There was a time when I used to feel like I was cheating, somehow, getting paid to do things that were easy and obvious. But I kept running into people who Just Didn’t Think Right. I never developed the common “people who aren’t like me must be stupid” problem, thanks in part to dealing with a lot of secretaries who could do all sorts of things that I couldn’t, but even today, I sometimes get the urge to reach through the Internet, grab someone by the collar, and shout “but it’s right there!”.
For instance, Scandalous Gaijin collects some quite pleasant cosplay photos, but mixed in with the cheesecake recently was a shot of a nicely old-fashioned street in Japan, with kimono-clad women in the foreground and a pagoda in the background, with the comment “Anyone knows the name of this street in kyoto? I need to check it out”. Now, if you don’t read kanji, you might not guess that the second half of the caption “もう一度 八坂の塔” is the name of the place, but when you look at the picture you can clearly read the names of two stores, “Happy Pie” and “Happy Bicycle”, and typing “happy bicycle kyoto” into Google Maps takes you to the exact spot the picture was taken from. (and if you didn’t know it was Kyoto, cut-and-pasting 八坂の塔 into Google will tell you that)
Google Image Search gets overlooked a lot, too; it would be nice if they’d sort the results chronologically, so you don’t have to search through the largest images by hand until you find something close to the original source, but generally it will at least give you some information, and often the full context it was originally posted in. The answer to “who is this goddess and where can I find more pictures of her” is generally pretty easy to find.
Even just plain Google searches seem to elude otherwise intelligent people. Just today, I’ve had two extremely intelligent, skilled co-workers email me detailed error messages and ask how to fix the problem. I paste the error into google, and poof, the answer emerges. At least with these two I know they can figure it out, and they’re just outsourcing their problem-solving to me so they can get back to fixing other broken things, but a lot of times it’s from people who are honestly stumped by something that could be resolved with ten seconds of cut-and-paste.
Now, the people who email me screenshots of detailed error messages, they’re beyond help…
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