Mar 27, 2014

Automate Your Small Business Accounting and Save

Accountants, financial managers and chief financial officers don't come cheap. In 2012, the American Institute of CPAs reported an average CFO salary of $150,000, a heavy burden for young companies. While any company aiming to expand will eventually need to hire a financial staff to balance the books, a variety of software solutions now make it easier than ever for businesses to handle these tasks on their own. Here are some reasons your business should think about cutting costs and increasing efficiency using accounting software:

Save On Personnel Expenses

The obvious benefit of small business accounting software is the personnel resources it saves. But these benefits work in two ways: first, companies save by not having to hire personnel, reducing overhead. But even when you choose to manage financial and accounting matters on your own, the tasks still take time. Time and manpower are crucial for young, lean businesses. When you choose to handle financial matters on your own, it can have negative consequences in other areas of the operation.

The solution lies in using software specific to managing small business finances. Accounting software solutions are designed to provide the full spectrum of accounting services small businesses need. More importantly, these tools allow for accounting processes to be taken care of quickly, and in some cases automatically, without any personnel required.

Tracking Payables, Receivables, and Delinquencies

Managing invoices and receivables is critical for any business. If you aren't keeping track of the bills you are owed, you're losing money. Once again, this is where automated accounting software can pay off. If you choose a solution that offers online payment management, you can set up the software to receive payments on invoices from your clientele, Business2Community notes.
One of the most helpful features of accounting programs is the automatic updates to the status of outstanding invoices. When you pull up the software to check on your outstanding invoices, everything you need is readily available.

The Big Decision: When to Hire a CFO

While software solutions are a great way to save money on financial personnel, particularly in the early stages of a small business, any significant growth will inevitably mean you need to hire a chief financial officer.

There are a few internal indications that it might be time to hire a CFO, notes Forbes. If big financial decisions need to be made, and the company lacks a professional to offer information, insight and guidance on these matters, it might be time to hire. Depending on your industry, a CFO may also be instrumental in a variety of key growth areas, such as acquiring additional capital, managing government regulations and tax implications, and taking care of control cost measures, particularly as costs and financial matters change and grow more complex.

The good news is, when the time comes to make such a hire, you'll have the financial resources to facilitate such a move. And you can thank your accounting software for helping you reach this point.
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Mar 26, 2014

My New Favorite Twitter Client For Ubuntu: Birdie

For those of you who have been following the blog for a while know, I used to be heavily into social media. I was addicted! In fact, for a while when making Bauer-Puntu I made it based around social media. I would pre-install Twhirl when it was still around, then I switched over to Gwibber when it was still being updated.

Last year I got rid of all my personal social media accounts, but recently I decided to revive my personal Twitter account since I'm going through a divorce and feeling more social; and decided to install a Twitter client on my Ubuntu laptop again. Since my two favorite clients are no longer around I went hunting, and found one I like. It's called Birdie!

To install it in Ubuntu you first must be running at least Ubuntu 3.10. If you are at 3.10, run the following from the terminal to install:
$ sudo add-apt-repository ppa:birdie-team/stable
$ sudo apt-get update
$ sudo apt-get install birdie -y
After you install, Birdie is pretty straight forward. The only drawback I see is that it won't minimize to the system tray. I'd like to see that feature implemented if possible. Despite that, it is a pretty cool little Twitter client!

What do you use on Ubuntu for a Twitter client? Why do you like it? Let us know in the comments.

Mar 25, 2014

osTicket Core Review

I have written about osTicket in the past. It is a very simple, and easy to use help desk ticketing system that runs on a LAMP server. The first time I wrote about it was because I developed a way to integrate it with Active Directory and the second time I wrote about it, was because I found an easier way to integrate it with Active Directory. Both of those were hacks.

In this latest version, the developers of osTicket have given the system the ability to add plugins! Guess which plugin is available right out of the gates? That's right, an Active Directory authentication plugin! No more hacking PHP!

The next feature that I thought was awesome is the built in stats! They never had stats before which was a problem for management at my last two companies. They had no way of checking how well help desk and customer support personnel were performing. Well, now they can. Here is a screen shot from a server I recently setup:


Here is a list of features in the latest version:
  • Custom Fields
  • Rich Text HTML
  • Ticket Filters
  • Help Topics
  • Agent Collision Avoidance
  • Assign and Transfer
  • Auto-Responder
  • Internal Notes
  • Service Level Agreements
  • Customer Portal
  • Dashboard Reports
If you are familiar with osTicket, you will find the latest version just as easy and intuitive to use, but the built in stats and the Active Directory plugin really make this the best version yet!

Do you use osTicket? Are you thinking about upgrading? Do you use some other open source ticketing system? If so, which one? Let us know in the comments!

Mar 24, 2014

Unlock Domain Users and More From Your Android Device Remotely

I may have mentioned sometime last year that my current company (that shall remain nameless) allowed me to move to Colorado from California and work remotely. It was probably the coolest move any employer has ever done for me.

