Wednesday, November 07, 2007

Gotcha Last!

My brother is only 58, but he's very sick battling a blood disease (hemocromitosis), as well as cancers that have been hitting him due to internal organ deterioration from the blood disease that is killing him (and did kill my dad at 57). But one of the things my family does is try to laugh in the face of hard times. So whenever we get together, we try to look at the funny things we've endured versus focusing on the tough fights ahead.

At a recent family gathering, we reminisced about a funny event. And although I was the goat in this story, it's just too funny not to share.

My brother is several years older than me. As long as I can remember, we have had a game of tag. We call it Gotcha Last. The premise is simple...tag the other person, scream gotcha last and run for the hills before the other person can tag you back. Then hide out until they go away and try to be the one who got the other one last for as long as possible. Silly...but fun. And it's lead to some funny, dangerous and silly situations over the many years where my brother and I have nearly torn up the house in attempts to be the gotter versus the gottee.

And yes, even far into adulthood, this silly game has followed us. You'd think that as adults we'd be over it. But, although we appear to be grown up, when it's time for one of us to leave a family event...someone is going to touch the other one...possibly an innocent pat on the back after a hug goodbye...and then scream GOTCHA LAST and run like hell!

Several years ago, we had a block party in mom's neighborhood. Lots of friends and family members gathered at mom's to enjoy the day's festivities. As the day got later, it was time for those who lived further away to start thinking about getting home. My brother, his wife and young kids were packing up to go. There we were, all acting like respectable adults...hugging goodbye, thanking everyone for attending the party, appreciation shown for goodies they brought to the picnic table and wishes that we'll all see each other again soon.

But I just couldn't leave it at that. So as I was leaning in my brother's car...wishing everyone a fond and final farewell...I tapped him on the shoulder, screamed GOTCHA LAST and ran like crazy into mom's house, into the bathroom, locked the door and hid out there for at least 20 mins. I had to be sure that he had given up the chase and was well on his way home.

I finally, slowly opened the door...fully expecting to have him standing there to smash open the door, tag me and run. But no...after all, he was a respectable adult now, with a family and he had to get his kids home. I was the one acting like a child, right?

I slowly walked out to the front porch...carefully checking behind me, as well as listening ahead of me for his voice. But all appeared safe.

HA! I'd won this round! The victor! I moved out onto the porch, where mom was shaking her head and laughing that we still play this silly game. I sat down on the stairs and began to enjoy my victory. Along with some friends who had witnessed the melee, we all sat there laughing and giggling as I explained the life-long obsession to be the gotter to those who didn't know what the heck had just happened.

There I all my victorious glory...sitting on the stairs, yucking it up and proudly reviewing my strategy that allowed me to get him while he was strapped into his car, knowing he'd never be able to get out and catch me before I was able to get myself locked into the bathroom.

Suddenly...a large hand reached over my head, grabbed my entire face...thereby locking me against the railing of the steps and I heard brother yelling GOTCHA LAST!


But it was true...he got me!

I quickly spun around the railing as mom yelled out her usual warning for this careful and don't break anything!

My brother was racing down the gangway between the houses toward the back fence. HA! Right behind him, I was sure I could catch up to him as he fiddled with the gate to get it open. But my brother had been a high school track and field star, as well as champion wrestler. One of his best events had been the hurdles. Okay, so that was about 40 years ago for him. But that sucker still had some game because he grabbed hold of the metal fence, flung both legs over the 4 foot fence and was in the yard ready to clear the back gate to head for the alley, where he, obviously, had put his getaway car.

So it was me who stood there fiddling with the gate to open it. I did and tried to catch up with him through the yard, but he was already over the back fence and into the alley.

I emerged into the alley just in time to see him stop his snoozing inside, wife frustrated with these antics...about 10 feet down the alley. At which time he punctuated his masterful plan by giving me a one (middle) fingered salute as he screamed GOTCHA LAST and laughed his fool head off as he drove away!

I returned to the front porch, defeated, humiliated for being nailed whilst I'd been bragging of my victory...and was greeted by everyone laughing their fool heads off. I sat on the porch and joined their laughter. I had to admit...that one was pretty darn good!

Later he called to enjoy his triumph a bit more. And over the years, this story has been retold at family we all laugh about it over and over. It was a pretty good stunt. Particularly, since he 'fessed up he was sneaking up the gangway, knowing what he was about to do, he could hear me laughing at him for getting him last and bragging about how slick I had been. He said it was all he could do to cover his mouth and try not to let out any sounds of his giggling as he came up behind me. And although he had every intention of attempting that hurdle, he said he even surprised himself that he did, indeed, manage to pull it off after all these years without killing himself!

