Top 10 Internet Predictions for 2011

Ah 2010, what a year. We had that iPad thingee that proved quite popular and a whistleblowing website that became extremely famous even though only U.S. government agencies, newspapers and some people in caves in Pakistan would have visited it.

Actually I don’t feel qualified to talk much about 2010 as I spent way too much of it on my Xbox 360 when in previous years I would have been writing on here. In my defense though, there were some terrific games released.

Still with a resolution for somewhat more insightful journalism over this 12 months, what better way to start than with another round of predictions that proved so accurate in 2010. Well I assume they were, who knows, I’ve been too busy playing on my Xbox.

Anyway, without further ado, and in absolutely no order of probability I present my Top 10 Internet Predictions for 2011.

  1. With the BBC blowing all of its money on the Royal Wedding, the Queens usual Christmas Day broadcast has to be released on Twitter instead.
  2. The porn industry adapts 3D technology to the internet. When male porn stars turn around people will be seen to duck.
  3. Hostilities between North and South Korea reach crisis point when the South Korean P.M. de-friends Kim Jon-il on Facebook.
  4. Wikileaks founder Julian Assange miscalculates badly by creating a sister site called Wookieleaks aimed at Star Wars. All the computer geeks who supported him previously now crash his servers.
  5. When the E.U Monetary System threatens to collapse only Google has the money for a bailout. Not ones to miss a trick they place Adwords on Euro banknotes.
  6. ‘Black Monday’, the busiest online shopping day before Christmas will be attacked by the PC brigade for perceived racist overtones.  Is renamed to the more appropriate (In the) ‘Red Monday’.
  7. You think Apple place their computers in lots of TV programs now, once product placement laws in the UK are relaxed on Feb 28th they’ll show up in a badgers holt in Springwatch.
  8. The price comparison site war turns dirty as thousands of specially trained ‘attack’ Meerkats are released in the Go Compare offices.
  9. As .com addresses become exhausted new top level domain names are tested for specific markets. Cricket teams get .ball, printer firms get .matrix, EastEnder fan sites get .cotton and morse code sites get .dotdot
  10. The term ‘cloud computing’ will become the internet buzz phrase in 2011 and still nobody, absolutely nobody, will know what it means.

Oh yeah, that last one, that one will happen.

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Invisible Hand – The money saver you’ll want to see.

Right then my friends, since we all like absolutely the best deal when shopping online, I shall now tell you about the easiest way of ensuring you get it.

And I am talking about yet another browser add-on but handily this one comes not just for Firefox but several other popular browser flavours as well, so even all you stubborn Internet Explorer diehards are in luck this time.

Of course, luck like that is similar to only winning a tenner on the lottery compared to the veritable jackpot of add-ons if you are an enlightened Firefox convert.

Anyway leaving all that aside for now, time to get back to the subject at hand, in this instance an Invisible Hand, the name of this terrific little money saving extra.

A curious name admittedly but I guess it’s because it acts as your unseen scout scouring most of the very biggest shopping sites comparing prices, then either confirming the site you’re on has the cheapest deal or pointing you towards the one that does.

So granted, at heart it’s a just a price comparison tool but what sets Invisible Hand apart is its ease and convenience, all YOU need to do is shop normally.

I’ll give you a scenario, say you’re on Amazon looking at the page of the latest shoot ’em up game for your XBox 360

Well, after a few seconds of contemplation, Invisible Hand will smoothly slide in from the top of your browser and tell you whether Amazon does indeed boast the best price for death and destruction on an apocalyptic scale, OR whether any of the other UK retailers it monitors has a better deal.

It will specify exactly how much the saving is and just for swank even provide a link directly to your item on that cheaper site. Now you’ll never pay more than necessary to blow shit up again!

Honestly, while Invisible Hand doesn’t cover all categories of items yet, getting it is a no-brainer. If you shop online at all you’d be mad to miss the potential savings for electronics, software, games, music, books and even girlie stuff like cosmetics from companies such as Boots, Asda, John Lewis, Argos, PC World, HMV and of course Amazon.

So I urge you, if you know what’s good for you, go to the Invisible Hand website now to download it.

It may be called Invisible Hand but for online shopping the savings it provides are obvious.

BasketBuster. Online shopping vouchers the easy way.

