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February 09, 2007

CarStereo.com

I've always loved good stereo in my cars. My 1965 Falcon I had when I was sixteen sported an underdash eight-track player and wedge surface-mount rear deck speakers. It wasn't much, but a clear improvement over the three inch squeaker and the AM radio. And besides, I remember that stereo sounding GREAT!

As I went through vehicles, my stereos gradually improved. First came the switch to cassette, then CD's, mp3 CD's, and now today: I have a modest but nifty system that includes a player that reads my mp3's off of a flash drive. My Tercel also has a 250 watt amplified subwoofer. It's by far the best car stereo I've ever had (in a car I've spent $2500 on!).

With that said, I present today's FamilyFirst site: CarStereo.com.

Read complete review of today's site - "CarStereo.com"

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February 08, 2007

Planet Dog Foundation

It all started in 1966, when mom brought home a poodle puppy. Over the next thirteen years, Frisky and I became best friends. I was a child when I got him, a man when he passed on.

I've loved dogs ever since. My wife and I raised two miniature schnauzers to old age, and now we're raising two more.

But dogs are far more than loving pets. Many of them work for a living, providing valuable services to their owners. I'll let today's FamilyFirst site, Planet Dog Foundation, explain:

Read complete review of today's site - "Planet Dog Foundation"

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February 07, 2007

My Rewards Game

Are having a hard time getting your child to behave? I know Avis Enderland certainly did, about 40 years ago ;-).

Well, what your kid needs is motivation. Sure, a spanking may be necessary from time to time. But children generally respond well to positive reinforcement.

Today's FamilyFirst site accentuates the positive when it comes to getting your kids to learn how to behave. It's called My Rewards Game.

It's a visual and colorful game board that easily hangs on wall like a picture. The game pieces are magnetic.

Read complete review of today's site - "My Rewards Game"

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February 06, 2007

Colts.com

Well, you did it, Peyton. You have shed the title of best quarterback to have never won a Super Bowl.

Next year, when the Patriots come to call, they are going to view you as the team that spanked them twice in 2006, after being their punching bag for so many years. The next time they have you down by more than two touchdowns, they'll be feeling a new emotion: fear.

You'll have more Monday night and Sunday night games next year. The champ always gets more. God willing, you might even knock Dallas out of one of their perennial multiple appearances.

Read complete review of today's site - "Colts.com"

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February 05, 2007

Burpee.com

Well, it's early February, the dead of winter. This is the time of year when a gardener gets to work!

Even though there is snow and ice on the ground, you can still be busy with your garden. You can be planning its layout, starting plants indoors, and getting your stuff ordered.

Burpee, the premier supplier of vegetable and flower seeds, has a website that is a tremendous boon to the gardener. It's our FamilyFirst pick today.

You can order your own full-color catalog free here. I've heard it said that optimism is nowhere better exemplified than in a seed catalog ;-).

Read complete review of today's site - "Burpee.com"

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February 04, 2007

Brianurlacher.com

Today's the big day. The most intersting Super Bowl in years, IMHO. Both teams had to overcome unusual adversities to get here.

Chicago was picked by nobody to have the year that they had. And as good as it was, stumbling down the stretch nearly caused them to miss out.

Indianapolis found itself in a position that looked all too familiar: down 21-3 to Tom Brady's Patriots in the AFC championship game. But they made the biggest comeback in history to turn it around and win their ticket to Miami.

Yesterday, we focused on Peyton Manning. Today, we focus on the Bears' superstar Brian Urlacher.

Read complete review of today's site - "Brianurlacher.com"

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February 03, 2007

PeytonManning.com

I'm as much into this Super Bowl as I have been for any in memory. It's between two teams that most folks didn't expect to see there. And that's when the game is at its best.

And what makes it particularly delightful is that Peyton Manning is finally getting his shot.

Now I'm not rotting against the Bears. I'll be tickled no matter which of these overlooked teams wins. But I have a special place in my heart for Peyton Manning, as well as Colts fans.

It goes back to 1983. John Elway is drafted by the Colts. He very publicly says that he will not play for them.

Read complete review of today's site - "PeytonManning.com"

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February 02, 2007

Superbowl.com: History

I know, I know, the Super Bowl has turned into a pretentious celebration of Itself. Those Roman numerals alone show how “important” it is.

But the fact is that it's the biggest show in town. And we all love it, at least when Dallas isn't playing ;-).

Today's FamilyFirst site is the History section of Superbowl.com.

I grew up with the Super Bowl, and can remember when it was “only” the NFL championship that was shown on Sunday afternoon late in January. The hype consisted of a few commercials.

Even though I had gotten into sports by the time it was played, for some reason I missed the Jets-Colts game. That was the one where Joe Namath made his famous prediction.

Read complete review of today's site - "Superbowl.com: History"

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February 01, 2007

Family Safe Software

Looking for a game for your teenagers? One that's not violent? But one that's not kiddie level? Where do you look?

