Monday, November 30, 2009

Addicted to Farmville

I already wrote about Mafia Wars, one of the games I play on Facebook.  Well, I thought MW was starting to take up too much of my time, but let me tell you, it's nothing compared to Farmville.

It starts out innocently enough.  You plow a few squares, plant a few seeds and add a few of your friends as neighbors who then gift you some trees and animals.  But after a week or so you begin to realize that you are plotting out your plots, arranging trees, zealously seeking gifts of new and better animals and watching your coins so you can buy even more land with your riches.  At this point, you're hooked.

Soon, you find that you are trawling the Farmville fan page, looking for strangers to add as Farmville neighbors.  Thousands of names all begging you to add them, extolling their individual virtues:  "I gift daily"  "Level 30" "I need neighbors, please add me".  It's all too tempting and so you add a few, safe-looking Farmville players.  It never stops there because they have friends who add you and their friends add you and so on, and so on, and so on.

Needless to say, I completely forgot about Mafia Wars and began farming as if my real future depended on it.  If they added a new animal, tree or decoration, I had to get it.  Before I knew it I was level 47 and watching the levels of others to see if they were getting past me.

Truly, Farmville is addictive.  I am trying to wean myself off by planting long-term crops and selling off some of the animals.  I mean, I didn't really need 50 sheep.  

If you've successfully beaten the Farmville addicition, please let me know how you did it.  I need to beat it before they come out with the Easter specialty decorations...

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Woman Marries the Eiffel Tower

A woman who says she has a fetish for inanimate objects has married the Eiffel Tower. Erika La Tour Eiffel -who had her name legally changed to that of her new husband - is one of a number of women in the world whose objects of affection are... well, objects.

Erika follows in the footsteps of another woman who has been married to the Berlin Wall for 29 years. Eija-Riitta Berliner-Mauer, whose last name means "Berlin Wall" was the first woman to declare herself Objectum-Sexual.

According to psychiatrists, women who fall in love with inanimate objects enjoy the ultimate control they have in the relationship.

In addition to having married the Eiffel Tower, Erika La Tour Eiffel has had other objects of affection including an archery bow and a piece of fence.

Read more

Sunday, November 08, 2009

What's In a Name? Cars

Rollo has been spiffing things up around here for Spring and part of it is this new and shiny site design. In honor of my new template, I offer a little automotive post. Car companies think long and hard before choosing a name for a new model vehicle. Animal names have always figured highly, but it's got to be the right kind of animal. For instance, you might be enticed to buy a car with a sleek and fast image, like a Cougar, but you'd never consider one called Possum. But some names seem to come directly out of hometown America, named for cities and towns across the country.

For instance, Ford is in Mississippi while Chevrolet is in Kentucky and Buick , Plymouth and Pontiac are in Michigan. You can find a Dodge in both Kansas and Massachusetts, but only California has a Honda.

There's a Thunderbird in New Mexico and a Seville in Ohio. If you want something sporty, there's Mustang, Oklahoma or Monte Carlo, Kansas.

For a full list of automotive-related town names in the US, visit this site. They also have lists of other types of unusual names for towns and some will make you laugh aloud.

Thursday, October 29, 2009

The Top Ten Hauntings in Britain

It isn't just somnambulant hotel guests that walk the night in Britain, a host of ghosts do too. The National Trust boasts many haunted properties and has just released its list of the top ten most-haunted houses.

Number one on the list, Blickling Hall, is home to no less than the ghost of Anne Boleyn, one of Henry VIII's wives who lost her head. She is said to appear every year on May 19, the anniversary of her death. Her headless body rides in a coach driven by a headless rider and she holds her head in her lap.

But if that isn't enough for you or you don't want to wait until May for ghost-hunting, you can try one of the other nine most-haunted properties.

