Oooops! I messed up my phone!

I am out of town for the weekend and I messed up the forwarding on my office phone and toll free number!

All my calls are being forwarded to my teenaged son’s cell phone.  He doesn’t have his voice mail set up so if he doesn’t answer, callers will get an error message.

My apologies if you have tried to reach me.  I can’t really fix it now but I will be back in my office on Monday.

Talk to you then…

Cool Free Online Graphics Tool

I use Photoshop for all my graphics work and I am very happy with it.  People often ask me about a cheap or free alternative for Photoshop and I recommend Elements or GIMP.  Until recently, those three options seemed to cover all the bases.

However, now that the weather is getting nice, I want to get out of the office and enjoy our short, but very sweet, Wisconsin summer.  When I work out on the porch or in the garden I use my laptop and that works fine for everything but graphics editing.  My laptop is several years old and just doesn’t have the power to run a graphics editor.

I considered upgrading to a new, more powerful laptop but that seemed extravagant because 95% of the time the only thing I use the laptop for is as a radio.  I’ve gotten completely spoiled by online streaming radio and now that’s just about all I listen to.  My favorites are Pandora and Word of Truth Radio.  I keep my laptop next to the stereo in my living room with the speakers plugged into it and listen all day long to great commercial-free radio from the internet.  So, I would feel a little funny upgrading to a more expensive laptop, knowing that I would mainly be using it just as a radio!

I was resigned to doing my graphics work indoors until I came across this great free ONLINE graphics editor called Pixlr.   It is an online flash application so there is nothing to download.  It runs on any computer with any operating system.  All it requires is Flash.

I am so happy with it.  Now I can work outside on the porch or in the garden all day long.

Here is a video tutorial that shows off the interface and helps you get started:

Why didn’t I approve your comment?

Sometimes I get questions about why I didn’t approve a certain comment…  The really obviously spammy comments get taken care of by Akismet but I go through the rest of them one by one to decide whether or not to let them appear on my blog.

I think I am pretty easy-going and tolerant and I usually approve anything that is halfway sensible and on topic.  However I do feel that since this is my blog after all, I do get to set a few ground rules.

When I don’t approve a comment it is almost always because there is a link to or mention of something or someone I find really offensive.  Why should I allow my blog to be used to promote something offensive?

What do I consider offensive?  Here is a partial list: Powerline MLMs, gifting programs, pyramid schemes, gambling, pornography, prostitution, child abuse, violence and terrorism.

I don’t approve comments promoting any of those activities and I don’t approve comments from people known to be promoters of those activities.

For example I would obviously not approve a comment advocating the violent over-throw of the American government.  I would also not approve a perfectly innocuous looking comment about Disney cartoons if it was signed by Osama Bin Laden, simply because he is known for promoting something offensive.

Controversial (but very cool) Freebie!

The Giveaway of the Day today (today only) is an amazing piece of software that I have coveted for a long time but never really had enough need for to justify buying it.  But now that it is free (for today only) I snapped it up.

So what is it and why is it controversial?

It is a swf decompiler!  In plain English, it is a tool to enable you to take apart and edit a type of video file that you usually can’t work with at all.

If you work with graphics you know that a psd file has layers that can be taken all apart and manipulated any way you want, but a jpeg has no layers and is very hard to work with.  If you work with text you know that a doc file can be edited but a pdf cannot.

In video, a swf file is like a jpg or a pdf, you usually can’t edit it at all, but a flv file is like a psd or a doc that can be taken apart and played with.

The Trillex Flash Decompiler converts uneditable swf files into easily editable flv files!  WOW!  That is really powerful!

And that is why it is controversial…  An unscrupulous person can use it to take a video created by someone else and edit it or grab pieces of it or recaption it or just about anything they feel like doing.

Honest people use the decompiler to work on their own files or files in the public domain.  But it makes a lot of people very nervous to have a tool like this floating around.

If you have ever paid to have a video created you know how expensive it can be.  If you have ever created a nice one yourself you know how much work it can be.

How would you feel if you went to all that effort or expense only to find your video has been altered and used by your competitors or that someone else is taking credit for your artistic creation?

