Review: Keeper password manager is powerful and simple, but pricey | Macworld

Both my Father and Friend have been hacked this week.  Passwords may not have been the problem but keeping your information safe is always a good idea.  I use keeper to produce my secure passwords and it minimizes my need to remember so many.  If not this applictation then you should be considering something to help secure your sensitive sites.

-JOE-

Keeper helps you keep your logins safe from prying eyes with a simple and effective user interface that works across just about any platform you can thing of. Unfortunately, syncing — a feature that just about everyone needs these days — comes at a steep price.

Source: Review: Keeper password manager is powerful and simple, but pricey | Macworld

Amelia Schmidt

Two years ago an MRI changed a little girls life forever.  Amelia Schmidt discovered that she had a brain tumor and later that it was a rare form of cancer.  I created this video for the family, their friends and all that were involved to remember the battles, devastating blows and victories along the way.  It’s only a glimpse of the actual reality that Amelia and her family faced but if you have 15 minutes to watch,  its worth it.  It makes your worries in your life seem small.

Dollar Shave Club – Initial Impressions

How many times have you needed to shave and you either can’t find a sharp razor or the razor you have is full of hair and it’s not your hair?  Between my three daughters and wife I may get a chance to use my new razor once before it is taken away.  Hey, it’s just the way it is and everyone needs to shave sometime.  The only problem is that razors aren’t cheap.  I feel that when my girls use my high dollar razor blades on their legs it’s wasting money.  Replacement razor blades in the store can cost $15, $30 upwards of $50!!  So looking for a solution to my problem I came across the Dollar Shave Club.

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The Dollar Shave Club is a company that provided razors, handles, and lotions via online order.  You sign up online and establish an account.  You have three choices…the $1/month double blade “the humble”, $6/month Multi blade “4x” and the $9/month mac daddy “executive”.   One small catch is that the $1/month is actually $3/Month because this is the only level that charges delivery.  The other two higher levels are free delivery.  For Blade choices you can follow this link www.dollarshaveclub.com/blades.

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I went for the lowest level of entry thinking that if it wasn’t good enough I could upgrade to a nicer blade.  My package arrived yesterday so I wanted to share my opinion of the first shave with the “humble” razor.

Bottom line…it’s good.  It’s not spectacular but its a solid razor for a really inexpensive price.  Beyond the razor this is what I like about the program.  I no longer have to remember to get razors.  I no longer have to worry if the store has the correct kind of blade for my handle.  I won’t get upset when others use my blades…there are more coming next month.  AND…the shave is pretty good.  Keep in mind this is the entry-level so I didn’t expect the shave to be the best but it’s actually better than I expected.  In the kit I received a cool box, a razor handle, five razor blades and some shaving “butter”.  Not crazy about the shaving butter but its ok.  I prefer the old-fashioned shaving cream.

So, initial results…thumbs up.  I will check back and update to let you know how long the blades last and the opinions from my girls.  So far so good, you may want to give it a try.

Update:  July 13, 2015 – I have used the first blade for the first week and it is still shaving close.  I think my face is adjusting to the angle of the blade.  5 shaves and they are still clean and close.

Update:  October 21, 2015 – Tracey from Dollar shave club contacted me to thank me for giving DSC props and to request a link to the blade choices…done.  🙂

Germany – My Visit – Part 1

My daughter was awarded a great honor.  She received the scholarship for the CBYX program.  This scholarship is awarded by U.S. Congress, called the Congress-Bundestag Youth Exchange Program.  This allows a student to live with a host family and attend high school in Germany while becoming fluent with the language and having a culturally immersive experience.  Needless to say she jumped at the opportunity and now my second oldest is signed up and getting ready to go as well!

My family decided to go visit with my daughter, in Germany so I wanted to share the experience so anyone traveling there for the first time would have some perspective from this “first timer”.  This was my first trip to Germany and my first trip to Europe.  I am not a worldly traveler at all.  I am sure I will get few things wrong but I will do my best.

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Getting to Germany is expensive.  Flights ranged from $850-$1500 round trip so to get 5 people to Germany is about the price of a used car.  You have several choices of airlines and they all run specials at various times.  I think that if you’re like me and going for “best price” you’ll end up on Turkish Air or SAS.  We chose SAS.  The flight was about 8 hours to our connection and then about 1.5 hours once we made our connecting flight.  Our flight was delayed 2 hours upon arriving to the airport.  People told us that this is not uncommon with international flights.  Other than hanging out in the airport a little longer this was not a big deal.

