GreenLance Communications: News • Media • Reviews

Sunday, December 21, 2008

How I Testify

Brick TestamentWe're having a bit of a blizzard here, so Church got snowed out today. And a glorious Shabbat to you, too.

Perhaps I shall compensate for the lack of fellowship and community worship by studying my favorite translation of the scriptures: The Brick Testament, a Lego-ized pictorial representation of Biblical stories. Sometimes serious, sometimes satirical, it's difficult to discern what motivates the maker of this site. But it's all good fun.

In the spirit of the holidays, and demonstrating that a picture actually is worth a thousand words, I present the Brick Testament version of "The Birth of Jesus":
Birth of Christ

To be ecumenical, I should probably also give kudos to Assembling the Temple and Brick of Mormon, two other efforts to bring scriptural stories to life -- or, at least, to Legos.

Play on.

Thursday, December 11, 2008

How I 學習中文

MDBGI'm teaching a Chinese class to the kiddies in my daughter's homeschooling co-op next quarter. But my fluency ain't what it used to be. To bone up on my 中文 vocabulary I've been playing with the MDBG Chinese-English dictionary. It's fascinating. Enter a word in English, if you wish, or in Pinyin, or even in characters, and get a list of every permutation of that word.

Click the icons to hear pronunciation, read etymological details, and even watch the character being drawn in a Flash demonstration.

Fēi cháng hǎo!

Wednesday, December 3, 2008

How I Fly Like a (Geeky) Eagle

Google EarthStill doing way too much research, and way too little writing, on my new novel. Google Earth is proving invaluable (or distracting. I'm not sure which). Where before I might have driven (or flown) to the place I was researching, now I can pretty much Google Earth it and get at least a sense of what a particular street corner might look like, or whether an area of the town I'm describing is rural or suburban.

Oh, and whether my daughter was out playing in the neighborhood when she was supposed to be home with her older brother, practicing the piano.  She goes on record as the first child in history to get in trouble because of Google Earth Street View.

Sunday, November 2, 2008

How I Read the Research

[caption id="attachment_228" align="alignleft" width="126" caption="OCR Terminal"]OCR Terminal[/caption]

In the course of researching this year's NaNoWriMo novel, I've been undertaking a fair bit of research. What I've discovered is that scanned-in text images are a bear to work with; I much prefer straight, simple text. I've been most grateful this month for the services of OCRTerminal, a groovy little tool that slurps up .jpg files or .pdf files, reads them, and converts them to text. It outputs page contents as pure text, if you like, or it can maintain formatting by outputting it as Word files, RTF files, or XML files. What a find!

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

How I Motivate Kids to Write

Young Writers ProgramOur entire family clears its November calendar for NaNoWriMo. For the young 'uns, it's the Young Writers Program, where they pick their own novel length and play along with the big folk.

This year, the youngest is aiming for 15,000 words. Will she, or won't she?

Wednesday, October 1, 2008

How I Get Motivated to Write


NaNoWriMo -- National Novel Writing Month -- inspires thousands of novels every December. Want to be the next JK Rowling? You've got one month. Clear your calendar!

Sunday, September 7, 2008

How I Prophesy

Prophetic MidrashI've got sort of a thing about the Old Testament. Love its ancient heritage, its rich language, its intense narrative, and most of all, its deep and abiding purpose. I know God better through pondering the prophecies and preaching of the Old Testament than I do through any other course of study. Every other book that the faithful take as scriptural must answer to the Old Testament for authority and foundation.

And so I offer this: Prophetic Midrash. An exegetical commentary on the prophets of the Old Testament.

Wednesday, July 23, 2008

Summer Hiatus

Greenlance is on summer hiatus until 7 September 2008, when we'll return with all new reviews and resources. Happy holidays!

How I Track the Patently Funny

Wacky Patent of the Month
Wacky Patent of the Month

I once knew a fellow who claimed to have invented an automobile engine that could operate without fuel.

"Yeah? What happened?" I'd ask.

