Saturday, July 26, 2008

scribefire is the best thing since blogging began

I enjoy blogging. I have several blogs and the process of posting to them has been clumsy. Any time I wanted to post I would have to log in, post, tag, and then move on the next one to log in, post, tag, and... You get the idea.

Recently, I had an "ah-ha" moment when I downloaded ScribeFire. I use a number of Firefox add ons, but to come across one that allowed me to manage all of my blogs - including post tags - from one window at the bottom of my browser, well, it was like moving from a bicycle to a moped. I felt liberated.

It means I can spend more time writing and less time posting. Consider this, blogging is a great marketing tool. Using WordPress, Blogger, or a php-based blog of your own design (if you happen to be that talented) is one of the best marketing strategies available to increase your exposure on the internet and attract new customers and clients. More people read blogs than newspapers. Sharing your knowledge and skills on a well constructed blog is invaluable to building credibility and revenues.

ScribeFire can be found at along with a number of other handy little tools that make life a lot easier than clunking through Internet Explorer. You may also want to give these Firefox add ons a try:
  • Firefox Showcase - displays a window with thumbnails of open browser tabs. This add on makes finding the page I want to read easy and keeps me sane considering I tend to have 2 dozen or more tabs open at a time in 3 or more windows (commonly referred to as browser clutter).
  • Session Manager - Often I want to save my surfing results. Whether it's research for a book or a collection of food reviewer websites I can save the session for later use with this add on.
  • FireFTP - With the click of a button I have an FTP tab without losing the rest of the work. FireFTP is easy to configure and manages multiple accounts.
  • IE Tab - I may not like Internet Explorer, but like Windows it's a necessary evil and sometimes websites just don't look right in anything other than IE. This add on switches the tab view from FireFox to IE and back again.
  • Morning Coffee - This is one of my favorite add ons. This add on lets you group websites you regularly visit by day and opens them simultaneously with a click of the coffee cup. For instance, my Sunday group is a collection of news sites and blogs.
If you're not a FireFox user I'd suggest switching. It's easy to download and install. It's fully customizable to your surfing habits. It's even portable on a smart drive.

I began using FireFox in 2003 and haven't opened IE since. The feature that sold me on this free browser is the bookmarks file. It's stored as an HTML file. No more losing favorites during an upgrade.

For more on blogging download this free report from GReat Kreations; Blogging 101

Saturday, July 19, 2008

maximizing your computer's life expectancy

Too often we buy a computer, stick it on the floor "out of the way" and then use it. We turn it on and leave it for days at a time or we turn it on and off daily. How often do you think about the dust collecting on the fan?

Dust is the number one cause of overheating and hardware failure. Smoke, pets, kids, coffee, lunch while you check email, and more contribute to PC problems. That's why we should remember that regular maintenance is just as important to the longevity of our computers as it is to our cars and our personal health.

Before you do anything you should make sure you have a soft dust cloth, LCD anti-static cloth or LCD cleaner & soft cloth, can of compressed air, vacuum, rubbing alcohol, cotton swabs. Remember to turn off the power to your computer before you begin any cleaning or maintenance.

Also, unplug all peripherals and cables from the computer. All "tools" can be purchased at an office supply store and/or a drug store.

The first thing on the list is dusting. Wipe your PC with a clean soft dry cloth to remove dust from the case, your work area, and the case of your monitor (not the screen, that's what the LCD cloth is for). Next, open the computer case and remove the "dust-bunnies" that have nested there. Use the compressed air to clean out the remaining dust making sure the nozzle is 4 to 6 inches away from main board components. Be careful not to disturb jumpers or dislodge cables in the process. and don't use a standard vacuum cleaner to clean the dust out of your computer case. When finished close the case and position the computer back in place, but leave it unplugged for the time being.

Cleaning the monitor is considered a delicate operation and should be done with care. Don't use Windex at all and don't spray the LCD cleaner directly on the screen. Spray the LCD on a clean cloth and then gently wipe the screen or use an anti-static LCD cloth.

Your keyboard gets a lot of use. It collects dust, oil from our fingertips, spilled beverages, and crumbs from lunch while we're checking email. You can use a standard vacuum with a brush attachment to clean the keys. Using a cotton swab dipped in rubbing alcohol is a good way to clean accumulated grime from individual keys.

