Spotify and Facebook: Perfect Together

About a month or so I received an invite to join Spotify, an on demand online music streaming service. I was already happy with the two music services I use now, Pandora and Last.fm, so I passed on the invitation. Recently Spotify teamed up with Facebook to offer its 800 million members a great way to listen to music online and share tunes with their Facebook friends, so I thought I’d give Spotify a try. I’m glad I did.

You have to download and install the Spotify program to your computer, so for some who hate downloading stuff this might be a deal breaker. A few months ago you could join the service on its own, but now a Facebook account is required. I recommend checking it out. Your Facebook friends on Spotify can decide to share their playlist and favorite artists with you or keep this info private, which just recently became an option. I like listening to music when I want and it also allows me to listen to new full-length music anytime I want. If I really enjoy the song I can buy it on iTunes. So far, I’m loving Spotify.

Did I mention the service is free? Spotify provides you with 10 hours of free music a month. There are short commercials along the way, but they’re not very annoying. If you really love the service you can opt for a premium service with unlimited music and no commercials. For now the free service works for me.

Spotify has an incredible music library, but of course not all songs/artists are available. For example, I love Seal and was happy to see that most of his music is just a click away. However another one of my favorite singers, Adele, only has her first album and her mega hit “Rolling in the Deep” from her second album, 21, available for streaming on Spotify.

Music has been social online for some time now, however this joint venture by Facebook and Spotify may take online music sharing to the next level. So if you have a Facebook account and enjoy listening to your favorite music online and finding new music your friends already like, give Spotify a try.

If you already use Spotify feel free to share your thoughts on it so far. Enjoy the music!

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National Hispanic Heritage Month – Sept. 15 thru Oct. 15

National Hispanic Heritage Month is the period from September 15 thru October 15 in the United States. During this time our country officially recognizes the contributions of Hispanic and Latino Americans to the United States and celebrates Hispanic/Latino cultural heritage. The term Hispanic or Latino, as defined by the U.S. Census Bureau, refers to Puerto Rican, South or Central American, or other Spanish culture or origin regardless of race.

Hispanic Heritage Week was first observed under President Lyndon Johnson in 1968 and was later expanded by President Ronald Reagan in 1988 to cover a 30-day period starting on September 15 and ending on October 15.

The day of September 15 is significant because it is the anniversary of independence for Costa Rica, El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras and Nicaragua. In addition, Mexico and Chile celebrate their independence days on September 16 and September 18, respectively. Also, Columbus Day or Día de la Raza, which is October 12, falls within this 30 day period known as National Hispanic Heritage Month.

The Hispanic population of the United States is 50.5 million as of April 1, 2010, making people of Hispanic/Latino origin the nation’s largest ethnic or race minority. Hispanics constituted 16.3 percent of the nation’s total population. In addition, there are 3.7 million residents of Puerto Rico, a U.S. territory.

For more information on Hispanic Heritiage Month check out Just the facts at HispanicOhio.com.

Happy Hispanic Heritage Month!

 

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Writing on the Web: Why Blogging is Cool

I enjoy writing on the web and believe blogging is an important platform for any writer. Even if you don’t consider yourself a writer, blogging is great way to get your thoughts and perspective out to the world. Some believe Facebook and Twitter will kill the blog, but I think it will continue to be a powerful medium.

You can use a blog to comment on current events, news articles you find interesting, or cover a topic that is dear to your heart. If you’re not really a writer, you can create a photo or video blog, or one to showcase your art.

There are many benefits of blogging. Blogs allow readers and viewers to comment on your work and helps direct them to other sites. Blogging also introduces you to an entire community of bloggers. Blogging helps you maintain and share your passion with others and it helps work your writing muscle. Like anything else, the more you practice the better you become.

In today’s tough and competitive work environment, blogging can help you stand out from the crowd. It can establish yourself as an expert and assist in building your résumé and your brand.

Blogging has grown immensely since the late 1990s and in such a short time it already has a rich history.

I think blogging is cool and if you don’t have a blog already you should seriously consider creating one. Here are a few links to help you get started:

I wrote my first blog entry in 2003 and don’t see myself quitting anytime soon. I may not post regularly since I lean more toward the quality of posts versus the quantity of them, but in any event I really think blogging is pretty cool.

Feel free to leave a comment sharing your thoughts on blogging.

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So What’s the Deal with Google Plus?

As you may already know, there’s a lot of online talk about Google’s latest entry into the world of social networking. It’s another attempt by the Internet search giant to gain leverage in the field after failing terribly with Google Buzz. I was just going to lie back and watch how it all plays out, but I was offered an invite and had to check it out.

If you already have a Google account, once you sign up to Google+ you’ll see a tab with your name connected to all the other Google products you may use (gmail, calender, documents, reader, etc.) It’s easiest to connect with the contacts you already have on Google. The integration between products is pretty cool.

I’m still checking it all out, but so far I can see how Google will finally be successful with Google Plus. I am cautious though because I thought Google Wave was incredible, but that too went down in flames.

So here’s the deal: A cool feature on Google+ is the ability to put contacts into various circles, like one for family, another for friends, one for co-workers, or any other group you’d like to create. This allows you to send certain info only to those various groups. Also, you can follow anyone and see their content without that person following you back. This is cool when following celebrities or thought leaders in a particular industry.

There is also a hangout section where you can conduct video chats with contacts and people who share your interests. I have not checked this feature out yet, but hear it’s pretty awesome.

