Saturday, September 12, 2009

Free Computer tools

from Kim Komando:

5 free services to save you money


Many things in life are almost free. We’ll pay a little for a convenient service. But those nickels and dimes add up. Luckily, there are some things you don’t have to pay for.

Luckily, some things are free. You just have to know where to look. That includes faxing, conference calls, file transfers, 411 calls and text conversion.

So, save some dough by using these tools:

Send big files – E-mail makes it easy to share many kinds of files. But there’s usually a size limitation. And it’s not the most secure method around. is a better solution. Upload large files to a secure Web site. Share access with only the people you choose.

Send and receive faxes for free – Does anyone actually send faxes anymore? Well, yes. Sometimes you do need to use a fax machine. But why keep one around for those rare occasions? You can send faxes for free from your computer. Faxzero makes it easy.

Hold free conference calls – Conference calls make holding a meeting easier. You can also use them with family members to keep all up-to-date. Everyone can participate no matter where they are located. Rondee makes it simple to set one up. And you don’t need a conference calling system. Just use Rondee’s free tools.

Get directory assistance for free – Directory assistance is a great tool. You can find local businesses quickly. But it will cost you to use it. That is, unless you use Google’s 411 service. This automated system will connect you to any local business. And it’s completely free.

Edit PDF files for free – Scanned documents and PDFs are common in an office environment. They’re easy to use. That is, unless you want to edit them. To do that, you’ll need to convert them to another format. OCR Terminal will do it for you.

Cost: Free

System: Windows XP and Vista, Mac OS X

Video Time: Legs, Voice, Energy

Every Saturday night I've been featuring a classic tune or classic artist video. This one I discovered last week.

On November 26th, Tina Turner turns 70! This is from a live concert 15 years ago...

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Friday, September 11, 2009


It's nearly the weekend. It's also a sobering day in American History that changed our lives on 9/11/01.

Friday's for me are often busy in the morning, working on deadlines for the radio stations I work for so everything is set for not only tomorrow, but the next two days.

Saturdays I often do something physical like mow the lawn as a break from the daily routine.

No matter how much we enjoy our work, we also need time to take a break. These suggestions come from the DLM blog:

Kill Your Stress: Eight Stress-Busting Secrets

Posted: 08 Sep 2009 11:43 AM PDT

Do you feel constantly tense? Are your muscles tight and aching? Do you find yourself snapping at colleagues or family members? Do you feel a sense of panic and overwhelm when you think about your to-do list, or your email inbox? Are you constantly “wired”, in a jittery, negative way?

Here are eight secrets – physical and mental – that will radically reduce your stress. Try focusing on one physical and one mental tip each week, until you’ve got all eight in play.

These four secrets are all to do with treating your body well in order to avoid stress.
  • Exercise
    I have to confess, I’ve been slacking off on my exercise routine this summer – my excuses are that it’s been too hot, and that I’ve been too busy. After a couple of months where I didn’t set foot inside the gym, I made the time to go for a workout twice last week. I was amazed how much less stressed I felt as a result.

    You don’t need to hit the gym to reduce your stress – though moderate-high intensity exercise will do more good than a low-level activity. A brisk walk, a cycle ride, or a jog gives you the same stress-busting results. You’ll find that your worries, your work and your to-do list fade from your mind while you’re busy getting active.

  • Get Enough Sleep
    Do you go to bed too late, and struggle to get up in the mornings? Do you find yourself gulping down coffee just to stay awake? If you’re sleep-deprived, you’re going to find life stressful: you’ll make mistakes, you’ll be irritable, and you’ll struggle to maintain the emotional equilibrium to cope with the normal ups and downs of the day.

    My tips for getting enough sleep are:

    • Give yourself a bed time – and stick to it.

    • Don’t work within two hours of your bedtime. Definitely don’t “check emails just once more” straight before bed... you’ll either end up replying there and then, or you’ll have them on your mind all night.

    • Shut down your computer an hour before bed.

