Friday, December 18, 2009

Free Web Conferencing

I did a quick search for free web conferencing solutions - because someone we know wants to spend $500 for another year of Go To Meeting - and we really don't use it enough to justify that. If we hosted larger meetings and more often, maybe, but for what we do one of these free options will work just fine.
  • DimDim - So simple anyone can use it. Unlike other web conference products, Dimdim does not require users to install software on their computers to attend web meetings. Users can start or No downloads join meetings with just a few clicks. Dimdim is available for free so everyone - not just big companies with big budgets - can use it.
  • Yugma - Yugma free web conferencing allows anyone, anywhere to instantly share their desktop and ideas online with others - up to 20 attendees. I'm thinking the Skype Edition looks really promising.
  • Vyew - free for up to 10 attendees, has ads. Browser based with no download required.
All of these are upgradeable if you need additional features - and for less than $500/year.

For phone conferencing there's:
  • - up to 1000 callers with NO reservations, free recording and downloads.
  • Free Conference Calling - up to 500 callers - on demand conference calling, free recording and MP3 playback, and conference call security.

Thursday, December 10, 2009

Zemanta for Better Blogging

Image representing Zemanta as depicted in Crun...Image via CrunchBase

I think I've mentioned this before, but it just upgraded when I started my browser this morning, so I was reminded. I've been using Zemanta for a while now, and I really love it.

Zemanta is a free Firefox extension that helps enhance your blog posts. It's also available for other browsers and supports all popular blogging platforms.

As you type your post, Zemanta automatically suggests images, tags, links, and related articles. You can include any of the suggested items with a simple click of your mouse. Zemanta also gives you the option to open images and related articles in a new window or tab so you can get a closer look before inserting them. I've found some very interesting images and articles this way - even if I haven't inserted all of them.

Here's a short video on how Zemanta works:

Zemanta in 60 Seconds from zemanta on Vimeo.

It's not required, but if you create an account with Zemanta, you can add your social networks so Zemanta knows who your friends are and can suggest them and their content for your posts. And Zemanta can suggest your own images if you set your Flickr username.

There's more - here's a whole list of advantages of using Zemanta. If you're not quite ready to download and install the browser extension, you can try the demo on the site to get an idea of how Zemanta works.

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Friday, November 27, 2009

bing cashback

If you do any shopping online, you'll want to check out bing. All you have to do is create a FREE account, and then whenever you do any online shopping, start with bing. You can search for what you're looking for right on the bing site, and bing will list prices at various stores and also show you the amount of cashback you can get, so you can pick the best price. Then just click through to go to the store and make your purchase.

You can also just choose a store from the list of cashback stores, click through and do your shopping on that site. Once you make a purchase, bing will send you an email to confirm your savings. There is a waiting period of about 60 days before you can claim your cashback, but then you can request it to be sent to your PayPal account or have it deposited into your bank account, as long as you have at least $5 in your account.

So far we've earned almost $75 in cashback, shopping at stores like,, and The savings really add up when you order big-ticket items like a laptop computer, but the little things add up, too.

And, through December 2, bing is offering extra cashback, so the savings are even better - 15% cashback at, 14% cashback at Barnes & Noble, and 25% cashback at, just to name a few. I ordered a bunch of DVDs at this morning at really good prices, free shipping to my home, and that 15% cashback. Gotta love it!

So, if you're going to be doing any shopping, and who isn't? - you might as well get some money back for doing it, right? Claim your cashback from bing.

Sunday, November 8, 2009

Free Video Downloaders

Cory likes to download videos once in a while and put them on his Zune. He had a couple programs he liked, but then suddenly they weren't free any more. Don't you hate when that happens? So, when I saw that today's Giveaway of the Day was a YouTube Music Downloader, I thought I'd check it out.

The reviews don't look too promising, but there were several suggestions for FREE video downloaders that he might be able to use:
  1. Video Download Helper Firefox add-on - an easy way to download and convert Web videos from hundreds of YouTube-like sites. Also for audio and picture galleries.
  2. MP4 YouTube Downloader - another Firefox add-on
  3. YouTube Downloader from Biennesoft - allows you to download videos from YouTube, Google Video, Yahoo Video, and many others and convert them to other video formats. Just specify the URL of the video you want to download and click OK.
  4. Orbit Downloader - download videos, Flash games, and large batches of files.
  5. ClipNabber online downloader - allows you to download video from a bunch of different sites, and if you just want the audio, try TuneNabber.
  6. KeepVid - another online downloader - enter the URL of a video you want or add the bookmarklet to easily 'Keep It'
I'm not completely sure if all of these convert the downloaded videos to the format you want or not. If you need something else, you can use the Free Video Converter to convert to the format you need.

Hopefully there will be something here that Cory can use to get those videos onto his Zune. Let me know if you've tried any of these and what you think or if there are some others that should be mentioned. Thanks.

Be sure to check out that second Zemanta-suggested article, because Clipfinder HD sounds like it just might be the best of them all.
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Tuesday, October 27, 2009

The Yak for Java

I found this today (Actually, I found a magazine page I had ripped out of a magazine ages ago that mentioned this, so I looked it up.

The Yak Java applet - free kit that allows you to create buttons and animations. It supports sound and up to 100 images per animation. It's supposed to be pretty simple, fast and light-weight. I haven't tried it out, but it sounds like it might just come in handy. (And I'm linking to it here so I can find it again - and I tossed the magazine page out)

Have any of you used the Yak? What do you think?

