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While browsing the news today I found an interesting article on BBC. The article talks about web-standards and how most web-sites fails to follow them. The result of this is that all these web-sites block out all their disabled users who need alternative browsers.

As you might have read in our article ‘Why Your Site Should be Multi-platform,’ we strongly support the usage of web-standards in order to not block out any users. There are standards set by the W3C on what HTML should look like, but sadly enough, these are not widely obeyed. Microsoft has, mainly due to a dominant position of Internet Explorer, been able to abuse their position and ignore the rules. Hence, many (unskilled) web-developers today only build their web-sites for Internet Explorer, and ignore the standards.

However, with the increased popularity of FireFox, many companies are starting to realize that they’re actually loosing business by not having a compatible website.

The web-sites surveyed revealed that:

  • 93% failed to provide adequate text descriptions for graphics
  • 73% relied on JavaScript for important functionality
  • 78% used colours with poor contrast, causing issues for those with colour blindness
  • 98% did not follow industry web standards for the programming code
  • 97% did not allow people to alter or resize pages
  • 89% offered poor page navigation
  • 87% used pop-ups causing problems for those using screen magnification software

Not only do these web-sites discriminate against disabled people, but, from of a business point-of-view, they probably loose plenty of potential sales.

How can a disabled person purchase something from a web-shop when they can’t browse it?

How can can a disabled person find information about a product or service on a website that fails to support their browser?

Is your/your company’s web-site following the web-standards? The W3C Validator will give you the answer.

Read the entire BBC-article here.

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Introducing YippieMove '09. Easy email transfers. Now open for all destinations.

As I mentioned in my article ‘Save $1,285 per Computer and Still Remain Business-ready,’ I’ve been a long-time user of Open Office, and I really like it. However, there are a few drawbacks that have been bothering me lately. Then again, if you add the price of Microsoft Office into the equation, the choice becomes more complex. Sure, hands down, Microsoft Office is more powerful (even though it has several ‘features’ I’d rather be without).

Until recently, I haven’t found any features that Open Office lacks that I really need. However, lately I’ve been doing a lot of statistics, and within this field Open Office does lack some features that Microsoft Office comes with. There is a set of macros called ‘OOoStat’ which make Open Office a better tool for statistics, but it still doesn’t beat Microsoft Office.

Open Office lacks native support in Mac OS X. Since I switched to Mac, this is something that really has been bothering me. Sure, you can still run Open Office using X11, but it comes with some drawbacks such as long startup-times, low performance, and issues with the clipboard (cut and paste). I know the Open Office team is working on a native-version right now, but no stable release is available. At this time, the only workaround as I know of is NeoOffice, which is a Java-based ‘native’ OpenOffice. I was running this for a while, but went back to the X11-version due to NeoOffice’s low performance and high memory-usage.

Open Office is clean, neat and you know what it is doing. Being open source, you potentially have full control of the software. You also know exactly what information is being sent away from your computer (even though tools like Little Snitch can solve this for other softwares). Another benefit with this is that it is much more likely to be secure. So far I’ve never heard of any macro virus targeting Open Office. Sure, part of the explanation for this is the fact that the number of users is lower, but the code is also more well-written.

Open Office also supports export to PDF, Microsoft Office-files and most other common file-formats. Microsoft’s Office on the other hand only support their own formats. If you want export to PDF-files in Windows using Microsoft Office, you need to purchase Adobe Acrobat (or a similar product). I should probably add that if you’re running Mac OS X, you have the built in PDF-exporter, so this doesn’t apply.

To wrap up, Open Office is a great piece of software, but it comes with some drawbacks such as no native support in Mac OS X, and some lack of features. But still, if I were to choose between paying $400-some dollars for a license of Microsoft Office or live with the drawbacks of Open Office, the choice is quite simple. In my honest opinion, Microsoft Office is far too over-priced and the cost is certainly not justified. If you’re working with regular spread-sheets and text-documents, Open Office is enough. Also, if you’re running windows, Open Office runs natively, so you don’t need X11.

Open Office 2.0.4 running in X11 on Mac OS X.

Microsoft Office 2004 running on Mac OS X.
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Introducing YippieMove '09. Easy email transfers. Now open for all destinations.
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Category: Technology

We had a couple of hours of downtime last night due to a server failure. Sorry about that guys. I know that the timing was bad just after we put up out great hedge funds article.

We’ll invest in redundant servers as soon as we launch our product. It’s hard to justify that kind of expense before our release though.

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Introducing YippieMove '09. Easy email transfers. Now open for all destinations.

(In the scope of this article, I assume a typical office-environment that include standard PCs running Microsoft Windows with Microsoft Office.)

Everyone knows that buying software can be really expensive, and I can see why both private users and businesses sometimes use illegal copies of software. However, I can also see why software is expensive. Software companies put plenty of money both into R&D and into marketing. Both sides have good arguments: users of pirated software claim that they would buy the software if it wasn’t that expensive, and the producers claim that if it wasn’t for piracy, they could lower their prices.

Anyhow, I’m not gonna tell you who’s right and who’s wrong, I’m simply going to give you another option. Here’s a little question for you: Do you have to use the same software as ‘everybody else’, or are you brave enough to think outside of the box?

If you’re one of the people who would consider themselves ‘brave enough’, I have a little surprise for you; you can save between $1,264.97 to $1,284.97 per computer in lowered licensing costs, and you don’t even have to switch away from Windows (if you don’t want to).

So what is the secret? Nothing new really, but surprisingly few companies realize this. By using alternative softwares, these large savings can be achieved without really losing anything.