    For more tips, see Six Simple Steps to Successful Sleep.

  • Eat Healthily
    Feelings of exhaustion, sluggishness or tiredness often contribute to our stress levels – and these can be caused by what we’re eating. You know all the basics: eating breakfast, focusing your meals on wholegrains, lean protein sources and fruit and veg, drinking plenty of water...

    Taking the time to eat a healthy meal can also help reduce stress by providing a break in your day. Don’t scoff down lunch at your desk – you’ll barely taste it, and eating in a hurry like this isn’t good for your digestion. Get away from your desk (outside the office, if possible) and give yourself time to enjoy and appreciate your food: this also helps you to eat less, which in turn means you’ll feel more awake in the afternoon.

  • Cut Caffeine
    We all know that jittery, wired feeling that comes from drinking too much coffee. Caffeine is stressful to your body – it acts like a poison, and the “pick me up” you get is actually your body fighting that poison off.

    If you’re looking to cut your caffeine intake, you might want to read How to Give Up Coffee and Caffeine Altogether.

    Don’t resort to energy drinks either: these can contain huge doses of caffeine, along with a lot of sugar – which won’t do your short-term concentration or your long-term health any favors.
These four secrets are ones that primarily affect your mind.
  • Recognize When You’re Getting Stressed
    None of us go straight from blissful calm to heart-pounding stress. You’ve probably had days when you could feel yourself getting more and more worked up. Perhaps you worked for hours without a break, or maybe a few small problems – perhaps with your computer or your office lighting or heating – were winding you up for ages.

    There are a number of emotional signals that you’re getting stressed, including:

    • Feeling overwhelmed when you contemplate your workload

    • Having the urge to cry or scream

    • Wanting to hit something (or someone!)

    Often, stress can be stopped in its tracks by learning what your early-warning symptoms are.

  • Take a Time Out
    Once you’ve got a handle on how you feel when you’re getting stressed, you can often stop yourself getting that worked up. When you start to become stressed, take a time out. Go for a five minute walk, sit with your eyes closed for a couple of minutes, switch to a different task if what you’re working on is making you feel stressed.

    Just getting out of the immediate situation is often enough to help you calm down and get perspective. This is important for your own mental health – but also for the people around you. If you’re getting very het up in a tense situation with colleagues or relatives, make an excuse and slip away for a few minutes. This will help you calm down so you don’t lose your temper.

  • Do One Thing at a Time
    In today’s work – and home – environments, we rarely focus on one thing at a time. We end up cooking while making a phone call, checking emails during dinner, or playing around on Facebook and Twitter when we intended to do the online grocery shop.When you multi-task, you split your attention between two things – and often end up dropping the ball on one of them. (Who hasn’t burnt the dinner because they got distracted while cooking?) Also, an obsessive focus on “being efficient” can actually make you more stressed, as you’ll feel that life is just one chore after another.

    For greater effectiveness, and less stress, learn to mono-task.

  • Write in a Journal
    Finally, one of the most effective ways I’ve found to reduce stress is to write a journal. This doesn’t need to be complicated or time-consuming: just spend ten minutes, ideally at the end of each day, reviewing how things went, what you’ve felt good about, what’s been a source of stress, and what you’ve learnt.

    This is a great way to get problems into perspective, to find the good side in situations that might have been stressful at the time, and to notice patterns in your life. Through journaling, you can often see what’s causing you stress – and you can work to eliminate it.

    Journaling is also a good way to get thoughts out of your mind before you go to bed; many people find this helps them to sleep better.
What are your secrets for killing stress? Add them in the comments!

Written on 9/08/2009 by Ali Hale. Ali is a professional writer and blogger, and a part-time postgraduate student of creative writing. If you need a hand with any sort of written project, drop her a line ( or check out her website at Aliventures.Photo Credit: Sara. Nel

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Thursday, September 10, 2009


Words of Wisdom from Harvey Mackay:

The best way to get even is to forgive

Clara Barton was an American nurse who founded the American Red Cross in 1881 and was its president until 1904. A remarkable woman, she made it a rule never to hold resentment against anyone.