Saturday, October 24, 2009

TV on Your Computer

A lot of people watch TV on their computers nowadays. It's really handy. If you miss a show and forgot to set the DVR, you can usually go online and watch it the next day. My son does it a lot. Today I found a site that looks like it will make it easy to keep up with all kinds of shows. You can find them all in one place instead of searching all over the Internet for them - viewing some shows on the network websites, some on Hulu, etc. This site pulls them all together.

It's called First on Mars. Why is it called that? I don't know, but it calls itself 'Your personal guide to network tv on the web' and there are a lot of shows available here. From the About Us page:
First on Mars' mission is to help you find, organize and share network TV shows available for free streaming across the web. You tell us what you feel like watching by selecting networks, shows or TV moods (dark, sexy, intense). We use that info to build you a personalized guide to your favorites which you can filter and change to make your own. You can always add networks, shows and moods using the drop down menus, heart icons or browse feature. We also offer a choice of six looks for the site which you can select using the skins button. Enjoy and let us know what you think!
You can browse through shows alphabetically or search by mood or by network. When you find shows you like, you can add them to your favorites so they're easy to find in the future. It looks like there are only a certain number of episodes available, probably whatever the network makes available, so you can't wait months to watch them, and it's not a good place to get caught up on a series you've never watched before, but to keep current with shows you like it looks great. First on Mars also lets you share shows with your friends and comment on the shows you watch.

I keep telling my husband that we don't need the satellite TV anymore - we could cancel that, watch everything online, and save a lot of money. So far he hasn't taken me up on that, but sites like this make it entirely feasible. And did I mention that First on Mars is FREE?

Thursday, October 15, 2009

Free Fonts

An assortment of bitmap fonts from the first v...Image via Wikipedia

My son Cory and his friend Travis had a great idea for a t-shirt, so Cory has been working on designing it. This afternoon he mentioned that he needed a fun font for it because he didn't like any of the fonts on his computer. (for the shirt, that is) Just yesterday I found a site full of fun free fonts, but then I closed my browser last night without saving it or sharing it. I hate when that happens! I really should know better.

Anyway, since I lost the site from yesterday, I just did a search for 'fun free fonts' and found this one - Font Freak. There are over 5000 free fonts, and you can either download them all at once or browse through and download the ones you like individually. I haven't actually gotten past the first page of the A's, but I've already found some I really like. A lot of them are available in both PC and Mac versions, which is really nice. Also, when you find a font you like, you can click on the author's name to see all the fonts by that author.

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Saturday, September 12, 2009

Dress Up Your Browser

Image representing Personas as depicted in Cru...Image via CrunchBase

I just installed Personas for Firefox last night. How long has this been around? I'm not sure, but I'm really loving it. Personas lets you dress up your browser with easy to install and easy to change 'skins' for Firefox.

watch a quick video demonstration:

Getting Started with Personas from Mozilla Labs on Vimeo.

Not only can you choose from the many 'skins' available on the site, you can even create your own. The instructions are right on the page. Here are some my brother, who found this first, has created - Personas by krayeg.

I had a little trouble getting this to work at first, I think because I had a theme installed. When I went back to the default firefox theme and restarted my browser, it worked just fine. The fun with Personas is that you can very easily change the look of your browser, and you don't have to restart your browser for the changes to take effect. You can even preview the look before you intall simply by mousing over the designs in the gallery. I'm having a lot of fun doing that, but you don't have to visit the Personas gallery. You can choose and change your selected Persona any time simply by clicking on the little fox mask in the lower left-hand corner of your browser window.

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Sunday, August 30, 2009

Free Blog Designs from Shabby Blogs

I came across another site for free Blogger templates tonight. It's called Shabby Blogs, and there are plenty of blog backgrounds and accessories to choose from. All of them are 100% free, and it looks like a lot of them are customizable, such as being able to add your own photos to the headers.

I haven't had time to browse through all of them, but there are some really cute backgrounds here, with headers and extras to complement them and help you put together your own custom blog. Did I mention it's free? Yes, yes I did! Free, cute blog backgrounds - and once again I'm tempted to change my blog design.

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Good Deal on Sony Vegas

Cory has been wanting Sony Vegas Movie Studio 9 Platinum Pro Pack for a while now. I found it today at on sale for $89.99 with a $30 rebate, which is the best price we've seen so far - so I grabbed it. If you're looking for some good movie editing software, this is supposed to be really good.

I'm linking to this here, because searching for Sony Vegas on doesn't bring this page up. Instead you get the software for $90-something with no rebate mentioned. I checked Pricegrabber to find the best price, and when I clicked the link there, it got me this page with the sale and rebate. It's only good this week, so grab it now if you want it.

Friday, August 14, 2009

Organize Events and Sell Tickets Online

Image representing TicketLeap as depicted in C...Image via CrunchBase

If you plan events and sell tickets for those events, TicketLeap looks like something you'll want to check out. TicketLeap is FREE for event organizers, and buyers can use all major credit cards.

It's quick, easy, and free to set up an account, and then you can start by creating an event. Enter all the event details: name, category, description, date & time, website, location, etc. Once that's done, you can set ticket prices, add pictures, and even invite people.

I don't have an actual event to plan right now, so I haven't gone through the whole event set-up process, but it looks really easy, and I can see so many uses for it. You can customize it in so many ways - setting ticket prices and ticket types, offering discount codes, even deciding who pays the convenience fees. Set the convenience fees to be paid by the buyer, and TicketLeap doesn't cost anything!

