Thursday, September 2, 2010

Send Yourself a Note the Quick and Easy Way

I just stumbled across this web application that is a real jewel.  It's only been around for a few days, so be one of the first to try it out.  YOU'LL LIKE IT!
Do you ever send email to yourself?  I do all the time, i.e. reminders, web addresses that I want to look at later, addresses, phone numbers, etc.  Well here's the easy and quick way.

Go to  Enter your email address, verify it from the email you receive, and then you'll get a "Make Note" bookmarklet to drag onto your bookmarks/favorites bar. Click that bookmarklet on any web page, and you'll instantly get an email with the URL and the time and date you sent it.

Friday, March 12, 2010

Pursuing Your Dream and 4 Deadly Mistakes

I try to post original material here - but occasionally I run across something I like so much that I just have to share.  The following comes from a blog by Henri Junttila about mistakes people make when going after their dreams.

We often get stuck in arbitrary things. We make excuses. We try to find shortcuts, and we try to do all these things that in the end only prevent us from reaching our goals. 

1. Stopping at Uncomfortable
When you start something new, it will be scary. If you are serious about finding, following, and making your passion(s) and dream(s) a reality, you will have to deal with fear. You will have to accept that being uncomfortable means growing as a human being and making progress towards your goals.  I'm not talking about being physically uncomfortable, such as sitting on your leg until it falls asleep. I am talking about being emotionally uncomfortable. Being afraid to take the next step because you don't know what lies behind the next turn. Your journey will be unique, so you will have to learn how to deal with this yourself.  Look at it as driving a car: you know your destination (most times), but you can't see beyond the next bend. You still know where you're going, but you just can't see it.

2. Looking for Shortcuts
A lot of people are looking for shortcuts. They are looking for that one thing that will make them catapult to the front of the line and eliminate years off their learning curve. I'm sorry to say this, but it doesn't work that way. If you want to create your dream life and live out your passion(s), you will first have to find your passion and then take action to make it happen. (If you love gardening and want to teach other people how to do it, for example, that's excellent, and you can make a living doing that if you really want to.)  Remember, there's always room for those that are willing to go the extra mile. Stop looking for shortcuts and start using what you have. There are no magic bullets out there that will do it all for you. You will have to learn. You will have to work hard and you will have to make mistakes and learn from them.

3. Waiting for Perfection
I'm so guilty of this one. I used to be the worst perfectionist. I still am to a certain degree, but I'm more aware of it now. I am able to let things be imperfect without going crazy.  You don't have to wait for the stars to align or for someone to give you permission to go after your dreams. Most people blame their circumstances for not allowing them to make their dreams a reality. This is a big mistake. If you want to live your dream life, do what you love and change the world, you will have to take matters into your own hands and make a change.  You can always start somewhere. Don't worry about not knowing what to do. All you have to learn is what to do next. (Maybe you need to start a blog. Do a simple Google search for that, and you'll find plenty of tutorials. Maybe you will even fail at blogging and learn that you like something else instead.) It's all a part of the process. Successful people didn't become successful overnight, although that is what it usually looks like. They often failed over and over again until they found what worked for them.

4. Failing to Listen to Your Heart
Your heart knows things. Your mind...not so much. Your mind worries, it analyses, it judges, and it does all those things that can easily take over your life. Now, I'm not saying that the mind is bad, it's just a tool, but it has become a bad thing in most people's lives because it has taken over. Many refer to this as the Ego, the Id or whatever you like to call it.  Your heart, on the other hand, will let you know when you're on the right path. You will feel good when you're following your passion. You will feel awesome when you're heading in the right direction, and you will feel blissed out when you realize that you have a whole guidance system inside of you that is perfect for you. (But remember, you also have to understand your emotions, because your heart may be trying to tell you something and you may be blocking it with fear or a surface emotion.)  If you want to pursue your dreams, start by finding your passion, then thinking about how you can make it real, and then taking action. It's really that simple. If you want to slow yourself down, then go ahead and pick one of the deadly mistakes above.  But know this: you are here for a reason. You are here to have a positive impact on this planet. You know that thing that you feel in your heart that you've always wanted to do? I'm here to tell you that you can do it, if you really want to. So what are you waiting for?

Thanks again to Henri Junttila, a freelance blogger, who also writes about self improvement ideas for conscious people on his blog. Read more by Henri at The Wake Up Cloud:

Wednesday, March 3, 2010

Have Trouble Remembering Passwords?

