Monday, December 2, 2013

Coolest Music Ever

One of my facebook friends linked to this today.  It's a group of Siberian percussionists making music using the ice on frozen Lake Baikal.

Isn't that amazing?  Who knew ice could be such an awesome musical instrument?

And if this isn't real (see related articles), I still applaud the creativity it took to put this video together.
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Sunday, November 17, 2013

Warning: If You Use 4Shared, Your Files are NOT Private

I signed up for a service called 4shared a while back.  They gave me some free online storage, and I thought it would be a good way to back up some of my files.  They also make it fairly easy to share files with other people.  I used it a couple times when my daughter used my camera to take pictures of apartments she was thinking of renting.  It was an easy way to share the pictures with her once I got them off the camera.

I also uploaded some of my music, probably 5 or 6 CDs - so I could listen to the music from other locations if I needed or wanted to. 4shared has tools to play, share, and even embed music files, so I could even use some music in my blog posts if I wanted to.

That's kind of fun, I guess.  The problem is - I've realized that the files I've uploaded to 4shared are not private at all, and I don't mean the files that I've actually shared, like the pictures I shared with my daughter.  I mean any and all of my files.  How did I realize this?  I started getting emails from 4shared telling me that some of my files were infringing on someone else's copyright.  And then I noticed that people were commenting on my files - files they never should have been able to see in the first place.  What??

The 4shared site says, "If you don't want your file to be seen by everyone, you should share your link confidentially, with certain people only. As the link is generated securely, it is absolutely impossible to access the file."  Which, I guess, would apply to shared files, but what about files that haven't been shared?  Apparently just having them in my account means that they're fair game to anyone - unless I choose to put a password on each and every folder or file, above and beyond the sign in and password that I already use to sign into the site.  (because it's only "absolutely impossible" to access the shared files with securely generated links)

Protect your shared folder with password:

You can protect your shared folder from unauthorized access by setting a password on it. To set a password for a folder, please log into your account, open a folder and right-click on the folder name in the directory tree on the left. Select the "Sharing and Security" command. You will be taken to the page where you need to select the "Share this folder" option and tick "Add password" in the "Link and Security" section. Type a chosen password in the "Password" and "Confirm password" fields. Note that both fields are case sensitive, so you should type absolutely the same password twice. Click on the "Save changes" button to complete setting the password.
Now, I don't know about you, but it seems to me that, unless I choose to share my files, those files should not be visible to anyone else.  Apparently, with 4shared, they are visible to everyone else, unless I choose to add a password.  And about that copyright infringement - if uploading music files, for my own personal enjoyment, is not acceptable, then those tools to play and embed those same music files should not be offered.  Should they?

Never mind, I'll just use Google Play to back up and enjoy my music online and from anywhere, and I'll back-up my files to Copy from now on - where I can share with just the people I choose and not the whole entire world.  (Feel free to use my link to sign up for Copy yourself.  We'll both even get additional free storage)

Friday, June 14, 2013

Easily and Accurately Identify the Tracks in Your Music Library

 --This post brought to you by Music Tag --

Do you have a huge music collection?  How organized is it?  If you're like most of us, you have multiple tracks listed as Unknown Album or Unknown Artist, and the only way to know what the songs are is to play them.  For instance, I ripped one of my son's CDs last week so I could listen to it on my MP3 player.  It was a CD he had burned, combining both a CD and an EP he had by the same artist - because there was room on the CD, so why waste it.  The problem was, when I ripped it, none of the tracks had any info, except track number of that particular CD.  I had to look up the track listings of the CD and the EP and manually edit all of the info.

Well, there's a better way.  Use Music Tag to automatically download missing track info and cover art for your entire music collection.  Unlike other music databases that I've used before, Music Tag can recognize over 35 Million individual songs - not just complete CDs.  How does it work?  Music Tag uses an advanced digital fingerprinting technology to accurately identify the tracks in your music library and proceeds to download all the missing track info, such as Title, Artist, Album and Cover Art.  I'm not sure exactly what that means, but they say that it is extremely accurate and that it has correctly identified the song in every single test performed.

Music Tag is compatible with Windows Vista, Windows 7, and Windows 8 and requires an active internet connection to download missing track data.  You can download a free trial right now, and if you like it, it's only $19.99 and comes with free updates.