What if you're planning a free event? TicketLeap can handle that, too, and if the tickets are free, there is NO fee. Why use TicketLeap if your event is free? Because you get a list of everyone who registers - for planning purposes that is invaluable!

Once you've set everything up, you can send out invites so people can register for your event and/or buy tickets. TicketLeap also gives you the code so you can put 'Buy Tickets' or 'Register' buttons on your website. There's even a Facebook app so you can promote your event on Facebook. I'm sure there's more, but I've just begun to check it out.

Oh, I bet you're wondering how you collect the money for all those tickets. TicketLeap sends you a check the next business day after your event.

If you've used TicketLeap to organize an event and/or sell tickets online, please leave a comment and let me know what you think. I'd love to hear it!

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Tuesday, August 4, 2009

A Picture a Day

Drew has been doing his Photo a Day for years now. My parents each decided to take a photo a day this year, and they've been doing a pretty good job. I take pictures quite regularly, but I wasn't ready to commit to taking one every day. In truth I probably do take at least one a day because I'm always grabbing the camera for something. My hold up was actually getting the pictures off the camera and onto the computer, but I'm doing better at that, too since I started using the camera cable and the software that came with my camera.

Anyway, I signed up for Shuttercal a while back because I thought it might get me more organized in the whole picture a day thing. The whole point of the site is to upload a picture a day, or at least take a picture every day and then upload them to the proper day. It all displays as a calendar, with your picture on the date you took it. Sounds cool, huh? The only problem is that I signed up for it and then never used it! Luckily today I got an email telling me that someone had friended me on Shuttercal. That reminded me that I want to try this, so I uploaded my first picture. Now we'll just have to see if I can keep up with it.

And the whole friend thing? It looks like you can add other users to your friends if you like their photos, and you can build a network of fellow photo a day people. I'm not sure why anyone would have added me to her friends, considering I hadn't uploaded any photos - not even a user pic - but I'm glad she did because it reminded me of My Shuttercal. And now you have the link so you can check up on me and see if I'm uploading any photos.

I should probably put this in my sidebar or something, but for now I'm putting it here - my latest photo: (it's supposed to change when I upload new ones - if it doesn't change you know I'm not uploading anything)

Free Help for All Things Web Related

A graphical despiction of a very simple html d...Image via Wikipedia

I keep coming back to this site when searching for web design information. The tutorials and explanations are simple and easy to understand, at least the ones I've used so far. They have tutorials on basic html, javascript, CSS, and beyond. You can also find tutorials for using popular graphics programs to create some great effects, free online tools and resources, and a whole lot more.

No wonder I keep coming back - there is so much here! As they say:
EchoEcho.Com is your one stop free help site for all things web related.
I think it's definitely going to be my first stop.

Monday, August 3, 2009

Font Squirrel

Font 006Image by Stewf via Flickr

A question on twitter today led me to this site - Font Squirrel. It's an entire site full of free high quality fonts, all of them licensed for commercial use. That means you can use them for anything you need them for. I've already downloaded a couple I really like. I'm not sure what I'm going to use them for, but you can never have too many fonts, right?

Font Squirrel also provided a link to this cool What the Font tool. If you've seen a font somewhere but you don't know what it is, you can upload an image and they'll find the closest matches in their database. If that doesn't work, you can submit your image to the forum and have font geeks all over the world help you identify your font. This ought to come in very handy, because I'm really bad at recognizing fonts. They'll never confuse me with a font geek!

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

Circle the Cat

One of my friends just shared this little game on Facebook. It looks pretty simple at first glance. Just click the light green dots to turn them dark green and keep the cat from getting out. But, like the game says, he's a pretty smart cat. I had to keep trying it until I finally got him contained. I'm not sure exactly why it worked that time, so I'm sure I'll be wasting more time on this.

And if I'm wasting time, you might as well be too. See how long it takes you to Circle the Cat.

Wednesday, July 1, 2009


The battery on my laptop has been quite dead for a while now. It's so dead that the computer shuts down immediately when it's unplugged. I figured I'd have to live with that because a new battery from Dell costs at least $150, and I just couldn't justify that. Then yesterday one of my friends on Facebook mentioned that she had just ordered a new battery for her laptop. We got to talking about it, and she said she had found one on ebay for $35 with free shipping. Ebay! Why hadn't I thought of that?

I've bought things from ebay before, but it's still not my first thought when I need something. I don't know why. You're probably way ahead of me on this and always check ebay first when you need something, but just in case you don't I thought I'd mention it. Check ebay first!

Because when I checked, I found batteries for my laptop starting at $30 with the free shipping. That's a huge savings over the cost at Dell. I wish I had thought of looking on ebay back when the battery started dying. I would have ordered one sooner. I ended up spending a little more than the $30 to get a better quality battery, but still saved significantly. I could never justify the $150 price tag, when I could just plug the computer in to use it, but $40? That I can justify.

Just had to share!

Now it's your turn - what kinds of things do you look for/buy on ebay? Is it the first place you look? What kinds of great deals have you gotten?

Monday, June 29, 2009

Looking for Online Storage

My favorite online storage and backup service, MyBloop, has disappeared recently. I did a little bit of searching to see if I could figure out what happened to it, but no one seems to know. If you do know something, please let me know.

