Benny's Adventures

Find New Music Using Amazon’s MP3 Store

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Many services on the internet help you discover new music. Pandora and Grooveshark, for example, play music tailored to whatever taste you’ve set. The one limitation these services have is an inability to encounter completely unrelated songs.

Amazon MP3 offers a way around this. There are a variety of songs offered for free ranging from alternative rock to rap & hip hop. Currently there are also some seasonal albums and samplers available as well. The amount is not overwhelming but I’ve had some great finds looking through and listening to the free offerings so give it a shot and who knows, maybe you’ll find something you love!

26 November 2010 Posted by | Internet, Music | , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Ok Go – This Too Shall Pass

 

Ok Go are very capable of creating amazing videos that captivate the imagination and this video is no different. This video has the extra hook that it includes a marching band and I’m a fan of marching bands (having been in one for 4 years in college!). Enjoy!

18 November 2010 Posted by | Internet, Music | , , , , | Leave a comment

FeedDemon for Reader!

As Google marches forward in its quest for global domination I’ve been putting forth an effort to transfer some non-essential services elsewhere. My e-mail service is not going anywhere soon but something less crucial is my Google Reader account.

After finding several services that charged for more than 20 RSS feeds I came upon FeedDemon. I think I found it through a Lifehacker post. This post also lead me to a Hive Five for feed readers (Hive Five is Lifehacker’s Top 5 contest). In this contest Google Reader garnered the most votes with FeedDemon being an admittedly distant second.

Here’s a brief synopsis of my discoveries after using FeedDemon:

Pros Cons
  • Not Google!
  • Far more features than web-based readers (such as Google Reader)
  • All viewing options (RSS post to visiting the website) in one location
  • Desktop application.
  • In my opinion, FeedDemon does not feel as “smooth” as Google Reader.
  • Synchronization is available but it is through a Google Reader account.
  • Not as convenient to access (from Gmail, for example).
  • Desktop application.
 

From this experience I’ve come to the conclusion that if you seek a single RSS reader then the key will come down to synchronization or not. With one computer and no need to sync FeedDemon easily comes out on top but when synchronization becomes an issue Google Reader is the way to go.

Some other considerations might be whether you prefer web applications versus desktop applications. This could make a difference if you are on a netbook for example. I listed it in both Pros and Cons because even for a desktop computer it can be a boon as well as an inconvenience.

Setting aside a desire to use a single feed reader FeedDemon makes it easy to enjoy the desktop experience while also being able to use the web option. I think this is a great option for those who are interested.

 

Thinking about privacy issues though I recently found an interesting predicament. When it comes to groups online (such as Google) is it better to have information spread out all over the internet or stored with a single group? That is, if I searched the web with Bing, got e-mail with Yahoo e-mail, watched videos with DailyMotion, and so on is my information better off than if I used Google for all those things (search, Gmail, YouTube, etc.)?

18 November 2010 Posted by | Internet, Technology | , , , , | 1 Comment

How to Lead a Productive Life: Relax!

There are two articles I’ve read recently that lead me to make this claim. I’ll also define it more clearly. First, here are the articles:

“Sleeping on a problem” may be the best way to solve it

This article reports on a study that indicates that unconscious thoughts can produce better decision than conscious or immediate thought.

Tough Choices: How Making Decisions Tires Your Brain

This article basically describes the brain as a muscle that becomes tired even when doing seemingly simple things like deciding what to eat for breakfast.

Let’s make it clear now that I don’t mean slacking off is the way to succeed in life. When you have a problem set you have to do it’s clearly not in your best interest to decide to sleep rather than work on it, or so I hope. The first article comes into play if you are stuck on a particular problem on the problem set that you would like insight on AND you have time to think about it. (This is reason to start your work earlier than the night before it’s due!) Common sense always applies.

What I am recommending is being conscious of your brain’s energy level and how your choices will affect it. In my life this issue came up when I overloaded my class schedule and took on more responsibilities with the organizations I’m involved with. This wore me down mentally and physically. Ignoring the physical consequences (I was very sick most of the time), I still remember clinging on to the hope that the next semester would be better and when registration time for classes came around I made the choice to overload again.

It’s tough to say why exactly I made the choice but it did not lead to good things. I think what happened is something like this:

“Why is this so hard?”

“I SHOULD be able to do this.”

“Well I know I could do it so I’ll just minimize damage now and do it next semester.”

“I’ve GOT to pull it off! I KNOW I can do it!”

With the experience I have now I realize it was not the best course of thought. I’ve noticed myself thinking similarly on smaller scales and that’s why I believe I kept my stubborn streak going due to a lack of decision-making ability.

On the other hand I’ve been able to keep up with my assignments better and generally stay on top of things this semester when my life has not been infinitely busy and I have maintained my energy level. It’s getting tough now as the semester comes to a close and my energy levels drop.

With this information in mind I’m planning on adjusting my mindset to take that into account and soar rather than crash this year, making sure to keep up good habits, and avoiding getting off track. And perhaps these thoughts will help you work better as well!

14 November 2010 Posted by | Life, productivity, Science | , , , , , | Leave a comment

I survived two exams and a football game!

Looking back while trying to think of another post I realized that though this was created for accountability I end up talking more about technology and games than anything else. I’ll have to see what I can do to adjust for that.

7 November 2010 Posted by | Life | Leave a comment

Video Games and the Justice System

Just recently there has been a resurgence of news because some people in California are trying to pass a law that would ban the sale of “violent” games to minors. The first article I saw presents the case and the current situation while the second article I saw today presents the response of justices to the law.

I think the justices responded fairly to the arguments brought up by the proponents of the ban of minors from buying games considered violent (along the lines of pornographic material). Some stores do this voluntarily but they are not legally required to do so.

There is a monkey wrench in the whole equation that I think is being ignored: the internet. This will improve in time as entities like Google continue to bring attention to legislating the internet but as it stands the minors that cannot purchase pornographic material at a retail location have easy access to it online with no real repercussions. With a bit of knowhow the games the law in California would ban are easily accessible online. And that’s just dealing with individual to product – what about individual relationships with people who own a product? Like a child who knows a friend who knows where his dad has the dirty magazines a minor could easily borrow a game from a friend or play the game at a friend’s house.

With the reality of current media delivery platforms – especially the internet – a lot of laws and mindsets developed over the last few decades need to be adjusted. It will happen in time so I’m not concerned about the legal side.

What needs to happen in this sort of environment is that parents need to step in and be engaged with their children so that if the minor cannot be exposed to something the parents can step in and make sure that doesn’t happen. Should the minor be exposed to those things the parents need to be there to contextualize the content so the minor can learn why it is appropriate or inappropriate at different times. I think these sorts of lessons pave the way for the development into a mature adult.

Laws can only do so much. Parents need to realize that they’re not the reserve forces but the front-line troops in raising their children.

2 November 2010 Posted by | Gaming | , , | Leave a comment

New Call of Duty: Black Ops Launch Trailer

This is an impressive looking trailer indeed.

I wonder though, am I the only gamer out there who sees this and wonders, “Will it feel different from Modern Warfare 2 or any other modern FPS for that matter?”

1 November 2010 Posted by | Gaming, Uncategorized | , , , , , | Leave a comment

   

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