Bob and Joy Schwabach
 

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Recent Columns

March 2008, Week 2
1. Endless Drive
2. A Cloud of News
3. Internuts

March 2008, Week 1
1. Now Presenting
2. Point of Sale.
3. Internuts
4. Hide those Pictures












  

 

  





  

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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  March 2008, Week 1

NOW PRESENTING

A free program called Flypaper  is a fast and easy way to post slide shows to the Web. The results look much the same as any presentation created with Microsoft's PowerPoint, which is certainly not free. After you make your Flypaper presentation, story board, lesson book, etc., you can click to chooseFlypaper to post the finished product to MySpace, YouTube, Facebook or your own site.

The tutorial part of Flypaper takes you through creating a presentation with any of 20 models. It took about five minutes to learn how to manipulate these shows and add text. You can even make question-and-answer presentations, online resumes and revolving product guides. There are over 100 more models on Flypaper.net, but you need Windows XP or Vista to use them.

You can move through a presentation by clicking a "next" button or using the arrow keys. If you select movie mode, the presentation advances on its own. Within each screen, you can use animation to make it appear that not only the pages but also the characters within them are moving.

There's a remarkable amount of power here, and our only complaint was that the tutorial section initially taught us how to make just a single page. After we had a little chat with Flypaper's brain trust, we learned that you have to drag a "next" button onto each page or put text on the screen telling viewers to use their arrow keys.

A nice feature to turn to for problems like this is what the company calls its "User Community." This is a forum with tips and tricks posted by Flypaper users. Every program's Web site should have a forum like this.

The question that naturally comes up is how can you make any money on programs you give away fro free? How do you pay the rent, the staff, the light bill? The answer is you charge users who want you to create a presentation for them.

NOTE: Flypaper was created by Pat Sullivan, who is famous in the software business for having created ACT! For many years it was a best seller for managing contacts for salespeople and groups. In those ever-present surveys of important people in any business, he is always listed with the likes of Bill Gates and other heavy hitters.

POINT OF SALE

We remember the first time we saw a clerk at a fast food restaurant press a finger on a picture of a sandwich to ring up a sale. Now, just about any business can be set up to do that with a touch screen and some appropriate software. You can hire people who can't read.

The touch screen or any other way of ordering and paying for the product is called the "front end" in the retail business; it's the point at which the customer meets the sales register.

We looked at a system called AccuPOS Retail 2008. The "POS" stands for AccuposPoint Of Sale, and you can buy the software alone for $595 and set it up with your own hardware, or you can use it to add cash drawers, touch screens and other hardware. This costs extra, of course.

The software is designed to work with commonly used accounting programs like QuickBooks, PeachTree, MAS and Simply Accounting. If you start with one but later change to another, the AccuPOS software will still work with the new accounting program. This is not true of most point-of-sale systems.

Set-up was easy, and connecting the pieces together was pretty much drag-and-drop, as they say. The software reads input from touch screens, bar code scanners and credit cards. It tracks customer purchases, and can print its own bar codes to paste on new products. The software can also apply percentage discounts to specific customers.

Related products from this company do inventory tracking and time-lock records. You can read all about it at accupos.com.

INTERNUTS

  • SmithMag.net     publishes six-word summaries by people explaining their lives or key moments therein. Some examples: "Saved by women's magazines. How Bazaar." "My ex had a better lawyer." "Sixties hippy chick finally grows up." "Shook family tree; nuts fell out." "Down for maintenance; be back soon." You, of course, can log on and submit your own. The company has published a book of what it thinks are the 832 best summaries, but you don't have to buy it. Our own six-word summary: "Stop us before we write again."

  • WYWH.mobi  stands for "Wish You Were Here," and what it does is mail postcards with the photos you just took on your vacation (or just hangingWYWH around home, if you prefer). You send in a photo straight from your cell phone and the address it should go to, and WYWH turns the photo into a postcard and mails it. Cost is $1.99 per card; cheaper in bulk.

HIDE THOSE PICTURES

"Hide Photos" is a $30 program that lets you hide any of the pictures in your computer with the touch of a key. They might be sensitive shots of new products or.... We know a guy who has a folder of pictures of his wife in sexy outfits and likes to use them for screen savers. You want to keep that sort of thing away from the office gallery. The program encrypts a folder of pictures that you specify and locks it with a password of your choosing. There's a free trial available at hidephotos.com.

 


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