Here's a great add-on for Firefox.  LastPass
All you have to do is remember one master password.  You may set it to log you in automatically to any web site.  Additionally LastPass will fill in forms for you.  This is a great time saver!

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Bill Lawson - Pool Player

In the 1960's there were five pool rooms in downtown Winston-Salem.  Pool was so popular with the RJ Reynolds Tobacco workers that a law was passed stating there would be no pool games in the city limits after 11pm.  That was so the third shift workers would go to work.  You could tell which room Bill was in by listening for the sound of his break.  WHACK!!!!! the cueball would hit the one ball so hard that you would think surely the cueball or oneball had broken in two. 

Bill didn't look the part.  He didn't look like a world class 9-ball player.  In fact he didn't look like much of anything except maybe a wino with his old tattered sports coat on, his uncombed hair, and that week-old stubble on his chin that he somehow managed to always have.  He stood about six feet tall but had the long torso of someone six-four or six-five.  That's about all anyone noticed about Bill, unless you were (like me) someone who had spent countless hours playing pool and watching hustlers play the game.  I saw something magical when he bent over a pool table and wrapped those huge hands and very long fingers around a pool cue.  He never went one-rail to get pretty good position on the next ball -- he would go 5 rails and get perfect position.

I only met Bill a couple of years before he passed away.  At that time it had been 2 or 3 years since he had played in (and won) a major tournament.  This was 1982 and Bill had long since left the road and returned home to Winston-Salem.  His health was poor and he didn't have a nickel to his name, but he could still play pool at a level that made us all stop and watch when he would practice a little bit.  I say practice - but Bill Lawson never practised.  There was no reason to practice - he was a master of the art.

I had heard that road players, when going up and down the east coast from Boston and New York to Florida and Texas, would take a wide detour around the Winston-Salem / Greensboro area.  They didn't want to risk losing their bankroll to Bill Lawson.  I witnessed the truth in this when one slow evening a couple of black guys walked in carrying their personal cues.  One of them I recognised - a local player with just average ability.  The very tall guy with him was a stranger - but after I played him a few games for $5.00, I could tell he was laying down.  That is - he was playing well below his ability in an effort to get
me to raise the bet.  He let me win a few games and then started his spiel about betting more.  I told him he could win it back the same way I won it - $5.00 at a time.  He knew I was on to him.  At this point he wanted to know if there was anyone around town that would bet big.  He didn't care who they were - he "just wanted to gamble big time".  Sure I replied.  I'll get someone here to play you!   I called Bill at his boarding house and told him the deal.  He said "Curtis, I don't have any money and no way to get there."  Well get a cab, get here, and don't worry about the money.  A friend of mine and I agreed to put up $200.00 for Bill to play with.  Twenty minutes later Bill walked in the door - and the tall black guy said "Damn - I didn't say I'd play a damn world champion."  The tall stranger it turns out was none other than Willie Munson.  Willie was a pro himself and had recently won the US Open in Norfolk.  He wanted no part of Irving "Bill" Lawson.

Bill couldn't drive himself to the pool room because he reportedly had never owned a car or for that matter never had a driver's license.  There was always a backer who would drive him around the country from pool room to pool room.  The tournament circuit in those days did not have purses high enough to encourage many men to turn pro.  They could make a lot more money by traveling the country and stopping in every town, large and small, they all had pool rooms.  They also would have a local champion who was always foolish enough to take on all comers. 

Bill was very humble.  He would never brag about his winnings, but when we were able to drag a story out of him they were always utterly amazing.  He told us about the time he was in a small Georgia town for a couple of days beating the local players until he finally got the chance to play and beat the local champion out of around $2000.00.  Bill then promptly got on a bus and and headed out of town with his winnings.  After a few miles a sheriff's car pulled the bus over.  They took Bill off the bus, took all of his winnings, and threw him in jail for a night.

Billy Johnson (or as he sometimes went by "Wade Crane") came to my poolroom one weekend just to get Bill Lawson to teach him how to break a rack of nine-ball.  Billy was already a well-known pro at that time.
Bill Lawson passed away around 1986 in his late 50's.  He died penniless -- but he died knowing he was the best at something.

Friday, February 19, 2010

Music Web Site

I've tried maybe a dozen different web sites and applications for playing music.  Pandora,, and are all great.  Sometimes I just want to quickly play an artist or a song right now.  This is where Puniz excels.  Fast - Free - Legal - Simple!

