It was not much more than ten years ago that the Internet first began getting hot, and I signed on for the ride. Actually, it wasn't the Internet per se but a bulletin board and email service for teachers with a limited gateway to the Internet. After several months of slipshod service and text-only browsing, I was ready for the real thing and blazed onto the Information Highway at a modem speed of 14.4 kbps.
I thought it absolutely amazing and wonderful to surf from one country to the next and to email people from all over the planet: Singapore, Japan, Israel, the UK, and of course Canada and the US. It was, and it still is, but I tend to take it for granted now.
My next computer whizzed around the Net at double the speed (28.8 kbps), and the one after that doubled the speed again (56 kbps). I stayed at that speed for quite a while. I resisted moving to high speed/broadband because I didn't want to get too used to it should we decide to move to a remote area with slow service. Even now, when we go to the cottage, the maximum speed that I obtain is 28.8, and it is sometimes below 20.
What I am getting at is this: now that internet access is so fast, I'd rather find a file online than on my own computer — it's quicker. For example: I was recently backing up some blogs. It was easier for me to re-download the picture from my own blog rather than search for it on my computer.
Searching dictionary.com to check a spelling, meaning, or looking for a synonym is so much easier and faster than getting up, finding my dictionary and/or thesaurus and thumbing through the pages. That's the rather obscure point of the above obscure graphic. Using Firefox, I can download extensions for an immediate search. To the right, you can see (well perhaps you can't see at this size) my current searches.
My most frequently used extended search is dictionary.com. I simply press CTRL + T to open a new browser tab, so that I can keep the window that I was working on — say, a blog. I type the word into the search bar, press ENTER and have my definition in no time flat. Then, I click back to my blog entry or whatever, and continue my work (for that is what I choose to call it, my friend).
This is pretty darn important to me because my spelling is not getting any better. Let me see, if you want to spell occurrence, do you double the C, the R, or both? Does it end with an ance or an ence? Frankly, I no longer have a clue.
Part of it is because I am a Canadian, stuck between American and British English and not knowing which way is up. Do I spell it defence or defense, license or licence? I don't know; I have lost my way. Do we practise or practice? I think the Canadian way is to use practise for the verb and practice for the noun, but I am no longer certain of anything pertaining to this language.
This probably didn't confuse me at all at one time. Doubtless, I was taught the proper Canadian way in school and was never truly aware that there was another way. As I think about it, I am sure that every novel we ever read in school was of Canadian/British origin. These days, however, I am exposed to both varieties of English, including certain Canadian variants, and I can't seem to remember which usage is most proper for me. It must be so easy to be a Yank or a Brit and to always be certain of the one and only correct way. Now, I know both ways, but I can never recall which one is correct for me, or indeed if I might be hallucinating and there really is only one proper way and, now in my confusion, I just think that there is another.
They say that knowledge is power, but I am finding that it results in confusion.