July 30

3 Fantastic Blogs Worth Sharing

Anyone who knows me, even for a second, will figure out that I love to read. I always have a book with me, no matter where I am at any given moment. I’m the one at the stoplight, book in hand, trying to finish a paragraph before the light turns green. It’s become a game among family and friends. “What book does she have with her now?”

I also love people. I’m fascinated by them. I like to watch them and hear their stories.

These two parts of me are what draw me to blogs. A good blog satisfies my desire to read and gives me an opportunity to peek into someone’s life and learn a bit about who they are. And, sometimes, the really good ones teach me a something about myself.

Today, I’d like to share with you a few of the blogs that I’ve enjoyed reading. I find them entertaining, motivating, and even inspiring. I hope you’ll enjoy them as much as I have.

  1. Just My Blog

    Just My Blog is an entertaining blog written by Lindsay that often makes me laugh out loud. I especially love the little stories she tells about her daughters, Pumpkin and Dumpling. They never fail to make me smile. What I like most about this blog is its lack of a niche. She writes about many different things and I find the variety fresh and fun. I’ve yet to find a single post on her blog that I didn’t like.

  2. Cora’s Story

    I discovered this blog through a recent post on Lindsay’s blog (mentioned above) and was immediately hooked. It’s the story of a mother’s tragic loss of her baby girl at 5 days old and the courage to deal with that grief and find a way to give her daughter’s brief life a powerful purpose. I can’t even begin to imagine the grief she faces every day. My heart hurts for her. But, at the same time, I admire the courage it takes for her to write her blog and tell Cora’s story, so that other mother’s out there can learn from her experience. She’s a strong, brave woman and I want to do my part in making sure that Cora’s story is heard around the world.

  3. Awkward Family Photos

    This is one you have to visit because it’s just plain funny. It’s more for viewing than actually reading, but the comments are sometimes as laugh-out-loud funny as the photos. Fair warning though. If laughing hysterically tends to make you pee a little, visit the bathroom before you visit this site, otherwise you might end up with a damp chair.

If you enjoy these blogs as much as I do, be sure to pass them on so others can enjoy them, too. If you know of any good blogs you’d like to share as well, even if it’s your own, please leave a comment below and tell me about it.

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July 26

Beat Procrastination With Efficient To-Do List Software

To Do ListI don’t know about you, but I’m a master procrastinator. I’m also a list-maker.

Former co-workers branded me as the “Queen of the Postit®” because I always had dozens and dozens of Postit® notes all over my desk. Appointment reminders. Mini To-do lists. A grocery list of things to pick up on the way home. Stuff like that. Unfortunately, it was a disorganized mess and, in spite of my best efforts, I had a terrible time keeping up with all those lists.

I still use Postit® notes an awful lot but I’m no longer the Queen. I’ve found a better way to manage my lists and get things done. It’s a software program called Efficient To-Do List and I can’t get through a day without it. Literally can’t! Everything I need to do on any given day is in this program and, because of it, I’m now an organized person who gets things done on time, everyday… Well, most of the time anyway.

It’s even eliminated a lot of my procrastination because I find myself motivated to complete tasks just for the little thrill of checking it off and watching my list get smaller. I know, I know. I’m a little weird.

Efficient To-Do List comes in a Lite version and a Pro version. Both are great products.  Both Lite and Pro versions also have a portable option to download and run from a USB flash drive, great for having your to-do list on the go.

Unlike the free or Lite versions of other to-do list software, Efficient To-Do List Lite doesn’t limit the number of items you can add to your list. It also doesn’t restrict other important features, like setting reminders, prioritizing tasks, searching your lists, and doing backups. You can also import and export to do lists, password protect your lists, and filter by current week, current month, overdue, not overdue, and high priority.