So far Google Plus has received rave reviews and is growing incredibly fast. However some people may feel they don’t have the time to join another social network, which is understandable. Right now you can only use Google Plus if you’re invited to join by someone already using the network. But word has it that Google Plus will be open to all by the end of July, so you won’t have too wait to long.

I don’t think Facebook and Twitter have much to worry about right now, but you never know with the ever changing world of social networks. I need more time to really know how a feel about Google+, but I’m giving it a shot. If you feel comfortable feeling out another social network, I’d say give Google Plus a try and see how you like it.

Feel free to leave any comments below about your take on Google+.

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Puerto Ricans in the NBA

José Juan Barea

I’ve been following the NBA Finals closely and cheering for the Dallas Mavericks, even though most basketball experts predict the Miami Heat will win the championship. I’m rooting for the Mavericks mainly because of José Juan Barea.

JJ Barea is the seventh Puerto Rican-born player to be in the NBA and the third ever to play in the NBA Finals. As a proud Puerto Rican, I’m just in awe to see a Boricua in the NBA Finals. Barea was born in Mayaguez, Puerto Rico, my mother’s hometown.

I’m relatively a new professional basketball fan, so I missed supporting Carlos Arroyo in the 2005 NBA Finals when he played for the runner-up Detroit Pistons (the San Antonio Spurs won that year.) Arroyo, who was born in Fajardo, Puerto Rico, and now plays for the Boston Celtics, was a member of the Puerto Rican National Basketball Team that defeated the United States at the 2004 Olympic Basketball Tournament.

The first Puerto Rican-born NBA player and the first to win a championship ring is Butch Lee, who was born in Santurce, Puerto Rico and was drafted by the NBA in 1978. He played for the Atlanta Hawks, Cleveland Cavaliers, and the 1980 championship winning L.A. Lakers.

The other four Puerto Rican-born NBA players include: Ramon Rivas, the second Puerto Rican-born NBA player; José Ortiz, also a member of the 2004 Olympic Puerto Rican Basketball Team; Peter Ramos, also on the 2004 Puerto Rican Basketball Team; and Guillermo Diaz, the fifth Puerto Rican-born player drafted by the NBA.

As we all know, you don’t have to be born in Puerto Rico to be Puerto Rican, so I have to give a shout out to New York Knick Carmelo Anthony, whose father is Puerto Rican. Go Melo! If I’m missing any other Puerto Rican NBA player, please comment below.

Last night the Mavericks tied the NBA Finals against the Heat forcing Game 6 in Miami this Sunday, which just happens to be the day of the National Puerto Rican Parade. I can’t wait to see Barea representing all Boricuas on Sunday!

Go JJ! Represent! Wepa!

(Please see the comments section for players I missed.)

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Kung Fu Panda 2 Opens Tomorrow

Jack Black was all over the morning shows yesterday promoting his new movie “Kung Fu Panda 2,” so I thought I’d help him out with a little blog post. The movie opens in theatres nationwide tomorrow, May 26th, in both 3D and 2D.

Jack Black returns as Po, the lovable Dragon Warrior Panda along with an all star cast as the Furious Five: Tigress (Angelina Jolie); Monkey (Jackie Chan); Mantis (Seth Rogan); Viper (Lucy Liu); and Crane (David Cross).  Also returning is Dustin Hoffman as the kung fu guru and Po’s mentor, Master Shifu, and James Hong as Mr. Ping, Po’s father and owner of the most popular noodle shop in the village.

The sequel to the animated comedy and 2008 Academy Award and Golden Globe nominated blockbuster “Kung Fu Panda,” is bigger and funnier than ever with an all new action-packed adventure for Po as he leads the Furious Five to fight a formidable villain (Gary Oldman as Lord Shen the white peacock) bent on taking over China and destroying Kung Fu with a powerful weapon unlike anything ever seen before.

The film is directed by Jennifer Yuh Nelson, produced by Melissa Cobb and written by Jonathan Aibel and Glenn Berger. The music is by the great Hans Zimmer and John Powell.

A Huffington Post review called the movie “a terrific stand-alone film and a taking-off point for what could be a wonderful animated fable.” It should make lots of money this Memorial Day Weekend. So, if you want to catch a family-friendly film this weekend check out Kung Fu Panda 2.

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Latinos Voted in Record Numbers in 2010

Data from a study by the Pew Hispanic Center published Tuesday in an Associated Press article found that 6.6 million Latinos voted in 2010, up from the 5.6 million in 2006. Latinos made up 6.9 percent of the 96 million voters in 2010, up from 5.8 percent of the 96.1 million voters four years earlier.

Among those record voters were 600,000 Latinos who turned 18 each year between 2006 and 2010 as well as 1.4 million foreign-born adult Latinos who became U.S. citizens and therefore eligible to vote, the center said.

According to exit polls, Hispanic voters are a solid Democratic constituency, breaking for President Barack Obama by 36 percentage points in 2008 and for the Democratic candidate in their congressional district by 22 points in the 2010 contests.

Despite the impressive increase, voter turnout among Hispanics continues to lag far behind non-Hispanic whites and blacks. Almost half of eligible white voters, 48.6 percent, and 44 percent of eligible black voters said they cast ballots in the 2010 elections. That compares to less than a third—31.2 percent—of eligible Latino voters who said they voted.

Among Latinos who do go to the polls, college graduates had the highest turnout rate at 50.3 percent, while Latinos 18 to 29 had the lowest at 17.6 percent.

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