Archive for Software

ServiceCEO Consulting

Some of our clients run ServiceCEO! We are privileged to help them with various aspects of the software, including Backups, Credit Card Processing, Data Migration, Reporting, and Troubleshooting. If ServiceCEO is something you need 3rd party consulting help with, please give us a ring at (503) 383-9243!

 

 

Setting up a Windows Development Server

Recently we acquired a new client and set up a new Windows development environment for their project from scratch. Here is a profile of the process we used.

We started working with a small business based in Vancouver, Washington, USA. This was a new client for us, and they desperately needed help with their business processes. (They also requested help with their website, but that is a separate topic for a different day!)

The client was using a mish-mash of common small office/home office software products, including Adobe Professional and Microsoft Office and the processes that were being used in their business were quite convoluted. For example, the order taking process, which was needed for each new order they took, had many repetitive steps across several different programs, involving cutting and pasting and lots of duplication of effort.

For our first step, we had a consultative meeting with the client. This meeting immediately produced a tons of value in the form of actionable insights. These insights showed exactly where we should help them optimize their business processes. This optimization, when complete, will save them lots of time in the order taking process and in following up on orders. This will enable them to spend less time processing the orders. This saves costs on the staff time it takes for each order, reducing the per-order overhead, as well as allowing the order taking process to scale better. This enables them to take more orders and do more business. This a great thing for growing the business!

During the initial meeting we took detailed notes and we identified the key elements in each process. We also began to outline the solutions we would implement at each step.

This is the same basic process development that we have been doing professionally for over a decade.

Since they had a Microsoft Access database in a core role in their internal processes, we outlined a path to step from Access to SQL and then to a web-based app which we would custom develop for them. This is the same basic process development that we have been doing professionally for over a decade. This client’s use case fit nicely with the profile for this kind of work.

In order to facilitate this development process, we immediately provisioned an Amazon EC2 instance with the latest and greatest Microsoft Windows Server. Going this route is much quicker to implement than provisioning local hardware and software, and it is also less expensive, more flexible, and offers better performance out of the box. The required software licenses alone for this development environment and the related production environment would easily be several thousand dollars. Amazon has low recurring fees for their Web Services that are based on usage. Those fees automatically account for the necessary licenses for the software we use.

Since we do so much development work locally, on either Macs or Linux-based machines, I was curious to see what tools we would set up on this Windows based server for our team to share. As I was the one setting this up, I brought along many of my favorites tools. Some of them seem outdated, but they still get the job done. First I installed the truly cross-platform (consistently developed for multi-platform) tools that remain the same across the various dev platforms.

In this case these were:

As far as Windows specific tools for this dev server, they included:

We connected SourceTree to our BitBucket account. With the distributed source tracking, all of the developers on our team are able to program, test, and debug on their local machines and then push and pull accepted changes to and from the central repository.

It’s been a little while since I set up a Windows Server as a Dev environment, and I guess I was a little surprised to see myself using the same old tools. However, it gets the job done, and that’s great!

 

Sophos Home Launched

There is some very exciting news from Sophos — Sophos Home has launched (in beta) for free, for non-commercial use. It is licensed to never expire, and it works on Mac and Windows. This is very good news for every home computer!

MusicBee

It seems like there is finally a great replacement for iTunes on Windows: http://getmusicbee.com/

Quicken 2004 for Mac Data File Conversion to Quicken Essentials for Mountain Lion

Hi, so we just went through a laborious process for a client who had upgraded OS X to 10.8 from 10.6, leaving behind Rosetta and the ability to run Quicken 2004 for Mac.

We were able to obtain the free version of Quicken 2006 for Mac from Intuit. Then, on an older Mac Mini running 10.6.8 we stepped from Quicken 2004 for Mac to Quicken 2006 for Mac. Then we exported a backup file and were able to run the Quicken Essentials File Exchange Utility to prepare the .qdfx file for the modern Quicken Essentials program.

We’re happy to do the same for you if you find yourself locked out of an early-version Quicken file by an OS upgrade or other scenario. Pay now, and email us a zip of your latest data file at [email protected] Please send a separate email with your contact info, or call us at (503) 383-9243. Thanks!

 

Buy Now

Basecamp Pricing Suprise!

Just yesterday (IIRC, this week at least) I was looking over Basecamp’s pricing and plotting to downgrade. They offered a starter plan for $30/month, and we are still paying $50/month. With Trello’s rapid rise to basic usability (you see I’m not exactly throwing out the praising superlatives in all directions) I thought I could easily prune my active Basecamp project list down.

I got back to that task today, and then went to re-price Basecamp’s service, and this is what I saw:

Basecamp Suprises

Now, “a dollar a day” is substantially similar to $30/month, but I must say it was surprising to see it! The last three times I have looked at this page, albeit over the course of 2-3 years, it has been different each time.

And the second part of the surprise is that while it says “switch packages or cancel anytime,” there isn’t actually a downgrade option on my “upgrade” page:

Basecamp Suprise 2

***UPDATE 20130325***

But of course the support is superb:

Basecamp Support

Outlook Rules Wizard (Office 2010)

If you imported your rules from a previous version of Outlook and somehow all of them or many of them got marked “and on this computer only” and they are not processing correctly, you can fix them by one by one opening each rule, and re-selecting the destination folder (it should already be highlighted). Then, clicking “Finish.” The “on this computer only” should have dropped from the rule description. Then click “Apply” to save all your changes.

Oh, the pain of the Microsoft Outlook Rules and Alerts editor!

Feature Request: Basecamp Completed To Do Lists at top of Active To Do Lists

…or at least have a toggle-able option in the settings for such. Thanks!