Sunday, February 14, 2010

TED Talks

One of the greatest things about this computer age we are now living is the ease with which we can all learn about new and exciting things.  TEDTalks is a series of 18-minute presentations by some of the smartest and talented people on the planet.  From their web site ---- "TEDTalks began as a simple attempt to share what happens at TED with the world. Under the moniker "ideas worth spreading," talks were released online. They rapidly attracted a global audience in the millions."

These enlightening presentations will knock your socks off!  There are now over 500 available for viewing and there is "something for everyone".

Here are three of my favourites:
Micro Sculpture
Swimming the North Pole
Dirty Jobs

Check 'em out.

Thursday, February 4, 2010

Shameless Self-Promotion

After writing that previous blog about the benefits of using Linux I've come to the realization that not many people are going to take my advice.  That's perfectly understandable for a couple of good reasons.  Linux for the desktop has made tremendous advances in "ease of installation" and in "user friendliness" in the past few years.  The reality is that not many people want to take the time to learn something new when they are happy with what they have.

Should you be happy with your W-Doze operating system?  When you went to the local retailer and bought that desktop or laptop it came with Doze already installed - but you paid for it.  If you bought the same set-up with no operating system installed you could have saved over $100.00 and installed Linux for free.  When W-Doze comes out with a new version you will need to upgrade your system to stay current - again for a price.  Linux distro upgrades are free - and are released much more frequently.  Oh yeah - you'll need to pay for anti-virus software for that Doze machine - unless you want to go through the headaches and cost of having someone replace or clean up your hard drive.

What can you do on Doze that you cannot do on Linux?  Not much!  There are software games that will only run in Doze.  That's about it.  If you're like me and mainly use your pc for music and video, internet, email, graphics and office applications - Linux beats Doze.  It's faster!  No more viruses - and never crashes.

Still sceptical?  Here's where the SSP comes in.  For $40.00 I will install Linux on your laptop or desktop.  I will make it a dual-boot system whereby you can boot up into Doze or Linux.  I offer same-day service and free e-mail consulting to help you get started.  For good performance your machine should be less than 3 years old and some older machines may benefit from additional memory.  If additional ram is needed - I will install it for free -   you just pay for the memory chips.  Any questions: email me with "Linux" in the subject line.    RAKEMUP@YAHOO.COM

Tuesday, February 2, 2010

Tongue-in-Cheek (or not?)

Things I've discovered in 61 years that you might consider ---

1- If you want someone to be your friend, get them to do something for you.  (Yes, I said it correctly.)  After they do you a favour they will realize that you now owe them.

2- Be who you are and say what you feel ... because those that matter won't mind ... and those that mind .. don't matter.

3- When you're screwing up and nobody says anything to you any more, that means they've given up on you.

4- To handle yourself, use your head.  To handle others, use your heart

We're putting the band back together - but my guitar has coloured buttons - and no strings.

And --  for my tombstone:  "I spent all my money on beer and women  .... the rest of it I wasted!" - Steve Forde (from the song Beer and Women)

Sunday, January 31, 2010


USING LINUX FOR THE DESKTOP IS THE BEST ADVICE REFERENCE COMPUTERS THAT YOU WILL EVER RECEIVE. i.e. It's free - no more viruses or worms on your pc - It hardly ever crashes (I've had my pc go for months without having to reboot). You will be able to copy cd's and dvd's faster, etc.  You can install Linux alongside Windows and decide which system to boot up when you turn the pc on.  A little time with linux and you will never look back.  A good site to read more about Linux for the desktop is: "Bruno's All Things Linux" -----read the "Tips for Linux Explorers" section. Print it out if necessary. If you still have questions --- send them to me.  Another helpful site for getting started is  Here is a rather lengthy article giving 20 reasons to use Linux.  Linux is available in many different distributions.  Linux Mint is a good one to try out first.  It's easy to use and will work on older pc's.  Later you may want to download and try Mandriva or Ubuntu.

In the market for a printer?   Laser printers are fast and a hellofa lot cheaper to operate than an inkjet. If you must have color prints take your pictures (on a usb memory stick)  to Target, Walmart, Sam's Club, or just about any drugstore.  Black and white laser printers have really come down in price lately.  Best Buy has the Brother-HL2140 for $69.99. The cartridge is another $53.99 - but will last a long, long time.

