Monday, April 3, 2017

5 Tips for Using Knoppix to Recover Data from an Unbootable PC

Knoppix, a free Linux boot software, can be run directly from a CD. This ability to boot from CD means that Knoppix can be used for PC hard drive data recovery, even if Knoppix was never previously run on the machine. Knoppix can be used on an unbootable PC provided its hard drive has not sustained physical damage (if the hard drive is physically damaged, running any software may cause irreparable damage).

However, Knoppix is a tool which is best used by the computer-savvy. Even then, problems may arise during the recovery process. These tips address these problems and make the process go smoothly and fast, or (if it is too late for that!) the tips can also be used for troubleshooting purposes.


Tip 1: Get external devices right. Connect the external device on which the recovered data will be stored, for example a USB drive or external hard drive. Remove any unnecessary peripherals such as a printer, internet connection, remote control devices and so on. External devices can interfere with the ability of Knoppix to boot up correctly.


Tip 2: Follow a good tutorial. There are several available online; recommended are “Computer First Aid Using Knoppix” or “How to Recover Data with Linux”


Tip 3: Get Knoppix to boot correctly. This means starting the computer with Knoppix in the CD drive; then watch to see how to enter BIOS (usually F2 or F12), then look for the “Boot Sequence” option, and change the boot disk setting to the CD drive. For some unknown reason, even after this change is made, it may take more than one try for it to boot, so don’t despair after one failed attempt.


Tip 4: Beware of power management on notebooks. If your computer is a notebook, power management can mess up Knoppix by causing Knoppix to freeze when you wake up the computer. The best way to deal with this in this particular case is simply to stay one step ahead of power management, so if you are taking any breaks during the data recovery process, move the mouse periodically to avoid putting your notebook into sleep mode.


Tip 5: Make sure you have read-write permission for your data destination disk. Knoppix automatically resets read-write permissions to read-only for external drives. Therefore, you may not have write permission for the USB or external hard drive that is to be used to store recovered data. If that is the case, then right-click on the drive icon in Knoppix and there will be an option there for changing read-write mode.


Summary
In conclusion, booting Knoppix from the CD drive when the hard disk won’t boot is an elegant way of recovering data. However, it is important to realize that the process isn’t always straightforward. The tips here have prepared the user for problems that may arise, making the process smoother and faster.


Sources:
Colin Robinson “How to Recover Data With Linux” Syracuse University ITS
David Berlind “Drive Failure? Yagotta Try Knoppix First” ZDNet
Carla Schroder “System Recovery With Knoppix” IBM deverloperWorks
Gina Trapani “Geek to Live: Rescue Files With a Boot CD” Lifehacker
Cedric Shock and Susan Sullivan “Computer First Aid Using Knoppix”


Labels: 5 Tips for Using Knoppix to Recover Data from an Unbootable PC

A Cashback Credit Card Can Put Some Extra Money Back in Your Pocket

You work very hard for your money, and now by using a cashback credit card you can get some of that money back. The great benefit that comes from these popular rewards credit cards is that once you spend a certain amount of money by using the card, you are rewarded with actual cash back. Each card carries slightly different offers, so you will want to examine each deal very closely to make sure that you earn the rewards you desire.

Some cash back credit card offers provide you with the benefit of earning extra bonus points after your first purchase using the card. These credit cards will allow you to earn points based on the amount you spend using the card; many provide one point for each dollar you spend. The cash back reward might come in the form of a check from the credit card company, or it could be taken in the form of a gift certificate for one of the card carrier’s participating merchants. Each offer varies, so be sure to read each carefully so that you get a card that offers the rewards you need.


Each cashback credit card that you are considering will have an introductory annual percentage rate, and the regular percentage rate. Some cards offer fairly long grace periods, so that you will not have to pay interest on the credit card balance for a certain predetermined amount of time. Many of these flexible credit cards also allow for balance transfers.


Other
cashback credit card offer different types of rewards. If you travel by car a lot, a card that offers rebates on fuel purchases can save you a great deal of money over the course of a year. These cards typically offer a higher rebate on fuel, and a lower rebate percentage on other types of purchases made.


Some cash back cards have no annual fee, and some even offer no pre-set limit on spending. Other cards do require an annual fee, so you will need to comparison shop among cards to determine if the rewards outweigh the cost of the annual fee.


Your
cashback credit card might offer very specific bonuses that will please you tremendously. If you shop online a great deal, a card that provides you with a large bonus of points for online purchases might be the right credit card for you. Many of these popular cards also offer double points if you make a purchase from one of their preferred partners. Your shopping preferences can help you judge if a particular cashback credit card is the best one for you.


Labels: A Cashback Credit Card Can Put Some Extra Money Back in Your Pocket

6 Things to Consider When Starting a Small Business

I happen to have a small business myself. Here are some things you may want to consider or think about before jumping the gun.

1.Location- If you are planning to sell a product then you must consider if what you are selling is popular in that area.For instance,if you are selling Luxury Cars, than the city projects is probably not the place to do it.However something like a bait and tackle store near the shore would do great,but be careful of rival businesses and neighboring business that may be more experienced or have a better reputation.


2.Products- When purchasing products,buying in bulk would be smart because it costs less and you get more.However be careful because you don’t want to be stuck with extra products. You can be the judge of how much of something you need though.


3.Employees- Here you must be extra careful.You don’t want to spend much on employees when you are first starting out.Try some low paid interns to start and grow from there.Employees should also be trustworthy and honest.It is common sense.But the down side to having employees


4.Business Tax-As you may or may not know,businesses are taxed.It varies from state to state.You need to make more money than your tax,employee payments, and supplies cost put together. So be careful.


