Apologies for getting this issue out late! Life has just been getting crazier every day. This last month I had the fun of restoring my entire main computer system. Joy! The motherboard was getting too hot lately and earlier in the month, it fried! Greg had the pleasure of rebuilding the guts inside and I had the immense pleasure of reinstalling 60 bazillion software programs to get it back to where it was, so I could get something done. And, of course, I kept forgetting this or that. Even though I thought I had it pretty much back to normal, when it came time to finalize this issue, I discovered many things that I had lost and had to reinstall, links I had to reestablish and master templates I had to relocate, before I could move on. This meant tasks that should have taken a few seconds, took several minutes or even hours to setup and finalize.
Because of this mess, here's the first tech tip for this month. Go to www.belarc.com, click on the FREE DOWNLOAD menu and download their free system utility. Install it on your computer and click to run it. In a second, you'll have a nice, local browser document listing all the junk you have installed on your computer, including many reinstallation keys and paths. Then PRINT IT OUT and store it in a safe place. And, most importantly, when you install a new program or do any drastic changes to your system, run it again and print an updated copy. Do this faithfully and you won't have the hassle I had. Oh sure, I know about Belarc and I had my print out. Except it was about 8 months old! Duh! I hadn't taken the time to simply run and print a fresh copy every few weeks. So, when my system fried...it took me much longer to get it back together than it would have if I'd had all that updated information easily accessible. Thankfully, regular backups meant I didn't lose any data (documents or files). But having to reinstall a new motherboard and new operating system meant my registry and system files were new, so I had to reinstall all my apps. And when you live/die by your computer...that means a lot of lost time when you have to hunt down installation keys and find CDs!
And if computer problems weren't enough to make me crazy...now I'm battling mice! Four-legged ones. I'm not afraid of mice. Heck I grew up with pet rats. And no, rats are not the big city's idea of instant house pets!<smirk> I mean cool, pet rats that you purchase as babies at the pet store. It started when I brought one home from high school to keep over the summer. I fell in love with the little fur ball. He was sweet, cute and very smart! And as a 16 year old, what could be better than walking out into the living room with a rat on my shoulder and watching all mom's friends scream in panic! Or dad's tough guy friend shriek and yell..."get that thing away from me!" <hee, hee> Too fun. So this is a painful battle. I can't stand the thought of mouse traps, but these guys are starting to really get on my nerves. I bought some cage traps that worked great for the first week or two. But they wised up and we haven't released one to the park in weeks. What I wouldn't give for a good mouser cat. We had one, my daughter's cat, Starla, who was an ace! But now we only have Greg's 18 yr old cat who just wants to be left alone with his pillow and cat nip. Granted, our lab Lexi managed to actually catch one. She's determined, patient and quick...for a dog. But when it comes to catching mice, she's no cat. And I dare not introduce a new kitten to The Barker Gang. So after a day of listening to one particularly annoying varmint chewing on a dog biscuit with which he'd absconded, I was seriously tempted to get those new slice and dice mouse traps where they walk inside and get Ginsued. But lucky for them, a last minute change of heart cause me to purchase a pair of Black & Decker ultrasonic rodent devices that are supposed to be safe for pets, but drive away mice. I'm skeptical. I hope they take the hint and pack their bags, cos' it's their last chance. It's this or I'm investing in mouse blenders!
But there was good news recently, too...exciting, actually. First, the Nashville City Paper mentioned TechTrax as their Site of the Week. And then...some MouseTrax fan called into a National Public Radio station to give tech advice and bragged about our site. Now how cool is that! If you're out there o' tech guru caller, please let me know cos' I'd love to give you a virtual hug. Even better, the morning show was syndicated so we have a lot of new subscribers who listen to WLW out of Cincinnati, as well as WOOD, which I believe is out of Grand Rapids and even listeners in the Washington, DC area. How great! So to those of you who heard about MouseTrax/TechTrax from the radio or newspaper and joined our readership...WELCOME!
Even Microsoft's Crabby Office Lady had nice things to say about Greg and I this month! She introduced readers to the MVPs and featured one MVP from each group. And lookie who got the focus for the Word MVP group! Particularly nice that she added links to our volunteer work for animal rescue and Greg's life flights. Welcome, too, to those of you who were pointed here by the Crabby Office Lady.
Okay, enough chit-chat, time to get down to business. You'll remember last month we had a drawing for Windows XP Pro Upgrade. And the winner is...
Steven Matros, from Wells Fargo. Congrats, Steven. And what fun...he replied with a pile of dancing icons all over his email to show how excited he was and said "Hey, you can tell how excited I am! The band is playing and we're all jumping for joy. The only other thing I've won was the draft lottery and that wasn't nearly as pleasant." HA! In a follow-up email, Steven explains "
I work as the Manager for Regression Testing within the Technical Services group of our Bank's Internet QA Department. I'll be using the upgrade on my home computer where I end up doing a lot of work. I think your newsletter is great. I've shared a number of the things I've learned from it with others and look forward to the new editions each month." Big congrats to Steven. It's been busy, but I'll have that package out in the mail to you by Monday, Steven.
You may also remember earlier this year that we had a contest to win a watercolor painting of your child or pet. The winner of the coveted portrait from award winning artist, Debbie Stonebraker, was Sandy Sparks. Debbie is most known for her incredible portrait of the only Police dog who was killed on 9/11. Canine Officer
Sirius' remains were removed from Ground Zero with full honors...in silence and draped in a flag. If you haven't read the full story...do it. But if you're a dog lover, be sure to have the tissues handy! Debbie's portrait was presented to NY/NJ during a memorial service for Sirius. Sandy was thrilled to win and wanted a portrait done of her beloved dog who had passed away. Unfortunately, finding a good picture has been a struggle. Sandy wasn't in a hurry, so Debbie and Sandy are still working together to capture her dog's features from the few images she has left. When it is finished, we'll be sure to let you see it.
This month, we're giving away Office 2003 Professional! But there's a hitch this time. We're going to make you work for it. In order to get one entry, you'll need to get four people to subscribe to TechTrax. But you only have until December 1st to get all your entries in. So don't miss the drawing article this month to get started.
We have a great issue for you this month. In fact, Greg Chapman went on a writing rampage, so we have a load of OS articles, too. And for those of you who use MACs...yes, we know you're out there...I'm hoping to entice a magazine publishing friend of mine to join us starting next month to cover that area of computing. Should things not work out...if you're a MAC user and would like to volunteer to share your knowledge, let me know. So to Trevor, our 75 year old iMac user and college student!...hang in there, I'm working on getting you some help. Good luck with your BA, Trevor.
Oh...and for those of you who will be having family traveling by air this holiday season, you'll want to check out this archive article that will provide you with some info about getting detailed flight information. See This is Your Cap'n Speaking.
Have a great holiday season...pig out!