Last August, I started noticing that I was getting a lot of Russian spam all of a sudden. I have no idea why, but at that time I had someone register to post on this blog with a Russian email address, which I immediately killed. After about a week, it stopped, and things were quiet for a long time.
In the last two weeks, it’s popping up again, a lot of it, on all 3 of my blogs. It seems like the oddest thing, but there you go. I still can’t figure out what these people think they’re getting out of spam. When I wrote my post on hating spam, I listed a statistic showing how there might be a possibility of some of these guys making upwards of $9,000 a day by sending all that spam out, then followed up less than a week later with another post on an article that showed that some of these spammers were probably getting less than 30 clicks a day, making almost no money at all, even with the volume of email going out.
Of course, we all know that, in general, many of these spammers are only looking for the links on blogs where the bloggers don’t care about their blogs anymore. That’s why I wish someone would pay me to go around the internet and kill all dead blogs, so these spammers won’t get what they’re hoping for.
Oh well; I’ll keep dealing with it, and hoping that it ends pretty soon. Glad I have that Akismet protection.
Twitter is the fastest growing social networking site in the world today. As with most new technologies, rules for proper use are written on the fly, and Twitter rules are no different, except, in this case, the rules aren’t quite written, and it’s the users that make the rules.
There are ten things that many Twitter people do that are generally considered as bad manners. Some of those things are:
* Not having an image of some sort with your profile. Unless people know who you are, they’re reluctant to follow anyone without some kind of image to give people an idea of who they might be.
* Using a tiny.url as the link to your website. Hiding a link to your website makes people suspect that you have an ulterior motive in putting it there, and if people don’t trust you from the start, they won’t follow you.
* Writing about every single step of your day. No one is interested in following every second of anyone else’s life, yet that’s how some people participate on Twitter. If that person isn’t your friend, you’ll probably drop them because they’re taking up too much of your time and space when you have other people to follow.
* Only posting links or quotes and not talking to anyone. People love information, but we hate being ignored when we want to talk to someone. If a person has 30,000 people following them, or if they’re a celebrity, they might get a break, but for everyone else, if you don’t ever engage anyone openly, people will unfollow you pretty quickly.
* Posting the same links over and over. Many people are on Twitter only to market themselves. If someone is following you and sees that you only post the same content all the time, you can bet they’re going to drop you as soon as possible.
* Using a lot of bad language. This is the bane of modern existence, people forgetting how to be courteous in public, but being consistently bad mouthed will get people to drop you like a bad habit, even if they use bad language in their real lives.
* Following a lot of people but only having a few follow you. This is a big red flag for most Twitter users, because it’s the tactic employed by spammers. Though there are often these big pushes towards increasing one’s followers, it’s better to increase both in a more organic fashion.
* Not having any posts. If you never write anything, or almost never write anything, why would you expect people to follow you? Twitter is all about people interacting with each other, and if you’re not interacting, or you have one or two posts and they’re both talking about the latest product you’re marketing, you’ll never get any followers.
* Getting into an argument with another person. It can invariably happen to anyone, but it’s considered bad practice because the participants never know what they’re going to say, and at some point they might say something that offends a big number of people. It’s usually best to try to let it go as soon as possible.
* Saying something in the open that you’d never say in person. Last year, a reporter for the Chicago Sun Times wrote a negative post about too many fat people on the train he was on. Within an hour, he had been vilified worldwide, and many people had already sent letters to the newspaper demanding that he be fired. Back in January, another person lost a job he’d just been offered because he made a derogatory comment about taking the job without realizing that the person who offered him the job was following him on Twitter.
These are just some things that people need to think about when they’re going to participate on Twitter. Avoiding these ten things can make your Twitter experience a pleasant one.
Now, it’s time for my top 19 favorite classical pieces ever. But it comes with a twist. Instead of just saying I like Beethoven’s 5th Symphony, which isn’t on the list so it’s a throwaway favorite, I’m indicating which movement is my favorite if it’s a long piece. That is, if there is a favorite within a long piece, which you’ll see what I mean as I go through some of these.