Once a friend reminded her of a cruel thing that had been done to Barton some years previously, but Clara seemed not to remember the incident.

"Don't you remember the wrong that was done to you?" the friend asked.

"No," Clara answered calmly. "I distinctly remember forgetting that."

You will never get ahead of anyone as long as you are trying to get even with them. Even if you do get even with someone, you have put yourself on their level.

The daughter of a friend of mine gave me some advice a few months ago on how to handle forgiveness. She suggested making a list of the grudges, anger and pain that weigh you down. Commit to releasing it once and for all. Take three deep breaths and ask for peace. Then burn the list. And smile. You've just lightened your load.

As F. Scott Fitzgerald said, "For every minute you remain angry, you give up 60 seconds of peace of mind."

Forgiveness is the key to healing all relationships and leads to happiness. You'll be grateful for the experience of forgiving someone. It ultimately makes you stronger.

Forgiveness is something virtually all Americans aspire to, as is witnessed by a nationwide Gallup poll that found 94 percent of those surveyed said it was important to forgive. Yet in the same survey, only 48 percent said they usually tried to forgive others.

I don't think a single person can escape life without experiencing hurt by another person.

That's as true in business as every other phase of life.

Everyone, and I mean everyone, messes up, hurts others, finds fault, misjudges and acts emotionally and improperly from time to time at the expense of others. Recognizing this, I'll overlook an honest misunderstanding in the office, the vendor who blunders over prices, and the occasional dumb mistake. And I know my character will strengthen when I have to work hard to forgive the deal makers who tried to cut me out of the deal, the bankers who wouldn't lend me money when tough times rolled to town, the sales rep who left me for a "sweeter" deal and then asked to return.

And if the day is done, and I can't forgive them, I forget them.

These days especially, many people harbor hard feelings toward the companies that either laid them off or asked them to take pay cuts, reduced hours, additional responsibilities, or otherwise interrupted their careers and lives.

What is the best course of action? How can you get past the anger and the bad feelings? Only one way that I know of—forgiveness. Forgive the company for falling on hard times and making tough choices, even if you disagree with them. Forgive the people who kept their jobs when you lost yours. Forgive the people who piled on extra work and focus instead on how you can help get the company functioning at its best. Forgive yourself for being in whatever position you find yourself. Accept that some things are just not in your control. And then, except for the lessons you learned, forget it.

Carrying grudges can be a heavy load. Just the thought of past pains pulls your energy down. Forgiveness is how you free yourself. You release your anger. You move forward. And you lighten up.

Forgiving what's happened in the past allows you to focus on the future, which is the only place you have to go. Imagine your frame of mind going to your next job interview with a chip on your shoulder. You'd have to be an Oscar contender not to let that shine through to the prospective employer.

And if I haven't convinced you, perhaps you will heed this advice: "Forgiveness is not an occasional act; it is a permanent attitude," said Martin Luther King Jr. "Forgiveness does not mean ignoring what has been done or putting a false label on an evil act. It means, rather, that the evil act no longer remains as a barrier to the relationship."

Mackay's Moral: It is far better to forgive and forget than to resent and remember.

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Wednesday, September 09, 2009


Got this last month from the DLM Blog:

6 Reasons Why You Are Not More Productive

Posted: 04 Aug 2009 02:20 PM PDT

When being productive, it's more about quality than it is quantity. It means trimming the fat and taking the actions that count the most. Using the 80/20 rule is a big proponent to being productive.

The 80/20 rule says that 20% of your actions create 80% of your results. When I worked as a Consultant I started putting in 20 hour work weeks. This was more than enough time for me to produce the same results I created previously in a 40 hour work week. The way I did this is by trimming the fat and taking action on what mattered the most - effective actions.

This meant taking 20% of the actions that were creating 80% of my results. Effective action creates effective results - big time. That's the basis of the 80/20 rule on productivity.

It sounds straightforward, right?

