Everyone who is sick of winter, raise your hand!
I was really excited when the temperatures hit the upper 40s here in Chicagoland last week. I thought...Wow, that ground hog really knows his stuff! But for the last few days we've been dumped on with wet-sloppy-rain-sleet-ice-snow-stuff. Makes me wanna hunt down that hot-shot rodent and give him a swift kick in his furry little butt just for getting my hopes up. Didn't see his shadow...yeah, right! Look outside now buddy, it's still winter.
What makes it really annoying is that I have things to do and it's difficult to get things done when the weather is nasty. Not to mention all the wet footprints all over the floors from dogs marching in and out of the dog doors all day long. I want the time to go faster so the weather gets nicer, sooner. (Although I do fear when all this snow melts, because with three dogs...I have a pretty good idea of what is hiding for me to clean up under that snow!)
But I want the time to go slow because I'll be heading off to Seattle to attend the annual MVP summit in a few weeks and I still have so much to do before I go, including updating all mom's medical records because lots of the recent changes are in my head. And that won't be very useful to the others who will be watching mom while I'm away. I've created a binder with all mom's medical information and I need to make sure everything is current before I pass the torch for a time.
Let me tell you, if you have elderly parents or if you are an elderly parent who has kids that will need to know about your health issues should you suddenly be unable to speak for yourself...sit down right now and work on getting that information in a central location that's easy to figure out. Thankfully, mom was big on documenting things and writing notes for everyone, so she had all her records in a couple notebooks. I knew what notebook to grab as we dashed to the hospital during her stroke and subsequent heart problems. I've since revised it so it's organized better and easier to find just what you need, as well as made copies of vital pages so I can just hand them out. Believe me, that ability sure helps in the chaos of emergency rooms when you have to provide the same medical/medicine information over and over and over to everyone who walks in the room!
Write down the information for now. And next month I'm hoping to setup those pages in a more generic format so I can share some of them with you as potential health templates you can use for your own binders.
Yes, the annual MVP summit is coming all too soon in my case. But it'll be fun. Particularly since I wasn't able to make the last one. That was the first one I missed since becoming an MVP in 1995. If you're interested in seeing what we do there...you'll find loads of my virtual photo stories from previous summits, HERE. Some of you will benefit from the summit, too, because it means I get to hit the Company store and buy up some additional software to give away, at employee prices. Unfortunately, we don't get to go nuts, but they generally give us a nice, little allotment so I'll be stocking up for more drawings.
Speaking of giving away software, I do need to clean out my software shelves, because I have some programs piling up that I need to get out to you folks. So this month we'll be giving away a copy of Microsoft Office 2003 Professional. If you are either a paid member or free subscriber of the TechTrax community, you need only take our quick/painless survey to have your name and email address entered into the drawing database. Then on March 1, 2007, Chicago time, I'll give Greg's random number generator a click and get the database record number of our winning entry. This is a full version of Office, so you don't have to worry about having a previous version for upgrading.
Plus, next month, if you are a paid member of TechTrax, you'll be able to enter for a chance to win a copy of the new Office 2007 Standard edition. I may even toss in WindowsXP as a second item for everyone to shoot for.
Also speaking of winners, I totally forgot to tell you about our MSDN software license winners last month. In December, a special mailing went out to all TechTrax members and subscribers to enter for a chance to win one of the three licenses I had to give away before the end of the year. I briefly listed the winners on a cover page for TechTrax. But now I've added more complete descriptions of who won along with their personal gasps of joy. You can read about them in this month's SideTrax article.
And moving on to gasps of joy...I have a few this month because Daryl Lucas has joined TechTrax as a writer. Daryl was my mentor back in 1995 when I was cursing and swearing my way to learning Word programming. It was called WordBasic back then (now it's VBA). I'd been offered a slot in the programming department if I could quickly learn it as we moved from Word Perfect to Word. I spent endless nights banging my head and begging for help in Internet forums. (I know many of you know that scenario!) Daryl was my savior. He's spend hour after hour answering my questions and explaining methodologies to me to help the light go on in my brain. It worked out and I moved to development...where it became poor Mark Thorpe's duty to teach me VB and how to program databases! (And now look what I can do!! http://www.mousetrax.com/Consulting_Solutions.html.)
But Daryl is not only my programming mentor, friend and retired Microsoft MVP, but a thoroughly enjoyable, published writer. And I don't just mean on the web...he has his name on some real, non-computer books. Welcome Daryl! And don't miss his article this month as he laments on a choice I'll bet many of us in the technical community have had to confront.
I'm also excited to welcome another new writer this month, Ben Sgro. I don't know Ben personally, but Sue Jenkins recommended he head our way and I'm very excited to read more of his articles. If you're a web geek, you'll be excited to read his stuff, too. I don't want to pigeon-hole him, but he does run a software company that does focus on web and application design and development. But he also appears to be quite the outdoor nut...as a ski racer and mountain biker. So maybe he'll go off-road with us sometimes and details some of those exploits? Welcome to TechTrax, Ben...we're happy you've joined up.
And speaking of speaking of joining us...if you'd like to become a famous TechTrax author, drop me a note. One thing I've always said is that I can't pay you, but I can make you famous. Although that has changed a bit and some writers can now qualify for a little lunch money, the fact that you can really make your mark by writing for us seems to still be a fact. A fact that can be hard on our writing staff turn-over because many of our writers have become so busy with loads of clients or technical book writing that they don't have much time to write for us on a regular basis anymore.
Bill Coan is always swamped with people begging for his skills and just this last year Linda Johnson, Geetesh Bajaj, Herb Tyson and Sue Jenkins all published tech books. Granted, Herb had already written several and those of you who have read any of his stuff know why his writing is in demand...he's a fun read! Sue is finalizing her second Dreamweaver book. Geetesh Bajaj has his third PPT book out now. Beth Melton has been in demand editing many technical books. And between runs to the hospital this last year, I was also busy testing and editing Herb's Word 2007 Bible and the multi-authored Office 2007 Bible. You can find all these books on our Books page, as well as other, fun, non-tech books I recommend.
As of 2007, TechTrax boasts over 13,000 regular monthly subscribers/members. Plus we're consistently in the top Google.com search hits, so we get hundreds of thousands of additional hits from people searching for answers...because we've got tons of them! Plus, it's only going to get better. There's a lot of new technology out there. Lots of new learning opportunities coming your way in TechTrax, as well as piles of valuable articles in our archives to get the newbies up and running. So if you want to share your technical skills with others, which will make you better, consider joining our team.
And if you're a subscriber who has been thinking about becoming a member to access our additional content, videos, drawings and download formats, you'll want to do that soon because our membership rates will be going up in a couple months. We're adding a wealth of training material each month, so our content is becoming more valuable...and lots more to come very soon. In fact, I'll be giving away more of my Word/Database tricks in a new series, which I hope to start next month.
Well, that pretty much covers my gotta tell you list for this month. Don't forget to enter our drawing.