Thursday, December 13, 2007

More Vista Good News

Well! The new Vista laptop is doing great... and we have added a new Dell desktop computer to our arsenal (with Vista too). This one didn't take nearly as long getting all my production software installed. Photoshop is working even better with 4 gig of memory on this big hog! Here is a brand new wallpaper... a webshots photo (screenprint) with some PhotoGraphic Edges magic added to the mix.

To save the image for your very own wallpaper, click the small image. The larger image will appear in a new window. Right click the larger image and choose "set as background" if you are using Internet Explorer. Choose "Set as Desktop Background" if you are using Firefox... and that's all!


Wednesday, December 05, 2007

Busy Busy Busy!

It has been a very busy last few months... Between making more soap and learning more about lotions and potions (all natural of course), I recently discovered Mineral Makeup... Geez! I can't believe this little hobby of mine has grown into such an obsession and can take me away from my beloved computers the way it can! It has certainly been an interesting ride.

I've had to break in a new Dell laptop. It is a lovely little thing. I named it the Inspirator, and it is a piece of work! Took about two months to get all my software settled in on it, several things I had to wait for the new Vista versions before I could install. The Photoshop Suite (CS3) went in great on the new Vista machine, but it was over $600 to upgrade from my previsious (not vista ready) version.

Then a few weeks ago I added another "big" machine (another Dell of course), with lots more memory and a more powerful processor. This way when I need the extra horsepower the laptop just can't provide, I don't have to wait for old Papa Bear to finish with the main machine before I can get any work done. Now we have two "main machines." It works great in this household!

I'm still in the process of getting my new "main machine" up to speed so it can be more productive... just about there... all my most used programs are installed and everything is "vista ready" so I should be back to writing more tips and tricks for soon.

Friday, June 22, 2007

The new

It is coming along nicely, and I am determined to have it up on the last day of June. Many of the articles on the existing (old) site will be going away, and the rest are being updated to reflect today computers and operating systems. That means new screen shots and going over them word by word. GEEZ!
The dragons will still be around, but that is about it.

Friday, May 11, 2007

Tiny Treasures are alive and well!

I really thought the years would not be good to my Tiny Treasures, what with new operating systems, larger hard drives and software trying really hard to take advantage of all the extra resources available, but this one is definitely a goody and I'm so happy Rose City Software dropped it into an email to me!

Let's go over the rules for Tiny Treasures real quick. A Tiny Treasure is a small program, must be able to fit on a 1.44 Mb floppy disk (no one uses those much any more), and can't make old Mrs. Wizard crazy during installation or use. It must be really fun or really useful, and can't gum up the system in any way. That's a lot to ask of a software application, especially nowadays.

DigitWiz is one of those rare utilities that is so useful you will want it handy at all times. At 100 Kb, it is hard to imagine anything that small could do much of anything, but it does, and it does it very well! There is nothing to install, just download the zip folder (97 kb) and put the exe file anywhere you want. When you want to run it, just click the file and go for it.

DigitWiz will convert those annoying worded phone numbers (like 1-800-GOT MILK or other such nonsense) into real numbers instantly. If that isn't enough, there is also a very handy little area code lookup feature so you can quickly search to see where any area code is located in the U.S. Add to all this is the fact it will even work with VISTA!

This is definitely a COOL TOOL!

Thursday, May 03, 2007

At Last! VISTA is good!

Installing all the "important stuff" on the new VISTA machine is just about completed, and I am getting to the point where I can actually fall for this new system. It is a lot more secure, although that extra layer of security can be a pain in the tail sometimes.

My Photoshop and Dreamweaver suite is working great and I'm looking forward to giving it a real workout in the next few days. The Soapmaker program didn't sass Vista much, except for a little work around regarding the help file. Seems you need to give the ".chm" type help files a little extra permission in order to read them properly. I noticed when I installed the latest CorelDRAW graphics suite the help file was unavailable in the Font Navigator... amazing I haven't been able to find a workaround for that yet... and the interesting thing is that on the box it is clearly stamped with an official Vista compatibility seal... Hmmmmm?

I'm not complaining. I have Incredimail installed and all is right with the world!

Wednesday, April 25, 2007

Day Whatever... Vista Icon Shrinker

Well! My Photoshop Design suite arrived today. Took a long time to install, but it was pretty seamless. Vista is looking a LOT better today. Photoshop is running great! This new version seems a lot friskier than previous versions. Dreamweaver is just as nice and comfortably familiar, so I can start using this new little "Inspirator" seriously and really shake it down. Things are much brighter so you can expect a much cheerier wallpaper very soon!