Well it is - it's not rocket science, but the problem is that most people don't follow this rule. They know that it works, but they're still not using it!


Here are 6 reasons why a great number of people are not more productive when using the 80/20 rule:
  1. Fear of failure
    There is an element of failure built-in when taking effective action. Most people will avoid taking actions that have any element of failure built into them. They would rather not risk being a failure - because failing once would mean that they are a failure - and that is completely untrue; which reminds me of a quote by Micheal Jordan:

    "I've missed more than 9,000 shots in my career. I've lost almost 300 games. Twenty-six times I've been trusted to take the game winning shot and missed. I've failed over and over and over again in my life and that is why I succeed."

    If Michael Jordan can take effective action without being a failure, then so can you.

  2. You don't get out of your comfort zone.
    I guess being an entrepreneur has it's benefits because I'm almost always in a state of being uncomfortable. If I get too comfortable, I fall asleep. That's why I left my job - for the most part is was so boring. But there were those moments when I stepped it up a notch and got uncomfortable. I remember this one time I was completely annoyed with my boss. He was always late or a no-show for meetings. I went into his office and asked if I could speak with him. I was extremely nervous, but I started the conversation anyway. At one point I said to him, "When you show up late to meetings or don't show up at all, it tells me that wherever you are is more important than being in that meeting." The next day we had another meeting and he showed up on time.

  3. You're attached.
    When you take effective action you're not attached to the end result, you're committed - you make it work. Here's the difference. Being attached to the end result means the process must look a certain way. It's got to happen the way you think it's going to happen. There are steps involved and it MUST BE DONE this way. That's a clear sign of attachment. Being committed is quite different.

    When you're committed you act effectively with the end in mind. You could care less of how it happens or what it looks like. You just know that you're going to find a way to make it happen and are open to possibilities. It doesn't have to look a certain way, instead you adjust your actions and thought processes along the way.

  4. You haven't made, "effective action" a habit.
    Everyone has an automatic success mechanism built within them, but very few use it. It's the same mechanism that let's you drive your car and brush your teeth without consciously thinking - it's your unconscious mind. One you start taking effective action on a more consistent basis, it will become a habit; and that's the point when your productivity will be set on auto-pilot; that's why it's called your automatic success mechanism.

  5. You've got to have it perfect.
    This is closely tied to #1, except for one difference. You could be scared to death of failure and avoid taking action because you don't want to be a failure. You already know this is untrue. But you could be avoiding effective action for entirely different reason and that's because you don't think it's perfect just yet. You might have to make that phone call to that someone special or start that business or savings account that would make all the difference for you, but it's just not perfect yet. I'll let you in on a little secret. It's never perfect until you make it perfect and take action - effective action. That's the fastest way to make it perfect. Just aim and shoot.

  6. You'll look bad.
    You realize that if you take action (which is in that 20% we've talked about) you might look bad, and you couldn't have that. Looking bad or looking good are both action killers. You see, at some point an effective person who takes effective action gives up their idea of "looking bad" because they realize it's not as important as what they want. I've found through coaching that most people who want to look good (and prevent looking bad) are people who have a low self-image. Because if they had a better self-image, you know they would just go out there and just frickin do it!
So let's look at the numbers again. 20% of your actions will create 80% of your results. That means you can actually do less than you're doing right now and get more done. Bigger and better results. It's about quality, not quantity.Does it sound too good to be true?

Well, when I started working from home, I began creating a list of 5-6 daily actions and I still do this today. These are the most important actions I will take that day to catapult my productivity and produce results.

Most days I would work through that list and get everything done, but not always. Sometimes I avoided these actions for the reasons I mentioned above, but there may be others?

What do you think? What are some of the reasons we avoid taking effective action?

Written on 8/04/2009 by Steve Martile. Steve is a Life Direction Coach and the creator of Freedom Education - Mind Power for Your Personal Growth. He is also the author of the ebook that you can download here: The Genius Within YOU. Photo Credit: Ingorrr

Fort Wayne Site of the Day

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Tuesday, September 08, 2009

The Bathroom is now Fixed

Actually it has been fixed for several months now. But last year in September or October, we started noticing problems with one of the toilets flushing.

