Category Archives: Custom Software Development

One-Time update for Odolog users.

 We’re pleased to announce that effective immediately, users of the free Odolog application can download an update which will make all future updates completely automatic.

Previously, if you needed to update your version of Odolog, the only way to do it was by reinstalling Odolog from scratch.

Starting now, we have incorporated the ability to update Odolog automatically.

Do I need this update?

Here’s a quick way to find out if you already have the newest version. While running Odolog, choose Help … About.

If you see version 1.2.68 (or higher), you already have the latest version and don’t need to install this one-time update.

If your version is not 1.2.68 or higher, it would be a good idea to perform this special update. Why? Because in the future, any time we deploy an bug fix or enhancement update, it will install itself automatically.

To install this special update, please follow these eight easy steps:

  1. Back up your data. Although we don’t expect this update to interfere with your data files—it’s better to be safe than sorry. It’s always better to have too many backups–than not enough.
    To back up your data, choose File … Backup Data Files from the main menu. This will create a Zip file containing any data you’ve entered since you first started using Odolog.
  2. Re-download OdoLog and install over the top of your existing installation.
  3. Right-click the shortcut you use to launch Odolog … and choose Properties from the menu that appears …
  4. Click Open File Location on the next dialog.
    IMPORTANT: do not replace the Odolog.exe file in the folder that appears (see screenshot below)!!

    In other words: don’t overwrite the file that has a red IO logo. (FYI, this is a small launcher app, which we use to launch the actual Odolog application.) DO NOT replace it.

    Let me say this again: You do not want to replace the odolog launcher file that has a red IO logo.

  5. Instead, double-click the Resource Folder to open it
  6. Then double-click the Odolog folder inside the Resource Folder.
  7. Inside this folder, you’ll find another file called odolog.exe. This is the one you want to replace.Replace the odolog.exe that you find inside the Odolog folder (which is a subfolder of the Resource folder) by copying/pasting the new Odolog.exe from the Zip file you downloaded into this folder. If prompted: yes, you want to overwrite the existing file.

  8. Finally, close all open windows, and re-launch Odolog. When you choose Help … About, you should see version 1.2.68 (or higher)

What happens next?

In the future, whenever we release a new version of Odolog, you will see a dialog–asking whether you want to install the latest update.
(You’ll see it when you’re exiting Odolog.) Once you agree to install the update, it’ll be deployed automatically. The next time you launch Odolog, you’ll have the latest and greatest version.

One Final Note:

Odolog is free, and we don’t have any plans to start charging for it. But if these instructions seem overwhelming and you’d like us to deploy the one-time update for you, we’ll be happy to help.
We’ll need to charge a one-time flat fee of $9.99 to cover our expenses. (On average it should take less than 10 minutes for us to connect up and deploy this update.)

If you have any questions or concerns in this regard, please feel free to contact me.

How to Contact Us Directly

Recently we switched to a new Voice-over-IP provider, which now allows for direct inward dialing (DID).

If you’d prefer contacting the programmer who’s working on your project directly (instead of going through the automated attendant menu), please feel free to dial any of the following, and your call will be routed directly to that person’s phone:

ContactDirect Number
Dave Martin414-847-9481
Jeanie Martin414-847-9482
Jeremy Vogt414-847-9483
Luke Zahalka414-847-9484
Alex Karius414-847-9485
If you have any questions or concerns in this regard, please feel free to contact me.

Custom Software versus SaaS

Did you know that right now, there’s a major change going on in the software industry? It has to do with how software companies license their software. For example, did you know that when you install Microsoft’s Office 365 on your computer, you’re renting the software for a limited period of time—you don’t own it? In fact, most software vendors are moving to this Software as a Service model, because it’s much more profitable for them.

As more and more software vendors move to Software As A Service, the demand for custom software has been increasing as well. Why?  Think of it this way:  when you hire a company like ours to write a custom software solution, you OWN the software. You’re investing in an asset.  You’re increasing your company’s net worth.   Nobody’s going to be metering your usage ever again.  So you can forget the days of creative seat counting just to stay under arbitrarily-imposed usage levels.  Most importantly, with custom software you own 100% of your data. You, and nobody else, have complete control over who can access your information, and what they can do with it.

So does that mean that everyone needs custom software? Not necessarily—packaged software apps like Quickbooks, Salesforce.com and Microsoft Office meet the needs of many businesses just fine. But if your people waste precious time every day rekeying customer data, purchase orders or payroll data into separate systems, we can do something about it. Or if your company needs a solution tailored to your specific way of doing business, that’s where we can help.

I’m Dave Martin, with I/O Technologies. We write custom software that’s good for business.

To RoboDial, or Not?

Which of the following phone calls would you tolerate? And which might you even welcome?

