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Wednesday, April 11, 2007

Always Remember: GOOGLE!

Unlike many of you, I grew up in a time before the internet, before home computers. I was 23 years old when the first 16K desktop computer with a magnetic tape system and no disks or hard drive arrived in my home town. So computers are not first-nature to me. I know that you can find anything with Google, but I sometimes just don't remember that you can always find anything with Google.

Take for example, the British postal codes. We keep Starlist (the list of known players and customers) in zip code order. This works nicely for the US, and even for Canada. Britain, however, decided to name post codes for cities and when the cities were named a couple of thousand years ago, it didn't occur to anyone to name them alphabetically from north to south. So, some British gamer who lives in Stoke on Trent (post code ST, part of Staffordshire) and asks for Starlist would be sent Essex (SS, 300 miles away) and London (SW, 250 miles away) but would not be sent Cheshire (SK) or even other parts of Staffordshire (which have the code WV for no apparent reasons).

For eight years I have told British players to just tell me the adjacent post codes so I can send those lists. Never even occurred to me that in 15 seconds on Google I could be looking at a nice map (actually, any of a dozen of them, many by various companies helping customers find the nearest branch office) of England (and the rest of the UK) showing me that ST is adjacent to SK, DE, WS, WV, TV, and CW. In quick time, the customer has a much more useful list of people who are much closer to him, some within five minutes!