5.Legal matters- Once again this varies from state to state. You will have to register your business and pay upfront charges if you want to become a professional in the business world. Keep in mind that you can not radio or television advertise if your business is not registered. There will also be requirements and a back-round check.


6.Loans-Now this is a tricky one.It is really up to you but i would recommend taking out a business loan if your local bank allows.It should be enough to cover supplies,charges,and other costs of just starting out.However may I remind you that you will have to pay it back sooner rather than later.So be careful.Also you must be sure that your business will not only make money but also gain profit to pay off loans.Lastly,remember that the costs of having a business are very high in todays day and age.


Those are things that every small business owner must go through/deal with.I personally wish you the greatest of luck with starting your new business.I hope you found theese tips helpful. If there is anything I missed or you have any sort of comments, I’m here to help.Just leave me a comment.


Labels: 6 Things to Consider When Starting a Small Business

5 Tips for Using Knoppix to Recover Data from an Unbootable PC

Knoppix, a free Linux boot software, can be run directly from a CD. This ability to boot from CD means that Knoppix can be used for PC hard drive data recovery, even if Knoppix was never previously run on the machine. Knoppix can be used on an unbootable PC provided its hard drive has not sustained physical damage (if the hard drive is physically damaged, running any software may cause irreparable damage).

However, Knoppix is a tool which is best used by the computer-savvy. Even then, problems may arise during the recovery process. These tips address these problems and make the process go smoothly and fast, or (if it is too late for that!) the tips can also be used for troubleshooting purposes.


Tip 1: Get external devices right. Connect the external device on which the recovered data will be stored, for example a USB drive or external hard drive. Remove any unnecessary peripherals such as a printer, internet connection, remote control devices and so on. External devices can interfere with the ability of Knoppix to boot up correctly.


Tip 2: Follow a good tutorial. There are several available online; recommended are “Computer First Aid Using Knoppix” or “How to Recover Data with Linux”


Tip 3: Get Knoppix to boot correctly. This means starting the computer with Knoppix in the CD drive; then watch to see how to enter BIOS (usually F2 or F12), then look for the “Boot Sequence” option, and change the boot disk setting to the CD drive. For some unknown reason, even after this change is made, it may take more than one try for it to boot, so don’t despair after one failed attempt.


Tip 4: Beware of power management on notebooks. If your computer is a notebook, power management can mess up Knoppix by causing Knoppix to freeze when you wake up the computer. The best way to deal with this in this particular case is simply to stay one step ahead of power management, so if you are taking any breaks during the data recovery process, move the mouse periodically to avoid putting your notebook into sleep mode.


Tip 5: Make sure you have read-write permission for your data destination disk. Knoppix automatically resets read-write permissions to read-only for external drives. Therefore, you may not have write permission for the USB or external hard drive that is to be used to store recovered data. If that is the case, then right-click on the drive icon in Knoppix and there will be an option there for changing read-write mode.


Summary
In conclusion, booting Knoppix from the CD drive when the hard disk won’t boot is an elegant way of recovering data. However, it is important to realize that the process isn’t always straightforward. The tips here have prepared the user for problems that may arise, making the process smoother and faster.


Sources:
Colin Robinson “How to Recover Data With Linux” Syracuse University ITS
David Berlind “Drive Failure? Yagotta Try Knoppix First” ZDNet
Carla Schroder “System Recovery With Knoppix” IBM deverloperWorks
Gina Trapani “Geek to Live: Rescue Files With a Boot CD” Lifehacker
Cedric Shock and Susan Sullivan “Computer First Aid Using Knoppix”


Labels: 5 Tips for Using Knoppix to Recover Data from an Unbootable PC

A Case Study of Mexican Zapatistas and Peruvian Shining Path

Violence is a tool used by many to achieve change. It has been proven throughout history to bring about the most rapid results and has thus evolved into the most common method by which to seek political revolution. There is no doubt that as of now it has the ability to bring about rapid change if successful. However, there is also the plethora of issues that have come to be associated with the aftermath of violent means. Perhaps the greatest problem is putting an end to the violence once a goal is achieved, as violence perpetuates more violence. Yet, even with the emergence of other methods to bring about change, particularly in the age of such rapidly increased information flow, violence continues to exist at all levels, from military coups to terrorist invasions. It is difficult to combat any sort of physical insurgency without resorting to extremities. Boundaries become increasingly difficult to establish and previously guaranteed liberties become questionable in the face of adversity. While, violence brings about change, its worth must be measured against everything that it entails.

Often times, conflicts turn to war, which include interstate and separatist wars, civil wars, guerilla warfare, and proxy wars. There is a great diversity in the types of people who justify their destructive means, ranging from a “legitimate” government to militaries. The military often has the power to wield tremendous influence on the government, and in some instances virtually control the government. Children are often the group most victimized by warfare, particularly in their active participation as soldiers. However, governments are by no means the only promoters of violent change. There are both nationalistic terror groups and international terrorists. Methods of destruction have become increasingly within their reach through bioterrorism and chemical weapons, and they are often implicated in drug cartels. Revolutionaries are people who seek to promote revolution, defined as a change in regime, with the desire to achieve extensive, relatively quick and often concurrent changes in economic, political, and social structure. There is debate as to whether the world has entered into more violence or remained relatively the same. While many engage in violence, it is difficult to make the transition beyond that and violence is often self perpetuating.


