20. November 2014 16:45
We have rolled out to a few customers the new email editor. It has a much improved image management system.
The video below is an 18 minute education in creating and sending an eblast from Trail Blazer.
(RDC users will need to copy and paste this URL into your host machine's web browser:
If you are not currently using the new editor and would like to be converted, send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org requesting the change. Be sure to include your customer name in the email.
6. November 2014 09:41
The results are in. For our customers running in the general election this year, 94% of you won!
27. October 2014 11:47
I was working in the kitchen when I knocked over a small bottle of hand soap into the sink which then bumped a precariously balanced large mixing bowl full of water which then tipped away from the sink and onto floor which then got my socks wet which caused me to slip, but I managed to catch myself before hitting the floor, but in so doing I knocked a pan off the stove (not hot) that landed on my foot (ouch) and in my attempt to reach for my foot, I didn't notice the open drawer that my head then bounced off of and when I put my hand to head I forgot I had been working with hot pepper sauce (which is why I was reaching for the soap dispenser) which was then transferred to my eye.
It felt a bit Rube Goldberg’ish (rubenesque?)
Well that’s what happened with the mail merge template system. While making improvements to one area of the program, it negatively affected other parts of the program.
So if you opened a template and your letters lost all their margins...
...then today's version fixes that.
27. September 2014 07:38
Email Campaigns and Templates are now saved allowing previous versions to be viewed or restored. This means you can return to an earlier iteration if you manage to totally mess up your design.
Template SaveAs function will now NOT allow an overwrite of an existing template. An existing template must now first be deleted.
The 'subject' line has been removed from the SaveAs template dialog. The value saved for subject will now always be the subject of the originating campaign, template, or email message.
The new email editor now provides an auto-save option for generating the text version. When this flag is set on, the text version is always generated during a save operation. The auto-save option is on by default for new campaigns, templates, and messages.
We fixed an error that occurred when a displayed hyperlink exceeded 255 characters.
26. September 2014 10:43
You can now display more than just the nation code:
Use the Format button to add this column:
2. September 2014 13:25
We have replaced the existing email editor with a new editor that better handles tables and corrects a few of the issues with the prior editor.
It's currently in limited release and you can get an update ahead of the general release by emailing email@example.com and requesting it.
Current version (or legacy if you have already been upgraded):
Some of the enhancements include:
- Publish your email on Facebook, LinkedIn, Google Plus and/or Twitter
- A preview button
- A working Undo button (YEAH!!)
- Search and Replace and Spell Check
- Better formatted and thus more easily read source code
15. August 2014 12:11
Contributions - Added virtual field to contribution table to compute the non-monetary rate by dividing the Amount/nonmonetaryItemQty. This new column is available in Format and is named NonMonetaryRate.
Enhancements to pre-import check.
FEC corrections - The deposit process was setting the FEC type id incorrectly in the contribution records.
Committee or Organization card - Combined the tabs for Notes, Options, and Filter into a single Settings tab.
Contribution Query Panel - Election/Cycle combination box replaced with Checkbox. This allows for multiple cycle selections.
Payee card - fixed inability to create new invoice immediately after creating (and saving) a new Payee.
Candidate can now be specified.
You can now link directly from the Payments list to the Payment card.
The invoice number column within the Payments list is now linkable.
Numerous other changes...
Deposits - the deposit process was setting the FEC type id incorrectly in the contribution records. Fixed.
Fixed issue with financial disbursements by time report - payee names were not aligned with the date and amount.
11. July 2014 13:53
The Federal Election Commission (FEC) would like to remind you that the 2014 July Quarterly Report is due on July 15, 2014 (for quarterly filers) and the 2014 July Monthly Report is due on July 20, 2014 (for monthly filers).
10. July 2014 14:08
Yesterday a customer requested a comment field be added to deposits. Her wish was our command (sometimes they are really easy):
10. July 2014 13:58
If recently you have been unable to set the exact time for your email to be released, that is now corrected with today's release. The ghost of H.G. Wells somehow entered our systems and removed that feature temporarily. All better now.
19. June 2014 09:48
I occasionally get a call from a customer where they tell me they are painstakingly opening each record to make a specific change.
In almost every case there are two possibilities for making this easier. One, we may already have a tool in TB to help. Two, we here on the support team have a few tools that are not in the application that we are able to execute.
Example. Yesterday a customer called and wanted all the county names updated on his address records. There were some inconsistencies. This change can be done by you: There are several columns in the database upon which you can change en masse.
Also, yesterday a customer had imported a large set of contributions with a date of 1/1/1900. Obviously incorrect. They were supposed to be 4/5/2014. We do not have a utility to bulk update the dates on contributions. I mentioned to her that I could fix that in just a minute or so. Upon her approval I did.
The lesson here is if you find yourself spending a lot of time making the same update to a large set of records, let us know. We likely have a really fast,
, less labor intensive, way of completing the task.
10. June 2014 08:11
For those who have requested the household report mentioned on June 5th, if you decide you need to re-household some of your records, the June 9th post has some of the info needed.
Of course, for some of you this will be a bit mind numbing. We are here to help. Our support information is at the top of this page.
9. June 2014 16:20
I frequently need to query for a list of voters/donors based on their Trail Blazer ID. Usually this information comes from an Excel spreadsheet that I have modified. Trail Blazer has no easy way to query a list of ID's and have the list returned.
