Archive for the Category ◊ Technical Stuff ◊

Author:
• Thursday, August 06th, 2009

I’m pretty good with computers in general (I’m a software engineer, so I SHOULD be!), but I confess to knowing the bare minimum about most applications that I need for various tasks like e-mail and word processing.  I have a good feel for what they “should” be able to do, but I’m weak on exactly how to do it, so I look it up online.

Most recently, I discovered an easy way to do an e-mail merge with Outlook/Word 2007.  I’d done mail merges before for letters and labels in Word, but I had never attempted it with a “form” e-mail.  Yesterday, I had to send out about 70 personalized e-mails, so I REALLY didn’t want to send each of them individually.  I wanted something personal in them!

Here’s how it works:

1.  Set up your data file.  I used Excel. I had actually exported my data to a CSV, so the fields were already set up.  Have all your data in appropriate fields with a header row to identify each column.

2.  Open Word and type your e-mail message.

3.  Click on the Mailings tab, then Start Mail Merge and select E-mail Messages.  Then Select Recipients, Use Existing List, and find your data file.  Then Edit Recipients – check the box next to whichever recipients you want/don’t want.

4.  Set up your form fields.  For example, after Hi, click to Insert Merge Field and select first_name (or whatever field you want to put there).  Insert as many Merge Field as needed.

5.  Preview your e-mails.  Click Preview Results and scroll through the records (numbered beside the Preview button).

6.  Finish.  Last, click Finish and Merge, Send E-mail Messages.  Enter the field containing the e-mail address, a subject line, and  click OK.

You’re done!   You’ll see each individual e-mail in your Sent Mail in Outlook, so you’ll know exactly what went out and to whom.

This is great functionality for sending business correspondence to prospects!

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Author:
• Friday, May 22nd, 2009

There are lots of cool tools available on the internet. The problem is finding them. Whenever I find one, I’ll post about it here so you won’t have to hunt it down.

The latest one I played with was Animoto.com. You can upload pictures, choose/upload music, and click Mix. Their service “mixes” your photos with the music to create a really cool slideshow with great transition effects that go to the music. The creation actually evokes emotion, and it’s all done with software!

You can create a free 30 second slide show (about 6 pictures).
A full length video is only $3 or $30 for a year’s unlimited use. Not bad considering how cool this service is!

Check this out!

Author:
• Thursday, October 30th, 2008

Getting a website or a blog up and running can be time-consuming.  But it can also be done quite quickly.  The choice is up to you.  Here’s the fast way:

  1. Sign up for hosting and (free) domain name with Bluehost.com.
  2. If you got your domain elsewhere, change the domain name servers to point to your new hosting. (They have help pages to help with this.) (If you got your free domain with Bluehost, I imagine you can skip this step.)
  3. Go to your Control Panel at Bluehost.com.  Scroll down to click on Fantastico (smiley face icon).
  4. In the left navigation, click on WordPress under Blogs.
  5. On the WordPress page, click “New Installation.”
  6. Fill in eight blanks (three are already populated and one doesn’t need to be).  Choose an admin login and password.  “Sitename” and “Description” will appear as the main name and tag line on your new blog, but they can be changed later via the WordPress Admin. Only change “Install in directory” if you’re adding this blog to an existing website.
  7. Click Install. 
  8. Voila!  You’re done!  Go see your blog and start posting! 
Category: Blogging, Technical Stuff  | Tags: ,  | One Comment
Author:
• Thursday, October 30th, 2008

Ok, your grandma probably doesn’t need a website, but, if you’re starting a business, whether based at home or not, you’ll need a website.

It’s really much easier than you might think to get a site up and running, especially with the right tools. 

One thing to think about when selecting a hosting provider is their ability to help you install applications on your site.  About a year ago, I read an article which mentioned Bluehost.com as a decent (and relatively cheap!) hosting provider who also gave you Fantastico installations (automated installations which make it very easy and quick to set up and add stuff to your website).  So I checked it out and signed up to give it a try. 

Pros:

  • Unlimited domain names (for my unlimited businesses! Ha!)
  • Unlimited space and transfer
  • Fantastico installations for WordPress and Joomla, which I use the most
  • Free domain name with sign-up, so don’t get your domain first – Get it when you sign up so it’s free. (I didn’t know that, so I ended up paying for this domain name on top of hosting.)

Questions:

  • I read reviews that said their uptime was 99.5%+, but is it really?  With some many “unlimited” features, how do they do it?
  • I also read that customer support was good and quick, but I won’t be able to tell until I run into a problem.
  • I read one review that mentioned minor e-mail delivery problems.  I ran into that with another host a while ago and it wasn’t fun. I hope it doesn’t happen here.

From start to functioning blog (not perfect looking, but perfectly functioning), was one hour through Bluehost with Fantastico.  That’s hard to beat. (Read the step-by-step how.)

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