A Lazy Friday Afternoon with RainyMood

Today I am posting this from outside. It is hardly humid, moderately warm, and there is a very-slightly cool breeze drifting by. I had a jazz music playlist on random, a cup of Turkish earl grey tea with bergamot, and my dog was not back from the vet yet, meaning it was quiet. Then I became slightly bored and lost my train of thought. Why am I not competely at ease? Why am I asking myself questions when I should be having my mind defragmenting itself over the tea? I will just have to relax even harder, and I remembered where to start...

RainyMood! A getting-popular-really-fast site that streams a 30 minute-long sound bite of a rainstorm, complete with the occasional distant thunder sound. While it is simply a wonderful stream to have going on a lazy afternoon, that is not where you should stop. The real beauty of this sound bite is to have your own music streaming along with it. On the site itself, it lists a few songs users have tried in conjunction with Rainymood. Today's post will list just a few of my favorites.

Fragrance of Dark Coffee - An interesting orchestral instrumental piece that takes your mind on a calm ride through an English countryside. It is from a Japanese show called Godot about a coffee-loving attorney. Listening to this with RainyMood is quite an experience.

Jazz-styled Piano with Electronic Mixing - an unnamed piece I found via Google. It mixes the slow complexity of smooth jazz piano with electronic beats and effects. While you might think electronic means heavy, I can assure you it is in no way overpowering the piano.

Moonlight Sonata and Overture by Trans Siberian Orchestra - One of Beethoven's best known songs. The first one is the classic piano version and the TSO version is a compilation of several of Beethoven's pieces put together into one song opening for a CD of theirs called Beethoven's Last Night. I am quite the TSO fan, so I prefer their cover over the classic. On a final note, just about every song on Beethoven's Last Night can be played with RainyMood as the CD itself has a dark, creepy, and powerful tone that blends well with a rainstorm (Try Fate).

The Aurora - An electronic/vocalist song complete with a well-done video of a winterscape and aurora. It makes you feel confident and inspired just to listen to the soft vocals mixed with a moderate trance beat. Though quite short, the song almost seems ethereal.

Le Onde - A classical-themed piano piece by Ludovico Einaudi. The title translates to "the waves," and the music is just so. The piano notes seem to just roll over one another to form a very calming aura of music. The song picks up and lets you down at just the right times.

Can You Stand the Rain - Finishing up strongly with Boyz II Men! Yes, this song fits quite well with RainyMood. A slow melody performed by the smoothest boy band ever. Complete with finger-snapping and perfect-pitch vocals, this is definitely a tune to try out.

Hopefully you have heard of this site before and this post is simply reminding you or getting you a few more good songs. If you have never used this site before, wow! You really haven't? You serious? Geez man...

Center Your Icons and Stacks in Windows 7

One of the most annoying aspects I found with my toolbar buttons was not being able to move them. I found the lack of movability quite disturbing. I knew there had to be a way, but where to start?

Start here:

1) Make an empty folder somewhere it will not be disturbed. I kept mine in My Documents next to my Stacks folder.
2) Make sure your toolbar is unlocked, right-click Toolbars and then New Toolbar. Select your empty folder and continue.
3) Right-click on your new toolbar icon and uncheck Show Text and Show Title. This makes the toolbar icon invisible.
4) Now just move the icon around as you want, adding other icons and/or stacks to the right of the invisible toolbar icon.

You can use this method of moving your icons to the center, or wherever along the toolbar. Some folks like to use their wallpaper in conjunction with their icons, so the center might not be the best option. Experiment and see what works for you!

I have a slight OCD condition which forced me to spend an hour or two measuring the centering of my icons down to the millimeter, but now I get all the chicks coming up to me wondering how my desktop looks so sleak. My results are not normal for all users, your experience may vary.

Create Stacks in Windows 7

One of the things Windows 7 is missing is the highly popular stack function found in other operating systems (I refuse to type them). I prefer my desktop to have easy access to commonly used programs, but I also do not want the desktop cluttered with dozens of icons. A few icons on the desktop are perfectly fine, but I'm no Jabroni when it comes to cleanliness. Therefore, I went on a virtual quest in search of the perfect method of using stacks in Windows 7.

I wanted stacks and I wanted them to look awesome. Too many folks had screenshots of stacks in weird places, like above their toolbars, off to the side, or even free floating around the desktop. This did not suit my purposes well. If it cannot look decent, I would not bother.