Luckily, I saved this link to the Ultimate Review of Free Online Storage and Backup - so if I need to choose another site, this will be a great place to start. I think the best course of action is to choose at least two different sites and upload everything to both. It seems sort of redundant, but that way if one or the other server goes down, for any reason, there's always a backup. A backup of a backup, if you will.

Saturday, June 13, 2009

Free eBooks

library booksImage by brungrrl via Flickr

So many books, so little time! I say that all the time, because there are so many books I would like to read, but I just have a hard time getting to them. I have books of my own, and I'm always bringing books home from the library. I don't really need any more books, but that doesn't stop me from getting excited about another book source. This one is, and it's a site full of free eBooks. They're for PDA, iPhone, ebook reader, or you can just read them on your computer. There are plenty of formats to choose from.

There are 23,963 eBooks available, and they're all free. You can browse by title or author, or look at most popular titles and reccommendations from readers.

Like I said - so many books, so little time!

Friday, June 12, 2009

beethov9.wma Is All Kinds of Problem

Earlier this week I was helping a friend of mine upgrade Windows XP to SP3. It shouldn't have been a big deal, but for some reason these Service Pack upgrades always seem to have their issues. I put off installing it on my own computer for a long time, and then when I finally did it - BSOD! - which led to having to reformat my hard drive and reinstall Windows completely.

This time things seemed to be going well. We backed up all the documents on the computer and began the install, which of course takes forever because Windows has to back everything up, just in case you need to go back to SP2. So, all the files are backed up, the install of SP3 begins, and partway through there's an error copying beethov9.wma - do we want to continue the install without copying it? Click yes and the install continues, until we get another error message telling us the same exact file cannot be copied. After multiple retries we hit cancel, which does not just cancel copying that file - it cancels the entire upgrade. That means everything that had been installed is uninstalled and all the backups are restored. And we went through this multiple times - first deleting the file because we thought it was a random file that was already on the computer. That didn't work so I tried downloading SP3 from Microsoft again, thinking maybe there was a problem with the file I had previously downloaded - except that one had worked just fine when I installed it on my computer - the 2nd time, after I had reformatted and re-installed.

Midway through the 3rd attempt, this storm rolled through, and I held my breath hoping the power wouldn't go out. It did flicker a few times, but thankfully we had the computer plugged into a battery backup. I still got the beethov9.wma error, but at least the install wasn't interrupted, and I didn't lose everything. That's when Mary Googled "beethov9.wma" to see if there was any info. Sure enough, we weren't the only ones having this problem. Basically, Windows was trying to copy this file into the Shared Documents folder - except that on this particular computer that folder had never been shared. It was just called Documents, and every time we tried to open it, we got an error message saying we didn't have permission to access that folder.

To fix this I right-clicked on the folder and chose 'Sharing and Security' (you can also choose Properties and go to the Sharing tab) - then I checked the boxes to share the folder on a network and allow users to change my files.

Reading the box, it looks like the Shared Documents folder was already supposed to be there and be shared with all users on the computer, but for some reason it wasn't. I ended up having to run the Network Setup Wizard first so that I could check those boxes, but the end result was that, after sharing the folder, the file did indeed copy, and the installation of SP3 was successful. Finally!

My question for Microsoft is - why does an update to my operating system that contains 'security updates, hotfixes, and select out-of-band releases' also need a music file? I'm pretty sure the computer would have operated just fine without it - and saved me a lot of frustration. A job that should have taken a couple hours ended up taking ALL DAY.

Friday, June 5, 2009

Free Images that You're Free to Use

Recently I've been using Flickr for the images I need, for websites and blogs. I use the Advanced Search and then, scrolling down to the bottom, choose 'Only search within Creative Commons-licensed content' and, under that, 'Find content to modify, adapt, or build upon.' That way, when I find an image I like, I know that the owner of that image has agreed to let me use it and modify it if I need to to meet my needs. Giving credit to the owner, with a link or a mention, of course. (the image at the left is linked to the original photo page on Flickr)

After reading the article below, I think I will start using Yahoo image search to find the photos I'm looking for on Flickr. It sounds like it will make the whole process just a bit easier.

The main idea is to find images that are free and legal to use, with no copyright infringements. Just because an image is out there on the Internet does not mean that you are free to do with it what you would like, and with so many available under the Creative Commons license, there is no need to. I personally make my photos on Flickr available under CC licensing, and I thank all of you photographers and artists who do the same.

Friday, May 29, 2009

PayPerPost v4 is Now Live

--This post sponsored by PayPerPost--

This is the first sponsored post I have ever done on this blog, but I've been working with PayPerPost for a while now, on my other blogs. Basically, PPP gives advertisers an avenue to start bloggers talking about their products, sites, and services. Bloggers get paid to research and write about an advertiser's product, and the advertisers get exposure on the Internet. It's been nice being able to write blog posts and get paid to do it, too, and I've found all kinds of sites, products, and services that I am genuinely interested in. I've even mentioned some of them on this site - for free.

Anyway, I'm very excited that a new version of PPP has just been released. In the old version, the one I've been using, Opportunities are released into the Marketplace, and bloggers take them on a first-come, first serve basis. What that means is that the bloggers who grab the opps fastest are the ones who write the posts. The advertisers can specify certain criteria for the blogs that can take their opps, but they don't have much control over it beyond that. With the new version of PPP, advertisers specify criteria such as location, price, ratings, and categories when they create an Opp. The advertiser is then matched with a list of blogs that meet that criteria, and the advertiser chooses which of these matched blogs get the opp. They can even add blogs to their list of favorites so they can use them in the future.

