Why We Use Excel, Google Sheets, AND Libre Office Calc

When we were first starting the business and saving every single penny mattered, we shunned buying a lot of expensive software (x 4 people) and instead embraced free open source alternatives like Mozilla Thunderbird and Open Office. As time went on though it became apparent that we needed Microsoft Office, particularly Excel, for two main reasons. First, the advanced tools in Excel could make real positive impacts on our business when it came to higher level data analysis like forecasting. Second, other companies we work… Continue reading


Happy to be Finally Paying for Google Apps Premiere

One of the goals of our company has always been to keep as much of our data on the web as possible, preventing the loss of a single computer from hurting us, and making it simple for anyone to get up and running on a new machine in minutes. We’ve also always tried to have redundant backups of everything. However unlikely, it’s always possible that the worst case emergency scenario can happen. Back in 2008 we migrated all of our email to Google Apps. Along… Continue reading


Officially Addicted to Texter

Did you ever discover a piece of software that is so simple and so useful that it almost seems amazing that it isn’t standard on everyone’s computer?  This past weekend while reading Lifehacker, I saw a reference to a free text-replacement tool called Texter that they created and were hyping up.   After reading all of the positive comments, I decided to take it for a spin. The tool cuts down on keystrokes by replacing a keystroke pattern with a pre-defined string of text.  For… Continue reading


Hello Songbird, Goodbye iTunes

I love open source software.  There’s something fascinating to me about a community of passionate developers being able to release highly customizable software that is equal to or better than the commercial alternatives.  As I wrote in a post last year, our company uses almost all open source software, both because of the affordability and because of the extensibility. My office suite is Open Office, my email client is Thunderbird, my browser is Firefox, and my image editor is (although GIMP is just as… Continue reading


Becoming a Web Based Company

Lately I’ve been realizing just how fast technology changes. In December I wrote an article about our company embracing the open source software alternatives: So we came up with a plan. We would have a set of desktop workstations (one to start) that have the full Adobe Creative Suite Master Collection (the $2,500 one) and Microsoft Office Professional 2007. Our laptops would then use the OSALT (open source alternative). Aside from that warm and fuzzy feeling you get from using great open source software, this… Continue reading


Pandora Knows Me Better Than I Do

Sometimes it takes me a while to do things I know I should do. Case in point: in October I read this fascinating feature in Inc. Magazine about Pandora entitled Pandora’s Long Strange Trip: Online radio that’s cool, addictive, free, and-just maybe-a lasting business. Pandora has developed a proprietary method to analyze music–Westergren calls it the music genome–that lets users create online radio stations generated by the software’s recommendations. Tell Pandora your favorite song is “Casey Jones” by the Grateful Dead, and within seconds it… Continue reading


Hulu is Changing the Way I Watch TV

When hulu – Fox and NBC’s joint online video venture -was announced I didn’t give it much thought. ABC already allows people to view episodes of popular shows online, so I figured this would be much the same. Mike signed up for the private beta but I didn’t bother. After getting his invite Mike told me it was awesome so without much thought I decided to put my name in for the beta and see if I could take it for a spin. Now I’m… Continue reading


Dominating With Our Shopping Cart

In my post earlier this morning I mentioned that this was probably the most productive week of my life. It’s partly because I’ve become an early riser, but mostly because we’ve had such success with the Detailed Image shopping cart that it’s eliminated a lot of the questions we had about our company direction. The back-end automation, SEO friendliness, and built-in upsell system have more than doubled sales and we’ve recognized that continued efforts in e-commerce are probably our best chance at using our skills… Continue reading


Using the Open Source Alternatives

A little over a month ago I posted about using Mozilla Thunderbird as an Outlook replacement, and how our company is planning on transitioning in to using more open source software.   As I said back then, we’re anticipating having a staff that grows by a handful of people each year for the next few years, and – as any small business should be – we’re concerned about software costs. So we came up with a plan.  We would have a set of desktop workstations (one… Continue reading


Using Thunderbird as an Outlook Replacement

In the next five years we anticipate that we’ll grow to have a somewhat sizable staff, probably 10-15 people. A few programmers, a book-keeper, a “secretary” (or whatever the politically correct term is now), a warehouse employee for Detailed Image for packing and shipping, a customer service rep, etc. One of the biggest hidden costs for an upstart bootstrapped company like us is software. We have the same problem you do: we want to use the open-source alternative but it always lacks the functionality of… Continue reading