Mexico experienced a wholly new sort of uprising when the Zapatista National Liberation Army (EZLN) burst onto the scene in Chiapas. They claimed to be fighting to restore the legitimacy of the government, and maintained that they supported basic human needs, freedom, democracy, and peace. In Chiapas, the Zapatistas wanted to change the feudal relationship between the wealthy local bosses who are pro-PRI and a majority poor. In response to this new “internal enemy,” the Mexican government sent in 60,000 initial troops to destroy approximately 3,000 EZLN fighters. However, the Zapatistas have begun fighting on another field, and became the first insurgent group to understand and effectively use the power of the internet. They have rapidly changed from a guerilla army into a nonviolent political movement. Some expected the Zapatistas to lose their momentum, since the loss of their symbolic enemy as Mexico is transitioning into democracy. Yet, corruption continues to exist on nearly every level of government, including an ongoing denial of the “Tlatelolco massacre,” during which hundreds of student demonstrators were shot. As the Mexican army has historically been the most secretive and least democratic of government institutions, it is highly unlikely that Fox will risk provoking them by attempting to punish them for the previous scandal.


The Peruvian military has more of a tradition of civilian control, yet recent politics in Peru has had a significant impact on the civil-military relationship. A leftist insurgency movement, Sendero Luminoso (Shining Path), began its attacks the same year that the civilians had resumed power from the military. It was a largely cult following based on the charismatic Abimael Guzman Reynoso. The guerilla movement was fanatical and in many ways more like a religion than a political entity. His ideology drew from Marxism, but he claimed to have studied orthodox Maoist philosophy. Guzman emphasized a new social order, requiring the death of 10 percent of the population. The military took its toll on this massive bloodshed as well, and gross human rights violations were committed by both sides. When President Fujimori came into power he favored essentially an authoritarian regime. His government proved successful in putting down the Shining Path for the most part and he was reelected. It became evident soon after that he was going to continue using repression to stay in power. Through civic elections, he was ousted from power by Alejandro Toledo, who has begun to reassert civilian control over the military.


Violence is historically proven to be a means by which to achieve change, yet especially with the increasing rate of information flow, it is debatable as to whether it continues to be the most effective. The Zapatistas may have begun as a guerilla movement but their move towards the internet revolution is proof of the immense power behind ideas. While force can bring about reluctant change, it is the influence of ideas and peaceful political movement that maintains a semblance of legitimacy. Simultaneously, it is difficult to fight ongoing corruption with increased information flow, in that the results would not be quite as immediate. Yet, there is no real evidence of violent acts versus media propaganda because the latter is such a recent innovation. It might be possible to combat the military corruption with the spread of mass information, something the author references briefly when he mentions the recent surfacing of pictures from the Tlatelolco massacre. International attention could force the change that Fox is too timid to make within the military. Yet, there are so few revolutions won in peaceful manners, and while many make use of propaganda as a secondary tool, Lenin’s use of the Communist Manifesto and even the American colonies reliance on Thomas Payne’s Common Sense, no war has been won due solely to this. With the rapid move towards internet accessibility and reliance though, it is a possibility for the future.


Many excuse extreme measures for extenuating circumstances, which became the primary reason for the reelection of Fujimori. It is difficult though to draw the line between what is permissible and what exactly is going too far. Peru was in a state of mass terror and bloodshed, during which its citizens welcomed any sort of solution. Ideally, there is no excuse for the suspension of due process and basic liberties, but it becomes increasingly complex when the lives of citizens are at stake. The author seems to take an almost condemning view of Fujimori, automatically grouping him with the evil terrorist category. Yet, while Fujimori overstepped innumerable boundaries and committed gross human rights violations, there are uncanny parallels between his actions in office during the time of the Shining Path and the current United States administration. While it would be an obvious hyperbole to match up President Bush’s actions post 9/11 to that of Fujimori, the suspension of basic rights is a commonality that can be found in the Patriot Act. So, the question of how far is too far comes into play again, only this time for a much more powerful and developed nation. It will be interesting to see a future reaction to this overstepping of democratic boundaries.


Labels: A Case Study of Mexican Zapatistas and Peruvian Shining Path

A Hairsbreadth Away from Love - Flash Fiction Romance for a Cause

Kirsten fought back tears as she left her niece’s hospital room. Poor little Charlotte! Chemotherapy had stripped the formerly curly-haired darling of her strawberry blonde locks and her bare head rested like a stone on the pillow. Charlotte was barely six, but her eyes reflected suffering beyond her years. Simply remembering the child’s face pained Kirsten; how must her sister feel when she spent nearly every hour of every day caring for Charlotte? Katherine must surely qualify for sainthood by now.


Once she got home, Kirsten sat down to her computer and performed her nightly search for information on Charlotte’s condition. She prayed to find a new protocol, a drug trial, a medical opinion, anything that could offer hope to Charlotte. She came across an interesting site. Although the St. Baldrick’s Foundation didn’t offer a treatment, it raised funds for children’s cancer research programs. And Kirsten felt as though she had to do something besides bringing takeout to Katherine at the hospital.


On the St. Baldrick’s site, Kirsten searched for an event near her and signed up. She started contacting her friends and relatives to ask for their support and invite them to participate. She hesitated over emailing her co-workers, and decided to approach them in person at the office. As she headed for bed, she felt for the first time in a long time as though she was actually doing something positive on Charlotte’s behalf.


Next day, Kirsten put out homemade fliers describing her participation in the event where volunteers will shave their heads to stand in solidarity with kids who sometimes lose their hair during cancer treatment and raise funds for life-saving research. She asked for sponsorships. Several of her coworkers asked questions about the program and Charlotte’s condition. She ran into feature editor Jason Graham near the printer as she went to collect a print job.


“Kirsten, I wondered if you were free for dinner tomorrow evening,” asked Jason. “I know we’ve been crazy with this month’s mag, but it’s done tomorrow morning and you deserve an evening out. You’ve worked like crazy getting ads in this lousy economy besides helping your sister. I think it’s time to take care of you for a change.”


“Look, Jason, You’re a nice guy and a friend. I know you mean well, but I really don’t have time or energy right now to have a social life. I have to start getting next edition’s ads together as soon as we put this one to bed. And Katherine needs me more than ever.” Kirsten wanted to let the man down gently but honestly.


