Fluent News

One of the best iPad/iPhone apps I have come across is the Fluent News Reader  App.  The news  app takes various RSS feeds from the best and most respected sources and puts them all in one hand app.  Some of the news sources include the Wall Street Journal, CNN, BBC, USA Today, and many more.  It has integrated social networking features that allow you to post articles to Facebook or Twitter or email them to friends.  Additionally you can also save the article, but be advised that saving will only save the link to the article.  If the source deletes the article, the link will cease to be valid and you’ll get a “not found” warning.

There are two versions of the app: one for iPad, and one for iPhone or iPod Touch.  Likewise there is both a free version of the app (for each platform) and a “Premium Version” for $1.99 per month or $2.99 for three months.  The premium version has no advertisement and allows you to turn off as many source as you would like.  It also allows you to “promote” as many sources as you want allowing you to fine tune the news you see.

As of this writing, the app has about a four star rating on the iTunes site and the reviewers all seem to be very pleased with this app.  If you are looking for a good news aggregator, Fluent News is the one for you.

A milestone passes quietly.

There are certain times in a person’s life when the day is full of such outward emotion and significance that it is clear for anyone to see that this is a day to remember.  Sometimes, on such days, there is much fanfare and celebration.  Other times there is much sorrow.  The birth of a child, or the death of a loved one.  Graduation from college, or getting laid-off from a job.  These times are remembered throughout a person’s life.

Yet, on occasion, there are other days that, while quieter, are much more significant and profound.  There is no cake and balloons, nor weeping and consoling.  Still the day will be marked as a significant one in a person’s life.

We had one such experience today.  My wife had her last radiation treatment for cancer and got her discharge papers releasing her from treatment.  The journey started ten months ago, and we’re finally finished with this chapter.  It is a welcomed relief.

To celebrate we went out to the local family restaurant in town.  I met my wife at the restaurant and greeted her with a kiss and a “good job, hon.” Except for a small joke about what she was going to do with all this free time now that she was done with chemo and radiation, not much more was said about it.  But we all felt a huge sense that a burden had been lifted.  We “celebrated” much in the same manner we faced this disease:  with a quite serenity. 

Certainly with the holidays upon us there will be more time to celebrate and to give thanks.  There will be a time for a greater outwards expression of our joy.  But today I am content with being able to say with pride that my wife and family faced this cancer with resolve and hope and serenity.

Groupon. Internet Goodness.

I have just discovered Groupon.  If you’re not familiar with this site, you probably will be soon.

What is Groupon?  Will simply put, it a way to get great deals (40% off, 50% off, and more sometimes) from local vendors.  How it works is you sign up for Groupon and then in your morning email you’ll get an email describing the daily deal.  If you want it, you just click “buy” and you’re on you way. 

But there is a catch…you see the vendor has set a target that must be met before the deal will go through.  So say for example the deal is a fancy dinner at a new restaurant in town at 50% off.  You’ve wanted to go to this new place so you click “Buy” and enter your payment information.  Now if the minimum number of sales has been reached, you’re all set.  But if not, you’ll need to wait until the minimum number of sales is reached before the deal will go through.  If the minimum is not reached by the end of the day, the deal falls through, nobody gets the fancy dinner and your credit card isn’t charged.  There is much sadness.

But the idea here is if you like the deal, you’ll share it via Facebook and Twitter to your friends increasing the sales (and advertising for the restaurant for free.)  Brilliant.

So let’s play the optimist and assume the deal goes through.  Once the deal is done, your credit card is charged and you receive a Groupon voucher in your email.  This voucher acts as your form of payment at the restaurant.

One benefit that Groupon really promotes is the opportunity to use Groupon to do something out of the ordinary.  I know for me it has already got me doing things I normally wouldn’t have considered.

If you haven’t tried Groupon yet, I highly recommend it



Learn How Groupon Works! from The Point on Vimeo.


Crud. I’ve gotten lazy.

I was doing so well: getting up early, meditating 3-4 times a week, reading my daily Bible readings and devotionals, playing guitar, exercising 4-5 times a week, and daily prayers. 

And then I started sliding.  It always starts so innocuously.  For me it was easy; I hit the snooze button.  That started me getting up later and skipping meditation.  Then sleeping a little later and running late, so I started skipping the Bible readings and daily devotionals.  The pattern continued and instead of praying I checked my blackberry for work messages.  Lack of focus on my “program” allowed me to start skipping exercise.  As focus continued to slide, I stopped practicing the guitar. 

And here I sit, a huge slug.

I think I am going to slug-out until the new year.  I am taking vacation the last week of the year, so I think I’m just going to relax until then. 

I ran the update (1.5) on my Nook the other day.  I was encouraged when I read what was in the update so I had been very eager to install it.  I waited one day after it was released to see what other users experienced.  With no major complaining and screaming, I proceeded to update it.

On the upside, the page turning was quicker and the “shelves” was nice if unnessecary (in my opinion.)  But the big feature I was really looking forward to, bookmark syching, was woefully underpowered.  It works well enough on app devices (iPad and iPod) but the Nook itself was clunky (at best.)  The most cumbersome aspect was having to turn on the “Auto save page on bn.com” feature for each book.  (This is found by opening the book on the Nook and scrolling down on the touch screen to “preferences” and the last option on that page is “Auto save page on bn.com”)

I was hoping for a smoother, more automatic way of implementing this feature.  Perhaps in a future release they will work to make it that way.

Who will replace Michael Scarn?

MichaelScottFor those not in the know, Michael Scarn is the name Michael Scott’s (AKA Steve Carell) alter-ego.  I am a huge fan of the NBC series “The Office.”  I realize, painfully sometimes, that it is not everyone’s cup of tea.  More often than not when I mention the series to someone I am met with something along the lines of “Oh, I hate that show” or “That guy is such an idiot.  How can you watch him.”

Well, I guess that’s kind of the beauty of the series and what makes I so much fun for me.  While it is over the top most of the time, there is a certain level of reality hidden right below the surface.  That little twinge of knowing that if I don’t know someone in my office just like them, I know someone with enough personality quirks and character defect that they could walk right onto the set of “The Office” and fit right in.  Perhaps we don’t have a quality assurance guy that is a burned out hippy like Creed Barton, but we do have a receptionist that think she secretly runs the company.  We may not have an Ivy League under achiever like Andy Bernard, but we have a guy that sits in his office taking pleasure at his own farts.

So that is why I like “The Office.”  While over the top, it is still very grounded in reality.  Almost disturbingly so.

But the anchor of this crazy ship, Steve Carell, is leaving.  And he is leaving some pretty big shoes to fill.  So who would I get to replace him?  Well, I wouldn’t consider bringing anyone from the current cast.  They all have their niche and roles.  To switch them now would jeopardize the series, and one of the things that always made Michael Scott “work” was that he was outside the rest of the cast and he desperately wanted to be inside.  I think it would stress the series too much to “promote” someone in the current cast into his position.

I have been thinking about who might fill the position and I think there are a few on SNL (also a NBC production) that might fill the role well.

bill1)    Bill Hader –  One of the best talents on SNL, he could easily fill the role.  The only question I have is could he play it serious enough.  With the right motivation and character development, I think he would do well.



jason2)    Jason Sudeikis – He would make a great replacement.  He does well with the straight man role and has a certain quirkiness that would play well in the role as an office manager.  He is my favorite option.


taran3)    Tarin Killam – A newbie to SNL, but he has a Michael Keaton feel about him that would do well in the role.  He’s a long shot, but I think he could do well in the role.



Anyway, Steve will be missed, but I think one of these gentlemen could do well in the role if given the chance.