Saturday, April 27, 2013

(Some of) The Best Album Titles Ever (maybe)

Throughout the years, I’ve run across some albums that were just so brilliantly titled that I had to buy them. There were times when the music turned out to be disappointing, of course, but a snazzy title will grab my attention every single time.

So, what are the best titles of all time? Well, that’s a highly subjective thing and my criteria on judging titles is pretty basic. First of all, it’s got to be a hoot. Rock and roll bands have generally taken themselves too seriously and have generally tried to come across with heavy, philosophical album titles (or, at least, ones that they thought were cool). It’s refreshing to run across a band that slaps a title on an album that causes all who see it to come to one conclusion – these guys have a sense of humor. I’m a sucker for a sense of humor.

Here’s what I mean. My brother and I once formed a fictional band called Hate Magnet. We figured we’d jump right into the fray by releasing a couple of overblown concept albums to kick off our careers. The first one was to be called “I, Pimp,” whereas the second was to be called “The Pimp and I” so as to offer a different perspective. Funny, huh? Well, we thought so.

Second, in order for an album to make my “top titles” list, I must have actually heard of it. That means we’re going to be looking at albums that came out primarily in the 1980s and 1990s.

Ready? Here’s the list.


1. Elvis Hitler, Disgraceland (1988). Elvis Hitler never exactly hit the big time, but the thrashy-punky Detroit rockers have to be given credit for a gem of an album title. As if pairing Elvis and Adolph Hitler weren’t enough, the band had to just bring the point home by mangling the name of Elvis Preley’s house.


2. The Residents, The Third Reich ‘N Roll (1976). The title is a hoot and the cover is even better (Dick Clark dressed in a German military uniform while holding a carrot?) There are only two songs on this album – both meander on for about 20 minutes as the Residents simply mangle classic hit after classic hit in the time-honored medley format. It’s an odd listen, but what else would one expect from The Residents?


3. The Angry Samoans, The 90s Suck & So Do You (1999). “Metal” Mike Saunders, a proud Little Rock, Ark., boy, had his finger on the pulse of an entire decade with this particular title. The 90s did suck, indeed, and we’d be wise to never forget it. By the way, this old Arkansas boy can’t help but love the illustration of Saunders on the cover – a Razorback shirt, a guitar boldly proclaiming that the SEC Rules and the “Hog Man” scrawl are all awesome in my book. The music isn’t bad, either, although the once hardcore Angry Samoans sound more like a pop-punk band that’s been influenced by Screeching Weasel than one of the most prolific members of the West Coast hardcore punk movement in the 1980s.


4. The Meatmen, We’re the Meatmen… And You Suck!! (1983). Here’s a title that pegs the music on the album perfectly. You’ve got a loud, sloppy guitar, thudding drums, a bass that breaks through the murk every now and again and Tesco Vee offending everyone in earshot. This album is mostly live and it’s obvious that Vee both loves to taunt the audience and doesn’t take things too seriously. It’s all pretty much what you’d expect from a band that was responsible for the suck trilogy – Crippled Children Such, French People Suck and Camel Jockeys Suck. The music isn’t that great, but the packaging is pure gold.


5. Screeching Weasel, How to Make Enemies and Irritate People (1994). Here’s the perfect album title from Ben Weasel and his gang of snot-nosed, Ramones-loving punks. The fun doesn’t stop with the album title – with songs like “I Hate Your Guts on Sunday” and “Nobody Likes You,” you pretty well know that to expect with this one.

New Duncan Imperials - In-A-Gadda-Da-Vegas - 1997

6. The New Duncan Imperials, In-A-Gadda-Da-Vegas (1997). What a title! What an album! The lads – Pigtail Dick, Skipper Zwakinov and Mr. Goodtime Dammit – were at the top of their game here. By the way, if you haven’t heard the all-over-the-map stylings of the New Duncan Imperials, you are missing out on a band that was one of the must unique acts going the 1990s. Guitarist Pigtail Dick professed a great love of Foghat and that explains everything.

Dead Milkmen - Beelzebubba

7. The Dead Milkmen, Beelzebubba (1988). The Dead Milkmen ran out of ideas after a time, but the band was at the top of its game here. Listening to these punks mock one thing after another was great fun. Sadly, the party was over after this one – it was all downhill from here.