How would you like to be at the start of the the next big thing when it comes to saving money online?

To have immediate and easy access to voucher codes for hundreds of shopping websites, including many of the biggest like Amazon, all at the click of a button on your browser.

To be in fact, pioneers of an application that could soon be adopted by millions, but is still so brand new that I’m the first to write about it.

Well now’s your chance, but you won’t just be doing yourself a huge favour, you’ll be doing me one as well.

Because the reason I am the first to write about this hopefully soon to be ubiquitous application, a new browser add-on called BasketBuster, is that I’ve actually been involved in its development.

Only with some graphics and web design admittedly, not with the really clever background stuff but nevertheless I think it’s a great concept and it can’t fail to be a success.

But what makes BasketBuster so good then?

Well, it’s the easiest way to save money online with voucher codes yet.

That’s because you don’t have to go looking for those elusive codes yourself, with the BasketBuster browser add-on installed you can instantly see if a site has any special voucher offers thanks to a new colour coded icon right next to your address bar.

If it’s green then you’re in luck, there are voucher codes available…and it will even tell you of any competitor offers as well. If it’s amber the site you’re on doesn’t have any codes but BasketBuster will tell you of those other sites that do. And with a red icon, frankly you can forget about any offers, there are none.

But hey, at least you know you’re not losing out and you needn’t bother wasting time searching for non-existent voucher codes.

Although that’s just half of it, because if you do get a green or amber light you are clear just to click on the very same icon and a sidebar will now slide out to give you all of the available offers and those valuable codes.

It couldn’t really be any easier and how can BasketBuster not succeed when it’s free and it’s all about saving you money.

Although when I say you’d be pioneers of this new revolution of online saving I meant it because BasketBuster is actually yet to be officially launched.

Only a very select few have it so far and you need a username and password to download it.

But I can now exclusively reveal that the abracadbra to open those BasketBuster doors to easier online voucher codes than ever before is the username save and the password money.

So go to the official BasketBuster website, the one I’ve been having a hand in, and when it comes to downloading the browser add on, so far it’s only the Firefox version that is currently working. The Internet Explorer one will be coming soon.

It’s all safe to use however, totally spyware and malware free and if you only shop infrequently anyway, it just sits quietly and obediently in the background until you decide to activate it.

But if you still need a little convincing about BasketBuster, about how easily it could save you money and how cool it will be when it’s properly unleashed on the World, here is a little video created to explain it in just 1 minute 25 seconds.

Remember though, you read about it here first.

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Top 10 internet predictions for 2010

Bloody hell, 2009 went quickly didn’t it, must have been cutbacks caused by the recession.

But it wasn’t just the culmination of another year, it also marked the end of the first real online decade.

And talk about the rise of the machines, even if it wasn’t Skynet and the T1000, there’s a sometimes hostile computer in nearly every home now.

So Gawd knows what will happen over as many as the next 10 years, possibly it’ll be Google that takes over the World, but I can at least try to forecast what will happen this year.

It has to be said though, I haven’t tried very hard.

So in no particular order of probability, the only accuracy I will vouch for, I give you my Top 10 Internet Predictions for 2010

  1. Twitter and Facebook merge to become TwitFace. It could have been worse.
  2. In a focused promotional campaign for its search engine Bing, Microsoft target students with a variation called Bong and football managers with a secret edition called Bung.
  3. After Cliff Richard threatens to be Christmas Number No. 1, a huge internet campaign is launched in favour of The X Factor winner’s single.
  4. Apple sue the BBC over retrospective naming rights to iClaudius.
  5. Internet porn sites distinguish themselves by starting with xxx. instead of www.
  6. Online poll of UK pensioners reveals most believe Peter Kay invented the t’internet, and garlic bread.
  7. Computer pranksters release a virus that makes the Enter key sporadically emit a fart noise.
  8. The government identifies a new green initiative for Spam email, it must be printed off to be recycled.
  9. Firefox gains upper hand in the browser wars by replacing logo with a picture of Megan Fox in only a firemans helmet.
  10. Most viewed YouTube video, Charlie biting Susan Boyle’s finger.

Windows 7 – An open letter to Bill Gates.

Hi Bill,

I think it’s about time we had a chat.

Because we haven’t always seen eye to eye have we. I’ve certainly had a few unflattering things to say about your products and you can’t have liked it because you’ve willfully never left a me comment on here.

