Cybernaut 

Romance for idiots

Ah, Valentine’s Day. Damned if you do, damned if you don’t.

Obligatory gestures do lack some sincerity, and the best romantic gestures are the most spontaneous ones, but Valentine’s is not really about romance – it’s a test, pure and simple, to see whether you can be romantic on demand. If you want any real romance on that day or any day in the future, then you’d better pass that test. Approach it like you would a final exam.

Cynical truths about Valentine’s being created by greeting card companies won’t get you anywhere either, so try to be sincere.

Naturally, people looking for romantic ideas can turn to the Internet.

Romance 101 – www.rom101.com

Romance 101 is a good place to start for the romantically-challenged. Check out the Ideas section and read the Top 15 Amazing First Date Ideas, Cheap Date Ideas and Worst Gifts a Man can buy a Woman. Apparently flannel and Weight Watchers gift certificates are a no-no.

This site is also a good hub for sending e-cards, looking up romantic recipes, and writing love letters.

Best of all this site has a sense of humour that desperate people will find comforting.

Loving You – www.lovingyou.com

This site will come in handy for all those in long-term relationships that are looking for ways to keep the romance fresh, and it comes equipped with an online store that just happens to carry every romantic item they recommend.

The website also has a database of 2,500 reader-submitted ideas for romance. If you can’t find an idea or two here, then you’re hopeless and may be spending future Valentine’s Days alone.

Canada Flowers – www.canadaflowers.ca

Canada Flowers is a hub that connects individuals with participating flower shops in their community. Apparently rose prices are higher during Valentine’s, and although they’re the traditional gift there are hundreds of other choices.

Tourism Whistler – www.tourismwhistler.com/todo/dining_nightlife.asp

Not only has Tourism Whistler put together a Valentine Instruction Manual with romantic ideas, the site has contact information for almost every restaurant in town – if a romantic dinner is being planned, you’re going to want to make a reservation.

100 Memorable and Great ‘Chick’ Flicks – www.filmsite.org/chickflicks.htm

Valentine’s is the one day all good men should surrender and let their significant other pick the movie. Filmsite.org put together a list of 100 great Chick Flicks, and some of them aren’t that bad. Two hours of your time shouldn’t be too much to ask, and the best part of it is that you’ll be able to milk this good deed for months.

Competition for Google?

Microsoft’s first foray into the search engine is getting mixed reviews, but I wouldn’t expect Microsoft to leave it at that. For one thing, it’s going to be a default engine bundled along with Internet Explorer, which is bundled along with their Windows and Office software. And if we’ve learned one thing about Microsoft from Office, WMV, .Net and Xbox, it is that this company does not give up, and is not shy about using its money and influence to back a product.

Microsoft itself has acknowledged that the new search engine isn’t perfect, but rather was a starting point for a service that would rival Google and Yahoo!, which formerly powered Microsoft’s search engine. In the next few months people are going to see the news and ads stripped from the MSN portals, creating a simpler, faster loading layout where the search bar is the predominant feature.

This engine is only going to get better and better, but it remains to be seen if it can take any market share from Google, which currently handles almost 40 per cent of all searches according to comScore’s July Media Metrix statisitics. Yahoo is second with about 27 per cent of searches, while MSN and AOL are tied for third with 14.5 per cent and 12.8 per cent respectively.

To test the new search engine for yourself, go to www.msn.ca.

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