Friday, January 29, 2010

More E-Mail Tips

Make folders in your email entitled:
  • 1-readlater   the "1-" will make this your top-most folder
  • tips
  • keep
  • family
  • friends (make sub-folders under this one with the names of people that e-mail you on a regular basis)
  • bills & money
  • for sale
  • hobbies
  • jokes
Then make filters which will automatically move incoming mail to the correct folder, for example:  if subject contains the word "tip" then move message to the "tips" folder - or if from contains "Ralph" then move message to the "friends" folder.

Using the draft functionality is a great way to keep notes that you need to keep handy and refer to often. Just compose a new message and save it as a draft.  I also send a note to myself containing information I want to keep handy.  I keep this note in my inbox - and edit it with more information all the time.  (this sure beats having sticky notes all over your monitor and desk).

Thursday, January 28, 2010

Hot Tips

If you've been thinking about XM/Sirius radio for your car or home, now is the time to try it out.  Call now and ask about their 5 months for $20 promotion.  There is no start-up fee.  Just be sure to call them back and cancel or re-negotiate a new price before the 5 months is up.  Here's the number - 1-800-998-7900.

In a previous post I recommended Google Reader.  Google Reader used to be just an online RSS reader. You'd subscribe by copying and pasting a site's RSS feed URL into Google Reader's "Add a subscription" box. And you still can. But starting yesterday, you can add any URL - even if it's not an RSS feed, and even if the site itself doesn't publish an RSS feed. If Google Reader doesn't recognize a URL as RSS, a dialog box will offer to "create a feed for you." Just click "Create a feed," and now Google Reader will monitor the page. If the page changes, a link to that page will show up in Google Reader as if a new RSS item had been posted. They'll even show you a preview "snippet" of the page, just as they do with real RSS posts. This is great news for people who use Google Reader, and a real incentive for those who don't to start.

Wednesday, January 27, 2010

IBC 2010

The winners of the 2010 International Blues Challenge band competition are:
Winner - Grady Champion (Mississippi Delta Blues Society of Indianola)

Second Place -- Karen Lovely Band (Cascade Blues Association)
Third Place - Cheryl Renee and Them Bones (Cincy Blues Society)
Winner of the Solo/Duo Competition was Matt Anderson (harvest Jazz & Blues)

Once again these performers and others just knocked my socks off.  Among the memorable acts that did not make the finals were a band from India (Soulmate) and a band comprised of two 14-year olds from Colorado (Young Austin Band)  I can't wait until 2011! See pictures of some of the contestants at the end of my blog page.

Monday, January 18, 2010

Da Blues

Every year about this time Donna and I take our yearly trip to Memphis for a Blues festival.  After attending out first one in 2005 I promised myself to never miss another.  The music is fantastic and I enjoy staying and gambling at Sam's Town in Tunica, Mississippi.  We make the 30-35 mile trip to Beale Street in Memphis every night.  Tunica is only about 30 miles from the Memphis airport.

From the IBC website - "The 2010 International Blues Challenge will be the 26th year of Blues musicians from around the world competing for cash, prizes, and industry recognition. The Blues Foundation will present the 26th International Blues Challenge January 20-23, 2010 in Memphis, TN. The world's largest gathering of Blues acts represents an international search by The Blues Foundation and its Affiliated Organizations for the Blues Band and Solo/Duo Blues Act ready to take their act to the international stage. In 2009, 100 bands and 60 solo/duo acts entered, filling the clubs up and down Beale Street for the semi-finals on Thursday and Friday and the finals at the Orpheum Theater on Saturday."

The bands play their best stuff for 25 minutes in front of judges in the clubs along Beale Street on Thursday and Friday nights.  On Saturday the top ten compete in the finals in a huge theatre.  In 2007 we were lucky enough to hear about and watch a young band from Tupelo, Mississippi play in one of the clubs on Thursday, again on Friday, and again in the finals.  They placed 2nd in the whole competition!  This despite being the youngest band ever to compete in the International Blues Challenge.  They were, at that time, 15, 13 and 8 years old!  These two brothers and their little sister - The Homemade Jamz' Blues Band - have now gone on to recording and playing gigs around the world.  B.B. King said in a YouTube video, “In my 82 years, I’ve never seen something musically… so remarkable.”