Yeah, it's a silly, childish game that has caused a lot of havoc over the years, but it's also caused a lot of laughter.

And not to be morbid, but more recently he told me "And don't even dare try to get me last at my funeral, because I will get you back!"

You know what...I think I believe him. I don't know if I dare even attempt it!

Tuesday, September 25, 2007

Office 2003, Service Pack 3 is Now Available

If you're running Office 2003, you can now download and install the latest service pack for Office 2003, which contains various fixes and greater security for your system.

At some point, your version of Office 2003 may let you know about this update and ask you if you want to install it. However, if you don't want to wait until your turn rolls around, you can go to the Microsoft Office Update page to see what Service Releases you should have on your system.

Go to this link: and your system will be checked. You will then see what updates are missing from your computer and have the choice of what you want installed.

If you prefer to download the file and update it manually, you can get it here: Office 2003 SP3

To learn more about using/installing this update, see this KB (Knowledgebase article):
Description of Office 2003 Service Pack 3

To see more details about what has been fixed/updated in this release, see this KB:
Issues that are fixed in Office 2003 by Office 2003 Service Pack 3

One important issue to be aware of is that this release will add tighter security and that may mean that you will get an error if you attempt to open older, legacy documents from previous versions of Office, which may not have access to this increased anti-hacker security. If this is a concern or you get an error trying to open docs after installing SP3, see these two KB articles (or read all these articles first, so you know what to expect):

You receive an error message when you try to open a file or to save a file after you install Office 2003 Service Pack 3

Information about certain file formats that are blocked after you install Office 2003 Service Pack 3

Why should you care about having the latest updates? Mainly for security reasons. In this age of identity theft, you want to make sure that your computer is well protected. As thieves come up with new ways to break into your computer, with a virus or spyware that can access your personal information, software companies come up with new barricades to stop those newfangled attacks. But if you're running an outdated system, you won't be protected from the latest round of attacks. This is true with email, too. You want your antivirus and spyware software to always be updated and to regularly check your system.

If you don't understand these processes, go to the TechTrax Archives and search for those terms. Run a search for SPYWARE and one for ANTIVIRUS. That'll give you articles that will explain why it is so important to keep things updated.

If you don't want to take the time to run the search and/or you don't think updates are important, at least read this article:
As the Worm Turns...Your Computer into a Zombie

Oh, and if you think you're safe on a Mac or Unix box, read the above article, too...because you may not be as safe as you think you are!

Saturday, September 15, 2007

Stop Painful Leg Cramps, Instantly

Have you ever experienced a leg cramp? EeeeeOwwww! Nasty, eh?

I remember when I was a teen. I'd be sleeping away, peacefully. Suddenly I'd be jolted awake as searing pain grabbed my calf, squeezing the muscle and causing incredible pain. I thought it was the worse pain in the world. Of course, that's before I had the pleasure of experiencing the labor of child birth! Whoa baby...that one wins!

Back to leg cramps. You can't do anything about it, right? You're forced to freeze there and just bear it until it finally subsides. Just deal with it, right? Suck it up and endure the pain until the muscle relaxes and releases you from the agony, right?


Child birth may have been nasty business, but during those birthing classes, many years ago, our instructor knew that pregnant women are prone to leg cramps. She was a nurse and told our class one of the best secrets that medical professionals obviously know about, but had never told me before...or since for that matter.

What's worse is that my poor dad used to suffer from severe leg cramps. I wish I would have known this simple secret before he died so I could have helped him stop the pain. But maybe this article will help someone else out there.

This post idea came to me this morning, as I was stretching before I attempted to crawl out of bed. Suddenly, I felt a leg cramp starting. But before it could get its nasty claws into my muscle, I stopped it in its tracks.

How? Simple...toes to the nose!

A leg cramp causes the muscle to scrunch up. If you point your toes away from you, you give the muscle on the back of your leg even more slack, which allows it to squeeze up even tighter, thus causing you even more pain, as well as most likely letting the pain go on longer. What you need to do is stretch out the muscle so the cramp is stopped. To stretch out the muscle in your calf, you need to point your toes up toward your nose. This causes the muscle in the back of your leg to be pulled tight, thereby stopping the ability for the cramp to squeeze the muscle...which immediately stops the cramp! You need to point your toes to your nose quickly and tightly and hold it until you're sure the cramp is gone. If you relax your leg and start feeling the pain, pull those toes to your nose again.

