Pages Check Template

We had a requirement of creating a check template in Apple’s Pages.

This template would eventually have to be populated with the client’s account number and the client’s bank’s routing number, although those numbers would of course be kept confidential.

The first resource we located was Robert Hashemian’s excellent online “Free Check Generator” located at <a href=””></a>.

This is a pretty amazing resource, creating an onscreen customizable check, with routing number, account number, and check number customizable, and present on the check in the proper MICR font. The page also contains numerous links to helpful information. Through these links we located the Wikipedia page for the <a href=””>Magnetic ink character recognition</a> font.

Because we were using Pages on a Mac, we had to look up how to get the <a href=””>Unicode Hex Input screen going</a>, as well as <a href=”″>jog our memories on how to make Pages show all fonts available on the system</a>.

Of course, we did not input our account numbers and routing numbers directly on the website, but we were able to put together a very basic check template with the proper MICR font in Pages and provide the solution to the client.


Backing Up RDS Instances (Microsoft SQL Server)

Just recently we had to decommission a RDS instance where we had “upsized” an Access database into a Microsoft SQL Server hosted on Amazon’s cloud.

This decommissioning was merely a cost-saving step to eliminate resources that were used transitionally on one of our Access-application-to-full-web-app conversion projects. However, we did want to preserve a copy of the database that we could reference locally on development machines in the future.

Overall, this procedure was surprisingly complicated, although once the right components were configured in Amazon’s ecosystem, the process went smoothly.

The Amazon document Importing and Exporting SQL Server Databases was our basic guide for this process.




Verifone VX680

Yesterday we were working with our good friends at Portland Merchant Services with some very technical work on a pair of Verifone VX680 handheld payment devices.

I am very surprised by how little information is available about these devices on the open web. Now certainly, limiting the information available is important because of the need for security. But closed source devices like these often have numerous gaping wide security holes that never get patched because of their limited exposure.

Is anyone familiar with them? Is there a community of developers, administrators, or engineers that has deep experience with them?


Verifone USB Cable on eBay

Drivers for Verifone VX680 Terminal (COM8)

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!



Buying and Selling Domain Names: What is the Best Domain Name Marketplace?

Like many internet companies, we have been buying and selling domain names for a long time. While Joker has been our very favorite registrar for a long time, we have never really standardized on a marketplace for selling.

What are the best places to sell domain names these days?

We have accounts on Sedo, Snapnames, Flippa, and of course the Big Daddy.

Which one is your favorite?

A Pet Peeve Regarding Tokenization and Forms

Look, if you are going to tokenize your forms (and you should because of CSRF), you also need to have some active JS (or whatever) on the page that at least hides the form after the last valid token expires. For those of us who leave websites that we sign into open, we are tired of logging in twice! I’m looking at you.

A Helpful Guide for Deploying Sophos Firewall

This is a helpful guide for deploying Sophos XG Firewall.

My Mac Was Confused

…because I have both a Logitech Trackball (usb) and an Apple Magic Trackpad (bluetooth)… I could randomly use either one at any time because I am unpredictable like that.

So I need my scrollbars back.

Customer Spotlight: Lever Bar

Your Computer Genius has worked with Strength Productions LLC for a long time. When they needed a web site to support and sell their new product, YCG came through for them. Strength Productions is a training success story — once WordPress was installed, they practically designed and built their own site!

Visit them at

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!