Now that I work remotely from home it gives me a lot of flexibility that I didn't have before, but because of that flexibility it also causes some grief. For instance, If I decide to run out and visit Walmart real quick, it almost never fails that I get a call from someone who has locked their account out in Active Directory because of fat fingers. Before I would sigh, and tell them they would have to wait until I got back to my computer. Well not anymore!

I've been using a tool in my company for a long time called ADManager Plus Free Edition. I've pretty much only used it for Active Directory cleanup and running reports, but I figured out another use for it. You can enable SSL on it, open it up to the public and use the free AD Manager Android app to connect to it and unlock users, reset passwords, disable accounts etc. Actually, a better idea would be to set it up internally, and configure your phone to connect to your network with VPN, then use the app to unlock users. It's up to you I suppose.

Either way you can do it remotely!

The free edition comes with all the same features as standard edition with the limitation of managing 100 domain objects at a time. If your company is small like mine, that is not an issue. If you are a larger company, you might want to fork over the cash for their standard or pro versions.

So now if I have to run down to Walmart, and one of my frequent customers calls to have me unlock their account, I can do it using just a few swipes on my Android device!

Do you use something to help manage AD users remotely? What do you use? Let us know in the comments.

Mar 21, 2014

Powershell Script To Email Alerts When A Domain Account Gets Locked Out

At my previous company we had a script that would get triggered on a domain controller if an Active Directory account got locked out because of too many login attempts. It was really helpful in being proactive when someone got locked out.

I decided my current company needed something like that too, and I found a really easy Powershell script that did the trick. You can download that script here (AD Lockout Alert Script) then do the following on your domain controller to send out the alerts:

  • Open Powershell on your domain controller and run the following to allow the execution of scripts: Set-ExecutionPolicy RemoteSigned
  • Save the Alert Script to c:\lockouts
  • Modify the To, From and SMTP server information in the script for your environment and save it.
  • Create a new basic task and use "When Specific Event is Logged" as the trigger.
  • Use the following settings for the trigger:

    Log: Security
    Source: Microsoft Windows security auditing
    Event ID: 4740
  • Select "Start a Program" for the action and use the following settings:

    Program/Script: powershell.exe
    Add arguments: -nologo -File "C:\lockouts\Lockoutalert.ps1"
  • When finished setting this up, set this task to be ran as System.
That's it! Now when a user gets locked out, whatever email address you used in the To field in the script will get an alert when any user account in your domain gets locked out. I recommend testing it with a test account.

Do you use a similer method for lockout alerts in your company? Do you do it differently? If so, let us know in the comments!

[Via SW]

Mar 17, 2014

How To Get LDAP Working in TeamPass With Windows 2008 R2

I mentioned last week that I setup a new password vault server at my day job called TeamPass. I also mentioned that it allows authentication with Active Directory using LDAP. I then proceeded to mention that there is a trick to getting it work.

Well, here is my post about how to do it.

Once you login to your TeamPass server with an administrator account you will want to do the following:
  • Go to Settings > LDAP Options
  • Set Enable users authentification through LDAP server to Yes
  • Select Windows / Active Directory from the drop Down
  • Click Save
  • Go back to Settings > LDAP Options
  • Under LDAP account suffix for your domain, they give you an example to use the @ symbol with a DN for your domain, like @dc=bauer-power,dc=net. Well that doesn't work. You need to just put in (Or whatever your domain is)
  • The rest you fill out using their examples.
  • When finished click Save.
Here is a screen shot of how mine looks:

You're probably wondering how I figured that out. Well I didn't actually. I found an obscure page on Google Code where someone had the same issue and that's what they did to get it to work.

Anyway, it works like a charm now and I can use my AD credentials to access passwords in our TeamPass password manager server!

Mar 14, 2014

Awesome Web Based Password Manager For Your Team

A long time ago at my previous company we wanted a central place where we could store passwords that were shared within the IT department. I setup Web Keepass at that time, but I'll admit it was kind of hokie because it was Java based.

At my current company (That shall remain nameless) we are currently using regular Keepass with a database file stored on a file share. This method works, but I much prefer having it on a central server like we did with Web Keepass, but this time I didn't want to use Web Keepass.

I also didn't want to fork over any cash for something like Secret Server when I knew that there would be just as good, or even better open source alternatives available.

Well I found an even better solution with TeamPass! It is not Java based, and runs on an Ubuntu LAMP server! From their page:
TeamPass is a Passwords Manager dedicated for managing passwords in a collaborative way on any server Apache, MySQL and PHP. It is especially designed to provide passwords access security for allowed people. This makes TeamPass really usefull in a Buisiness/Enterprise environment and will provide to IT or Team Manager a powerfull and easy tool for customizing passwords access depending on the user’s role.
TeamPass also has the ability to authenticate with Active Directory using LDAP. I'll be writing about how to set that up in Monday's post. It's pretty simple, but you have to know a trick to make it work.

