Working on the web

This month I started exploring Microsoft Azure.

Starting out with Windows 8

So I wanted to start to get to understand Windows 8. So far so good. I needed a blank PC to run the test on as most of my PCs are set up very specifically. So I purchased a Samsung Series 7 tablet PC and installed Windows 8 and I have to say that I am impressed.

As will all major changes there is a learning curve while we try and make it work the way we are expecting it to work. Once you watch the 3 short videos and stop and think it is amazing.

The tablet hand writing recognition is amazing, tie this to Microsoft OneNote and you have an amazing digital notepad that is searchable and easy to organise. I can finally see me actually using OneNote instead of just thinking that its pretty cool but a lot of effort.

The new start screen was great for me because I already use a Windows Phone so I felt at home. I did find it odd launching the full desktop and not having a Start Icon. Once you adjust to it though its a real improvement. For me the penny dropped when I installed MS Office and the shortcuts appear in the Metro screen. I had thought of them as seperate entities but no, it’s all the same and it’s all good.



PRO Scanner

Barcode Scanning Application – delivery checker

OK so been very busy lately and haven’t posted details on any of the exciting projects I have been working on. One such project is a PRO scanner. It has been written for Attache PRO but it can be changed to work with most accounting systems and it could be extended to do more in terms of features. The first version has been written for a food company here in Auckland. They need to record the best before dates on products as they ship them. The system scans a special GS1-128 barcode that has the product expiry date encoded into it.

In fact these GS1 bar codes are great as they have the ability to store business logic by way of what are called application ids. These are a predefined series of business information tags so (01)  means the product unique id ( GTIN) and (15) means expiry date. Similarly there are codes for user values so we use (92) to store the product code but you can store lots of other useful info.

Pick | Check | Ship

The application works like this

The delivery note is printed and sent to despatch

The stock is pulled form shelves onto a packing bench

The packer scans the items and enters the order number – each scan is logged and the best before date and stock code are extracted from the GS1 barcode

The system checks that what was scanned matches the order and highlights any mistakes

Then once the order is correct there is an option to update the best before dates back to the order. This is a requirement for food sales in NZ.

This system goes live in March and I really enjoyed the coding and the learning. Click to learn  more about GS1

Bad Client = Bad Project

When a project goes wrong it can be all to easy to look around for someone to blame.

It is also, very easy to blame yourself and ask what could I have done differently. It is easy to see why you would do this but it is also fair to say that the share of any blame should be evenly spread. That would therefore include the client. It also makes sense as the client has as much input as you if not more. They are also controlling the direction, attitude and the speed of the project.

When a project goes wrong you can almost always bet that the client has a hand in it. If the client doesn’t supply the content, answer your questions and doesn’t help you keep things moving, your project will be late and you will be left looking like you messed up.

So what should you do whe a project goes wrong?

Well this comes down to communication, and planning. The old saying “fail to prepare and you must prepare to fail” is never truer. You need to take control from day one. The client is looking to you for directio so either shit, or get off the pot. You need to have the plan and the project must be kept on track by constantly updating the plan which like all things in life must be adaptable and needs to evolve.

basecamp is a great collaborative project planning solution, as is MS Project. I have used both and they both have their merits. But you don’t need to pay money to get good results, a good checklist is often quicker and easier. In my experience anything that is easy is much more likely to be used, and that is the real key to project management. If you have a list of what needs to be done (some call this a functional decomposition – ie a list of functions) then you cross them off you know how much is left to do. When you find a new task that was never on your list (and yuo almost certainly will) add it to the list and make sure everyone involved in the project can see that new tasks have come to light. They will be much more forgiving if your deadline slips if they are away of any challenges than if you try to be a hero.

Please give me your feedbackI’d love to hear about your failed projects, and your successes but please only where the client made the difference…

Attache PRO online store

Over the past 2 months I have developed a online store interface for Attache PRO. The store is the Interspire shopping cart system which currently runs over 8000 online stores including many household names. The interface transfers customers and stock each night and fetches new orders as they are received.

Most online stores rely on a simple email to the store administrators, but if you have a large number of orders this isn’t practical.