Some time ago I created a tool that allows me do this. It will take a columnar list of ID's (usually copied from Excel) and turn them into a comma separated list that I can then paste into the SQL tab.
This is an advanced technique so only those who are willing to devote a little time to learn the process should proceed.
In the video below, I have created an example where I export data to an Excel file, add data to the file, and query for those records I updated in the spreadsheet. I have also placed the tool referenced in this video on our website.
Let me know if you find this useful.
5. June 2014 17:22
In my troubleshooting travels I often see areas of data that need to be corrected.
One of those areas is Householding. Frequently I find people who live at the same address who have different households. That means if you are using Household Salutation or Household Envelope Name in your merge letters, you are often missing someone. It also means you may be sending more than one letter to a single address.
I'd like to make an offer to you.
Here's what I will do. If you email me at firstname.lastname@example.org I will return to you a report (for free) in Excel 2007 format that will show you where you have more than one person at the same address, but they are not householded together.
I will need two things:
- Your database name or customer name and,
- Your email address.
The report will come back looking something like this:
In the sheet above, you can see that the house with AddressID of 162 has two different HouseholdID's. This is an indication that house should be reviewed to see if it should be re-householded. This will likely lead to a discussion regarding whether or not people with different last names should be householded together (see HomeAddressID 184 at the bottom of the sheet and notice the last names).
30. May 2014 10:28
Usually your donors are completing their orders for tickets or other event purchases online and little further data entry is required by you. What about those that pay by check? This video will teach you how to enter the order and complete a payment for that order.
27. May 2014 09:41
Do you live in France? We found our customers using Windows configured for international had some issues with the use of a decimal point in contributions. This has been corrected.
The Summary tab within Events has been updated to allow you to filter by attendance.
FEC Contribution Memos
Manual FEC contribution memo capability has been added. In the past the program made all the determinations regarding the memoing (Apparently 'memoing' is not a word. Maybe it should be.) of a contribution on the FEC report.
If you were running queries to find people who opened or not opened specific emails, the query ran somewhat slowly. We have improved that query's performance.
Notes on tickets
Each ticket within the event can now have its own note.
Loan balances are now correctly updated upon update. It's been like that for 13 years and no one noticed that until now?! We also added a loan payments column when you have the Lender card open.
22. April 2014 14:00
If you were having a problem with your import stalling, it was due to Tom installing an anti-import switch in yesterday's code. Tom figured if no one could import then he could take a few days off and maybe enjoy some sun he hasn't seen since last Halloween. We gave him a sun lamp and had him turn off the anti-import switch.
You can import now.
21. April 2014 14:01
As we have been tightening security on the system, that has necessitated some changes to how some things work. One of those was the roll back feature where you could "undo" a recent activity. However, increased security caused that to break for our customers. That has been fixed now.
The call book report now has an option to print log notes in reverse date order.
10. April 2014 07:59
Do you get your news via TV, radio, or straight off the internet? Hard to miss the conversation around the OpenSSL vulnerability. The website https://lastpass.com/heartbleed/ offers a way for you to determine if the sites you visit are vulnerable. They gave us a clean bill of health. We have two domains in use; trailblz.com and trailblz.info. Here are the results:
3. April 2014 09:24
Our FEC customers running on a 64 bit machine will sometimes get a message when attempting to run an FEC report that they need to install Java. I usually hear them say "but I already have Java installed!"
True. You do. But the default Java installation is a 32 version. Unless you have a pretty old machine, you are likely on a 64 bit machine that needs a 64 bit Java to run the FEC reports.
It's FREE and easy to install.
Click here: http://www.java.com/en/download/manual.jsp
Click the link shown below:
21. March 2014 07:43
If you were experiencing a printing problem this week, this version will correct that. We recently ran some upgrades to our servers. One of those upgrades seeped into our application that required all our customers be upgraded as well. For those on Windows XP this upgrade is not compatible. We have downgraded the software on the server and all should be back to normal (whatever that is).
17. March 2014 08:34
I wrote about this last year letting you know that Windows XP would be deprecated in 2014. It's happening. This article in USA Today says the date is April 8th.
"Since the end of Microsoft's security updates is big news, hackers and scammers are going to be targeting computers still using XP. You're going to be very, very vulnerable."
If you are still using Windows XP, you are not alone. A survey of our customers shows about 20% of you are still running on Windows XP.
14. March 2014 08:26
Security has been tightened in the Contribution Allocation, Match, and Notify lists.
Pledges - weekly pledges are now supported. This means if you have a bi-weekly payroll deduction, you can now enter them into the pledges.
Expiring Pledges - would you like to know the date the last pledge is due? We've added a couple of columns to assist in determining pledges that may be expiring soon.
Add these columns from the Format button:
Thank You Date - you asked, we listened. The date you set the Thank-You-Sent check box is now displayed.
International Addresses are now better supported.
Within the application:
Labeling will adjust:
If you are using version 2 of the donation page you can now include international addressing as well:
Your iframe text to support this would look something like this:
<iframe src="https://www.trailblz.info/yourdatabasenamehere/Donations.aspx?rdif=http%3a%2f%2ftrailblz.com%2fdemositemarkonly%2fpolitical%2fthankyou.html&ver=2&international=1" style="width:800px;height:1200px" frameborder="0" scrolling="yes" onload="scroll(0,0)" ></iframe>
11. February 2014 17:06
We restructured the File and Edit menus on the Voter/Donor Search tool strip. They have been moved into sub folders. ALL menu items were retained. Just moved to sub folders.