I cannot tell you how many years, or how many hundreds (possibly even thousands) of dollars I’ve invested in just trying to keep track of how my web sites are doing rank-wise in Google. Whether my rankings were good or terrible, just seemly seeing them on a daily or weekly basis was constantly a major hassle. I’ve spent a lot of money and tons and tons of hours on it, and finally threw in the towel some time back. It just wasn’t worth my time.
However, more recently, I had gotten more serious again about ranking my voiceover web site. I won’t go into all the history of voice over on the web, but where it once was a trickle, there are now a flood of people there beating down the doors for your attention. And because this is how I make my living, I need to be in the game.
I was turned on to an app a couple months back called AccuRanker. I got a terrific deal on it at the time, and after looking it over, it seemed like a steal….and it was. This thing does all the heavy lifting for me, and checks my rankings even if I don’t bother to look at them each day. I’m currently tracking something like 85 keywords/phrases just related to that one site alone. Someday, I hope to add more and track some other sites.
The app is more sophisticated than anything I’d ever need…but that’s good, because over time, I am likely to grow into it and take advantage of more of its features. Among them are keyword suggestions and all sorts of metrics that I don’t even understand. It allows you access (if you want) to multiple search platforms, and to see the difference in your rankings between desktop and mobile devices.
It also allows you to just check the site itself, or specific themed pages within the site. Very handy stuff.
For those who can catch a deal or who are more serious and sophisticated about this stuff than I am and can afford it (it’s designed for agencies and professionals), I would highly recommend checking it out!
I’ve added a couple new pages to the site that might be of real interest to fans of Netflix.
1. Folks are always asking: “Hey, what’s good to watch on Netflix tonight??” And their friends will pop up with a suggestion, even though they may have no idea what kind of mood the person might be in at the time. Luckily, there are some SUPERB tools for finding a great Netflix movies. I’ve corralled several of them…along with some great recommendation lists, on this page:
Looking for a Good Movie on Netflix?
2. Also, the Netflix recommendation engine is great for what it is…but, let’s be honest…they rarely show you more than a couple dozen choices in each genre. But, what if you could see everything they have in your favorite category? Well, here’s some good news! There’s a backdoor way to see the entire contents of certain categories. And you’ll find a couple hundred links directly into those categories on this page:
Browse Specific Netflix Categories
Check these things out. You’re likely to be surprised at how helpful and interesting they are. And, if you enjoy them, please consider sharing them with your friends. En-Joy! 😉
Very few songs have moved me in recent years like this song. I first became a fan of Roby Duke in 1982 with the release of Not The Same. The terrific songwriting, his pure blue-eyed soul vocals and some exceptional jazz-pop arrangements drew me in and haven’t let me go in the ensuing 30 years. I managed a Christian record store at the time, and sold the disc to people all across the board…from pop and rock fans to lovers of black gospel choirs. Then, in 2008, I saw this video posted on YouTube. I had heard of Roby’s passing…but didn’t realize until I double-checked that this video was recorded roughly 3 days before his death. It’s a perfect picture of the heart of a believer as they ponder both their own passing and the fate of a lost world. Every time I listen, I hear new things within this song. I went hunting for the lyrics online and could find none (though Google suggested several pages which, by all rights, *should* have had them). So, I took the time to transcribe them myself. These are the lyrics from the album version. He changed up a couple things in the live performance on the video. I hope you enjoy this as much as I did! And Roby…rest in peace, brother. You left us a beautiful legacy.
When the roll is called up yonder
I believe that I’ll be there
Though I am the same man
With the same need as always
So they say
A soul is free to
Choose a path
To each his own
We’re livin’ in the same world
Under the same pale moon
And some change would do us all some good
It’s so good for one to find
That there is no stairway to heaven
Only a Bridge Divine
You tell me change
Change is needed
To keep the world from growing old
And we all have the same dreams for our children as always
He hung the earth upon nothing
Said to a storm, “Peace, be still.”
