Category Archives: Software Enhancements

Not Your Average Fairy Tale

Once upon a time, in a town not far from here, there lived and worked a young office manager named Goldilocks.

Goldilocks needed to find a better way to manage the ever-increasing amount of data as her business continued to grow.

So Goldilocks called her local BigSoftwareCompany rep, who jumped at the opportunity to lease their Premium CRM solution to her, starting at only $1000 per month.

Sounded a little too big for her needs.

So then, she hopped on the internet, and purchased her very own copy of a popular Off-The-Shelf program. But she found it wasn’t quite what she needed either. It was just too small.

Then she called I/O Technologies, who sat down with her and designed a custom solution that was JUST RIGHT.

If you’re an office manager like Goldilocks, give us a call. We write software to help companies like yours live happily every after.

The End.

Totally Off-the-Shelf, Totally Custom–or Somewhere in Between?

Over the past 65 years, productivity in the US has increased by approximately 100%. On any given day, US workers now produce twice as much than their counterparts did in 1947.

Computer software technologies have certainly helped significantly along the way. Can you imagine running your business today without your laptop, GPS, cell phone or internet?

But over the years, not everyone has embraced technological advances with open arms–at least not right away. Many managers consider the cutting edge to be the bleeding edge. They’d rather let others endure the pain and scar tissue that new technology can inflict.

For others, the choice has been just too difficult: do we buy an off-the-shelf software application–paying for bells and whistles we’ll never use, or hire a programming company to write custom software? And then, how can we successfully introduce change into our system without hurting productivity–even if it’s for the short term?

You can understand why the typical office manager or production supervisor doesn’t jump up and down in breathless anticipation of the next software upgrade. How to deal with the ensuing rebellion that might occur? Some business owners just don’t have the energy to combat the “we’ve always done it this way” mindset. They’re afraid they just might kill the goose that’s laid so many golden eggs over the years. There’s something to be said for the comfort level afforded by the status quo.

What about this approach? How about introducing changes on an incremental basis? Instead of ripping out the old software and forcing employees to adapt to new software, consider implementing helper applications–ones that take the multiple manual steps down from five steps to two. Not only are they less disruptive–they’re also smaller in scope; thus cost less. With a little planning, these helper apps can gradually morph and merge into a completely new system–one step at a time.

How do you eat an elephant? One bite at a time, to be sure. But don’t bite off more than your people are able to chew.

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.

If You've Got the Project, We've Got the Programmers!

Business activity tends to be cyclical. Some companies get real busy during the summer and then slow down in the fall. Others are blessed with more work at the beginning of each month, or end of the year. Do you notice swings in the level of your business activity–where occasionally you’re very busy, and sometimes a little slow?

Although we don’t see a regular pattern, our software company also has its share of peaks and valleys. Sometimes, the demand for tailored software is extremely high. Right now, however, we’re all caught up, and eager to take on new projects.

So this is a great opportunity for you, especially if you’ve been thinking about automating a process or two, and need to get it finished quickly.

Like you, we strive for top-quality service and attention to detail. But right now we can dedicate laser-beam focus to your project, and turn it around with lightning speed!

Why NOW is a great time to explore your next tailored software solution:

  • You’ll get fast turnaround on your request for a free estimate.
  • Using Rapid Application Development techniques, we can quickly create a tailored software solution that’ll start improving productivity at your office immediately.
  • Your new website can be up and running in a matter of just a few days.
  • Your new desktop application can be ready for user acceptance testing before you know it.
  • Need help defining your project, or documenting the details? We’ve got the resources to assist with this, too!

Tailored software solutions can take the drudgery out of your workload. They reduce data entry errors, and improve productivity.

So contact us about that project you’ve been contemplating. You’ll be glad you did!

An Idea for E-mail Security: myWhiteListPassword

I’m not sure whether there’s already an RFC in existence for this concept. I couldn’t find one, but frankly, didn’t spend a huge amount of time looking.

Anyway, consider this scenario: You purchase a widget from an online vendor, or sign up for a service. The vendor promises to send a one-time e-mail confirmation. But the e-mail doesn’t arrive immediately. You check your inbox again a little later, but still no e-mail. Then the phone rings or someone drops by for a chat, and you forget about it.

Meanwhile, your mail server’s spam cop took one look at the inbound vendor e-mail, and decided it was just too spammy to pass along to your inbox. So now what? Unless you’re in the habit of carefully reviewing the contents of your spam folder, that e-mail will be lost.

Considering how many legitimate e-mails are incorrectly rated as Spam, how about adding this protocol to the DKIM/SPF mix …

  1. Users log in to their mail server and update their profile, specifying a myWhiteListPassword. (Understand, this is a new field, so mail servers would need to be recompiled to include it, and mail programs like RoundCube, Outlook, SquirrelMail would need to be updated also.)
  2. Vendors add an additional field to their opt-in/shopping cart page. The new field prompts you for your myWhiteListPassword.

Here’s how the new feature would work: Let’s say you’re confirming your online order. In addition to providing your credit card number, shipping address, etc., you also type in your myWhiteListPassword. The vendor’s mail server includes that password in its outbound confirmation e-mail header. The first thing your mail server does is to check e-mail headers–comparing your e-mail address and your current myWhiteListPassword. If they match, the e-mail is whitelisted–bypassing further spam software intervention.

I realize this approach could open the door for spammers, if they sniff unencrypted e-mails for myWhiteListPassword values. When/if that happens, and you start seeing spam in your inbox, you’d need to change your myWhiteListPassword, and start using the new value when prompted for it online.

Or, maybe the mail server could offer several different automatic incrementing value schemes… Maybe it concatenates the myWhiteListPassword with the current day-of-the-month, or alpha day-of-the-week, or another hash. One example: specify a 12-letter word, like CONSIDERABLY or QUESTIONABLY. Your mail server concatenates the nth letter from that word to the front or back of your password. So in January, if your 12-letter word is CONSIDERABLY, the letter ‘C’ would be concatenated. In December, the letter ‘Y’ would be concatenated. And so on.

I’d welcome comments about this idea. Like I said, there wasn’t an RFC jumping out at me that promotes this concept. But maybe there are a thousand reasons why it wouldn’t work–and I just need to be enlightened.