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Nearly Christmas time again and the end of another year – it's amazing how fast the time goes by.

Christmas is a time for family and friends, for catching up with those you haven't seen for a while and for telling others you appreciate them and how much they mean to you. What better way than to send them a greeting whether as a phone call, a letter, a card in the post or an e-card or perhaps a personal video greeting. 

 

Do not be daunted by some of these ideas as they can be fun to make and your sentiments are appreciated by the receiver. Let's start by examining the options: 

If you want to make your own greeting cards, or just want some festive icons to add to emails or web pages, you can get these great Xmas icons free from Mighty Deals – just click on their "Free Stuff" tab. They come in 3 sizes, 64 x 64, 128 x 128 &  256 x 256 so come in very handy for a variety of projects. Mighty Deals also have Xmas stickers free just now – they are on currently on page 2 of the Free Stuff. There's heaps of other graphics in the free stuff as well, so check them out.  

 

Xmas Icons For e-cards with a unique touch, you can't go past Ojolie.com  –  I first heard about Frederikke's cards way back in 2008 (see my earlier blog post for more information) and have renewed my very low priced membership ever since ($12 for one year and $18 for 2 years). I've lost count of how many cards there are available, but there's a wide selection for all sorts of occasions and the great thing is that the membership area keeps track of that cards you have previously sent to the people on your email list there. They have a nice selection of free cards as well for you to try for yourself. Many of my friends have commented on the delightful cards I've sent them, so check them out at Ojolie.com or on facebook.

 

If you'd like a video to share this Christmas, try Animoto – they make it easy to use your own photos, text & even videos to produce a professional looking video message.  You can make a free one of 30 seconds or less with some limitations on the number of your own photos you upload but the cost is reasonable if you want to a bigger project. The free one below was made in about 4 minutes just as a demo.

The compliments of the season to you all. Trish

Make your own photo slideshow at Animoto.

I have talked about Randy Smith before on my blog; he is one of the genuine internet marketers out there who really wants to help people be successful too.

His blog, Randy's Ramblings (http://randolfsmith.com)   is a mix of personal and business and is always entertaining, contains helpful business ideas and links to freebies to help beginners as well as those further along. 

Of the many very useful freebies, the one that wins hands down for me is the IMA Link Cloaker as it has been a great time-saver for me.

After setting it up on it's own domain, I now have all my affiliate link details  and cloaked links in one place instead of having to scramble through all the various blogs and sales pages where I first set them up.

Before I used the IMA link cloaker, I tried keeping a spreadsheet detailing where everything was, but some weren't recorded, some were on the list but were no longer correct & there were quite a number of duplicate cloaked domains for the same destination.

Apart from keeping track, the best management feature of the IMA link cloaker is the ability to verify the link with one click form inside the software – so much faster than having to copy and paste the cloaked link into a browser tab to check for errors or to make sure a link is not out-dated.

This might not be a useful tool for you, but it's well worth checking out Randy's blog for any of his other useful freebies if you have any interest at all in choosing internet marketing to earn a bit of extra income; you'll learn a lot and also meet some really good people in the randolfsmith.com  community.

Best wishes
Trish

These days, most of us have a lot of software on our PCs and we need to know how to take care of our system to minimize the possibility of a crash.

(For beginners, the following words  have a computer specific meaning)

1. Crash – When a program or your entire computer stops working and you cannot move the mouse or use the keyboard, and the screen is frozen.

2. Reboot – When you restart your computer after a crash.

3. Control Panel – A feature of Windows that will give you access to system utilities and settings.

4. PC – just another term for your computer (short for Personal Computer – from early computing days)

What should you do first if your PC crashes? Try to stop work, go away & leave it for a few minutes. Often, the computer is trying to process a whole string of commands and might just need to take a little more time. Pressing more keys will just add to the computer’s processing queue, maybe even forcing a crash.

