Say Hello To Baby Madeline Michele

In Entertainment, Family on October 2, 2009 by

Stacey wanted to share some pictures of the newest addition to the Hackett Family. Say Hello to Baby Madeline Michele!

Madeline Michele Hackett was born to proud parents, Stacey and Ben Hackett, and proud brother, Logan James Hackett at Northwest Hospital at about 8:35 a.m. on Friday, October 2, 2009. She weighed in at 9 lbs. 2 oz. and measured 21 inches long! Wow!

Logan holding his Baby Sister

Logan holding his Baby Sister Madeline Michele

Mom, Grandma and Baby Madeline Michele

Mom, Grandma and Baby Madeline Michele




Say Hello To Baby Benjamin

In Entertainment, Family on September 4, 2009 by

Another Laundry Room Exclusive!


Wendy Hug had her baby over the summer and wanted to share these pictures with us:


Baby Benjamin


2 Days Old

Benjamin Kawasa was born June 14 weighing 6.9 lb and stretching 18 1/2 in.

Congratulations Wendy!


Almost Free Music Downloads

In Entertainment, Helpful Websites, Laundry Room, Online Services, Reviews on June 26, 2009 by Media Specialist Tagged: , , , ,


It’s been around for quite a while now, but check out MP3Panda for downloading legal music. At 5 cents,  a nickle, you can download some of your favorite tunes.

I know what you’re thinking, is it legal?  Apparently yes! I copied the following text from Cheap and Legal Dowloads which offers other downloading alternatives too.  CLD states:

Legality of MP3Panda
It’s worth highlighting MP3Panda is perfectly legal. Russian legislature enforces compulsory licenses, which means that a company can get the license to distribute and sell music as long as they pay for it somewhere. In the US if you plan to sell a certain CD, you have to negotiate with the labels, and that’s why the original Napster got shut down by the courts – they violated the law by not obtaining the licenses from the RIAA mob.

In Russia if you prove that (a) you keep track of what you’re distributing (log number of downloads) and (b) you pay to the collection agency, you’re legal to distribute any music you want. The collection agency (ROMS and FAIR, quoted in the Wall Street Journal article) will then re-distribute the money to the copyright holders.

The only catch, if you want to call it that, is that you must pay upfront. When you register you must select the amount of money you want in your ‘bank’.  If you select the $20 option, it basically means you have $20 in your account to spend on music. In iTunes it’s the opposite, you pay as you download.

Lets do the math, at 5 cents a song that equals to 400 songs! Compare that to 20 in iTunes. It’s even cheaper when you purchase entire albums. Purchasing entire albums is more cost effective when downloading “Greatest Hits” or “Best Of” type albums which most artist release.

Also note that the selection is not as big as iTunes. (10 million compared to 2 million)  Browse the site first and see if most of what you like to listen to is on there. Interested? Read on–>


The registration process is simple and secure. All you need is an email address and credit card.  If you select the higher dollar amount options, you will notice you get additional dollar bonuses for music.


Purchase Entire Album or Single Song

Purchase Entire Album or Single Song

After you log in, start browsing for the song you wish to download. (Entire album if you wish too) You can listen to a 30 second preview of the track by pressing on the litte panda next to each track. (Please note that the preview is NOT the quality of your download) Click on DOWNLOAD button and it will prompt you the amount that will be deducted from your account.

Window that prompts you for payment

Window that prompts you for payment

You will then need to go to your DOWNLOADS section and  right-click the link Download and choose Save Target As…(or Save Link As…). Select where you want the file to download and depending on your connection speed an MP3 file with the song name will appear. All the ordered files are available for download within 48 hours. You’ll have to order these files again to be able to download them after that period.

Download Link

Download Link

After your file downloads to the location you selected, you can import it to the music player of your choice. If you import to iTunes, usually the album artworks pops up automatically. If it doesn’t, follow these instructions to do add it.

This service certainly makes listening to your favorite music more affordable. Here’s a blog that explains it a little more.


I Jailbroke My iPhone 3G

In Apple, Procedures, Reviews, Tips & Tricks on March 10, 2009 by Media Specialist Tagged: , , ,

After much internal debate on whether I should Jailbrake my iPhone 3G or not, I took the plunge on Sunday. You may wonder why I had not done it already? I don’t know if it’s just me, but every set of instructions I read were to complicated or risky. Simply not worth the hassle. When I’m unsure of something technical, I usually just wait.

