Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Intuit's fake BlackBerry "app" for QuickBooks

Intuit has been making some progress bringing QuickBooks, their business level accounting package, into the new century for small business by creating some online services that link to the desktop software program. For example, the online document repository is nice, though I can't discern how you extract your documents if you decide to discontinue the service. And they have a partial online version of the desktop application--QuickBooks Connect--that allows other users to have access to key vendor and customer functionality. Very nice interface and as far as I can tell, good functionality.

When I opened QuickBooks recently I fell prey to their come-on about upgrading to their 2011 package, in part because of a suggestion that they had an app for BlackBerry. Talk about deceptive advertising! First, they imply that you need the 2011 version of the desktop program to run their new mobile applications (in fact, 2009 will work). Then they suggest that they actually have a BlackBerry application. But no. It's just a BlackBerry browser version of their QuickBooks Connect service. QuickBooks has such a monopoly, I suppose they can get away with it. I know there are lots of online accounting packages but I haven't been able to find one that is at the level of QuickBooks. They're either too simplistic or much too expensive and complex for my needs.

CORRECTION: Intuit sent me an e-mail for the link to the QuickBooks BlackBerry application, the real deal. It IS actually an app. Now it would be nice if one could find this link on the QuickBooks website somewhere ... or through a search engine ... and it would be nice if when you sign up for the Connect service, the link that one gets to got you to this app instead of to a link to use for your BlackBerry browser!

Friday, November 19, 2010

tactile familiarity (just replaced my BlackBerry)

My BlackBerry died. Kept shorting out, in a sense--constantly restarting. I spent a while looking at Android phones, including the new "BlackBerry killer", the Motorola Android Droid Pro on Verizon with the same form factor as a BlackBerry. But I ended up replacing my BlackBerry Tour with the Bold, essentially the same phone. Why?

When smartphones become such an extension of ourselves, it's hard to convert to a different kind of tactile experience. Body part upgrade and replacement isn't easy.

My fingers are so used to the BlackBerry keys that even switching to a BlackBerry-like device such as the Droid Pro just didn't feel right, literally.

two extensions to my browser that I can't live without

If you're not using LastPass, get it. It's a browser extension that generates random passwords and manages all your login information. Here's a NYTimes piece on it: LINK. Can't live without it. Plus, if you use multiple browsers (Chrome, Firefox, Explorer) you'll have the exact same access information all the time, regardless of which browser you're using.

Second, Bit.ly. Put their link creator in your toolbar and when you come across any article you're reading, it's an easy click to grab the title of the article (or any text you've highlighted) and create a Bit.ly shortened URL. You can then send it out via e-mail or twitter. Simple, super effective.

I use both of these products dozens of times a day.

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

No Vista woes but Windows 7 woes. Programs won't connect to Internet. Caused by new MacBook Air in the house?

It is a weird coincidence that the day my wife's new MacBook Air appeared in our house was the day Windows 7 started acting up on my "original Air" the Lenovo X Series.

I went through about two years of Vista very happy. Few crashes, no problems. Windows 7 has been great, until last week. Then inexplicably I was unable to access the Internet from most programs other than a browser--Adobe Air programs like Yammer, Evernote etc couldn't connect.

I tried everything, trolling through Google search results based on phrases like "Windows 7 won't allow programs to connect" but found nothing that worked. Finally I resorted to using my Lenovo Rescue and Recovery program to roll-back my machine to a month or more ago. Now it's working fine.

Any ideas anyone as to what happened?