For bloggers, the new PPP means we no longer have to haunt the Marketplace hoping to get an Opp we want to write about, and being frustrated when all the good ones are gone. We can concentrate on doing a good job with our blogs, and when an advertisers wants us to take an opportunity, we get an email. No more fighting over Opps, an offer comes directly to our inbox. We then have 3 days to write the post. We set our asking price, categories, and even whether we want links that are 'follow' or 'no follow' so the opps that come our way should be something we'd want to take. If it isn't, we are free to turn it down. I, obviously, was happy to write about PayPerPost and agreed to write this post! (Note to Google: I'm only taking opps with no follow links on this blog, so don't get your panties in a bunch.)

PayPerPost v4.0 was first opened to just a few advertisers and bloggers so we could test it out, but now it is live and open to everyone. So far I am liking what I am seeing, though this is only my 4th opp taken through the new system. It would be nice to have more opportunities come through, and with it now open to everyone, I'm sure that's going to happen. Also, as we take more opps and give the advertisers what they want with quality posts, our ratings will improve, and we'll get more opps. At the same time, bloggers who don't do quality work will get fewer and fewer opps, leaving even more open for quality bloggers. I feel a lot more in control with this version of PPP, and I think the advertisers are going to be getting more of what they want.

Whether you're an advertiser looking for some exposure for your product or a blogger looking to make a little extra money, I would encourage you to check out PayPerPost v4.0. Read the FAQs if you'd like to learn more about how it can work for you.

Saturday, May 16, 2009

The Fridge

I don't know about you, but I really love magnetic poetry - you know, those little words for your fridge. I'm not sure any of my creations qualify as poetry, but I'm addicted to moving those little words around to form interesting phrases. The other day I found The Fridge, so now I can play with those little word magnets online.

There are several wordsets you can choose from, or you can even add a bookmarklet to your browser so you can highlight words from any web page to use. Once you've composed the poem of the century, discard all the extra words, add a title and your preferred nom de plume , and save your poem. You'll be able to save the link or even embed it in your own web page or blog, like I did here.

I would suggest, if you're planning to embed it and have limited width like I do here, build your poem on the left-hand side instead of right in the middle of the space so it can be read without scrolling, but at least you get the idea. (I limited the width to fit my space. By default I think it comes in full size when you embed it, so feel free to place your words any where you want them)

This could definitely be addictive!

Saturday, May 9, 2009

Free Sounds

I was reading my dad's blog today, and he posted a link to a whip-poor-will call. He was talking about the difference between the whip-poor-will's call and the call of another bird, and it was very nice to be able to hear what he was talking about. While I was listening to the bird sound, I noticed that it was hosted on a site I hadn't seen before, so I had to check it out.

It's called soundboard, and there are all kinds of free sounds and sound effects - tens of thousands, they say. You can browse the site to find sounds you like, or that fit a particular blog post. Sound boards are organized by category, or you can search for the sound you need. You can download the sounds you want. Sign up for a free account and upload your own sounds, you get 125MB storage, or just add the sounds you like from other members' sound boards. You can even choose a specific sound and embed that into a blog post or website, like this:
(I'm watching a Star Trek special on the History Channel, so I thought this was appropriate)

I suppose my dad could have done the same thing with his whip-poor-will call, but then I wouldn't have had to visit soundboard! I just signed up for my free account because I think this site is going to come in handy.

Tuesday, April 28, 2009

BloggerStyles Free Blog Templates

Here's another source for blog templates.

BloggerStyles converts Wordpress themes into Blogger templates. There are some really nice looking templates here. All templates have been tested and rated, using criteria such as browser compatibility, proper display of images, links, comments, and more. There are 27 pages (as of now) of great-looking templates to browse, preview and download. Is your new template there?

Another Template Source

Falcon Hive - Wordpress themes Bloggerized. There are some really nice templates here. There is one that I especially love, and I'm tempted to start using it. Still thinking about it, but I definitely want to be able to find this site again. Check it out and see if you don't agree.

Monday, April 27, 2009

Free PhotoShop Brushes

Paint BrushImage by Counteract.
via Flickr

This is a great site to get free Photoshop brushes. Filter by category or Photoshop version to find brushes you can use. I downloaded a bunch of them today, because they all look so neat. Then I found this tutorial in some of the comments, so I had to try it. I'm not completely happy with how it turned out on the first try, but I can see some potential here.

Now, if I can just remember that I have these tools to use.

Friday, April 24, 2009

Gone, Forever

Image representing Flickr as depicted in Crunc...Image via CrunchBase

Just a word of advice - if you haven't upgraded to a Pro account on Flickr, do not whatever you do mark an old photo that is no longer part of your photostream as 'private' or you will never see it again.

And since that was a really long sentence, let me explain. I don't upload enough photos to Flickr to justify a Pro account, so I've never upgraded. Instead, I just put the thumbnails on a webpage or in a blog post and link them to the photo page. Flickr makes it easy by providing the code. Then, should I ever want to use those photos for anything, I can still find them.

Yesterday Cory asked me to remove a picture in one of my blog posts. I thought I could just mark that photo as private, and I could still see it because it's my picture, but no one else could see it. Wrong. As soon as I marked it private, I was redirected to a page that said I didn't have permission to view that photo. I hit the back button on my browser and tried to change it back, but that didn't work. As far as I can tell, that photo is gone, forever.

Yes, I have it here on a DVD, but I can't find it on Flickr any more.

Another tip for people like me who haven't upgraded to the Pro account on Flickr: tag all of your photos with your username or something unique to you. Then, you can always search Flickr for photos with that tag, and your photos will be the ones that come up - all there, whether they're still part of your photostream or not. Unless, of course, they've been made private. :P

Thursday, April 16, 2009

The End of YouTube as we Know it?

My son Cory has been complaining the last few days about the 'hulufication' of YouTube. I hadn't heard anything about it, because I guess I don't hang out on YouTube enough, but apparently there was a lot of discussion going on among YouTube users because YouTube plans to feature movies and television shows, like hulu. Most of these users are afraid that the focus will be on these featured movies, and user-generated content will be pushed to the side. My first inclination is that, since YouTube was built on that user-generated content and that's what it's known for, the user-generated content will continue to be very important.

This article I just read seems to say the same thing:
The launch of the premium content section of YouTube will come with a site redesign to highlight the changes while keeping YouTube's main focus on user-generated clips.
Or maybe I was just looking for that? The article also explains why YouTube has decided to go this direction - money! If providing premium content will help generate the ad revenue needed to keep YouTube running, and FREE, then it just may be the best choice in the long run. I guess we'll just have to wait and see.

In the meantime, a video!

Friday, April 3, 2009

Personalize Your Twitter

There are about a dozen themes you can choose from on Twitter. They're not bad, but if those are the only backgrounds you have to choose from, that means that 1 in 12 twitter users will have the same twitter theme, minimum. Kind of like going to the big ball only to find out that a whole bunch of other people are wearing the same dress. So what do you do if you want your twitter page to stand out from the rest? Luckily you can upload your own background image.

I think the best advice is to personalize your twitter profile as explained on He did mention something about making a template available, but I don't know where things stand on that. Even without the template, I'm pretty sure I can create my own personal Twitter background, if I can only figure out what I want and then take the time to do it. Drew's is really cool - be sure to check it out.

Since I haven't yet created my very own background, I tried Flickr my background which uses your latest Flickr photo as your Twitter background. That's pretty neat, because it changes every time you upload new photos to Flickr. The downside is that it changes every time you upload new photos to Flickr - so your Twitter page won't be easily recognizable and something that people will associate with you. I think it's best to create or choose something and then stick with it a while.

This weekend, since I still haven't created my own, I tried a nice Twitter background from They have some nice free images. They also offer professionally designed custom backgrounds.

And here's another source for Twitter backgrounds - U Stand Out. You can simply grab the image file and upload that to twitter, or grab the Photoshop file and customize it. Add your own pictures, text, etc.

follow me on Twitter - and please don't criticize my Twitter background, because for some reason Twitter keeps eating it.

Saturday, March 14, 2009

Delightful Templates

I found another site for free Blogger templates tonight. It's called Delightful Dots, and there are a bunch of really nice looking templates available. Each one comes with html and instructions for installing it on your blog. Some of the templates come with matching headers. They're just all really cute, and I'm having a hard time picking a favorite.

Tuesday, March 10, 2009

Free Credit Report

Factors contributing to someone's credit score...Image via Wikipedia

If you're like me, you've been hearing that it's now free to get your credit report every year. Before you had to be turned down when you applied for credit, or you had to pay for it. However, no matter how many times I heard that I could get my credit report free, every time I checked a site that offered me that 'free' credit report, it always came with strings attached. Sure, I could get my credit report, if I signed up for a trial of some service or other. I don't know about you, but I don't really consider that free. I mean, it doesn't actually have to cost me anything, but I do have to agree to try something and then remember to cancel before the trial period is up. I just hate getting into things like that.

Today on the local news they mentioned the free credit report again. This time I paid closer attention, and they gave a link to the site where the credit report really is free. No strings. Just free. Just in case you've been distracted, like me, by the seemingly free credit reports with the catchy songs, this is the one you were looking for:

The site is sponsored by the nationwide consumer credit reporting companies: Equifax, Experian and TransUnion, and once every 12 months you can request a free credit report from each of them through the site. All three reports do not have to be requested at the same time, so you can request your report from Equifax now, wait 4 months and request your report from Experian, wait 4 months and request from TransUnion, and then repeat the cycle. That way you can keep an eye on your credit reports throughout the year and hopefully catch any discrepancies right away.

Wednesday, March 4, 2009

Organize Your Desktop

Is your desktop cluttered with icons? Mine isn't too bad, yet - because I recently had to reinstall Windows, and I'm gradually reinstalling programs as I need them, but I know it can quickly get out of control. That's why I was particularly interested in Fences when I read about it on Lady Banana.

Fences is a free program designed to organize your desktop. You create shaded areas on your desktop and place your icons into them. You can have as many as you want, start with one of the included layouts or just start creating your own. Label them, move them, resize them, and organize your icons by dragging them into the boxes.

The part I really like about Fences is that, when you don't need to see your icons, you just double-click somewhere on the desktop, and all the icons disappear! You can see your wallpaper again! When you need an icon, simply double-click again, and they all appear. It's really fun. Yes, I'm easily amused, what of it? You can exclude individual Fences so that they're always visible even when you hide the others.

If you want to see it in action, there's a decent video on the Fences website showing how it works. I think it's a really neat program that's really easy to use, and I love the idea of getting my desktop organized and hopefully keeping it that way.

Friday, February 20, 2009

So What Does it Mean?


