2001 – Train – Drops of Jupiter


For this special “day after father’s day” edition of Music Monday, I decided to sneakily go through my father’s iTunes and see what he’s been listening to the most of, lately. It was a quick and easy statistics to pull up.

A little background – I grew up in the same area as my father – we’re northewestern Pennsylvanian folks, for our whole lives. Where we’re from, not a lot of fame comes from your neck of the woods, when someone makes it big, you hear about it. Pat Monahan, from the band Train might ring a bell. And while for most people the novelty has worn off, but when I got my father an iPod so he could listen to The Beatles while he worked, I never thoguht he would load it up with music from a band who had their big break when I was wrapping up high school.

The answer in iTunes was clear, Train’s Drops Of Jupiter was undoubtedly my father’s most played album. I thought this was strange. Someone who raised me on everything from The Beatles, to Stevie Ray Vaughan, to Rock Around The Clock was hooked on a band that my friends and I have to roll our eyes when we hear that they put out yet another album.

So I gave it a fresh listen. And part of my transported back to my days as a roller skating rink DJ, playing Drops of Jupiter for friends, and listening to Meet Virginia from one of their other albums. Sometimes I listened to the lyrics and music in a more mature light, with another decade behind me since I first heard the the Drops of Jupiter album. Giving at a fresh look, taking off the jaded tinted glasses of a 2012 hipster who wants to criticize everything that’s ever gone main stream, I can see why he goes back to this album time and time again.

The album showcases a lot of talent, the songs have enough variety to keep you interested. Ballads, acoustic guitar songs, stronger sounds of rock, and Pat Monahan’s vocals tearing through the music of each track. “What would / you give / to Getaway? I know this is how I could be over you / you know this is not another waste of time / All this holding on can’t be wrong / Just come back to me so I am not alone” he cries out in the song Getaway.

But far and away, my father’s most listened to track was I Wish You Would. So I listened to it on repeat a few times to put myself in that place – but it certainly was obvious what drew him to the track in the first place. I Wish You Would features a harmonica, which I hadn’t noticed anywhere else on the album. It also comes right out with a hint of country twang, some fighting words, a drummer trying to punch right throught the drumhead, and a little bit of indignation. Although, lyrically, I don’t think the average person is going to identify much with moving away to become big and famous and hoping your girlfriend follows you to San Francisco – but musically, it’s a great song to get swept up in.

And it isn’t just Drops of Jupiter, Save Me San Francisco, the title track of another Train album, is his second most played song in iTunes. He tells me all the time that the band just has so much talent that he really enjoys listening closely to the different parts as he listens to each song over and over. He picks out the bass, the drums, the harmonica, and listens to the song as if that instrument was playing the solo. Musical talent seeks musical talent. His days in a band are long behind him, but he still loves listening to great music, and if he’s listening to it? Well, then… I think I’m going to be a little less jaded and try to give a fair shake to some of this “popular” music!

How do I enter an Xbox Live code on the Xbox 360

With more an more access to digital game codes to download games, redeem points, or get DLC from Xbox Live – you need to know how to redeem those codes to get your goods! Well, luckily for all of us, it’s not too hard at all. This week’s Xbox Tip of the Week will show you how it’s done.

Microsoft makes it very easy to log in to your Windows Live ID and enter your code on their website at https://live.xbox.com/redeemtoken, but if the computer is all tied up by someone else and you’re on the Xbox, you can enter your code as well. Microsoft has made it simple to enter codes from the guide! Once you’re signed in to the Xbox 360 under your own gamertag, and signed in to Xbox Live, do this:

  1. Press the guide button on the controller (the Xbox Logo button)
  2. Press the left bumper to get to the Marketplace blade
  3. Press down, then “A” to select Redeem Code
  4. Enter the 5×5 (5 by 5, 5 sets of 5 characters each, the 25 character code) (the dashes will fill in automatically) and press the Start button on the controller.
  5. It will show you what you are redeeming a code for – press “A” to Confirm
  6. And you’re all set! Of course, Supprt.Xbox.com will also always tell you how to redeem Xbox Live codes.

Gaming in Windows 8 – The Hydro Thunder Hurricane beta / preview / trial

If you immediately moved on to the Windows 8 Release Preview and wiped out your installation of the Windows 8 Consumer Preview (build 8250), then you, my friend, are missing out! Shortly (very shortly) before the release of the Release Preview, I began seeing a few “Xbox Live” branded games showing up on the Windows 8 store. Attempts to download them went painfully slowly. But eventually, and even after multiple attempts, the game finally downloaded, and I found myself playing Hydro Thunder Hurricane (a demo of it, anyway), on Windows 8.


click to see full HD 1920×1080 screenshot


Hydro Thunder Hurricane, along with Wordament, have both been released as trial versions. While I haven’t fooled around with Wordament too much, Hydro Thunder Hurricane seems to start up as fast if not faster than it does from the Xbox 360 Dashboard, right from my start menu. The whole time it runs, the system remains responsive, touching the Windows key works to get back to the new Metro style Start Menu, and the game resumes without a hitch (thanks Windows Phone Mango!). Multi tasking (Windows key + Tab) from the desktop, I can still see the last animated frame of where I was at and pick up like nothing happened.

