Technology in terms you understand. Sign up for the Confident Computing newsletter for weekly solutions to make your life easier. Click here and get The Ask Leo! Guide to Staying Safe on the Internet — FREE Edition as my thank you for subscribing!

Changes for the New Year

And… we’re back.

Today’s newsletter is really the first of the year as the one from last week – The Top 10 of 2013 – was put together before the holidays.

It’s somewhat ironic. I chose Embracing the Most Important Attitude, the article on change, as the one to run on New Year’s Eve not because I was planning anything, but because I know it was generally well received last year around the same time. Ultimately, it generated a lot of thoughtful commentary on both sides of the issue.

I just didn’t expect that it might be slightly prophetic.

As I sometimes do, I took the time off over the holidays to get a little reflective and introspective. I also read a couple of good books that (because of the synchronicity) really made me wonder if the universe was trying to tell me something.

Whenever I have that feeling, I try to listen.

Become a Patron of Ask Leo! and go ad-free!

Ask Leo! 2013

Last year was an okay year for Ask Leo! Some of you may remember that early in the year, I took some time off to contemplate whether Ask Leo! was something I wanted to continue doing, and if so, what needed to change to make it more enjoyable and more profitable. The decision then was to continue (as my presence here today confirms).

Don’t worry. That part’s not changing. :-)

I embarked on a number of changes, including a revamp and modernization of the look-and-feel of the website. I also changed a few processes that went into publishing Ask Leo! each week.

Unfortunately, not a lot has changed when it comes to either website traffic or revenue. Traffic remains mostly flat. Ultimately, Ask Leo! ran at a very slight loss last year. As I said at the beginning of my sabbatical last year, that’s not sustainable.

Realizing and reflecting on all of that over the holidays, I realized that something had to change. How can I get more answers and solutions to more people without losing money in the effort?

Books and … books

The two books that I read over the  break were:

Adams’ book reinforced the importance of trying new things on the path to success. Write. Publish. Repeat. cemented and put a framework around something that I’ve been considering and trying to do half-assed for the last 18 months: publish more Ask Leo! books. (I highly recommend both books, by the way. Not only are they educational and thought provoking, they’re both quite entertaining reads.)

So, a couple of changes are afoot here at Ask Leo! world headquarters.

Mental shift

Since 2003, I’ve been running Ask Leo! and answering people’s questions with written articles. Somewhere during that time, I made a mental shift from being a programmer who writes to a writer who programs. It was unintentional. It just happened somewhere along the line.

The next shift is more intentional.

Rather than having a Q&A website that has a few books, I want to transition to being a book author that also has this awesome Q&A website.

It’s a shifting of priorities. I’ve unconsciously been trying to do it for a while because the current advertising-based model just isn’t paying the bills anymore.

The goal is that I dedicate more time to writing books that help you accomplish tasks as well as avoid and solve problems. Yep, that means a little less time answering specific questions – at least as far as writing up detailed answers for the site. As it turns out, the externally visible changes shouldn’t be that dramatic, but there will be a few.

Changes and not

You’re actually reading one of the changes right now. I’m replacing the random notes at the end of my newsletter with a more formal blog (if that’s not a contradiction in terms). With my blog (in reality, just a category of articles posted on Ask Leo!), I’m giving myself permission to talk about a wider range of topics beyond just the questions of the day. It’ll still be technology and internet (and Ask Leo!) related. That’s not changing – just a different forum and perhaps a wider range of topics.

The Answercasts won’t change. I mean, I get to talk for 45 minutes and magically, questions are answered in audio and on the website. What’s not to like? It’s an efficient use of my time to give you answers.

The Ask Leo! Newsletter will change only slightly. There will be at least one featured article (instead of two), and the notes at the end are being replaced with my blog entry of the week. I’m also dropping the Word ‘o the Week, although the glossary will remain.

I’ll still be reading every question and responding to those that I can. I’ll still be hanging out on Facebook and I’ll still be posting videos as another way to answer questions and more.

As I said, it’s more of a mental shift on my part. That shouldn’t impact what you see tremendously. Hopefully, the only impact is that it allows me to focus on getting more helpful books out.

Books? Books!

So, what books?

The priority is to help you solve problems and prevent them in the first place when possible.

So I’m starting in a very familiar and important place.

To ramp up my new production process, I’m currently taking Maintaining Windows 7 – Backing Up, revising it, and splitting it in two: one volume covering only Windows 7’s internal backup program and the other volume covering backing up with Macrium Reflect (which applies to much more than just Windows 7). If you’ve already purchased Maintaining Windows 7 – Backing Up, digital copies of both new books will be yours to download in the registered owner’s center when they’re done. This represents an update of that volume.

Then, the tentative plan includes volumes on backing up using Windows 8’s backup program, backing up using another commercial product, backing up Gmail, backing up …. you get the idea.

I’m also planning a major update to the Internet Security book. Not only will I bring it up-to-date, but I’ll expand it beyond just keeping your computer safe; we’ll talk about safety in the online world as well. In recent years, you’ve told me with your questions just how important and confusing online security can be, so I want to address that.

There’s much more on my whiteboard. In fact, I’d welcome your suggestions as well.

Like my most recent book, The Ask Leo! Guide to Routine Maintenance, all books will be available in all formats: paper, PDF, Kindle, .mobi, and .epub. All digital formats will be included no matter which you purchase and available in the registered owner’s download center for each book. Many will include companion videos also available when you register.

It’s going to be a busy year!

As always, I thank you for your ongoing support. One of the best ways that you can help make this all a success (besides buying a book, of course :-) ) is to tell your friends and colleagues.  The more, the merrier!


Leo Notenboom


Do this

Subscribe to Confident Computing! Less frustration and more confidence, solutions, answers, and tips in your inbox every week.

I'll see you there!

7 comments on “Changes for the New Year”

  1. It is really disappointing to learn that a fantastic site like yours could be at a monetary loss too. I believe that this site receives a good amount of internet traffic but guess people are not clicking on the ad links for the revenue to generate.

    Best wishes for the future.

    However, I’ve been a consistent reader of your articles and do enjoy them thoroughly.


  2. I enjoy both the tone and the helpful content of your website Leo
    Have you considered seeking a small subscription for access?
    I subscribe to a couple of websites for just three pound sterling a month which I consider good value
    How about seeking a voluntary donation of a similar amount?
    Sure, there will be some who do not wish to pay – no problem, they still receive the Ask Leo and you have not lost potential customers
    For others who wish to show appreciation of the knowledge gained it would provide an opportunity for them to do so – and hopefully a small, no large, income for you.
    Best Wishes with your endeavours (UK) or endeavors (USA) – delete as applicable!

      • What a good idea Connie! I thought you were joking until I discovered that your link led me to Leo’s Coffee shop.
        Have purchased a couple of cups that I hope will keep him awake at least until the next newsletter
        Don’t forget to display the link again as a reminder when the cup runs dry Leo – and it is worth noting that Leo’s virtual coffees can be less expensive than the real thing if times are hard for readers.

    • Subscriptions and donations are a common suggestion. Unfortunately both my research and experience and the experience of others I’ve talked to tells me that while there would be a few who would absolutely sign up, the numbers would come nowhere close to making enough of a difference. Appreciate the thought, though.


Leave a reply:

Before commenting please:

  • Read the article.
  • Comment on the article.
  • No personal information.
  • No spam.

Comments violating those rules will be removed. Comments that don't add value will be removed, including off-topic or content-free comments, or comments that look even a little bit like spam. All comments containing links and certain keywords will be moderated before publication.

I want comments to be valuable for everyone, including those who come later and take the time to read.