Dunster Castle, Somerset A man in green walks past the shop only to disappear without a trace

Quarry Bank Mill Haunted by a gang of former workers

Newton House, Dinefwr Carmarthenshire Lady Elinor Cavendish was strangled by a suitor in the 18th century and now is seen as a young girl disappearing into a cupboard

Gibside Hall, Tyne and Wear Haunted by The Unhappy Countess
Lyme Park, Cheshire Haunted by a phantom furneral procession complete with a weeping woman all dressed in white

Lanhydrock, Cornwall Haunted by the Grey Lady and a man who was hanged by Civil War Royalists

Hughenden Manor, Buckinghamshire Benjamin Disraeli, Prime Minister during Victoria's reign, is said to stand by the stairs, smiling at visitors

Powis Castle, Welshpool A lady in black sits by the fireplace

Belton House, Lincolnshire A ghost in black haunts the Queen's Bedroom

Tuesday, October 06, 2009

Hotmail. Google and Yahoo Emails Passwords Published on Internet

A phishing scam on Hotmail led to the publication online of 10,000 passwords and even more accounts could yet be compromised. The scam has widened now to Google and Yahoo and there could be millions of users whose personal information has been accessed.

You're more at risk for multiple accounts to be hacked or compromised if you use the same password net-wide as many people do.

Using phishing scams and mirror sites, people are often tricked into revealing their passwords. Always be sure you are on the official site and never give out personal information unless you are sure you are dealing with a verified site that you are familiar with. Changing your passwords often and using different passwords for different sites will also increase your security.

Friday, September 18, 2009

What's in a Name? Insane Celebrity Baby-Naming

Sometimes being trendy can get out of hand.

The latest is a couple in China who have applied to name their newborn son "@", the ubiquitous internet symbol used in email addresses. According to the couple, the "a" and "t" can be pronounced to mean "love him". I suppose that means every time you send or receive an email, the kid is getting lots of net love.

But this trend towards freaky names has been growing recently. I mean, years ago we had Frank Zappa naming his kids Moon Unit, Dweezil, Ahmet and Diva Muffin. But that's Zappa. And there was David Bowie's son, called Zowie Bowie (who now goes by the name Duncan Jones).

There was quite a fuss made when Gwenyth Paltrow and hubby Chris Martin of Coldplay named their daughter Apple. But being named after a refreshing, crunchy and nutritious fruit is nothing compared to other celebrity kids' names.

Check out these celeb kids's names:

Fifi Trixibelle (Paula Yates and Bob Geldof)
Peaches Honeyblossom (Paula Yates and Bob Geldof)
Heavenly Hirani Tiger Lily (Paula Yates and Michael Hutchence)
River, Rain and Leaf (Arlyn and John Phoenix)
Satchel (Mia Farrow and Woody Allen)
Brooklyn (Victoria/David Beckham)
Phoenix Chi (Mel C and Jimmy Gulzar)
Banjo (Patrick and Rachel Griffiths)
Cosima (Nigella Lawson)
Daisy Boo (Jamie Oliver)
Racer, Rebel, Rocket (Robert Rodriguez)
Audio Science (Shannyn Sossamon)
Kal-El (Nicholas Cage)

Okay,so why do celebrities go out of their way to find ridiculous names for their kids? Rollo thinks that they are simply exercising their enormous egos and don't think twice about saddling their kids with strange monikers, because as celebrities, they think they're pretty special and unique and so people will say "how clever and interesting".

I wonder if little Audio Science will appreciate how clever and special his mom was, or if he will be too busy trying to endure the teasing from other kids to notice.

Thursday, August 20, 2009

Love Your Pet? Marry It!

There's someone for everyone they say, and for some, that special partner may not be a human one. Many people are more attached to their pets than they are to the humans in their lives, and for them there's an option. Marry Your

The website is the brain child of Dominique Lesbirel, an English freelance writer based in the Netherlands and Marco de Boer, a graphic designer with a gender-confused, female cat named Thomas.

It's altogether possible that they might not be just about validating the feelings of people who love their pets more than they do people - the site sells wedding packages for those who want to marry their pets. Go for the economical wedding and you will receive a marriage certificate, choose the big wedding and get a matching Tee-shirt and embroidered plaque.