I’m betting this won’t be one of my more popular posts, as I’ve got a feeling most folks who stop by here probably aren’t into classical music as much as they might be into TV, but hey, I wanted to do something like this, with clips and such, and so here we go. By the way, these particular posts take a lot of time to put together, but I’m trying to show y’all that, when necessary, I will put in the time to bring you something special; whether you like it or not. By the way, Beethoven is my favorite composer, and you’ll see a lot of his stuff here.
In reverse order, here we go:
19. Borodin’s Polovtsian Dances – I have to say this up front; I hate ballet. I don’t like dance like this. I do, however, love the music of a bunch of ballets. This is one of my favorites, though I don’t have any stories saying why because I really don’t know why. I couldn’t get a video that just keyed in on the part I love the most, but it’s contained within here.
18. Orff’s Carmina Burana – I first heard this in college and was blown away by the power of the chorus. This was definitely something I wasn’t prepared for, and yet I loved it from the minute I heard it. I used to know all the lyrics to this bad boy; those days are gone. O Fortuna is the first song from Carmina Burana, and I decided to share a bit of my favorite artist of all time, Michael Jackson, with this song.
17. Gershwin’s An American In Paris – This is a very long piece, almost 24 minutes long, so the video I have of it will only give a short portion from the beginning. I grew to love this song when I saw Gene Kelly, one of my favorite old movie stars, in the movie of the same name. Now this guy was a man’s man when it came to dancing, and the dance sequence was something else. The music was perfect for what they did with it.
16. Puccini’s Turandot, Nessun Dorma – This is a classic opera piece, and within the last couple of years, it was made popular again by Paul Potts, who won Britian’s Got Talent with it. However, the guy who owns the song as his own is Luciano Pavarotti, who I have singing it here.
15. Gershwin’s Porgy & Bess, Summertime – One of the most famous opening songs in operatic history, Gershwin gets two places from me with this powerful song, here sung by Kathleen Battle, who I was going to marry in my past life so she would just sing to me every night. Later I heard she can sometimes be difficult to work with, so I guess I got lucky there.
14. Randall Thompson’s Alleluia – This is one of my favorite choral pieces, and I’m sure it has something to do with it also being one of the first choral pieces I sung when I was a freshman in college. I’ll own up to it; I had problem singing German lyrics, even though I learned how to speak a little German, as well as write it, when I was 10 years old. Those days were gone by the time I reached college, though. But this is one word throughout, crafted well by Thompson, and I always imagined that we sounded this good every time out.
13. Beethoven’s Choral Fantasy, choral part – My first Beethoven piece on this list, the choral part could actually also be called the fourth movement. The reason it’s not is because it’s a fantasy, not a symphony or a concerto, even though the piano is prominent throughout the piece. I always want to play this piece; instead, I was one of the boys of the chorus, but not very good since it was German once again.
12. Beethoven’s Pathetique Sonata, 2nd movement – I don’t know a piano player worth anything who hasn’t played this piece. It was one of the few classical pieces that I actually knew how to play without music, and I played it very well if you ask me. However, it’s also the piece I played for my first piano teacher in college, who absolutely cringed when he heard me play it the first time. He asked me where I heard it from, and I told him from a Glenn Gould record; seems Gould was considered a “hack” by “true” classical pianists; who knew? So, I played it his way sometimes, and the way others played it at other times. Kind of like this version here.
11. Gilbert & Sullivan’s HMS Pinafore, “My gallant crew, good morning” – Gilbert & Sullivan wrote some pretty funny stuff, and it was how political commentary was done back in their day. This particular song is one of the funniest, in my opinion, as it cites a captain who’s more interested in how he’s perceived by his men than in how the job gets done.
Top Ten Time!
10. Beethoven’s 6th Symphony, 1st movement – Also known as the Pastoral Symphony, Beethoven easily captured the free spirit and loveliness of being out in the wilderness. There’s a video montage to this song in Disney’s Fantasia that matches up to the music really well. When I need to calm down some evenings, this is one of the pieces I put on.
