Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Five Tips at 5:00

Some of you won't need any of these, but here are some tips based on some FAQ's I get asked:
  1. Ever sent an email before it was finished? Either it was simply half-typed, or perhaps it hadn't had another going over to ensure it was worded carefully? When I'm writing a long/important/sensitive message, I do not add the recipient's name in the "To:" field until the message is ready to send. This way, an accidental palm or little hand on shortcut keys won't see your message on its way before you're sure it's ready to be read. Sometimes I even sit on emails in my drafts folder, unsure if they'll ever make their way to the intended reader. A few days' thought can really change the tone of a message, and sometimes, determine whether or not it ends up being therapy for me alone or gets sent after all.
  2. While we're talking about email fields, if you can't resist forwarding something or must send something to a large group of people (to save time, in many cases), such as details of an event or some news, try using the "BCC:" field. This stands for "Blind Carbon Copy," (as opposed to CC: - which is just a carbon copy), which means that all of the email addresses you enter in the field will be concealed from the other message recipients. It's great for keeping other people's contact information private and reducing the junk in the email header to scroll through. If the BCC: field is not displayed by default when you are composing an email, you can usually make it appear by looking for "Add BCC" or by checking "Bcc field" under the "View" menu. It's worth a little hunt around, because you'll only have to learn how to switch it on once.
  3. Enter many giveaways? Or leave comments on others' blogs? Maybe even questions? Make it easy for the blogger to contact you by linking an email address to your account. I am still waiting to hear from a few of my FFF winners whose email addresses are not linked...they even know they've won, and have commented on the giveaway in some cases (saying, "Yay! I'm so glad I won!") but I still can't email them the prize, because clicking through to their profile does not reveal an email address, and when I receive their comment via email, the return address is "" - babow! I can understand sometimes you don't want your private email address to be disclosed - consider creating an alias specifically for this purpose! Read about how to link your email address, so you're reachable, here. Alternatively, if your blog is linked under your profile, having a "Contact" tab/button/link at your blog is really helpful! Sometimes I still can't find an email address at your blog...and so I scamper around your blog leaving comments begging you email me with your address! (adding your email address as a jpg will reduce spam)
  4. Don't like it when pages take a long time to load? You can reduce most images to 30% of their size before uploading and they will look the same (unless clicked upon, to enlarge). Doing this will save your bandwidth, save you time when you're composing and uploading the images, and save your readers (including you) time when loading your pages. For many, this is most easily done by right-clicking on an image and hovering over, "Open with" and selecting Microsoft Office Picture Manager. On the "Picture" menu, select "Resize," and enter a new percentage in the "Percentage of original width x height:" box...then remember to save the changes you've made, or a copy of the file with the changes applied. If you need to resize a number of images, you can use the small arrows below the image you just worked on to navigate through a folder, and with the "Resize" menu still displayed, repeat the process again and again. Those with different operating systems will have similar programmes they can use to achieve the same results (e.g. iPhoto).
  5. If you have a favourite video or two on YouTube (that you keep on going back to), it's time you saved a copy of it on your computer so that you can view it offline, and save your bandwidth! KeepVid is one of the best tools I've found for doing this, another option is using a Mozilla Firefox add-on - such as the Easy YouTube Video Downloader - which adds a button underneath the video you can click to download. I have an entire folder of videos Esky requests - such as Baby Einstein's "Farmer in the Dell" and "The Wheels on the Bus,"and it's great to be able to access this folder whether I'm online or not, and even if I am online, without streaming!
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