GreenLance Communications: News • Media • Reviews

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

beliefnet

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."

Eeewwwww.

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 Metaphors...to 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!

Monday, June 9, 2008

How I Dog My Kids

SkypeSome people collect stamps. I collect children. Seven of 'em, spread hither and thither across the globe. How do I know where they are? I Skype 'em, of course.

We videoconference non-stop, for free, via our microphone- and camera-equipped computers. Because we Skype, the kid two states away in the boondocks of Idaho, or the one living two oceans away in the middle of a Chinese earthquake, seems just as close as the child two bedrooms down the hall, or the kid at college two miles down the road.

Now one son is arguing that we should switch to Yahoo Instant Messenger, since that's the system they use in his office. What's your opinion? Convince me to make the switch by clicking that comments link.

Sunday, June 8, 2008

How I Track Criminals

SpotCrimeI'm a big Law & Order buff. Not just the TV show. Actual crime astonishes me. Back when we still had a city paper, I used to read the crime log religiously.

Now that we don't, I watch what the local criminal masterminds are up to with SpotCrime, the Google-maps-linked tracker of local crime reports. Shootings, robberies, arrests, break-ins, assaults, vandalism -- they're all tracked right here. Almost as much fun as a police-band scanner.

Unfortunately, it doesn't yet track my own neighborhood. But all the big cities are tracked, including the two just north and south of my town.

Know of any other good map-linked resources? Tell me about 'em by clicking that Comments link, below.

Saturday, June 7, 2008

How I Get Put Out

PutPileWow. Sort of a combination Photobucket and YouTube, PutPile permits unlimited uploads of all your media files -- photos, videos, audio, and flash. File sizes up to 200M are permitted, and multiples files can be uploaded at once. You get to choose whether to make your uploads public or private. It's my new favorite storage depot.

Tell me about the best video you've uploaded -- or viewed -- this week. Click the Comments link to share.

Friday, June 6, 2008

How I Become a Star

Star OfficeThere are now six viable competitors to Microsoft's Office suite. And they're all free -- more or less. The most extensive office suite -- Sun's Star Office -- is free to students and educators. It runs on Windows, Linux or Solaris platforms.

Star Office is a downloadable wordprocessor, database, spreadsheet, presentation and drawing suite. What, no Sudoku?

If you're not a fan of Star Office, here are links to the other five suites. The first two are downloadable; the other three operate entirely online -- an advantage if you move from one computer to another. They are:

Where do you look for free software? Tell me about it at the Comments link below.

Thursday, June 5, 2008

How I Connect

WiFi

It's easy to get free high-speed Internet access -- if you have a laptop and a willingness to travel.

WiFi Free Spot is a directory of public hotspots for wireless internet access. It's organized by state, and lists only those spots that provide Internet access at no charge.

How do you get online when you're broke?

Wednesday, June 4, 2008

How I Get Carded

VistaPrintI can't pretend to understand the business model, but that won't stop me from taking free stuff when it's offered. VistaPrint is that crazy company that offers free goodies I just gotta have. Business cards, rubber stamps, address labels, announcements, pens...all my favorite stationery-store stuff -- free!

What's your number-one online bargain source? Click the Comments link and tell me about it!

Tuesday, June 3, 2008

How I Check Facts

FactCheckLying politicians -- it's tautological. And FactCheck proves it. FactCheck is the lie-detector for politicians on both sides of the aisle. There'll be no more bogus tales of sniper fire or tax cuts -- not if the Annenberg people have any say.

If you have any political inclinations whatsoever, FactCheck's RSS belongs at the top of your feed.

Who's your favorite disinformation detector? Tell me by clicking that Comments link below.

Monday, June 2, 2008

How I Help Boys

MotHMan of the House is a help for young men who don't have a father in the home. Encourages responsibility, social development, morality, etiquette and other virtues.

If you don't have a MOTH in your own home, count your blessings and share this site with someone who does. It's a hard-knock life out there for boys without dads. Maybe this will help.

Know of other sites for teaching social responsibility? Click the comments link and share.

Sunday, June 1, 2008

How I Pile On

DogpileYou Google? Old school! I do better than Google. I Dogpile.

Dogpile quickly and simultaneously searches Google, Yahoo, Live, Ask, About, and several other top search engines. Dogpile also has a toolbar so I can search from wherever my browser happens to be pointed.

Am I missing something by not sticking to Google? Who do you take hunting?