Now understand, I'm not talking about actually touching your toes to your nose. That would look silly! The next time you get a leg cramp in the back muscle...your calf...quickly straighten your leg and point your toes up as tightly as you can and hold it. The term toes to your nose is just a simple rhyme to help you remember which direction to point. Even if you're awakened and the cramp is going full steam and you're afraid to move for fear of more pain...don't be afraid. Just pull those toes up so that you stretch out that back muscle and you'll instantly start to feel relief. In seconds, the cramp will be entirely gone.

I hope this helps someone out there stop the pain. I know it has for me. Since I learned this secret, I have never had a cramp last for more than a second or two before I've quickly stretched it out to stop it.

Glory Hallelujah!

Thursday, July 05, 2007

Create Your Own Computer Fireworks

Okay, so I'm a day late with this one. I was busy watching live fireworks yesterday, but you can always save this for next year. Although, it's addicting enough to play with anytime!

Go to this web site:

There you can click anywhere, as often as you like, to have fireworks light up the New York sky (virtually, of course).

Lady Liberty stands proud as you click and send up all the fireworks your little heart desires.

Friday, June 29, 2007

Resurrecting Dreamweaver 8 After a Cache Death

I'd spend way too much time trying to fix a serious problem with Dreamweaver 8, one that had been causing it to permanently crash on my main system. I'd given up on the problem for months and resigned myself to going back to Dreamweaver 2004 MX, but I missed some of the cool improvements in DW 8 (particularly the working in the Background feature).

As I'm currently working on getting out the next issue of TechTrax, I became determined to get DW 8 back working on my system. So I got a bit ruthless. With any luck, this fix will help someone in the future who is experiencing the same problem.

I don't know what caused the problem, but one day I was working away with Dreamweaver 8. I closed it and later attempted to open it, but it tossed up a warning message saying:

The cache will now be re-created because the cache file is missing or damaged, as shown below.

Okay, no problem. I assumed it would just regenerate its cache files and get on with it. NOT! As soon as I clicked the OK button on the above warning...DW 8 disappeared and nothing happened! Huh? What the...???

I tried again and again. Same result. I hunted for answers and asked gurus for help. They told me to go into my ..\Documents and Settings\<user name>\Application Data\Macromedia\Dreamweaver 8\Configuration folder, locate the WinFileCache-######.dat file and delete it. I did. No luck!

After spending hours trying to trick DW into working, by doing everything I could think of, including uninstalling and reinstalling (which rarely helps serious crash problems, because the system files that are usually the big problem don't all actually get deleted in most software uninstalls), I finally had to give up and get on with life.

Today I was determined to give it another shot. I hunted the registry for potential keys to kill. I hunted my system file for anything having to do with Macromedia cache. Now I also had to be careful cos' I was now using DW MX and needed that version to work so I could do my web work.

But then I found a SiteCache folder under the DW 8 folders, ..\Documents and Settings\<user name>\Application Data\Macromedia\Dreamweaver 8\Configuration\SiteCache, and decided to attack that folder. Since DW 8 wasn't starting at all, I figured I couldn't make things much worse at this point.

I went into that folder, leaving the folder itself alone, and deleted everything in it. BINGO!

I crossed my fingers and clicked the DW 8 icon...and it started up! Without the above message warning, it moved right into reconfiguring my cache files and there was the opening screen again! I was thrilled!

So if you're using Dreamweaver and you start getting the above error message and DW won't do what it should and simply crashes/closes on you, first go rip out that WinFileCache file. But if that doesn't do the trick, get bold and tear out everything in the subsequent SiteCache folder.

It worked for me...with luck it'll work for you and save you the hours I wasted trying to get this problem fixed!

Wednesday, June 20, 2007

Zap the Developer

Ever wish you could send a little shock to the developer who designed the software program you're using...when it crashes? Who hasn't!

Of course, the error is never our fault, it's always the fault of the stupid software program, right?<smile> Or, it must be a bug because the developer messed up, eh? Being a developer myself, I know that's not usually the case. But even I have had my moments when I've become so frustrated with a piece of software that I'd like to toss the ol' computer out the window and I'm cursing the idiots who built the software that is giving me the fits.