"Well the government didn't want me to be successful, so they..."

From there, the story would always get a bit fuzzy. Darned Patent and Trademark Office, always putting the kibosh on clever ideas.

I wish I'd known, then, about Wacky Patents, the site that proves once and for all that "the gummit" will let you you patent just about anything. Every month, for years now, Wacky Patents has featured such cunning ideas as this month's "Anti Eating Mask," a muzzle for fat people. Or the Animated Amusement Device featured in March of 2002, that had a swastika on an axle designed, apparently, to inflict pain on the nether parts of Nazis.

Did the government rob you of a great idea? Tell me all about it. I guarantee I won't tell a soul. Just click the Comments link below, and share.

Monday, July 21, 2008

How I Feed a Raw Need

[caption id="" align="alignleft" width="139" caption="We Like It Raw"][/caption]

Nummy, nummy in my tummy...

I've been living the raw-food life -- with an ocassional moment of cheating -- since the first day of this blog.

Over the past two-and-a-half months, I've lost a considerable amount of weight, and have felt much, much healthier.

The investment was minimal: A $30 dehydrator off Craigslist, a blender, and a knife. But the food sometimes gets a bit repetitive. We Like It Raw solves that problems with amazing recipes and beautiful photography that inspires me, all over again, to stay healthy.

I intend to live a very, very long time. Eating raw vegan is the only way to get there with my health intact.

Tell me about other raw food and vegan resources you love by clicking that Comments link below.

Saturday, July 19, 2008

How I Gas Up

Looking to drive traffic to your web site? Here's the secret, guaranteed.

Just make sure the topic of your web site is "Cheap Gasoline Locations." Then get OPEC to double the price of oil. See how easy?

Well it works for Gas Buddy -- the site that tracks the price of gasoline in your town, and in every town in your geographic area. Hey, we can fight back! Buddy up! Tell the neighbors what your nearest station is charging today, and they'll return the favor.

Have other ideas for pressuring price gougers? Share by clicking that Comments link below.

Friday, July 18, 2008

How I Soothe the Savage Beast

All day today, I've been listening to Pandora -- internet radio for the technologically inept.

Honestly, the whole Kazaa and ripping CDs and illegal downloads thing just baffles me. I don't even wanna know.

But Pandora has music coming out my computer speakers for the first time in -- well, ever. Today, it's playing stations dedicated to my boys Earth, Wind and Fire, my Beach Boys and my Five for Fighting. Ahhhh. What a wonderful world. Hey! I think I hear Louis calling!

Click that Comments link below and bring me into the 21st century. I'm embarrassing my kids. What tunes should I really be listening to?

Thursday, July 17, 2008

How I Get Inspired

Welcome back to Smart Thursdays. Today's installment: The Best Thinking from the Best Thinkers.

TED is an annual summit on -- well, any subject that fascinates. It originally featured speeches by fascinating people from the worlds of Technology, Entertainment, and Design. Now it's much more. Click the TEDTalks link on the left column of the web page to watch broadcasts of the "talk of a lifetime" from interesting writers, academics, scientists and artists.

Warning: TEDTalks may cause brain pain. Listen slowly. It hurts to be brilliant.

Wednesday, July 16, 2008

How I Listen to Literature

We love, love, love our local bibliothèque, and in particular, we love our books on tape.

But sometimes, getting to the library is a chore, and sometimes we just need to listen to something other than radio pop. So we turn to our good friend LibriVox.

LibriVox is home to hundreds and hundreds of books -- classic, mostly -- in audio form. Listen to podcasts, subscribe in iTunes, or hear them using the media player on your computer.

It's a good time to be alive. Found any other amazing uses of technology on the Web? Share by clicking that Comments link, below.

Tuesday, July 15, 2008

How I Get Happy

[caption id="" align="alignleft" width="98" caption="Louis Armstrong"]Louis Armstrong[/caption]

Ever have a really awful, terrible, no-good day? I did. Yesterday. But only for about a minute, because whenever I'm down, nobody gets me happy again like my guy Satchmo.