After spending a few hundred dollars and the repair only lasting 3 weeks, we had them come back again and fix it which they did at no cost. However, they warned us that the problem really needed a bigger fix and it might cost SEVERAL hundred dollars.

Sure enough, in the middle of December 2008, when our neighborhood lost power, we also lost use of the bathroom. Except now we had several others staying with us.

We forked over the dough to get the pipes properly cleaned out and everything has been fine.

However when I saw this advice, (especially the last sentence), I knew I should share it with you:

How to Unclog a Toilet Like a Plumber

Posted: 03 Sep 2009 06:49 PM PDT


It’s every man’s worst fear. You’re at someone’s house, you finish doing your business and flush the toilet, but instead of going down, the water comes up along with whatever you just deposited in the bowl. Would you be paralyzed with panic in that moment? Or do you know what to do?

For some reason, the lot has fallen to men to deal with clogged toilets. I guess in a time when we’re no longer needed to ride out in defense of the tribe, our toughness is marshaled to do battle in the bathroom. But many men charge in brandishing their plunger but lacking a game plan on how to attack the clog. To help us learn how to effectively unclog a toilet, I called up Rod from Roto-Rooter and got the scoop. Here’s his advice.

Stop the toilet bowl from filling up. If it looks like the water might overflow out of the toilet, Rod suggests taking the lid off the tank as quickly as possible and closing the toilet flapper. The flapper releases water from the tank and into the bowl. It looks like, well, a flapper. If you’re worried that your flush has a good chance of turning into a flood, take off the top before you pull the trigger. Then you can keep one hand close to the flapper while the other hands pushes the flusher. The minute it appears the water is rising, you’re ready to stop the deluge.


Toilet flapper (Image source: The Jay)

Get the right plunger. Once disaster has been averted, it’s time to unsheathe your plunger. To effectively use a plunger, you need a good seal between it and the toilet bowl. Funnel-cup plungers are the best plungers for this. They’re the plungers with a flange, or added piece, extending off the bottom of the rubber cup.


Funnel-cup plunger

Warm up your plunger. Stiff, hard plungers don’t work as well as soft and pliant ones. Run your plunger under some hot water before you use it. This will soften up the rubber, which will help you get a better seal on the toilet bowl.

Plunge correctly. Stick the plunger in the bowl and use it to form a solid seal over the exit hole. Rod said that most people only focus on the downward push when plunging. But the pullback is just as important. Give a few good up and down strokes with the plunger and flush the toilet. If the water clears from the toilet, then you’ve successfully unclogged it. If the toilet starts overflowing again, just close the flapper to stop water from entering the bowl. Repeat the plunge and flush sequence until your clog is gone

For harder clogs, use an auger. If the plunger doesn’t work, Rod says it’s time to bust out the auger. An auger is a cable like device that you snake through the toilet hole to help loosen up a clog. You can find augers at most hardware stores.

augerToilet auger

To use an auger, you simply snake the cable down the hole. Start turning the crank on the end you’re holding until it stops. This means you’ve reached your clog. The auger will either break up the clog or hook on to it. If it feels like you’ve hooked the clog, pull it out. Discard any waste on the end of the auger. Give the toilet a few good plunges to clear up any left over blockage. Flush. Shazam! Cleared toilet.

When to call the plumber. There are times when your own efforts just aren’t enough. How do you know when it’s time to call in the professionals to battle your clog? Rod says that if you see water backing up in the sinks or showers whenever you flush, it’s time to bring in a plumber. Water backing up in odd locations when you flush means you have a clogged main line. A plunger and auger won’t get the job done.

Avoiding clogged toilets. Rod’s parting advice was to avoid clogs in the first place. First, teach children that the toilet is not a Jacuzzi or water ride for their GI Joes. Rod says that the majority of his work with clogged toilets involves toys and other items that kids have flushed down the toilet.