Thursday, February 19, 2009

PageRank and Backlinks

I put two of my urls into this PageRank predictor and these are the results:

( )
Present PR : ( 0 ) || Future PR : ( 4.1 ) ~ 4
The PageRank Live-PR and PR-history below...

Yahoo back links: ( 15132 )
Altavista back links: ( 11600 )
Now wait for history records: PR & BackLink History:
Any new or change will be saved and listed here while checking the PR.

Report G. Google Google Google DC DC DC DC DC DC SE SE SE SE SE SE SE SE SE
Date PR BLs Index Term 1 2 3 4 5 6 Yahoo Yahoo Yahoo MSN MSN MSN Altavista Altavista Altavista
Today 0 266 372 859 0 0 0 0 0 0 BLs Index Term BLs Index Term BLs Index Term
2/19/2009 0 266 372 859 0 0 0 0 0 0 15132 2989 3370
2370 105 11600 3020 3370

( )
Present PR : ( 1 ) || Future PR : ( 3 ) ~ 3
The PageRank Live-PR and PR-history below...

Yahoo back links: ( 1462 )
Altavista back links: ( 1470 )
Now wait for history records: PR & BackLink History:
Any new or change will be saved and listed here while checking the PR.

Report G. Google Google Google DC DC DC DC DC DC SE SE SE SE SE SE SE SE SE
Date PR BLs Index Term 1 2 3 4 5 6 Yahoo Yahoo Yahoo MSN MSN MSN Altavista Altavista Altavista
Today 1 6 217 282 1 1 1 1 1 1 BLs Index Term BLs Index Term BLs Index Term
2/19/2009 1 6 217 282 1 1 1 1 1 1 1462 120 186
42 6 1470 111 183


Yes I know that all prediction = guessing, but still, see anything a little weird there?

Wednesday, February 18, 2009

Make Your Pictures Look Old

I have photo editing software, but I don't always know what I'm doing with it. Sometimes I get a great effect by playing with the filters and effects in the program. Sometimes I don't. Of course, even if my image turns out great, I don't always know how to do it again.

I will be able to make my photos look old any time I want. Not because I figured out all the steps, but because I found this site that does it for me. First, select "English" at the top of the page, unless you read Japanese, that is. Then, all you have to do is select a photo from your computer or the web and click the convert button - and you've got a picture that looks 100 to 150 years old.

Like this:

It really does look old, doesn't it? It even makes the car look old!

No, not really - here's the original:

I think I'm going to have some fun with this site and my Old World Wisconsin photos.

Make your pictures look old. It's fun. It's easy, and it's free.

Friday, February 13, 2009

Online Brainstorming

I just started playing at It looks like it could be fun and probably useful. It lets you create, save and share mind maps - for FREE.

I captured a screenshot, but then saw that I could embed the sheet in my blog, so I'm trying that: (just drag it around in the window to see or zoom out to see it all)

When I was in college, I knew a few people who took notes in this fashion. I always thought it looked really neat, but never learned to take notes or plan things this way. With this simple web app, I think I might have to give it a try. I'm already thinking it could be a good way to plan and organize a web site. You can even share and collaborate with friends so you can work together on a project.

What kinds of things do you think it would be useful for?

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Tuesday, February 10, 2009

Free Ringtones

Since the kids got new phones, they've been busy learning all the neat things they can do with them. Now that they aren't limited to the ringtones that come with the phone, I know they'll be looking for some free ringtones to use, and I was reminded of this site I signed up for back when I first got my phone - phonezoo.

Phonezoo has free ringtones for your phone. You can register your phone and have them sent to your phone, or do like I do and download them to your computer and then put them on your phone. Now that I know how to transfer files between my phone and my computer that works really well! Also, with a phonezoo account, you can save ringtones you like to 'my zoo' and easily find them later - so you don't have to download them all at once.

Phonezoo also lets you create your own ringtones from sound files on your computer and share them with the rest of the phonezoo community. I haven't tried that yet, but it could be fun...

Here's a ringtone that would be especially perfect for one of my friends:

Create free ringtones at Phonezoo

Wednesday, February 4, 2009


If I had to choose my favorite Firefox extension, I would probably choose Foxmarks. If you use more than one computer, or if you just want a backup of your bookmarks, you'll probably love Foxmarks, too.

Once you install the add-on and register for a foxmarks account, it will automatically sync and backup your bookmarks. Install Foxmarks on every computer you want to use and register them with the same account. From then on, every time you add a new bookmark, Foxmarks adds it to your online bookmarks. It doesn't matter which computer you are using. The next time you open Firefox on your other computer, Foxmarks will automatically sync your bookmarks, and the new ones will be available on that computer, too.

I usually use my laptop, but sometimes I need to do things on the basement computer. It's nice to have my bookmarks available wherever I am. Foxmarks was also a lifesaver when I recently had to reinstall Windows and all my programs. When I reinstalled Firefox, the first thing I did was install Foxmarks, sign in with my foxmarks account, and get all my bookmarks back.

With Foxmarks you can also access all of your bookmarks online, so even if you're using someone else's computer or surfing the web at the library, your bookmarks are all available.

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Wednesday, January 28, 2009

A Playlist

BEVERLY HILLS, CA - FEBRUARY 10:  Singer Pink ...Image by Getty Images via Daylife

Sometimes I just want to listen to some music. MyBloop not only lets you store unlimited files, you can also upload your music files and listen to them from any Internet-connected computer. Or check out other people's playlists and listen to their music, which is where I found this playlist. It's all Pink, all the time, and I really like it.