My boyfriend Louis Armstrong and I have been an item since, oh, about 1963. Watching him smile, or hearing him sing Hello Dolly, or Mack the Knife, or What A Wonderful World is absolutely guaranteed to make anybody feel happy all over again. He's jazz's answer to Prozac.

Got a YouTube favorite of your own? Convince me to break it off with the Satch by clicking that Comments link below.

Monday, July 14, 2008

How I Charge My Life

Some financial planners advise against credit cards. I say, balony. Credit cards are awesome. At least, one credit card is awesome. That's the one I found on Bankrate. It gives me a cut of every dollar I spend. I get 3 percent back for my biggest expenditures -- including my cell phone, utilities and other bills. Hey, why should Visa get all the profit?

Bankrate surveys credit card offers from all the biggies and lets you apply directly from the site for the card that fits your needs. I have two. One for all my domestic spending  -- and that 3 percent cash back -- and the other for overseas travel, so I don't get charged an exchange fee.

Credit cards are safer than cash, allow me to rent a car, track all my spending, and help me stick to a budget. Since I pay off the full balance every month, why wouldn't I use them?

Saturday, July 12, 2008

How I Teach My Baby to Type

It's another birthday. L'il One turns 10 today, and in her honor, Greenlance presents one of the basic life skills a ten-year-old needs to master: Keyboarding.

The BBC's Dance Mat features animated characters such as a Scottish goat and an Italian octopus that teach typing skills to the younger set -- and to adults who still watch their fingers when they type. (Yes, Grandpa, we're talking to you.)

Share your own resources for teaching information literacy by clicking that Comments link below.

Friday, July 11, 2008

How I am Amused

Audrey Hepburn as Madonna. Brad Pitt as a panda. Jive critters -- including a flamenco horse and dogs doing the salsa. Worth 1000 is an online contest for graphic designers, multimedia artists and amateur Photoshop-ists.

It's a fun and freaky respite from your Friday. I mean, seriously. How great is this?

Jive Critters at Worth 1000
Jive Critters at Worth 1000

Thursday, July 10, 2008

How I Get Schooled

I'm too old for school. But I'm never too old to learn. See, I figure that so long as I keep my brain engaged, I'll never become a doddering old fool.

That's why, beginning today, Greenlance will sponsor Smart Thursdays, wherein we feature a great resource for adult education.

Today's featured site: Stanford on iTunes University. This is the one that finally motivated me to install iTunes. It's free audio and video broadcasts of Stanford University lectures covering a wide variety of subjects. It's like auditing college classes without paying tuition. Such a deal.

Have other suggestions for Smart Thursdays? Share your ideas by clicking that Comments link, below.

Wednesday, July 9, 2008

How I Get 60mpg

Still driving an SUV? Not me. I just scored myself a '92 Geo Metro. Fifty mpg without even trying hard. But I can do better than that. I've learned extreme drivng -- the cheapskate's way to get super-high gas mileage.

Want to join me? Episode 49 (produced back in April, when gas was still sub-four-bucks a gallon) at Systm will teach you how to drive like a hyper-miler.

Have more ideas for improving the bottom line? Share! Click that Comment link, below.

Tuesday, July 8, 2008

How I Sing a Song

Mondays are for family night. Last evening we were joined by another family, and spent the time eating too much food and singing along with Guitar Man. Unfortunately, it turns out, we're all a little elderly about remembering song lyrics and guitar chords.

No problem. Seems our computer has an excellent memory -- because it knows how to find Chordie, a massive collection of guitar tabs, guitar chords and song lyrics, most of which are submitted by users.  Bad Moon Rising, Kokomo, Desperado, Country Roads, Puff, ...are we showing our age?

Should we give it up and learn some Lil Wayne or Three 6 Mafia? Add Jonas Brothers and Rihanna to our play list? Click the Comments link below and suggest your own favorite family night resource.

