2010–Villagers–Becoming a Jackal

 

It’s time for another Music Monday!

 

When I first heard about Villagers last year, I pretty much immediately fell in love.  Villagers are an indie folk band the likes of which you should expect to see on tour with Mumford and Sons in the near future.  Then again, it might be an overload.  We might have to use the Villagers to finally make the Avett Brothers famous among more than stoners.

 

Villagers were brought back o the forefront of my attention over the weekend when they released a new live album in Europe.  I’ve been listening to that, which mostly contains the same tracks you see on this album, except for two tracks and adding two new songs (On a Sunlit Stage and In a New Found Land you are Free).

 

It made me go back and listen to this album just one more time.  It starts out with a complete slap in the face to pop music: a track that lasts five minutes.  Several songs aren’t afraid to use a little bit of quiet space between them before jumping right in to the next song.  The pacing is fantastic.  While the songs are all quite relaxing, you’ll find yourself tapping your foot with a track or two along the way.

 

For me, the album really reaches its peak during the song The Pact (I’ll be your Fever).  It’s the type of song I keep expecting to at least hear on indie radio stations, but around here I get no such joy.  It’s one of the more upbeat songs on the album, using quaintly romantic lines like “do what you did yesterday / go on repeat it. / ‘cause my heart is only on fire / when you are the teacher. / So you take the torch and I’ll / Follow the leader / you be my master / and I’ll be your fever.”

 

If you want the kind of album that will just play on the in the background and never get in the way, except for the occasional friend of yours asking “what is this wonderful music?” then this is the album for you.  It doesn’t jump out as exactly one of the best albums I’ve ever heard – but I wanted to bring Villagers to your attention, because I only expect them to grown in popularity, much the way Mumford & Sons has over the last year.

Xbox 360’s License Migration Tool

The Xbox 360 was really the console that made downloadable content a standard.  Weather it was horse armor or Xbox Live Arcade games, or even movies and music, Xbox Live has really made downloading to your console a standard in the gaming industry.

 

Unfortunately, thanks to software piracy that even I was a part of in my younger days, it became necessary for Microsoft to tag the things you download with licenses that tie directly to the console you’re downloading them to.  But what if you suffer from the dreaded 3 Red Lights?  Or if you just wanted to buy a bigger hard drive, or to buy the latest and greatest Xbox 360 Slim?  Where does all of that money you spent on downloads go?  Lucky for you, there’s the Microsoft License Migration Tool.  It’s a little bit of a pain in the neck, but it’s far better than losing the hundreds of dollars you may have spent if you’re like me.

 

The website does a great job of walking you through the process, I’ve had to do it twice myself (once for a Red Ring of Death and once when I upgraded to an Elite).  It really is pretty simple, and if you have questions, you’re in luck, because Microsoft has a Frequently Asked Questions page about the process, so you can read up, be confident, and migrate!

This is going to be harder than I thought…

Keeping up with blog posts isn’t easy.  I’ve, once again, fallen behind.  Maybe going from zero posts to daily posts was a bit much.  But I do have a backlog of stuff to send your way, So let’s put out a few updates today and see what else I can get done for this week, huh?  Thanks for staying tuned!

How do I stop Word 2007 / 2010 from Double Spacing?

It’s Tech Tip Tuesday, AKA Tips from the Help Desk!  Another Word-related tip for you today, because here in the Help Desk, we se calls all the time about our favorite Office products.

 

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In Word 2007, Microsoft changed the formatting to what they consider an easier to read double-spaced format.  They also changed the font to one that, as I understand it, is a little “greener” – as in, when it prints, the the letters are a little thinner meaning they use less ink.  All of these little changes have frustrated people to no end, since it had been previously unchanged since Office ‘97.  So how do you get back to the old format?  It’s easy.

 

Simply Open Microsoft Word, then on the right hand side click on Change Styles, choose Style Set, then select Word 2003 from the bottom of the list.  And just like that, you’re back to the old Single Spaced format, and if you want, you can even change back to Times New Roman font.  If you want it to be like this every time you open up Office from now on, just click the Change Styles button again and choose Set as Default.

