Privacy and Safety – Another Note

PC Magazine posted an interesting story about sexting. It seems that only teens and congressmen are stupid enough to think that things that are posted on the Internet are private. So you sent that picture with an app that’s supposed to self-destruct (…this message will self-destruct in 10 seconds)? Hopefully, you realized that all someone needs to do is to capture the screen while the image is up? You didn’t think of that? Someone will. Here’s the link:,2817,2413629,00.asp

Have this conversation with your teen…even if you think they don’t need it, and especially if it will embarrass you.


ERP, Ease of Use, and Computer Literacy

ERP software is critical for many businesses. Computer literacy, and the ability to figure out how to use a mouse, retrieve email, and operate standard software are not optional in the workplace. Businesses that try to simplify (read “dumb down”) operations to coddle users that simply don’t want to learn are missing the power of software to generate ROI.

Ease of Use

Software publishers have been making software easier to use. This produced improvements like the “role tailored” user interface and Microsoft’s “ribbon bar.” The goal has been to make software easier to use. More detailed goals include putting commonly used commands together. An example is the ribbon bar for the Sales Order Processing screen in Dynamics NAV 2013 (shown below, click for a larger image).

Three views of the ERP software Dynamics NAV 2013's ribbon bar interface.

Ribbon Bar (3 views)

This ribbon bar shows three different views (surrounded in black lines). These allow the Sales Order Processing user to access the items needed for processing an order. The ribbon bar has been “loaded” with icons; the user can simply remove the icons that are not needed, leaving a clean and friendly interface.

This is all well and good, but in some companies, employees still have trouble figuring it out. Usually, it’s not a big issue. It’s small things like, “I can’t get my mouse to stay on the icon, it’s too small.” Employers sometimes blame issues like this on software: “The icon should be bigger.” Maybe.

It seems to me that business is becoming more complex. More skills are required at entry level, and employees need to add skills at an high rate. It’s like the boom in the use of robots in manufacturing years ago. Do manufacturers avoid robots because employees don’t have the skill set?

Dealing with ERP Complexity

It is perfectly reasonable for employers to expect employees to have enough skills to use basic computer software. It is also reasonable for employees to expect that businesses will design processes in such a way that they can be done with efficiency. Once business processes are in place, the employee needs to adapt.

So if there’s someone in your organization that can use web-based email, it’s reasonable to expect everyone to be able to use it. This means the executives of the company as well.

Simply put: in order to prosper in business we have to do more with existing resources this means that we have to learn to use the software to it’s capacity. Coddling users by allowing them to avoid learning basic computer skills is damning them to obsolescence and making them unemployable. It is damning the business to increasing costs that may drive it out of the market.

Slow Software and QuickBooks 2013 Accounting Software

We’ve heard from several clients and through the grapevine that QuickBooks 2013 has significant performance problems, particularly with large databases. What constitutes a large database depends on who you ask, but I would generally say anything above 500Mb (0.5 Gb) is a large database. This has been reported on Pro and QuickBooks Enterprise Solution, and may affect other editions.

For now, the issues we are hearing about suggest that there may be a fix on the way soon. The performance issues are severe enough that I’d expect Intuit to have a fix for this soon. We don’t have any inside information, though.

For now, we recommend that you hold off on your 2013 upgrade unless your database is small or you have a very big need for a 2013 feature. I will post more information as we get it.

Office 2013 / Office 365

Most reviews that have the words, “At first glance it may seem as if Office 2013 doesn’t offer much that’s new…” end with the concept that there’s really something new and fancy about the newest release. This review from ends by saying that the new features are “more subtle than in past releases.”

All in all, there seem to be only a couple of things the article finds worth mentioning:

The screens have been streamlined to make work more productive

There are new, slick charts in Excel

Not sure that’s enough for some businesses.

The article is available here:

One thing that is useful in this review is the summary of the basic Small Business options for Office 365. If you’d like a trial of Office 365 to see for yourself, contact us using this form and select “Office 365 Trial”.