Friday, April 26, 2013

Custom made products from an American company? Yep.


With the economy still languishing, it’s probably a great idea to support our American-owned businesses, isn’t it?

After all, American companies provide jobs throughout the nation. If there are no American businesses, there are no jobs. If there are no jobs, there’s no economy to speak up and that’s no good at all, is it?

Now, a lot of people hold off sprucing up their homes until the spring and with good reason – winter is no time to be outside and increasing the curb appeal of your house. What’s an effective way to quickly boost the appearance of your home? How about adding personalized doormats, personalized address plaques or residential mailboxes?

You can find all those and more – including Whitehall Mailboxes – at Mailbox and Beyond. That’s an American, family owned company and you can see what items it has to offer by clicking one of the aforementioned links.

Thursday, April 25, 2013

Got Linux?

That's right, Linux fans – a new version of Ubuntu is due out today (April 25).

If you already have Ubuntu, your system should tell you when the update is available. If not, launch the update manager in Ubuntu and it will search for the new operating system for you.

If you simply want to switch to Ubuntu, head over to, hit the download tab and follow the directions. Bear in mind that you can have Ubuntu running alongside your current operating system or you can put it on a USB drive or DVD so you can test drive it instead of installing it on your system.

Bear in mind that 13.04 isn’t a radical update – the primary focus appears to be on making the OS run faster. Also, the ever evolving Unity GUI will receive some enhancements, too.

Have fun!

Wednesday, April 24, 2013

Turn Internet leads into paying customers


It’s always baffling to me when I see a pitch on the Internet, fill in a response form and then wait hours – or days – for someone to get back to me.

That never made sense to me. I thought the whole purpose of pitching sales and service on the Internet was to generate leads. When people research products and services they’d like to buy, they want a quick response when a site interests them enough to compel them to ask for more information. The thing about the Internet is that we have come to expect a response to a request for information as quickly as possible. If we don’t get a response in a hurry, we tend to move on to another site.

Let’s say I want to buy a new Ford Mustang. I take a look at the sites of two local dealerships that both have cars in inventory that interest me. I fill out response forms to Dealership A and Dealership B. Within five minutes, Dealership B has responded with the information I wanted. At that point, do you think I care whether I hear from Dealership A? Absolutely not. In that scenario, then, Dealership A lost a customer to a competitor simply because it failed to get back to me quickly.

Intuitively, that makes a lot of sense. In fact, there’s a Kellogg study proving that the odds of connecting with a lead increases 100 times if contact is made within five minutes rather than within 30 minutes. Here’s something else – leads contacted within five minutes are 21times more likely to become customers than leads contacted within 30 minutes.

In other words, you can spend a lot of time an effort putting together Internet sites that make visitors notice and take an interest in your business, but it’s all meaningless if you can’t turn leads into customers.

It’s probably a good idea, then, to concentrate as much on turning leads into customers as it is to make a site appealing enough to get people to take the next step by clicking a call to action button. If you need some help in that area, you’re in luck – there’s a company called Speak2Leads that specializes into helping you turn those leads into paying customers.

That’s why your company started an Internet site to begin with, isn’t it? The whole point of putting your company on the Web is to find people interested enough to pay you money. If your company isn’t responding quickly enough to inquiries from potential customers, then what’s the point of its Internet site?

Ever thought about hiring a virtual assistant?


Think about this for a second – when you started your own business, did you ever fantasize about fun-filled days of keeping your books, scheduling appointments, doing customer service and all those other minor tasks that are essential but none too enjoyable?

Probably not. If you’re a lawyer, you probably fantasized more about suing people and righting wrongs than you did about paying your offices’ bills. If you’re a real estate agent, wouldn’t you rather be out showing houses and negotiating prices than entering listings into an MLS. If you’re a doctor … well, you get the idea.

What can free you from those mundane tasks so you can concentrate on the big stuff? Virtual assistant services. That’s right – an assistant to take care of those necessary tasks you don’t like doing so you can enjoy the tasks that led you to your career in the first place.