 

There is another way to adjust the spacing (under the Home tab in the Ribbon menu at the top of the screen, click the Line Spacing button in the Paragraph group).  But I have actually found this not to work as well as simply changing the default style sheet.

 

One more tip: if you’re okay with the default Word 2007/2010 layout, but you would like the ability to just insert a single space every now and then, instead of being forced to always use a double space, you can simply hold the SHIFT key while you press the ENTER key.  This will bring you to the line immediately beneath where you are and might look a little better on certain occasions.

 

Now go forth and be productive!

1997–The Offspring–Ixnay on the Hombre

By no means a new album, or even an underrated album that I wanted to help people discover, I found myself listening to this one again just last week and I had to share it with everyone.  Ixnay on the Hombre (mp3 download or on CD ) is one of those hallmark albums by a band.  It had some of the biggest hits, and the long time fans all agree it’s one of the best: just before The Offspring “sold out” with songs like Pretty Fly for a White Guy & Original Prankster.

 

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This was the album where, I feel, The Offspring really began to show they were more than just punk rockers with power chords.  They had songs like Amazed that seemed to have been influenced by the likes of Nirvana, Way Down the Line, which almost had some kind of karmic message, and Mota, which at first seems to glorify the use of marijuana, but actually goes to great lengths to stress how it’s ruined the life of the song’s protagonist.  This album also holds what for many is the pinnacle song of The Offspring’s maturity: Gone Away.  What people consider the last great song before the “sellout era” (which, I must admit, at the time I started to turn a little against the band, but I couldn’t get enough of songs like Staring at the Sun).

 

Gone Away is one of those songs that really gets at the core of why we listen to music in minor chords.  To know that other people have been in the same dark places we are.  This album takes you there and back out, with songs that make you smile, laugh, and even some that make you want to riot in the streets.  Some may consider this the album where The Offspring lost their edge, but just before they really sold out.  I consider this the album where The Offspring showed they had the ability to mix up their playing style and really showcase some previously untapped talent.

Xbox 360’s Ring of Light

 

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Ever seen that ring of light that lights up when you start up the console, and corresponds to which controller is connected?  It’s also used to diagnose problems with the Xbox 360.  Nothing new, we all know about the “Red Ring of Death.”

 

But did you know that Microsoft has provided you with an easy way to figure out what the lights mean, AND even how to try and solve your issues?  Microsoft has created the official Flashing Lights Wizard.  It will walk you through the process of troubleshooting your Xbox 360, and even help you get it serviced, if it comes right down to faulty hardware.  It’s quick, easy, and provides all the information you should need to try and fix your on Xbox 360. 

 

Be sure to check it out on Xbox.com!

Rocky Jumped a Park Bench

If you’re on my site, chances are good you’ve played a video game or two.  Chances are also fair that you’ve seen the “Angry Nintendo Nerd” on YouTube.  Did you know that the same guy put together a series of videos, detailing as many of the spots around the city of Philadelphia that he could find that were featured in the Rocky movies?  Well he did, and he put them all together in a series he called: Rocky Jumped a Park Bench.

 

 

 

B-Games (like B-Movies) so bad they’re good!

 

I’m cheap.  Extremely cheap.  So when I see a game like Shellshock 2, Blood Trails for $20 brand new, I have to pay it some attention.  I picked this little gem up and started playing it.  While the graphics don’t live up to a lot of contemporary titles, they’re by no means bad.  And the story?  It’s as over-the-top plot (like an exploitation film from the 70’s!) combining war and horror.  Think Full Metal Jacket meats Condemned (too obscure itself? Your loss. Fine, think Resident Evil).

 

 

The game takes it’s “M” rating and runs with it – the “F” word is only sometimes abused in dialogue, but in the “journal entries” that you see on load screens our favorite-fill-in-for-fornicate may has well replaced the space bar.  It’s so ridiculous I can’t help but get sucked in.  It’s one of those games I can only take in small doses, but for under $20 I’m sure to get my money’s worth.

