Yum! I just reviewed a great European market on The Springfield Foodie, called Fine European Market, that offers lots of those German goodies that I’ve been missing, everything from good German chocolate like Kinder and Ritter to freshly baked German bread and Senf in tubes. Go check it out!
Google Buzz is all the rage. Or, everyone’s buzzing about Google Buzz. Either way, it’s hot right now. I posted my first take on Google’s Twitter-Facebook-Flickr mashup available directly in Gmail over on Ozarks Bazaar, so go check it out. As a teaser, I’ll tell you my seven reasons, but you’ll have to read the article to find out more about them.
- It seamlessly fits in Gmail.
- It’s public. And I mean public.
- You can’t hand-pick your friends.
- It’s a one-direction, focused stream.
- Without some tweaks, it’s hard to send that stream out to the rest of the Internet.
- There’s no way to send a private message to one user.
- It has a catchy name.
So what do you think about Google Buzz? Vote in the poll below and let us know what you think in the comments.
Head on over to Ozarks Bazaar, where you’ll find my “Where to Run in Springfield” guest post. You’ll get to hear about my favorite place to run in Springfield and why I like it so much. Bonus: you’ll get to check out an up-and-coming local Springfield/Ozarks blog. If you’re interested in writing for it, just let Sabre know (click here).
I have been hearing about the Food for Fines program on KSMU since the beginning of February and my friend Teresa asked me to write for SpringfieldFoodie.net, and voila! you have my first guest post for The Springfield Foodie*! Click on over to The Springfield Foodie to read about how the Springfield-Greene County Library District is pairing up with Ozarks Food Harvest to bring library patrons a great trade-off which benefits needy families all over Springfield and southwest Missouri.
Community service has always been an important part of my life and now that I am an adult (at least by age!), I am trying to take a more focused approach because I need to successfully balance my time between family, work, and “extra” (including blogging and community service). Maybe you’re like me and don’t have any library fines but would still like to support Ozarks Food Harvest? Contact them to tell them you can donate some time to help shelve all the food that Food for Fines brings in. Then contact me (@xgravity23 or lam [at] lindenamueller.com) and we can go do it together!
* The next guest post should be a really fun one, but I’m waiting on some contacts to come through so I can swing the tour I want to take of one of the yummiest places in southwest Missouri.
This guest post is from my little brother, Daniel, who has always surpassed me in computer skillz.
When I read How to go from Computer Confused to Software Savvy in 5 Easy Steps, I wanted to share some more tips to help all “computer confused” people of the world. I am one of those people who never pays for software if I don’t have to. I’m also a power user who will not tolerate crud getting on my computer. Today I’m going to share with you my suite of 100% legal and free software that keeps my computer running like a top.
Virus Protector: Avast! Antivirus. This free, ad-less software has seven different “Providers” which protect different aspects of your PC. They include Internet Mail, Internet Messaging, Network Shield, P2P shield, Standard Shield, Web Shield, and E-mail shield. What I like most about this is that you can disable any of them at will. So if you don’t use P2P programs, just knock that one out.
It takes very little system resources too. I like this the most. Growing up, Dad always used the Norton Suite, which was expensive financially and even worse on your system resources. I can’t even tell a difference in system performance when I disable Avast.
So does it protect me? You bet it does! I haven’t had one virus take my computer down since I installed it. It updates its definitions daily and tells you when it does audibly and with a small pop-up.
It’s also very simple to download and install. Once you install, you can just forget about it, unless you have a problem. One small caveat: While it is free for home use, it does require registration. Just fill out the form with as much or as little information as you want, and you’ll receive a registration code. Very simple. I’ve not gotten any spam associated with this registration either. This is why I believe that Avast is the BEST free virus protector out there.
2nd Virus Protector: ThreatFire. Ok, so you’re saying “2nd virus protector? I thought you just said Avast was the baddest of the bad!?” Well, any good PC tech will tell you that one virus protector will never catch everything. And it’s true. You should always have more than one virus protector if you want to keep your computer virus free. This used to be quite a hassle too, no longer, though. ThreatFire is another install- and-forget app. What makes it different will require a little bit of explanation though.
Traditional virus protectors (like Avast, Norton, AVG, etc.) need “definitions” of viruses in order to detect them. These definitions tell the scanner what to look for. If you don’t keep your definitions up-to-date, then new viruses can wreck havoc on your system.
New virus protectors, like ThreatFire, monitor your system constantly and if a program does something suspicious (like make a copy of itself or capturing keystrokes), it instantly stops that program and asks you what to do with it.