To prove I'm back in the saddle, here's a neat little quickie for those of you who hate the size of the default Vista desktop icons and want to see normal return. Right click any empty area of your desktop and choose View and Classic Icons. It is just that easy to gain a little peace of mind! Sure made me feel better!

Tuesday, April 24, 2007

Lady in waiting...

My new Photoshop CS3 suite is on the way so I am excited about that and can hardly wait to really test the horsepower of this new Vista machine with some stuff that needs lots of resources.

I'm not real happy about what I have been reading about the new Vista firewall. At first glance, it is looking good, incoming blocking is fine and there seems to be an added outgoing feature, except for one thing... you can either turn it on or off. Unless you have a masters degree in VISTA, you can't allow (or not) some programs to "phone home," and if you have the outgoing part of the firewall turned off (the default setting)or on, there is no way of knowing what programs are getting on the Internet without your permission.

The first place I went to was ZoneLabs to see if their latest ZoneAlarm is up to speed for Vista. It isn't, but hopefully it will be soon and I'll have my security comfort level back. What I like most about ZoneAlarm is the way you can "teach" it the programs you want to allow Internet access and which ones you don't want to allow for one reason or another. I'm afraid the VISTA firewall is sorely lacking in the outgoing department on this issue.

Here are a few links I gathered for you:
Firewall Reviews
ZoneAlarm vs Windows Vista firewall
Vista fails on Outbound

Sunday, April 22, 2007

AWWWWW TwistedBrush

I feel so much better! The latest version of TwistedBrush installed just fine, and is working great! It helps to have great tech support too! Thanks Ken! You made my day!

PS... I meant to say "working on a replacement laptop today." Don't want you all to think I broke it already. The computer is fine and I'm still on Day 5 of making friends with Vista.

Vista Adventure - XARA works great!

I finally have at least one of my favorite graphic programs working on this new Vista machine. XARA has been a staple on my computers for years. So at least I can doodle with something I am comfortable while I thrash out the rest of the issues that keep cropping up. I did have to jump through a few administrator hoops to give it absolute permission to install and run, especially during the registration process, but all is well now!

Next project is to see if TwistedBrush will run on this machine :)
Here's a little XARA wallpaper creation for you!

Vista - Day 5 - Security?

It sure seems as though it has been a lot longer than 5 days with this new VISTA machine. I'm still not productive with it, can't use any of my graphic or web design software until the new versions arrive (hopefully next week). In the meantime I have plenty on my hands just dealing with the initial shakedown and the most simple things.

Before any software can be installed, let alone run, you have to give Vista permission. This was particularly after installing WinRar. Not only do I have to give it permission, I have to give it Administrator permission just to run. The latest version worked ok, but I had no right click functionality. After doing a quick Google search, I found the latest beta version of WinRar fixed this issue. Don't know what I would do without Google. Finding the answers to each of these issues is quick and no more than a few keystrokes away.

I can't even get a screen shot of the permission window. Everything fades out when it appears and SnagIt won't capture during that time... As a last resort, I whipped out the trusty digicam. There are more ways than one to skin this cat.

In the meantime... I'll try not to bitch too much in the future. Right now it is one program at a time, and I'm sure glad I still have our main machine with good ol XP on it.

Friday, April 20, 2007

VISTA Adventure - Day 3 - EMail

Part of breaking in a new computer is installing all my favorite software. I'm going to have to wait about a week or so for the latest Adobe stuff to arrive before I can install my graphic and web design programs. All my Dreamweaver, Flash, Photoshop etc. evidentally won't work with Vista properly, so I'll be starting with fresh upgrades there.

In the meantime, I wanted to be able to receive my email on this new little monster, but haven't had time to check out Incredimail compatibility yet, and I'm not ready to give the Vista version of Outlook Express a go yet so I just used my GMail account to (temporarily) receive all my other email addresses. Well! I have to tell you. I am impressed! The GMail spam filters are terrific. It is handling all my email like a champ. The interface isn't as pretty as Incredimail, but it sure is secure, and with over 2 Gb of space allowance, it is more than enough for my needs.

I usually use MailWasher to pre-screen my email and eliminate the spam before I do a regular email run in my favorite email program, but I am quickly becoming spoiled by GMail. I'm saving a lot of time by not having to do that extra step.

If you would like to give GMail a go, you can sign up for your FREE account at

Thursday, April 19, 2007

Wow! VISTA! Day 2 of VISTA Ultimate...

Replacing a laptop is never a fun job. Picking it out and drooling over all the new technology since the last one was "born" is the fun part. What is NOT fun is having to install all the software you use and enjoy.