 

 

What’s that?  You don’t know what Sacred 2 is?  Well, it’s a game that, according to Amazon, is $11 used right now.  It’s also about as close to Diablo 2 you’ll ever get on the Xbox 360.  Like killing things and picking up loot?  Sacred 2 may be what you’ve been looking for.

 

Finally, I have to tell you: when I heard DarkStar One: Broken Alliance was coming to the Xbox 360 I was thrilled.  I had always wanted to play DarkStar One on the PC, but never had a chance to sit down with it.  For some reason, I found it more convenient to be coming to my Xbox 360, and what made it better?  It was budget-priced!

 

 

DarkStar One is a bit like the classic Wing Commander spin off series, Privateer.  If you liked space flight sim games from the 1990’s, this looks to be another case of “as close as you’ll get on the console.”  Here’s hoping that changes in the future.

It’s 2011… Why do politicians have jobs?

I don’t care what side of the isle you’re on, some things just don’t make sense.

 

When the United States was founded, because we were all spread out over hundreds and hundreds of miles, we had people speaking on our behalf.  You remember grade school, right? “No taxation without representation.”  We gave our input and our representative was supposed to vote how “we, the people” wanted them to vote.

 

Here in 2011, we have a voice of our own.  We can vote from a computer, or a mobile phone, and the results are instantaneous.  Just look at American Idol.  True, more people vote for than that WOULD likely vote for something like H.J. Res 37, but the point is: do we really need someone to “represent” us?  Don’t we have a voice of our own yet?  Anyone can be swayed by lobbyists, it’s obvious.  And it doesn’t take much to sway the American Public (as evidenced, again, by the popularity of American Idol), but I can’t help but think of that law of averages – checks and balances are built in to large sample-groups.  One lobbyist with deep pockets can have a much bigger effect on one congressman or senator who can’t resist a good bottle of scotch, or some fancy new clothes, or whatever other perks they seem to be giving out these days.

 

People are swayed by advertising, it’s true – and elections will continue to be bought and sold for generations to come, no matter what the voting system would happen to be.  But did the framers of our Constitution believe so firmly that the misinformed few should be represented in an electoral college by the easily tainted fewer?  I suppose they have their legitimate reasons: after all, a disturbingly large number of Americans still have no idea what the vetting process consists of and believe that Obama is a Kenyan-born Muslim.

 

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So, some things just don’t make sense…  why don’t we do the voting ourselves, through “vote.gov” or something?  Then again, you can reason your way through it pretty quickly when you realize just how easily misinformation spreads.  But, perhaps someday, the world won’t be filled with as many stupid people, and we’ll be able to answer for ourselves when asked important questions like what to name that new courthouse in Yuma, Arizona.  Voting isn’t pointless, it just seems like it sometimes.

Android App: Glass Widgets

 

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Glass Widgets is an Android App that I stumbled on to one day and haven’t quit using since.  It was very early in it’s “beta’ phase – the developer put each beta test on the Android Market.  I offered some feedback and the developer immediately responded.  Since then I’ve watched this program grow into something amazing – he just recently started charging for some advanced features, but the price is low, and most people will fall in love with just the free product.

 

So what is it?  Widgets, on your home screen, offer all kinds of useful information.  In this case, it’s a pack of 3 widgets: one is an RSS feed reader, one is an agenda, and the last one is a clock / weather widget.  Getting time and temperature data from your Android home screen isn’t much of anything new these days, but to do it with style? And for free?  That’s unheard of.  Glass widgets lets you see the home screen “wallpaper” you’ve selected behind the widgets – their backdrops are mostly transparent, like you’re looking through, well, glass!  It even works with Live Wallpapers!  You owe it to yourself to at least check it out.  You can get it right from the Android Market, or if you’re on a PC right now, use Google Goggles on the QR Code Below and it will direct you to the market link!

 

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