That’s ok, nobody enjoys criticism and at least you haven’t had me quietly eliminated.

But I stand by everything I’ve said about Internet Explorer 7, it was the easily the least of all modern browsers and as for that piece of crap that was IE6, being a web designer who is still forced to code for that steaming turd of a browser I’ve sometimes thought about putting a hit out on you instead.

And as for Vista, well, it may have been prettier but as an operating system it was a huge backward step after XP. Mind you, I suppose there is always the chance you meant it that way to force people to buy the next version of Windows as well.

Cunning really. I will say this for you Bill, you are clever man at business.

Well, if that was the plan, it worked. Because I have purchased the brand new Windows 7. And I’ve installed it, and I’ve been using it for a week and I have to tell you Bill…I like it.

It’s good, no really it is. It’s quicker, it doesn’t seem to crash and there are even new features like the snapping windows that haven’t even been nicked from a Mac!

Of course it also comes bundled with Internet Explorer 8 which frankly I wasn’t bothered with, but surprise surprise, you now have a browser that I might use occasionally.

Admittedly that’s because you’ve lifted a lot of stuff directly from Firefox, including features I’ve written about but at least it shows you were paying attention.

In fact now I would tell anyone with an older version of Internet Explorer that it would be worthwhile to go to the official IE8 site and download it.

I mean you would know better than I about its improved security and the new features like ‘InPrivate’ browsing, where you can deliberately ask it to ignore your browsing history, otherwise known as ‘PornMode.’

Although I will give you the benefit of the doubt and say you didn’t request that particular feature personally.

So Bill, finally I can say that our relationship is working out now, that perhaps we can be friends after all.

And that if you are ever around my way, you should stop by, I’ve got some ideas we can discuss over a beer or two. My sofa is quite comfy if you feel like crashing out afterwards.

Or if it’s easier, I could always come to your place.

You probably have a larger sofa.

Be Funky. The art of photography made simple.

Let me ask you this, have you ever felt like the frustrated artist.

That you know deep down inside you’re just bursting with creativity but the only thing you’ve ever really drawn successfully are the curtains.

Well, let me introduce you to a great little resource by the name of Be Funky, an entirely free browser based application that lets you unleash your inner Banksy by at least turning your photos into works of art.

For this is what it does, and brilliantly easily too. With one click of the mouse you can transform photographs into stencil drawings, cartoons, fine line sketches and dayglo half-tone Warhol paintings amongst many other inbuilt styles and then fine-tune them as well.

And not only that, you can access all sorts of other customisable goodies too, adding frames, speech bubbles, shapes, even a beard and devil horns to a picture of your Mother-in-Law if your creative muse so dictates…assuming she doesn’t possess either already.

Getting started is simple as well, you upload pictures via an elegant little interface and you can even select those images you already have online on social networks accounts like Facebook, My Space or Flickr.

Plus once you’re done, Be Funky is just as slick in allowing you to share your masterpieces, sending the finished results to your desktop, back to those same community accounts or you can just as easily email your work to your soon to be impressed friends.

Plus it does all this without need for registration, although it does only take a minute to create an account and then you’ll be able to save all of your prized creations.

I think Be Funky is terrific, it’s one of those websites which is part serious application, part frivolous fun but wholely ‘just one more go’ compulsive.

But don’t just take my word for it, visit Be Funky and draw your own conclusion.

No puppies were harmed in funking up these photographs

No puppies were harmed in funking up these photographs

Free Rice. Helping to feed the World and your vocabulary.

Right, I want you to stop what you’re doing and I want you to go to a website called Free Rice.

Well not right now obviously, first I want you to keep reading but afterwards I do want you to go to a website called Free Rice. In fact I implore you.

Because not only will you get a chance to test your intelligence and learn some stuff but in your own little way you’ll be helping to fight World hunger as well.

And I know how fanciful that sounds but it’s absolutely true. Let me explain.

FreeRiceFree Rice is a very neat little website that is run by the United Nations World Food Program and one which lives up to the name because its sole purpose is to provide free rice to some of the poorest people of the World in over 75 countries.

And it does this with your help using simple but fun vocabulary tests, alongside some other quizzes, that for every one of your correct answers the various large companies who sponsor the site donate 10 grains of rice.