Only two maps are available in Hydro Thunder Hurricane, the famous Tsunami Bowl, and Lake Powell. The game has an options menu which overs controller, mouse/keyboard, or touch controls. I have used Mouse and Keyboard and have been able to play the game quite well. Hydro Thunder Hurricane in Windows 8 loads up natively in whatever resolution you’re already running Windows in, which in my case was a full blown 1920×1080 – and it looked great and played smooth the entire time.

If running Xbox Live Arcade games on Windows 8 is going to be a feature of Windows 8, even if games have to be rolled out one by one, my only request is that I get the games I already paid for automatically added to my account. For instance, Hydro Thunder Hurricane (which I have on the Xbox 360, along with Hydro Thunder Go on Windows Phone 7). But beyond that one request? I want everything else to be just like this. Multiple control scheme options, full resolution and fast, seamlessly integrated within Windows itself, fast launching… this was a true treat to stumble on to. Get yourself in to the Windows 8 “store” and check it out, if you still have the Consumer Preview – it seems to be absent in the Release Preview, so far – but perhaps I’m just looking in all the wrong places.

irc999 – free IRC on the iPad


A few weeks ago, I was looking for a simple chat solution to connect me in to an IRC channel on the go. I had my iPad handy and searched for IRC applications. A plethora of paid apps that I didn’t know whether I would like or not showed up. Then a free option showed up that I decided I could at least check out. Other than a few minor issues, I found irc999 a surprisingly elegant solution! Continue reading “irc999 – free IRC on the iPad”

Can't click links in Outlook "due to restrictions in effect on this computer" SOLVED!

When you click links, most specifically links in your Outlook email client, you receive this error message: “This operation has been cancelled due to restrictions in effect on this computer. Please contact your system administrator.” Now, for the magic question that might blow your mind… have you ever had Google Chrome installed, and just recently uninstalled it?

If you say no, you can keep reading, the solution applies to many scenarios, but the Google Chrome uninstall is the most common. Google has supposedly fixed this is newer uninstallers, but I still see the problem all the time. The file association in the registry is still pointing to Chrome and can be fixed by modifying certain registry keys… but I’ve put together a handy .REG file that you can download, double click, and be done! Don’t forget to exit and re-open Outlook for the fix to activate. If you’re more intersted in what registry keys are being modified, you can right click the .reg file and select “EDIT” to see the keys that will be changed in plain text.

Download NuAngel.net HTML links fix

Microsoft has also developed a “FixIt” utility for this purpose, so if you don’t trust a random stranger making changes in your registry, I understand! You can download Microsoft’s official fix for Hyperlinks not working in Outlook (vague enough?) from their knowledgebase.

2011 – The Districts – Kitchen Songs

UPDATE: See our 2014 follow up with The Districts.

I used to live in York, Pennsylvania. Little did I know that a few kids (probably in grade school or junior high the time I was there) in near by Lititz, PA were about to make a name for themselves. The Districts is made up of four very young members who play a soul-filled style of rock. You can pick up out influences by the dozen and their style travels a fascinating line between Blues and Grunge Rock.

Distorted guitars play jazz-like riffs in tracks like Thank You Please, and the music in Radiator has an indie-folksy sound, similar to that of Dr. Dog.

What makes The Districts stand out from their peers, right now, is in the lyrics and vocals. Although I’m unsure who writes the lyrics, Rob Grote belts them out like a downtrodden blues singer struggling to find his next meal. He sings with conviction and confidence. The only downside is that the rest of the band is okay. The instrumentals in the band go well together, they are well rehearsed, and sound fine. But absolutely nothing on the album is going to wow you or make you astonished at the talents of the musicians. You should anticipate, though, that if the members are this good at this age, that they very well could do something to knock your socks off in the next year or two – and as long as they keep playing and stay part of the scene there in the Lancaster area, they will mature. You have to, in that neck of the woods: there are an abnormal amount of skilled players there. But I have high hopes that The Districts will continue to stand out, and not just because of their young age.

If you think all of this sounds interesting, you can stream the entire album from The Districts’ bandcamp site, then download the album with a “name your price” scheme – how much is it worth to you to support up and coming talent?

Charge your cell phone with your Xbox 360

This Xbox tip of the week is a handy one, and surprisingly little known!

Last weekend I was on the road and stayed with a friend. I realized I hadn’t brought along my cell phone charger, but not to worry! Since the majority of phones use a Micro USB cable these days, I found a spare cable of just such size, connected one end to my cell phone and plugged the other end in to one of the USB ports on the front of my buddy’s Xbox 360. Just a few seconds later, even with the console off, the charging indicator light on my cell phone lit up! Crisis averted. Hopefully this one helps you out, some day.