What do you use for password management at your company? Why do you use it? Let us know in the comments!

Mar 11, 2014

Stay Sane on the Road with These Car Apps

The average commuter sits in traffic 38 hours a year, according to Texas A&M's annual mobility study. Those hours add up to $120 billion, or $820 for every commuter in the U.S. A study by AAA shows we spend $8,946 annually on owning and operating our vehicles. With so much time and money spent on our cars and driving each year, it's easy to feel overwhelmed just getting on the road. Eliminate some of your auto stress with apps that tackle commute times and figure out car repair costs.

Daily Commute

Daily Commute records your route to figure out when you'll arrive at your destination. Although you can use it the first time you launch the app, it can take a few commutes for it to hone in on the intricate details of your driving patterns and average traffic. Daily Commute can also tell you when you should leave the house and tell you how to avoid traffic at specific times and places.


The newly mobile optimized DriveTime site gives car shoppers a chance to browse through used inventory from any smartphone. Instead of taking copious notes at the dealers and heading back to your laptop at home, get info on the go to search for comparable vehicles. Search through Drive Time's inventory, get locations to find nearby cars and secure financing online all in one place.

Repair Pal

Recommended by the guys from "Car Talk," Repair Pal helps you find the best mechanics in your area. It can also figure out an estimated price for your repair so you know approximately what you should pay. The app cross references data from articles, reports and repair experts to pool together their info and resources in one easy to access app.


TomTom has been making vehicle navigation systems for years, and now has a smartphone and tablet app to take on the go. Daily map changes update dynamically to show speed limit changes or blocked roads. Hook into Facebook or Foursquare through your app to see where your friends have checked in and navigate the route to meet up. There's also a free speed camera alert to tell you when to slow down and watch for speed traps.


Twist doesn't tell you how to combat your traffic woes, but it does make sure everyone else knows when you're arriving if you're late. The app tracks your location, gets directions and helps you find your friends' physical location if they're also on Twist.

While you can track the location of your friends or colleagues on the app, it can also tell them where you are. Instead of trying to text and drive to tell your coworkers you're running late for a meeting, it updates your party and gives your estimated arrival time. And because it does the work for you, there's no awkward exchange with your boss on why you're running late.

Mar 5, 2014

Xubuntu Stuck in A Login Loop

penguin Tux, the Linux Mascot
(Photo credit: Wikipedia)
The other day my son was playing some games on my Xubuntu desktop PC when everything froze up. I'm not sure exactly what he did, but it was unresponsive.

Because of that I decided to reboot the computer and when it came back up I was presented with the Lightdm login screen. The only issue was that when I tried to login, the computer would think for a bit then just refresh the login screen. WTF?

The issue was that somehow the permissions got changed on the .Xauthority file in my profile. So this is how I fixed it:
  • Pressed Ctrl + Alt + F3 to drop into a terminal and log in.
  • Ran ls -alh to show all files and folders under my profile. The permissions for .Xauthority were something like
    -rw-------  1 root root   53 Mar 02 10:19 .Xauthority
  • Next I ran sudo chown username:username .Xauthority then rebooted
  • When the computer came back up I was able to login again.
Again, I'm not sure what caused this. If you know what would cause it please let me know in the comments.
[Via Ask Ubuntu]

Mar 3, 2014

OMG! I Can't Login To TimeTrex!

The other day my company hired a new office manager. This position handles payroll. The previous office manager was on maternity leave, and in her absence she had a temp running the show. Well now the original office manager and the temp are leaving, so there is a mad scramble to get the new office manager setup with accounts so she can do stuff like process payroll.

One of the tools we use for hourly employees is TimeTrex, which is an open source time card management program that runs on Linux. Well for some reason the previous office manager couldn't login to setup the new office manager with payroll administrator access.

No problem I thought, I'll just login and do it. Well shit! I couldn't login either! WTF!?!

Well I tried the password reset link, and it said it couldn't locate my email in the database. I decided to check the database and sure enough my account was there,  and so was my email.

I found this FAQ on the TimeTrex that tells you to create an override password. That didn't work either (Which I'll explain in a minute). Again, WTF?!?

At first I thought that maybe the database was corrupt. So I asked some of the hourly employees if they could login. They all could, so that gave me an idea!

I found this thread on the TimeTrex forums that talk about elevating a user's permissions to administrator. All you have to do is run the following command from the terminal from within your TimeTrex directory on the server:
sudo php5 tools/set_admin_permissions.php username
After that the username you used above is made an administrator. You can then borrow that user's password and login to fix stuff!

The issue was the temp office manager marked me and the old office manager as terminated in TimeTrex for some unknown reason. Because of that our logins were suspended, which is also why the password reset didn't work, and the password override didn't work.

After I made my account active again, I logged out, and was able to login again with my account. I then removed the administrator permissions from the user account I borrowed.

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