Well, people have been known to name pets in their wills and even leave vast fortunes to them. Might as well spend some money on them now. But marrying your pet isn't any less complicated it seems than marrying anyone else. The site lists the rules and responsibilities of pet marriage in its disclaimer.

Please note that by marrying your pet he/she may be entitled to half your house and all your income. You are not allowed to mistreat your pet in any way. You cannot make him pick up your pants, put up with your nostril hair or use him as a general dogsbody - even if he is indeed a dog. You may not get excessively fat. You may not embarrass your pet at any time. Marriage is for life or until your contract expires.

There's no indication that they have any way of policing adherence to such rules as "you may not get excessively fat" but thankfully, they do indicate that the marriage certificate does not confer conjugal rights. It's important to say it, even if you don't mean it or can't enforce it.

If you've been looking for a way to show your love for a furry companion and throw away some money at the same time, then is made just for you.

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

Mafia Wars - an overview

I was one of the reluctant Facebook users who didn't really find very much of interest to do there - that is, until one of my Facebook friends conned me into joining his mafia.

Mafia Wars is the most popular game on Facebook and it starts you off as a small time hood who works his way up through hard work and a show of guts and strength. Inviting your friends to join your mafia increases your likelihood of surviving and winning fights. Buying the right weapons for your mafia members is also important. It's not impossible to fend off a larger mafia if your weapons and defense are superior.

You make money and work your way up by doing "jobs". Each job requires a certain amount of "energy" points and yields a certain amount of experience points. Acquiring experience points helps you achieve new levels. Some jobs are also "loot drops" where you can acquire valuable items needed for collections and weapons that you can use to do more advanced jobs. Money you earn can be kept or stored in the bank. Putting the money in the bank will cost you a laundering fee, but carrying it around leaves you vulnerable to attack and robbery. Buying properties will help you gain an hourly income but beware, the properties can also be robbed so buy insurance on them.

When you reach level 35 you can leave New York and fly to Cuba to set up a new operation there. Mafia Wars is adding new vistas for crime in Russia and Western US.

I reached level 166 before I started to tire of MW. It doesn't take a lot of time and it's exciting to build up your mafia. I still keep leveling up by playing a few times a week, but Facebook led me into another obsession. More on that later.

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

Obama Keeps White House Visitors a Secret

President Obama, continuting to break his promise to usher in a new "transparency" in Washington has shuttered the White House windows, in a manner of speaking.

Requests for White House Visitors lists from MSNBC and the nonpartisan watchdog group Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington, have been denied by the Secret Service.

CREW will file a lawsuit against the Department of Homeland Security which oversees the Secret Service.

Here is a copy of the complaint, provided by MSNBC.

As long as it is not a matter of national security, the citizens of the United States have a right to know who is visiting their house. That's right, it's our house. We let the current president stay there while he's in office, but when his term is over, we send him home. The White House is not the private property of any administration.

The particular visitors that interested CREW were executives of coal companies. The lawsuit is filed under the Freedom of Information Act.

Saturday, June 13, 2009

A Look at The Voluntaryist

I know many people who are worried about the encroachment of "big government" and the nanny state. You can count me as someone who believes that the federal government has grown far past the role set out for it by the Constitution. Government bailouts of the auto companies, TARP monies, and a general sense that government is reaching its hand into many areas where it simply doesn't belong is starting to cause unease amongst Americans.

If you want a completely opposite perspective on the role of government, you should have a read over at The Voluntaryist Website. They advocate an extraordinarily limited role for the government, which they say will result in an increased level of freedom for the individual.

Whether you agree with their perspective or not, it's a thought-provoking website that will challenge you to think about the role of government and just who has the control in your life choices.

Blogger Admits to Baby Blog Fraud

Beccah Beushausen, a 26-year-old social worker from the Chicago suburb of Mokenka wrote a blog about a subject so intense and emotional that she was reached a million hits on the night she wrote her most heartwrenching post.