Well, Microsoft TechNet has had a little fun with the idea of zapping the developers who build the software. They've put together a video spoofing their technical support response system. You've seen the dialog boxes asking you to send the error details to Microsoft, right? Those little dialog boxes pop up when you experience a problem asking you to Send or Don't Send. I do hope you are all clicking the SEND button, because the cryptic data that they receive helps pinpoint problem areas in software and does help a lot. And not to worry, they are not tracking you or swiping secret info.

Anyway, if you've ever been frustrated by software, you'll want to check out this Microsoft spoof video and get a well as a little satisfaction at the fantasy of how nice it would be to have it actually work!<grin>

Click the link below...and enjoy!

Microsoft TechNet...It's Showtime


Sunday, June 03, 2007

Beauty Shops Cause Strokes?

If you have someone in your life who goes to the beauty shop and you want to save them from possibly devastating their life, READ THE ARTICLE at the link below! It explains how doctors are now seeing a correlation between some women who go to the beauty shop, have their necks cocked far back for washes and such and shortly after suffer a stroke.

"Beauty parlor stroke usually occur when customers sit in reclined positions with their heads and necks flexed backwards for a long period of time, according to Dr. Thomas Hemmen, of the University of California, San Diego. They are caused by tears in one or more of the four major arteries in the neck, which in turn cause blood clots to form. The clots then travel to the brain and trigger strokes."

Read the entire article, here:

Now before you think I've gone off my rocker and joined the Internet newbie crowd of Chicken Littles who hear about old or bogus virus information and send out emails screaming READ THIS MESSAGE!!!!!!!!....consider this...

My mother was a vibrant 86 yr old. Sure, she had her share of medical problems and we worried about her, but she had her faculties and still handled all her own stuff as far as bills, medications and such, as she had her own living space in the house. On Friday, November 3rd, 2006, she went to the beauty parlor for the first time in a long time. She had been told that the cartilage around her carotid artery on the right side of her neck was very thin, which had been helping to cause pain in that side. They also mentioned some blockage in the carotid artery on that side. Had we known about the above information, we NEVER would have allowed her to go to the beauty shop! But we didn't know.

She went to her appointment on Friday as planned. She had a grandson's birthday party to attend the next day, Saturday, as well as her son-in-laws big birthday bash the following weekend. Mom hadn't been to the beauty parlor in a long time, so she had the works...color touch up, wash, cut, set, style. We had planned to pass her off to my nephew who was going to drive her up to his house to stay over night for the party the next day, but when I picked her up from the shop, she was complaining of a bad headache...a possible sign of a stroke...something else we didn't know about then!

So I changed the plans and took mom home to rest, take some Tylenol and allow her time to feel better. Greg drove her up to the party on Saturday. Mom assumed she would be coming home that night, as did I. But my sister convinced her to stay a bit longer and enjoy the weekend with them at the lake. Mom can't say no, so she stayed, even though she wasn't feeling all that well. She came home Monday complaining of still feeling bad and another headache from the long (1 hr+) drive home. She relaxed at home and went to bed. Tuesday morning, November 7th, I went up to see if she wanted to go with me to go vote...and she was talking like a Martian! She was having a stroke! And a week later...a heart attack that required surgery to insert a pacemaker!

Now we can't say for sure that it was having her neck bent back several times on Friday at the beauty shop that caused damage to her artery that eventually caused a clot to form, break away and cause her stroke...but if it was your mom, would you take that chance? Had we known this information before...there is no way I would have allowed her to go to that beauty shop. And trust me, she'll never see the inside of one again! Thankfully, she now agrees with that fact.

Mom is doing much better, but she's not the same woman she was on November 2nd! She still gets confused a lot and there are a lot of things that are just too hard for her to handle on her own writing simple birthday cards to her grand kids. Most of them are mixed up. But we all understand and she's trying. I handle all her meds now and give them to her on a daily basis. Even answering the phone is a challenge, if it's not a close family member that she'll recognize right away.

So if you have an elderly person in your life whose future you care about...think twice before you send them off to have their hair done! If nothing else, warn the beautician not to wash her hair backward, but leaning forward. Maybe also wear a neck brace to help ensure that there won't be a lot of bending? Or better yet...maybe do what mom is now doing and go back to a hair style that is simple and doesn't require a beautician's touch. The family will understand! Trust me...a beautiful hairdo is not worth the pain and frustrations of suffering a stroke and aphasia!

Oh, and if you don't believe the one article above, see this link and the many articles on this "syndrome"... HERE.