His face clouded as Jason processed her reply.


“I think you’re wrong, Kirsten. I think you need a social life especially now. You need to know that there are people willing to stand with you and help carry the load where they can. And an occasional hour of relaxing company isn’t going to take anything away from your sister. It will recharge you to let you keep going.”


“I’m sorry. I can’t.” Kirsten turned away and headed back to her desk.


* * * * *


Next morning Kirsten found a cup of cappuccino from her favorite coffee shop waiting on her desk. A sticky note attached read “At least you should relax long enough to drink a cup of coffee. J.” She smiled as she inhaled the aroma before taking her first sip. He really was a good friend. At another time, under different circumstances she would definitely be interested in him. But not right now.


She typed a quick “thank you” email and sent it to him before diving into the stack of calls she had waiting. At least none of them were urgent messages from Katherine.


* * * * *


Kirsten hit “Send” and sat back in her desk chair. That was the last of her “Thank You” emails to the family, friends and co-workers who had committed to sponsoring her in the St. Baldrick’s event. With only a week until the big day, she was delighted with the response she had received. She had exceeded her target goal for sponsorships. The only disappointing aspect was that Jason hadn’t committed to a donation.


“So much for his great concern,” she thought. “And I thought he was my friend.”


* * * * *


The waiting area in Chauncy’s Hair Emporium was abuzz with chatter when Kirsten arrived for the big day. Each of the stations was filled as the shop’s staff clipped one volunteer after another. Kirsten looked at the newly bared heads as they went by, and began to get a little nervous. This would be a big change from the soft shoulder-length style she usually wore. Could she go through with it?


There were two participants left ahead of her when she felt a tap on her shoulder. She turned to face a man with a shaved head who looked a little familiar.


“I figured I could do more good by getting my own sponsors than by just giving you a donation,” smiled Jason. “And I thought you deserved a little moral support, too. So here I am!”


“You did this for me?” she asked in wonder as she reached a hand to touch the bare skin that had replaced dark waves on his head.


“For you, and your niece, and all of the kids suffering with cancer.”


“I don’t know how to thank you.”


“I’d settle for a dinner date.”


Kirsten stood on tiptoe and brushed his lips with a light kiss. Just then, she was called for her haircut and she slipped past him. When her stylist was done, Kirsten examined the results and turned to Jason.


“Well?” he asked.


“Do you suppose any restaurant will let us in?” she giggled.


“I think any restaurant would be proud to serve such a beautiful and courageous lady,” he whispered as he leaned over to plant a gentle kiss atop her head.


Labels: A Hairsbreadth Away from Love - Flash Fiction Romance for a Cause

A Mom's Top Ten Spring Cleaning Safety Rules

Spring is welcomed by new beginnings in nature and a fresh clean home for many families. For those making lists of spring cleaning tasks, there are risks involved and some important safety rules and tips to consider as those plans are made. Where safety risks are concerned, they are all weighed equally. The following 10 safety hazards encountered during spring cleaning are not all inclusive but address many common concerns.

Practice Common Sense Climbing. Use appropriately sized and sturdy ladders to reach and clean high objects. Ladders are designed for your safety while countertops and dining room chairs are not. Follow the weight limits on ladders and be sure that you do not climb higher than the highest recommended rung.


Avoid Water Hazards. Clean up spills to avoid slips and falls, close off wet slippery flooring if possible, and avoid leaving children unattended with standing water sources such as 5 gallon buckets or filled tubs and totes. Standing water, even in small quantities can present drowning risks to curious little ones.


Use Non-Toxic Cleaning when Possible. There are many commercially produced green cleaning products or homemade cleaning recipes that accomplish many tough cleaning jobs just as effectively as those without toxic, dangerous ingredients.


Do Not Mix and Match Cleaning Products. Chemicals, even the virtually mild ones, have a way of reacting with undesired and even dangerous results. For example, combining two favorite toilet bowl cleaners may result in toxic vapors rather than the intended extra spotless toilet bowl!


Follow Packaging Directions. Use recommended quantities of the product in the manner for which it was formulated. Just like the dangerous chemical reactions of mixed products, excess and incorrect product usage can create hazards, risks, and even property damage.


Use Safety Gear. Yes, you may feel odd wearing safety goggles to clean those windows with the neighbors watching, but you owe it to yourself and your family to stay safe. Wear appropriate gloves, safety glasses, hearing protections and any other product recommended safety equipment.


Practice Safe Lifting and Carrying. Improper lifting and moving of heavy items severely injures many each year. Spring cleaners often seek to accomplish the many tasks in one short time rather than spreading it over several weeks-leading to added risk of muscle strains and pulls. Seek the help of a partner or from specialty moving products for lifting heavy furniture and household items. Bend and lift from the knees rather than the back and be sure that you are able to see over and around any load that you are carrying.


Work in Moderation. Bending, stretching, climbing, repetitive motions, heavy lifting and even strenuous scrubbing make spring cleaning tough work. Rest and take breaks! The dust bunnies did not appear overnight-and they will wait for you until after your rest.


Keep Paths Clear. As you move things around to clean, the room may turn into an obstacle course. Be sure to leave clear paths through the rooms-especially near stairways and doors.


Keep Up Childproofing. If you cannot send the children out of the area while you clean, you need to be vigilant with childproofing. The bottles of cleaners, moved furniture, ladders, and other interesting equipment are often too much for the curious little ones. Make sure that you take precautions to keep the kids safe from the supplies and the obstacle course style rooms in progress.


Household accidents and injuries are unfortunately frequent, but following these tips will help reduce or eliminate some of the more common risks associated with spring cleaning.