Monday, July 7, 2008

How I Stay Married

It's tough, this business of making two lives one. Even though my better half is a good guy -- and he is -- marriage is hard work.

Lovegevity makes marriage just a little bit easier, with expert advice on improving communication, being grateful, and resolving problems. Yes, it's totally a chick site -- though there is a section entitled Husband. But you just know it doesn't see a lot of traffic.

Have any suggestions for relationship resources that actually would appeal to men? Do tell!

Sunday, July 6, 2008

How I Observe the '-ites

Did you know that Wicca is on track to be the US' third-largest religion by 2012? Or that of the ten largest religious groups in the United States, only Catholicism is older than Mormonism? That's right. Southern Baptists were organized fifteen years after the LDS church, and two years before the Lutheran's Missouri Synod. None of the other top ten were organized until 1897 or later.

How do I know? is a compilation of some 43,000 records documenting the membership of more than 4,200 religious faiths. It's fascinating stuff, and will shatter some of your long-held assumptions about who believes what.

Tell me about your own favorite religion resource, won't you? Just click that Comments link, below.

Saturday, July 5, 2008

How I See Dead People

Been looking for your great-grandparents? Relax. They're buried in a granite vault in Utah.

For the past several decades, the world's largest repository of family records has been cataloguing and filming every available record of human existence: more than three billion pages of census records, births, christenings, marriages, deaths...if anyone recorded it, the genealogists at the Vault have probably copied it. 

And here's the best part: You can take a look! makes genealogical records available to anyone who's curious, or who wants to research their own genealogy. Just click the How Do I Get Started link and follow the six steps to creating your family tree. 

Have a good family history story to tell? Just tap that Comments link to start sharing your memories!

Friday, July 4, 2008

How I Get Compus Mentis

Law LibraryIs it weird that I enjoy reading court cases? Naaah. Gossip about crime and civil suits is infinitely more amusing than the alternative: Gossip about celebrity misbehavior and impregnations.

If you, too, prefer Judge Judy to TMZ, you'll relish JRank's Law Library -- an encyclopedia of quick-reading articles about virtually every important legal decision in US history.

Got a better hobby? Time for assentio mentium!  Click that Comments link and share!

Thursday, July 3, 2008

How I Get Clipped

Free Clip ArtSometimes I fancy myself a bit of an artist. Then I look at what actual artists do, and blush.

One of my favorite unsung pop artists is an obscure school teacher and graphic artist named Phillip Martin. I've been stalking his web sites for months now, just gazing at his whimsical drawings. So that you, too, might marvel, I present: Free Clip Art by Phillip Martin. It collects in one place artwork related to all sorts of academic disciplines, holidays, the Bible, and occupations -- as well as random ideas such as rainbows, floods, bathtime, seasick, and folding chairs (which I threw in just in case you thought I was working up a water theme, there.)

There are frillions and morillions of artwork collections out on the infonetwebs. Tell me about your favorite by clicking that Comments link.

Wednesday, July 2, 2008

How I Trend to Learn

Google TrendsMuskrat. Capuchin. Goleta. All words I had to look up this past week, because Google Trends assured me they were suddenly popular as search terms.

Turns out muskrats were the proximate cause of some of the flooding in the Midwest. A zoo in Mississippi has a new baby monkey. And Goleta is a town near Santa Barbara battling a massive forest fire. See how smart I got, just wondering why lots of people were suddenly searching for odd words?

Have a favorite place for reading the news? I'm all ears.

Monday, June 30, 2008

How I Repeat Myself

Have you ever just liked something, for no good, defensible reason? Yeah?

OK, well, for no good reason, I like KrazyDad Kaleidoscope. Plug in the URL of any image, and this silly little toy turns the photo into a kaleidoscope image. Flying pigs, your left toe, the photos of your kids you stored in Photobucket or Flickr. It's just fun.

Have any image editing resources you'd like to share? Click that comments link below!