Well, today's FamilyFirst pick can make things easier on you. It's called My Family Software. Here's their mission:

MyFamilySoftware.com is the online store for Discount Software. A distributor of Family-Friendly software products owned by Rob & Perma Jessup. We started our software distribution business in 1997 selling wholesale software products to local computer stores. Now we are one of the largest CD-ROM software sellers on the internet. We only carry titles that are suitable for our two daughters or any one of our 27 nieces or nephews (ages 1-20). Absolutely no violent or “shoot-em-up” games of any kind sold here.

Read complete review of today's site - "Family Safe Software"

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January 31, 2007

Vista's Built-In DRM

Okay, I have to spring another technical pick on you. But you need to see it, in case you're planning on purchasing Microsoft Vista, which is being media blasted at presstime.

It has to do with the three most dreaded letters for owners of computers and/or digital content: DRM. Vista has it built in, and you're not going to like it.

The entities that have requested this are the good old child-and-granny-suing monstrous money-making machines known as the RIAA and the MPAA.

Basically, here's how it works. DVD's have gained higher definition in recent years. HD-DVD and Blu-Ray technologies have put more pixels in DVD imagery than ever before. And while they are more expensive than standard DVD's, they aren't prohibitively so, costing about double. So the odds are good that you either own them, or will soon.

Read complete review of today's site - "Vista's Built-In DRM"

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January 30, 2007

My WorldVillage

When I first thought I'd take a stab at freelance writing twelve years ago, one of the first regular gigs I landed was at WorldVillage.

Well, I wasn't destined to become a full-time writer. I lucked into a dream job playing with computers all day long instead. But I'm still proud that many of my embryonic ventures into putting word to paper (or more appropriately, a computer screen ;-) are still posted at worldvillage.com.

But the times they have a-changed. WorldVillage is now an online community. More importantly, it's a well-supervised FAMILY-SAFE online community. It's also our FamilyFirst site for today.

Presenting My WorldVillage. Here's its mission:

Read complete review of today's site - "My WorldVillage"

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January 29, 2007

PSPVeed

Do you have a PSP? Well don't brag too loudly, because I don't. ;-)

But for those of you who are fortunate enough to have Sony's ubiquitous portable entertainment center, today's FamilyFirst site is for you.

It's called PSPVeed. Here's what they're all about, in their own words:

PSPVeed.com is a free service that allows you to download video directly to your PSP. You no longer have to download the video to a computer and then transfer it to your PSP. As long as you have a wireless connection you can find the videos you want to watch with PSPVeed.com.

Read complete review of today's site - "PSPVeed"

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January 28, 2007

Computerworld's Shark Bait

As regular readers know, I'm in the tech field in the real world. And unlike many who are dealing with computers on a daily basis, I'm still tickled to be there after seven years. I guess doing something you hate for a living for 23 years will do that to you.

Unfortunately, many in the tech business, due to companies' slashing their IT budgets, must now deal with long hours, higher stress, and mediocre pay.

This was after so many chose this particular career during the boom years of the 90's.

So what does an overworked, stressed out techie do? He/she laughs.

Read complete review of today's site - "Computerworld's Shark Bait"

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January 27, 2007

Eels on Wheels

The perception of being handicapped has changed greatly during my lifetime. In fact, you seldom hear the term “handicapped” any more. The term implies that a person has a situation that they can do nothing about. On the other hand, “physically challenged” gives the idea that a person has circumstances that might make certain tasks more difficult, BUT they can still be be overcome.

Take scuba diving, for instance.

Scuba is a pastime enjoyed by millions, including a significant number of folks who find that getting around underwater greatly narrows the difference between their circumstances and those who don't face physical challenges.

Read complete review of today's site - "Eels on Wheels"

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January 26, 2007

Cow Abductions

As you know, I try to pick sites that aren't too graphics-heavy for FamilyFirst picks. I've had broadband since 1998, but I realize that many folks out there are still chugging along at dialup speeds.

With that, I apologize to them with regards to today's pick. The site consists of a pretty large Flash file.

However, the subject of the site is of such importance that I ask you to bear with me. Its message is serious, and should be listened to.

The site is called Cowabduction.com. Its purpose is to educate the public on a serious problem that is growing at an alarming rate: the abduction of bovines by aliens.

Read complete review of today's site - "Cow Abductions"

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January 25, 2007

Don Markstein's Toonopedia

Well, once again, research for my own gig, I Remember JFK, has led to a FamilyFirst pick.

I wrote a column on my memories of the Sunday funnies. That led me to this killer site which is packed with info about strips that have long passed from memory, as well as ones that continue to prosper.

What caught my attention about the site was the info it had on a panel comic that I remembered well, but I was beginning to think nobody else had. It was called Out Our Way, about a family called the Willetts. It was moderately popular, but the Tulsa World I grew up with had it as long as I was a kid.

Read complete review of today's site - "Don Markstein's Toonopedia"

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January 24, 2007

SaferBuilding.com

As my mother of all remodels enters its tenth month, I can vouch for what an ordeal it is. It's hard work, and it can be dangerous.

