikipedia, I give credit where credit is due. I do this with links and sourcing excerpts.
When it comes to images I try to do the same thing. Stealing isn’t nice so I try not to do it.
Here are some fun techniques I use for finding images for use in blog posts and respecting the rights of others.
Do It Yourself (DIY)
When possible, create your own stuff. Get off your ass and take your own photos. Of course that isn’t always workable or possible. So keep reading.
Search government sites
In most cases, images created by the government are open season and free of copyright. Makes sense since we own the government. (At least in theory.)
You can easily use a Google Image Search (GIS) to peruse these images. (This is just one way to do it.)
- Go to http://www.google.com
- Search for something (let’s try “paper airplane”)
- Search results for “Everything” will be displayed by default
- On the left column, click “Images” to narrow your search
- Near the top of the page, under the Search button, click the link that says “Advanced Search”
- Find the box that says “Domain” and enter the following to limit your search to government web site domains: *.gov
- Click the “Google Search” button to search again
- This time the results should only be from images hosted on government domains
I found the image on the left in the search results. I clicked it and was taken to a web site owned by the Federal Aviation Administration. I saved the image to my desktop and then loaded it into my blog.
Viola! It’s that easy.
Note: You should keep in mind that not all images on GOV domains are copyright free. You sometimes have to do a bit of research. Find the “policies” link and see what it says. You can usually get a pretty good idea whether an image is usable or not.
I have seen some city and county government web sites that claim a copyright on their material. I’m not sure what’s up with that. In those rare cases I just shrug and move on.
So don’t forget about the government when you’re looking for a photograph. You might get lucky. NASA is a great source for images. So is the CIA World Factbook and the Library of Congress.
Photographers on the Flickr service have the option of making their pictures available for other uses (or not). One way of letting others share your work is by using a Creative Commons (CC) license. This is a great way to legally find photographs for your blog.
- Go to http://www.flickr.com
- In the search box at the top-right, search for something (lets try “mardis gras”)
- A bunch of pictures will be displayed
- Just like before, find and click the “Advanced Search” link
- Scroll down and find the CC section and check the box that says, “Only search within Creative Commons-licensed content”
- Click the SEARCH button again
Now you’ll only be seeing images where the license holder allows sharing. Neat, huh? You’ll be amazed at the quality and also the number of pictures available for most searches. There are some great finds here!
Find a picture you like, click to enlarge, then click the SHARE THIS button. Select the “Grab the HTML” option, choose a size, then paste that code into your blog post.
This will automatically create a link back to the original photo on Flickr. Be sure to leave that to say “thank you” to the photographer for sharing.
Here’s one I found for Mardis Gras that tells a nice story.
Sometimes you’ll find an image on Flickr that you want to use but it isn’t flagged as being part of the Creative Commons. Just drop the Flickr member and note and ask permission. I’ve done this many times and it has always worked. Be sure to link the image to the Flickr member’s account and then send them a copy of your post and say thanks.
Open Source Clip Art
If you want clip art rather than a photo, try the Open Clip Art Library for copyright free images. This is where the artwork for Hyppo and Critter came from.
So, that’s just a few ideas. There are many more. Feel free to share your ideas in the comments.
Angry Christmas wallpaper
I’m at work (so this will be brief) and I’m in one of my moods. Long story short, I wanted new wallpaper on my computer. I thought about it for a second then punched into Google Image Search the phrase: angry christmas wallpaper
I didn’t find anything suitably angry. But I stopped my search when I came across the following image. I like it. A lot. So I thought I’d take a minute and share it. Click the image to visit the original context on the site where I found it (and get the hi-res version).