Petty Web Aggravations

As you might imagine, I spend a bit of time on the Internet. Okay, a lot of time. Entirely too much time. But it’s so interesting! And full of wonderful people (and a few jerks, but what can you do?). At least once a day, I look something up on here, or I hear about a nifty/distressing opinion/ or a funny video, and off I go. So here are some things that irritate me when I’m poking about the web.

1). “Would you like to fill out a survey?” No, I wouldn’t. And I wouldn’t like to fill one out on the next page I look at. Or the one after that. And if I order something, I don’t want to “Tell other people what you think about the Widget you just ordered.” First of all, maybe I don’t want the world knowing that I purchased that particular widget (and Amazon’s “post on social media what you just bought” fills me with irritation). Second, I’m not being paid to review all of this stuff, nor do I want to. Third, as far as I’m concerned, our relationship is over after my credit card payment clears and I have my thingie-mabober. When I buy a bag of chips at the dollar store, I don’t want the cashier showing up at my door with a clipboard.

2. I don’t want an ad overlay blocking the screen. I don’t want it graying out the text I actually came here to read. I don’t want some cutesy commercial doohicky following me as I read. And do not, EVER, have an ad that I can’t close. It’s possible that I will write down the name of the product and spend the rest of my life telling everyone I know about how terrible your product is. I may dedicate the rest of my life to destroying your entire company through word of mouth. Or not. But you don’t know, do you?

3. “Click this button for the next page!” I realize that you are running on ad revenue. I even realize that more clicks = better page views = more money. But to see everything as a “load a whole new page” slideshow will make me leave your site and never come back, no matter how many cute bunnies or tips for better living you have (I prefer the bunnies, by the way). No more than two clicks per story/ feature. I’m warning you. I hold grudges.

4. (This applies to social media and, for some reason, my email). Automatically displaying that I’m online so that people can “chat.” I don’t care how much I like or love someone, I don’t want to be available to chat with them every time I log into something. Maybe I just want to check the shipping date of the widget I just ordered. Maybe I want to concentrate on the thing I’m doing. Maybe I just don’t want to chat. Let ME decide whether or not I want to do that. Don’t assume!

5. “Would you like to subscribe to our newsletter, site, email advertising, spam?” No. “Are you sure? We really like you!” You don’t know me. I could be a terrible person. “We’re sure you’re great. Subscribe?” No! “But we’re lonely!” I’m not. Leave me alone. “But what if you change your mind?” Then, unlikely as that would be, I’d come back and click the button. Sheesh.

6. Alternatively… WordPress has this follow/like system. It works wonderfully well when I find a site/voice that I would indeed like to subscribe to. Until it doesn’t. Where is the follow button? Is it at the top? The bottom of this post? Near the bottom or top? Why is there no like button? I liked this thing, and I think the creator should get some feedback. Hello?

7. Websites that want too much. When I order something, I’m perfectly happy to fill out the form. You can have my address and email (I don’t exactly know why you want my phone number, but fine). But then there are the websites that want…more. “Please enter the name of your child.” I don’t have a child. Why isn’t there a box to indicate that? “Enter name of child! Cannot proceed without Name of Child!” Why are we assuming that everyone has a child in the first place? Second, even if I had one, why do I need to enter his/her name into your site to order a coffee cup? So, if you meet my offspring GoAwayAnd LeaveMeALONE Granger, don’t judge. It’s not her fault.

8. Those ads that follow you around the net like stalkers. Why, yes, I did look at that product. Maybe I wanted to buy it. Maybe I was researching something or it was on sale, but upon reflection, I didn’t really need it. Maybe I was just looking. In any case, that ad is going to follow me around. And if it’s something that I REALLY don’t want the entire world to know about, why that’s going to be there for WEEKS. Thanks!

9. Autoplay. Sigh. No, I don’t want the ad to start blaring music (which is one reason my laptop is muted by default). No, I don’t want to see the next video in line. Stop it. And if youtube needs to play an ad before the video I watch, that’s fine. But can it not be the SAME ONE? Please?

10. Lists that are obviously padded to hit whatever number the writer feels most comfortable at. It’s usually a round number, like 20 or ten. You just couldn’t write a 9 item list, could you? No, it has to be ten, with the last one feeling quite forced and incomplete. Whatever.

So, what are your pet peeves? Tell me in the comments. I promise that I’ll respond!

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Review–Fire Touched

It’s not at all fair–Patricia Briggs write humor, action, romance, and fantasy equally well, as she demonstrates in Fire Touched, the latest Mercy Thompson novel.

Mercy is a skinwalker who transforms into a coyote. She grew up in a werewolf pack and became a mechanic (because why not?). She frequently interacts (and snarks at) vampires, witches, and the fae, fiercely protecting her family and friends. Briggs makes all of this plausible and real. Even though there is an extensive cast of characters, it’s easy for the reader to keep track of everyone–and if we haven’t seen someone in a while, there’s a clever phrase to remind us. All of the various cast members are absolutely real to me–utterly believable and fully realized, even if we only get a few details teased out about a few of the more mysterious ones each book.

This it the sort of fantasy world that if it’s mentioned in our world, its probably real in Mercy’s, although we might have gotten it “wrong.” This makes it a scary world, with danger and consequences abounding. It also makes for a sense of wonder, since I never know what being is going to pop up next.

I laughed, cried, gasped, and read the whole thing in a day. If you’re interested, though, start with Moon Called, the first in the series (barring short stories). This book is ninth in the series, and if you begin here, you’re going to be confused and unhappy–plus spoilers!

 

Absence

I’ve been away from the blog because I had a terrible case of stomach flu–not enough to end up in the hospital, but I got sick Saturday and today’s the first time I’ve felt like myself. I’ll be catching up on comments and posts immediately!

