I'm overwhelmed. And this time I don't mean that I'm overwhelmed with work (even though I am<grin>)...I mean I'm overwhelmed by the incredible response TechTrax got to it's membership. No, we didn't get a bazillion members, we got a nice, respectable number. But the emails I received from those who signed up...just blew me away. I'm thrilled that so many of you find TechTrax, and our efforts here at MouseTrax.com (i.e., Greg, Dian and the dogs<grin>...as well as our additional, terrific authors), so valuable and worthwhile! I slipped a few of your comments in this month's Feedback. But it would just be too egotistical to post more of them. So many of you said such great things and wished us all good things and success. In return, I can only say that we will do our best to type our widdle fingers to the bone to give you a valuable resource for your learning dollar. Thanks so much to all of you who passed along such nice comments!
And, amazingly, some of you also passed along good wishes even though you got trampled on by a handful of emails as you jumped in to sign up as a member when we launched that aspect of TechTrax. As one of our very first members said (Andrea, a project manager)..."All the planning for all the
contingencies in the world goes right out the window
when the rubber hits the road!"
For those of you who missed all the fun during the first couple hours of our membership launch in mid-January, it seems I need to practice a bit more when it comes to writing loops in ASP code! HA! Those poor souls not only got about 3-4 confirmation emails for one membership...but they also got a newly generated password for each email! I'm sure some of them were sitting there with all the emails printed out on their desk saying...eenie, meenie, minie, moe!...trying to figure out which one of the many passwords might get them into the member's site. I'm so sorry! Thanks to those who helped me straighten it out (particularly, Greg!) and also big thanks for all your patience. Even with the few hours of chaos, these folks still passed along some incredibly cool comments.
Okay, so I don't have it all down to a science, yet. But things are getting better and we're figuring out the best ways to streamline the new processes...which are fairly convoluted at the moment. But hey, that's what we do...create solutions. Although, of course, it's always the home fires that are last on the list to get stoked. Albeit, we are putting a priority on this one because I, particularly, see all our members as my students. And as my real students can tell you, I do everything I can to help them learn.
Speaking of real students, I jumped into a sudden teaching job this month, which helped to add to the workload, but I do love teaching an actual class. A computer school about 40 miles from me needed an instructor and they contacted me. So I jumped on it. I haven't taught a Microsoft Office class for about a year, but it's like riding a bike. And when you start seeing the lights go on above the student's head (and they no longer look like deer in headlights), it's exhilarating. Hopefully, they're enjoying having me as their instructor as much as I'm enjoying having them as my students. I guess we'll see when I pass out the evaluation sheets just before they run out on the last day.
But humans aren't the only students I've been working with, lately. Granted, The Barker Gang, has run amok a bit with me out of the house...very early, each morning as I hit the highway in the NASCAR lane to try not to get squished by a semi on the Illinois tollway, as I zip my way up to Gurnee, IL. Cassy and Lexi, I'm sure, sleep most of the day. But it seems that little Shelby has taken it upon himself to become my Alpha Dog proxy. I walk in the door from class and he's busy barking commands to the other two, who humor him. But it can become quite chaotic for the first 10 minutes. It's clear that he's getting antsy, as we all are, with winter and looking forward to getting back to his mission of making sure all the squirrels in the park are up the trees where they belong.
So to try to help them have a little fun and work off some of the frustrations, we've been taking a little time-out to play circus. I'm the lion trainer...they are my lions.<smirk> They sit in their spots and when called upon, each jump through hoops and perform a few, silly tricks, get their treat and head back to their post. They seem to love it and it shuts them up for the afternoon so I can get some work done without being vultured! As you can see in this photo, Shelby, of course, is our star performer.
Alright, time to put away the toys and get down to business. We have a great issue for you this month! And I'm really excited and honored to have a new writer with us...who I hope will continue to write now and then when he has the time. William (Bill) Walker is not only a very neat guy, but a long-time friend and mentor to Greg. He recently sent us a note about Internet Explorer 7 and I suckered him, ahem, I mean I asked him to write up an article for us. He agreed. I won't embarrass Bill with all the great things we say about him, but here's a little excerpt from Greg's bio: "It really wouldn't be fair to have all this written down for the world to see and not mention one more source of patient, competent help; Mr. Bill Walker, operator of North Valley Digital. He went to great lengths to improve my knowledge and help form in my mind the principles of professionalism." Welcome, Bill...we hope you'll grace our pages often!
And we must pass along big congrats to our own Geetesh Bajaj on the completion of his first book! Geetesh has been MIA from TechTrax somewhat as he's been working away on his book for Wiley Publishing...Cutting Edge PowerPoint for Dummies. You can learn much more about the book on Geetesh's web site at this link: http://www.cuttingedgeppt.com/
But even better, he has been given permission to share some of the book with us! This month he presents article 1 of 4, right from the book. Don't miss this sample lesson and we'll publish the other 3 each following month. Thanks Geetesh and enjoy your vacation.
And I'm sure you're all wondering who won the fantastic, first $10,000+ software subscription from Microsoft in January. I spun my random number generator and came up with the winning database entry, which belonged to Elliot Penna of Forestville, CT. Elliot got right back with the following comments:
"I am a Quality Engineer for a small injection molding job shop in Manchester, Connecticut. I live in Bristol, which is best known today as the home of ESPN. My education included learning such languages as Fortran, Algol, Snobol, Cobol, RPG, and Lisp, all of which are useless to me today. Thanks to TechTrax and similar on-line resources, I am now proficient in Excel; and it serves me well on-the-job day-to-day. I was hoping to win the Powerball this week, but having failed at that, winning your drawing was the best thing that could happen for me this week. Thank you, thank you, thank you!"
You are welcome, Elliot. But fear not folks, I have two more of these same subscription IDs that we'll be giving away, courtesy of Microsoft, through drawings in the near future. Stay tuned!
Before I sign off and let you get busy, a couple quick notes. First, very sorry to our blind readers because I forgot to remove all the images from the January issue of the Doc Version of TechTrax. As you can imagine, last month was a circus getting that issue out and I missed that task. This issue is also a bit late, but I'm getting this process smoothed out so we should soon be back to our regular publishing schedule of the first week of each month.
And second, for all you who downloaded the TechTrax First 4 Year master linked document those first days, know that there was a link mistake in one of them (that has since been fixed). Big thanks to Laurie for letting me know. If you'd like to fix it in your copy, search out the article entitled: A
Macro to List All Programs in the Windows Start Menu. When you find it, move your cursor into that link, hit Ctrl + K and replace the incorrect link with this correct link for that article: http://pubs.logicalexpressions.com/Pub0009/LPMArticle.asp?ID=143. By the way, members will find the linked table addition with the January articles on the member's site. Download it and paste it at the end of your original document, if you want to update your list with the January articles. The February version will be on the site in about a week.
Well...that's it for this month. Okay kiddies, sit up straight...no talking...John, spit out that gum!...and everyone get busy with your lessons!