Review: Rise Bar

Are you running out of energy at about 10 am? Does that lull hit around 3 pm?

I found a good, healthy solution – the Rise Bar.

I’ll start with my disclosure – Rise Bar was a sponsor of PodCamp Denver, the event I led last weekend. So I had the opportunity to try several flavors. Every kind I tried was tasty. (I wasn’t able to try all 12 different flavors.)

Rise BarRise Bar has a unique twist on giving you healthy energy – different bars are designed for different times of the day.

My favorite part about Rise Bars is that the ingredients are all healthy. And they’re proud enough about what’s in each bar to make the type very visible! (See the photo.)

My wife has a gluten intolerance. All of them are gluten-free.

All the ingredients are organic. I used to be skeptical about the value of organic food, but when I eat it instead of regular food, I can actually tell the difference in how I feel. (I’m not saying that I have converted completely to eating organic food; but I eat it when I can.)

My friend Tim can enjoy them with a clean conscience – the Energy+ Bars are vegan friendly.

Lest you think I am totally ravingly positive about them, I have to admit that I got a few for my kids, and they didn’t like them very much. (I think their taste buds are pretty slanted toward over sweetness. I can’t stand the breakfast cereals they like.)

So visit Rise Bar’s site. You can order online or they have a store locator. And if there’s not a store near you, they have a letter you can print out to take to your grocery store. Then they can easily stock Rise Bars!


Quick Review: The Help Movie

The Help was great.

The movie certainly was not perfect. White ladies were all made out to be demons, except for Eugenia “Skeeter” Phelan and the hurting character, Celia Foote. The African American ladies were painted as almost angels.

True, the situation was appalling. People like Skeeter, Aibileen Clark, Minny Jackson – and Martin Luther King – put their lives on the line to stand up for what was right, and helped culture and society change. Highlighting that courage and strength of character was worth the price of admission alone.

The visual texture was excellent. Pacing was fine. I thought not reading the book was an advantage; the experience of enjoying the story stood on its own. My wife had read the book and still fully enjoyed the film. But she had comparisons of how the film was different than the book, such as how the film was softer in its treatment of characters.

The film challenged my way of thinking about injustice in the world today. Similar conditions of virtual (and real) slavery still abound. What am I doing to change things?


Samsung Laptop Review

Trust me, this is the coolest Windows laptop ever.

It’s the “Samsung Series 9 NP900X3A-A03 13.3-Inch Laptop.” (Just sort of rolls off your tongue, doesn’t it?)

Anyhow, I visited the Microsoft Store with my wife & daughter a few weeks back… you know, just to check out the enemy. And I was seriously impressed with this Samsung laptop! Mind you, I would never think of buying one. (Regular readers know where my loyalties lie.)

The best I can tell is that Samsung is attempting to compete with the MacBook Air. About the only thing the Samsung has over the Apple is processor speed. The Mac’s hard drive is twice as big as the Samsung’s. They weigh exactly the same.

For a Windows laptop, the design is really not bad. They’re trying.


Super 8 movie review

ET mixed with Aliens mixed with Jurassic Park. Add in a lot of intelligence. Then you have Super 8.

My 15-year-old son and I saw Super 8 last night. We thoroughly enjoyed it. J.J. Abrams, the director of the TV series Lost, added that same level of suspense to the film – except you don’t have to wait five years to solve the mystery.

Visually, it’s stunning. The crashes and attacks are totally in your face. The slow-moving scenes are treated with care and respect.

There is way more character development than most action movies provide… a teenage romance is almost the film’s centerpiece.

The PG-13 rating is appropriate. My 10-year-old daughter would have been too scared. And some of the kids swear like sailors.

Verdict? Go, if my description makes the film sound appealing to you. It may be the best film of the summer.

Finally, here’s another worthy review from my brother: on Amazon. (Scroll down on that page.)

Still photo courtesy of


SXSW Review

I have a review of the South by Southwest Interactive Festival over at Greener Grass Media’s blog today. For those who don’t know, I am launching a new venture – Greener Grass Media. You’ll have to go over there to discover what that’s about.


Something useful from Skymall!

Yes, I actually found something that is useful from Skymall. (As faithful readers will know, I enjoy glancing through Skymall catalogs when I fly somewhere: post one and post two.)

I was amazed to find a good idea during the most recent trip. How cool would it be to just pop down a little hatch to reveal your Christmas lights! (Alas, the setup cost a fair amount of money – but for those who hire someone to put up and take down their lights each year, it might be worth the investment.)


Facebook email review

Facebook rolled out their new email feature recently. I got my “you have an email account now” message a few days back. So I’ve been playing around with it.

Refer to the pic – if you double-click on it, you can see it larger in another window at actual size.

a) This is what appears at the top of the Facebook browser window after you click on the “Messages” link near the top of your left home page column. A different aspect to having this feature activated is that when you click on “New Message” in that window or via the Messages icon on your Facebook home page, you can put someone’s email in the “To” field. And even if the person isn’t a Facebook user, they will get your message. (That is an illustration of how Facebook wants to be your message center. If you use Facebook constantly, that might be a helpful feature. I don’t, so it isn’t.)

b) This is what a sample email looks like as sent from Facebook. It shows all your Facebook conversations, whether they were sent through Facebook email or not. As you can tell, my wife and I do not talk much via Facebook. (Rest assured – we do talk a lot in real life.)

c) “Service Unavailable” is what is shown when I type “f” in my Firefox browser address field. (That’s how I normally get to Facebook.) And “service unavailable” is my brief summation of Facebook email.

> The Search Messages feature does not work.

> There are no folders or ways to organize your messages.

> I did not try out the mobile messaging aspect, so I can’t comment on that.

So in short, do not stress out if you haven’t received your Facebook email account yet. You are not missing much. It’s a good supplemental thing, if you’re a heavy Facebook user, but otherwise, no big deal.


Vuka: social media success

Some of you may remember back a few days when I said some negative things about Vuka, a natural energy drink.

I take back what I said! I still sort of stand by what I said about aluminum thickness – but their incredible attention to customers’ needs is enough to easily win over this hard heart.

They read my review and left a thoughtful comment. Then they contacted me and sent a package over… via courier… with t-shirts, stickers, and several samples of the drink. So I have tried it – and it tastes great. It’s a great concept – the first healthy energy drink that I’ve heard of. (I have only tried one Monster drink – and it was close to drinking cough syrup. The chemicals contained in Monster are not necessarily things I like flowing through my bloodstream… not that I’m Mr. Healthy.)

So check out Vuka. Especially if you’re into energy drinks.


Cool but wasteful

Vuka. It’s a new-to-me “Intelligent Energy Drink”. My 14-year old son bought it because he thought the bottle was cool. And it is.

However, his comment on what was inside: “pretty disgusting”. He also described it as a “fake energy drink”.

My take: the container is hugely wasteful. The bottle is heavy-gauge aluminum and must have accounted for half of the cost of the product. If the lid were up to the same standard of permanence, it would be a nice thing to hang onto. But it will probably last for about two refills and then strip out. Sad.

Update: See some interesting comments and a rebuttal in the comments.


No Ping

Ping is a music-matching thing that Apple bought up and added to version 10 of iTunes.

I don’t like it. Problems?

1. All the bands I like are too obscure to even be on Ping’s list.

2. My kids’ buy music through my iTunes account. (Don’t worry – it’s with their money!) I’ll simply say that their tastes in music are different than mine.