Sources:


The article is written from the author’s professional and personal experiences in the field of environmental, health and safety and as a long-time “spring cleaner”.


Labels: A Mom's Top Ten Spring Cleaning Safety Rules

A Guitar Teacher's Review of the Fender by Squire Rock Band 3 Guitar

I will admit that when Guitar Hero came out, I cringed all the while calling it a fad that would go away. There have been many successful follow-ups to Guitar Hero and a second company entered the fray with Rock Band. Along the way of these two games, the cringing has been validated time and time again because while these games encourage children to want to play guitar, they think they already can when they come to take lessons from me. I have to have them play super easy songs at first to fix major technique issues, teach them how to hold a pick as well as show them that there are 6 strings and 21 individual frets, not a paddle and 5 buttons to push. The success rate for Guitar Hero or Rock Band students actually transitioning to “real” guitar has been dismal for me and all of the other guitar teachers I know. The students would prefer to be really good at pretending to play guitar than be bad at real guitar and work to get better. There are exceptions and those successes I have had all end up putting down the Guitar Hero/Rock Band controller because they realize how dissimilar the two actually are.

With Rock Band introducing drums though, this began to change. From the day the Drum Set dropped, people realized that playing the drums on expert on Rock Band well could easily translate to some success on an actual drum kit. I suspect that this was the beginning of trying to figure out how to make the Rock Band guitar experience closer to the real thing and with Rock Band 3, Harmonix announced two new controllers to take advantage of the Pro mode that was being created for many songs. The first controller had a million buttons on it, not literally, but 21×6 = a lot of individual buttons. The second was a real guitar that was modified to work with Rock Band 3’s pro mode. This is what I got my hands on and I tried it out both in the game as well as trying out the other advertised abilities it had.


The Guitar


I borrowed a Squire Rock Band 3 Guitar by Fender for this review from a friend who purchased it the day it came out. He has been virtually obsessed with learning guitar through Rock Band but was willing to part with the guitar, game and his PS3 for a few days to let me try it out. Shape wise, it is very familiar, seeing as Fender uses off the line Stratocaster bodies. The differences, however, were striking once I had it in my hands. For seasoned guitarists, the neck is going to be, well, odd. I liken it to the difference between Schecter bass necks and all other brands. It feels like a half of a baseball bat in terms of size. The neck itself is the standard maple but instead of a standard rosewood fingerboard, there is a thin, maybe sixteenth of an inch, layer of rosewood before the plastic fingerboard that has the frets and electronic wizardry is mounted. This in itself is thicker than a standard Strat fingerboard so it is easy to imagine how chunky this neck is. The frets are well done though and it actually did not take that long to get accustomed to the serious chunky neck. The entire system is actually reminiscent of the Peavey’s MIDI bass from the mid-90’s because there are plastic gaps between the fret pieces, effectively giving the guitar a small fret for each string, rather than one long one. The truss rod adjustment is an Allen wrench adjustment but is very different from most guitars, using some type of gearing system to do adjustments since the adjustment is on the side of the neck block. The neck was a little loose at first, but tightening down the screws into the neck block fixed it and there was no issue with them loosening during the days of playing it. The setup was decent with medium action and the intonation was spot on. However, later in testing, I discovered that the high E string wouldn’t register in the game on upstrokes with the pick. The suggested fix on forums was to raise the E string action, which would spoil the entire setup’s feel. I’ve returned the guitar and the owner has emailed Fender about this. I will update if they respond.


The Rock Band 3 Guitar by Fender comes equipped with a Tele sized front pickup with felt on the top that is spring loaded. I’m not sure if this is the MIDI pickup but it is designed to spring up by to mute the strings for the game. The rear pickup is a humbucker of some sort or combo pickup and MIDI pickup. Detailed specs are difficult to find from Fender to know exactly what is going on with the pickups. There is no pickup switch or tone knob, just a master volume. However, it sounds pretty good through an amp and is very quiet when run through a high gain distortion pedal. The sound is a little tinny, mostly only noticeable when played clean and I suspect this is due to the plastic fingerboard. Overall, for 200 dollars, if you can get over the neck chunkyness, it is actually a well put together guitar, better than many typical Squire Strats and off-brand Strat copies I have seen.


MIDI Functionality


One of the big selling points for this guitar for many is the fact that it can be used as a MIDI guitar. I tried the guitar out with a USB to MIDI converter into a couple different MIDI recording programs. In neither cheap notation software, Noteworthy, or in expensive multitrack recording software, Ableton Live, did the MIDI input really prove useful. The latency was horrible. My plan was to get a song idea onto paper to send to my band in notation and it simply would not track well enough or accurately enough to make it useful. Even trying to play ahead of the beat, the tracking was delayed enough to make my first strike on beat 1 show up well after that in the notation. Part of the problem was that it was not reliably latent a specific amount so no amount of compensating would make it work right. Very disappointing. My older USB to MIDI device unfortunately does not work with Windows Vista. I am planning to follow up with that box on a MAC in the future as well to verify.


In the Game


For the game itself, I decided to go through the songs my friend had (he leant me his PS3 because he had a ton of extra songs) to see if there were any I knew well and could just jump in cold. The best test would be to see if I could just play a song I know and whether it would let me just jam or if I had to adjust my playing to the game. The first song I found was “Caught in a Mosh” by Anthrax. I’ve played this song on bass for years so I jumped in and failed dismally. I first had to turn on the little pickup mute thing so the strings didn’t keep ringing and confuse the controller and software. I restart and it wasn’t any better. The feel of the strings with the mute on is just plain weird and trying to do a bass song on guitar wasn’t working.


