|Ever feel really stupid?
I've been feeling that way lately. I don't know what my problem is, maybe spring fever? Whatever...I think my brain got fed up and split on vacation. First my brain refused to write articles, then I was on a roll...pounding out material...and shortly after I got on that roll...I got stupid!<sigh>
The good news is TechTrax is out once a month. The bad news is that we've been consistently rolling in the middle of the month, versus the first week, since we got waylaid in January. I doubt we'll catch up until after hiatus. More on that, shortly.
First, some folks have wondered how the ol' mouse hunt has been going. I don't know if Bugsy (our new kitten) is getting any mice...even though he has the Mouse Police routine down pretty well, as he prowls around the house each night when we hit the hay. But truth be known, I think Lexi (the black lab dog) has a better rating. She's gotten 8 mice that I know about. We still have the sensors going, too...so who knows who's winning? Bottom line, I haven't seen/heard a mouse in weeks!
We have lots of important news to pass along, but before I get into that, I MUST tell you about something that is near and dear to my heart and hope that some of you will find it in your hearts to make a donation. Yes, dogs and cats! It's time to start getting ready for this year's Bark In The Park (see our pics). A wonderful event put on by the Anti Cruelty Society (ACS) and it's sponsors. I just got involved with this worthy event last year, because it was the first year I had a dog that would be able to handle the chaos of the day. (And we later walked to help animals stranded by the hurricanes with PAWS...Run For Their Lives. [pics]) Shelby has been my little star! Together, we raised approximately $600 for ACS homeless animals last year (and $1,100 for Paws). This year we hope to hit $1,500 for ACS. And my daughter Stacy and our other dog, Cassy, will be tackling it with us this year. It's an incredibly heartwarming event...seeing all these people and all these great dogs hiking the Chicago lakefront for hours, trying to raise money for pets who aren't as fortunate as they...to have a warm home to enjoy.
If you would like to help...and get my heart-felt thanks on a photo page after the event...here is my donation page: http://www.firstgiving.com/Dian_Chapman. But I'd also like to see Stacy get support, so feel free to donate to her instead or in addition to at: http://www.firstgiving.com/StacyC. No competition here...it all goes to help the animals. Every little bit helps! And if you check out this main page, you'll see that poor Stacy got knocked off the top 5 list, and I'm floating mid-range: http://www.firstgiving.com/barkinthepark. PLEASE help us help the animals and, ahem...help us kick some butt on that top 5 list!<grin>
Your contributions are appreciated SO MUCH! I love pet lovers!<smile>
Okay...back to work!
I need to give a big bear hug to John Marshall, Microsoft Visio MVP. He received some additional Microsoft software subscriptions (yes, $10,000+ value) and rather than passing them out on his own, he gave them to us to give out through TechTrax! WOW!! So we have a few more of these subscriptions to give away. Be sure to be here next month, in April, when we will give away another subscription before we head off for hiatus. The remainder will probably be given away through member drawings over the summer. But we may save one last one for our hiatus return in September. And I've also restocked the software cabinet, which means I have a pile of additional software to give away over the next few months. From photo software and Windows, to games and Office 2003!
Yes, TechTrax will soon take a vacation...a much needed break...during a hiatus over the summer months of May, June, July and August. That means we will not have a regular, free issue posted during those months. However, members...fear not. Yes, as promised, your training will continue. And we will keep you quite busy with your Office 2003 lessons, which we have started in earnest this month! (As well as Windows and other software training.)
For those of you who are not yet a member, realize that during the hiatus members will be getting an edge learning. But moreover, when we return, we will have quite a library of training built up. I'm considering raising the membership fee after the hiatus due to the valuable training we will have compiled by that time. Particularly, since we won't have free articles...more time will be spend on intensive training for members. So it'll be quite a value come September. But if you get in before any increase, you lock in the rate you've paid. Right now it's only $24 a year (that's just $2 a month). You can lock in that rate forever if you join under that rate. (Now don't those of you who jumped at our introductory $12 rate feel really smart!<wink>)
As I said, we start our Microsoft Office training this month. Members will get an intro lesson to Word, Excel and Access, as well as Office 2003 itself. As we move forward, we'll add to those lessons to cover all the apps and will also include more video lessons. Think of how sharp you'll be come September! What a great way to spend the summer...increasing your skills to make you so much more valuable!
Oh, and if you need help getting answers to your technical questions throughout all this learning, don't forget about our free support forums. You'll find several sponsored by MouseTrax.com on our Resources page, as well as other groups where we lend our support. Plus, my good bud, Susan Daffron...who also does all our TechTrax covers...has just opened her own Logical Expressions forum. You'll find it listed on our Resources page, too. I hang out there providing answers when I have a chance. Susan's forums not only cover Windows, Office and PC problems in general, but also dogs and cats, because she runs the Pet Tails ezine. And if you're into Home Brewing, get over to the forum...because her hubby James runs a section on that topic.
This month we have a great issue for you, including an Excel Quiz. But even better, we're giving away two copies of SnagIt! The wonderful folks over at TechSmith have given us two licenses to give away. And we're not making you jump through any hoops this time. Just check out the SnagIt Drawing article, click the link and enter your name. One entry per subscriber/member. On April 3rd, 2006, we'll pick two winners. Good luck!
Now on the apathetic side of things, as Monty (my former boss would say)...sometimes the magic doesn't work! I'd hoped we'd get some more interesting bios from folks. But I guess not many people are interested in earning $25 and telling other geeks what they do with computers, cos' NO ONE wrote us this month with their details. We received a couple earlier, but none that properly provided the information/photo as requested. I guess this idea isn't going to fly so we'll be landing this plane. No further Our Readers profiles.
Oh, and Martin wants to reassure you that he hasn't given up on Mac folks! He's been tangled up with amusement park issues as they get ready for the summer. He plans to be back with more Mac articles, soon.
Now on a really nasty note...I recently discovered a sad fact. I've been awakened to the reality about just how many folks see plagiarism as no big deal. I know...the world is going to hell in a hand basket and here I am worrying about folks stealing my articles...big deal. However, in my little world, it is a big deal because these folks are swiping what little benefit I get from my words. By trashing my hit count and swiping our ad revenue, these people are outright stealing from us. And it's even more infuriating when they act like jerks and just don't seem to care. So I went on a rant this month and pointed a finger at some of the folks who have ripped us off, as well as discuss these issues. In the future, we may...sadly...have more web sites to disgracefully display as thieves. Check out the Art of Plagiarism article this month if you don't understand why this is an important issue to those of us who attempt to survive with our words!
Now I don't want to leave you this month on a downer, so...on the wonderful side...we have a new writer. A big welcome to Joanne Swensrude. Joanne wrote to me telling me how much she liked TechTrax and explained that she's teaching Microsoft Office, too, so she would like to write for us. And yes, that's her article on the cover. Welcome Joanne...and thanks for contributing! We look forward to more of your work!