Just some of the additional benefits from the interface are

  • Images are transferred and thumb nails are automatically generated. When you have 1000’s of products this is a real life saver.
  • Categories are automatically generated allowing browse store by category.
  • Brands can be maintained within Attache and then transferred automatically, allowing browse store by brand
  • Orders are automatically transferred and imported into Attache preventing errors from rekeying of orders.
  • Can be configured as a private store, online customers with a valid login can see prices.

If you have Attache PRO and would like to trade online I can help you get your products online quick, easy and without breaking the bank.

Onlooker hits the web with the help of

This week I did my second marketing push via

I love this company. I believe they are based in Ukraine and basically for a small fee they manage the process of posting software onto the hundreds / thousands of shareware sites, bringing valuable traffic and customers to my site. They have a great system that means that when they finally hit the go button your pad submission file has been thoroughly checked by them in order to maximise the chances of your product being accepted.

Some sited insist that you do a backlink on your site but that’s only fair and of course that is the one task that submit-everywhere cannot do for you. That’s OK though because as you get thousands of emails telling you that your product has been accepted onto a site you are fully motivated to get into it. I have found that literally dozens of the sites were basically the same site with a different name and I guess Google will give these site a very low ranking. After about a dozen I could complete the submission with my eyes closed.

It’s a great service and I thoroughly recommend them, I have used them twice now and the results have been great and the service even better. My first time around it took a while for me to get my pad file correct but this time I got there in two goes, one of my press releases was a touch too long in their opinion – and that’s another good point. They add real value by helping you get the file right by manually checking it. Some companies I am sure would just take your money and post any old rubbish you give them, I get the feeling these guys really care. Of course it pays because I went back. I am not an affiliate or in any way associated with them, just a happy customer.

Here is a selection of sites that responded really quickly to my listing request submission

Free Software, Shareware and Games Downloads – Freeware, shareware and quality commercial software downloads – Get downloadable software from one place!

Ever forget to attach a file to an email?

I can’t even count how often I do this. So today we’re going to look at new tool from Polychrome. Onlooker is a Microsoft ® Outlook ® add-in that checks your e-mails, think of it as a friend in your outbox. We all know the scenario, we type that e-mail diligently point out why our product or service is better than a competitors and refer to various documents and files that we have attached. The only problem is that we forget to actually attach them.

A friend in your Outbox

Enter Onlooker, and add-in that checks your e-mail when you click send, if you’ve mentioned an attachment, it counts the number of attachments. If you don’t have any attachments it warns you and you have a chance to add the attachment. If you know better because you’re your e-mail is discussing your attachment to your wife or teddy bear or pet dog then you can just ignore the warning. It is REALLY simple to install and use and save a whole heap of embarrassment and wasted time.

Take a look at it in action on YouTube.

There are some cool settings as well. The ability to choose to ignore an image in your signature for example, or to add your own custom search phrase.

The best part is the price, there are other products like this on the market but I haven’t seen one yet that does more for less. Prices start at $9.99 for a single user and just $99 for a company license.

Check the product page for more details or to buy online

Microsoft and the Office logo are trademarks or registered trademarks of Microsoft Corporation in the United States and/or other countries.

Editor's Choice.  Onlooker


Best Vista Download


Automated ODBC Export

Scheduled ODBC Exporting on Steriods

The Polychrome ODBC Export Tool exports data from any ODBC data source but that’s not all. It does a whole lot more, like emailing the results or calling a command line application and passing the exported data filename. Now you can create CSV extracts from your software and because it can be run from the command line it can be scheduled using the Windows scheduler or if you want more control (like run on last working day of the month) then use our scheduler.

Key features

  • Scheduled export of data using ODBC
  • Export “real world” data scenario, only orders added since last export
  • Run post export process for example transfer via FTP using uFTP tool
  • 2 styles of output
    • Normal exports each row on a new line
    • Header exports one header line followed by multiple detail lines
  • Email extracted data to someone
  • Scheduled export on special accounting days, like last working day of the month, last physical day of the month

The ODBC export tool uses SQL statements saved in a preformatted external XML file. The user interface makes creating these ODBC definitions  easy. The tool will read the data using ODBC and create a CSV file with each column separated with a comma (or your chosen delimiter) and laid out in the order determined by the SQL statement.

See the ODBC Export website

PowerSlave in the press

Great to see that PowerSlave is making it’s way in to the press all over the world!

Press box

I nice mention on from Ashish Mohta who is a Microsoft MVP. Great to see this starting to go viral. Thanks Ashish.