Not alot obviously but when hundreds of thousands of people are taking the challenge every single day that’s a lot of bowls being filled.

On the day before I posted this, the site says 22,659,350 grains were donated and since Free Rice was launched in October 2007 a total of 66,691,160,670 grains of rice have been contibuted so far. That’s 66 billion, crikey, I wouldn’t want to count ’em.

But apart from the fantastic charitable aspect of the site, it’s just simple addictive fun. You’re given a word and asked what it means from a choice of four options. And oh they start off easy but begin getting harder and more obscure until you think they must be making the buggers up.

With 60 levels of difficulty as well, which for every 3 correct definitions you go up a level and for a wrong ‘un drop down a level, there’s a distinct sense of achievement when you beat your previous best. Of course that’s when they start hitting you with words like ‘dyspeptic’ and ‘vituperation’ to define.

And I was dyspeptic and hurled plenty of vituperation at the computer screen when those came up I can tell you.

Not that I knew it immediately, because then I didn’t know dyspectic meant bad tempered and vituperation meant verbal abuse. At the time they just meant I wasn’t as clever as I thought I was, but I’m a little bit cleverer for knowing them now.

So do the clever and charitable thing yourself, go to the Free Rice website by clicking this link and the first thing you should do before starting the tests is to select the Options Tab and click the button for it to remember your own tally of contributed rice. Trust me, you’ll be returning to the site plenty more times yet.

Tell your friends about Free Rice too, and if you know any kids definitely tell them about it, they’ll be the ones to benefit most other than those to whom a simple bowl of rice means so much. And if they object at first, make the little darlings visit.

Between a bit of coercive vituperation and helping to donate some food for the most needy, Bob Geldof would be proud of you.

Google Preferences that are definitely more preferable.

Well since I spoke of Google and the ‘+Show options‘ feature in my last article, let’s explore just a little more about how to get the best out of Googling.

For there are dozens of sneaky tricks and special modifiers you can add to narrow your searches down to practically a molecular level.

Nevertheless, the really advanced Google Particle Physics stuff can wait for another post. Let’s start off with some easy changes and a few suggestions that in all honesty, you will probably use more anyway.

The first thing to experiment with is your Google Preferences, because by default the big G hides away some of its better options. Such as it limits the number of results per page to just the 10, but you don’t have to be restricted to that, it’s easy to increase that number.

On the actual Google page itself, right by the Search button, you’ll see a little link for Preferences. Click that and you’ll be able to increase the number per page from 10 to 20, 30, 50 even up to a 100. It does warn that the more results per page, the longer it will take to load but it means only in nanoseconds, as a human with a normal perception of time you won’t notice any difference at all on 20 results per page.

And er, ladies, on that Preferences page, if you have impressionable children or an inquisitive husband to keep away from the saucy stuff on the internet, click the SafeSearch option “Use strict filtering (Filter both explicit text and explicit images)“. Then if he moans about it later, you know he’s been looking don’t you.

Plus while you’re there, I definitely, definitely recommend you check the “Open search results in a new browser window.” box. On modern browsers this opens any clicked search result in a brand new tab, so now you wont be condemned to the crazy back and forth between every clicked link and Google, losing your comparisons as you go.

Just make sure you save all Preferences changes before you leave this page though won’t you.

But as for the actual searching, I wonder if you’ve ever thought to do these…

The Reverse Phone Number. If someone phoned and didn’t leave a message but you 1471’d their number, have you ever thought to just type that number into Google. If it’s a business you’ll see straight away who didn’t even have the decency to say they called. Now you can righteously slam the phone down on them when they try again.

The Postcode Modifier. You may be used to adding your town or city name after certain search terms to act as a refiner, but it’s even better to replace that with your postcode. First it’s usually quicker to type and it narrows a search to a more local area.

So say you’re in the mood for a nice Rogan Josh, you can Google Indian Restaurant followed by a postcode and in a different look to the normal Google results, you’ll be presented with a list of 10 matches that are closest and a small map of their location. But you can do better, click where it says “Local Business For…” and be transported to a more specific page of those same results where you can even click a link to easily get the full Google Map directions to your curry house of choice, just by adding your postcode again.