A friend of mine emailed me the Gizmodo Post on instructions on how to do this. I read them over and they were the first instructions that seemed simple enough to make me do it.

It took me a few downloads and restarts on my iMac and I was ready to run QuickPwn for Mac OS X. After about 10 minutes the iPhone rebooted and I started loading programs on Cydia. A weird feeling of betrayal comes over you for a second. Then you start using programs you’ve been missing and you feel like Neo from The Matrix. Jailbrake = Unplugged! Why has Apple or AT&T decided to keep us from these basic features you find on every other phone?

The final process of the Jailbrake process

The final process of the Jailbrake

The #1 reason I Jailbroke my iPhone was for video capabilities. (Come on Apple! Probably AT&T…) The first programs I installed were Qik and Cycorder. Both programs are just what I was missing from my iPhone. Instant satisfaction!

I played around with other applications like Snapture, which I will purchase, and Winterboard. I like some of the features of Winterboard but I don’t want my iPhone looking like a MySpace page. So I kept my default Springboard.

I also tried the Cut & Paste application called Clippy. Although it’s in Beta, it works remarkably well. (Again, Come on Apple!)

This comic describes how I feel about my improved iPhone:


Before you start passing judgment, I also Jailbroke my wife’s iPhone and she loves that she can now play her childhood’s favorite game Mario Bros and record her dog Cochi playing around.

For now I am happy with the 4 apps on my Jailbroken iPhone. I haven’t seen any lag or experienced any crashes on my iPhone. If you are debating whether to Jailbrake or not, the Gizmodo post is easy and harmless. I encourage you to try it. In keeping with the Matrix theme, Morpheus compares it “to trying to free your mind.”

Make sure you run a new back-up on iTunes of your iPhone before trying this. Worst comes to worse, you can ALWAYS RESTORE.

Thanks for the URL himess33.


Imaging USA 2009 Photography Expo

In Accessories, Apple, Audio Visual, Emerging Technology, Entertainment, Laundry Room, Reviews on January 16, 2009 by Media Specialist Tagged: , , , , ,

Imaging USA 2009 Expo

Imaging USA 2009 Photography Expo

Attended the Imaging USA 2009 Photography Expo in downtown Phoenix on Sunday and one thing is for sure, this event is a photographers dream. It certainly exceeded my expectations. I figured I would see many booths with over zealous vendors trying to sell me photography equipment I do not need. It was anything but that!

It was a well organized 223,000 square feet showroom floor featuring the biggest players in the photography industry. This expo gave you the opportunity to try out any camera out on the market, from least to most expensive. No point & shoot’s here.

Best Buy or Circuit City don’t display the high-end Nikon and Canon cameras. Here you can try everything hands on. I mean everything. The digital explosion of photography has taken over! I don’t think I saw one thing that involved film

Green Screen

Green Screen

It’s amazing how the big companies like Sony, Canon and Nikon try to entice you to purchase their product. They do it in such a professional & convincing way, I almost dropped $4,000 on Canon XH GI HD Camera. I wish!

Here’s a brief summary of what I saw at some of the biggest booths. No surprise that Canon and Nikon were the most popular at the expo because of their elaborate setups. It was a toss up between those two on how well they used their floor space to encourage you to hang out.


I was disappointed with Sony’s space, since they only had 1 camera with various lenses. 1 camera, come on Sony!

They were featuring their new SnapLab™ Digital Photo Printer which was fun to play with. Wasn’t too impressed with the quality on some prints we got off our SD cards on sight.

We participated in their green screen presentation with a quick lesson in an after-effects software called eXpress Digital. Green screen looks like a fun way to photograph with the ability to manipulate backgrounds. The photographer presenting this session was from the UK and was very engaging. He was using a Canon.

That’s about all Sony had. Oh and the cool lanyards they were handing out.


I enjoyed the presenters Canon scheduled to display their work in a small, intimate setting. Had the opportunity to see Joe Buissink, the photographer that shot Jennifer Lopez‘s wedding. He explained how a photographer should make his photos count and how important it is to sell yourself. After all you are the image of the company. Very interesting speaker. Had me sold!