Hope your lives are more well-ordered!

Quick Announcement

I’ve finished the novel I’ve been writing. It seems like it took forever, compared to the first. Now all I have to do is revise it thoroughly (I’m one of those people who writes without a lot of planning, so then I have to go back and make sure anything I added or changed my mind about is consistent with my world and characters). Then I’m going to send it out. I did that with the first, but apparently what I was writing had over-saturated the market. Or at least that’s what I tell myself! It’s a shame though, because it would have been a fun series (and I had the general gist of the next two books all set up).

Weirdly, I’ve already started the next book (I hope!). This one’s a pure mystery–at the moment, at least. Ideas have a way of getting weird when I write them.

How’s your journey to the next thing going for you? Anything exciting?

Review–A is for Arsenic

Kathyrn Harkup’s A is for Arsenic: The Poisons of Agatha Christie  is fascinating. Each chapter covers a different poison used in Christie’s work (in alphabetical order. I won’t mention how long I’d been reading before I figured that out!).

I’ve read a number of Christie’s mysteries (oh, I could say that all day), but I am most familiar through the Masterpiece Mystery series on PBS (if you haven’t already, check those out–David Suchet is particularly excellent). The way that Harkup describes each case brings those episodes flooding back. Her writing about the mysteries and the detectives is vivid.

First Harkup describes the basic set-up of the poisoning. Then she covers how the poison was described in the materials available to Christie. Next, she discusses how the poison works in the body (this part may be a little slow-going if you don’t have a strong background in chemistry, although I don’t and I followed along well enough (I would not have passed a quiz on that part, though). She finishes with going back to Christie’s story–without revealing the murderer–a thoughtful touch.

This book reminded me of Deborah Blum’s The Poisoner’s Handbook: Murder and the Birth of Forensic Medicine in Jazz Age New York. In fact, I’d recommend reading that first as a grounding to the subject before reading A is for..., but that’s not necessary (although, if you haven’t read it, do! It’s also great!). So cuddle up with your favorite Miss Marple and a nice cup of not-poisoned drink of choice, and enjoy.

Who’s your favorite Christie mystery (I know, but I couldn’t resist!). Who’s your favorite of her sleuths?

BTW, if you haven’t seen the BBC’s adaptation of And Then There Were None, consider it. I thought it was quite good–and the cast was fantastic! It was shown on Lifetime in the US.

Fiction Friday

Now actually on Friday (I love Spring Break).

This is a writing prompt from Writer’s Digest. (Hey, if any of you folks know of another place with good writer’s prompts, lemme know in the comments!). It’s called “All in a Day’s Work” (In fact, it’s “All in a Days Work” but I’m still fighting the apostrophe wars. All by myself!): “As a doctor for hire you’ve met a fair share of odd folks. Nothing quite like this though: A man in his mid-thirties stands before you, clutching a wound just given to him by another man sprinting down the street. Now the perpetrator trips and lands on his own knife. Screaming for help and not knowing what the heck just happened—what do you do?”

I had already started to attend to the first man when the second one fell on his knife. I ordered the first man to sit down and a sensible-looking bystander to apply pressure. As I ran to the second man whose injuries were more serious, I yelled to a woman standing there, with her phone in hand to dial 911. I tripped over nothing in the sidewalk. The woman dropped her phone into a storm grate. A car driving by was fine until it got within ten feet of us, when it veered as if pulled into the fire hydrant, which started leaking, even though the car wasn’t going more than fifteen miles an hour, if that. Someone walking a dog down the sidewalk and somehow managed to trip herself and the dog with the leash, even though it was only a foot long. Somehow, the very small dog landed on top of the pile.

“Everyone freeze.” People did, as best they could. “I think we’re being affected by a localized ‘bad luck’ effect.”

“That’s ridiculous!” The woman with the who lost her cell phone bent down to look for it and unbalanced, tumbling forward and conking her head on the grate. “I take it back,” she said in a strangled tone. “When someone gets a moment, can they unhook my coat button from the grate?”

“Can anyone see anything that might be causing this?”

People looked as best they could. The woman with the dog was getting a really good view of a wagging tail, so she wasn’t much help. There was a chorus of nopes. I looked back to where I’d been tripped and there was a sort of blur. Either I was getting a migraine for the first time in my life, or that’s where the problem was. Moving my head didn’t make anything clearer, but it did confirm that there was something there.

“I can see you,” I said.

It moved and I tracked it. “Damn.” The air shimmered and a short man with a red beard glared at me. “What gave me away?”

“Are you kidding?” I nodded at the man I was attending. “He falls on his own knife? She drops her cell phone? The lady with the dog?”

“I didn’t actually do the dog thing. I think the mutt and her owner are just clumsy.”

“There might some truth to that,” the dog owner muttered.

“How do we resolve this?”

“Well, you caught me. Usually that’s a pot of gold.”

“Really? Seems like an odd choice. Heavy, have to convert it to spendable money, IRS audits…”

“I’ve been saying that for centuries. It’s a pain in the…leiderhosen to carry around, for sure. What do ya want instead?”

“How about you fix all of this?”

“That’s no fun at all.” The man pouted.

I calculated. “Fix the two knife wounds. Leave everything else. But no more mischief for the rest of the year.”

“One day.”

“Six months?”

“A week.”

“Two months.” I reached into my the pocket of my scrubs. “And a candy bar.”

“Deal.” The man snapped his fingers and disappeared, as did the two knife wounds.

I unhooked the coat button of the woman who lost her cell phone first and then we helped the two gentlemen untangle the other woman and her dog.

“Couldn’t have gotten my cell phone back?”

“Don’t you have insurance?”

“I’m not putting leprechaun on the form.” She crossed her arms.

“How about bad luck?”

She considered it. “Fair enough.”

“And true.”