Sunday, June 29, 2008

How I Examine My Belief


Do your beliefs match your religion? Beliefnet promises to tell you in this quiz that matches denominations with doctrine.

"Even if you don't know what faith you are, Belief-O-Matic knows," the site asserts. "Answer 20 questions about your concept of God, the afterlife, human nature, and more, and Belief-O-Matic will tell you what religion (if any) you practice...or ought to consider practicing."

While I think Beliefnet takes a simplistic and overly orthodox view of my particular denomination, perhaps it'll do a better job of yours.

What made your own Sabbath memorable this week? Share -- anonomously, if you'd like -- by clicking that Comments link below.

Saturday, June 28, 2008

How I Say Happy Birthday

From today on, each time one of my many children has a birthday, Greenlance will celebrate by posting a resource that will be of particular interest to that kid. So happy birthday, middle son. This site's for you:

Makai "Makai" isn't just an awkward pronunciation of "Michael"; it's also the Hawaiian word for "toward the ocean." Is there any question, then, what you'd name a magazine that discusses nothing but hanging out at beaches in Hawaii? It's a Surfin' Safari, baby. If you're planning to live by the beach, live a beach lifestyle.

To my son who longs to live in Hawaii: We wish you "Hau`oli la Hanau," Bu. And be glad that we didn't name you "Hapai"!

Friday, June 27, 2008

How I Check My Brain

Tests, Tests,  Tests You enjoy crossword puzzles, your best friend likes Sudoku, and your cat plays the piano. Me? My intellectual stimulant of choice is taking tests.

Tests, Tests, Tests lets me break my brain against career tests, Bible tests, typing tests, personality tests, and even IQ tests. There are plenty of fun quizzes here, too. What's your Hogwarts House? Are you a Neat Freak? How Jealous are You?

So here's a little test: Can you tell me about a better online resources for adult brain teasers? If not, I get the high score.

Thursday, June 26, 2008

How I DON'T Plot My Own Death

Just In Case I Die Here it is: The first review of a site I do not use. Ever. But it's just so creepy, I feel a need to share.

Just in Case I Die -- have you looked at that logo? -- sends out an email message to the police, your spouse, or anyone else you designate, in the event of your death. Or in the event that you fail to log in and STOP the message from being delivered. Same thing, right?

"My ex-husband did it!" "The password is..." "I've had a crush on you since the seventh grade." "All the money goes to support Fluffy."


I won't even ask you to comment on this one. Unless you want to.

Wednesday, June 25, 2008

How I Fly Away

KayakCheap travel is hard to come by. Gas is so dear, I don't even use drive-throughs anymore.

How do I make every penny count when booking travel? Not Expedia, not Travelocity, not Orbitz, and not Priceline.

Nope, in this house, it's Kayak, not Red Bull, that gives us wings. Kayak is a no-nonsense tool that simultaneously searches more than 140 resources -- including most of the biggies. I recently found a Philly/Seattle flight for 220 bucks on Kayak when the same flights were more than $400 on the competitor sites.

Have any favorite resources for planning travel? Do share! Click that Comments link and make my heart soar!

Tuesday, June 24, 2008

How I Get Creative

Dick Blick Art LessonsI'm no artist, but I know good art when I see it. And when I see it, I aspire to create gorgeous little dongxi* to adorn my own life.

Dick Blick Art Lessons is inspiring. It's a collection of lessons for making beautiful things out of art supplies -- supplies that Dick Blick really, really hopes you'll purchase from them.

Let's see what we have here:

African Embossed Leather Box Oh, that's ingenious. It's an African Embossed Leather Box. I think I'll make one of those.

Oh! Oh! Here's something else:

Glass Fossils

It's Glass Fossils! I'll make two of those!

It's pretty much an endless supply of inspiration for artists and wannabes.

Tell me about your favorite art resource by clicking that Comments link below! Inspire me!

*Dōngsyi (東西). A word you should know. It means East-West. More significantly, it means "things," tchotchkes.