A virtual assistant, in a nutshell, is someone on contract that will free you up to do the things that make your business profitable. Furthermore, they cost less than full-time employees and you can scale your workforce as you need it – hire more assistants when you need them and fewer when you don’t. There’s no hiring, firing dealing with benefits or all of the other things that come with “regular” employees.

The notion of a virtual assistant isn’t exactly a new idea. Instead, your talking about a labor force that’s been used effectively for years. Think about doctors, for a minute. Do you think they sit around filing insurance claims so they can get paid? Nope – they either hire staff for that or, in many cases, ship that task over to an independent contractor who takes care of that task.

Of course, there’s always a problem with virtual assistants – how do you know you’re getting quality people that will clearly benefit your office? Hit the aforementioned link and you’ll have access to virtual assistants – many of whom hold college degrees – that work for an American company. In other words, you’ll have access to educated people who simply want to work at home and – get this – you’ll be charged some of the lowest rates in the industry to hire those employees.

Of course, you’ll have to make your own coffee but that’s a small price to pay for an efficient, beneficial workforce that will help you do your job better. Hiring a virtual assistant makes a lot of sense, doesn’t it?

Remember the ‘A Hard Days Night’ poster?


Click here for more Wordless Wednesday entries.

Gentle dentistry? Sign me up!


My, but I wish my parents would have had access to the Internet when they were searching for a dentist for me when I was a kid. Unfortunately, a typewriter was about the closest thing to a computer that anyone owned back in the mid-1970s so people relied on word-of-mouth referrals and phone book ads when selecting a dentist.

Ah, but that’s all changed with the Internet, hasn’t it? We can research all day long and find some professionals who will give us the care we deserve in exchanging for forking over our hard-earned money for their services. Still, even that can be a bit dicey at times.

Let’s say you’re in Las Vegas area and you’re looking for a “gentle” dentist. You can bang terms such as  “dentist Las Vegas” or “root canal Las Vegas” into a search engine. What will you get? More often than not, you’ll get a bunch of listings that may or may not get you to the dentist you want.

Well, folks, I’m about to save you the trouble of all that searching – click one of the aforementioned links and you’ll be taken directly to Haymore Endontics. That offices promises gentle procedures and has both user testimonials and an A+ rating from the Better Business Bureau to back up those claims. Furthermore, you can make an appointment in seconds online and can even find out a thing or two about the practice.

What we’re getting to here is the concept of customer service – something that is critical in this day and age where money is tight and people want the level of service they expect when they hand over a lot of money to a professional. The testimonials at that site confirm that the office does take care of its patients and, frankly, navigating through the site is a joy when one considers how rotten a lot of professional sites are – the one over there is clean, simple loads quickly and provides plenty of information.

Why am I going on so much about an Internet site? Frankly, one has to think that an office that will donate that much time and trouble to a somewhat minor thing as an Internet site will probably bend over backwards to help out patients and provide them the level of service they deserve.

Check out the site to see what I mean. That site comes across as professional all the way and it seems more than a bit above-board. That particular dentist may be just the guy you need to help you through an emergency, and display a lot of kindness and professionalism, to boot.

Tuesday, April 23, 2013

An underwater iPod? Yep!

