For well over a decade Ben Harper has been pushing the boundaries of music. He regularly experiments with genres and styles, all the while, bringing his own signature soulful sound to the mix. In 2007 Ben hooked up with his longtime band, the Innocent Criminals, and released “Lifeline”. This album comes on the heels of his brilliant 2006 double album “Both Sides of A Gun,” which was edgy, political, and very much right in your face. In contrast, Lifeline is a more soulful, melodic, uplifting album – and perhaps even more brilliant that its predecessor. The album evokes warm sounds of Ray Charles, the 70’s era Rolling Stones, the Black Crowes, Van Morrison, and Otis Redding. In typical Ben Harper form, the lyrics are brilliant and meaningful, the arrangements are exceptional, and the songs are creative, catchy, and inspirational. I have used the album’s first track “Fight Outta You” to pull me out of many an early morning funk. There is a great lyric in the chorus of that song that really speaks to me “I would rather take your punch, than not give you a shot… I’d rather find out who you are than who you’re not.” This one is well worth the 12 bucks. Was this one of your favorites of 2007? What other albums, songs or books moved you and why?
Archive for December, 2007
Thanks, yet again, to Lifehacker for the tip on the awesome web based cut and paste tool, Kwout. With Kwout, you simply place a bookmark, which they provide for you on their site, in your toolbar, and then when you see an image or piece of a web site that you want to grab click on the button. Next you simply highlight the area of the page you want to feature, and Kwout spits out the code you need to copy the area anywhere. It will even embed links with the area you select. This tools is extremely simple to use, and is quite useful. I am looking forward to more of trying out Kwout – a brilliant way to quote.
I was scanning the latest posts from the Google Operating System blog today only to realize that Remember the Milk – an awesome, web based, task management tool – now has the ability to integrate directly into Gmail. It looks as this is the first step towards integrating task management into Gmail, which hopefully will happen in 2008. The ability to use Remember the Milk within Gmail is wonderful in that you can easily move from email to tasks in one place. So many of the emails I receive have some “to do” item that results, which forces me to either have an inbox cluttered with old emails to serve as reminders, or to leave my mail to enter or complete a task somewhere else. This all in one solution, though not perfect, will help to reduce distraction, eliminate duplication of efforts, and better organize my busy life. Remember the Milk also integrates into the igoogle homepage and google calendar, both of which I use daily. I look forward to further integration of tasks into Gmail and Gcal. What do you think of Remember the Milk, Gmail, Gcal, and what do you hope to see in the near future of task management?
One of the best Christmas gifts I received this year came in the form of a blog post from Lifehacker. As a dad, I am tasked with the unenviable task of opening presents for my children. This typically results in spilled coffee, wounded appendages, swearing, and other less than ideal Christmas parenting moments. Besides the ridiculous use of use of twist ties and fastening devices, the most common culprit for package rage has been the Clamshell Package. This molded plastic nemesis has been the downfall of many a skilled father. No amount of pulling, twisting, tearing, chopping, and or tugging seems to weaken the Clamshell – until now. Lifehacker unveiled what amounts to Clam Shell Kryptonite, the simple handheld Can Opener. It is as easy as this. Take the Clamshell Package. Clamp the can opener at a point on the edge of it. Twist it, just like you are cranking open a can of beenie weenies, and voila. Package Opened. It is amazing. For a dad, this is one of the best Christmas gifts I could have received. In fact, as Christmas went on with extended family, my eyes lit up every time someone had a Clam Shell package – giving me an opportunity to share my newly learned skill. Thanks Lifehacker for once again making my life better.
Before the iphone, we were the “cool kids.” You know us, we’re BlackBerry owners. Well as we BlackBerry users wait for our contracts to expire and iphone prices to continue to fall, here is a great new application from Google. It is Google Sync – a free program that keeps the Blackberry Calendar in sync with the web based Google Calendar. I have been anxiously awaiting the arrival of this application since I bought my BlackBerry last year. While I try to keep most of my information in a web based environment, there are times when I need the speed of desktop (or phone top) access. For example, you are sitting across the table from a client and they ask, “When can we get together again?” Rather than having to go through the process of jumping on the net, logging in, scrolling to the right time frame, and then entering the data, I can simply check the desktop calendar and go. The real beauty is that because the software auto-syncs to my BlackBerry to my GCal, I am always up to speed on where to be and when. Oh the nerdy things that excite me! Not sure if I should celebrate or cry. Alas, this is a great app – worth checking out.
There are also a number of other new desktop applications for BlackBerry that can be downloaded from Google. Picassa, Reader, Docs, and more – now with desktop icons for the mobile device. Stay up to date on all of them by subscribing to the Google Mobile Blog. Merry Christmas to all. (Is that on the 25th this year?…let me check my calendar…yep!) and to all a good night.
2007 was a great year for new music for me. One of the records that got a lot of play in the ipod was Wincing the Night Away, by The Shins. The album is an innovative rock masterpiece. It led me to purchase the other 2 albums by the band, Chutes Too Narrow, and Oh Inverted World, which are equally exceptional. (Interestingly enough, I noticed the other day that one of the iphone commercials shows the hands flipping through the itunes library of the supposed owner, only to have him stop on Chutes Too Narrow. Look for it the next time you see the commercial – should not take too long.) The sound of the Shins brings 80’s new wave together with the harmonies of the early Beatles sounds, to create something completely fresh. The lyrics are not contrived or trite, and the melodic lines are often surprising and catchy as hell. Of particular note on this album is the second song, Australia. The song is rich with orchestration and instrumentation. It took me a few dozen listens to pick up on the banjo in the background. There are countless gems on this one, and it truly defines synthesis by putting together disparate elements into a thing of beauty. What was your favorite musical offering of 2007? More of mine to come…
Last Friday, I was named as the newest member of the board of the Epilepsy Foundation of Western Ohio. I am honored to be part of the organization, and I look forward to making a positive difference in the lives of those afflicted with Epilepsy. This group has a special meaning to me. Gone unchecked, Epilepsy can be frightening and debilitating. Through proper medical care and education, epilepsy can be managed and overcome. I thank the board for choosing me to help further the cause.
I also want to mention that the Foundation will be hosting a Mardi Gras Gala on Tuesday, February 5th. The event will help to fund the operations of the foundation for the coming year. I encourage you to attend. For more information please visit http://www.daytonmardigras.com. I hope to see you there.