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