Finally, if someone you love does suffer a stroke, you should also read this article to see how you can create a tool, one I used with mom, to start helping them work on getting their memory back: Create Flash Cards in Word

Note that you can click the envelope icon below to easily share this article with those you love! Please do share it! Hopefully, it'll save someone else from suffering a stroke.

Wednesday, May 16, 2007

TechTrax Update

For those of you wondering why the April issue of TechTrax isn’t out yet, it’s because serious family health issues are on the rise again. But I am working on it and hope to have it out in the next week or two. I also am not planning on taking a summer hiatus this year. I’ll save my vacation time for family leave this round.

Many of you know my 58 yr old brother was given a year to live in April 2006. He’s been having a rough time this 13th month into his sentence. A couple weeks ago his daughter found him bleeding on the floor in their home. He’d collapsed for some reason and ended up breaking his nose, as well as a few ribs on his flight to the floor! So now he gets to deal with a broken nose and broken ribs as well as his blood disease and chemo treatments.

Lots of folks ask me about mom. She’s recovering well from her stroke and the pacemaker is doing it’s job keeping her ticker tocking, but recently I had to take her to the plastic surgeon to have skin cancer removed from her eye lid. And she may have cracked her hip somehow now, too, because she has a lot of pain and walking is quite difficult. That doctor appointment is in a few days.

On Mother’s Day, my cousin Larry called me so I could let mom know that her sister-in-law (his Mother!) had died! Geez! He visited her that day...she died that night. Granted, she was nearly 91, but come on. Auntie Rose was one of the family’s favorite people. The aunt who never missed sending out a birthday card to everyone and the kids always got that extra dollar inside. I’ll tell ya about her sometime. Rose’s departure now makes mom the oldest person in the family. A position I know she doesn’t really appreciate holding. But does always say she plans to hold it until she's 105. She's out to beat Rose Kennedy!

And although I was supposed to take mom to have her stitches out this last week, Greg had to do it for me. Why? Because I was balled up in bed looking like something that fell out of a Petri dish. A flu bug was busy turning my insides into liquid. I was miserable for four days, telling Greg I think it was time that he just shoot me and put me out of my misery. The dogs sat Shivah on my bed nearly the entire time.

Poor guy. Now not only did he have to deal with all his own busy work, but also take care of me and our many pets, as well as mom. Greg's an amazing man and did it all without complaint...although he was thrilled to see me back on my feet recently, as were the dogs. The cats could have cared less!

So I’m sorry the April issue is late, but I hope to have it out ASAP. In the meantime, you can view the promised pictures from Bark in the Park now on our Pet Lover's page.

Talk to you, again, soon...I'm sure!

Sunday, May 06, 2007

We Have Our Winners

The true winners are the dogs and cats who benefit from the funds we managed to collect from all the very generous people who contributed to our Bark in the Park walk. Lexi and I, as well as Stacy and Simon, managed to collect over $2,800 to help needy dogs and cats through Anti Cruelty Society.

It costs about $50-$90 to shelter a cat or dog at ACS for a week. Thanks to your generosity, we have helped to ensure that several dogs/cats will have a safe home until they are able to find a permanent one.

Late last night, I pulled out all the names/emails of those who contributed, I gave Greg's random number generator a few kicks and came up with winning numbers. Those numbers were matched to the names of the people who the order in which they donated...and we found our software winners.

We are giving away two copies of Office 2003 Pro with OneNote. A copy of Microsoft Expression Web and Microsoft Digital Photo Suite. The winners get to choose in the order in which their names were drawn. Our first winner was Norman Pearce of the UK. He selected Expression Web.

Norman says..."Dogs are a part of our life (my wife Sue & I), although we lost our Welsh Border a few years ago. My daughter & son-in-law have 4 welsh borders and very much into dog obedience and agility training & shows. One of their dogs was from the famous Battersea Dogs Home. They keep our interest and love of man's best friend very much alive. I am very much involved in the Royal British Legion, and intend in the very near future to develop a web site for the regions (North West London) branches, so Expression will be very useful."

Congrats to Norman. We have yet to hear from our other winners, who are: 2) John Mon 3) Steven Nichols 4) Jackie Payne

But I'm sure we'll be in touch with them soon...and will let you know what they choose and their software plans.

Again, big virtual hugs from Stacy and me to all of you who contributed to our walk!

Saturday, May 05, 2007

Bark...We DID it!

We survived!