9. Mendelssohn’s A Midsummer Night’s Dream, overture – I love this entire piece, and actually had hoped to play it at my wedding one day, at least the recessional part. I have to say that the movies they’ve made for this are, well, weird, especially the one with Mickey Rooney in it as a young man; I’m not really sure how old he was. It’s actually another ballet where I love the music and the singing, but hate the dancing.
8. Johann Strauss’ Die Fledermaus, overture – Since there were so many Strauss’ who composed music, you get his first name here. Okay, I admit it; I grew to love this piece because of a Tom and Jerry cartoon. Many old cartoons were matched up with classical pieces, which is probably why I like them so much.
7. Bizet’s Carmen, Habanera – Who hasn’t heard Carmen, let alone this piece, which is Carmen’s signature song? What’s wild about this clip is that the first time I ever saw Carmen, this is the lady who was singing it, Agnes Baltsa, and that was back in the late 80’s. This guy at the hospital I was working at invited me to go, as he had box seats, and man, I’ve never gone to another opera if I couldn’t get box seats.
6. Mendelssohn’s Violin Concerto, 1st Movement – I love this entire piece, and it was my dad’s favorite piece of music ever. The first movement is spectacular, and there’s no build up to it.
5. Prokofiev’s 3rd Piano Concerto, 3rd Movement – I’d never heard this piece of music, though I knew of Prokofiev because he also wrote Peter and the Wolf, until I saw the movie The Competition with Richard Dreyfuss and Amy Irving; I had a major crush on Amy Irving at the time. They have her “playing” this song at the end of the movie, which wins her the competition. It’s one of those piano pieces that not only sounds great, but visually it’s a stunning performance piece. There are two ways of playing the ending on the piano; one has a lot more flash than the other one.
4. Beethoven’s 9th Symphony, 4th Movement – Beethoven’s 9th Symphony is also known as the Choral Symphony, and the 4th movement is also known as Ode To Joy. Imagine this; it was Beethoven’s last symphony, and he was deaf when he wrote it, then conducted it. And, while he was conducting it, he got the timing incorrect, but the orchestra played it the way it had been rehearsed by someone else. In total it’s a great piece, but this finale is, well, classic.
3. Beethoven’s 5th Piano Concerto, 2nd movement – Yup, another Beethoven piece. The 5th Piano Concerto is also known as the Emperor Concerto, as it was written for Napoleon. However, Beethoven realized what kind of man Napoleon actually was and stripped “emperor” from it. However, it was put back after his death, and people still call it that. By the way, in its entirety this is my favorite piano concerto of all time.
2. Tchaikovsky’s First Piano Concerto, 1st Movement – This is just spectacular, and once again it’s a very long piece of music. It was considered way out there in his time, so much so that it was actually hated and scorned for about 10 years, until he brought it to the United States and became a star. Unfortunately, I couldn’t find the entire 1st movement without the whole concerto, but it’s all good.
1. Rachmaninoff’s 2nd Piano Concerto, 2nd Movement – This is the very first song I pull out when I need relaxing, and one that I practiced for two years, only to get very close but no cigar on. It sounds like it would be easy to play, but homeboy must have had big hands because my hands just couldn’t get it done. Many of you will recognize part of this from a song Eric Carmen did in the 70’s called All By Myself. And it’s this piece that I actually have on videotape from the 80’s of Andre Watts playing, which I’d hoped would be on YouTube; oh well… At least you get Yuga Wang again; hotness! 🙂
And there you are, my favorite classical pieces. Of course there are plenty more that I could have thrown in, but this post is long enough, even if most of it is video. Please, listen to some of them, and let me know what you think.
Not like I haven’t written about Twitter often enough, but I thought it was time to write a short post on how to use Twitter to enjoy it the best if you’re inclined to use the service, as I am. The truth is that there’s no one way to use it, but there are things that you might want to consider doing and other things you shouldn’t even think about doing.
Twitter can be a lot of fun. But it can also get in the way of your regular life, and the life of others. Some Twitter users find themselves glued to their computer or cell phones literally hours a day, waiting for the next bit of information. Some users rarely show up, only remembering when it happens to come to their mind. Here are some tips for how to use Twitter effectively.
