Home / 2009 / January

Tuesdays with Linden’s Favorite Links: Top 10 Posts from 2008 | 20 Jan 2009

Note: This post was accidentally published for a short time on Friday before it was finished. Those of you subscribed via email or RSS received a draft and received it prematurely. This version, however, is the full version.

Last Tuesday, I wrote about my favorite posts to write and re-read and your favorite Linden’s Pensieve posts, but today I’m going to tell you about 10 posts from my blogging friends that really touched, inspired, and motivated me.

  1. Four Surefire Ways to Write Magnetic Web Content: One of Sarah‘s guest posts at Search Engine Journal (see the other one here), this post is a must-read for any blogger or writer.
  2. This Love of Mine: Kevin at 5ks and Cabernets really bares his soul in this touching post that shows a non-traditional family configuration that is trying to succeed for the benefit of the child, and peacefully.
  3. Race Report: Kilauea Volcano Marathon: Frayed Laces set out to do 10 miles and ended up running 26.2, a full marathon. And she took 3rd place out of the women. I cannot tell you how much I admire Frayed Laces’s abilities.
  4. Searching for Meaning and Believing in the Midst of Glorious Moments: Olympic Marathoner Zuzana Tomas reaches out to the friends and family reading her blog and shares her most intimate fears about her upcoming marathon. This blog post is exceptional because not only is the post an amazing vantage point into an elite athletes insecurities (they have fears like we do?!), but also because the comments are just as inspiring as the post.
  5. Four Post-Run Activities You Shouldn’t Do (And Four You Should): An excellent post by Sarah. I would like to pose the following questions, though: If you are a runner, and a fat, overweight middle-aged serial killer begins chasing you, wouldn’t you be a disgrace to your kind not to run? Are you going to just stand there and take it?
  6. Sister Dreams in Color: I don’t want to say too much about this photopost, other than I am touched by the idea of photographing a beggar and by her response to it.
  7. Photography, and the Tolerance for Courageous Sucking: As I begin my more public foray into amateur photography, reading this post from another amateur photographer really confirmed that I am on the right track, doing the right things to develop my craft.
  8. Bone Chapel and Beyond: Capturing Kutná Hora: I could easily fill this top 10 list with every single one of James and Beth’s posts about their European adventures (which were often our European adventures), but that wouldn’t be fair (you can see a list of all their posts here). This is the post I’ve selected for my top 10 list because I loved the day we spent in Kutná Hora. The Bone Chapel was so unique, but so was lunch in the park outside a church, the fountains, and the cathedral?! Mmm, amazing.
  9. Katy vs. Wednesday: I don’t even know the author of this blog–she’s a friend of a friend–but this post cracked me up! And it inspired a similar battle, Sarah vs. Monday, that was equally as funny.
  10. And to Think I Saw It on My Long Run: Dr. Seuss and a running log combined–Oh, that Vanilla’s creativity cannot be confined. It’s exciting, it’s funny, it’s all about running, a tale of exaggeration; what cunning.

What blog posts would you add to this list?

Tuesday with Linden’s Favorite Links: Top Pensieve Posts | 13 Jan 2009

I’ll be writing several posts looking back to 2009 this month (have you read my Top 10 Songs post yet?), and today we’ll revisit some of the best posts on Linden’s Pensieve.

Now, “best” is quite a subjective word. I mean, there are unfounded bests (it’s just a black dress–nothing exciting) and bests we don’t care about (although I’m not making light of personal hygiene). So let me take a few seconds to define how I mean “best” in the context of this post.

The best posts on my blog are the ones that I loved writing the most, that mean the most to me, that sparked the most interesting conversation in the comments, and the ones you viewed the most. That last category is the least subjective, as I use Google Analytics to tell me which posts you viewed the most.

Here they are, in chronological order.

