Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Optin Skin Wordpress Plugin

If anyone is utilizing WordPress and looking for a plugin to increase your email subscribers and / or increase traffic to their site utilizing social media buttons, there is a new premium plugin out there from Glen Allsopp, blogger/author of ViperChill.  The plugin is called Optin Skin.

I purchased the plugin today, since creating an email list and getting a certain number of subscribers was a goal of mine for this year.  The plugin allows you to fully customize the look and feel of the opt-in box, as well as being able to track two different designs to see which one performs better for you.  There are a bunch of different designs included and they're constantly adding more features.  Check out my more detailed review of the Optin Skin plugin on my Niche Tool site.

Going forward, I will be posting updates over there of any tools/plugins/products which I think would help other bloggers looking to take things to the next level.  I'll highlight the posts here, but will keep most of the detailed content over there for easy reference. 

Here is a quick video describing the product.  Enjoy!

Monday, February 27, 2012

Blog Design Changes

I've noticed that the more little buttons and gadgets on my page, the slower it has been loading.  In an effort to make things quicker and more streamline I'm going to be working on the blog this week.  Some things you might notice, others not as much.  So fear not if you come to the blog and don't recognize things.  Hopefully you will like the changes, let me know as things unfold.  Thanks!

Thursday, February 23, 2012

Daylight Savings Time 2012 Approaching!

I had to write down a few things on the calendar for next month and noticed that daylight savings time is fast approaching.  Sunday, March 11, 2012, 2:00am to be exact!  I really look forward to that day.  It's not fun that you lose the hour of sleep, but I sure do love the extra hour of daylight.

Up north that always signaled that the end of winter was near.  Which made me look forward to summer, which always made me think of the song Summer Nights from Van Halen...specifically a few particular verses:

"Summer nights and my radio
That's all we need, baby. Don'tcha know?
We celebrate when the gang's all here
Hot summer nights, you're my time of the year!" 

We made it through the cold. And that freezin' snow is gettin' old..."

If you've never heard it, you owe it to yourself to check it out.  It's a great summer anthem from back in the day and still gets me psyched up.

I'd crank that song in the car on the first warm sunny day of the year that I could roll down the windows and pop the sunroof.  That day would probably always be a bit later than daylight savings up there, but then again daylight savings was later by a few weeks then also, so warmer temps weren't too far away.  It gave me something to look forward to, since I didn't enjoy winter.  It always got me pumped up and it was a yearly ritual for me.

Here in NE Florida, daylight savings gets me excited for Spring!  That means temperatures somewhere between 65-80 during the day and very low humidity, purrrfect!  This year, winter has been more like Spring, so it's a continuation of the great weather and the longer daylight that I'm looking forward to.

I also noticed Vernal Equinox on the calendar in March as well, so I had to look that up. It is the first day of Spring, but Vernal Equinox is more specifically a moment in time when the sun crosses directly above the equator.  It happens twice a year, signalling the start of Spring and Fall.  This year the Vernal Equinox is at March 20, 2012, at exactly 1:14 A.M. (EDT).  Vernal means fresh or new like the spring and equinox means equal night.  Thought that was pretty interesting.  And apparently there is a rumor that at the exact moment of the equinox that you can balance an egg on it's end.  Check out this one site for more specifics and find out if that is true.  Interesting site.

At any rate, I hope you enjoy Daylight Savings Time as much as I do.  I'd love to hear what it means to you and perhaps you have a summer time/warm temp ritual to share?  Thanks and I'd like to be the first person to wish you a Happy Early Daylight Savings Time for 2012!

Tuesday, February 21, 2012

Man, I Suck At Golf!

It was Presidents Day yesterday and I had the day off, so I decided to go golfing!  Keep in mind, I've only been golfing 2-3 times in my life and the last time I went I was around 16 years old.  But my wifey got me clubs last Xmas and I do enjoy hitting balls at the driving range occasionally, so I figured why not!

I am smart enough NOT to try going to a regular course.  Lucky for me, we have a beginner course close by, the Palm Valley Public Golf Club.  That is a 9 hole course, especially designed for newbs like me.  Thank god for that because, it was far worse than I expected, but it was pretty hilarious!  I so wish Google had the ability to map out where each of my balls ended up, because people would pay money to watch that all day long. 

It is so cheap to play, only $10 and $2 more for the little rolly thing to pull your golf bag around.  How can you go wrong there?  And it really is a scenic course, it's by no means high end or top of the line, but that's not what anyone is looking for when they play here.  They do a great job keeping the course running and charging as little as they do.  Kudos to them for keeping golf accessible for the little guy that isn't hard core.  I got to see a bull, several horses and some blue herons.  That was in between smacking several balls into the water, 9 to be exact, smacking it onto the fairway of another hole, overshooting holes, getting a ball stuck in a tree, etc.

Needless to say I stopped keeping track after hitting 4 balls into the water on the second hole, shown below.  Yes, 4 in a row.  Luckily the 25 or so balls I started with were all free, I grabbed them from the golf course in our back yard over time, so no biggie.  See my captions and comments below for more details. 

Hole #2 ate 4 of my balls...glug glug glug glug
I agree, that's a bunch o' bull
Blue heron looking for some golf balls

Yep, I somehow managed to wedge a ball into a tree, that takes talent!
There is a horse farm next door, there were several
Close-up shot

Ball washer, yep I tried it out

When I first tee'd off, my ball hit this sign just to the left of the tee..mo' TALENT!

Best hole of the day!

This was my last hole of the day.  It wasn't the 9th hole, but I played the holes out of order so that I wouldn't interfere with the only other 2 peeps out there playing.  It was 110 yard hole, but it looked a heck of a lot further.  The guy at the counter told me 'it's an iron course...', which basically means that you can use your irons instead of the big drivers.  Well, psft to that, he didn't know who he was taking to. 

I tee'd off with a 5 driver and got my first two shots right on the green, avoiding the water!  I pushed my luck and my 3rd shot did go into the water, but as the saying goes, 2 out of 3 ain't bad!

This is the same hole, that ball closest to the hole was my 3rd shot for par, but just missed it as you see.  However, I did manage to two putt the further ball in for my first and only par of the day and it was my last shot!  That definitely helped to make the day a success and I managed to laugh quite a bit at just how terrible I really was, so apparently it's back to the driving range for me.  I'd definitely try it again though, as long as no one else is on the course, but it would probably be best to take a few lessons first, if not for me the safety of the surrounding animals.  

It was a cooler, cloudy day with temps around 55 degrees but the clouds did manage to break just enough to expose the blue sky above on my way out.  All in all it was a great unplanned activity for my solo day off and a great little inexpensive course to play!  Good times.

Monday, February 20, 2012

Fuzzy Animal Live Webcams!

My wife forwarded me a link to a baby Bobcat live cam and I thought, what a good idea for a post.  Who doesn't like cute fuzzy animals?!  So I had her find me 3 more live animal webcams to share also.  Good job wifey!

Since today is Presidents day and a day off for many folks, including myself (yay me, poor wifey has to work), I figured it is a good day for a fun post.  They're bound to put a smile on your face!  Click on the pictures to go to the live cams.  Enjoy!

Rufus The Baby Bobcat Live Cam
Rufus The Baby Bobcat - Big Cat Rescue

Shiba Inu Puppy Cam
Shiba Inu Puppy Cam
The Shiba Inu cam is unfortunately not live, as the puppies were all adopted out and they're not exactly puppies any more, but they're happy and so freakin cute.  Here is a link to a live Bulldog Puppy Couch Cam also.  Lots of them little guys all over the place today!

Friends of Felines Life Kitty Cam
Friends of Felines Live Kitty Cam

hummingbird nest cam
Hummingbird Nest Cam

Hummingbirds aren't exactly fuzzy, but I thought it was pretty cool to see a hummingbird nest up close.  We used to watch them in the kitchen window at the feeder at my Grandma's house all the time growing up.

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Happy Valentines Day!

Last year I did a pretty thorough post of exactly why my wifey is the best!  All of that is just as true today as last year.  And she has accomplished a lot over the last year as well! 

In pursuit of her Bachelors Degree in Health Services Administration she had to take a bunch of courses to update her existing AA degree to meet current state requirements.  She graduated with honors in December and is now working on her Bachelors degree. 

While she's been taking all those online classes, she managed to get promoted not once, but twice during the year!  She was promoted to Referral Coordinator and most recently was promoted to Medical Office Coordinator, handling many of the manager roles and responsibilities, while her boss is on a special project.  So proud of what she's been able to accomplish in such a short time and before she knows it she'll be on her way to running her own office or even bigger/better things! 

We made it easy on each other again this year gift wise.  Since we have a vacation to San Francisco coming up in a few months, we wanted to save the $$ and utilize it towards our trip instead.  The wifey already made some yummy Lasagna and a hybrid white/red velvet cake for dessert.  Can't wait, we've been digging into the cake in small amounts already!

Happy Valentines Day to my wonderful wifey and to everyone out there reading this post, I hope you have a fantastic Valentines Day as well!

Friday, February 10, 2012

Welcome Baby Max!!

My sister Jen had a C section scheduled for this morning, but Max decided he wanted to arrive a little early!  Her water broke around 8:30pm last night and Jen, David and my Mom were off to the hospital!  I'm happy to say all went well and baby Max arrived at 11:59pm.  I guess he really wanted his Birthday to be Feb 9th instead of the 10th!  He is 7.1 pounds and 19 inches long.  Congratulations everyone, super excited to have a little nephew!!  Be sure to follow along on Jen's Blog, as I'm sure she'll have lots of fun pictures and adventures to share. 

Maxwell (Max) David Warchol

His first of many adventures, heading home!

Thursday, February 9, 2012

Jen and David's 9 Month Recap

My sister Jen has been pregnant for the last 9 months and her C section is scheduled for TOMORROW. Wow how time flies, especially for me cause I'm not the one pregnant! Yesterday she did a look back highlighting events over that time and thought I'd share that here. Looking forward to seeing the first pictures of my nephew Max tomorrow morning!!

Wednesday, February 8, 2012

Best Valentine's Day Gifts Under $100

With Valentine's Day just around the corner, I know lots of peeps feel the pressure to find that perfect gift for that special someone.  Relax, take some deep breaths, you came to the right place!  I'll give you lots of different categories to choose from and even sort them by price range.

Like the title says, the main goal is to highlight the top Valentine's Day gifts under $100, but I also included a few links to gift items that are higher, just in case anyone is looking to bling it up this year.  I even solicited some subtle advice from my wifey, highlighting a few specific items below.

And I know that many folks out there are not big fans of Valentines day, fear not!  I also have some Anti-Valentines Day gift ideas for yourself or others below as well.  Happy shopping! 

Jewelry $200 and up
Jewelry $100-$199.99
Jewelry $50-$99.99
Jewelry $50 and under

14k White Gold Tear-Shaped Swiss Blue Topaz Drop Earrings

Sterling Silver Blue Topaz Bangle Bracelet

Looking to celebrate the day with your sweetie or perhaps celebrate the day Valentine free?  Go grab yourself a box of wine, pull out the bag and stash it into this stylish, yet functional Red Baggy Winecoat!

I'll even get a little risque and suggest some Porn for Women!

And just in case you don't have a boyfriend, but would like one.  Never fear, Incredible Instant Adoring Boyfriend is here!

And if you just plain despite the day, how about I Hate Valentine's Day  Enjoy!

GIMP - Great FREE Image Editor

GIMP (GNU Image Manipulation Program)

You may already be aware of a free image editing software called Gimp, but if not, I wanted to let you know about it.  I've been working on trying to edit some existing photos to create a header image for a travel related site I want to to setup and I was having problems with an old version of PhotoShop.

For whatever reason, PhotoShop all of a sudden stopped functioning like it used to.  Any time I opened an image I would get an hourglass every few seconds and was unable to do even basic functions without them taking forever.  I was getting quite annoyed and went in search of image editors.  I was aware of Gimp, but hadn't used it in several years. 

I have to say it has come a LONG way since then.  It really is quite the full featured image editing software package and there are a ton of tutorials online to help you with certain things.  All you have to do is a quick YouTube search for any advanced techniques you are trying to accomplish and chances are you'll find several tutorials.

So far I've found that it does everything I've ever used PhotoShop for.  That of course includes basic image editing and resizing, but also includes creating transparent GIF images, wavy text, blurring/smudging and cloning, just to name a few quick things I've done over the last week.

I had to watch a few minute tutorial on how to make curved text, but everything else I've done was quite similar and self explanatory.  It is truly 100% free and works very well, even better than PhotoShop in my case.  Enjoy!

Friday, February 3, 2012

Rochester Plate Sauce and Top Superbowl Commercials 2012

I saw a like on one guys Facebook for Rochester Plate Sauce.  Pretty cool.  They have also have recipes for the main ingredients, Mac Salad, Home Fries and the full Cheeseburg plate.  Just in time for Super Bowl festivities, although you're probably a bit late on the sauce.  Yummy!!

Also, here is a post of mine on InfoBarrel that went live today showing some of the top Super Bowl Commercials for 2012.  Check it out, some good ones in there!

Thursday, February 2, 2012

Related Posts - Nrelate vs Linkwithin

Like many bloggers, I have 'Related Posts' or 'You May Also Like' articles shown underneath each post.  I was using a tool called Linkwithin, but I started to notice that the 'Related Posts' were not related at all in most cases.  I searched around and came across an alternative called Nrelate.

They offer a lot more customization!  You can choose how many related posts to show, change the size of the images, can choose how focused or broad you want the related posts to be, etc.  Most important for me was that the posts be more relevant.  I just enabled nrelate a few days ago and so far I have noticed much better results.

Keep in mind, a lot of it will depend on how many posts you have on a particular topic and what you set the relevancy level to.  It seems that it is best to set that to low when you sign-up.  As long as you have several posts on the same subject, the results for those posts should be pretty relevant.  However, on posts like this one that are unique, your results may not be as relevant.  On the whole, nrelate results are much better for me than they were with Linkwithin.    

All you have to do is go to their site, sign in and get the code to add it as a widget to either your Blogger or Wordpress site.  No manual editing of HTML.  Only took a few seconds to add and then you have to wait several hours for the related posts to show up.  I enabled mine one evening and by the next morning they were there.

Their support is excellent as well.  Google made some Blogger changes just after I first signed up, which caused some temporary issues with the 'Related Posts'.  Neil from their support team worked with me one on one to get a change pushed out from their side which resolved the issue for myself and probably hundreds of others.  It is all working again and the results are excellent.  

If you show relevant posts on your blog and aren't getting good results, I'd definitely recommend trying it out.  Let me know if you have any questions/comments below.

Also, if you are happen to be interested in how to pick profitable keyword phrases for your blog posts or website, check out my related Niche Site Tools website.  Thanks!

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