Friday, August 22, 2008

iGoogle and it's WikiHow offerings

For quite some time now, the home page of my Firefox web browser has been iGoogle, which is a customizable start page, which gives you many options to add content you enjoy or find useful. I've configured mine thus:

One of my favorite features of this has been the links under "How to of the Day", which links to randomly selected How-To articles from wikiHow. I often see something interesting or useful, where I think "I've always wanted to know how to do that" or "I wonder if it has some tips on how to do it better?" I have often found entertaining and useful information there. Here is a sample, of today's links:

How to Power Nap
Have you ever noticed that a short nap can be refreshing, while a longer nap can leave you feeling even more tired? There is a reason for that:

[...] What you're doing during a power nap is capturing the benefits of the first two of the five stages in the sleep cycle. These first two stages take place in the first twenty minutes. In addition to making you feel more rested and alert, the electrical signals in your nervous system strengthen the connection between neurons involved in muscle memory, making your brain work faster and more accurately.


Sleeping for any longer than 20 minutes will be counterproductive. A half hour can lead to sleep inertia, making you feel sluggish and more tired than ever. [...]

The wikiHow instructions also offer tips for the topic, and often have footnotes at the end to follow up on if you want more information.

The other tip for today was about a difficult task cat owners sometimes have to face:

How to Give a Cat Medicine

"Expect a struggle"

While anyone who has ever tried to do this with a cat knows it won't be easy, there are ways to make it easier, and the wikiHow gives you relevant tips. It also helps by telling you what NOT to do as well:

[...] DO NOT squirt liquid medication into the cat's throat or tongue. Liquids are likely to go down a cat's windpipe, making the cat choke. For liquid medications, insert the dropper between the cat's cheek and teeth. [...]

Just getting through the experience without getting scratched or bit is worth taking the time to read the wiki. If you can get the medicine down successfully as well, so much the better.

These two examples from wikiHow may not seem terribly exciting, but keep in mind that the subjects chosen are random, so over time you end up with quite a selection of topics. Even topics that may seem stupid or irrelevant to you can be amusing to read. Sometimes you discover that a topic you thought was simple actually is a lot more complex than you thought, because of factors you had not considered or didn't know about.

All in all, it's been educational and fun. I'm definitely a wikiHow fan now.


No comments: