Monday, February 28, 2011

Google Doodles Through the Years

Happy earth Day Google logosImage by pipot83 via FlickrYou know how Google always seems to have a special logo to celebrate holidays and any other special days?  Some of those logos, or Google Doodles, are just plain awesome.
Doodles are known as the decorative changes that are made to the Google logo to celebrate holidays, anniversaries, and the lives of famous artists and scientists. Whether it is the beginning of Spring, Albert Einstein's birthday, or the 50th anniversary of understanding DNA, the doodle team never fails to find artistic ways to celebrate these unique events. 
OK, I admit that I never actually looked for them, but I always thought the special Google logos were here one day and gone the next, never to be seen again.  Yeah, I know, dumb assumption - because anything that's ever on the Internet is out there forever, or so they say.  But, anyway, a friend of mine on facebook just shared a link - to all the Google Doodles all the way back to 1998.  I'm not even sure I used Google back in 1998.

If you enjoy the fun Google logos, be sure to check out the Google Doodle Archive.
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Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Free e-Book

My son Cory was trying to find a good deal on this book.  He checked the library, and they didn't have it.  So he checked Barnes & Noble, Borders, and Amazon and was trying to find the best price and figure out shipping.  I suggested maybe getting the Kindle version on Amazon for $9.99 - and no shipping cost.  He doesn't have a Kindle, but there's the free Kindle for PC app so he cold read it on his computer.

Then, he found out that they're offering free downloads of pdf versions of the book, so he can do that for now.  I'd never heard of the book, but it sounds kind of interesting, so I downloaded it, too.  It's called Machine of Death, a collection of stories about people who know how they're going to die.
The machine had been invented a few years ago: a machine that could tell, from just a sample of your blood, how you were going to die. It didn’t give you the date and it didn’t give you specifics. It just spat out a sliver of paper upon which were printed, in careful block letters, the words DROWNED or CANCER or OLD AGE or CHOKED ON A HANDFUL OF POPCORN. It let people know how they were going to die.

The problem with the machine is that nobody really knew how it worked, which wouldn’t actually have been that much of a problem if the machine worked as well as we wished it would. But the machine was frustratingly vague in its predictions: dark, and seemingly delighting in the ambiguities of language. OLD AGE, it had already turned out, could mean either dying of natural causes, or shot by a bedridden man in a botched home invasion. The machine captured that old-world sense of irony in death — you can know how it’s going to happen, but you’ll still be surprised when it does.  (read more)
For the price I can try it out and see if I like it.  Knowing Cory he will love it and want to get his own 'hard copy' later on, but at least for now he can read it.

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Count Your Words

Sometimes I really need to know how many words I'm using - especially when I'm doing paid posts.  If they require a minimum of 60 words, 100 words, 200 words, I want to be sure I at least hit that minimum.  Usually I go way over, but sometimes I have a hard time coming up with all those words.

I used to have a Firefox add-on that I could use, but a while back Firefox updated, and that add-on was no longer compatible.  I checked a couple times since, but it was still no-go, so nowadays I just use the free Word Count Tool online. It's simple and quick - just copy the text from a blog post, or whatever you need to count, and paste it into the tool.  Hit 'submit' and you get your number of words.

What does it count?

  • Words made out of the alphabet.
  • Words made from a combination of alphabets and numbers.
  • Words with an apostrophe ( ' ) and a hyphen ( - ).
So, basically - it counts your words. Better than eating them, don't you think?

Number of words: 178

Monday, February 21, 2011

Packer Stuff, Anyone?

Our Sunday paper offered us the opportunity to order all kinds of Packer stuff – in celebration of their Super Bowl win.  Of course, each item is only offered in limited quantities, so we better order now.
First, they offered a nice-looking ring, which wasn’t too bad.  And then there was a bronze football on a stand.  Not too bad, and how about the coin set handsomely displayed on a wall plaque?  Surely those would be appreciated by any Packers fan. 
Then it got a little strange.  There’s the souvenir chopper, which kind of make sense because Wisconsin is the home of Harley Davidson.  Then there’s the Green Bay Packers train collection which proudly sports Green Bay Packers colors, logos and players in action!  I guess that’s good for the Packers fan who’s also a train buff.
And if none of those catch your eye – there’s the crystal snowman with an illuminated village in his crystal tummy and a moving train around his base!  Seriously, how could anyone resist this guy?  Only $140 plus shipping, but you can pay in 4 installments of $34.99.

When I checked out the site that was offering all these, I found out that there were many more Packer Collectibles available.  The cards in our Sunday paper didn’t begin to show them all.  OK, I think it’s funny, but as crazy as these Packer fans are around here, they’ll probably sell a bunch of these things.

Monday, February 14, 2011

Publish Your Own Newspaper (Sort of)

This is so cool! organizes links shared on Twitter into an easy to read newspaper-style format. Newspapers can be created for any Twitter user, list or #tag and publish every 24 hours - or change the frequency if you'd rather have morning, evening or even weekly editions.  It's currently an alpha version which means new features are being added regularly, and they welcome feedback.

It's free to sign up, and you can sign in with facebook or twitter, then choose what you want included in your newspaper - use your twitter account, a list, or even a specific #tag.  I just went with my twitter feed and came up with The bcmom Daily. The title of the newspaper can be changed, but I'm going with that for now.
What does do to make a newspaper?
Publishing a newspaper is no small task! Here is an overview of all the things does in the background for you:
  • extract all tweets that include URLs
  • extract the content found on these URLs:
    • text, e.g. blog post, newspaper article
    • photo, e.g. Flickr, yfrog, Twitpic, ...
    • video, e.g. YouTube, Vimeo, Dailymotion, ...
  • analyze the extracted text for topic, e.g. Politics, Technology, ...
  • surface the day's most relevant articles (using magic)
  • construct a newspaper frontpage using the filtered articles, photos and videos archives all editions, so you can go back and read them any time you want.  You can send out automatic tweets (if you want to) every time the paper is updated, include a widget on your blog, create custom papers and more.  I haven't explored it all yet.  I just thought it was super cool and had to share.  Check it out.  Publish your own paper.  Subscribe to mine.  Have fun.