If you decide to take advantage of today’s amazing freebie I hope you use it responsibly.

Disney Recycled

As a baby boomer and mother of two young adults i spent a big chunk of my life watching (and enjoying) Disney movies.

As a mom during the age of video cassettes, that meant watching them over and over and over again.  I realized that they were not all (especially the later ones) terribly original but I had no idea how incredibly derivative they were until I watched the clip below.

To be honest though, I still have a lot of respect for even the least inspired of these movies.  When you compare them to their alternatives, even the Robin Hood cartoon was pretty darn good.

Don’t Spam Twitter with Forced Tweets!

SpammerTwitter Spam!  Where is it coming from? Most of the internet marketers on Twitter have learned NOT to send out a torrent of spammy tweets.  Only the most clueless and obnoxious send out a lot of the kind of blatant sales pitches that would get them unfollowed or even banned.

The problem is that they have started doing something even worse!  They have found a way to get ordinary people to send out Twitter spam for them!

I blogged about this a couple months ago when Viral Tweets first came out.  The way it works is that it forces the user to send out a Tweet before they can access something.

I can see how this might be a fair exchange if a marketer was requiring a Tweet in order to get a free ebook or a discount on a product or something else of real value.

However I really object to the current practice of requiring a Tweet in order to get a first look at something.  I am seeing more and more pages that require you to make a Tweet just to see the sales page or video.

I am certainly not going to Tweet about something I have not yet seen! I don’t think anyone should have to do that and I don’t like the idea of the Twitterverse being polluted with brainless spammy Tweets.

If you don’t know what I am referring to, just look at this post about Viral Tweets.  I show it in action so you can see how it works.  I think Viral Tweets is OK if used with restraint by a marketer giving away something of value.

But what do you do if you come upon a page where you are required to Tweet just to find out what is going on? I think it would be extremely disrespectful of your followers to Tweet at them about something you know nothing about.

I believe the solution is to set up a secondary Twitter account just for sending those forced Tweets.

Most people already have secondary email accounts that they use when they want to request a free ebook or an insurance quote or some other thing that they know is going to generate a lot of spam.

I am recommending that you set up a similar thing on Twitter in order to spare your followers and the whole Twitter community from brainless spammy forced Tweets.

Here are step by step instructions on how to stop sending forced tweets:

Log out of your main Twitter account and then sign up for a new account.  Don’t follow anyone.

Now here is the key to preventing the spammy Tweets: Go to the “Settings” tab and under “Account,” at the bottom of the page, check the box where it says “protect my updates.”  This does 2 things.  First, it prevents anyone from following you.  A lot of people will follow anyone and you don’t want them exposed to the Tweets coming from this account.  Second, it prevents your Tweets from being included in the main Twitter timeline (where even your non-followers might see them.)  Protecting your updates effectively mutes your secondary Twitter account and prevents you from polluting Twitter with your forced Tweets.  When you are done setting this up, log out of the secondary account and then log back into your primary account and continue to use it as always.

You don’t throw garbage out of your car windows or pour used motor oil into storm drains do you?  You are a responsible person and you care about the environment right?  Well the Twitterverse is part of our environment now, so think about doing your part to protect it from pollution too.

Whenever you are forced to Tweet, just enter the username and password for your secondary account.  The forced Tweet will go nowhere and will bother no one.

You can stay logged into your primary Twitter account and continue to enjoy it just as you always have.  Continue to use your primary account to Tweet only about what you want to Tweet about.

Refuse to spam Twitter with forced Tweets!  Your followers will thank you and the whole Twitter community will benefit from your respectful responsible actions.

Happy Easter!

jesusoneastersundayWishing everyone a Happy Easter! If you are traveling I wish you a safe trip.

I hope your part of the country is enjoying beautiful spring weather and that you get a chance to spend some time outdoors enjoying it.

Here is a link to a beautiful hymn for today, Good Friday: Sing My Tongue the Glorious Battle

I will be out of town visiting family until sometime Monday. If you need me please email me. I will be checking in.  I will try to get back to you as quickly as I can.

Have a blessed weekend!