The “When is the Film on?”. And if you fancy a film before your meal and want to know when it starts, you don’t need a cinema’s website. Just type into Google the full movie name of your choice and your postcode. The two most local cinemas will appear right there with all the start times. Click on the cinema name itself and it even provides the start times of all other movies showing as well, just in case your date doesn’t want to see a movie with giant robots in it.

Simple ways then to get more from Google, or not if you prefer.

New options to make you a Time Lord of Googling.

When you perform a search in Google, what do you do?

Do you just type in a basic search query and then try to sift through the results or do you do the smart, time saving thing and add a few further refinements.

Well courtesy of a brand new feature to Google those refinements are easier to achieve than ever. But while this welcome addition to the Worlds most familiar website is in plain sight for all to see, it’s so modest in appearance you’ll be forgiven for not noticing it or realizing its significance.

Because hiding beneath the understated wording of  ‘+Show options‘ at the top of your results there lies a whole new raft of filtering methods to streamline your searching.

Options that will instantly revamp your results if you were just looking for a review of something, a forum relating to the topic or videos about it. (Although still the better options for Video is to click at the very top of the page, you’ll get the same results but you’ll be able to play them right there inside Google.)

GOOGLE3All very useful, but on top of this Google have now integrated a much needed method to refine your search to either recent results, to those within the last 24 hours, last week or last year and a very clever one to define your very own time period to select from, down even to looking for results from a single day, years ago if you wanted.

Because just think, if you Googled Dr Who, you’ve got 11 incarnations of our time travelling hero to choose from. But starting with the right keywords and requesting only results from a very select window of time you can narrow the hits to a particular period of Christopher Eccleston for instance.

Fantastic. Absolutely Fantastic. What can I say, he’s my favorite.

Plus you can do more, you can expand the text of each result from the traditional two lines worth, include images from those pages and there is the appearance of something called ‘The Wonder Wheel’. A fascinating ever expanding DNA representation of all the people, topics and linked terms that’s associated to your inquiry and far beyond.

There’s also a Related Search option and the inclusion of an amazing Timeline function, something to serve even The Doctor well if he ever needed to know precisely the years in history he had already thwarted the Dalek menace.

So the next time you’re searching Google, do try these new ‘+ Show options‘ functions for yourself.

You’ll get to your destination in a much quicker time and with a lot less rattling about than the TARDIS.

OpenWith. The solution to opening any kind of file.

Now then, it’s a fact of computer life that sometimes there are files on our machines that we can’t open.

Someone sends you something with the message, “You Must See This, They’re Enormous!” and you try every program you have but nothing will let you crack into that elusive extension.

So what to do?

Well, one option is to use a file conversion service like Zamzar, something I’ve already written about.

Or perhaps you just find a FREE program that you know is compatible with that filetype and download it, thus making life a lot less frustrating when your annoying but well meaning friend sends you the same kind of file again.

And that’s what a handy utility called OpenWith allows you to do.

OpenWithBecause after a simple and lightweight download of OpenWith itself, (Although a word to the wise, it does come bundled with another download for something called PC MightyMax 2009, so uncheck that option when you see that screen) now if you right click on the offending file, the first option to appear in that contextual menu is the query ‘Openwith.org. How Do I Open This?’

So you click to find out, it’s own little browser like window opens and you’ll be answered by a description of that filetype plus a list of one or more FREE programs that will definitely open it for you, even providing the download links to those programs.

All very easy and convenient but if you’d like some further info before proceeding, simply double click the filetype or program description in that OpenWith window and be transported to its own website where you’ll be able to learn more.

And don’t think OpenWith is only useful for providing a list of programs to open obscure file extensions, you’ll find free sources to open all Microsoft formats as well, along with so many others you may think require the original and expensive programming. Like I say, OpenWith provides the solution to open ANY kind of file.

Actually while I say ANY, it’s more like a disinfectant killing 99% of all known germs, a few filetypes might still be stubbornly resistant but you needn’t worry that yours will be one of them.

There’s really not much more to add, except to say that this great little program has earned 5 star reviews and is certified free from all spyware and malware.

So go to the OpenWith.org website by clicking this link, have a look at the easy-to-follow instructions page and decide whether this is something you can use.

But I would say that sooner or later you’ll definitely have a use for OpenWith, that OpenWith stays out of the way until you do need it and that OpenWith is small and safe so don’t muck about, download it while you think of it.