But today's FamilyFirst site shows you how to remodel safely, and to use safe materials. It's called SaferBuilding.com. Here's their mission:

SaferBuilding provides extensive, thorough, safe construction/remodeling research from all angles -- from a household maintenance perspective, from an aesthetic perspective, from a toxicity/health perspective, and from a financial perspective. The site offers dozens of educational materials including things like Contractor How-To Sheets regarding painting, plumbing, flooring, carpet demolition, carpentry, furniture, termite & pest management and more.

Read complete review of today's site - "SaferBuilding.com"

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January 23, 2007

DSOTM and the Wizard of Oz

I wrote an article which appeared on January 22 on my I Remember JFK site about Pink Floyd's immortal album Dark Side of the Moon. In researching the article, I was reminded of a unique phenomenon someone discovered about the album when played while watching The Wizard of Oz with the sound turned off.

It seems that if you start the album just as the MGM lion completes its third roar, an amazing synchronizing with the film's action takes place.

So today, I'm featuring not one but two sites that discuss the phenomenon.

The first site, Dark Side of the Rainbow, goes into detail as to what happens. It's pretty fascinating stuff.

Read complete review of today's site - "DSOTM and the Wizard of Oz"

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January 22, 2007

After-Prom.org

It's a tradition. A rite of passage. Your parents did it, so did you, so will your children.

Unfortunately, in recent years, it has taken on a sinister connotation.

I'm talking about the junior-senior prom. It's the social event of the spring for high schoolers. But too often, proms are marred by tragedy.

It's an unfortunate fact that teenagers somehow manage to get their hands on alcohol and overindulge, in many cases with sad aftereffects.

It's enough to give a parent premature gray hair.

Read complete review of today's site - "After-Prom.org"

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January 21, 2007

SaveGasNow.org

We all love our cars. Well, maybe not ALL the time. When mine has a dead battery, I get annoyed at it. But by and large, we baby our modes of transportation.

But one thing we DON'T like to do is fill the blasted things up with expensive gas.

Sometimes, solutions to problems involve changing the way we look at them. That principle is known as paradigm shift. Here's a simple example:

I want to sail across the ocean as fast as possible. The fastest boat will get me to Europe in two days. That's not soon enough.

Wait a minute, why not fly?

Read complete review of today's site - "SaveGasNow.org"

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January 20, 2007

Momscape

Okay, let me begin by stating that I'll never know what it means to be a mother. But then again, you moms out there will never know the special feelings of fatherhood, so we're even.

But the fact is that the whole family experience is complicated. It's joyful, terrifying, and I wouldn't trade it for anything. I'm very proud to have a couple of kids running around in the world who, despite all odds, manage to look like me, and yet be gorgeous!

Today's FamilyFirst site is aimed at mothers. It's called Momscape. Here's their mission:

Read complete review of today's site - "Momscape"

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January 19, 2007

Learn English

Okay, today's FamilyFirst site is one of those that requires a lot of imagination from me.

You see, my boss wants a certain amount of content. Yesterday's site on Chicago, the band, was easy. I like Chicago, and had an easy time coming up with plenty to say about them.

But today's site is just so darned simple, there's just not a whole lot you can say about it.

It's aimed at speakers of Hebrew, Spanish, French, and Russian. It's designed to make it easy for speakers of those languages to learn English.

Read complete review of today's site - "Learn English"

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January 18, 2007

Chicago, the Band

While listening to old WLS broadcasts at reelradio.com, I was reminded of how much airplay Chicago got on their hometown radio station.

The fact is that Chicago (the band) has had its triumphs over the years, as well as its rough spots. Some might argue that they hit their peak in the 1970's, before the unfortunate demise of singer and bassist/guitarist Terry Kath, whose distinctive voice was heard on songs like Little One, Make Me Smile, and Colour My World. Others might say they are just now hitting their stride, with newly released album Chicago XXX doing well on the charts and with many critics.

Read complete review of today's site - "Chicago, the Band"

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January 17, 2007

FunDraw

So, are you an artist? No? Are you sure?

Well, just check out today's FamilyFirst site: FunDraw.com. You just might have to rethink your artistic talents.

The site uses a cool Flash tool to let you quickly create some bonzer art. Here's what the webmaster has to say about it:

The thought then turned to how to make something simple enough that someone who wasn't tech or design savvy could make something they'd love in 5-10 minutes, but with enough power under the hood to let people get adventurous too. The result is FunDraw.com.

Read complete review of today's site - "FunDraw"

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January 16, 2007

Squirrel Fishing

In the higher learning centers of our country, we gain insight from the students there who are working hard in their studies to become our next generation of behavioral researchers.

One field that has been lacking in manpower is Rodent Performance Evaluation. That leads to today's FamilyFirst site: Squirrel Fishing.

Harvard students have been tongue-in-cheekingly been researching squirrels on the campus. Specifically, they have been fishing for them. The research involves tying a peanut to a fishing line, tying a key a few inches up the line for weight, and tossing the tidbit to a squirrel.

Read complete review of today's site - "Squirrel Fishing"

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