With this handy tool, there are no more excuses for unorganized, unnamed music files.

Friday, May 31, 2013

fun. - On the Road Live Performance Tonight

My son introduced me to fun. a few years ago.  If you haven't listened to them, you really should.  They're great!  Actually, you've probably heard them, even if you didn't realize it.  Their music has been turning up on several commercials lately.

 Anyway, they're performing in San Francisco tonight.  Not in San Francisco?  That's OK - you can watch the concert online!  Yahoo on the Road will be streaming fun. performing live in San Fransisco tonight at 9pm Pacific.

I know what I'm doing tonight.

Friday, May 24, 2013

SYNC returns May 30th!

Two FREE audiobook downloads each week.

Teens and other readers of Young Adult Literature will again have the opportunity to listen to bestselling titles and required reading classics this summer. Each week from May 30 - August 15, 2013, SYNC will offer two free audiobook downloads. The audiobook pairings will include a popular young adult (YA) title and a classic that connects with the YA title's theme and is likely to show up on a student's summer reading list.

For example, Maggie Stiefvater's The Raven Boys (Scholastic Audiobooks), the first book in a bestselling series about a group of teenagers searching for the supernatural ley lines, will be paired with the Latino classic of magical realism, Rudolfo Anaya's Bless Me, Ultima (Recorded Books).

I love this!  We were just talking about how many of the 'classics' are either hard to read or not interesting to high school students.   Or, they're just plain not cool.  For the kids who already love to read, it's not such a big deal, but for those who don't think they like reading - this kind of required reading does not inspire in them a love of reading.  If anything, it reinforces the idea that reading is boring and no fun.  Audiobooks are a good way to get non-readers 'reading' by introducing them to the treasures to be found within books.  This pairing of a current popular book with a classic is brilliant.  Listen to the current book, and then 'if you like this, then you'll like that' - it opens them up to trying the classic with an open mind.

At least I think that's how it's supposed to work.  And did I mention the audiobooks are free?

SYNC Titles Summer 2013 

  • May 30 - June 5, 2013
    Of Poseidon by Anna Banks, read by Rebecca Gibel (AudioGO)
    The Tempest by William Shakespeare, read by a Full Cast (AudioGO) 
  • June 6 - June 12, 2013
    The Incorrigible Children of Ashton Place, Book 1: The Mysterious Howling by Maryrose Wood, read by Katherine Kellgren (HarperAudio)
    Jane Eyre by Charlotte Brontë, read by Wanda McCaddon (Tantor Audio) 
  • June 13 - June 19, 2013
    The Raven Boys by Maggie Stiefvater, read by Will Patton (Scholastic Audiobooks)
    Bless Me, Ultima by Rudolfo Anaya, read by Robert Ramirez (Recorded Books) 
  • June 20 - June 26, 2013
    Once by Morris Gleitzman, read by Morris Gleitzman (Bolinda Audio)
    Letter From Birmingham Jail by Martin Luther King, Jr., read by Dion Graham (christianaudio)
  • June 27 - July 3, 2013
    Rotters by Daniel Kraus, read by Kirby Heyborne (Listening Library)
    Frankenstein by Mary Shelley, read by Jim Weiss (Listening Library) 
  • July 4 - July 10, 2013
    Carter Finally Gets It by Brent Crawford, read by Nick Podehl (Brilliance Audio)
    She Stoops to Conquer by Oliver Goldsmith, read by a Full Cast (L.A. Theatre Works) 
  •  July 11 - July 17, 2013
    The Peculiar by Stefan Bachmann, read by Peter Altschuler (HarperAudio)
    Oliver Twist by Charles Dickens, read by Simon Vance (Tantor Audio) 
  • July 18 - July 24, 2013
    Grave Mercy by Robin LaFevers, read by Erin Moon (Recorded Books)
    Hamlet by William Shakespeare, read by a Full Cast (L.A. Theatre Works) 
  • July 25 - July 31, 2013
    The False Prince by Jennifer A. Nielsen, read by Charlie McWade (Scholastic Audiobooks)
    The Prince and the Pauper by Mark Twain, read by Steve West (Blackstone Audio) 
  • Aug 1 - Aug 7, 2013
    Death Cloud by Andrew Lane, read by Dan Weyman (Macmillan Audio)
    The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes by Arthur Conan Doyle, read by Ralph Cosham (Blackstone Audio) 
  • Aug 8 - Aug 14, 2013
    Enchanted by Alethea Kontis, read by Katherine Kellgren (Brilliance Audio)
    Through the Looking Glass by Lewis Carroll, read by Miriam Margolyes (Bolinda Audio) 
  • Aug 15 - Aug 21, 2013
    Sold by Patricia McCormick, read by Justine Eyre (Tantor Audio)
    Let Me Stand Alone by Rachel Corrie, read by Tavia Gilbert (Blackstone Audio) 
TEXT syncya to 25827 for alerts on the SYNC title releases or visit Sync to sign up for email alerts so you won't miss any of these great books.
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Monday, April 29, 2013