Although, I must tell you we tried to get home through traffic afterwards...I was concerned Lexi may have a heart attack on the way home! She literally panted for hours. She was so excited that she got herself into a panting jag and was hardly able to swallow due to her constant and heavy panting on the way home.

But she did great! Thank you Cesar Millan! Cesar (the dog whisperer) explains in his Cesar's Way book, that dogs fall into a pack mode when walking together. I put faith in that and trusted that Lexi would not cause trouble, like she tries to do at the park when confronting another dog. And sure enough...she did great! Not even one little snarl at any other dog. She knew this event was something special and handled it like a pro...well, until the end when she got into her pant jag and made me worry about her. But that was due to excitement. (Simon had his own way of showing excitement...he barfed all over the back seat!)

And although the above picture shows Lexi (and Simon) in Lake Michigan, I was surprised that she wasn't as enthusiastic as I assumed she'd be about the lake. Turns out the waves freaked her out!

You can view all our 2007 Bark pictures, here

HUGE thanks to all who donated! We managed to raise over $2,800 for needy dogs/cats!

To learn about the Bark software winners, see my post here entitled We have our winners or just click the "Bark in the Park" link below this article to see all of my blog posts related to Bark.

Sunday, April 29, 2007

I'm Giving Away Microsoft Software!

This is the last week before my Bark in the Park charity walk and I've decided to pull out all the stops! With 3 dogs of my own, 2 grand puppies and 2 cats...I'm determined to raise the most money for needy dogs/ I'm adding MORE FREE MICROSOFT SOFTWARE to the pot! Feel free to spread the word!

Anyone who donates to my Bark in the Park charity walk (minimum $10) will be in the running for these prizes [winners 1-4 each choosing what's left in the pot, in winning order of name's drawn]. You can click each item to learn more if you're unfamiliar with any of this software...

* Microsoft Office 2003 Pro w/OneNote
* Microsoft Office 2003 Pro w/OneNote
* Microsoft's NEW Expression Web
* Microsoft Digital Photo Suite 2006

(NOTE! Those who donated a minimum of $5 prior to 4/29 WILL still be in the running for all 4 drawings. I upped the ante from this point forward since the odds of winning are greater.)

But you have to act fast must have your funds in by the end of the day 5/4 as the walk is Sat 5/5 to qualify for this drawing.

If you have any questions, feel free to email me directly. However, you can read all the credit card, PayPal or paper check donation options and details on our Bark site here:

Winners will be posted here in this MouseDroppings blog on 5/6/07, the day after the walk when I'll draw the winners from the pool of those who donated.

Big thanks to all of you who have donated so far...and good luck!

Saturday, April 28, 2007

Office 2007 Compatibility Pack

If you're not using Office 2007, but someone with whom you communicate is and you need to be able to access information in documents they send you, you can install an update that will allow you to open 2007 files.

Granted, if you have the latest updates in your older version, you should receive a message when attempting to open 2007 files. The message will tell you that you need the compatibility pack and where to obtain it. But just in case you're lost, you can find the download by clicking on this link: Microsoft 2007 Compatibility Pack

Download the file and save it to your hard drive. Then open the file to install it. It will give you the ability to work with 2007 Word, Excel and PowerPoint files, which have been converted to a newer file format for 2007.

An alternative to using this conversion on your end is to ask the 2007 user to save out the files you need in the older format. They can easily do this by clicking the save as type dropdown in the Save As dialog box, prior to saving the file, as shown below.

And yes, another method to opening a 2007 file is to download the trial version of Office 2007 and installing that. But, unless you want to try Office 2007, that's a lot of effort just to open a file. And the trial version times out after a few months if you don't purchase it. Then you must uninstall it.

Finally, if you're curious about Office 2007 or new to it and want to get tips on using it, be sure to hit my ezine, TechTrax. There you can click the Archives link within the magazine, enter "2007" in the search and you'll find several articles on Office 2007...with many more to come.

Friday, April 27, 2007's up, it's down, it's up again

If you were trying to get into TechTrax, (my very popular free technical ezine) this week, chances are you may have gotten a Page Not Found error. Although later the error was upgraded to Page Unable to be Displayed. Also, if you've been trying to use any of my article links to get to any of my additional free tutorials in Computor Companion, you're still getting errors.

Not to worry, the sites will be back. But a server went belly up this week. However, thankfully, Susan Daffron has great backups running so she was able to restore TechTrax after two days of being offline. But then, under the heading of things only go wrong when you leave town, the server just happened to go down right after they were finally able to sneak away for a little R&R this week.

