Thanks much to those who sponsored Dian & Shelby in Run for Their Lives and helped us exceed our goal! See our picture from the event through this link: http://www.mousetrax.com/pets.html.
I knew I was going to be busy in September, so I got on a roll early with the September issue of TechTrax. As it sometimes goes, many writers were very busy this month, so most of our writers had to bow out of writing for various reasons. This meant I had to kick it into gear to make sure we'd have a good magazine. I was nearly done...when Katrina blew this country apart!
Since then, I've been trying to finish this issue and accomplish other things I need to handle each day, but...as with 9/11...I have a hard time looking away from the TV news. As the situation in the Gulf became more critical, it got harder and harder to concentrate on work and I got involved in more and more discussions and plans about how we can help. It is so hard to concentrate on work when so many are struggling to survive. Greg is busy trying to volunteer his plane and pilot skills to help move people and/or supplies around and Stacy is running around collecting donated supplies for people and animals. We're all busy figuring out how we can offer our assistance.
Obviously, all Americans need to dig deep and donate what they can to help. DO NOT donate to any unfamiliar organizations that are springing up to scam money! And DO NOT trust ANY email solicitations for money, rather...go to the web sites yourself or call their toll-free numbers! Donate to the reputable organizations that you know and trust such as the Red Cross. And to those of you from other countries who donate...thank you so much for your help!
Also, many animal lovers have emailed me asking how to help. Now I'm sure some will say "The hell with the animals, help the people." True, people come first. But pets are another important human factor. Seeing a little boy cry because he lost his dog...seeing an adult man crying as he hugs and apologizes to his two dogs because they all had to swim for hours to find safety...and seeing a man who didn't care that his home was destroyed but was on the news begging for someone to come help him care for his mini horses...makes many people understand that by helping the animals, you are helping those people, too! So for those of you who also want to help the animals, see my Pet Lover's page to find reputable links where you can donate. (Oh, and I received an email back from Gail Vacca, National Horse Protection Coalition, who told me those minis in Waveland have now received aid.)
Also, it was recently announced that the Red Cross has compiled a national Family Links Registry where people can register to find loved ones. Hurricane victims in shelters are now being processed and the Red Cross is registering their information in this database.
As we consider how our lives can change so drastically in a short time, allow me to remind you about a movement that has been in the news. The word is getting out that, because so many people now carry cell phones with them 24x7, you should add a special entry into your cell phonebook. Enter a listing for ICE, which stands for In Case of Emergency. Add the phone number of a loved one who should be contacted if something should happen to you. Ice1, Ice2, Ice3 and so on can be added if you want to list more than one person. Emergency personnel around the US (and maybe the world?) are learning to check cell phones of the injured to see if there is an ICE listing, which would help them help you, should you be injured and unable to speak.
By the way, for those who have seen newscasters viewing the satellite images of the Gulf, know that you can download this same Google Earth software. See our article on Google Keyhole, which has been upgraded and is now called Google Earth.
Our hearts are with those who are suffering in the Gulf! DONATE!
And now, as hard as it is, we'll turn to this issue of TechTrax...
You may have already noticed that many TechTrax articles now have a ratings graphic at the top of the article. We've marked many articles and we will continue to add this rating system to the others, soon.
Realize this rating system is not a strict rating, but more of a suggested skill rating for trying to tackle our tutorials. I occasionally get emails from readers who had a hard time working through a tutorial. And many times it is because the reader didn't have the background to understand all that was going on in the instructions. This rating system should help provide a bit of guidance as to the recommended skill level of the reader in order to understand the content. We hope you find these ratings a useful guide.
We've added another new feature here at TechTrax. If you are a subscriber to TechTrax, you can now view one mini technical tip each month via video. Our new Video Tips department will feature one new lesson a month. Sit back and watch as we show you how to use your computer better. Each streaming video will average about 10 minutes in length. If you are not a subscriber, sign up! It's free and you can trust that we will keep your email address secure and will never abuse it!
As I mentioned, many of our writers were too busy this month to donate their time to writing. We understand. One of the things I tell new writers is that...we can't pay you, but we can make you famous! And that's part of the problem. Our writers have picked up more notoriety by writing for TechTrax, which has brought them more business and they are in more demand. Which, for us, means that they are frequently very busy with other projects. We're happy for that fact, but it also means that we can use more writers. I put out a notice during our hiatus and many wrote to me asking to be added to our potential writer's list. But not all have gotten into the writing groove...so I'll open that door again by saying that if any of you are interested in becoming famous by writing for TechTrax, email me. We could particularly use a technical reporter who can keep us up with notes about recent tech news each month.
And as a reader, remember...you can help each month by clicking those Google ads you now see at the bottom of each article. Each click is like dropping a penny in our collection bucket. It helps keep TechTrax free, free of more annoying ads, has helped pay for space to bring you these new videos and, hopefully, will allow us to offer our writers small payments for their efforts...which will allow us to keep up the high level of information we provide. So keep on clicking!
As long-time Internet users well know...it's vital to give back to the communities that provide you with free support in order to keep them going! MouseTrax sponsors many premiere, free support groups (http://www.mousetrax.com/resources.html). These groups are supported by wonderful volunteers who are in there giving back to the technical community by helping out newbies now that they know how to handle the tough technical issues. But a few weeks ago, I asked members to add a vote of thanks to those who have helped them (see http://www.mousetrax.com/GroupSupport.asp). Amazingly, although our several groups have over 3,000 members, only EIGHT people have taken the time to say thanks in the last few weeks! You can't just take the support without giving back by at least saying thanks...or those resources you use to get the help you need will dry up from apathy! If you're a member in a support group...say thanks! Take time to try to help others! Help keep your group a viable community by lending your support and thanks. If you don't, you'll end up losing those resources you've come to depend upon, because those making the effort to help will assume no one cares. If you care...make sure you take the time to show your appreciation!
Well, I'll let you get to your learning. Hopefully my mood will improve and we can have a bit more fun next month...once we know those suffering in the Gulf are safe and the rebuilding of lives has begun.
Take care out there!