The story behind the blog? Beccah wrote under the name "April's Mom" about her decision to carry her terminally ill unborn child to term. People got so involved they wrote to say they were praying for her. Moved by her emotional story, they sent cards, flowers, gifts. The only problem? It was all a lie.

Beccah wasn't even pregnant and there was no April. But Beccah reported to readers of the blog that little April was born at home and died a few hours later. She even posted a picture.

It was the picture that did it. The photo she used was of a doll, and many readers weren't fooled.

Beccah says she's sorry, she didn't mean for it to get so out of control, but once she had so many readers she didn't know how to stop the charade.

Well, it's really easy, Beccah. Take down the site. Stop writing lies. Continuing was never necessary. It's a childish prank.

The most disturbing fact is that Beccah is a social worker. One can only wonder what type of position she holds, and whose lives she has influence over. So far, it is said she hasn't profited financially from her fraud. But hasn't she at least in one way?

Beccah wants to be a writer. She wrote a fiction that had readers in tears and hanging on her every blog post. She used to be a wannabe writer no one had ever heard of, now she's a writer who's talent for drawing the reader is well-established.

In the end, it's really the responsbility of the reader to determine whether or not what they read on the internet is real, genuine or true. It's time to acknowledge the overwhelming amount of dishonesty people display when they are hiding behind screen names and take a little care in what we choose to take as read.

Friday, June 12, 2009

FDA to Ban Regulate Cigarettes

While the FDA is not allowing imports of e-cigs, the smokeless nicotine delivery system that mimics the experience of smoking without the harmful toxins of the actual smoke, it is now in charge of regulating tobacco cigarettes, a product already deemed harmful and one known to cause cancer.

This strange situation has been brought about by the new law allowing the FDA to take over regulatory duties of cigarettes. In putting the FDA in charge of regulating tobacco products, such as cigarettes, Congress has essentially made the FDA - an agency whose job it is to ensure the safety of food and drugs sold to consumers - responsible for an unsafe product.

A baffling and disturbing part of this move is blocking tobacco companies from developing new products that would be less harmful to smokers. Why wouldn't the government want the companies to make less harmful products if they could? Why can't they make cigarettes with fewer of the toxins that are present in smoke? Nicotine, which is the addicting substance in cigarettes, is not what gives you cancer. Nicotine can be a helpful drug. It treats ulcerative colitis and blocks pain receptors in the brain, perhaps one reason why smoking rates are so high amongst the disabled population.

The e-cig is an example of a way to deliver nicotine to smokers trying to quit, that produces only a harmless water vapor rather than smoke from burning tobacco. The FDA already allows the patch and nicotine gum, both of which deliver nicotine directly. But, they say, they aren't convinced that the e-cig is safe.

The most logical reason for handing over cigarettes to the FDA to regulate is to eventually declare them unsafe and to make them illegal. Supposedly, the new legislation ensures that this will not happen, but there really doesn't seem to be any way for a cancer-causing product to continue with legal status once the FDA is responsible for it. It would be contrary to their entire reason for being.

This move that may eventually put an entire industry out of business looks unwise when the economy is tanking and the unemployment rate is already at record levels.

Tuesday, June 09, 2009

Obama is God Says Newsweek Editor

Here's another reason that the mainstream news media is becoming less trustworthy all the time. The free press has forgotten the reason they exist - to be a balancing voice and to question. Instead we get this Newsweek editor Evan Thomas in full-blown Obama-infatuation declaring:

"I mean in a way Obama's standing above the country, above above the world, he's sort of god."

Above the country? What happened to government of the people, for the people and by the people? He is not above us, he works for us. We, the people.

Above the world? Well, he has spent more time abroad than any president in his first few months, he courts enemy governments by sacrificing our friends, perhaps he feels above it all.

He's sort of god? This may be the job he was aiming for all along.

With the free press incapable of any objectivity, doesn't this leave Obama pretty much free to do anything without possibility of censure or criticism? Is this good for our country?

Monday, May 25, 2009

Memorial Day - Remembering the Price of Freedom

Today is the day we honor our fallen heroes who have given their lives to secure our freedoms. On Memorial Day we must remember that even if we have not personally lost a loved one, friend or family member, that each and every one of these brave soldiers is worthy of our remembrance.

Each Memorial Day there are new names on the list of those who died in service to their country, and it is of the ultimate importance that we cherish what they bought for us with a price so dear.

We must never take our freedom for granted, to do so is to insult their sacrifice. We must hold firmly to the Constitution and the Bill of Rights. We must sound the cry of freedom every day of our lives in all we do. Then they are not forgotten, for they live on in the hearts of every American whose eyes tear up at the sound of The Star Spangled Banner.

Thursday, May 21, 2009

Yoko Ono Displays Bloodstained Items From John Lennon's Murder

Yoko Ono is at it again. In a possible bid to secure her title as "The World's Tackiest Widow", she has once again gaily skipped over the boundaries of decency and respect for her late husband's memory by displaying the blood-spattered spectacles and shirt that John Lennon was wearing on the night he was shot.

Yoko obviously considers this display to be art, and thus charges admission to see it. The brown paper bag these items were returned to her in is also on display in an exhibition she calls "John Lennon: The NYC Years" at the New York Rock n' Roll Hall of Fame.

Yoko, while claiming to be pursuing John's vision of peace, licensed Ben & Jerry's Ice Cream's new flavor Imagine Whirled Peace, a flavor that boasts John's signature on the tub.

John, in the meantime, has been heard turning over in his grave.

Allen Takes Idol Crown

To the amazement of devoted fans, and probably judges Simon Cowell and Paula Abdul, Kris Allen defeated Adam Lambert in the final showdown to become the new American Idol.

Allen, a married college student who is active in his church, probably gained the winning edge by picking up the crestfallen fans of Danney Gokey, who was eliminated last week. Danny, with his Elvis Costello glasses and his wholesome appearance was another contrast to Lambert. Lambert's vocal range was astonishing and his performances electrifying, but it may be that his flashy stage presence and viewers unease with his non-specific gender identification turned the final votes Allen's way.

American Idol is, after all, a popularity contest. The judges may praise whomever they like, but it's the viewers who have the final say.

Allen even said he hoped he didn't win with the "Christian" vote. Speculation had been that between the two candidates, the viewers would go for the one who represented Christian values. I don't think it's really a question of religious affiliation.

America voted for the person they were most comfortable with. They loved Adam Lambert and his polished, glitzy performances. However, when asked to choose whom they consider the "American Idol", they chose the American Ideal. They chose the man who valued family, marriage, church, and community. The stable values they aspire to, even when secretly enjoying the flashy decadence of the man with the black nail polish.

Friday, May 15, 2009

Yes, It Really Happened - Google Crashed!

If you were trying to Google anything yesterday morning, chances are your computer screen just hung there, making you check your internet connection. After all, Gmail didn't load either, and every website with Adsense seemed to hang up too.

The unthinkable happened yesterday between 8:40am and 9:55am, Eastern Time. Google crashed.

I immediately checked my modem, then the bill from my ISP to make sure it wasn't a planned interruption from my internet provider. Having determined it was just Google that was down, I forced myself to play some games on the computer until all was well again.

It did make me think about just how many websites are Google-affiliated in some way and how the web seemed empty without them.

There's been no official word from Google as to the cause of this interruption. Okay, fine. Just don't let it happen again.

Tuesday, May 05, 2009

Shockwave Overhaul - Sleek and Fun

If you've visited Shockwave lately, you were probably in for a Shock. Shockwave has redesigned the entire site and added some features. They've added some token appeal.

That is, now you can earn tokens while playing certain games on Shockwave. The tokens can then be used to buy tickets in raffles for cash prizes. Raffles are held daily, weekly and monthly.

It looks like Shockwave is trying to lure Pogo players over and I must say that in my case it has worked to some extent. Like Pogo, some of the snappier games are reserved for paying members but even with a free membership you can earn tokens and buy tickets for the raffles, so there's the added attraction of possibly making money by playing games all day.

Shockwave is less likely to freeze up your computer or crash your browser with its ads, since they run prior to the game loading instead of constantly changing during the game. But the ads on the page still slow you down and cause lag when they change.

Overall, the new look is sleeker and easier to navigate and I confess to having spent too much time there lately. With the addition of trophies for high-scoring players, there's a healthy competition amongst the players. The chats they have added don't seem to draw many players in, probably because they are still communicating the way they always did, by leaving comments under the game they just played. Getting them to abandon old ways for real time chat may take a bit of adjustment.

I like the new Shockwave, and I absolutely never miss my daily jigsaw. They've got a few bugs to work out but nothing serious. If you like a variety of games and the chance to win some money, give it a try.

Saturday, April 04, 2009

Kids Get Lessons in Swearing

Education just keeps getting better and better, doesn't it? A school in Britain has come under scrutiny for a class in which students were encouraged to shout obscenities.

Thirty graphic and obscene words were written on the board for all students to learn. Some didn't know the meanings of all the words, but that was taken care of - the teacher gave them all the definitions. So, if a particular 11-year-old wasn't familiar with the f-word or the c-word, they were given more information on it, so they would know how to use it properly. That's right, some of the kids were as young as 11.

The school claims it was an effort to dispel the myths surrounding these words, but parents are understandably upset. They were not consulted about the lesson, nor warned about it and some of the students said they were told not to tell their parents about it.

I assume these kids are now all prepared to take a vocabulary quiz on slang and swear words. It amazes me what these educational systems get up to. It's as if they hold contests for ideas on how not to teach the kids anything useful and still justify their salaries.

Monday, March 02, 2009

Win a Free MacBook Air

Would anybody out there like a free MacBook Air? I know I would. It's the world's thinnest notebook. Sleek and elegant, it boasts better graphics and more storage. It's the perfect notebook for mobile computing, with easy portability and powerful graphics. But wait, did I say you can get it free?

Yes, I did. You can enter to win a free MacBook Air from ben behrouzi. Now, there are lots of contests and such on the net, but none so easy to enter as this one if you are on Twitter.

All you have to do is send Ben a Tweet asking to be included in the giveaway contest. Send him a simple message, like "@BenBehrouzi Ben count me in the MacBook Air Giveaway!" or something in your own words to let him know you want to be entered.

All entries must be in before Ben selects the winner on March 31st, 2009. It's easy to enter and easy to find out if you're a winner. Ben will announce the winner on March 31st 2009 on Twitter. Why not follow Ben on Twitter while you're at it, you'll get updates on his activities and his great blog. I know I am going to add him to my follows.

And if you're not on Twitter, why not? It's a great way to keep up with your favorite people, family members, friends and bloggers while letting them in on all the important things in your life, too.

Now, don't delay any longer, get in on this contest today. Remember, send a Tweet to Ben to let him know you want to enter the giveaway for a fabulous MacBook Air.


Video Game Reviews - Alex Gordon

If you enjoyed games like Mario Brothers and Sonic, you'll love this side-scrolling platform game from Dayterium. Alex Gordon, cool cat and treasure hunter, finds a mysterious amulet as he explores an island cave. The gems from the amulet disappear, and so does his sister as she is carried off by minions of the evil monkey king. Alex must now find the jewels and rescue his sister.

Your task is to guide Alex through each level, collecting coins, gems and stars while facing different foes in the form of turtles, pandas and sharp-toothed fish. But just to keep Alex from feeling too overwhelmed, he's got his own feline pep squad in the form of a pom-pom waving cheerleader who appears along the way to raise his spirits. To dispatch the baddies you jump on their heads and they promptly turn into coins to reward you. You have a choice of either mouse or keyboard controls and there are lots of helpful arrows and messages along the way to guide you. Between levels you can visit Alex's retirement island and use the money you've collected to outfit it for retirement in style. It's a nice addition to the game and provides a pleasant diversion.

The graphics are colorful and appealing. The different levels each have their own background and increasingly difficult maze you must negotiate to find the stars and gems. The numbers of monsters that hamper your progress increase, but their distinctive colors and detail help to distinguish them from friendlier passersby.

Alex has a very small repertoire of vocalizations, the extent of which is to make an exclamation of physical effort while jumping. I would have liked more. The music which starts off as a pleasant and relaxing island melody may get irritating after a long period of play. It's not intrusive, but it would be nice if the music changed from level to level.

Although there's nothing terribly innovative about this game, it's a solid concept with challenges enough to keep you playing long past the 60 minute trial period. The 50 game and 15 bonus levels guarantee you will not get bored quickly. Like all side-scrollers, you learn the tricks of finding the most treasure in each level as you play, so you won't mind playing again even if you do manage to finish the game. The challenge and playability of this game make it one to purchase for yourself or the whole family to enjoy over and over again.

Overall Rating: 4/5

Friday, February 20, 2009

File Extension PPS

File extension .pps most likely stands for Microsoft PowerPoint Slideshow, but it could stand for one of three types of files that you may either find on your computer or receive. You may find you have trouble opening a file with this extension. What should you do? That will depend on which type of file it is and which programs it is associated with.

If you need information on file extension pps, you can go to the link provided for full definitions of all possible file types and reasons why you may have difficult opening them as well as how to fix any problems you're experiencing. This file extension library has an extensive list of file extensions that the average computer user will run across in the course of computing. Helpful information and suggestions are given for every file type imaginable at the File Extension Library.

Video Game Reviews - Mystic Mine

Mystic Mine is a game with simple controls but requires quick thinking and strategy. It has the potential to be both appealing and challenging. Your tasks involve mining for coins, gold and diamonds while guiding your car through ever-changing track configurations. Whatever you do, don't pick up the dynamite!

Each level sets you a specific task, like collecting a certain number of coins or gems. Getting your gold car around the track involves switching the track rails correctly at each corner, so that your car picks up the required number of coins or diamonds and delivers them within the set time limit. This is deceptively easy at first, and you may find your player ranking to be quite impressive. However, as the levels progress, the track configurations become more complex. Add to that the fact that you can only travel down, and you cannot increase your speed, and you will find that the game does become more challenging as you move up through the levels. Occasionally, there will be the odd stick of dynamite to either avoid or pass to another car before it explodes.

The graphics in this game won't over-awe but they are drawn three-dimensionally, creating the illusion that your car is traveling down. They are simple, yet clever.

The background music has an Old West feel which is appropriate for a gold mining game. There's a bouncy and insistent beat that keeps you on your toes without being too intrusive. There are also various sound effects for the cars bumping, the dynamite exploding and successful delivery of required coins and gems.

There's nothing astonishingly new here but the game takes simple concepts and makes them fun. It combines the elements of a maze with the tasks of acquisition. The ability to have six players at once on one keyboard is a neat feature and allows for some healthy competition. Another nice feature is the way the game adjusts the difficulty to your proficiency, making it a perfect game for the younger child.

This game has the ability to appeal to everyone in the family, regardless of age but is more likely to be popular with the younger player. The levels don't vary much in their goals and gamers who like more story and action may find it too simplistic - but overall, it's fun, challenging and a great game for both young and old. Download the 60 minute free trial, you'll probably find it worth its $19.95 price. I would recommend it as a pleasant way to pass the time.

Tuesday, February 10, 2009

Seamless Compassion Benefits the Needy

In these hard economic times, more Americans than ever are finding themselves having to apply for various types of state aid, many for the first time in their lives. What they find often is a jungle of agencies and paperwork that overwhelms them and a process that contains so many layers of delays and red tape that needed services are slow to manifest.

Americans don't have to suffer needlessly while wading through stacks of forms and while different aid agencies try to coordinate benefits. Seamless Compassion can help Americans get the help they need.

Like the tax code, the benefits system is nearly incomprehensible to the average person. Seamless Compassion is a program that can integrate and coordinate benefits programs from county agencies and non-profit organizations to minimize paperwork and assist caseworkers in coordinating benefits for needy Americans. Seamless Compassion does for the benefits system what Turbo Tax does for your taxes. It streamlines and integrates necessary information to expedite the process.

Many families will find themselves applying for Food Stamps for the first time, for instance. Making these benefits available not only assists the family, but infuses money back into the economy when families spend them for necessary groceries. Making these benefits available quickly is essential, both for American families and for our economy.

To learn more about Seamless Compassion, visit their website at

Watch The Fine Print

Who do you want to share your medical records and personal medical information with? Your doctor? Surely. The Federal Government? Probably not.

According to this article, that's exactly what you may be doing very soon. Attached to the economic stimulus package is the creation of a new bureaucracy that will oversee your medical records, monitor your doctor's treatment of you and watch over you, to make sure you aren't getting any treatment that the government does not deem appropriate or cost effective.

Aside from the obvious fact that the last thing we need is more bureaucracy and government agencies spending our money, do we need or want government involved in our personal choices and those of our doctors when it comes to our health or treatment of a serious illness?

Make no mistake. This new arm of the nanny state is not here to hold us back from running wildly into dangerous experimental treatments. It's about money, and control.

Consider this:

Medicare now pays for treatments deemed safe and effective. The stimulus bill would change that and apply a cost- effectiveness standard set by the Federal Council (464).

The government will now decide if your treatment is cost-effective. Does cost-effectiveness mean that a senior citizen will receive medications that do not actually cure the condition but merely control the pain? Is it cost-effective to treat something incurable? Does an outcome need to be guaranteed before treatment will be approved?

I don't know about you, but I think those decisions are best made by patient and doctor, not bureaucrats.

Sunday, February 08, 2009

IE7 Update

I am a firm believer in the old adage "if it ain't broke, don't fix it", which is why I held off downloading Internet Explorer 7 for so long. Yes, I knew it had caught up to Firefox and had tabbed browsing, and a few other features that made it superior to IE6, but better the devil you know than the devil you don't, as they say.

However, eventually and as I expected, my IE6 broke - crashed, burned, became useless. I have had IE go belly up on so many computers over the years, I rarely open it. However now and again one must have a secondary browser, especially for checking website code.

I must say I am impressed with IE7, it loads much more quickly than IE6. It's sharp with an updated look and tabbed browsing was definitely a needed feature. I wasn't given a choice about installing their new protection software, it just loaded right along with the IE update, so now I face months of assuring IE that yes, I do want this website to function normally and no, I am not afraid of it. All of that will sort itself out in time.

If you have been reluctant to upgrade as I was, I can allay your fears to some extent. If you are going to use IE at all, you should move up to the new and improved version. Better still, just download Firefox.

Friday, January 02, 2009

Action All Stars - A Hit with Kids

If you love sports the chances are you share your love of the game with your kids. Now there's a site where you and your kids can create your own sports characters and explore a virtual world. The site is both safe and fun for kids from six to fourteen, and it's free to create your own sports avatar.

The site is called At Action All Stars, your kids can have fun dressing their avatars, choosing hair and eye color, even which sneakers to wear. The game features several servers on which you can explore, visit stores to purchase items for your sports star as well as meet other sports fans.
The kids can play any of the many games found throughout the virtual world and interact with other kids.

Action All Stars lets parents monitor their children's accounts to ensure their safety on the net. Action All Stars, in partnership with, is concerned with your child's safety on the net, while providing a fun environment for them to socialize and play games.

With two levels of Safe Chat, you can be sure your child won't be exposed to inappropriate language. The precomposed greetings and messages are perfect for the young child just learning to read but eager to communicate.

Kids will love dressing up their avatars, playing games and socializing with other kids who like sports the way they do. Parents will love knowing that their kids are having fun while keeping their internet experience a safe and rewarding one.