They were able to get a few band-aid IPs to run minimal sites, so wonderful folks that Susan and James are (owners of, they took one IP for their own email just to keep in touch with the outside world while away, but gave TechTrax the other one! So TechTrax is now up and fact by now they've also restored it to a shiny, new server. But all their own Logical Expresssion sites are still down until they return this weekend and are able to restore those sites.

Thanks for all the hard work restoring TechTrax this week, Suz & James. HA...but then again I bet you won't go rubbing in the fact that you're off to Hawaii next time! Hope you had a few moments to enjoy your vacation.

And to those of you who were unable to access the articles you needed...we're very sorry! TechTrax is back up now. Although I'm still unable to get into the backend software to post the April edition of TechTrax. But I will as soon as James gets that part rolling early next week.

Thanks for your understanding, folks!

Wednesday, April 25, 2007

You MUST Watch This Video!

If you've never been scammed on the Internet, it may only mean that your time has not yet come. And if you think you're too smart to be taken in…know that they even got me a couple years ago! I've been using the Internet since 1993 and am a computer/Internet professional. Yet one day I ventured into new territory, was in a hurry and wasn't paying attention…and they got me!

Feel free to read all the gory details in my article: Confessions of an Identity Theft Victim

I was lucky and definitely learned to always pay attention and always go to any master site to login and never use email links. But more importantly than my little tale of woe…you really MUST view this video (link below) from ABC investigative reporter, Brian Ross. Here he exposes some of the thousands of scams currently on the web. Every day, hundreds of people are still being taken in and end up losing thousands of dollars or even their identity, because they are innocent and don't realize that there are so many scams out there just waiting for them and their money or credentials.

Don't let it happen to you! View this video report so you can be empowered by knowledge.

Stay safe out there!

Tuesday, April 17, 2007

Moment of Silence

With heartfelt sorrow…I send my personal sympathies and condolences to the families and friends of those who lost their lives, as well as those who were wounded and also those who were terrorized in the tragedy yesterday at Virginia Tech. {tears & hugs}

Sunday, April 15, 2007

My New Software LOVE!

Okay, saying I'm in love with software is a bit extreme<smile>…but I must admit that one software program once did literally change my life. Microsoft Word came into my world back in 1994 when I was forced to learn it. Which I did…kicking and screaming! I'd been a Word Perfect guru and instructor when my boss dumped a 1,300 page Word developer's book on my desk and asked me how fast I could learn it. Begrudgingly, I quickly did learn it and that fact changed my life.

Within months I got a promotion from graphic designer to developer…a few months after that I became a Microsoft MVP…a couple months later I went to my first Microsoft Summit…where I met Greg Chapman…came home, divorced my (miserable<eg>) husband…started an amazing new life with Greg…and soon moved from the corporate world into a cool career as a Word developer, instructor, web dev, writer and editor. All thanks to learning a software program!

Now I don't expect my new love to change my life as drastically, but I'm suddenly feeling much more organized and seeing a brighter light at the end of that so much to do tunnel. What's this amazing software that could quite possibly change the way I live my life?

Microsoft OneNote!

Yup. It's actually been sitting on my computer for years now, although I've never gotten around to learning it. I used it a few times. "Humm, nice software." But I never experimented with using it on a regular basis. The version I'd tried was OneNote 2003, which is a good program. But I've been studying and using OneNote 2007 for about a week now and I'm realizing…it is amazing!

If you enjoy being organized or wish you could be, don't miss the next issues of TechTrax, my ezine, because I'll be adding training articles and videos on Microsoft OneNote.

This program is just too cool to keep to myself!

Friday, April 13, 2007

Beware of Tax Time Identity Thieves!

Tax time is of particular interest to identity thieves because they know a lot of people are dealing with their last minute forms, are anxiously awaiting refunds, or would be highly susceptible to emails appearing to be from the IRS.

Don't be fooled!

The IRS would NOT contact you via email. They would write or possibly phone you. So any email you get saying it's from the IRS is bogus. Thieves are attempting to get you to click phony links and provide them with your personal identification information. Don't click any links that ever request your personal information or matter who it is from!

For more details, check out this article from MSNBC: Tax time starting a new phishing season

And to see how easy it can be for even a professional to be duped into giving away a password, read my confession, here: Confessions of an Identity Theft Victim

Sunday, April 08, 2007

Happy Easter!