I am pretty good about saving my installation CDs and certainly am religious about any and all registration information in a nice little special AZZ file, so my chore is more time consuming than anything else. So far only one of my favorite programs is a "no go" on Vista. My Synchromagic is no longer being supported or updated by the author, so I need to find another nice (easy) backup program to use with the new machine. Heaven knows I have several in the Gems area, so I will certainly go through those first.

One of the first things I noticed the first time I turned on the new machine was how everything looked soooooo different! You may find, even if you are a long time Windows user, things just aren't where they were before! It is very different.

Here is a screenshot of hubby's identity. It is the way Windows Vista looks without any modifications.

And this one is my log in, after a few cosmetic modifications (a girl's gotta do what a girl's gotta do!)

Look for lots of helpful tips and tricks as I muddle through this interesting new operating system. I'll be going for the really important stuff first, like how to make those sissy icons a more reasonable size on the desktop, how to change your wallpaper and remain sane, how to find your stuff... Stay tuned. Ol Mrs. Wizard is back in the saddle again, and on a VISTA mission!

Thursday, March 15, 2007

SoapMaking Resources

Here are a few of the great links I found during my research into the lathery world of soapmaking. I hop you enjoy them as much as I (still) do!

Supplies: (great place to get your feet wet)
Wholesale Supplies Plus (nice melt and pour supplies and prices) (beeswax and wonderful honey!)
MMS (lip balm and other miscellaneous containers - gotta have)
SoapMaker - THE program to help you keep track of all those new recipes you find!
Soapers' Choice - Just about any kind of oil you can imagine can be found here, at terrific prices.

Making Soap from Scratch
Castile Soap Recipe (with Instructions)
Soapmaking oils and their properties (There is a lot more out there, but this is a great start)
Soapmaking 1 2 3 (great picture of what soap at the tracing stage looks like)
Another someone tossing a batch of soap together (really graphic)

I hope you dear readers enjoy this little journey. Be sure to visit often to see what the heck else is gonig on. Honestly I am having entirely much more fun than I should be allowed! As it is, I need to finish some edits for a website I am working on, then it is off to the bathroom off the kitchen to make more..... SOAP!

Warmest Regards (with a promise of more links later)
Mrs. Wizard

Tuesday, February 27, 2007

Reading and Reading

Jumping into a new adventure like soap making is certainly not something to do lightly, or with half your brain tied behind your back. One thing I noticed in common on all the Internet articles I found on soapmaking was the dangers of using lye. Heck you have to sign a hazmat waver just to order the stuff! But over all, the reading was plenty interesting.

One site I stumbled on, quite by accident, was Now HERE was soapmaking I could get my feet wet with! No muss... no fuss... Just Melt and Pour... and of course add any interesting scents or colors you can imagine or scrounge. Hey! They even will ship the goodies to your house! Now what could be more convenient? I ordered several pounds of various soap bases, quite a few molds (it's hard to stop), some good smelling stuff, and I was ready!

It only took a couple of batches, melted in the microwave and poured into various molds before I was totally hooked and begging for more! My daughter, who has very sensitive skin, was overjoyed to be able to use these beautiful creations and not have her skin crawl or break out in a rash. Heck! I was on a roll! But Melt and Pour was just the beginning. I was certainly getting closer to being ready for the challenge of making soap "from scratch."

I have to give it to Brambleberry. Even though I have graduated to what could be described as a "hard core soap maker," I still spend a lot of time on their site, and keep melt and pour handy for any late night "need to make a batch of soap." They have a very good supply of basic oils and various other goodies for my "from scratch" stuff, and have been my only source for lye so far, mainly because I am so comfortable with them.

Just to give you a small idea of how much fun I am having with this little "learn from the Internet" experience, here is a photo of my latest creations. Trust me, this is just the tip of this little iceburg. In the last 6 weeks, I have shared probably around 30 pounds or so of various melt and pour handcrafted goodies with friends and family. This is just what I have left. Our daughter Kelly comes to visit and goes straight for a paper bag and the master bathroom to "see what's new, and maybe pick up a little something." I love it!

Stay tuned! The adventure is just beginning! I have discovered a very special software that makes this "good clean fun" even MORE fun! It's a great tool, and the next GEM in the Mrs. Wizard lineup of great software!

Friday, February 23, 2007

The Beginning

A few weeks ago, after spending quite a few dollars on some lovely soaps, I realized how happy something so simple could make me. It's a great feeling, looking at the lovely shapes and smelling the lovely scents.

