Archive for the 'Life' Category


Broncott #WhatIf Challenge: Win Tickets to New Zealand!

Brancott Estate is challenging travel lovers and wine enthusiasts to craft a tasting note for one of the wines from Brancott’s portfolio for the chance to win two roundtrip airline tickets to New Zealand—and there is only one day left to do so!

“#WhatIf” must be incorporated into the tweet (it also helps to follow @BrancottWhatIf).  Additional information and complete rules and regulations  for the Brancott #WhatIf challenge can be found at

The entry period has been extended until today, June 14, 2011, so grab a bottle of Brancott tonight for your chance to visit the winery. (And get in line, because I’m totally entering first.)

Alert: Facebook Has Gotten Creepier

Facebook has started implementing facial recognition software for photographs.


As I’m sure you realize, they have an enormous database of photographs from nearly 700 million users that this new technology could be applied to. Privacy advocates are critical of the use of the technology on Facebook. Privacy advocates are also very upset that Facebook has made the new feature opt-out instead of opt-in.

PC World has an article about why Facebook’s facial recognition is creepy. Search Engine Watch explains how you can disable it.

Nightline reports that the European Union has launched an investigation. In the U.S. complaints have been filed with the FCC. Nightline tried a test to see if Facebook’s software could recognize a person wearing a disguise and it could – very creepy.


Admit It, You Care: Donald Trump and Sarah Palin’s Dinner Date This Evening

AT last, I use my journalism degree.

So, here’s the deets: The strange duo met in the middle of Times Square and dined on pepperoni pizza at chain restaurant Famous Famiglia. Crowds of tourists and press snapped photos for posterity.

Trump told reporters, “She didn’t ask me (to run with her) but I’ll tell you, she’s a terrific woman.” It’s a good thing Trump decided not to run for president: he ate his pizza with a fork. I can’t support that.

Palin then attempted to explain the purpose of the dinner to the Daily News, saying: “Every time you go to New York, you gotta see Donald Trump. I approve of his independence. I told him, ‘don’t shy away from speaking out.'”

What does that even mean? You guys, my head hurts and this campaign hasn’t even officially started.


Are You Ready For the Heat Wave?

Ah, summer. On one hand, there are the pool parties, barbecues, and long weekends. But on the other hand, there’s sweaty skin, sunburn and stifling heat.

Use these tips to try to wipe away some of the negatives by getting your home heat-wave-ready.
Change Your Filters – Your filter is what keeps dust and allergens from clogging up your air conditioning unit. Help it run more efficiently and ward off a potential break down by changing your air filters before your AC starts working overtime. According to, keeping the filter clean can lower your air conditioner’s energy consumption by up to 15 percent.
Give Your AC Unit Some Shade – If your AC unit spends a large part of the day in direct sunlight it could be working harder than it has to. Consider planting a tree nearby to offer the unit some relief from powerful rays. But don’t let vegetation get too close because that could cause damage.
Invest in Curtains or Shades – Your home won’t get quite as warm if you keep your curtains or shades closed during the day. Blocking that sunshine from entering your home will help keep it cooler.
Install an Attic Vent – Have you ever been in your attic during a heat wave? It feels kind of like a sweat lodge. Release some of that hot air by hiring a contractor to install an attic vent. It’s a relatively easy task that will keep hot air from hanging around.
Check Window Seals – Are your windows letting in hot air? If the seals are weak, old or damaged they could be. And all that hot hair rushing in will require your air conditioner to work even harder to keep your home cool.
Pull Out Your Fans – It’s time to pull your fans out of the attic or closet. They do a great job of ventilating a space which will make it feel cooler on a super hot day.
Switch to Fluorescents – Fluorescent bulbs create less heat than standard light bulbs. And anything you can do to generate less heat will make an impact on your energy bill during the hottest months.
Consider an AC Upgrade – If you use window air conditioning units and yours are extremely old you may want to consider an upgrade. Consumer Reports just released their Air Conditioner Buying Guide and many of the top rated AC units are around a couple hundred bucks. Plus they’ll run better and more efficiently even on the hottest days.

*** And also be sure to follow my Twitter — today I’m giving away Honeywell tower fans!!!


Use Mood, Tempo, Genre and Origin to Deliver Smarter Music Recommendations

Gracenote yesterday announced the new version of its Discover music recommendation technology, featuring the ability to create personalized Music Channels as well as the use of Mood and Tempo sonic attributes and music descriptors like Genre, Origin, Era and Artist Type to deliver smarter music recommendations across music catalogs.

Making Music Channels Personal

With Cloud music services offering access to millions of tracks from around the world, it becomes challenging for users to navigate and find what they really want to hear. Gracenote’s technology extracts the sonic attributes and music descriptors of millions of songs, and analyzes and filters this information to enable music fans to find new songs that intrigue them, rediscover old favorites and launch personalized Music Channels. Users can also customize their song requests or launch Music Channels based on mood characteristics, refining them even further by Genre, Era and other characteristics.

Here is a Music Channel example:
Origin—New York, USA
Genre—Hip Hop
Result: Depending on the music catalog, this Music Channel could feature tracks from “Public Enemy,” “Beastie Boys,” “Run DMC” or “A Tribe Called Quest.”

What’s Your Mood?

To better match music recommendations with everyone’s changing moods, Gracenote has developed “mood profiles” that are comprised of more than a hundred characteristics, ranging from “Upbeat” and “Sad” to “Calm” and “Defiant.” They can get Melancholy, rainy day songs when feeling down or Upbeat tracks when heading to the gym.

“Music can evoke strong emotions, making it critical for music services to provide compelling and personal experiences for their customers,” said Stephen White, senior vice president of product, content and marketing for Gracenote. “Our content, technology and services make it easy for music fans to launch channels and playlists that pinpoint their mood and musical style, and we are pleased to be partnering with music services that have a vision for their products and see the potential of Gracenote’s technology – now and in the future.”


Apple to Launch Cloud-based Music Service as Early as June 6

The L.A. Times reports that Apple has “tentative agreements” in place for a cloud-based music service that could launch as early as June 6.

In a report on its Company Town blog, the L.A. Times says Apple’s cloud service could be superior to Google’s and Amazon’s because people would not have to first upload their song collection. Apple’s service would have licenses from the major music labels enabling it to “scan a user’s collection and make all of those songs available within minutes for them to listen over an Internet connection via Apple’s computers.”

What do you think? Have you finally found a cloud of your very own?


The Black Eyed Peas to Perform Free Concert at Central Park

The Black Eyed Peas will perform a free ticketed concert at Central Park in New York City to benefit the Robin Hood Foundation. Chase is the presenting sponsor and Clear Channel is the event’s exclusive radio partner.

54,000 free tickets will be available only through random giveaway by registering at beginning on May 11. A small number of VIP tickets will be available for sale through the same website.

Fergie says, “We are thrilled to follow in the footsteps of icons such as Simon & Garfunkel and Diana Ross by performing a free concert for our fans in Central Park. But more importantly, we are performing to benefit Robin Hood’s efforts to help those living in poverty in New York City and to help disadvantaged youth in New York with the launch of our Peapod Academy.”

Enter your email address to subscribe to this blog and receive notifications of new posts by email.

Join 79 other followers

Follow Aly on Twitter

Error: Twitter did not respond. Please wait a few minutes and refresh this page.