Most of the time the hardware is OK, but the software has caused a problem. A good way to try to recover from a problem is to press the Ctrl + Alt + Delete keys. In XP this will open the Task Manager and show you all the programs running. Note that at least one will probably have a non-responsive indication. Try clicking one at a time on the programs listed that are “Not Responding” and click “End Task”. After that, close the dialog box and see if your computer is working again.

This should solve about 98% of your crashes. If your computer is not responding after all this, you can try restarting. Switching off the entire power is the last resort and should not be done unless everything else has not worked.

To prevent computer crashes, it’s worthwhile to carry out ongoing file maintenance. Check that you have room on your hard drives. To do this, open My Computer and right click on the drive you want to check (e.g. C:) and then click “Properties”. You will get a pie chart showing how much used & free space is on the drive. Windows needs plenty of working space & the suggestion is not to go over 70% usage of your total hard drive space.

You may need to delete or move  any large audio or video files that are occupying too much space to another hard drive or a CD.  When you are short of space,  it is also advisable to remove software programs that you don’t use by going to “Start”, “Control Panel”,  “Add or Remove Programs”.

Make sure you have enough Memory or RAM (Random Access Memory).  If your RAM is low,  help out your computer by not opening too many programs at once.  To find out how much RAM your computer has, select Control Panel from the Start Menu, Double Click System Tools, and then open the System Information tab. The total and available memory is listed towards the bottom of the right panel when you click on System Summary.

Software programs that use the most RAM are those that include a lot of graphics, video or sound capabilities. If your system runs slowly and you use this type of program a lot, it might be worthwhile to upgrade your RAM

Back up your hard drive regularly. There are notes on how to do this online and it is very important and should be done consistently. This way you will not lose a lot of work should you have to turn off power or restart your computer due to a crash (or a power failure!). Losing work is never fun and can be avoided by a little preventive maintenance.

Best Wishes
Trish

I’m sure we have all complained that our PC is slowing down at some stage, so perhaps some of the tips here can help in your own particular case. They are all fairly simple, designed for beginners to implement if you follow the steps given.

1. Defrag Your Disks to Speed Up Access to Data

One of the factors that slow the performance of the computer is disk fragmentation. When files are fragmented, the computer must search the hard disk when the file is opened to piece it back together. To speed up the response time, you should monthly run Disk Defragmenter, a Windows utility that defrags and consolidates fragmented files for quicker computer response.

* Follow Start > All Programs > Accessories > System Tools > Disk Defragmenter
* Click the drives you want to defrag and click Analyze
* Click Defragment

This may take some time, so perhaps leave a defrag running overnight or while you do something away from your PC.

2. Detect and Repair Disk Errors

Over time, your hard disk develops bad sectors. Bad sectors slow down hard disk performance and sometimes make data writing difficult or even impossible. To detect and repair disk errors, Windows has a built-in tool called the Error Checking utility. It’ll search the hard disk for bad sectors and system errors and repair them for faster performance.

* Follow Start > My Computer
* In My Computer right-click the hard disk you want to scan and click Properties
* Click the Tools tab
* Click Check Now
* Select the Scan for and attempt recovery of bad sectors check box
* Click Start

3. Disable Indexing Services

Indexing Services is a little application that uses a lot of CPU. By indexing and updating lists of all the files on the computer, it helps you to do a search for something faster as it scans the index list. But if you know where your files are, you can disable this system service. It won’t do any harm to you machine, whether you search often or not very often.

* Go to Start
* Click Settings
* Click Control Panel
* Double-click Add/Remove Programs
* Click the Add/Remove Window Components
* Uncheck the Indexing services
* Click Next

4. Optimize Display Settings

Windows XP has a nice visual appearance but it costs you system resources that are used to display all the visual items and effects. To customize your settings, right click My Computer, select Properties and then the Advanced tab and under Performance, click Settings. Windows looks fine if you disable most of the settings and leave the following:

* Show shadows under menus
* Show shadows under mouse pointer
* Show translucent selection rectangle
* Use drop shadows for icons labels on the desktop
* Use visual styles on windows and buttons

5. Speedup Folder Browsing

You may have noticed that every time you open My Computer to browse folders that there is a little delay. This is because Windows XP automatically searches for network files and printers every time you open Windows Explorer. To fix this and to increase browsing speed, you can disable the “Automatically search for network folders and printers” option as follows:

Click Start, and then click Control Panel, Double-click Folder Options and on the View tab, de-select the “Automatically search for network folders and printers” check box.

