[ccc-news] Assorted News 7 🙂
In this edition:
New Statement System
Small Business Tax Tips?
A Samsung Laser Printer, only $74
Turn XP or Vista into a multi-user remote desktop server.
Documentaries on Joost
The Odd Jobs of the last month.
New Statement System
One of the challenges of being self-employed and small-scale like myself is that you often have to do everything yourself – including accounting and paperwork. Back in ’97 when I was starting out, I built a basic accounting system to produce invoices for computer repairs, as well as my dial-up ISP business. Over the years, it’s been added to, changed, modified, had GST integrated, then removed again, handling for VoIP accounts, etc.
One thing it didn’t do was any sort of automation regarding old accounts, which meant every few months I would have to go through by hand, reprint any unpaid accounts, and resend them. So, this easter, I took some time out to build in a statements feature, which at the beginning of each month, after EFTs and cheques have been entered, will generate printed statements and envelopes. I made a rule that statements will only be sent if an invoice has not been paid 30 days after it was sent, and that statements will only be sent by mail as I have a suspicion that emailed accounts are increasingly getting lost in inboxes or junk folders.
Hopefully, by sending accurate statements to people in a timely matter, it will help with tracking down missing payments for both parties 🙂
Some Small Business Tax tips:
Last year, tax time, I changed from a tax agent to an accountant, and learnt a few new things that saved me a bit of money…
Note: I’m not a qualified accountant, so this is general information only, and there’s a fair chance I might be wrong or it might have changed! Like the ABC says, the information in this email is general in nature and should not be taken as personal professional financial advice.
Turnover less than $75,000 per year? If so, you may be able to deregister for GST. The positives: Less paperwork, Cheaper rates for residential customers. The negatives: you cannot claim GST for Items you purchase for the business. So far, since I deregistered from GST, I have had very few problems. (This used to be $50,000 up to a few years ago.)
Sole Trader: If you can keep your turnover below $50,000 per year, you may be able to claim for the “Entrepreneur’s Offset” which can drop your end of year tax by 25%. Note that this benefit is available at higher turnover, but reduces as your turnover increases. Opinion: Testing this against turnover rather than profit is a silly thing in my opinion as having a high turnover does not necessarily mean a high profit. Example: I buy a DVD Burner, then sell it to a customer. My turnover is $60 higher, but the profit is $0 for the sale, yet I lose out in tax. This encourages a cash economy.
This week’s biggest bargain is from Dick Smith Electronics. For just $74 you can buy a Samsung Laser Printer. It’s only a black and white printer, but it does 22 pages a minute, and gives about 1000 pages on the provided toner cartridge, with replacements having a higher capacity. This compares favourably with ink printers that often only give you a couple of hundred pages per cartridge. http://www.dse.com.au/cgi-bin/dse.storefront/47ef456604eed6802742c0a87f9c0754/Product/View/XP0602
The only caveat I’ve found with this printer is that it has only one tray – so if you want to print on envelopes you have to remove the envelopes when you want to print on ordinary paper again.
Turn XP or Vista into a multi-user remote desktop server.
If you’ve ever worked in a fair size office, you might be familiar with remote desktop connections – where you operate a work computer from a remote location. Normally, if you do this with XP, you can not use the computer at the same time as someone else. However, there’s a little trick you can play on XP that will allow you to have up to three people using it at once simultaneously. It involves replacing one file on the computer with an older version that predates Microsoft’s decision to force people to buy server versions. (And it works on Vista too by the way.) This can also have unusual uses – for example, say you have a nice new computer at home, and one or more old computers, laptops, whatever. You can use these old computers to remotely drive the new computer even while someone else is sitting in front of it and using it. (I did this recently when my main laptop died – I had an old Pentium 1 laptop running XP, Office 2007, Firefox, etc, at full speed.) The old computers will behave like the new computer since they’re just acting as terminals while the new computer does all the work.
If you want more information about this, write back, or do some research for concurrent users in xp.
Documentaries on Joost.
You might remember Joost from a previous newsletter – an internet-based TV replacement. Lately some nights there hasn’t been anything much worth watching on TV, so if you’ve got a decent unlimited broadband connection (1.5M or faster) you might like to check out some of the nature doco’s on Joost. http://joost.com/02000b0 – I can also help with getting your TV and computer talking to eachother.
The Odd Jobs of Last Month…
Perhaps one of the most bizarre jobs of recent times – a customer complaining of a computer that would restart itself whenever it was left alone for a few minutes – but would be just fine while it was being used. This would normally indicate a dodgy screensaver, but in this case it wasn’t. I eventually witnessed that the fault only ever happened when she got up from her chair! In the end, it appears that the fault was due to new carpet, and possibly a USB extension cable that was resting on it. That is one temperamental computer!
Missing the Obvious:
Another customer has an office with two computers, both Vista, with one sharing files with the other. After repeated problems with files taking up to a minute to open over the network and trying Vista SP1 on both PCs which was rumoured to fix other issues, I brought in two extra Vista laptops to join the network and help pinpoint the fault. As testing began, one of the customers told the other, jokingly, that it was the other guy’s Norton 360 causing it, even though up to that point in the testing process it didn’t seem to be the case. However, about 10 minutes later, it turned out he was right! The fault, it turned out, only affected Vista Home Editions talking to eachother when Norton 360 was installed. Vista Business / Ultimate editions weren’t similarly affected. So it was bye bye Norton, hello AVG. (Note – I did disable Norton during testing but even when disabled it would still break things.)
Beating the Gouge.
Another customer had an old stock tracking program that he’d been using for 7 years on a Windows 98 PC. However, when we tried to put it on Vista, there was a glitch in the program that prevented it from being activated by the authors. He was looking at upgrading, at a cost of $1,500 – not cheap! The problem was solved by using Microsoft Virtual PC to make a clone of his old PC onto his Vista laptop. Now, he can carry on as usual. (This trick doesn’t always work as it depends on how the particular softwares registration process works – in this case the program he had was oblivious to the apparent hardware upgrade.)
It’s All Gone 🙁
One customer lost a fair bit of information when his Western Digital hard drive in his computer died without warning. Another customer’s PC did the same thing a week later. Western Digital drives like to die this way, giving no warning. Fortunately in both cases, they had a backup.
Aah well, that’s it for this newsletter – hope you all had a good Easter break!
Sadly, the old friend of ours died a few hours ago, peacefully, aged 87.
You can find old editons of this newsletter on the CCC Blog. http://auzzie.net/cccblog/