This way, you could be the very first victim of a new virus, and ThreatFire will stop it from hurting you or anyone else.
When it catches a program doing something naughty, it gives detailed information of the program, its location, and how dangerous ThreatFire thinks it may be. That way, you’re not completely in the dark about what’s happening.
Just like Avast, ThreatFire is not a resource hog. ThreatFire is a valuable tool to catch new or undocumented viruses!
Spyware/Malware Protection: Spybot Search and Destroy. This is the best free spyware detector I have used.
In order to keep it effective, you must update it every time you use it. The scan times are also around 10-15 minutes, but I deem that a small price to pay in order to keep my computer running at its peak. One of the coolest features it has is “Immunization,” which works by “immunizing” your browser against thousands of known threats. I don’t know how it does this, but since using this feature, my problems have gone from 30-40 per scan down to 2-5.
Another feature I love is Spybot SD Resident. This feature alerts you every time your registry is altered by any program and will let you allow or deny this change. This may sound a little daunting to beginningers, deciding which to allow and which to deny, but really it’s very simple: If you recognize the program making the change and you want that program running, allow it. If you don’t know what it is, deny it.
The main thing about Spybot Search & Destroy is that you must remember to run scans! I try to do it once a week. If you don’t, the immunization will save you from lots of things, but for 100% protection, you must remember to scan regularly.
This software will run on almost any operating system including Linux, Symbian, and Windows Mobile. The only major OSes it won’t run on are Mac OS and Mac OSX. (Chances are you won’t need it if you’re using those anyway.) It’s also available in just about any language too, so it’s ideal for everyone from poor African families running Windows 95 up to rich Americans on their smartphones.
These are the programs I use to keep my computer free of all internet crud, and if you simply install them and remember to run Spybot every week or two, you also can have a virus, spyware, and malware free PC. If you have any questions or suggestions, please leave them in the comments section!
Today, I’ve done my blogging over at Blogger’s Guide—you can read my article, “Five More WordPress Plugins to Simplify Your Blogging,” by clicking here. Since you, my faithful readers, came here first, I’m going to give you two extra WordPress plug-ins that I love, but couldn’t justify including in my guest post.
- FD Feedburner: If you’re using Feedburner to manage your blog’s RSS feeds (and you should be), this WordPress plugin will give you finer control over your hosted blog’s feeds. FD Feedburner does some behind-the-scenes hocus-pocus to seamlessly connect the built-in feed to your Feedburner feed, no coding, no writing to your .htaccess file. Why not?
- Highlight Author Comments: In my guest post, I mention two plugins that help build community on your blog by making it easy for readers to follow the comments on a post and by making it easy for you, the author, to respond to them. This plugin sweetens the deal by making your comments stand out from the reader comments. See it in action on an active post,
Five Things I Thought Today
- How can I take a nap and still finish preparing for class?*
- Am I a teacher? Or an actor?
- Oh. My. Goodness. Face is So. Cold. while riding my bike to school and back today**
- I’ll see how much I can clean off my desk in 15 minutes. 15 minutes later Awesome! Every thing is filed and my desk is completely clean!
- I really don’t want to write my NaBloPoMo post today. I just want to sleep. checks email Oh look! Sarah‘s posted my guest post! Sweet!
Question of the Day
What made your day today?
With their explosive debut record, With Love and Squalor, We Are Scientists took the world by storm in 2005. The debut was bristling with creativity and confidence that went right down into your feet. Even introverted people started singing along out loud while listening to it on their MP3 players on the subway.
Three years later, the Scientists are ready to prove to the world that they can do it again. Having gone through a lineup change, replacing drummer Michael Tapper with Adam Aaronson and adding keyboardist Max Hart, I was curious if and how that would affect the quality of the new record.
Brain Thrust Mastery starts off with “Ghouls”, a song that builds and builds with every second. Keith Murray‘s vocals follow spacy guitars and then a pumping bass and electronic drum beats join in. Murray sticks to his usual driving vocals. When the song reaches its climax, all instruments explode right in your ear.
This is NEW! This is FRESH! This keeps me LISTENING.
From this song, the record keeps up an unbelievable pace, passion, and energy. Every song makes you sing along instantaneously and has your foot shaking like you are having a seizure.
“Let’s See It” is no exception to that and only two songs into this record, it makes very clear that this is going to hold up with the success of the debut.
In the first single, “After Hours“, We are Scientists apply their proven, unique style, add even more energy and passion, and finish the creation off with a few sprinkles of new ideas to create a song that catches you off guard while you rock out and sing along right away.