Your's truly and Ryan Perry (Homemade Jamz' Blues Band singer and lead guitar player)

Thursday, January 14, 2010

More Highly Recommended Applications


  1. Pandora Listen to just the music that you like.
  2. Dropbox The easiest way to store, sync, and, share files online.
  3. Google Docs You can share documents with whomever you choose, with no one, or with the world.  Be sure to check out the templates for resume forms, budgets, calendars, check-book registers, business cards and 100's of other templates
  4. Evernote Makes everything easy to remember.  Works with your cell phone and computer.  Snap a photo and send it to Evernote.
  5. X-Marks This Firefox add-on syncs all of your bookmarks so you can get to them from any pc.  Works with IE also.
  6. Readability Add-on for Firefox.  Makes reading on the web more enjoyable by removing the clutter around what you're reading.
  7. Adblock Plus Another great add-on.  Ever been annoyed by all those ads and banners on the internet that often take longer to download than everything else on the page? Install Adblock Plus now and get rid of them.

Saturday, January 9, 2010

News Reader

In case you haven't figured it out - I'm a firm believer in free applications and software.  Any program I recommend will be free - or I will let you know differently.  I know the term "News Reader" really never drew my interest until recently because I didn't realize just how much more you can use it for other than reading "news".  Here is one of my favourite uses.

If you haven't done so --- set up an RSS reader (Google Reader works well).  Do searches on sites like "" for the item you're looking for and then add the search to your reader by clicking on the little orange RSS icon (usually at the bottom of the page) to add this search to your reader.  This also works for Craigslist. I saved a search in the "garage sales" area for my small town - and when someone posts in my town I get it in Reader automatically.  Add as many sites as you wish to your reader.  Just do a search for any subject you're interested in, and look for the little orange RSS feed symbol   .  Your reader will then automatically show you new additions to the site you're watching.  Here are a couple I enjoy - and    Also (if you're like me and always looking for good deals) try:  and  woot.  If I lost you above try this "official" quick tour of Google Reader.

Friday, January 8, 2010

E-Mail Programs

I have 7 or 8 different e-mail accounts. No reason not to when they are free.  I use one to give out on web sites. One to give to friends. One for work, etc. This cuts down on the spam.  I highly recommend Gmail.  Click here for "10 reasons to use Gmail" and to create an account. You can even use a program like Thunderbird to get all of your e-mails delivered to one place. Then use filters to have messages automatically placed in different folders, i.e. "For Sale", "Friends", "Hobbies", "Action items", etc.

One lesser known feature with Gmail accounts is that you can set up custom addresses by adding a "+" to your username and then follow it with whatever address you want.  For example: If you have rakemup[at], you could sign up on different websites with rakemup+contests[at] and then setup a filter so that any emails that come to rakemup+contests[at] go to a certain label which can be reviewed later.  It's a quick and easy way to filter emails.


Thursday, January 7, 2010

Highly Recommended

Every day (or as often as I find them) I'm going to recommend web sites and/or applications that I know you will find helpful.  Here's the first:
Spaaze looks and acts like a giant cork-board on your desktop.  After signing in, drag the bookmarklet up to your "bookmarks toolbar".  Then whenever you find an interesting web page, click on the Spaaze bookmarklet and a link to the new page will be added to your corkboard.  I have "hotspots" on my board for: "read laters", "daily web sites", "e-mail accounts", etc..  I also keep post-it notes with to-do lists and reminders.  Your spaaze is reachable from any pc or laptop.  Spaaze, used in combination with Firefox add-ons "X-Marks" and "Read-It-Later", really help save time and frustration when you need to find/keep some web-based info.  You do use Firefox as your web browser I assume.  Opera is good also.  I use two side-by-side monitors that make up one desktop - and quite often have both Firefox and Opera open at the same time.  Some sites (but not all) just seem to work better in Opera,  although the add-ons for Firefox make it indispensable.

Wednesday, January 6, 2010


Welcome to the initial installment of "The BluesShak." What is it? - you may ask, and why take the time to do something like this?

Several reasons 1) I've always wanted to write a book but have never put words to paper except for a couple of short paragraphs. Perhaps I can try out those words here to see the response. 2) I believe that in order to get something you have to give something. By giving of my own thoughts and discoveries, I'm hoping to receive your feedback and therefore make this a learning experience. 3) I'm roughly five years away from retirement and I plan on making my fortune in the next five years. I've already started towards that goal - and you'll be hearing more about that later. Don't worry - asking you for contributions is not part of the plan.

The name BluesShak is the name of a small business I intend to open near the coast of NC after retirement. It will be a combination of restaurant, bar, and live music venue.

Come along for the ride. It won't cost you anything - and who knows - you may learn a few helpful tricks along the way.

IBC Memphis 2010