Shortly after, I happened to be browsing around my favorite newsgroup and just for giggles, did a search for "soapmaking." Before I could say "Lye," a pdf appeared of a book published in 1946 on soapmaking. Well, my curiosity was certainly aroused, so I downloaded the thing and began perusing those pages. Reading about what our grandmothers and great grandmothers had to go to just to get a bar of soap was enough to curl my hair. By the time I got through the section on the hazards of Lye and what happens when it mixes with grease, not to mention they had to "cook" that stuff in pots outside to keep from being overcome by the fumes. You can imagine the new appreciation I had for those gals. Geez! The fat had to be rendered from animals (now THAT had to be a job)or in many households, the ladies just saved their old cooking grease until they had enough to make a batch of soap. A thought occurred to me... "Gads! That stuff sounds serious. Betcha those gals didn't have body hair issues!"

I'm a firm believer in the Internet as a very powerful research tool, so after having my curiosity sent to a raving lunacy of heights, determined to find out more about how soapmaking has evolved. I just knew someone out there has to be making these beautiful, "all natural, good for the skin" bars. Perhaps I could find some real "how to's" in my quest.

Good old Google... My first search used the term "soapmaking" and that was all I needed to begin what has become a wonderfully fun quest!

Sunday, February 18, 2007

You can learn ANYTHING with the Internet!

This is the beginning of what will be a marvelous tale. A tale that will inspire, inform, amaze, and possibly help you combine the cleanest fun you will ever have with your computer and the Internet.

Here's what I have learned so far, just over the last few weeks.
1. You CAN teach an old dog new tricks.
2. You can learn something entirely new using nothing but the Internet.
3. NEVER stick your thumb in a stick blender while it is plugged in.

Stay tuned...

Monday, February 12, 2007

I FINALLY found it!

Something that can actually pull me away from the computer for a few minutes at a time!
It has also inspired a new series of articles I think you will enjoy.
Want to know what it is? Stay TUNED!

Sunday, January 28, 2007

Caution! EMail Hazard Ahead!

No. Your refinance application has NOT been accepted. Your bank hasn't discovered someone from a foreign country trying to sign in on your account, and paypal isn't doing a security check... At least not via a personal email to YOU!

I don't know about you, but I have been getting a LOT of these types of emails lately, and I don't even do double takes any more. They are so obviously bogus I even smile sometimes. I do have a paypal account, but I also know if PayPal wants to communicate with me, they have my phone number. They also use my paypal account name in any and all email correspondence to me... NOT "Dear Paypal user."

I have to admit, they do look convincing, as Brian Whitta pointed out a few days ago with a nice little screen shot of a small sampling of a bogus email from PayPal. He also pointed out a nice little trick all of you should know. Instead of just clicking a link in a suspicious email, hold your mouse over it. Don't click, just hold your mouse pointer over it. Any good email program will reveal the REAL web address either in a popup or in the status bar (bottom) of your email program. Take a peek at Brian's screen shot of a bogus PayPal email... When he held the mouse over what looks to be a legitimate PayPal link, the REAL link showed up. Guess what? It ain't even CLOSE to a PayPal link!

I know we all get a lot of SPAM, and it is tempting to click some of those blasted links, but if you want to keep your machine cootie free, develop a healthy respect for any and all emails from anyone you don't know and from financial institutions. These emails are what your DELETE was made for!

Sunday, January 21, 2007

Back in the Saddle Again!

I didn't realize how much I had missed doodling until I picked up TwistedBrush this morning and just let my creative juices flow. A lot of good things have been added to it in the last few months. Here is another wallpaper goodie. If you want the 1024 by 768 version though, you will need to go to the Member area of That's where I stash the best of the best goodies as a special thanks to people who care enough to donate to the cause.

If you would like to join the Member's Only area of, you can read more about it here.

Saturday, January 20, 2007

Getting Ready for Vista

Now I have a little free time, I have been reading all I can get my hands on about the new Windows operating system, VISTA... very intimidating and while there seems to be a lot of familiar comforts (right clicking will still give you choices!), there are a few things that make me a bit nervous...

I have pretty much decided to leave my existing computers with XP Pro alone, rather than upgrading them, and will just wait until VISTA is out and already installed on the next machine we order. It is a little different from the way I felt when I had a laptop with Windows ME on it. That operating system was so unstable, it was a joy to upgrade to Windows XP... it seemed to fix all the little glitches that had been plaguing me on that machine. I have no complaints on my XP machines now though. No sense begging for any. If it ain't broke... Well you know.

Friday, January 19, 2007

Down Nostalgia Lane

If you figure it by "dog years," Windows has been around a good long time. Here is a really neat commercial touting a really young Windows! Click Here

Monday, January 15, 2007

Busy Busy Busy!

I know I have been out of pocket the last few weeks, but it was for a great cause!
I finally finished a total revamp of Herschel Freeman's web. We are both quite proud of it, and he worked very hard making sure I had all the information I needed to get the job done.

So (drum roll please!) Here it is!
Herschel Freeman Agency