“Lethal Enforcer” reminds me of The Cure and might well be an homage to them. This song offers great lyrics with Murray telling us “I’d say, do not throw away if it’s not working anymore!” So true, and something everyone can relate to.
Just when I thought that surely this record could not get any more energetic, the Scientists hit me with “Impatience“, a great rock tune that kicks you in the shins and yells at you to get back up. There is no doubt in my mind that it will be a future live anthem for them and one that should get any crowd going. When you listen to it, be sure to appreciate the little bass riff in the chorus that only comes up on the first part of each chorus, a little ditty which makes me come back to the song just to hear that bass again.
Keeping up the humor which the Scientists have shown over the past, Murray plays on an awkward situation between him and a lady friend that is not his girlfriend by telling her that he is “Spoken For” in the song that is titled exactly that.
“Altered Beast” and “Chick Lit” are your typical Scientists songs: witty lyrics, energetic sound, and sing-along choruses. “I’m sure by now you have noticed that there is no need to move. We are coming to you!” is a great way of summing up how excited the Scientists are to get to play these fresh tracks to everyone, be it on the CD itself or at one of their many live shows and that you can feel on this CD so vividly. They did a great job of translating that desire into the record and producing it just right so that you feel the energy like you are at a live show.
It all gets wrapped up with “Dinosaurs,” which is a great pseudo-punk song, We-Are-Scientists style and is one of my favorites on this record. Its forceful and energetic ending is an elbow in your ribs by the fat guy right next to you at the show, but you just don’t care because that’s what it’s all about.
Licking my wounds and happy that I got out of this crazy and exciting ride alive, the Scientists give me a chance to do so with the last song of the record. “That’s What Counts” is a great pop song that once again invites me to sing along shamelessly even though it might be late at night and my neighbors have complained about my singing several times before.
This record should leave no doubt in anyone’s mind that the Scientists are one of the greatest alternative-rock-pop-whatever-category-you-want-to-stick-them-in bands of this time and will hopefully continue to be for many years to come. It didn’t leave me disappointed, but ecstatic and excited. Excited to listen to it again. So let’s do it together! Come on!!
This, my husband’s third guest post, reviews the new Death Cab for Cutie album, Narrow Stairs. Rob’s passion for music stems from the many concerts he attended as a teenager living in a metropolis and his stint as a drummer in a alternative rock band.
The long awaited follow-up to Death Cab for Cutie’s great album Plans is finally here: Narrow Stairs hit the shelves this past Tuesday. Armed with high expectations and the patience a record like this deserves, I am more than ready to give Narrow Stairs a good listen.
“Bixby Canyon Bridge” opens the record and gives you what you know DCFC does best. Ben Gibbard serenades us with his soft voice over atmospheric guitars and scarce drums.
Ah: Death Cab for Cutie. This is what I put the money on the counter for.
Pretty quickly into this beautiful song, though, Death Cab takes us for a different spin and rocks out until the end. Unexpectedly heavy for Death Cab but yet refreshing this opening song hits you right in the face with all your own expectations and tells you to throw them overboard. The sooner the better. This sets the bar high, but “didn’t play like it did in my mind.” What a great opener.
The first single, “I Will Posses Your Heart,” might be the best example of the new and improved Death Cab. A thumbing bass pulls us in to this mesmerizing 8 1/2-minute epic. Then, sporadic piano and waves of guitar noises. About 4 1/2 minutes into this jam session, Gibbard joins in with one of the greatest lyrics on this record.
How I wish you could see the potential
The potential of you and me.
It’s like a book elegantly bound
but in a language you can’t read just yet.
An almost 9-minute song never felt so short. At the end of this track, I want to skip back to the beginning for another listen. Only rare talent produces a song at that length, while still keeping it interesting enough to make you want to listen again.
“Your New Twin-sized Bed” and especially “Talking Bird” showcase Gibbard’s ability to write beautiful poetry into a great song. “Talking Bird” describes a relationship using the metaphor of a pet bird, and while each image undoubtedly holds specific meaning for Gibbard, every listener can see their own story in it.
“No Sunlight,” “Long Division”, and “Grapevine Fires” deserve to be released as singles and give listeners what we know and want from Death Cab. While they tread on familiar territory at all times, they manage to venture into new lands as well: the record is much harsher, rockier, and more adventurous than any of its predecessors. “Pity and Fear” turns into a Radiohead-esque song that you would not expect from Death Cab, who doesn’t copy Radiohead shamelessly, but rather pays homage to another great band of our time. The synth-punk influence from Brainiac, who the band admitted to listening to quite a bit while writing Narrow Stairs, also shines through.
