And welcome to 2005...we hope it's a wonderful, prosperous year for you all!
Anything will be better than the terrible year-end the world witnessed as the Indian Ocean tsunami hit the surrounding countries! Our hearts go out to all those affected by this terrible tragedy. I hope everyone who can, has made some type of donation to help with the recovery. Greg and I made our personal donations to the American Red Cross. Wherever you donate, just make sure it's a reputable organization. If you need links to some, you will find some on the home page of MouseTrax.com.
By the way, to further encourage you to donate, it was announced today that recovery donations made during January 2005 can be deducted as part of your 2004 tax return! So do it!
Yes, this is the second donation we're encouraging you to make. In December, we asked our over 6700 subscribers to repay for the free information we provide here by doing something nice for someone...and then letting us know. I sincerely HOPE that many just didn't want to bother telling us, because only TWO people emailed me to tell me their plans. Yes, TWO! One, two!
Ian from New Mexico replied immediately to say that he had talked with his wife about the idea of "giving back" and they decided to invite the elderly folks in their building to join them for Christmas dinner. Every person they invited was thrilled and said yes. They worried a bit that it might be crowded, but were looking forward to a fun night. I hope it went well and thank so much Ian for giving back and letting us know...your email made me feel good.
I later got the second and last "give back" email from Janet Daugherty of Texas. She felt bad that although the company full-time employees got a nice bonus this year, the part-timers didn't get anything. And one single mom in particular touched her heart. So she and her colleagues got together to each make a donation so they could give that single mom a little extra cheer in the way of some unexpected cash to help make her holiday nicer. That was great, Janet! And thanks for letting me know...your email also made me feel good.
And that was it! How depressing! I really thought more readers would appreciate what we do here...now I can't help but wonder if TechTrax helps anyone? Nobody cares! Nobody loves us!<sniff, sniff> Yeah and when the ground thaws, I plan to go out in the yard and eat worms!<dejected sigh>
(Feeling guilty yet?)
Good! Now you can redeem yourself by doing me one little favor to show your support for us. See that voting button at the bottom of this page? Go click it and cast a vote for TechTrax. The new year means our rate restarted at zero, so your votes will help get us up into the top listings, again. Come on! Do it. FOR ME???? Phuleeze! Gimme votes! Gimme, Gimme...mine, mine, mine! Ahem...sorry, I think I've been hanging out with our new puppy too much!
Yup! We've added to the Chapman Barker Gang. Greg bought me a new puppy (and then promptly ran away from home for two weeks claiming HQ needed his help. Right!) See that little Sheltie puppy on the cover this month. Is he killer cute, or what? Allow me to introduce you to Shelby Chapman! Cassy and Lexi now have a new baby brother. And I have floors covered with newspapers to prove that point. He's only 11 weeks old, so he has a lot of growing to do, but he's a very smart little boy and is fitting right in, nicely, as well as giving the big dogs a run for their money. And yes, we've only had him about a week and already have taken several hundred pictures.
I'm sure you have a ton of pictures from the holidays, too. I'll bet Santa brought many of you new digital cameras and computers this year. You're probably itchin' to figure out what to do with all this new technology. So even if you're not planning to use Roxio software for your photos, be sure to check out Candi Thomas' article this month, because at the bottom of that article, I've added a whole pile of links to related photo and video articles. You'll find lessons on photo editing, how to create photo albums, tricks for adding cool effects to photos and lots of software that we've already checked out for you.
I want to give a big Congrats to Beth Melton. Seems her Office Shortcut Bar article is a big hit. Not only is it continually in the Top 10 these months (see the monthly Feedback articles for a list of the Top 10 articles), but it caused TechTrax to be mentioned on Tech TV. I was browsing the December subscriber comments and found a comment by Michael Montanaro. He said he learned about TechTrax from Tech TV's show called Call for Help. Someone called the show asking about the Office Shortcut bar. The host, Leo Laporte, provided some info and then directed the caller to the URL for Beth's article for complete details. But not only that, if you search Microsoft.com for this issue in their knowledgebase, you'll also find a link to Beth's article. And if that wasn't enough, try typing Office Shortcut Bar in Office 2003's Help and you'll find a link to TechTrax from the Help files! How cool! So to all of you who found your way here from Tech TV, Microsoft.com or the Office 2003 Help files...WELCOME! And speaking of Help files, Beth has two great articles this month to help explain some of the recent mysteries about the Office Help files. Don't miss them.
And not to toot my own horn, but it appears that I hit a nerve with my article last month: The Expert Rip-Off. WOW...got a lot of email responses to that one...all in agreement I might add. And many speculations about possible unscrupulous means of how they got to the top of the Google ratings! Yes, there are many ways that sleazy sites can kick up their ratings to the top...methods that we would never use since they mean adding bogus key terms in your site to boost your ratings through dishonest means...since your site is in no way related to that other top rated site. I've found some sites who have even used MouseTrax and TechTrax as their key terms to get a boost in their hit rate. They create linked pages with key words to popular sites and then hide them from view. But Google can still find them so they get ratings meant for those more popular sites. Even though the questionable site really has nothing to do with the link they mention, such as MouseTrax. They just find sites that get good hits and try to get credit for those hits by appearing in results pages when you ask for those key words. So again...beware! Stick with the sites you trust and don't believe that every site that may mention MouseTrax or TechTrax are reputable sites. Some are just trying to get your money. Personally, I never get involved in link exchanges on MouseTrax and only endorse those sites or companies that I personally use and recommend. However, here on TechTrax, we do offer an Associates page where sites can display the TechTrax linked logo in exchange for their own link display.
In 2005 you can trust that we will continue to bring you honest and helpful advice and recommendations. In fact, I'm currently working with some companies I'm checking out to see what they have to offer to our readers and hope to have more giveaways for you in the coming months.
The new year brings with it lots of people hoping to improve themselves and getting better skills to get a better job is one way to do that. Read TechTrax each month to get those skills going. And, with luck, we're hoping to have some free Microsoft Office certification studies or prep tests for you. I'm checking out these sites and believe we'll have some giveaways in that area soon.
Pet Lovers will be happy to know I'm also negotiating with an incredible artist, Debbie Stonebraker, to give away a portrait of your pooch. I recently added Debbie's link to MouseTrax (scroll down from here: http://www.mousetrax.com/Pets.html#pets). There is a real tear-jerker story of a painting she presented the
NYNJPAPD after 9/11 as a memorial to the one on-duty police dog, Sirius, who was killed in the twin towers collapse. She can take a photo and from it create a beautiful work of art. Check out her site:
http://www.stonebrakerart.com. Soon we'll have a drawing to see which lucky reader gets a free pet portrait. But don't worry, lots more techie giveaways planned, too.
Stay tuned and tell your friends to subscribe, eh?