How to Make Symbols with Your Keyboard

A Control key (marked "Ctrl") on a m...
Ctrl and Alt keys on a modern Windows keyboard
(Photo credit: Wikipedia)
I just came across this on Facebook, and I'm saving it for later.  And sharing because I thought you might be interested, too. 

± ¢ ☺ ← and those are my test symbols.  It works!  Just hold down the Alt key while you enter the numbers.  It looks like nothing is happening, but as soon as you let go of the Alt key, the symbol appears like magic!  Try it.  You know you want to.

Note: you must be sure the 'NUM LOCK' key is on and use the numeric section of your keyboard, NOT the numbers above your letter keys. 

Alt + 0153..... ™... trademark symbol
Alt + 0169.... ©.... copyright symbol
Alt + 0174..... ®....registered ­ trademark symbol
Alt + 0176 ...° symbol
Alt + 0177 ...± ­-minus sign
Alt + 0182 ...¶.....paragr­aph mark
Alt + 0190 ...¾....fractio­n, three-fourths
Alt + 0215 ....×.....multi­plication sign
Alt + 0162...¢....the ­ cent sign
Alt + 0161.....¡..... ­.upside down exclamation point
Alt + 0191.....¿..... ­upside down question mark
Alt + 1.......☺....smiley face
Alt + 2 ......☻ smiley face
Alt + 15.....☼.....sun
Alt + 12......♀.....female sign
Alt + 11.....♂......m­ale sign
Alt + 6.......♠.....spade
Alt + 5.......♣...... ­Club
Alt + 3.......♥...... ­Heart
Alt + 4.......♦...... ­Diamond
Alt + 13......♪.....e­ighth note
Alt + 14......♫...... ­beamed eighth note
Alt + 8721.... ∑.... N-ary summation (auto sum)
Alt + 251.....√.....square root check mark
Alt + 8236.....∞..... ­infinity
Alt + 24.......↑..... ­up arrow
Alt + 25......↓...... ­down arrow
Alt + 26.....→.....r­ght arrow
Alt + 27......←.....l­eft arrow
Alt + 18.....↕......u­p/down arrow
Alt + 29......↔...lef­t right arrow
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Tuesday, April 9, 2013

Get Free Access to Over 700 Marvel Comics

Marvel Comics #1 (Oct. 1939), the first comic ...
Marvel Comics #1 (Oct. 1939), the first comic from Marvel precursor Timely Comics. Cover art by Frank R. Paul. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
Like comics?  Sign up today to get access to the Marvel #1 promotion and more!
  • Over 700 Marvel comics that you can read anywhere—on your computer or compatible mobile device—available for free for a limited time
  • Exclusive comic book offers, special sales, and new release emails
  • Access to over 30,000 digital comics powered by Guided View™ technology
Sign up by 11:59pm ET tonight to receive your promo invite then watch your inbox for your invite.  The invites will begin rolling out April 11, and then you will have 48 hours to choose your FREE Marvel #1 issues! You'll be able to read over 700 Marvel comics for Free from Comixology Digital Comics.
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Monday, March 18, 2013

How to Eat that Chinese Takeout

Who knew this? I saw this on Anderson Cooper this morning, and I couldn't believe nobody ever knew this.  Or why there aren't instruction printed on the Chinese takeout boxes.  (Yeah, the Chinese restaurant owners have probably been laughing all along.)

Of course, if you're sharing Chinese takeout with a group, you'll still need some plates...

