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Ask MetaFilter Contains Everything You'll Ever Want to Know

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Ask MetaFilter is a community site in which people ask and answer questions. There are tons of new questions every day, and they're all over the map -- you'll find life-and-death situations, complex technical topics, and even recipe suggestions. At the moment (as of 9am Pacific on January 6, 2011), I see a bunch of computer questions, along with these gems:

Whats the vibe like in Manzanillo, Costa Rica (Nicoya)? - 0 answers

What would be a good low maintenance freshwater fish that would thrive in a 2 gallon kids aquarium with a bubbler but no heater? - 10 answers

Wicked long shot, but I would like to identify a 15-year-old infomercial because it brought me so much joy. It featured a man in a dance club selling some mysterious service - 6 answers, including someone who found a complete video online showing the infomercial!

It's a big roiling pot of crazy awesome stuff. Check out the Most favorited posts of all time page for such hits as:

I want a badass skill. I want to know how to do something that people will see and think "wow, that is badass." - 108 answers

What are some good, somewhat dirty jokes suitable for telling to my Grandma? - 53 answers

Help! I'm stuck in my bedroom. The knob won't turn much either way and won't come unlatched. The only person who has a key to my house is out of town, so I can't even call a locksmith and have him let in. How can I get out of my bedroom? The door knob is the kind with screws only on the exterior. I've tried to slide a credit card in, but that did not yield results. Anyone have any advice to help me get out of my room? - 115 answers, and a community quickly forms around getting this woman out of her room

You get the idea. Got a few hours/days/years to kill? Ask MetaFilter. Oh, and if you're a design geek you might enjoy their ridiculous 2010 Year in MetaFilter infographic.

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Live Smarter
Make Spreadsheets a Whole Lot Easier With This Excel Trick
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While data nerds may love a good spreadsheet, many office workers open Microsoft Excel with a certain amount of resistance. Inputting data can be a monotonous task. But a few tricks can make it a whole lot easier. Business Insider has a new video highlighting one of those shortcuts—a way to create a range that changes with the data you input.

Dynamic named ranges change and grow with your data, so, for instance, if one column is time and another is, say, dollar value, the value can change automatically as time goes on. If you do this, it's relatively easy to create a chart using this data, by simply inserting your named ranges as your X and Y values. The chart will automatically update as your range expands.

It's easier to see in the program itself, so watch the full video on Business Insider. Microsoft also has its own instructions here, or you can check out this video from the YouTube channel Excel Tip, which also has dozens of other useful tutorials for making Microsoft Excel your hardworking assistant.

[h/t Business Insider]

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History
Marshall McLuhan, the Man Who Predicted the Internet in 1962

Futurists of the 20th century were prone to some highly optimistic predictions. Theorists thought we might be extending our life spans to 150, working fewer hours, and operating private aircrafts from our homes. No one seemed to imagine we’d be communicating with smiley faces and poop emojis in place of words.

Marshall McLuhan didn’t call that either, but he did come closer than most to imagining our current technology-led environment. In 1962, the author and media theorist (who is the subject of today's Google Doodle) predicted we’d have an internet.

That was the year McLuhan, a professor of English born in Edmonton, Canada on this day in 1911, wrote a book called The Gutenberg Galaxy. In it, he observed that human history could be partitioned into four distinct chapters: The acoustic age, the literary age, the print age, and the then-emerging electronic age. McLuhan believed this new frontier would be home to what he dubbed a “global village”—a space where technology spread information to anyone and everyone.

Computers, McLuhan said, “could enhance retrieval, obsolesce mass library organization,” and offer “speedily tailored data.”

McLuhan elaborated on the idea in his 1962 book, Understanding Media, writing:

"Since the inception of the telegraph and radio, the globe has contracted, spatially, into a single large village. Tribalism is our only resource since the electro-magnetic discovery. Moving from print to electronic media we have given up an eye for an ear."

But McLuhan didn’t concern himself solely with the advantages of a network. He cautioned that a surrender to “private manipulation” would limit the scope of our information based on what advertisers and others choose for users to see.

Marshall McLuhan died on December 31, 1980, several years before he was able to witness first-hand how his predictions were coming to fruition.

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