Then there is the Pro version, my personal favorite. With the Pro version, you can create Groups or Folders and sort your lists into those Groups, taking organization one step further. Now I can work on the tasks in a specific area, like paying bills, and not have my list cluttered with all the tasks from other areas. Each Group can also be customized to show only the columns I need for that group. After all, who needs a due date on their grocery list?

The only feature not available in either version is the ability to filter for the current day. I would like to be able to see a list of just the things I need to do today. I can get around this limitation by using the search feature to show only tasks with today’s date, but it takes a lot more effort and you can’t exclude items that have already been checked off the way you can in the main filtered view.  However, even with this one limitation, it’s still an amazing piece of software and if enough people ask for a “current day” filter, I’m sure they’ll consider adding it to a future version.

Here are some of the other things you can do with the Pro version:

  • Create hierarchical sub-tasks, which is very helpful for large projects that need to be broken down into smaller parts.
  • Add comments to tasks.
  • Add attachments to tasks.
  • Create lists that are read-only.
  • See your list in card view. Great for those of you who are visual types.

There are so many great things you can do with this software, I can’t possibly list them all. I suggest you go to their website and try one of the versions for yourself. The free version is great, but you can try a fully functioning Pro version free for 30 days. I know you’ll like it and you can’t beat the price if you decide to buy it. Just $24.95 for a single license that allows you to install it on up to three computers. Yup, that’s right, THREE! How’s that for value?

Now that you know my secret for staying organized and beating procrastination, I’d love to know your secret. How do you do to keep up with everything you have to do?

Category: Advice, Product Reviews, Reviews | Comments Off on Beat Procrastination With Efficient To-Do List Software
July 22

Customer Service That Works!

I was reading this post, Akismet Gives Me A Lesson In Customer Service, at Blogs With Wings this morning and it made me smile. I, too, had a great experience with customer service yesterday and it was an excellent reminder of how important it is to respond quickly to the needs and wants of your customers, big and small.

I use a couple different hosting companies for the various websites I own, but my primary hosting provider and the one that this site is hosted on is Total Choice Hosting. I’ve been with this company since 2004 and will probably continue to stay with them for a long, long time. Why?

Well, for one, they provide good hosting services at reasonable prices and, two, they provide great customer service.

Are they perfect? No, not always. My experience with them yesterday proved that. Early in the day, their company dropped the ball. In a BIG way. I was experiencing some serious issues with connecting to their web server and uploading files, even being completely locked out of connecting at one point. I opened a support ticket to get the issue resolved and their low-level support techs basically responded with “There’s nothing wrong on our end. It’s your problem.” and closed the ticket, issue unresolved.

I wasn’t having the problem with any of my other hosts and extensive testing of everything on my end made it clear to me that the problem wasn’t on my end, so I reopened the ticket, only to get the same response. Your problem, ticket closed, issue unresolved. I went back and forth with them on this several times, reopening the ticket only to have them close it again. Things came to an explosive point when yet another problem occurred.

I opened another ticket for the second problem only to get the same response as the first ticket. Problem on your end, ticket closed.

At that point, my redheaded, Irish temper took over and I exploded. I reopened both tickets, not to get resolution, but to rant at them for being completely unconcerned that I couldn’t use their service anymore. If I can’t connect to them, there’s no point in keeping an account with them.

Within minutes, I received a response. Not from the tech department but from the President the company. He asked me to contact him directly through instant messenger so we could chat. I did and we spent the next 30 minutes working together to get all my problems solved. He fixed the problems occurring on their end AND he helped me find and fix a few things that were contributing to the problem on my end. By the end of our chat, my service was working perfectly and I was a HAPPY customer.

Then, to top off my great experience, he made sure I knew how important my business was to him and he gave me his personal cell phone number and told me if the problem happened again, I could contact him directly and bypass the ticket system. THAT is good customer service and when I think of that day, it’s that experience I will remember. Not the frustration that led up to it.