I'm actually thinking that it would work fine if you just opened up the one side - turn the open side toward you and eat from that side, and the unopened back will keep everything nicely inside.

Also, what if you don't eat it all?  They tried it on Anderson Cooper, just folded the box back up again, and it went right back together, so any leftovers will be just fine.

Who else is ready to get some Chinese takeout so you can try this?
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Monday, March 4, 2013

Tree People

Tree climbing - Grimpe d'arbre
Tree climbing - Grimpe d'arbre (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
This post brought to you by SherrillTree

One of these days I am going to try a zipline and/or a ropes course somewhere among the trees.  They just look like so much fun.  I just need to be in a place that offers something like that with some people who will go with me.  One of these days...

Ever wonder where places like that get their ropes and tree-climbing supplies?  I'm betting a lot of them come from SherrillTree.

Founded and still operating in Greensboro, North Carolina, SherrillTree has been providing tree enthusiasts with good quality gear at reasonable prices since 1960.  Their primary purpose is providing arboricultural products to tree care professionals, but they also offer products for tree-climbing enthusiasts like those ropes and ziplines, as well as safety equipment like these chainsaw chaps

Basically, SherrillTree provides tree gear to tree people. And one of these days, I'd like to be one of those tree people.  Who's with me?
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Monday, February 25, 2013

Free Music from Google Play

Woman listening to Music
Woman listening to Music (Photo credit: RelaxingMusic)
Did you know that Google Play features a free song every day?  Just visit Google Play Music and look for the Free Song of the Day.  It's a great way to check out new music.  If you've got a Google account, it's really easy to add songs to your Google Play music library with just a couple clicks and then enjoy them wherever you are - from your web browser or mobile device - and share with friends, too.

My only problem is that I forget to check every day, so I'm sure I've missed some good songs.  I do have quite a few songs in my music library, though, so it's not like I don't have anything to listen to.  I have the Google Music Manager set up on my computer so that any time I download a song or album (usually from Amazon) or rip a CD, it automatically gets added to my Google Play library.  The only problem is when I rip an audio book so I can listen to it on my MP3 player - and those tracks get added too.  Then I just have to remember to go online and delete them later, because I don't really need books stored there, and I don't want them counting against the 20,000 songs I can store on Google Play for free.  Even if that is a lot of songs!  (I have a little over 5000 songs right now)

Besides the Free Song of the Day, Google Play usually has several other free songs to choose from.  I just wish there was a way to 'buy' them all at once instead of having to individually click each one.  But they are free...
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Wednesday, February 20, 2013

Google Glass, How it Feels

Have you seen this?  Google has come up with this incredible little device that will let you take pictures and video of anything you see, just by speaking - "ok glass take a picture" or "ok glass record a video."  Share with friends as you're seeing it.

This new video shows what it does and how it feels:

Doesn't that look like fun?  I've always wanted to get video while riding a roller coaster, but I never figured out a good way to do it.

Wanna try it?  Google is looking for a few bold, creative individuals who want to be a part of shaping the future of Glass.  Using Google+ or twitter, simply tell Google, in 50 words or less, what you'd do if you had Glass, including #ifihadglass in your application.  The deadline for applications is February 27.

For more information, visit  I'm sure my life is too boring to qualify, but you might have a chance.

Free Word Widget for Your Blog or Website

This is a Sponsored post written by me on behalf of anagrammer for SocialSpark. All opinions are 100% mine.

You know I love word games.  I don't even know how many Scrabble, Lexulous, and Words with Friends games I have going right now.  I'm sure I'm not alone.  Lots of people are playing these word games.
Now the word game gurus at Anagrammer™ have created this easy to install and easy to use Word Widget.  It's great for finding and learning new words.  Enter some letters - yes, they could be the actual letters you have in one of those word games, but that would be cheating, wouldn't it?  I think the fun would be in entering my letters and then searching after I've made my move, just to see what else I could have played, because cheating just doesn't seem right.

Anyway, the purpose of this widget is to add a bit of interactivity to your blog or website.  There are so many people playing these word games and giving them a tool to, hopefully not cheat, but to improve their game skills will give people an incentive to visit your site and to spend some time there, too.  According to research done by Anagrammer™ blog visitors spend, on average, an extra 8 minutes on the page when one of these widgets is intalled.  I'm inclined to believe them, because I've been playing with the demo widget for a while now.