Rod also says it’s important to ensure the jets around the toilet bowl’s edge are nice and clean. Stopped up jets will prevent the toilet from flushing at full power which in turn prevents you from clearing out the toilet and its contents. Weekly toilet cleaning with a brush will prevent build-up. If you haven’t cleaned the toilet in a while, you’ll probably have mega buildup. Rod suggests using an Allen wrench or screwdriver to clear out the junk.

Finally, take it easy on the paper. You don’t need an entire roll to wipe your bum.

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Monday, September 07, 2009

Video Time: Sand & Light

Kim Komando featured this recently:

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Sunday, September 06, 2009

Sick or Healthy

My wife, among many things, is a nurse. We also have a daughter away at colege and I know she is listening to the reports of H1N1 flu on her daughters campus.

For my Abby, Rachael, Tiff, Josh & Ian (plus all your loved ones), follow this advice from the DLM Blog. Your parents want you to stay healthy!

Be Proactive, Be Healthy: Seven Ways to Prepare for a Mega Flu Season

Posted: 05 Sep 2009 10:15 AM PDT

sickHealth and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius recently appeared on NBC's Today Show. She spoke frankly and said a "plausible scenario" for the United States is a wide-scale flu infection this season, warning of 30,000-90,000 deaths and as many as 300,000 people requiring intensive care treatment at hospitals.

Are you ready for flu season? Are you prepared if the flu virus gets jiggy with your body?

Granted, media hype can blow just about anything out of proportion. Considering this is a fair bit more serious than the Jon & Kate situation, however, it is wise to take a few preventative steps in preparation for the fast-approaching flu season.
  1. Get vaccinated
    Time to get over your “But I hate shots!” whining and ranting. Educate yourself on available vaccinations, talk with your doctor, and view the CDC website. They have vaccination information here.

  2. Wash your hands and use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer.
    Giving high-fives should be a safe and friendly sport. I used to think only crazed soccer moms carried hand sanitizer in their purses. Not anymore. You don’t have to belong to the Church of Purell; keeping your hands clean is a must, however, to avoid the transmission of nasty germs. Also keep in mind that you should sneeze into a Kleenex, not directly into your hands.

  3. Don't touch your face.
    The virus enters the body through the eyes, nose and mouth.

  4. Take vitamins, eat healthy, exercise, and reduce stress.
    Easier said than done but try your hardest to act upon these goals if they'll possibly keep you from staring down at the bottom of a toilet bowl later this year (if anything it’s a good excuse not to return your mother’s voicemail until April). There are a number of natural health preventions as well. Talk to your doctor or visit a natural foods store.

  5. Enjoy time in a sauna a couple times a week.
    The steam and heat can supposedly kill off viruses (if it's over 80 degrees).

  6. Enjoy time outdoors.
    Ever been on a plane when multiple people are sick? It's miserable. Get outside, even when it's annoyingly cold. Give yourself old-fashioned rosy pink cheeks. Staying cooped up indoors circulates germs.

  7. Keep tissues, electrolyte drinks, household cleaners, soft foods and other items on hand.
    No doubt the flu can spread like rabbits. If you come down with the flu, quarantine yourself with a stash of Will Ferrell movies to prevent the spread of the virus. Try not to use items that are hard to disinfect once the virus has run its course (such as your laptop). In any case, chances are you won't want to haul yourself out to the 24-hour s-c-a-r-y Walgreens on Lake Street just to stock up on toilet paper and pudding cups. Not to mention few things feel worse than when you're sweaty and yellow-green, lying half dead on the couch and someone has to actually see you to drop off orange Gatorade. Gross.
Want more information? View these resources:
Written on 9/05/2009 by Emily Steffel. Emily is a senior writer for a Minneapolis-based law firm. Find her on Twitter at Also find her in aisle C3 at Target, next to the hand sanitizers. Photo Credit: Jimee, Jackie, Tom & Asha

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