  • Open Office – The alternative Office-suite.
    • You don’t need to pay for Microsoft’s over-priced Office software. Open Office offers you the about the same possibilities as Microsoft Office, but for the great price of $0. Sure, I admit it, there are some few functionalities in Microsoft Office that Open Office lacks, but they are really not that many. I’ve personally used Open Office for the past 5 years or so, both professionally and in school, and still have not found any reason to switch back.
    • Features: Open Office offers you the same features as Microsoft Office. That means: a Word-processor, a Spreadsheet application, Presentation software, and a database application.
    • Drawbacks: As far as I see it, none really. Open Office can import and export files to Microsoft Office, and the person on the other side won’t even know the difference. The only drawback that I can possibly think of would be if you are a high-end power user of Microsoft Office and use tons of macros and similar features. In that unusual case there might be some problems. However, if you’re just an average Office-user, there’s really no problem to switch. Chances are that you can barely tell the difference.
    • Price you save: $419.99 for Microsoft Office 2003 Small Business to $439.99 for Micrsoft Office 2003 Professional
  • Thunderbird – The alternative e-mail client.
    • The price you save by using Thunderbird will be related to two things. First, you don’t need Microsoft Outlook (which comes with Microsoft Office). Second, you don’t need to worry that much about viruses. Surprisingly few people out in the business world realize that the main reason why viruses are such a big threat to them is because of two things; they use Microsoft Office (and Outlook), and they use Microsoft Windows. The fact that you need Windows might be something you cannot do much about due to special applications etc. But you can change your e-mail client and Office suite. The reason why the combination of Microsoft Office (with Outlook) and Windows is such a dangerous combination is that it is heaven for a virus- or spyware-creator. Both Microsoft Office and Windows are filled with bugs that make it very easy for malicious softwares to flourish.
    • Drawbacks: Thunderbird is not a calendar application. This is simply a e-mail software, not a complete solution for both contacts, calendar and e-mail.
    • Price you save: $0, but expect far fewer headaches and reduced amount of viruses, so you do save something.
  • Firefox – The alternative Web-browser.
    • The reason again for switching over from Microsoft Internet Explorer is primarily security. More and more users switch to avoid all pop-up windows and spyware that usually goes hand-in-hand with using Internet Explorer. I’ve had plenty of first-hand experience of this. A couple of weekends a go I had to go through 20-some PCs to clean them from spyware. They all were running Internet Explorer, and the users complained about decreased performance. After removing all the spyware, installing Firefox (and removing all icons to Internet Explorer), I haven’t had a single complaint.
    • Drawbacks: The only drawback would be that some certain web-pages won’t display properly in Firefox. However, that’s because of the fact that the web-designer didn’t follow the standards that are defined by the W3C for proper HTML (see our article Why Your Site Should be Multi-platform for more details about this issue).
    • Price you save: $0, but you will be able to surf the web with less worries and more efficiently. And you do save money in reduced maintenance costs.
  • The Gimp – The alternative graphics software.
    • The Gimp is a great tool for image manipulation. Some people even argue that it’s more powerful than Adobe’s Photoshop. I wouldn’t go that far, but I would say that it is certainly good enough for any average graphic designer who only does simple web-graphics or similar jobs. I use The Gimp for all my graphic needs, which include web-design, image optimization etc.
    • Features: Pretty much all you would require from this kind of software. You can import and export files to work with Photoshop without any problem if you need to do so.
    • Drawbacks: Honestly, it’s not as powerful as Photoshop and it doesn’t have all the features of Photoshop.
    • Price you save: $599 for a copy of Adobe Photoshop CS 2.0
  • ClamAV – The alternative Anti-virus software.
    • They say the only certain things in life are death and taxes. Well, the only certain thing in Windows is viruses. You will, sooner or later, be confronted with viruses (whether you know it or not). A anti-virus software is really something you need.
    • Features: Search and remove viruses. Simple as that. Not as fancy as many of the other anti-virus applications, but it does get the job done.
    • Drawbacks: Just like I said above, it’s not as fancy as the other ones, so if you’re looking for eye-candy, this is probably not what you’re looking for. The software doesn’t come with features like anti-phishing and anti-spyware, but since we’re running Firefox instead now, that threat-level is significantly reduced. Since Firefox both comes with built in anti-phishing and spyware-protection, we can still sleep well at night.
    • Price you save: $244.99 for a copy of Norton Internet Security.

So what is the conclusion to draw from this article? My purpose for this article wasn’t to make you implement all the changes that I suggested in the article (but if you’re considering doing so, that’s great). My reason was simply to open your eyes. Just because ‘everybody else’ uses some software doesn’t mean that it’s the best possible software on the market. Sure, people might look at you funny when you suggest to switch away from the industry-standard, but that doesn’t mean that you’re wrong. A couple of hundred years ago the smartest people on earth thought that the Earth was flat, and everybody who argued the opposite was accused of being crazy. Sometimes being different is not all that bad. Personally I’d rather spend the money I saved on licensing costs on a new server or something that will actually make a difference.

If you have any comments or feedback, don’t hesitate to make your voice heard. I’d love to hear what you have to say.

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Introducing YippieMove '09. Easy email transfers. Now open for all destinations.

The other day me and Viktor were thinking that Viktor sure gets a lot of attention because of his awesome webcam. So we figured we ought to get one too! After all, I have a great view of Silicon Valley just out my window here. We could be the ‘Valley Cam’ or something catchy like that.

So we went down to Fry’s on Hamilton, found the IP enabled cameras and headed back. We scouted the best position of the camera, where it could be outdoors without being rained upon and so on. Once satisfied we happily went to configure the wireless networking functionality.

The camera we bought didn’t have wifi. It was the one camera in a whole section of IP enabled webcams that didn’t have wireless support!

Duh. So now we have to return it since we can’t get a cable out there. Well, at least we tried.

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