Monday, June 23, 2008

How I Feel Superior to Dummies

Darwin AwardsWhen my self-esteem is suffering, I go visit the Darwin Awards to see what really dumb people are up to.

When other people set themselves on fire, blow themselves up, or shoot themselves out of cannons...well, how dumb could I be? It sort of puts "falling down the stairs and landing on my can" into perspective.

Darwin Awards keeps tabs on people whose stupidity is so phenomenal, it actually removes them from the gene pool. "Culling the herd," is how DA describes it.

Do you have a favorite humor site? Give me a giggle. Click the Comments link to share.

Saturday, June 21, 2008

How an Aphorism a Day Keeps the..

Mixed MetaphorSo I was sitting in my seat one Shabbat listening to the sermon, when the speaker began describing a sudden flash of inspiration he'd experienced. "This idea struck me like a lightbulb," he said with great solemnity.

Ouch! (But high-props for having the chutzpah to hold forth! It's more than I can normally manage myself.)

If you don't relish the though of someone stifling a smirk when you speak, consider carefully this contribution from Calvin College: Mixed delight and amaze you. My favorites: "It's not rocket surgery." "The monkey is in your court." And best of all: "Marching to the beat of a dead horse."

Have any amusing mangled maxims to communicate? Convey 'em by clicking that Comments link. Let us laugh along!

Friday, June 20, 2008

How I Go Way Back

WayBack MachineTime machines aren't real...except on the Internet. This time machine fascinates me. WayBack Machine is a documentary record of the internet. Not just a story about it. The actual thing.

It's a snapshot of more or less every web page. Ever. It's mind-blowing. Just imagining the storage space required for this effort crosses my eyes.

WayBack Machine will be of particular interest to researchers who need to know whether or not a particular website is legitimate. And to me, who just likes to look at old stuff.

Bet you can't name a cooler research resource. C'mon. Bet me.

Thursday, June 19, 2008

How I Get My Kids Through College

Citation MakerThis is a little test to see whether my college-student offspring are watching. Listen up, kids. Here's how to get an A on your next research paper: Son of Citation Machine.

It's a web tool to help you properly cite sources in research papers. Just enter the citation information into a form, click the style, and bingo. Cite anything from anthologies to web sites in MLA, APA, Turabian or Chicago style. (And note the URL: It's a dot net, not a dot com.)

Now pass the test by clicking that Comments link below and telling me about another study tool you've used and loved. Or just call mom and say hi.

Wednesday, June 18, 2008

How I Learn How

ExpertVillageMovies, shmovies. I've got videos. From experts. About everything.

Expert Village is a sort of combination YouTube and public television, where every video explains how to do something: make vegan chocolate mousse, predict the weather, organize a convention. Homeschool. Compost. Decorate. Shop. Sew. Sing. Blog.

Me-sa like-sa. When I've watched 'em all, I should be smarter. Right?

Seen any good videos lately? Tell me where to look!

Tuesday, June 17, 2008

How I Memorize Factoids

StudyStackNo flash cards for me. Not when I've got StudyStack. Boring old flashcards were never this good.

Whether you're prepping for an exam, memorizing scriptures, or studying a new language, if it needs to stick in your head, you need StudyStack. Use it the way you'd use regular flash cards, but take advantage of all the improvements: Use the study table to see all the data in a single place. Print data or export flash cards to your cell phone, PDA, or iPod. Play games with the flash card data. This is what computers were made to do. Use any of hundreds of existing card stacks, or create your own. Brain-bending.

What's your favorite educational tool? (And "Bill Bennett" is not an acceptable answer.)

Monday, June 16, 2008

How I Forgave Apple

iTunesApple Computer and I haven't been on speaking terms since 1983, when it put Franklin Computer out of business with the lawsuit heard 'round the world. I really loved my Apple ][ clones, and did not take kindly to their mass murder.

