Author Archives: David Martin

About David Martin

Dave is the owner of I/O Technologies Inc, a software development company providing tailored software solutions to businesses across the United States.

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!

Offer An Alternative to Snail Mail

During this prolonged economic downturn, many companies are looking for ways to reduce costs while continuing to offer great customer service.

Here’s one way to do just that: rather than spending money on paper, envelopes and postage, smart companies offer their customers the option of receiving their invoices and statements via email instead of “snail mail”. Some even take it one step farther, by offering statements and invoices available for download on their web site.

This approach not only reduces the cost of labor and materials. It also can reduce the number of support calls because customers can help themselves. So everybody wins!

Looking for a Competent Programmer? Ask for Free Samples!

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

When you meet with someone to talk about your custom software project, one of the questions you might ask is, “Are they any good? — Do they provide a quality product or service? Would I be comfortable referring others to them?” You ask these questions because you know that some folks in your own industry are experts and professionals. And then there are all the rest.

So let me speak to your concerns. Over the years we’ve developed several software programs that we use in our office every day. Recently we uploaded them to our website, to share with our friends, neighbors and anybody else who might benefit from using them. These applications are totally free—we’re giving them away to showcase what we can do. If you’re interested, please visit our web site   (iotechno.com) and click on the Free Stuff link for details.

At I/O Technologies, we write custom software that’s good for business.

How To Make Mileage Tracking even LESS of a Chore

Several great mileage-logging applications are readily available, although I’m partial to the one we created (check out OdoLog, a mileage-tracking application you can download for FREE).

But one simple fact remains: someone still has to do the data entry. Somehow all the trips your people are making in their various cars, trucks and SUV’s need to get entered into whatever software you’re using.

How about leveraging an additional piece of technology–the cell phone? Rather than expecting your drivers to fumble around in search of pen and paper, why not instruct them to dial an 800 number, stating their current odometer reading and relevant details–and then hang up?

This approach makes mileage logging much less of a chore for your salespeople and drivers. It doesn’t require smart phones–any cell phone will do.

Another big advantage: all mileage logging gets funneled into a single voicemail box. Your data entry person will appreciate not having to hunt down log books and deciphering ink-smeared scraps of paper.

If you’re interested in hiring us to log your mileage for you, please touch base with me. We can set up a system that’s tailored to your unique way of doing business. We can automatically email your reports to you in PDF and Excel formats on a monthly, quarterly or annual basis.

Please contact us if you’re interested in learning more.

OdoLog – A Free Mileage Logging Application

It’s no secret: The IRS allows you to deduct certain expenses when using a personal vehicle for work purposes. But with that privilege also comes the responsibility of documenting the deductions. The IRS requires that you keep adequate records to prove your expenses.

If your work requires you to travel, you know that few chores are more unpleasant than keeping a mileage log. It’s not surprising that many folks elect to not bother with this chore—either choosing to forego the deduction altogether or hoping that they’ll never get audited.

But if that auditor ever comes knocking, one of the first things he or she will ask for is written proof to back up your expenses and deductions. Without this documentation, you won’t be able to properly substantiate your deductions. On the other hand, if you can produce a complete mileage log when the auditor asks for one, it could help the rest of your audit pass by more quickly.

At our office, we found it difficult to simply hope that our drivers would remember to log their mileage by hand. That’s why we developed OdoLog—a simple desktop-based software solution we could use for this purpose. And rather than keep this software to ourselves, we’ve decided to share it with our friends, neighbors and anyone else who might find it useful.

Odolog is designed to serve as a simple, straightforward means of tracking mileage, with Quickbooks integration in mind.

Here are just some of the features now available in the current version of OdoLog:
Reason for Choosing OdoLogTrack mileage for multiple companies!
Reason for Choosing OdoLogGenerate printed mileage logs
Reason for Choosing OdoLogMulti-User Enabled
Reason for Choosing OdoLogExport data to Excel spreadsheets
Reason for Choosing OdoLogPull information related to mileage from QuickBooks!
Reason for Choosing OdoLogPush information related to mileage to Quickbooks!
Reason for Choosing OdoLogIt’s Free! This is NOT try-before-you-buy software. It’s 100% free. Click here to view the license agreement.

 

For more information, or to download and start using OdoLog, visit https://www.iotechno.com/odolog.html

For more information on logging mileage, see IRS Publication 463 – Travel, Entertainment, Gift and Car Expenses.

Need a PBX for your Small Office/Home Office?

Having just returned from Astricon, I’m all fired up about the features and capabilities of Asterisk–an open-source, full-featured PBX system. We’ve used Asterisk in our office for years, and I can’t say enough good things about it. Here are just a few of the features we use every day:

  • A true VOIP (Voice Over IP) system. With appropriate security, you can set up remote extensions anywhere that has broadband web access. A few years ago, I set up a remote extension in our Moscow hotel room, when Jeanie and I were in Russia for an international adoption.
  • Built-in voicemail
  • Voicemails can also be delivered via e-mail
  • Built-in conference calling
  • Built-in directory-by-name capability
  • Call routing based on Caller ID
  • Fully-customizable Interactive Voice Response flexibility–for example, Press 1 for Sales, 2 for Accounting, etc.

To share our experience, and potentially add this capability to our list of services offered, I’m offering the following, for a limited time:

If your office, hotel or B&B is in Southeast Wisconsin and you’ve outgrown your current phone system, please give me a call.

I’m offering free installation and configuration of all the hardware and software needed to provide a premium phone system at a fraction of the price you’d pay elsewhere.

You’d still need to buy the necessary hardware, but it’s not nearly as expensive as a proprietary phone system (we installed our new system for less than 1/2 of what our previous one cost).

Why would I offer this for free? My goal is to start building a list of satisfied customers who will be happy to recommend our ability and expertise in this area. All I’d ask is that you’d be willing to give an honest assessment of our abilities when asked for a reference.

Since we won’t be making any profit on the first few installs we do, I need to limit this offer to SouthEast Wisconsin businesses, (in view of travel time, mileage, etc.)

If you’re interested in exploring the possiblities, or want to see a demo of how we have our phone system configured, please contact me. There’s no obligation.