6. Optimize Your Pagefile

You can optimize your pagefile. Setting a fixed size to your pagefile saves the operating system from the need to resize the pagefile.

* Right click on My Computer and select Properties
* Select the Advanced tab
* Under Performance choose the Settings button
* Select the Advanced tab again and under Virtual Memory select Change
* Highlight the drive containing your page file and make the initial Size of the file the same as the Maximum Size of the file.

Windows XP sizes the page file to about 1.5X the amount of actual physical memory by default. While this is good for systems with smaller amounts of memory (under 512MB) it is unlikely that a typical XP desktop system will ever need 1.5 X 512MB or more of virtual memory. If you have less than 512MB of memory, leave the page file at its default size. If you have 512MB or more, change the ratio to 1:1 page file size to physical memory size.

7. Remove Fonts for Speed

Fonts, especially TrueType fonts, use quite a bit of system resources. For optimal performance, trim your fonts down to just those that you need to use on a daily basis and fonts that applications may require.

* Open Control Panel
* Open Fonts folder
* Move fonts you don’t need to a temporary directory (e.g. C:\FONTBKUP?) just in case you need or want to bring a few of them back. The more fonts you uninstall, the more system resources you will gain.

Hope you find these tips useful.
Best wishes
Trish


Flyers are a great way to advertise something for yourself, for an organisation you belong to or for marketing both online and off. There’s no need to be a genius to create a great one, either; if you have some basic tools and follow these guidelines, you’ll be able to design your own flyers in no time.

1. MICROSOFT WORD – Begin with a basic software program like Microsoft Word or Publisher. Open up the program, then look under “File” then “New” to see if there are already existing flyer wizards for documents or templates. If so, start there and adjust one to suit your needs.

2. COLOR – First take a look at your project budget. Is there room for full-color printing of hard copies to distribute? If not, don’t worry. Regular black ink on colored paper produces nice looking, professional flyers. Coordinate the paper color with a theme for the month, like green paper for St. Patrick’s Day or red or blue for the 4th of July.

3. TEXT / FONT – Don’t have too many different fonts, text sizes and styles in one document. Just choose a couple of complimentary fonts and sizes. For ideas on which to use, start a collection of flyers that are stuck on your door, around your mailbox and placed on your car’s windshield. Search your favorite industry web sites for ideas, too, by looking at their online documents for downloading. Print them out and check to see what you link and don’t like about them.

4. PULL TABS – Add pull tabs to the bottom, so that if the flyer is placed on a bulletin board, passersby can pull off a tab and take the info home with them. Check the Help menu for directions. Basically you add a wide text box along the bottom portion of the flyer. Then you insert one row of columns. Click on the first column and write what you want to say – not much fits here so take care! Maybe use your URL or website address and phone number. The text will run horizontally like normal, reading from left to right. So what you do is highlight it and click on “Format” from the top menu, then “Text Direction” do make it run vertical and fit in your tabs. Do the same for each tab.

When you’re finished, print flyers for local distribution or email to others to print as needed.

For business building, you can also turn the document into an Adobe .pdf file to distribute online. Upload it and include links to it in your emails and forum posts. Attach the pdf to emails when you know recipients accept attachments and can take a look, too. Reach out online and off with great looking flyers and grow your business one step further!

Free Monthly Websites

Every month John & Dave give away a free website you can use to start your online business. They have all the help you need to get started right there on the site for free.

Patricia Findlay, EzineArticles Platinum Author

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