OK, raise your hand if you remember when the Sony Walkman made its debut back in the 1980s. Well, you don’t have to raise your hand – that’s more than a bit ridiculous.
Anyway, when the Sony Walkman appeared, it was revolutionary. For the first time, individuals could take their music with them and listen to it through headphones that often produced better fidelity than the huge, loud speakers that were standard equipment on top-end stereos. The Walkman was cheap, portable and reproduced music with amazing clarity. The most striking thing, of course, is that people weren’t stuck in their homes or cars when wanting to listen to their music – an Walkman owner couldn’t simply pop in a cassette and take their favorite music just about anywhere.
Flash forward to 2001 when Apple released the first iPod. It was another revolutionary device in that it offered flawless, digital reproduction of music and allowed people to store entire libraries of music on one device thanks to plenty of storage and compressed audio formats such as MP3 or Apple’s proprietary AAC. That device, too, was revolutionary – it was small, easy to use and could be easily managed with a computer. The good old iPod still sells very well for a good reason – it’s still a great device.
However, the iPod didn’t exactly expand the “range” of where people could listen to their music – you could take it anywhere a Walkman could go but faced the same limitation of the Sony device in that you could listen to it on the bus or in your office, but you couldn’t take it swimming.
Well, that “underwater” barrier has been broken – you can pick up a waterproof iPod for as little as $165. We’re not talking about some off-brand junk, either – we’re talking about an honest-to-goodness iPod Shuffle that has been waterproofed and comes complete with waterproof headphones.
What do you get for your money? How about an iPod Shuffle that’s waterproof up to 200 feet and carries with it a one-year warranty. That’s right – if the device fails underwater, you can get your money back. How’s that for peace of mind? Oh, and don’t think you’re going to get stuck with one of the plain Jane iPod Shuffles, either – you’ve got a full array of colors from which to choose.
Revolutionary? You’d better believe it – imagine listening to your favorite music as you swim. Who knows? Being entertained by the music pouring out of that waterproof iPod may be just the thing to inspire you to work out longer and achieve your fitness goals earlier.

Sunday, April 21, 2013

Want that Nook HD to live up to its full potential?

I got a Nook HD+ back in December (partially because I’m a cheapskate and partially because I hate everything Apple makes) and love the thing. It’s a light, fast tablet with a big, sharp screen.

The only drawback to the tablet is that the Barnes & Noble apps store is severely limited. The tablet was built so that you’re locked into that store, but here’s something that Nook HD owners need to know – you can defeat Barnes & Noble’s attempts to control that hardware you bought pretty easily. Yes, the process is called “rooting” and allows you to run the full, Google Android market on your tablet. The Nook HD is built on Android, so why not take some time and force it to behave like a full-blown Android tablet?

Want to learn how? Just click here for an article I wrote about it.

By the way, as for my hatred of Apple, don’t judge until you’ve used a piece of trash iPhone 4S for about a year. That pile of garbage will make you detest Apple and that’s a promise.

Barking Mad or downright entertaining?


There’s something great about a company that run by people that have retained a sense of humor.

Barking Mad – a New Zealand company – is one of those. The company sells greeting cards, resin image panels, image blocks and prints. The site is a hoot and you can see for yourself by heading over there and having a look at, say, Art Prints. While you’re at it, why not check out some thank you cards, too? Go ahead – pop on over and look around for a bit. Fun stuff, huh?

By the way, if you’d like to have a look at a well-designed site that covers more serious topics, click here for some information about Business Planning.

That’s one cool thing about the Internet – you can be informed, entertained or both and well designed sites that prove themselves useful by providing what the visitor is in the mood for are to be appreciated.

A real estate site built right


Let’s just admit it – there are some truly rotten real estate sites out there.

Think about this – when you visit a real estate site, what do you really want? I’d wager you’re more interested in looking at homes that interest you rather than digging through the history of the office that owns the site, big pictures of agents that load slowly and etc., etc., etc.

Most real estate sites, it seems, are more interested in promoting offices and agents rather than giving visitors a simple, effective way to actually search for homes to purchase. Furthermore, those sites that do offer searches tend to utilize overly-complex, overly-detailed search input forms that may or may not help you find the listings for which you are searching. The forms themselves tend to be confusing, the results are often convoluted and not helpful and it is far to easy to run a search and find hundreds of homes that don’t match your criteria whether than just a few that you want.

Here’s some good news for people looking to buy homes in Calgary, Canada – there’s a very good site that is geared for people looking for information about homes for sale (click this link and see for yourself). What makes the site unique? Once you hit the home page, you are presented with a very easy to use search form that will have you searching for homes in a hurry. We’re talking about area MLS listings – a ton of information that’s easy to sift through and is presented in an understandable format to visitors.

To make things even easier, the site allows you to search for homes buy simply drawing areas on a map.

Yes, you can find out all about the office and it’s locations, but those pages are secondary to the main goal of the site – to get people to simply show up and start searching. That’s what visitors typically want, anyway, so why not make it easy for them.

If you’re wanting to search houses for sale in Calgary, give the site a chance. You’ll find it more informative than frustrating due to its easy of use and clean, attractive design.