The record ends with the quiet ballad “The Ice is Getting Thinner,” again showcasing Gibbard’s great vocals and lyrics and ending the record on a melancholic note.
Confirming all high expectations, Death Cab proves once again that they are one of the greatest pop-rock bands of this time and I believe their records will hold up even 10, 20 or 30 years from now. The record starts where Plans left off and gives us more than we bargained for.
On top of great lyrics, melodies, and innovation, the production of the record is solid and expertly balances every instrument just enough to emphasize its beauty without covering up the other voices.
Do yourself a favor and add this record to the soundtrack of your life. It needs a little patience, especially if you are expecting the same ol’ Death Cab. After a few listens though, you’ll find it so rewarding and could easily be the best record of 2008. Not that I’m deciding that award this early in the year; There a few contenders for that title already, and next time I will tell you about another one.
Let me share a little email I got from Sarah:
Hey, how would you feel about doing a guest post about Twitter? I’m thinking about jumping on board…convince me!
And here was my response:
Actually, my true response what much more detailed, as I was unsure of whether I should write the post. By the end of my email, though, I had convinced myself (and hopefully Sarah!) that I was ready to write it, but that it would not be much like any other other posts I’ve read about Twitter.
This guest post is by Rob, my husband who always makes me laugh. As any true German does, Rob loves soccer. Yesterday, Rob described what we had to go through before actually getting tickets. Today, he tells the story of cheering against his favorite team twice and a morning full of international phone calls.
So here we were: Dressed in the red and white of Liverpool, but ultimately, hoping for them to lose. We weren’t going to support the teams they played against, but our fingers were crossed for them to lose just one time. Hopefully, that time would during be their game against Havant & Waterlooville, a team that plays in the sixth English league, which consists mostly of taxi drivers and high school teachers playing soccer part time. If Liverpool were to lose this game, then they would be out of the FA Cup and our game would happen for sure. The 2:2 tie at halftime was much more than I expected, but in the second half, Liverpool showed their strength and scored two more times, making the final score 4:2 for Liverpool. Can’t they lose just one time? For us?
Ok, so our next chance was against Barnsley FC, a team from the second English league. Odds were against Barnsley, who not only played a league below Liverpool, but also were last in that lower league. On top of that, they had to play Liverpool at Anfield Road, which makes it at least twice as difficult to beat the LFC.
To no surprise, the halftime score was 1:0 for Liverpool, but hope always dies last. We sat in our apartment, refreshing Kicker.de every minute to see the up-to-date results. Refresh. Refresh. Refresh. And then we couldn’t believe our eyes! Barnsley tied the game and our hopes soared. We refreshed and refreshed some more, but the score stayed tied even ten to fifteen minutes after the game should have been over. Something was wrong.
In the FA Cup, games tied after 90 minutes of play do not go to overtime. Instead, the teams face each other in a new game to break the tie. Then Linden had the genius idea of checking the official Liverpool FC site. Unbelievably, the headline gave us great news: “Liverpool knocked out of the FA CUP by a late goal of Barnsley FC. Final Score 1-2!!” We looked at each other in awe, then jumped up and started dancing in a circle. Yea, I know we probably looked really stupid, but who cares! Now it was final: Liverpool and Newcastle would face off on March 8. All we needed to do was get tickets.
Easier said than done!!!
The tickets went on sale at 8:30 A.M. on February 25, and we had 2 alarms set. At 8:29 A.M., I dialed 0004-844-844-0844 for the first time. After I got through the menu of instructions, I was told that I would be put in the queue for tickets. But then a nice voice came on and told me that all lines are busy and I should please try again in a few minutes. This was just the first of many times we heard that voice tell us exactly that, and after an hour, she didn’t sound so nice anymore.
We dialed that number about once every minute, getting the same response over and over. Linden took over after a while. Finally, after two and half hours (see the phone bill), Linden heard a nice gentleman announce, “You are number 59 in the queue!” It was a sexy, amazingly intelligent voice, but first and foremost, it was a voice of relief. When we were first in line, Linden handed the phone to me.
A friendly young woman answered the phone and said, “How can I help you today?”
“What?! Bitch, you crazy? I want some freaking tickets to the game! What else would I be calling for?” Of course I didn’t say that to her. It would have been the worst thing to piss off the ticket lady, the Liverpudlian who holds our Liverpool FC tickets in her probably well-manicure hands. So I said calmly, “I would like some tickets for the big game, please Ma’am.” I only requested that she give us two seats together somewhere in that beautiful stadium. She found them, took our credit card information, and gave me a confirmation code. Linden and I danced around in a circle and all we had to do now was get our butts over the canal and get to the stadium.