Canon also had on display every camera they make. One could go up to the representatives and ask any questions while you play with the camera that interests you.

The workshops they had with live models were quite informative and onlookers paid close attention to the tips the Pro’s were giving. Bob Davis, famous for photographing Eva Longoria’s Wedding and others, was doing one-on-one with anyone who stopped by the booth. Time well spent for those people!

Every color printer Canon makes, big or small, was available for you to test and compare print quality. I believe we spent the most time in this booth!


One thing caught my eye right away as we got closer to the Nikon booth. It was the enormous LCD screen they were using to display photographs. At the time, Jim Reed was presenting his unique weather photographs. Simply said, they were beautiful photographs of nature in action. He is a well known storm chaser.

Jim Reed Presenting At Imaging USA Nikon Booth

Jim Reed Presenting At Imaging USA Nikon Booth

Nikon also had all their cameras on display for us to play with. One of my friends fulfilled his goal of using the Nikon D3, the hottest camera on the market. The smile it brought to his face was worth price of admission. Easy to see why digital has replaced film, the quality is unmatched. I tried some of the Nikon cameras with the long-throw lenses. The clarity you can get from a distance is unbelievable. Those things can get heavy carrying around.


All in all it was a fun way of spending a Sunday afternoon with friends. I should also point out that MacBook Pro‘s and iPhone‘s were being used by everyone. They were either displaying or instructing with a MBP or running through a gallery on their iPhone. I guess if you want to be a photographer, those two items are a must!

Our next stop will be CES 2010, where hopefully Apple will show up, Steve and all!


Cool Furniture Website

In Emerging Technology, Opinion, Reviews on December 29, 2008 by Media Specialist Tagged: ,

Browsing the internet the other day, I came across this online furniture store called LOMBOK. What caught my eye was the unique furniture on the front page. They have interesting wooden bedsbed throws and wardrobes that would decorate any bedroom nicely. I am a dark colored wood furniture aficionado and wouldn’t mind having much of what that furniture store makes and sells.

What I liked the most about the site was the cool zoom technology they use to enhance their products. Some of the benefits of purchasing online is that generally you get a better price without leaving the comfort of your home.

The one thing you always want to make sure of, is that the picture of the product you may want to purchase is clear and BIG. That way you have an exact idea of what will be arriving on your doorstep in a few days. LOMBOK does this well with the zoom option on all their products.

The way you can hover over a picture of any product and enlarge the part you want to see with great detail is so helpful. Try it out and see what I’m talking about. (Click on image below)

Cool Zoom Feature On LOMBOK Products

Cool Zoom feature on LOMBOK products leaves no doubt in what you are buying.

Do you agree with me? I hope more websites implement this technology. Makes purchasing much easier.

I signed up for their Catologue and their email updates for alerts on their new product line coming up. When time comes to replace our current furniture, I might consider purchasing from LOMBOK. If you are into this type of luxury furniture, check out this site.


The LCD Killed The Overhead

In Audio Visual, Education, Emerging Technology, Opinion on December 29, 2008 by Media Specialist

Overhead ProjectorVery popular song lyrics, “video killed the radio star!” Those lyrics definitely apply to this post, “LCD Projector killed the Overhead Projector!”

I don’t know about your school, but less and less teachers are using an overhead projector. Our school is fortunate to have been fitted with hanging NEC VT800 LCD Projectors.

The overhead projector has ran its course and has served  us well since the 1970’s. During my high school years, they played an important part in classroom instruction. I will never forget the sounds and awkward smells that radiated from these metal monsters. I’m sure you won’t either. It’s bittersweet to see it go, but I am happy with the replacement.

LCD Projectors are so useful in a classroom. Having sat in classrooms where these are used dynamically for educational instruction justify the cost of this technology. The internet provides so much useful content for projection. The ability to project videos, pictures and text in large format make an impact on how a lesson is taught. At least I believe so. The LCD Projector should be used as a compliment to any teaching method.

Here are some websites that can be useful for projection:

There are so many websites out there! Do your research beforehand and bookmark those sites you plan to use. Have fun using your LCD Projector as another teaching tool. Sometimes larger is better…