Luckily I found a way. Now, there are a few programs that can create stacks, which are essentially shortcuts listing other shortcuts: Win7Stack7stack, and Piles for Windows to name several. I prefer Win7Stack as it has a simpler interface and it lists icons in a smoother interface. It is also extremely easy to use your own icon image instead of pre-programmed Windows icons. Find one of the above you like, download, install, and move on.
Next you need to make your stack folders. Each program needs you to make a folder with all the shortcuts in it first. Name the folder whatever you want it to show when you click it. I have folders called Office, Adobe, GIS, CAD, Toolz, Maintenance, and Game time, each with their respective shortcuts. Also, include your icon file in each folder as well. I store all my stacks in a folder called Stacks in My Documents, along with some Start orbs as well.

Now it is time to make your stacks. Find your stack folder's and icon's path, then click "Create link on Desktop," or the equivalent on other software. Mess around with the the different styles to see what you prefer. I prefer the default settings as they are simple, unintrusive, and smooth.

That is it for today's post. Remember to have the stack icon image you want to use converted to .ICO extension. PNGs might work, but not as well as ICO. Tomorrow we will show you a couple tricks to formatting stacks onto the toolbar.

Stealth Drinking Part 2 - At the Public Beach

(continued from here) It's that time again, time to be social in public. It is great that you finally get to hit the beach, but oh how the people you are going with are uninteresting. They're the ones who always bring too many chairs, blankets, parasols, and water bottles. The kind of folks you're surprised are able to leave the house knowing they will be unable to bring the entire pantry or the family Wii. Well, luckily for you, you do not have to bear it sober, again.

Most beaches you will find are not alcohol-friendly. Some beaches have ATV-riding lifeguards specifically patrolling for alcohol consumption. If you bring a cooler thinking you can at least have a few cold ones while the rest of your group small talks about their menial problems at the office, think again. You'll probably end up sober, ticketed, and escorted off the beach. With that in mind, here's what you have to do...

1) Pack lightly if you're planning on bringing beer specifically. You'll need all the room you can get, plus you don't want to look like a tool with thirty bottles of sunscreen, do you?

2) Figure out which liquor to bring: beer, wine, or distilled beverages. This will determine how you will hide said beverage. The harder the liquor, the easier it will be.

3) Do not pass off your supplies with someone else. It's much easier to get caught if you have to ask a buddy to pass you your "stealthed" alcohol beverage instead of you having it within arm's reach. You will be safer if you undertake this task alone.

Weapon of Choice - Again, this post is not just to tell you to bring a brown paper bag for your liquor. You are reading this because you want something less conspicuous. In general, you want to use only items commonly found at the beach.We have a few suggestions tried and tested.

1) Sunblock bottle - My personal favorite. Good size bottles hold 6 - 10 oz. Since one shot is usually 1.5 oz, that means a sunblock bottle hold between 4 - 6 shots, enough for a fun time. It is probably the most commonly brought item too, making it one of the most inconspicuous options. Just wash it out, fill it up with a plunger or non-needle syringe (think ear or nose cleaning), and cap it off. Store it next to your sammiches.

2) Soda can - Yes, the common soda can works once again. Soda is a highly trafficked item at the beach and you would not seem out of place for drinking out of one. For better measure, dig a small hole for your can to be parked in while you are away or if someone notices you drinking massive amounts of "soda."

3) Contact lens solution bottle - It is becoming more common to see people with contacts bring their solution. This is especially useful for waterparks where you cannot bring label-less sports bottles through customs. Use this to your advantage. Most regular size solution bottles are 10 oz and over. This means a solution bottle holds 2 - 3 glasses of wine, you classy connoisseur. Save a Riesling for us, ya hear?

4) Camelback - To finish up, we also suggest using a CamelBak or the equivalent off-brand for storing larger quantities of alcoholic beverages beer. Each pack holds 1 - 3 L, thus making CamelBack an option for beer or wine. You will have to use a cooling pack or ice because it only holds its temperature for an hour or so. It is marketed to fight dehydration, so who's to question your constant sipping? No one, that's who.

Proper Etiquette - By handling yourself in just the right way, you can take an “illegal” and “socially unacceptable” act and come out a classy jerk, drinking chardonnay in everybody's face without anyone having the slightest clue as to what you're up to.

1) Hold your alcohol - Getting visibly smashed is the easiest way to give yourself up. Know your limits and you can have a good time while maintaining the guise of soberness.

2) Don't brag - This one is very important. If you are constantly telling stories about your conquests, people will know your techniques and see right through your future attempts. Plus, you know there are haters out there and they will actively try to get you caught, so be safe and cover your bases. Try to live like the masked superhero. People know you're out there and your friends all tell stories of your legend but you never reveal yourself. Thus you live to drink another day.