Monthly Archives: January 2013

Software Review – FreeMind

FreeMind is a cool Open Source mind-mapping software application that works the way your mind does. The premise behind the software is that our human minds don’t organize thoughts in lists so much as it organizes in clusters of related thoughts.

Remember when you had to type your first term paper, and your instructor suggested that your write each thought on a notecard–then organize the notecards in logical piles? That’s akin to what FreeMind does: When you launch it, you start by creating a blank slate (or “mind map” using FreeMind’s lingo). You add a thought (or “node”) by pressing the Insert key and adding a descriptive label. Labels can be very short, or fairly long. Here’s a screenshot of what one of my recent mind maps looks like:

There’s no limit to the number of sub-nodes and/or thoughts you can add within a node–just pop open the node, press the Insert key, and type away.

I prefer to assign a different background color to each node, but you could choose to skip specifying background colors, if you prefer. For that matter, you can choose to not envelope nodes with a border. For me, the cloud shape around each node helps keep me focused. Here’s what a node looks like when you expand it…

To minimize a node, just click on the node label again, and it’ll shrink back down to its original size. You can also set up nodes as hyperlinks–so that when you click on them, they’ll pop open PDF files, spreadsheets and the like.

For more information, or to download and install FreeMind, visit http://freemind.sourceforge.net/wiki/index.php/Main_Page

If you’d like help getting FreeMind installed on your workstation or network, feel free to contact me.

Making data Input more fun, and data Output more valuable.

Do you host your own web server inside your office? Probably not.

Our customers’ web sites are often hosted on servers hundreds or thousands of miles away–not running inside their office.

If the only purpose for your web site is to EXHALE, i.e., advertise products and list your store locations, then there’s no problem.

But what if you want to collect data from your visitors (and that’s always a good idea)? How does that data get from the web server running thousands of miles away, to you in your office?

Many web developers send the data to you in an email. But then you’re forced to copy/paste the data from the email and manually rekey it into your systems inside your office.

We can make this process more fun and easy:

  • First, we can write an interface where users just drag the emails from Outlook and drop them onto our software. The software reads the emails, then pushes the meaningful data into your internal database.
  • Or, even better– we can install a little engine out on the web server that will let you download the data directly –without using email at all.

If the prospect of having to re-key data from your web site into your internal system makes your skin crawl, give us a call!

I’m Dave Martin from I/O Technologies, where we make data Input more fun, and data Output more valuable.

Bringing Function to the Dysfunctional Office

Have you ever had a friend or family member confide in you–“you know, I sure hope Mary never decides to leave our business. She’s the only one who knows how to run the computer systems. If she left, we’d be in serious trouble.”

If you’re the manager of a dysfunctional office–one where everybody knows that if one or two key employees walked out, the business would be in jeopardy–we should talk.

We can write software that addresses the dysfunction head-on: First, we can simplify things, so if it takes 14 steps to generate invoices, we can often reduce that down to one or two steps.

Second, we can incorporate context-sensitive help. So if you don’t know how to do something, press F1 and there are the step-by-step instructions, right where you need them.

Our programmers love bringing function to dysfunctional office environments.

Boat Sales Software

I’m Dave Martin with I/O Technologies, a software company based in Germantown.

Our main focus is writing custom software applications for business. But over the years, we’ve also developed several commercial software applications—where we license the same software to multiple customers.

One of the most successful so far is called BoatQuote. Boat dealerships and marinas use BoatQuote to keep track of their customers and boat inventory.
If you’re a boat dealership or marina manager that’s looking for a better way to track their customers and generate more sales, please contact us!