  1. Google Analytics Step One: Begin Tracking This series is still very popular despite being written in February, and I had fun writing it.
  2. England Day 3: Liverpool FC Game! My favorite day in England and easily the most popular post in our England trip series.
  3. Can You Sum Up Your Entire Life in Six Words? I easily spent hours work on my six-word memoir, and it also seems to be a rather popular post, perhaps because of the popularity of the six-word memoir meme?
  4. Let’s Spend Some Time, Love: A Review of Death Cab for Cutie’s Narrow Stairs I love the album and I love having Rob guest post about music. I’ll see what I can do to make it happen more often.
  5. Diigo: Paper-and-pen Mark-up Meets Web 2.0 As I say in the post, Diigo has the changed the way I interact with the web, so writing this post was enjoyable, and it’s turned out to be relatively popular, too.
  6. Marathon Inspiration Some great advice from my fellow runners and running bloggers which still touches me.
  7. Berlin Marathon Race Report: Starting Line to Km 14 (Pt. 1) My first marathon race report, need I say more? It was a life-changing experience, the training and all, so reflecting on it after all those miles was fulfilling.
  8. Should I Stay or Should I Go: The Election Night Party One of my favorite lists from NaBloPoMo. And it came early…
  9. How to Go from Computer Confused to Software Savvy in 5 Easy Steps This was an inspired post that attracted classroom use at my alma mater and spawned a related guest post.
  10. Why I Shouldn’t Start Smoking (Even Though I’ve Been Wanting To) This post was really hard to write because I knew would actually be publishing it (thanks to NaBloPoMo), but it was cleansing and helped me to deal with my smoking urges, both through the act of writing and through the great comments and support I got from my friends because I published the post.

Did one of your favorite posts not make it on this list? Let me know in the comments!

The Best iPhone Note-taking App: Is It Out There?

notesI recenlty got an iPod Touch, my iTouch (thanks for the syllable-saving sorta-portmanteau of “iPod” and “Touch”, Lorraine!), and as a writer, frequent note-taker, and list-maker, I need a better note app than Notes. I’ve downloaded several (read: pretty much all) of the free apps, but I haven’t found anything that fits my idea of the perfect notes app. I’ll probably be reviewing my favorite ToDo app soon, but the perfect notes app seems to be more difficult to find. Maybe you can help me! Here is what I’m looking for.

  • Has auto-correct enabled. I downloaded (and unfortunately paid for!) MagicPad before finding out that the developers disabled the built-in spelling auto-correct. Why? I don’t know; it makes no sense to me, but the perfect notes program has auto-correct enabled (or at least lets the user decide if they want to disable it or not).
  • Makes landscape compose mode possible. This seems as obvious to me as enabling auto-correct. The keys are tiny enough, and I just find it much easier to hold the iPod in landscape mode. It’s possible in Safari, why not in Notes?
  • Gives the user lots of sorting options. Some apps I’ve seen let you sort the notes yourself, other provide auto-sort options (by date created, last modified, or alphabetically), but I want a program that lets me do all three. Bonus: A truly perfect notes app would save the user-sorted option, which could be selected just like users can select the date sorts or alpha sort.
  • Allows notes to be emailed and synced online. Most apps I’ve seen allow you to email your notes, but I want to be able to sync my notes easily. Makes me a little nervous to have my notes only on my iPod.
  • Provides password-protection options. I don’t need the entire program to be password protected, as it takes a little extra time that just gets in the way when I need to jot a quick note. But I would like the ability to password protect certain individual notes. This would free me up to use only one program for all my notes, instead of having a separate password-protected app where I can keep gift idea notes and other sensitive data. Bonus: The best notes app would give the user the option to switch on app-wide password protection. Imagine letting a colleague or cousin play with your iPod. It’d be nice to be able to quickly switch on password-protection, set up a password or passcode, and then hand it off.
  • Provides rich-text options. I am not too worried about being able to make my notes look snazzy, but I would like the ability to italicize or bold certain parts of my notes. It makes titles or section headers stand out more.
  • Allows copy/paste within the app. Okay, I get that Apple doesn’t let you copy and paste between apps, but unless Apple is planning on adding this feature in the next update, every notes app should do this.
  • Lets users include links. I’m not sure how this would be done since copy/paste isn’t a native function of the iPod, but I have seen apps that claim to allow it, so it’s on my Perfect Notes App wishlist.
  • EDIT: Allows offline access. What is the point of having an app if you can’t use it at all without an internet connection? I think that iPhone users can always connect via the 3G network (Is that right?), but iPod users cannot.  Developers should not forget the growing community of iPod Touch users while designing their products.

If you’re an iPod user, what feature do you wish you had in a notes app? And even more importantly, do you know of an app–paid or free–that fits what I’m looking for? Please let me know in the comments!

Top 10 Songs of 2008

I know what you are expecting from a top 10 list claiming to be from 2008, but let me just dash those hopes right now by letting you into my life a little bit: I very rarely hear music in a timely fashion. Sometimes I do, especially if Rob shares songs with me or gives me a new album to listen to.

Because of that weird aspect of me, this list does not consist solely of songs from 2008. In fact, the first song on the list is 25 years old. Instead, my 2008 top 10 songs list contains songs that rocked my 2008, part of the Linden’s 2008 OST, if you may. Enjoy.