What more could we give them
Something that would keep them safe
Forever and ever?
You tell me hearts are torn asunder
By the pain of moving on
We’re travelin’ on the same rails
Upon a train that’s bound for forever
I hope you know
You’re still my good friend
But when the saints go marchin’ in
I would like to turn and see your face…
written by Roby Duke. all appropriate credits belong to him.
Podcasting is “on the grow”. As someone who grew up loving radio, and worked in radio myself for several years…I was always a pretty heavy consumer of the medium. However, the growth of the internet, the explosion of portable technology, the ubiquity of the MP3 audio format and the death of terrestrial radio are reaching a nexus. I tuned out radio a year or two ago, and almost never listen anymore. I listen to a lot of podcasts (currently, I subscribe to 26 of them). Some are daily, some weekly, some sporadically.
Let me say up front that *my* essentials won’t likely be *your* essentials. Everyone’s tastes differ, and because podcasts tend to be focused on particular niches…interests may appear larger or smaller in your personal mirror. My main goal is to turn more people on to some of the podcasts that I enjoy so much on a regular basis.
In no particular order, here are 10 podcasts that I find essential at the moment:
1. The 48 Days Podcast: Dan Miller is a Franklin, Tennessee-based author, speaker and businessman. I first heard of him through “Debt-Free” Dave Ramsey, and have been listening every week for several years now. Dan has written some best-selling books, including 48 Days To The Work You Love and No More (Dreaded) Mondays. Dan was raised in Holmes County, Ohio (the same county where my Dad was born). He grew up in a hyper-conservative family…the son of a poor farmer/pastor, who has labored to reshape his view of the world into something more positive and successful. He’s a big proponent of turning one’s passion into opportunities for income. I find his podcast consistently challenging and encouraging, and have recommended it to many of my friends…especially those struggling through vocational challenges.
2. Big Pop Fun: Tom Wilson is an actor, comedian and…voiceover artist (like me, but on a much grander scale!). You’ll remember him as the bully Biff Tannen from the Back to the Future movies. On the podcast, he talks about show business and being creative. Some of the episodes are just him chatting to his listeners (including some fascinating “behind-the-showbiz-scenes” stories). On others, he interviews various creatives and celebrities…such as Mark Hammill, Stephen Hillenburg (creator of Spongebob Squarepants), Tim Siedell (@badbanana on Twitter) and Steve Oedekerk (writer/producer – Ace Ventura, Bruce and Evan Almighty, Kung Pow). I love his dry sense of humor and his tendency to grab his guitar and break into song. Want a two-minute taste of his humor? Watch The Question Song
3. The Dennis Miller Show: This is one of a few that originate from terrestrial radio. I’ve been listening to this show since the year it started. Dennis Miller is one of my favorite comedic minds ever. His show is a mix of comedy, interviews and politics. It blows me away that he is able to keep it fresh 3 hours a day, 5 days a week. I pay $50 a year to get the podcast version, since it’s no longer carried on local stations in my radio market. However, it is on over 300 radio stations nationwide.
4. This American Life: Also originating from terrestrial radio (NPR), the best show on radio, in my opinion. Ira Glass hosts this weekly podcast consisting of real-life stories. Humans are endlessly fascinating, and there’s no better resource for human stories than this show. It’s hard to describe what it is, or how good it is. You should check it out once or twice and see if it’s your cup of tea. Millions of us have been hooked for many, many years.
5. Fresh Air: Another NPR program…this show features interviews with luminaries from the worlds of entertainment, literature, music, and politics. Terry Gross is the best interviewer I’ve ever heard. Every show is a delight (even the fill-in host, Dave Davies, is superb!) and the highest compliment I can pay Terry is that she brings out the humanity in everyone…even those whom I am predisposed to dislike.