Did I mention that the widget is free?  And easy to install and customize?  Simply choose Anagrammer for Scrabble or Anagrammer for Words With Friends and then choose either the Simple Design or Colorful Design (above).  Then copy and paste the code to your site.  Get the Widget Code & Live Demo to see how much this widget can add to your site.  Warning: It may be addictive to you and your site visitors.

Visit Sponsor's Site

Thursday, January 31, 2013

Pin Now, Read Later?

Pinterest.  It can be so addictive.  Once you start looking at all the great stuff pinned by others, it's just so easy to repin, repin, repin.

I see a lot of pins with the words 'pin now, read later' - good idea, right?  Just pin the stuff that looks interesting; you can always get back to it and really check it out later.  All you have to do is mouse over any interesting photo or pin that catches your eye, click the 'repin' button, and select a board to pin it too, and you're on to the next one.

I admit, I've done that a time or two.  The problem with that, though, is that so many other people are doing the same thing.  It's OK if the original pinner pinned the actual source of the article or recipe or tutorial or what have you.  But it doesn't always work that way.

Too often I find pins that just don't lead anywhere.  I click something that looks interesting, and I get a warning about a suspicious site - and I'm not going there, even if Pinterest actually gave me the option.  And that means I do not find the recipe or tutorial I was looking for.  (If it looks really good, I'll do a web search for whatever the pin was supposed to take me to, and I'll pin that.)

Sometimes pins lead to the original site, but not to the exact post or recipe - meaning I have to search through the whole list or blog to find the information I came for.  For instance, I was just searching for flank steak recipes and found one for tacos that look really good.  Clicking the pin led me to a page with all the posts on that blog that were labelled 'Mexican' - so I had to scroll through the whole list of posts to find the one I wanted. And then I pinned it.  Instead of repinning.  MY pin leads directly to the specific post with the taco recipe.  I'll be able to find the recipe later when I want it.

Everyone who just repinned the recipe without actually clicking through and looking at it?  When later finally comes, and they're ready to try the recipe (or read the cleaning tips, or follow the tutorial), they'll click, expecting to find whatever it was they pinned.  Instead, in this case, they'll get the whole list of 'Mexican' labelled posts.  If it's much later at all, that list could be significantly longer, making it even harder to find the recipe.

Another thing I've found, especially with recipes (but that may be just because I pin more recipes than anything else), are pins that lead to a post that links to the actual source of the recipe.  In that case, I visit the original source and pin that one.  One, because I don't want to have to click and then click again to get where I want to go, and Two, credit, linkage, and traffic should go to the original source and not just someone who linked to the original source.

So, while it's tempting to 'pin now, read later' I make a habit of checking the pins before I repin them.  That way, when later finally comes, I'll be able to read. 

Thursday, January 17, 2013

Doodle 4 Google for Some Great Prizes

Did you know that Google holds an annual contest for students K-12 in the United States inviting them to redesign the homepage logo for millions to see?  I had no idea until last year during the voting period.  There were some really neat Google doodles drawn by students of all ages.  The winning doodle was drawn by a 7-year-old kid from Wisconsin.

Well, it's time for this year's contest.  This year's theme is “My Best Day Ever…” One talented student artist will see their artwork appear on the Google homepage, receive a $30,000 college scholarship, and a $50,000 technology grant for their school along with some other cool prizes! 

Visit the Doodle 4 Google page to get more information and download an entry form.  All doodles must be received by March 22nd. 

Public voting will run May 1, 2013 12:00 pm Eastern Time (ET) to May 10, 2013 11:59 p.m. Eastern Time (ET). During that time, you'll be able to select your favorite doodles, one from each grade group.
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Monday, January 7, 2013

Free Online Courses

Udacity offers higher education for free.

A friend of mine just posted a link to this on facebook, so of course I had to check it out.  You know me - anything free, right?

But it's not just that.  I love the idea of being able to learn new things - being able to do it from home and for free is just a bonus.

They have some beginner courses - Intro to Computer Science, Intro to Physics, and Intro to Statistics - which would be a good place to start for someone like me. There are also some Intermediate and Advanced courses to choose from. Definitely worth checking out!

Who knows - I might figure out what I want to be when I grow up.