Germany is 6 hours ahead of the US (east coast).  My friend said the quickest way to adapt to the time shift is sleep on the plane and to just stay up when you get to Germany and “push through” and go to bed at your normal bed time in Germany.  This would mean you have to endure one hell of a long day but it’s not too bad after that.

Upon arriving to Düsseldorf airport, in Germany, it was a little confusing.  It probably didn’t help that I was tired but it wasn’t clear where our baggage was and no one really told us.  We finally found it.  Luckily my daughters CBYX program liaison (Bianca) met us at the airport and took us under her wing.  So getting the rental car and getting to my hotel was easy.  We can’t thank her enough for all of her efforts.  We really appreciated her!

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Hotels, Rentals and where to stay.  Traveling to Germany is expensive and everything in Germany can cost a bit more than the US as well.  We found most things to be comparable as the Euro and Dollar exchange rate was working to our advantage on this trip.  We stayed in our first place and coordinated it through HomeAway.  HomeAway is a house rental site where individual property owners advertise and rent their personal properties.  It was a good alternative to hotels for us due to the size of our family.  You need to be careful what you choose and do a little homework but you can find some really nice places.  I think we lucked out.

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The first thing you’ll notice is the general size difference…of everything.  The cars, the streets, the stores, the houses, all are smaller.  Not a bad thing just a fact.  The byproduct of less space and smaller things is that you’ll find some pretty neat innovations.  Some are so cool you’ll think  “why don’t we do that, that makes so much sense”.  Example…all residential toilets have slim tanks or wall buried tanks mounted in the walls and have a small and large flush button.  Saves space, saves water…why not?   One of my favorites was the windows.  They have windows that are full panes of sashless glass unlike our typical double or single hung windows.  The view out of this type of window is unobstructed by grilles and sash frames.  They are double hinged too…you can tilt the window in at the top allowing a breeze while being kid safe or change the handle position and the whole window will swing in allowing for max breeze.  Opening windows in Germany is important because there aren’t as many places with central air conditioning so the air exchange is not like our homes.  Opening windows becomes necessary to freshen up from time to time.

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Germany is old, real old.  We in the US consider our country history…independence, civil war etc. “a long time ago” but the US time scale is like a few hours relative to Germany’s time line in history.   Not making our history any less important but what you’ll notice is this age and historical character oozes from all areas of the German surroundings.  Architecture, monuments, churches…its a real eye opener and really quite an experience. Have you heard of the Neander Valley?  No?  Neanderthal Man?…yeah, that’s Germany.  Pretty cool.

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Just a sample of the “Age” you feel while walking around the city.  A simple window sill that you can tell has been there a really long time.

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On Easter Sunday I took a walk in the city and while the Church bells were going like crazy I snapped a picture of this church.  I am sure the people of Essen don’t even notice it but I really found it incredible.  This type of building and architecture is everywhere.

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We were welcomed by my daughters host family and even invited to an Easter bonfire that is an Easter tradition.  The community will gather, socialize, eat and yes…drink a little beer.  🙂

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We thought we would bring a little USA to the event and had brought Smores makings all the way from home.  So out came the graham crackers, chocolate and marshmallows.  It was so funny to see the locals with marshmallow stuck to their fingers but the German children really appreciated the sugar.  We were introduced to our own new campfire treat.  The Germans place uncooked dough on a stick and actually bake bread on a stick at their campfires.  It is less mess and more filling, so cool!

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I would say one of my favorite features of Germany that stuck with me is the stone work in the streets and sidewalks.  Even in modern cities they use stone for streets, walkways and various areas that really give the city a unique character and texture that’s hard to explain unless you’re up close and can see it.  My photos don’t do it justice but gives an idea.

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The photo below is actually from a Schloss (castle) that we visited.  The modern city stone work is not this rough  but you get the idea.

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The other feature I like about the German mind-set is that they are willing to walk.  People walk a mile or two like its nothing.  Go to the store, grocery shopping?…just walk.  Mass transportation is readily available too.  It’s not uncommon for Germans to catch the bus, jump on a train, go to a city an hour away and then back.  This is an area where I really think the US could improve.  Then again we have such immense land and space its a harder thing to accomplish this network for travel but our cities and surrounding suburbs could certainly benefit from better mass transportation.