But I've finally decided that Apple has done its penance. After all, it's sort of single-handedly kept Microsoft from eating the planet. And it's kept my kids so preoccupied with their iPods that they haven't had time to get into trouble. So Apple, I hereby forgive you. And I've installed iTunes on my (non-MacBook) laptop as a gesture of my goodwill.

There. We're friends again. I shall now go forth and partake of podcasting.

Do you have a favorite podcast resource? Help me love Apple again by clicking that Comments link, below.

Sunday, June 15, 2008

How I Fish for Business

Blue MauMauCall me biased, but this one's a must-see resource for the business-minded. Why biased? Blue MauMau is my baby, sort of. I had a hand in the startup; its current success is entirely its own, however.

If you've ever considered starting a franchise, Blue MauMau is your go-to place, with straight-up -- and often funny -- news, blogs, advice and tips for making it big in the franchise world. It's a great hangout spot for talking with owners of franchises, too.

What are your favorite resources for making sound business decisions? Share by clicking that Comments link, below.

Saturday, June 14, 2008

How I Wiki My World

WikispacesWhen I'm not blogging, or editing, or having a life, I'm building my little Wikispace. Gotta keep all that research someplace. Wikispaces is made for creating your very own version of Wikipedia. Use it to plan events or build a community. Your club or co-op can use it to coordinate classes and activities, advertise for new members, and improve communication. I use it as a freestyle database for storing information and research. Endless possibilities.

How do you facilitate group planning? Surely you're not still using email. Are you?

Friday, June 13, 2008

How I Feed My Inner Geek

GizmodoMy hubby and I are well and truly the original geeks. We met on line. Not impressed? It was before there was an internet. Before digital photography. Before cell phones. We courted cross country over a juryrigged electronic BBS via dial-up modems. And he's good lookin', too. Take that, eHarmony!

So when my egghead husband names Gizmodo as his favorite hangout spot, take it with a grain of salt. Who cares if Gizmodo has the inside scoop on every new toy and gadget on the planet? It's still porn for geeks, and loving it is weird.

How do you choose the items on your Christmas wish list?

Thursday, June 12, 2008

How I Check My Credit

AnnualCreditReport.comFree Credit Report dot com has a catchier jingle, but if you want a credit report that's genuinely free, you want Annual Credit Report -- the one mandated by the federal government in an effort to stop identity theft.

That law says that once a year, each of the big three credit reporting agencies must provide you with a free copy of your credit report. All you're required to do is ask.

Spread out your requests throughout the year so you can monitor activity that takes place under your name. The schedule is: Equifax on your birthday; Experian on your spouse's birthday; and Transunion on your anniversary. Got that?

Mark it on your calendar. Or you might end up selling fish to tourists in T shirts.

(Then click that Comments link below to share a tip for improving your credit score.)

Wednesday, June 11, 2008

How I Remember Things

Remember the MilkMy Palm Treo died, but it never quite fit the bill anyway. So I've been looking for a good, free online PDA. I need a reminder that will jump out and yell at me when I'm about to miss an apointment or a deadline.

Remember the Milk seems to fit the bill. It shouts at me via my choice of email, SMS, and instant messenger (AIM, Gadu-Gadu, Google Talk, ICQ, Jabber, MSN Messenger, and Yahoo! are all supported). It'll even Skype me.

Tons of other features -- too many to list here -- make this a pretty happenin' way to track what's happenin'. And you can't beat the price.

How do you keep track of your to-do list on line? Share your faves by clicking that Comments link just south of here. Moo-ve along!

Tuesday, June 10, 2008

How I Learn, in Plain English

The Common Craft Show Make it simple, simple, simple. That's the way to teach complicated principles. And is there anything more simple than paper dolls on feltboard? Nope?

CommonCraft updates paper dolls with an electronic feltboard that teaches -- in plain English -- complex technology such as CFL lightbulbs, podcasting and RSS feeds.

But why talk? Just take a look:

Fun, eh?

Know of other good educational resources for learning about technology? Click the Comments link below and share your finds!