After all, you never know what your friend will send you next.

CoolPreviews. The best Firefox plug-in ever?

Ok then, how would you like to see what a webpage looks like behind a link BEFORE you click it?

Alright, you’ve probably never thought about it but hold onto your clicking finger folks because I’m about to explain how you can do exactly that and so turbo-charge your web surfing.

For the topic of my humble scribblings this time is a brilliant Firefox browser plug-in called CoolPreviews, a kind of picture in picture for your web surfing.

One that opens a new window within your present one simply by hovering over a website link, that’s ANY link on ANY page. And when you do open that window, it’s not just for a passive snapshot of a webpage, it’s to interact with that site just as you normally would.

And the point of that is :

  • On Google, no more going back and forth from all those search results, now you can preview each one while staying on Google.
  • On YouTube, no trawling to a new page, just hover over a thumbnail and watch any video in its own window.
  • On sites like Amazon, you can shop twice as fast by shopping in two windows, you could say it’s window in window shopping.
  • On News sites you could read about both sides of the story at once.
  • On any intriguing link in fact you can lazily preview it without leaving the site you’re on.
  • And if your feeling reluctant to click a potentially dodgy link, see where it would lead by safely hovering over it…and therefore not activating the nastiness it could harbour.

But there’s also more to it, too much to explain here but notably a handy bookmarking feature called Stacks, so this time I’m including a handy video explanation/tutorial for CoolPreviews by its makers, the same team behind Cooliris (the topic of my first ever post on here)

It showcases a slightly older version of CoolPreviews, but it does explain most of what you need to know, although make sure you check out the preferences options on your own should you download it.

Because I tell you, I’ve been using CoolPreviews for months and it’s revolutionized the way I’ve surfed the web and while I know I’ve eulogised about other Firefox plug-ins…and I’m sure I will about many more, if you ever only download one, make this it.

You can do so by CoolPreviews website.

CoolPreviews, your window to a brand new way of web surfing.

The F Keys. The F should not stand for forgotten.

Do me a favour will you, look at your keyboard.

I mean really look at it, examine it closely, and ignoring all the dust, crumbs and dandruff strewn over it, I want you to focus on those keys you never think to use, the Home key, the End key and the top row of F keys that you prop your pen against.

Well, it might simply be that you’re overlooking those keys because you don’t know what they do or realize how useful they can be.

Actually I exaggerate, some of them are useless on their own and and we shall ignore them like the dried up sneezes that also customise our keyboards, but as for the others, it’s at least worth knowing what they do.

Let’s start with The F keys, the F actually standing for Function, although you can function perfectly well without most of them.

But the ones most worthwhile are :

The F1 key – The ‘Help’ key. The button to press when you need a little guidance about the program open at the forefront of your screen. Mind you, for most programs it would help if there was another button to press to help you make sense of the help they so unhelpfully try to help with.

The F2 key – The ‘Rename’ key. Very convenient. Click on your target, press this button and you’re able to instantly rename that folder with those dodgy pics in it – VAT Receipts 09/10. (Note to my Mrs, only an example my dear, only an example.)

The F5 key – The ‘Refresh’ key. Used in tandem with any web browser. Handy for confirming the webpage you’ve loaded is the latest version, for reloading a page that mis-loads and for repeatedly stabbing angrily when a page is taking far too long to load.

The F6 Key – The ‘Transfer Focus To The Address Bar In A Browser’ key. Big deal you may think but handily removes that trip to the mouse to do the same thing and then back to the keyboard. My personal favourite and if it’d made sense to put this on top of the list I would have.

The F11 key – The ‘Full Screen’ key. If your TV had its menu perpetually at the top of the screen you wouldn’t put up with it, and you don’t have to when you’re web surfing. Hit this to make the top toolbar disappear and hit it again when you need it.

And as for those other keys you never use…

The Home key – This one is contextual and its effect will depend on the program you’re using at the time. But I’m only talking about web browsers here, so if you’ve scrolled to the bottom of a looooong webpage, hit this and whammo, you’re instantly back to the top again.

The End key – Guess what, this one does the opposite. Can’t face that long scroll to the bottom of a webpage, this will drop you there quicker than a mouse shaped breeze-block.

So now you know, and for F’s sake, clean all that crap out of your keyboard!