  1. Your family has gathered at the table for dinner when the phone rings. It’s a recording. The nice lady on the other end has an “important message for you about your credit card account”. She doesn’t identify your specific card or mention your bank’s name. You hang up immediately.
  2. A political candidate robodials your cell phone, asking for your support in the upcoming election.
  3. Your dentist’s autodialer calls, reminding you of an appointment you had forgotten to enter into your calendar.

Welcome to the brave new world of Robodial! Like it or not, autodialer software has become part of our culture–even if accepted grudgingly. How does it work? You simply import a list of phone numbers, record an outgoing message, and launch the software. The autodialer dials each number on your list, plays the appropriate recording, and logs the result of each call. Most autodialers offer the ability to respond. For example, ‘Press 1 to talk with a human, or 2 to leave a message.’

While any technology can be abused, autodialers can serve a useful purpose. Resourceful business owners may want to explore this capability as a part of their overall marketing and customer retention strategy.

Let’s look at the potential advantages from a business owner’s perspective. Would autodialing be an acceptable means of contacting your customers in any of these situations?

  • Your shop phone is ringing off the hook with calls from customers, asking for their order status. Contacting them proactively makes more sense, but your staff is already swamped, and you can’t afford to hire another employee just to make phone calls.
  • Your organization needs to contact all its members about a weather-related cancellation.
  • You wish you could call each of your clients personally to remind them of upcoming appointments, but simply don’t have the time or resources.
  • Your mortgage loan customers ask you to contact them immediately when rates dip, so they can lock their loan at the lower rate.
  • Business has slowed for your company. You decide to reach out and remind past customers of all the services your company offers.

Compare how much time it would take for someone at your office to make thousands of calls—when an autodialer could do the work with minimal effort.

Being on the receiving end of an unexpected robocall can be very annoying. And the last thing you want to do is irritate your customers. But there are measures you can take to avoid incurring their wrath.

For example, you could offer autodialing to customers as an opt-in service, letting them decide whether to receive automated phone calls. And, be sure to cross-reference your list of phone numbers with the national Do Not Call registry, so you don’t dial the number of anyone on the list.

Given a choice, most folks would prefer talking with a real person rather than listening to a recorded message. But when used judiciously, an autodialer can be a powerful tool to stay in touch with your customers and prospects.
If you’d like more information, please give me a call.

What’s YOUR programming philosophy?

We met with a prospective client recently, who asked me, “What is your programming philosophy–do you prefer Waterfall or Agile?”

If you’re unfamiliar with the terms, here’s a brief overview:

Waterfall Software Development

The waterfall approach to software development breaks the overall project into several distinct phases:

Requirements
 Design
  Build
   Test
    Deploy

For Waterfall to work, developers can move on to the next phase only when its preceding phase has been completed and reviewed. We can’t swim upstream, and there are no fish ladders available.

The Waterfall Challenge.
The biggest problem with this approach is that clients seldom have a firm grasp on exactly what their requirements are. If requirements are unclear, the project will never get past the requirements-gathering phase.

But if a client insists on moving forward without completing each phase, software developers will likely end up throwing portions of the code away, as the project scope changes later on.

Agile Software Development

Several years ago, to address the limitations of the Waterfall approach, a group of seventeen software developers met to discuss alternatives. They published the following Manifesto for Agile Software Development:

We are uncovering better ways of developing software by doing it and helping others do it. Through this work we have come to value:

Individuals and interactions    over    Processes and tools

Working software    over    Comprehensive documentation

Customer collaboration    over    Contract negotiation

Responding to change    over    Following a plan

That is, while there is value in the items on the right, we value the items on the left more.

Kent Beck   James Grenning   Robert C. Martin
Mike Beedle   Jim Highsmith   Steve Mellor
Arie van Bennekum   Andrew Hun   Ken Schwaber
Alistair Cockburn   Ron Jeffries   Jeff Sutherland
Ward Cunningham   Jon Kern   Dave Thomas
Martin Fowler   Brian Marick

© 2001, the above authors. This declaration may be freely copied in any form, but only in its entirety through this notice.

Agile software development offers an appealing alternative to Waterfall. Rather than scoping out a massive project and trying to address every possible detail, it breaks development down into bite-size chunks. As each new chunk is finished and tested, it moves into production immediately. This approach is known for its ability to deliver working software to customers faster. Then, as end users begin working with the new features, they often provide valuable feedback to drive future development.

Some of the best software we’ve written was developed using the Agile approach; we met with our customer to identify an overall goal, then wrote self-contained modules which performed specific functions fairly quickly.

The Agile Challenge.
But there’s a potential tradeoff. Developing software without an overall project design is akin to building a house without a blueprint. Unless project stakeholders pay close attention to the overall project evolution, the final result can end up looking like the cobbled-together effort that was used to put it together.

Oh, and then there’s one other small (almost trivial) issue: cost. Agile tends to be a pay-as-you-go approach. As a result, Agile projects can end up costing considerably more than anticipated.