Moving on to a guitar song I knew was easy since the standard Smoke on the Water was available. One problem was discovered immediately: you can’t fake the first chord with open strings as I teach my students and how most tabs show it; you have to play it on 5’s instead. I adjusted and did it again. It felt much more natural playing a guitar tune on guitar and the game tracked very well. Halfway through, I quickly got rid of the mute to play around with doing the same thing with proper guitar technique and found that palm muting worked just as well. The solo came and I bombed it. Why? I honestly don’t know the original. If I was to play this in a band situation, this would be improv-lead central and I’ve approached the song that way since I first learned it. Overall though, I still did not bomb the song and made it through without being “booed” off stage.


After this, I tried Radar Love on bass. Easier to play and palm mute is appropriate to the song. However, I’ve never actually played the song! I did manage to scrape through it pretty well based on hearing it a million times but never learning it. Well done both on my part and Rock Band’s. However, the level of prior knowledge of the instrument helped more than anything. I could see someone without the level of knowledge getting very frustrated.


Next up: Rammstein’s Du Hast on guitar. Easy rhythm guitar part, however it was not notated properly. Maybe I missed a setting, but the main riff should have a slide between the first and second chord and it’s not in Rock Band 3. I suspect there is no way for the software/hardware to truly pick up this.


Rock Band 3 TutorialsAlmost an Excellent Bonus Feature


After this, I went through the tutorials to see how Harmonix’s staff developed the transition from controller to real guitar as well as other guitar fundamentals. The transitional stuff, from playing open strings to adding fingers on a single string to other things are well done. It was during this that I discovered the issue with the high E string. However, there is neither discussion of technique, holding the guitar properly, holding the pick properly or even what picks work best with the MIDI pickup setup nor any suggestions for picking techniques anywhere in these tutorials. This makes it easy for me to sweep in now and take what I have learned to develop a Rock Band 3 curriculum for lessons but it is unfortunate.


What was most frustrating though was the portion of the tutorial devoted to playing chords. Strumming chords plus rhythm was fine but the tutorials method of teaching how to place fingers on the neck is contrary to how I was taught and how I teach. Building chords should be a process from the lowest pitch the highest pitch for most chords, yet the tutorial was not even consistent in how it approached chords. Some were built low to high, others contrary to that and others still from the middle note of the chord. No attempts were made to help make the transition from one chord to another easier either, including common finger and guide finger concepts. It is unfortunate because the platform is there to help ease learning and I could even see having Rock Band 3 tutorials being incorporated into my lesson plans for all students to help practice strumming chords in rhythm but as a standalone guitar instruction software package, it really fails to deliver completely, potentially leaving many would be guitarists frustrated and tempted to go back to playing fake guitar.


Conclusion


As a first attempt, the entire Rock Band 3 Pro guitar experience is a leap from all previous Guitar toy games. However, it is still lacking. If Harmonix is successful with this first release, I see many of the issues I have being addressed. For now though, guitar lessons are still vital to the process of learning guitar and Rock Band 3 could truly be called the ultimate practice tool for those lessons. If the guitar itself can be made a little more like a regular guitar, that would help as well as well. No other guitar on the market has a neck like the Fender Rock Band 3 Pro guitar, making the transition to a better guitar later a difficult one. I do hope that Rock Band 3 is successful enough to encourage further development but at the same time Guitar Hero has closed shop meaning the fad is dying out, leaving only the core serious players to support the Rock Band franchise. If it is enough, further development could eventually put me out of business teaching guitar. We can only wait and see if I will be out of a job.


Labels: A Guitar Teacher's Review of the Fender by Squire Rock Band 3 Guitar

A Few Tips on How to Create the Perfect Complexion with Makeup

Exfoliating the skin is an important part of any skin care routine. It helps improve the look of the skin, giving it a healthy glow, and can help reduce the appearance of acne. There are lots of exfoliating cleansers on the market, and if you have one that you love, that’s fine. However, if you don’t feel like buying one, or you’re having trouble finding one that works for you, try this simple home remedy:

Grab a few (2-3) uncoated aspirin, and place on a small plate, or lid of something (it doesn’t really matter, you can even just sit them on the counter) and put a drop or two of water on each aspirin. Wait just a few seconds until you can see the aspirin start to soften. Once they’re ready, spread the mixture all over you’re face, avoiding the area close to the eyes. Scrub your face gently, rinse with warm water and pat dry.


Another variation of this process is to add about a spoonful of honey to aspirin mixture, and leave on your face for 10 minutes, like a mask. Gently scrub the face before rinsing with warm water and pat dry. Honey will tighten up the skin, but it can leave it slightly red for a little bit, depending on your skin type. * I wouldn’t recommend using either of these if you have an allergy to aspirin, or honey.


Once your skin is smooth and dry, apply a moisturizer. The kind is up to you. Oil-free with SPF-15 is what I choose, and is a good choice for most people. Moisturizing will help the foundation go on more smoothly.


Next comes the foundation. There are plenty to choose from, and they’re not all the same. I can’t tell you what one is right for you…that’s something you’ll learn from trial and error (trust me, I’ve had lots of errors), but I recently bought Maybellines’ Dream Matte Mousse, and I’d say it works very well. Applying foundation is easier and better for your skin if you use application sponges (I like the triangle ones), they’ll help cut down the oil bacteria that can transfer from your hands. A trick for not having those awful lines is to apply the foundation lightly starting in the center of your face, and working it outwards. Once finished with foundation, you can apply your concealer if needed.


Powder is important for setting the foundation, making it last longer, and creating a more matte complexion. I’ve never ran into a powder that I disliked, and I won’t typically spend a lot on them, but to each his own. Translucent is a good option because you won’t have to worry about finding the right shade, or dealing with the effects if you did.