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Lets talk Castles…”Schloss” in German.  I think Germany has more Schloss’s than the us has 7-Eleven’s.  All kidding aside there are literally too many to visit.  We started our trip in Essen visiting my daughter in a nearby city.  While there we branched out to neighboring towns and visited a couple of Water Castles surrounded by water motes.

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The two water castles were very different but equally beautiful.  From old statues and monuments to a guy offering paid drives in his Lamborghini (no I didn’t drive it…) there were plenty of things to see.

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I really wanted to take this Lambo out on the Audubon!

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You will see some interesting vehicles in Germany.  What I like most are the many models of the car makers that we have in the US.  It’s interesting to see a Mercedes hatchback diesel that’s smaller than a Volkswagen Golf.  I wish we had a wider range of models for BMW and Mercedes in the US like Germany, they certainly would sell more cars.  Also its fun to see the cars you have never even heard of.  My son and I were constantly asking each other “whats that?” as we walked the streets.  I still don’t know what the car is in the picture below but I want one!

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Driving in Germany is not too bad.  It’s important to know what german words mean “one way” and “do not enter” as there were a couple of those incidents on this trip.  Ha ha.  The driving location/position for the cars and streets in Germany is the same as the US.  Road rules are more or less the same too.  Two road rules that stood out…if there is a person even thinking of crossing the road you had better give way and you never turn on red, ever, not even a right turn.  They also have an “almost green” light.  Our traffic lights go from green (go) to yellow (stop if you can) to red (stop)…but the germans add one more sequence…after a red light you will see a RED and YELLOW light at the same time which means “it’s about to turn green” .  Not sure why but I think it’s allowing those standard, stick shift drivers to get in gear and get their foot on the clutch.  There are far more diesel cars and manual shift transmissions in Germany.  It would be wise to make sure if you rent a car to let the rental car company know if you are unable to drive a stick shift.  I actually drove a VW Sharan, diesel, stick shift…that’s a stick shift mini-van!  Took a little getting used to.

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Ok, I know you’re wondering about the Audubon. Yes I drove it and contrary to popular opinion it isn’t always “speed limit-less”.  It ranges near cities from 80-120khr that’s 50-75mph approximately.  On the country side while driving in more rural areas it was time to rock though.  I would drive on average from 100-115mph and there were cars passing me like I wasn’t even moving.  The best thing about the German highway driving is that people live by a rule…if you drive slow stay in the right.  You can pass on the left but if you see a rapidly approaching vehicle in the rear view mirror you better move over!  They take that rule very seriously and I have to say it works well and traffic moves along nicely with this simple concept.  You can actually get a ticket for driving too slow in the left lane.

Check back in a few days as I will outline my trip and list all of the places I visited and share many photos of the journey.

Stay tuned for Germany – Part 2

 

 

 

CureFest 2014

Last weekend I went down to the National Mall in Washington DC to show support for an amazing girl who lives in my Neighborhood along with support for hundreds of other children with cancer.  She’s a really good friend to my children and we are very close to the whole family.  Childhood cancer is a really tragic disease…there is not enough research, funding and the treatments are antiquated.  These are our children!!  There must be more awareness, funding and action to help improve treatments and to find cures for our children.  Yes, OUR!  Maybe today you are unaffected… “thats someone else’s kid…”  but you could blink and it could be your child, your friend’s or someone in your family.  Take the time to learn more about this horrible disease and make one or two minor changes in your life that could help in the efforts to promote awareness, research and possibly a cure!

One group making strides with awareness is thetruth365 organization.  Please visit their site, watch their videos and sign any petition you can get your hands on.  Its worth it!

This is a short montage music video of the event.  It just captures a few scenes of a truly amazing day.  I plan to put together a more in depth video as some of the speeches and displays of absolute courage were truly moving and deserves to be shared.

A special day for a very special girl

Last week in perfect weather we walked in support of Amelia Schmidt and the Lymphoma Research Foundation.  There were 130 people there… just for Amelia’s team!  I put together a quick video trying to capture the event but it still doesn’t do justice to the level of support that is around this girl and her family.  Our prayers continue.  Go Amelia!

For more information about Amelia and her courageous fight:  https://www.facebook.com/theTruth365film