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David A. West

Senior Internet Consultant & Professional Speaker

Canadian Social Media Advisor & Search Engine Strategist

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David West

Does it Take Technicians or Business People to Make “IT” Happen?

Saturday, March 21st, 2009

I first met Stuart Crawford several years ago at the Calgary Chamber of Commerce.  Like many networking events that I attend, we exchanged business cards and continued to meet others that day.  I didn’t think anything more of this meeting.  Boy, did I not see the freight train of a relationship that was coming my way.

Lost in LIMBO

At that time, Stuart was with a Microsoft computer support firm that was making some great strides forward in helping smaller businesses to avoid being lost in LIMBO (Lost in Microsoft’s Big Organization).  Stuart has a very unique passion that many IT guy’s simply do not have or if they do, don’t demonstrate it in the community.  This guys is passionate about serving the Calgary business community.

New Kids on the Block?

In the past few years, my friend has evolved and most recently joined up with 3 other wonderful leaders in the Alberta technology community to form Bulletproof InfoTech.  Bulletproof is much more than the typical computer repair or network services company, they understand how business works.

Bulletproof Info Tech is the new kid on the block. Not to be confused with “young and inexperienced”, this is a company formed by two major stable networking companies and a team of professionals who have brought together their strengths to make something that truly is bullet proof!

Does it Take Technicians or Business People to Make IT Happen?

The model that I have observed Stuart, Rene Sloos, Jeff Anderson and Sean Tindall provide to business in Calgary and Red Deer wraps technology with a very deep understanding of business.  Want to know more about Web 2.0?  Need to figure out what small business telephone system you need?  How about just getting your in-house mail server to work?  Bulletproof  has so far demonstrated professionalism, caring for business in Calgary and Red Deer and a deep understanding of how technology works. That is how technology works in alignment with your business needs.

One Size Doesn’t Fit All

I felt that Stuart’s friendship over the years, his commitment to business in Calgary and now Red Deer, and my new friendship with Rene, Jeff and Sean have warranted a post about them. It’s hard not to enjoy working with peers who all get excited about the evolution that technology and the internet have had on our lives.

Computer Support companies in Calgary are abundant. There are a lot of very talented and knowledgeable people in this industry.  If you need a solution that works, a company who cares and a group of guys you can have a business conversation with then Bulletproof InfoTech must be your trusted business partner.

When it comes to managing your information technology infrastructure, one size does not fit all… Vist the Bulletproof website here.

Tell me your thoughts on this… I would love to see your comment added below.

On another note, where do you network for your business? Visit the Calgary Entrepreneur site today.

Cheers –
David A. West

Skype Meâ„¢!

Can a free “office suite” really be useful in business?

Sunday, March 15th, 2009

Is OpenOffice.org 3 Ready for Business?

You can not discount the power of collaborative software development. After 20 years of community development, OpenOffice.org 3 is being used in business around the world. It is easy to use and allows you to save documents in a format that is approved by the International Organization for Standardization. If it is necessary to collaborate with other business people who are still locked into their vendor’s non-compliant document standards, OpenOffice.org 3 will allow you to downgrade your ODF documents to the format your colleagues are bound to by their current office software.

“OpenOffice.org v3 is the result of over twenty years’ of software engineering. A completely open development process means that anyone can report bugs, request new features, or enhance the software.”

What is OpenOffice.org?

OpenOffice.org 3 is the opensource version of the licensed StarOffice product available from Sun Microsystems.

“Anyone used to commercial software and its hyping and marketing speak will find OpenOffice.org 3 refreshingly different.”

“OpenOffice.org 3 is the leading open-source office software suite for word processing, spreadsheets, presentations, graphics, databases and more. It is available in many languages and works on all common computers. It stores all your data in an international open standard format and can also read and write files from other common office software packages. It can be downloaded and used completely free of charge for any purpose. ”

Technical support is available free of charge from community-sponsored sources (forums, mailing lists, etc.) or as a fee-based service from various third-party providers.

If You Prefer Licensed Software – Star Office May be an Alternative

If you like software packaged in shiny boxes with associated licensing fees and toll free numbers to call for help…

If you do want commercial support, the same software is also available as a fully supported and packaged product under the StarOffice brand from Sun Microsystems, one of the world’s most respected IT companies.

One user of StarOffice wrote “ I have Office 2007 and StarOffice 8 installed. I am constantly going to back to StarOffice because it is much easier to use and has more accessible features. Sure, many features are in Office 2007, but spending 30 minutes to find them is not my idea of “efficiency”. I love StarOffice.” — Brian B, Texas, USA

In addition to all of the components included with OpenOffice.org, Sun Microsystems bundles a number of additional applications and software components. Sun charges a fee for StarOffice, which it distributes under a relatively lenient, but still proprietary, software license.

StarOffice is easily purchased online and currently sells for $44.45 CAD. It is available for 5 operating systems.

What to Expect from a Transition to OpenOffice.org

Like any software, you should expect a transition or learning period when you upgrade to OpenOffice.org 3 from your current office suite – after all, it’s not the same software.  What you will find is that it is similar to the previous version of Mircosoft Office. It is user friendly and provides that majority of functionality that most day to day users enjoy. It runs smoothly on most operating systems and if it does crash it has incredible crash recovery. I have never lost a document in draft because of a crash.

What Not to Expect

You should not expect a heavily bloated office suite with hidden functionality that most business users will never use. You should not expect to be forced to “re-learn” how the office suite works every time there is a new version released because of radical user interface changes. You should not expect a major new version every 12 months that deprecates the prior version and forces you to “keep up” with the Jones’. Hmm, maybe that was a bit “over the top”… sorry.

Summary

In 2000 Sun released the StarOffice source code base under an open-source license, this started the OpenOffice.org project.

Open-source is a way to improve and develop software by utilizing the power of collaboration and communities – there is no denying that this power is what the Internet has given us as a gift.

Yes, I am an advocate of OpenOffice.org

It has served our business well and I am excited about the future of this project. Sun continues to provide key support to the project’s developer community. Since releasing the source code to the opensource community Sun’s developers have used “snapshots” of the OpenOffice.org code base for StarOffice releases.

Use OpenOffice.orgWe switched to OpenOffice as a standard over 18 months ago and continue to use it today. It runs gracefully on our PC’s, MAC and Linux operating systems (yes, we use them all). I have won a lot of work through proposals generated from OpenOffice. The recipients of our business proposals received PDF documents… it didn’t matter to anyone what office software I chose.

Learn more about OpenOffice.org here.

This respectful view was inspired by Stuart’s posting here, titled “OpenOffice is not for business“”.

Cheers

David A. West

Follow me on Twitter: davidawest

PS – we are just preparing, and in early beta, of our new business proposal software. Watch for it coming soon.

Don’t Miss this Boat…

Saturday, March 14th, 2009

10 years ago it was a tough sell to convince a small business that they should get a website. Today, most business owners and entrepreneurs turn to online marketing, and a website is usually first on the list.

There is more to online marketing today than just your business website. Are you missing the boat?

Read the recent post at my article on Web 2.0 & Missing the Boat here where we write about Calgary website design, marketing and other business related topics.

Web 2.0 & Missing the Boat

Some of David's Clients

  • Cir Realty
  • Canada Mortgage Network
  • Canasa
  • Calgary Residential