Compact powders can contain oils in them, and loose powders can be messy, so its up to you for which one you’d like. Even though I have oily skin, I still prefer the compact powders simply because they’re easier to apply then loose powders. Right now I’m using Rimmel Stay Matte pressed translucent powder, and it works pretty good. Its fairly cheap, too, for you penny pinchers out there. Once you’re ready to apply your powder, make sure you use a nice big powder brush, and apply all over your face.


Blush is a nice addition to the face. It makes you look alive and more youthful. Using a light pink/peachy blush is the trick, along with using a big powder brush instead of the little tiny ones that are sometimes packaged with the blush. Powder brushes will make the blush look more natural instead of just a pink streak on the cheek like you’d get with the small blush brushes. You can apply the blush before or after your powder. Doing it before will make it last a little longer, but it can also cover it up more than you want it to.


Now you should have a beautiful complexion, the only thing that’s left is lips and eyes, and that’s totally up to you!


Removing your makeup is another important step as well. You can use your acne cleanser if you don’t mind, but if you don’t use any acne cleansers everyday, or don’t want to waste any cleanser if you use one of the more expensive ones, then using a mild cleanser is the best option. Purpose gentle cleansing wash can be found at Walgreens or CVS, and usually for less than $5. It lasts a while, and it also received an Allure editors choice award, if that means anything to you. It doesn’t sting the eyes like most cleansers, so you can use it to wash off eye makeup as well.


Labels: A Few Tips on How to Create the Perfect Complexion with Makeup

A Mom's Switch from Secret Solid Deodorant to Secret Clinical Strength Deodorant for Sensitive Skin

I have used Secret Solid Deodorant exclusively for the past fifteen years so I was very excited to be given the opportunity to try the new Secret Clinical Strength Deodorant for Sensitive Skin. As a mom, I work hard and sweat just as hard. Secret Deodorant has always been my go-to brand because it keeps my underarms dry and odor-free. I normally apply it twice a day, once in the morning and again in late afternoon, for added protection.


In order to write this review I had to first evaluate how my normal deodorant was working. I use Secret Shower Fresh Scent Solid Deodorant because I like the scent and do not normally notice any offensive odors. I put my deodorant on after I put on my clothes so I don’t get white marks on my shirts when I pull them over my head. I also estimated my underarm dryness and odor.


How to Use Secret Clinical Strength Deodorant for Sensitive Skin


The directions stated that Secret Clinical Deodorant should be applied at night before bed in order to “take advantage of your body’s natural temperature variations”. I had to check online to determine if showering in the morning made a difference in how the deodorant worked. Secret’s website stated “it will continue to protect you throughout your next day even if you bathe or shower the next morning”.


Secret Clinical Strength Deodorant is more of a cream than a solid. The box states it’s an ‘advanced solid’. The deodorant is applied by clicking the bottom and a thick cream comes out four holes in the top. Two clicks are about what it takes to get enough of the solid for each underarm.


Day One


My day started at 6:15 am. I got my kids up for school, fed them breakfast, and took them to the bus stop. I wasn’t going to shower that morning because I planned on painting my son’s bedroom that day but I wanted to test the new deodorant after a shower and before a sweaty day. I did have to stop myself from re-applying Secret Clinical Strength Deodorant after I got out of the shower that morning.


I spent the next five hours painting a bedroom, climbing up and down a step stool, and moving furniture. Then I spent the next hour cleaning up my paint supplies and putting back the bed, dresser, and book shelf. I normally reapply my deodorant right before the kids get home from school because once they are home our schedule is homework then whatever activities go on that evening. Again, I stopped myself from reapplying the deodorant. This evening we went to Taekwondo, came home and ate dinner, then we had a Cub Scout den meeting at our local recycling center.


I took a shower that evening and applied Secret Clinical Deodorant right before bedtime.


Day 1 Results: I must admit that my underarms felt dryer with Secret Clinical Strength than they normally did with Secret Solid Deodorant. There was no odor at all, not even the light scent that’s supposed to be there, even though I was warm throughout the day. There were no white marks on my clothes or underarms.


Day Two


As a school treat the PTU was putting on a winter fun day for the school. I volunteered to help with Cosmic Bingo that morning. If you don’t know what Cosmic Bingo is you really need to experience it. The kids play bingo in black lights and everything white or neon glows. I was in charge of helping first, second, and third graders play bingo in the dark. The last twenty minutes of the fun day was a dance party. The morning was loud and hot. And yes, I did sweat in my glowing white shirt.


Day Two Results: I am now getting used to the dry feeling under my arms. I guess there was always a bit of moisture there that is now almost completely gone. Again, there was no odor. I applied Secret Clinical Strength before going to bed that night.


Day Three


My day began the same as day one with getting my kids up and ready for school. I then went to the grocery store and did normal mom running around. I got home at two in the afternoon and reapplied Secret Clinical Strength Deodorant because I had to take a nap before going into work. I slept for almost three hours before going into my twelve hour night shift as a nurse. It was a pretty routine night where I did some running around and did begin sweating a few times. I noticed the deodorant’s scent when I was sweating.


Day Three Results: Again my underarms were drier than when I use my normal Secret Deodorant. There was also no odor or white residue the next morning. I reapplied Secret Clinical Strength Deodorant before going to bed that morning.


Overall Results


Secret Clinical Strength for Sensitive Skin does exactly what it claims it does. It keeps underarms drier than regular deodorant solids. There was no white residue left on my skin or clothes. I only noticed the deodorant’s scent when I was really sweating. Another quick check of the website explained that the odor fighting capsules will work when perspiration is present by absorbing the odor and releasing the scent as needed. It was my experience that this product does what it says it does.


I received the product for free and was compensated for the article.