To protect copyright, MyBloop doesn't allow downloading of music files.

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Monday, January 26, 2009

Blogger Backup

Quite a while ago I mentioned that I used the import feature at to back up my blog. I haven't been doing it regularly, like I should be, but I thought that would be good enough for blog backup. Today, though, I was trying to back up my other blog, after not having done it for several months. Right in the middle of importing, it just stopped, and wouldn't go any further. When I attempted to view the blog in a new tab to see how many posts had actually transferred, I got an error message telling me the blog had been archived or suspended due to TOS violations. Since I wasn't even really using the blog as a blog, merely transferring posts as a backup, I'm not sure what I supposedly did. If they don't want me to use it as backup, they shouldn't provide the import feature.

Whatever - forget Wordpress. I went searching for a better way to back up my blogs and found this handy little tool - Blogger Backup. It makes it really easy to back up your blogs. Sign into Blogger, and it finds all your blogs. Then you just select the blog you want to backup from the list, decide how you want your files named, whether you want each post to be a file or just one file with all posts. You can get the lastest 10, 25, 50, 100 posts, or just download them all, or you can specify a date and time and only download new posts since that date. Since it was my first time using it, I backed up all my posts, and then I can just backup all the new ones in the future.

There's also an option to restore posts, which worked on my test blog, but I keep getting an error message when I try to restore a post here. I noticed in the discussion that some other people have had the same problem, so hopefully there's a fix in the works. I'm wondering if it has something to do with using Custom Domain instead of a blogspot url, but that's just a guess.

Then, as I'm writing this post, Zemanta suggested the following article, and I found out that Blogger now has the option to export and import your blog, so I could have just backed up straight from my Dashboard. I guess I should look at it more, and read Blogger Buzz to keep up with things, huh?

What I'm really saying here is - no matter how you do it, be sure and back your blog up. Hopefully you'll never need the backup, but if you ever do - you'll be glad you did it.

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

Backup is Your Friend

Do it.
Do it now.
Do not pass Go.
Do not collect $200.

I've been meaning to back everything up for a while now. And then last week I had to reinstall Windows because my computer wouldn't boot properly, and it was too late.

Luckily, I had moved some things to my D: drive recently, so I didn't lose everything. Just the stuff that was still on C: - which was bad enough. The photos that hadn't been backed up to DVD are still on the SD cards, so I didn't lose those. It could have been much worse.

I plan to back my files up on a more regular basis now. I want to use a combination of online storage like MyBloop and Windows Skydrive as well as backing up to CD or DVD.

In addition, documents can be stored, edited, and shared with Google Docs. Actually, I've had some problems sharing documents with Google Docs, but I love that I can create and edit online, and the docments are available from any computer. Some of the documents I had stored there came in really handy when my computer was down. I just need to get busy and upload the rest of them I want to save.

I just signed up for Evernote, too. It's supposed to be a good way to keep track of everything and sync it between the internet and different computers. I wish I had been using this earlier because I lost some important information I had in my email - all the email I had on my computer is gone.

So, taking my own advice, I'm backing up everything as I go now.

Friday, January 16, 2009

Templates and Tools

This looks like the most comprehensive list of Blogger template sources I've ever seen. I'd heard of some of them, but there are a whole lot I hadn't, so I'll want to check them out. Do I need a new template? Well, I don't think so, but that doesn't mean I can't look!

If you're looking for a new template, I'd say this is the place to start.

Wednesday, January 14, 2009

Find Bloggers in Your Neck of the Woods

I just signed up for and added two of my blogs to a new directory. It's called Loaded Web, and they call it the first fully geo-based blog directory. When you add your blog, you also choose your country, state/province, and city. Add a description and some tags and submit your blog for approval. They don't allow sites that feature adult content (nudity included), promote gambling, promote illegal activities, promote hate, feature warez, and/or are not blogs, so your blog has to be approved before it can be listed. It was really quick though. I just submitted mine this evening, and they're already approved and listed.

Now comes the fun part - searching the directory to find blogs in your neighborhood! I already found one from a neighboring town. Of course, you can also search to find blogs in other areas, too. It's fairly new, so there aren't a lot of blogs there, yet, but I think it will be fun to see where blogs are coming from.

Loaded Web is currently available for blogs from Canada, United States and United Kingdom.

Tuesday, January 13, 2009

Me2Everyone - Free Shares for Joining

I just became a shareholder in me2everyone and I never had to pay a single penny for the shares! It can only be described as the gold-rush for 2009. This company is going to be huge and shares will soar in value over the coming months! You can register for free and it never has to cost you a single penny!

me2everyone is going to be a cool new virtual world where you can meet friends, chat, shop, play, watch videos, create an art gallery, open a virtual newspaper, play the free inworld lottery and make money from your own online store! You and everyone you know make the decisions, shape the world, create real incomes and share in the profits. It’s a new place where you meet new people or invite your friends. Learn new skills or expand your business. Find the love of your life or help the planet.

Membership is free and every member automatically becomes a shareholder in me2everyone Limited. I got 1000 shares just for signing up, and I am going going to increase my shares very soon. This is an excellent chance for all of us to make some real progress in 2009 and beyond! Please do not miss it. By 2012 they are predicting these shares to be worth real money.

If you are looking for something really good in 2009: something that changes your view on the world, then you really have to spend just one minute and look at this website. Sign up for free and get your own shares.