6. The Smart Passive Income Podcast: Pat Flynn is a young entrepeneur who was displaced from his career in architecture by the economic downturn a few years back. With a new wife and a baby on the way, he had to get creative about how to provide for his family. He more or less stumbled into a whole new way of life, creating an online business that pays him tens of thousands of dollars a month. Patient and methodical, he not only researches new facets of online business…he also lays them out in a way that many folks have found easy to learn and apply for themselves. He also publishes his income statement each month, to keep himself transparent to those who follow him. Pat is the real deal.
7. The Moth: More human stories. I believe this also originated on radio, although I never ran across it there. It’s somewhat like listening to standup comedy…although it’s only occasionally funny. It’s more focused around life experiences and life lessons. Sometimes the stories are told by celebrities, but more often they are just slices of life from ordinary people. Sometimes crass, often affecting and touching. The episodes are usually short…in the 15-20 minute range.
8. This Week In Tech (TWiT): Leo Laporte is the creator of the TWiT network, which is one of my favorite haunts. I’ll often call it up on my iPad or my Roku box while I’m working. They have a bunch of great shows, including excellent ones I watch frequently such as This Week in Google, iPad Today, All About Android, Triangulation (an hour-long conversation will brilliant minds), TWiT Photo and MacBreak Weekly. But the This Week in Tech show is the anchor of the network…a 2-hour live broadcast on Sundays at 6pm ET. I often listen to it live on my phone. It’s a roundtable discussion with the host and 3-4 guests (one or two sometimes connected remotely via Skype) covering the latest in tech news and possible implications/repercussions. As with all TWiT shows, it can be viewed as a TV show (a video podcast) or listened to as audio podcasts.
9. Left, Right and Center: Also from Public Radio (KCRW, to be more precise), this half-hour show covers the affairs of the week from the progressive, conservative and moderate viewpoints. It’s generally low-key and well-reasoned…and often provides surprising moments of consensus. It deserves to be an hour long, and I wish they could move back toward permanent panelists once again, but a couple of the key members were lost in the last year due to illness and commerce. It’s a dose of sanity in our current highly-polarized political environment. Definitely a highlight of the week for me.
10. Inside Musicast: Full-length interviews with great musicians…both big-names (Michael McDonald, Kenny Loggins, Christopher Cross) and the incredibly-talented producers and players behind the scenes (Michael Omartian, Lee Sklar, Steve Lukather). Great stories about how music is made, the inspiration behind the songs and stories of life in the studio and on the road.
Here are some other podcasts to which I currently subscribe. You might be interested in checking some of them out as well:
I use and recommend the Pocket Casts app for iOS and Android. It’s got a great search engine built into the app…so finding, subscribing to and managing your podcasts is super-easy.
I had lunch with my friend Tom Sapp last week…in part, because he promised to turn me on to some apps for my new Verizon iPhone that would save me time and money…and he did not disappoint. I’ve only picked up a handful of the apps so far, but am already VERY glad that I made the switch from the Droid to the iPhone (despite the iOS bug re: inexplicably unpairing Bluetooth devices). I expect there to be more apps that make this worth my while…but here is my initial list:
1. iTunes: Yes, I know people love to whine about iTunes…”it’s bloatware, the App Store sucks, etc”. Fine…whatever. And I admit I’m a bit of a freak in my listening needs for both educational and recreational purposes. Because of how I make my living, podcasts are unbelievably important to me. The Droid is worthless for podcast management. I tried virtually every app out there (free and paid) just to be able to easily subscribe to and manage the podcasts that I find so helpful in building my online business. iTunes does this in its SLEEP. It’s a beautiful thing. Yes, the App Store could be better. So could the Android Market. They are both supposedly undergoing majority renovations. One can only hope. But…iTunes was the biggest factor in my decision to move back to an “i” as my primary portable listening platform (the secondary reason being the immediate availability of a built-in HD camera for movies). Apple’s tech support department went to the wall to keep me as a customer…and I am glad they did. Verdict? A big win for the iPhone.