Labels: A Mom's Switch from Secret Solid Deodorant to Secret Clinical Strength Deodorant for Sensitive Skin

A Beginnier's Guide to Archery Equipment

A great way to extend the hunting season is to start bow hunting. Many rifle and muzzleloader hunters can add a month or more to the hunting season. Some are afraid to make the leap into bow hunting because they are intimidated by trying to figure out what kind of equipment to buy. In reality, getting basic equipment to start into bow hunting is not as difficult as it might seem at first. In this article, we’ll examine the equipment that you will need to get into the sport of bow hunting.

The first thing you will have to get is the bow itself. This is probably the most difficult decision, as there are several choices. You must decide on the type of bow that you want. There are a few styles to choose from. Most choose modern technology and go with a compound bow. For more traditional equipment, you can go with a long bow, or a recurve bow. If you choose to go the traditional route, you can hunt without any additional equipment on the bow. This is known as “instinctive shooting” and is similar to the point and shoot method of shooting a shotgun. This can save some money in the end, but can be very difficult. Not everyone is cut out for shooting instinctively, and will need more equipment to be accurate enough to hunt effectively. There is also a big range in prices for bows. As with most things, the higher the price, the better the quality when it comes to archery equipment. There are some lower end bows that will serve you well if you want to try out the sport before spending a small fortune. However, if you know are committed to starting into bow hunting, get the best equipment that you can afford. Hoyt, Matthews and BowTech all produce top quality bows. Visit a dealer of each, and you should be able to test shoot the bows until you find one that fits you well, and fits your preferences.


After you choose a bow, you will need to decide on the type of equipment that you want to put on it. Some suggestions include:


*Sights. Most people will want to add a sight to the bow, which will make your shooting more consistent. There are many different choices, ranging greatly in price. You can check out the various options at your local archery shop. Two types of sights (in general) include a pendulum sight and a multi-pin sight. The pendulum sight is often used for tree stand hunting, and only has one pin. It is sighted in at a specific distance and then adjusts to different distances based on the swinging of the pendulum. Multi-pin sight have several pins, each set at a specific distance. This type of pin works great, but you have to practice a lot to be able to know the distances to your target. With either sight, it is a good idea to get a peep put into your string so that you can have a consistent anchoring point.


*Rest. The rest is what the arrow sits on when you draw the bow. Technology has improved greatly in this area over the last few years, making the rest one of the most important pieces of equipment you can buy. A good fall away capture rest is a top choice. This rest has an arm that holds the arrow on the rest so that it cannot fall off if you angle the bow, but it also falls away from the arrow when the bow is released. This allows for the arrow to clear the rest without the vanes hitting the bow at all. A close second choice in most people’s minds is the Whisker Biscuit. This is a rest that holds the arrow in an enclosed circle, with stiff bristles. The arrow’s fletching can touch the rest, but they do so equally in a way that does not affect arrow flight. If tuned correctly, the Whisker Biscuit can be a very good choice.


*Quiver. A bow mounted quiver, like the Kwikee Kwiver, is the best choice. Some people do not like to shoot with the quiver on the bow, but if you practice with it on the bow, you will be ready to shoot with it on. If you choose to not shoot with the quiver on the bow, most manufacturers will sell the mounting bracket separately so that you can attach it to the tree, or to your tree stand. Once on stand, you can remove the quiver from the bow, and fasten to the second bracket.


*Release aid. If you are using a compound bow, you will want to buy a release aid. The pressure on your fingers will be tremendous. A release aid allows you to draw the bow, and use a trigger mechanism to release the string. This takes the pressure off of your fingers, and also allows for a more consistent release. There are many choices for release aids, and you should check them out at your archery shop. Ask to try out any that look like they would work for you.


*Arrows. It is best to go to an archery shop and be fitted for the proper arrows. There are far too many choices available to attempt this without some help if you are brand new to bow hunting. An archery shop specialist will be able to match the right arrows to your bow to be able to get the right performance out of it. The best options available today are carbon arrows, but there are many different sizes. The ones you need will be determined by your bow’s specifications. You will also need to have your archery pro match your arrows with a balanced tip. This tip should match the weight of the broadhead that you intend to use while hunting.


*Broadheads. To complete your hunting outfit, you will need to choose a broadhead for hunting. You won’t be using these to practice much, but you will need to be comfortable with them. Expandable broadheads, like the Rage are becoming popular. Some hunters are not comfortable with expandable broadheads because they used to have a reputation for being inconsistent, or unreliable. Though most of these bugs have been worked out, many still like to stay with a fixed blade broadhead, like the Muzzy 3 or 5 blade models.


There is more equipment that you can purchase to use with your bow, but these elements will allow you to get started, and be successful in your hunting. You can always add more to your bow later, as you discover equipment that can improve your skills.


Labels: A Beginnier's Guide to Archery Equipment

America's Heritage

To those of whom who ask, “what is an American”? I would like to take a few moments of my time to shed some light on the matter.

The American is a new type of man. This man had a grandfather that was from England. This Englishman married a woman who happened to be Dutch. Together they had four sons; those four sons were world travelers. They met and married all of their wives in different parts of the world.


America has been called “the melting pot” for quite sometime now. America is where all nations come together, hopefully in peace and harmony. Thus, being born this “new man” the American.


The American having new ideals also has new principles. From these new principles come new opinions.


Our heritage is nobility, of purpose which guided our founding fathers as they pledged their lives along with their fortunes and support to our nation. Our virtues are nobility, pride, humanity, and reverence.


America has so much to offer on every aspect of life. In America, you can fail or succeed, think for yourself, act free, be unkept, and unbowed.


Americans face the world boldly, and proud while boisterously shouting, I will not bow nor cower for any master or tyrants way.


America offers a great and strong nation; The Declaration of Independence and the Bill of Rights.


To this I say, Welcome to America!


Labels: America's Heritage

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