Akismet Gives Me A Lesson In Customer Service

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July 12

Book Review: Blogging For Fame and Fortune

Blogging For Fame and Fortune CoverHave you ever tried to read a book and been stopped, not by poor content, but by poor editing?

That’s the problem I’ve had with reading Blogging for Fame and Fortune by Jason R. Rich. I’m about halfway through chapter 4 out of 14 chapters and I just can’t seem to get into it. I’ve leafed through it quite a bit and there appears to be some great information there. I just can’t read it. There are too many spelling and grammar errors. I’ve found as many as four of them on a single page.

The name of the publisher is Entrepreneur Press. I’ve looked at their website and they seem to have a variety of books published, but not having read any of them, I have no idea if the editing issue is a problem with this book alone or an issue with the publisher in general.

All I know is a potentially great book has been ruined by poor editing and it’s a shame.

If, unlike me, you’re the type of person who can read a good book in spite of poor editing and you’re interested in starting a new blog or improving an existing blog, you might find this book very helpful. There is plenty of information on how to get started, how to drive traffic to your blog and how to start making money.

One thing this book does not promise you is a quick trip to fame and fortune. The author makes it clear that blogging for fame and fortune takes time and hard work. I give the author credit for that. There are too many books and other information products out there promising instant internet fortune without lifting a finger. It’s refreshing to find an author who tells you the truth about what it takes to succeed without crushing your dream of getting there.

If you’re going to read this book, that’s a pretty good reason to do so.

I’d like to hear what you think.

  • Have you read this book? Did you like it?
  • Do you have trouble reading books with lots of errors?

I’ve told you What Ven Thinks. Please leave a comment and tell me what YOU think.

July 5

Seesmic Desktop: The Shadow TweetDeck Needs to Fear

Seesmic DesktopI tried Seesmic Desktop alongside of TweetDeck for a short period of time and it didn’t take long for me to realize that Seesmic Desktop and TweetDeck are shadows of each other. If you look at the two clients side-by-side, you can barely tell the difference. Seesmic looks a lot like TweetDeck and has most of the same features. Each client also has features the other lacks, which makes it very hard to chose between them. Even as I write this review, I find myself once again waffling between the two clients. Sometimes, TweetDeck works better for me, but at other times, Seesmic is the better fit.

These are some of the features Seesmic Desktop has in common with TweetDeck:

  • Handles multiple Twitter accounts.
  • Support for multiple URL shortening services.
  • In program profile viewer with the ability to follow, unfollow, and block.
  • Support for saved searches.
  • Support for unlimited columns.
  • Support for posting a single message to multiple accounts.
  • Single column view mode.

These are the features Seesmic Desktop lacks:

  • The ability to view images within the program itself rather than opening via the browser.
  • Support for trending topics and tag clouds via TwitScoop.
  • Support for groups
  • Support for scheduled tweets.
  • Short URL Previews.
  • No support for MySpace, Foursquare, or LinkedIn.
  • No support for global filtering.
  • Ability to change the programs color scheme.

Here are some of the features that Seesmic Desktop has in its favor:

  • Handy navigation bar on the left, which can be expanded or collapsed as needed.
  • Option to control the width of the columns. (I LOVE this feature.)
  • The “Home” column which combines tweets from all accounts into a single column, a nice feature if you like it, can be closed if you don’t.
  • Support for a larger number of URL shortening services than TweetDeck.
  • Much less annoying notification sound than TweetDeck. Still no support for changing the notification sound though.
  • Better font than TweetDeck.

The good news is that Seesmic Desktop is fairly new and still in the development process, so there is always the possibility that, if they implement the missing TweetDeck features and  continue to add features that TweetDeck lacks,  it could very well end up being a much better client than TweetDeck. It’s too early to tell, but I will definitely be keeping an eye on both in the future.

I’d love to hear your opinion. Which client do you like better and why?

Category: Opinions, Product Reviews, Reviews | Comments Off on Seesmic Desktop: The Shadow TweetDeck Needs to Fear