'nuff said!

Dian ~

Thursday, April 05, 2007

Quiet Those Dog Tags

If you have a dog, you may not even notice how much jingling those dog tags do. With three dogs, and a couple of grand-puppies who also come by for their weekly doggie-daycare play date in my home, all those tags can make you crazy.

I also create a lot of free computer training videos . There I am sitting at my desk trying to concentrate on what I'm teaching users and hoping for a few minutes of quiet as I record technical instructions, and here comes the noise...jingle, jingle, jingle! One of the dogs innocently walks into the room and their dog tags are jingling away. Very distracting.

But about a year ago, I found a fantastic cure...Quiet Spot Pet Tag Silencers!

These are simple, little tag pouches that stop all that jingling. You just slip it over the tags on your pet's collar, wrap the tiny velcro straps around the tag ring on the collar and they're good to go. A bonus is that the logo on the pouch is imprinted in light sensitive ink to help your pet be seen at night.

Even if the jingling doesn't really bother you, tags can easily become worn causing that important identification information to be lost over the years as the tags rub against each other. The Quiet Spot Pet Tag Silencers help protect tags because it holds them securely so they don't rub against each other helping to ensure that ID tags remain readable for years.

Know that I have no personal connection to this company or this product. I just have a lot of pets and am thrilled that I no longer have to listen to all that jingling!

You can purchase these pouches on their web site at Or go to their web site and find a retail pet store in your area that sells them.

Tuesday, April 03, 2007

Did Google…Get Ya?

The popular search engine, Google, has become the much anticipated April Fool's jokester. Several years ago, Google came out with its first April Fool's bogus web site promotion. Since then, Google fans watch to see what spoof those comedians at Google will come up with each year.

You may have noticed that Google occasionally promotes their latest beta (in testing) offering. These can be incredibly useful tools. But come April 1st, they like to slip in a link that seems like it might be plausible. Well, that is until you actually read the information on the link and consider reality!

Here are links to explain each of the past Google spoofs…for your enjoyment.

April 1, 2007 =

Previous giggles:

Friday, March 30, 2007

Bark in the Park, 2007

Lexi, my middle dog, is busy working out on the treadmill, so she'll be in shape to walk at Bark in the Park.

Bark is an annual charity event benefitting the many dogs and cats that find their way to Anti Cruelty Society in Chicago, as well as those who live in low-income homes and need medical care. If they couldn't get it there, their owners might not be able to afford to get them the proper care they need!

I love dogs...I have three of my own (Cassy, Lexi and Shelby...see: for doggie pictures) and my grand-puppy, Odie, who comes over every Friday to socialize with my pupsters for a little Friday doggie-day-care.

I'm currently collecting donations from sponsors wishing to help Lexi and I meet our goal of $1,500. We're slightly over half way there as of today (3/30). If you would like to help, please visit our sponsorship site for Bark at:

And as a further incentive for those of you who may not have your soul touched by furry creatures with sloppy kisses and wet noses, I'll be holding a drawing from the names of all my sponsors. I'll spin my computer wheel and one lucky winner will receive a free copy of Microsoft Office 2003 Professional, which also includes a second disk that contains Microsoft OneNote!

So if the animals can't open your wallet, maybe the very good chance of winning over $500 in free software will help you dig into your pocket for the pupsters and kitties. You can donate whatever you want, but you must donate a minimum of $5 to qualify for the drawing, which will be held the day after the walk.

You have until the day before the walk, May 4, 2007 to make a donation and get in on the drawing. And thanks so much to those of you who do help Lexi and I meet (or even exceed) our goal!

Sunday, March 11, 2007

Initial Dropping

Sure, everybody is doing it. But that's not a reason to jump into the Blog pool. For the most part, I find blogs useless and who knows, Mouse Droppings may become that way, too.

But as I rush to pack for my flight tomorrow morning to my 6th MVP Summit at Microsoft (since becoming an MVP in 1995), I've been reading other's accounts of the event. So I figured it was time to chime in with some details, too.

However, I hope to also use this space as a nice location for useful tidbits and link this site from my very popular, free ezine, TechTrax. You can find TechTrax and its many hundreds of free technical articles and video computer training lessons by visiting this page:

Ahh! There's the ding of my dryer, so it's time to finish packing and also run to the store to buy all those tiny bottles of stuff so they don't kick me off the plane because I have more than 70 ounces of fluids with me!

Dian ~