2. Skobbler: This was brought to my attention by Tom, and saved me $5-10 a month. One of the great features of the Droid is its built-in turn-by-turn navigation from Google. The iPhone doesn’t have that feature…which means you have to subscribe to Verizon’s nav service if you use it (which, in my case, might be once a month on average). But, when you need it…it’s not a good thing if you don’t have it. They had an introductory special going on when I bought my iPhone, which had shaved the $10 monthly fee to $4.99. But, Skobbler does everything I need in this regard…for FREE. Verdict? It’s a tie between the two platforms.
3. GasBuddy: The lovely and talented Heather Dugan brought this one to my attention a couple weeks ago. This is available for the Android (which is the version she uses), but while I had heard of it before…I didn’t download it til I was on the iPhone. It is a two-click wonder. The first click launches the application. The second click (on “Find Gas Near Me”) uses your phone’s GPS to locate you, and then displays the prices of all gas stations nearby. The other day, I noticed that gas was available at the Speedway at Morse and Hamilton for $3.31 a gallon, so I went and filled up the tank. 20 minutes later, I had to put a couple gallons in another car about 5 miles away…at $3.48 a gallon. That single purchase at Speedway saved me almost $2 on a 10-gallon purchase. So if you are considering making the move to an internet-connected phone, but having a hard time justifying the $30/mo additional charge…I suspect you can recoup somewhere between 5 and 10 bucks of that 30 with this little free app alone. Verdict? A tie between the platforms…but a must-have nonetheless (and there is a website you can access for free if you can’t make the leap to a smartphone yet…it’s just not as convenient when you’re out on the road).
4. Dragon Dictation: This one also comes courtesy of my friend Tom. One of the things I loved about the Droid was the speech-to-text function…which allowed me to say a few words (even while I was driving) and allow me to jot down a thought or two, or reply to a text message…without tieing up hands, fingers or attention. The iPhone has no such native function. But…enter Dragon:
“This application is from the folks that make Dragon NaturallySpeaking for the PC which I occasionally use as a timesaver. It just so happens that Dragon for the iPhone is even better in terms of speech interpretation and even occasionally inserting punctuation and capitalization this paragraph was dictated directly into Dragon on the iPhone and pasted into this blog post”
Pretty impressive, eh? I thought you’d like that one. 😉
Verdict? iPhone again.
5. SimpleNote: I had become a premium user of Evernote a couple months back…which is a fantastic way of storing information and keeping it with you all the time. But it was $60/yr…and the app itself was overkill for my needs and the note-editing capability was poorly implemented on the Droid. I found SimpleNote instead…which is $20/yr and does everything I need with a much cleaner implementation for the iPhone. I leave the web app open on my PC at home at all times for quick access…but I can get to all that info anywhere from the iPhone with just 2 clicks…including the ability to edit the data (which will be updated and waiting for me when I get back home). There is an Android client for this…but I never saw it, and sometimes the app quality varies between the two platforms…so I only know of this through the iPhone. Verdict?: Another big win for the iPhone.
There are others…and others I am moving to test out in the next couple weeks. More to come!
There was a series of DVDs called Noodlebug that was created a few years back, designed for young children (ages 2 and up). It incorporated music, movement, animation and live video to teach kids about healthy brains, bodies, activities, animals, bugs and more.
I did the music for the entire series of DVDs…and in addition to the DVDs themselves, the music from each volume is broken out on a separate music CD within each package…so it was a pretty nice value to begin with. My 3-year-old grandson has been telling me lately that he prefers Noodlebug to The Wiggles, so I decided to buy him a set to keep at home rather than loaning him my copies. I went to the publisher’s web site, and was amazed to find that they had been discounted to $2.49 each! So I bought all 6 of the volumes they had for sale, and even with shipping, the whole purchase was under 19 bucks…for SIX DVDs!
So if you have a young kid that you care about, you might want to consider it as a very affordable gift! Here’s a nice video sample, so you can see that the quality is rock-solid. These were originally $15-20 apiece, I think…so these drastic discounts indicate that the products are being cut out of active stock from the existing publisher, and won’t be available long.
Here’s the link to the product page: Noodlebug