Monday, May 06, 2013

How To Review Sellers on Amazon

Amazon not only allows you to review products, but it allows you to review individuals who sell and buy. This reputation-maintenance system is vital for selling goods from peer to peer.

When you review a seller, you are asked to give an overall rating (in stars) but also to answer questions regarding whether the product arrived on time, and as described.

But on top of that they ask for a written description. I have no idea what to put in there.

For example, recently I bought a used book. I paid for it; it arrived on time; it was in good condition. I'd already indicated this with the canned questions, but Amazon requires me to actually write something about the transaction. Problem is, there is nothing more to say. In the past this has kept me from reviewing people.

When faced with a recurring problem, it's good to make a policy, because the need to make a decision over and over can be paralyzing. If it's a silly problem, like this one, it's better to have a funny policy, so the annoyance is reduced. So I chose a stock phrase and I'll put it in all my reviews.

I chose:

Neither snow nor rain nor heat nor gloom of night stays these couriers from the swift completion of their appointed rounds.

This is the creed of the US postal service, which I discovered through the Laurie Anderson track "O Superman."

That's what I'm going to put in the free-text section of seller reviews from now on. I recommend you all use it too.

Pictured: USPS building with the creed inscribed on it. From Wikipedia.

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Thursday, May 02, 2013

How To Configure Your Desktop to Maximize Viewing Space

A long time ago I wrote a blog entry about why I love vertical screens.

I still love vertical screens, for the same reasons: reading, programming, and writing are essentially vertically-oriented activities. So why are screens oriented horizontally?

I can only speculate. If anyone knows of an actual historical account, please let me know.

The first home PCs were connected to the television set. TV sets, like movies, have an aspect ratio that is wider than it is tall. This makes sense for pictures and scenes, where there is often more of interest along the horizontal axis than the vertical (after a certain height, it's just sky.)

Then we had dedicated monitors, but they kind of had to fit on top of a keyboard. So here is a picture of my first PC, the TRS-80 Model 4.

Now we have laptops, and they suffer from the same problem. The keyboard is wider than it is tall, so for the thing to be able to close, the screen needs to be horizontal too. But if you have a desktop computer, and most of what you do on it is programming, reading, or writing, I would recommend a vertical screen.

I sometimes use a MacBook, which has a horizontal screen. But it gets worse. The "dock" is along the bottom of the screen, by default, which takes up valuable horizontal screen space. Then, if you're writing, Word by default puts its menus, etc., at the top of the screen. The result is that for writing you have extremely limited space to actually see your document:
To me, this is a ridiculous situation. Here is how I have arranged my desktop, to try to deal with this problem:

See how much more of the document is visible?

I'll tell you how to do this.

First, move the dock to the side. You can change this with System Preferences: Dock

Second, make the dock smaller. You see those six lines between the apps and the folders? You can click and drag that to make it bigger or smaller. Find a size you feel comfortable with.

Finally, in MS Word you can put the the menu screens on the side. Grab the lower right of the toolbar and drag so that it looks vertical. Grab the top of the bar to move it to one side or the other.

Happy writing.

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