“Thriller” by Michael Jackson
I know this song is by no definition new, but I discovered it in 2008, and it was, as the Germans say, an “ear worm” (except they say it in German, Ohrwurm). I listen to it once and it’s stuck in my head for weeks. Literally. This is not an exaggeration.
[Hear it on last.fm]
“Umbrella” by Rihanna
Again, not another from 2008, but from about December 2007 until February 2008, every time Rob and I heard or needed to say the word “Umbrella,” it became “under my Um-ber-ella, ella, ella, eh, eh, eh.”
Besides our silliness with the song, the lyrics also brought on some homesickness. While I believe they originally referred to a sexual relationship, there are parts of the lyrics that perfectly describe the friendship I have with my best friends.
[Watch her official version or on YouTube]
“Beggin” by MadCon
We found this song through You FM, the radio station we listen to while we work at home. It’s a remake of a 1967 Franki Valli song, and I can’t help singing along when I hear it!
[Watch it on YouTube]
[Watch Frank Valli’s version on YouTube]
“Make You Feel My Love” by Adele
We first heard Adele singing “Daydreamer” on Later Live… with Jools Holland when we were in Liverpool in March and fell in love with her emotive, jazz-club voice. She re-released this single in late September and I sang it in the shower, in my office, and in my head all day. And performed it in the living room when Rob wasn’t around. Wait, what? Let’s move on.
[Watch it on YouTube]
“Welcome to Heartbreak” by Kanye West
808s and Heartbreaks is such a real album; it’s Kanye. This song is my favorite from the album, and these are my favorite lyrics: “Chased the good-life all my life long / Look back on my life all my life gone / Where did i go wrong?” In other words, “the good life” isn’t all it’s cracked up to be.
[Hear it on YouTube]
“Pinoccio Story (Freestyle Live in Singapore)” by Kanye West
Yep, Kanye gets two spots on my top 10 list because he revealed himself on this album. This song, an improvisation, revisits some of the themes already mentioned on the album.*
[Watch it on YouTube]
“Effington” by Ben Folds
I just got this album last week, but I love this song! The intro is beautiful and hilarious, the piano is driving, and the lyrics–well, the lyrics are humorous and make me laugh inside.
[Hear it on last.fm]
“I Will Possess Your Heart” by Death Cab for Cutie
Rob blogged about this album back in May, but I hadn’t really listened to the album until after his post. He’s completely right about it being completely listenable despite it being an 8-and-a-half-minute song.
[Watch it on DCfC’s website or on YouTube]
“After Hours” by We Are Scientists
Another from Rob’s blogging. I love this song for the energy and one line that rocks my world. I don’t know if it’s the chord or the progression up to the this line, but “Say! That you’ll stay!” is my favorite in the song. I spend most of the song tapping my foot and waiting for Murray and Cain to belt it out.
[Watch it on YouTube]
“Viva la Vida” by Coldplay
I have to be honest–I didn’t really like the first single from this album. But as soon as I heard this tune, I loved it. It played in my head over and over as I trained for the marathon this past summer. Carried me through many of those training miles and even a couple during the race.
[Watch it on Coldplay’s website]
[Watch Coldplay’s video tribute to Depeche Mode on Coldplay’s website]

What songs are your best of 2008 list?


* If you’re interested in hearing the whole album, I’ve made a YouTube playlist.

2009 New Year’s Resolution

I love the beginning of a new year because it’s, well, a fresh start. Really, we just change the number of the year we’re in, January 1 is just the day after December 31, just like January 2 is just the day after January 1, but we have celebrated the beginning of this new year for a long time, so I don’t feel silly for enjoying the newness of it.

Every new year, I take some time and evaluate the last year, then think about how I want to make my life better during the coming one. Last year, I made a rather extensive list of resolutions I wanted to work on,  and I worked on them throughout the year. I made many improvements in my life.  But I think I realized something over the last year that is more basic than the changes I made/tried to make/am still trying to make over the last year, and it is my one resolution this year.

This year, I will focus on what I am doing when I’m doing it.

If I can make that one improvment in my life, I will be incredibly more productive in every part of my life, a much better friend, and a more conscious person. It’s always been a problem for me, and I have tried to change it before, but like last year, I was always trying to change lots of other things at the same time. Ha, I couldn’t see it then, but what a contradiction.

Here’s to 2009, a new year, fresh starts, and all the great things to come.