Monthly Archives: February 2014

Charitable Giving

money_giftI know this is topic is not what you would expect from an IT consulting company, and probably not normally the time you hear advice about charitable giving, but I believe in planning ahead. If you take the time to research and make decisions now, your year end scramble to decide which charities are worthy of your donations, will be a breeze.

Years ago, Chuck and I were making small donations to charities all over the globe. We made sure we at least liked their focus, but really didn’t put much thought into it beyond that. Well, it soon got overwhelming with dozens of envelopes in our mailbox and LOTS of phone solicitations. So we decided to do some serious research on the charities that we REALLY felt strongly about, then pool the money together and make larger donations to those charities we chose.

First we whittled down the list of charities to the ones that really tugged at our hearts. Then chose a few with global focus and a few with local focus. We used a couple of charity rating websites to get a learned opinion on how the charities were managed to make sure our donation would be put to good use. We ended up with a short list that we really felt were worthy of our money.

Then, of course we had to decide what to do with the ones that didn’t make the cut. The envelopes were easily tossed, but the phone calls were a bit more challenging. Finally, I came up with a statement that defined our decision while still respecting the person on the other end of the phone. It goes something like this: “There are so many worthy causes in this country (world, community), and I know yours is one of them. But we decided to narrow our focus to the ones that really touched our hearts and unfortunately, yours was not one. Thank you for your time and what you do on behalf of this organization. Please remove our name and number from your call list.” Get ready to say no thank you a couple more times. Unfortunately, I’ve had to hang up on a couple, but eventually, our phone stopped ringing so much and the mail has really cut down.

WARNING – SHAMELESS PLUG FOLLOWS: If you are looking for a GREAT local charity (DuPage County), you’ll be hard pressed to find a better one than West Suburban Community Pantry. We volunteer there on a regular basis and are a sponsor for their yearly Spring Spectacular fundraiser. This year’s event has a Monopoly theme and some great entertainment. Check it out here.

Content is Still What Drives Website SEO

There really are no short cuts to SEO (Search Engine Optimization) for your website pages and blog posts. Pretty much as soon as a search engine finds a new “stuffing” technique (stuffing is artificially placing keywords in or on your page or blog), they program around it and often flag it in such as way as to move your site to the bottom of the list.

For reliable SEO, and just plain great writing, follow these tips. People will return to your site for more because they recognize great content.

  • Keep to one topic or subject on each web page or blog post. My general rule of thumb is no more than 1.5 screens worth of content. For people to scroll down further, your content has to be REALLY compelling – to THEM. A good rule of thumb is 300-500 words per page; more for an informational article, fewer for a contact or newsletter sign-up page.
  • Edit your writing so you are using as few words as possible to get your idea across. Your readers will LOVE you for it!
  • Use a heading on each page. In HTML language that means use an h1 tag. (This is a search engine magnet.)
  • Use subheadings (h2, h3, etc.) in your writing instead of bold and italics.
  • Use normal reading language. Check for grammar and spelling errors, too.
  • Don’t overuse your keyword list. Make sure your content is geared toward your readers, not a search engine.
  • Use a bullet or numbered list. This increases the visual impact of your writing and makes it easier to read.
  • Link to other pages on your website only when it makes sense. For example, don’t have more than one link in your text go to your contact page.

One final note about content. Sarcasm does not come across in the written word. Just don’t do it.

Happy writing!


Techy Ideas for Valentine’s Day on Friday


I ran across this article for 12 Apps to Make This Valentine’s Day Your Best One Yet. There is something for everyone. Enjoy!

Then there is this one for 11 DIY Valentines to Make Your True Love. There is one easy enough that I’m going to take supplies to my 4-year-old granddaughter this week to make them! Have fun!

Let me know if you try any of these, and which ones you liked the best.

Happy Valentine’s Day!

Worst Passwords From 2013


SplashData, which makes password management applications, has released its 2013 list of the 25 worst passwords based on files containing millions of stolen passwords posted online in the last year. “123456″ now tops “password,” which normally leads the round-up.


Here’s the full list:

  1. 123456
  2. password
  3. 12345678
  4. qwerty
  5. abc123
  6. 123456789
  7. 111111
  8. 1234567
  9. iloveyou
  10. adobe123
  11. 123123
  12. admin
  13. 1234567890
  14. letmein
  15. photoshop
  16. 1234
  17. monkey
  18. shadow
  19. sunshine
  20. 12345
  21. password1
  22. princess
  23. azerty
  24. trustno1
  25. 000000
If you see YOUR password in this list, it is time to change it!
Choosing a Good Password
Make sure it is at least 8 characters long, contains special symbols or allowed punctuation and is not based on personal information commonly known about you, for example, a woman running a cat shelter should NOT use catlady as her password.
Write a simple sentence that is easy for you to remember to create your great password:
I have two kids: Jack & Jill becomes the password: Ih2k:JnJ (JackandJill is NOT a good password)