Don’t get me wrong–if your company’s goal is quality software written quickly, then Agile makes a lot of sense. Just realize that if you’re working within a fixed budget, you may end up with less functionality than you envisioned. I.e., you may run out of budgeted funds before the evolving goals for your project all come to fruition.

You’ve probably noticed that I haven’t really answered the question. Why? Because I won’t be writing the check for your software project. More important than asking, “What’s I/O Technologies’ development philosophy?” is the question, “What is YOUR development philosophy?” If you need software quickly and don’t have all the details fleshed out, then Agile is the way to go. On the other hand, if you are faced with a fixed, not-to-exceed budget and can put together a well-defined project specification, then let the water fall!

FERC Report Format Change

The Federal Energy Regulatory Commission announced on April 16 that Electric utilities will need to begin filing FERC reports using XML instead of the current Visual Foxpro format, since Microsoft no longer supports VFP. This affects Form 1, Form 1F, Form 3Q and Form 714.

If your electric utility needs help making the switch to the new XML format, please contact us.

Source: http://www.rtoinsider.com/ferc-briefs-041615/

Please Join Us for Our Open House on Oct 28

Oct. 20, 2014

I/O Technologies Relocates to Accommodate Continued Business Growth, New Staff

Software firm’s move coincides with its 20th anniversary

CONTACT: Jeanie Martin, I/O Technologies, (262) 437-3239, jmartin@iotechno.com

Germantown, Wis. – I/O Technologies, southeastern Wisconsin’s premier source for custom software and software support solutions, has moved to a new, larger office to accommodate its burgeoning business and growing staff.

The tailored software company’s new address is N116-W15830 Main St., Suite 101, Germantown, Wis., 53022. The office is marked by a shiny new sign in the front window.

I/O Technologies didn’t move far – its previous office was on Fond du Lac Avenue in Germantown – but the shift to a more spacious headquarters reflects steady growth in customer orders and production needs. Its software development staff has grown by 33 percent in 2014. Additional hiring is expected soon, said Jeanie Martin, President of I/O Technologies.

“No one likes the work of moving, but we’re doing so with a smile because our company’s growth is driving the need the additional space,” she said. “We thank our great customers who rely on us for custom software solutions, and our business partners who have been with us every step of the way.”

The move coincides with the 20th anniversary of the 1994 founding of I/O Technologies. The company provides tailored software that simplifies day-to-day business activities, and gathers, transfers and reports key business information. All lead to better decisions and lower operating costs.

The Germantown and Brookfield chambers of commerce will hold a joint ribbon-cutting Oct. 28 at 11 a.m. to celebrate I/O Technologies’ new headquarters. The company belongs to both chambers.

I/O Technologies has built a solid reputation for creating custom software solutions that provide a reliable alternative to off-the-shelf packages that might – or might not – perform as needed. Every product has a 100 percent risk-free, money-back guarantee. More information is available at www.iotechno.com, or by calling (262) 437-3239.

Where To Go After FoxPro

The number of Visual FoxPro programmers dwindles ever smaller as Microsoft’s end-of-life deadline for VFP (January 13, 2015) looms closer on the horizon. Most programming companies have long since abandonded FoxPro, opting to migrate to new development platforms. (Side note: our company continues to support all versions of VFP).

Some time in the future, Visual Foxpro applications will either need to get migrated to something more current, or put out to pasture. So where does that leave savvy business owners who have invested a ton of thought, resources and money into a legacy FoxPro application?

For starters, understand that your FoxPro application(s) will likely continue to run just fine for many more years–maybe even a decade or longer. The sky will not fall just because of an arbitrary support cutoff date. FoxPro is a 32-bit application just like thousands of other 32-bit apps, which run perfectly well in Windows 7 and Windows 8. It’ll probably be quite some time before Microsoft releases a new operating system that doesn’t support 32-bit apps.

But what if your company has decided it’s time to migrate to a new development platform? Unfortunately, there’s no magic button that’ll automatically migrate your VFP application to a current development platform. But today you have more options available than ever before. It all depends on how data flows in and out of your application, whether your company has an IT policy in place, and what that policy mandates regarding preferred vendors and required databases.

For example, if your company has committed to use only Microsoft software and SQL Server, you’ll want to find a knowledgeable software developer who’s skilled at Visual Studio .NET development. On the other hand, if you run with the Open Source crowd, start by seeking out developers who know their way around LAMP (Linux / Apache / MySQL / PHP).

Another key question to ask yourself: how and where should your data be accessible? If users need to access your application and data from outside your office, developing a web or mobile application will probably narrow your needs down to an ASP.NET Developer (for Windows) or a PHP programmer (for Linux-based solutions). On the other hand, if all data entry is done from user desktops, you’ll want to find a company with experience in developing desktop applications.

If you’ve reached this point, call us for a free, no-obligation consultation. We’ll help identify your needs and how best to move forward.

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.