Issue #4 April 9, 2002

1. One way to use a PDA to ease tax calculations

Many of us have just finished filing our income taxes and one area that can be a real hassle is calculating the business use of our vehicle. The tax department wants to see what percentage of the distance we traveled during the year was business use and what percentage was personal use. To do this, you need to keep track of the start and end odometer readings for each business use trip. If you track this in a paper notebook in the glove compartment, at tax time, you need to enter all those figures into a spreadsheet - what a chore! I found that tracking the odometer readings on my PDA (personal digital assistant - Palm, Visor, Pocket PC, etc.) has made this much easier. I set up a note in the Notepad application that lists the month, date, starting odometer and ending odometer, each separated by columns and one line per trip. This way, at tax time, I simply import the note into a spreadsheet and it know how to parse the data into columns because of the commas. Enter the difference formula, copy it down, total it up and it a few minutes, you are done.

2. Creating Adobe Acrobat files from any application

When you install the Adobe Acrobat creator software, it automatically installs macros into Microsoft Word, Excel and PowerPoint that give you icons and menu items to easily create Adobe PDF files. This works well for these popular applications, but what about other applications? Well, Adobe has thought of that as well. When the software is installed, it creates one or two (depending on the version of Acrobat) printer drivers. By simply printing from any application to this printer driver, you can create the Adobe PDF document. If you are using version 4, the printer driver to use is Adobe PDF Maker, if you are using version 5, the printer driver to use is Adobe Distiller.

3. Useful Resource

Cards are a great way to share our emotions with ones we care about, but if you want to send a card on the spur of the moment, running out to the store, buying the card, coming back home, etc. can really be a hassle. I like to use Hallmark's web site ( to send e-cards for those quick thoughts to the ones I care about. The cards are free and contain a short personalized message that you enter on the web site. It is delivered to the recipient's e-mail address immediately or up to one year in advance. Some of the cards even use flash animation to make it look really neat. While this is a good resource, I still suggest a real card for those special dates like anniversaries and birthdays (maybe I'm old- fashioned that way).