Your mouse needs cleaning, too. If you're using a mouse with a ball assembly gently remove the ball cover and remove the ball. Use a cotton swab dipped in rubbing alcohol to clean dust from the rollers. The compressed air is also a good cleaning solution for removing dust inside the mouse. Once completed reassemble. For an optical mouse use compressed air or follow the manufacturer's guidelines.

Now you can connect all peripherals, cables, and the power cord to the computer. The best cleaning tip is to clean your computer on a regular basis to keep it humming.

Friday, July 11, 2008

dreamweaver versus nvu... the winner is

For those of you not familiar with it, Nvu (pronounced en view) is an open source web authoring system and it's brought to you by the same folks that developed Firefox and Thunderbird, both of which I have been using for years. Nvu is available for Linux, Windows, and Mac.

I began my html "career" using a simple text editor on an old Mac SE and at some point in the 90s began using programs like Mozilla Composer, FrontPage, CoffeeCup and now I use a pricey version of Dreamweaver for HTML and PHP editing. Well, that was until last week when I decided to give Nvu a chance to prove itself.

Prove itself it did. This compact yet powerful WYSIWYG editor has all the features of the big boys with the flexibility and stability of its Mozilla cousins. Nvu is a multi tabbed work environment allowing you to not only work on multiple pages, but also switch from WYSIWYG editing to working with the HTML source code and even previewing the page as it would be seen in a Firefox or Mozilla browser.

An added feature is the ability to see the HTML code with tags highlighted. At first I was stumped as to how this might be useful then it occurred to me that in Dreamweaver, as in FrontPage, stray tags are often added by the software or are left behind during editing. This is a great way to edit tags to ensure the best presentation of your page in any browser.

Simply put, you don't need expertise in building web pages to create professional, complete, and easy to manage sites with Nvu. If you've been searching for another stable open source application to add to your arsenal download Nvu at

By the way, it's customizable with extensions and themes just like Firefox and Thunderbird. A little personalization goes a long way with this kid.

Wednesday, July 2, 2008

money is made of paper

Recently, my daughter attempted to put a stop to my granddaughter's desire for every item on the store shelves by saying, "Money doesn't grow on trees." In her inimitable 5 year old style my granddaughter quite seriously replied, "Mommy, money is made of paper and paper comes from trees."

While a child doesn't understand the value, or worth, of money we, as adults, should. Especially as business owners. Unfortunately, all too often, I have to have a heart-to-heart with a client about their organizational spending habits and fiscal responsibilities. Most recently, an organization I've been trying to help develop chose to purchase an item that was neither necessary or affordable. It was so far out of their budget that in order to make good on the payment they cut a half-time staff position. That is, they let an employee go. It was also the end of our working relationship.

I cannot emphasize enough how important fiscal responsibility and good judgment are to business success. Here are some tips to help you appreciate that money, like the trees it's made from, is not in unlimited supply.
  • Be organized because if you aren't you'll spend more time and money than you actually have. Create good filing systems so important documents can be saved and easily retrieved. Have policies and procedures in place so expectations are clear. Use a good accounting software and a bookkeeper.
  • Fiscal responsibility is vital to financial success - if you can't manage a dime you'll never be able to manage a dollar. Have a budget as part of your strategic plan. Review financial reports regularly as part of your management decision-making process.
  • Invest in the tools and training that will increase your chances for success.
  • Maintain a paper trail. That is, make sure there is sufficient documentation to substantiate your decisions and their outcomes.
I just received a call from a board director of an organization in need of a little help. Apparently, the only board documentation they have to direct their processes are the original Bylaws. He told me he was concerned that the board could not fulfill its fiduciary responsibilities appropriately because they only met once a year, didn't keep minutes, didn't have an indemnification clause in their bylaws, and lacked policies and procedures. Further, it hadn't had an audit done in several years and the IRS took administrative action regarding their exempt status.

This situation occurs more frequently than you might imagine. When I talk with clients about building their organizational capacity this is exactly what I'm trying to help them avoid.

Susan Powter, a health and fitness guru from the 90s, stressed that in order to be healthy you have to eat, breathe, and move. To succeed in business you have to plan, act, and monitor.