ROBERT SIEGEL, host:
From NPR News, this is All Things Considered. I'm Robert Siegel.
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SIEGEL: And it's time now for our weekly technology segment, "All Tech Considered," and I'm joined as always by our tech expect, Omar Gallaga. Welcome back, Omar.
Mr. OMAR GALLAGA (Technology Reporter, Austin American-Statesman): Hello, Robert.
SIEGEL: And I gather we are going dating this week.
Mr. GALLAGA: Well, maybe not you and I in particular, but yes, these online dating sites have become very, very popular. I mean, you might have seen ads on TV for Match.com or eHarmony, but I think people are surprised by just how widespread online dating is and just how many sites there are.
SIEGEL: And we should say that online dating means you meet online. The date actually takes place in - not in the virtual world, but in the real world, I hope.
Mr. GALLAGA: If you're lucky, yes.
SIEGEL: If you're lucky. Well, we're going to talk more about this in a moment, about online dating. But first, millions of people may be using the Internet to find love, but many are still making the same old analogue mistakes. As April Baer of Oregon Public Broadcasting reports, there is a new industry that's devoted to helping singles put their best foot forward.
APRIL BAER: Straight white female, 41, athletic with a knockout smile, sits in front of her computer checking out the prospects.
Ms. SHULA NEUMAN: This is JDate, which is theoretically the Jewish dating site.
BAER: Shula Neuman just moved from Seattle to St. Louis. When she decided to start ramping up her social life, she, like millions of others, went online.
Ms. NEUMAN: Even though it would be, of course, nice to find a date hot and heavy, really I'm just more interested in meeting people at this point.
BAER: Neuman's turned up some intriguing possibilities on JDate. And there's one guy looking for a special lady to appreciate him as much as he appreciates himself.
Ms. NEUMAN: Mystery Charmer. OK, see now, the mystery is no mystery. He's not that much of a charmer. He's with this hot blonde on his arm.
BAER: Imagine this guy walking into a party, maybe with the blonde in tow, and introducing himself as he does online.
Ms. NEUMAN: So his profile reads, "Passion, so important for a fulfilling life." Yeah, that's kind of a turnoff. I just want somebody who sounds like they're talking. And at the same time, you know, I also don't like it when they're listing off their criteria in their little "About Me" section. Are you somebody who likes to do this and skydive and take romantic walks on the beach?
BAER: If there's hope for people with crappy profiles, like this guy, it can be found with consultants like Sierra Faith. She's an online dating coach in the Bay Area who helps people retool their virtual selves. She's noticed most customers want help with their profiles.
Ms. SIERRA FAITH (Online Dating Consultant): Either they're looking for a greater kind of traffic, where they can meet a lot more people, or they're busy. And a lot of women and men that are very busy tend to present themselves in the romantic arena the way that they would present themselves in the business arena. And actually energetically, it's totally backwards.
BAER: Dozens of consultants like Sierra Faith have sprung up in recent years offering coaching services for online dating. If you don't want to spring for one of those, even the online dating sites offer some help.
Mr. HERB VEST (CEO, True.com): Yeah, you want to get it as close to the truth as possible.
BAER: Herb Vest is a former banker from Dallas who now runs the matchmaking site True.com. Vest says a lot of people are thinking much too far ahead when they're writing profiles. Stop looking for Mr. or Ms. Right, he says, and just find that good first date.
Mr. VEST: What you're looking for here, like a fisherman, is fish. You want to attract the fish. Once they get into the boat, you can throw them back out.
BAER: In recent years, his site has started offering help with profiles and pictures. And the site's even working on a service that identifies customer preferences and changes your profile picture based on who's looking at you. For NPR News, I'm April Baer in Portland, Oregon.
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