One way to use Twitter is to set defined times for when you want to pop on to see what’s going on. Doing that means you won’t be wasting time that’s needed to do other things by checking on Twitter.
Use a program such as Tweetdeck or Twhirl and set it up so that those specific people whose messages you really want to follow will be there when you do decide to sign on. The general Twitter stream moves so fast that there’s literally no way to keep up with it all unless you are on it 24/7. By using programs such as the ones above, you can be pretty sure that their messages will still be around whenever you do decide to check in.
If you have a blog, find a way to use a plugin of some sort to automatically send those messages to Twitter whenever you do an update. Of course, you can also set up your blog to see what the people you follow have to say, as well as to show what you’re saying on Twitter. I’ll admit that’s kind of irritating to me.
Try to sign into Twitter at least once every couple of days. Just like blogs, people like to see some sort of consistent participation from those folks they’re following. If you pop in and out with no regularity, people will unfollow you.
Every once in awhile, post something that has nothing to do with you. If you see an interesting article, video, or image, post that link onto Twitter. If you read something on Twitter that appeals to you, retweet it for others to see, since everyone following you may not be following someone else. And sometimes, just talk to someone you’re following; you never know what may come of it.
Don’t overdo anything. Don’t try to talk to everyone all the time. Don’t retweet too often. Don’t post too many links. Don’t post too many quotes. Don’t ramble; always try to have something to say.
If you’re using Twitter to only promote your business, try to find ways to interact with people so that it doesn’t look like it’s the only thing you’re doing. Respond to people who try to reach out to you from time to time; it enhances your presence, and people like to see that you’re accessible.
These are only a few tips to help you get the most out of Twitter. There really are no right or wrong ways to use it, but some ways will be more effective for you that others.
If you like late night TV infomercials and girls wearing low cut tight shirts with lots of cleavage, then you’ve probably seen at least one of the commercials for Jeff Paul’s Internet Millions program. It promises to teach you how to make literally thousands of dollars a month with almost no effort so that you can live the life you dream about.
The first thing a buyer will realize is that there are a lot of DVDs to watch, which takes away the ease that’s promised in the commercials. The second thing, once you start checking out the videos, is that the “easy way” of making a lot of money is to spend a lot of money building a lot of websites. This means that most of the people who buy the program are already going to be at a disadvantage because they may not know anything about HTML or coding. They may not have thousands of websites of knowledge to create a bunch of websites. And folks, buying domain names, even if they’re relatively inexpensive, can get pricey if you continue buying a lot of them, and it’s not easy for one person to keep their eye on a lot of websites.
Having said that, one could argue that what Paul teaches in his program does offer people the opportunity to make money online. I don’t disagree with that. What I disagree with are a couple of things. One, the promise of easy millions that get people to pay exorbitant amounts of money on his programs. What, you say it’s only around $50 for his program? That’s just to get you in the door. Once you buy, you’re going to continue getting lots of phone calls with promises of making even more money as long as you’re willing to pony up more money for the right of better education. And it won’t stop until you get tough and get yourself off the list. There’s even one guy who set up a blog just to talk about the things he was getting from them without buying anything except the very first thing, and how often they were calling him to pitch their products; what an idea for a niche blog, eh?
Two, the commercials are so enticing that I’m surprised they’re not happy just raking in the money that those commercials have to be making and leaving people alone later on. And I know something about late night commercials; I used to be kind of a junkie for these things, no matter how good or bad they were. However, these commercials are lying. If you sat down one night and wrote down, then calculated, all the money that these people say they’re making, you’d realize that there wouldn’t be any money problems anywhere around the world because all you’d have to do is tax the few people in the commercial and every country would make a mint.
For instance, one guy said he made $125,000 in 10 days. Others were more “modest,” making that much in a month, or at least $50,000 a month. And, if you’ve paid any attention to the disclaimer, those results aren’t indicative of the kind of money that most people will make.
I’m sorry to say this, but I have to put this one in the category of a scam. There is no easy way to make money on the internet unless someone else is building your website, doing all the work, and it costs you almost nothing to pay for. This one will end up costing you way more money than you’ll ever make back; stay away.