Friday, January 29, 2016

Guake clone / Quake like console for windows command prompt

Guake is a linux terminal that works in the Gnome and similar desktop envirionments. The concept comes from first person shooter games where a hotkey would open a console to type commands or chat with other players.

I searched for a similar program to replace the windows command prompt (cmd.exe).

I found a program called "cmder" and had it just about where I wanted by tweaking around with autohotkey. As I was then tweaking around the cmder settings, I noticed a checkbox under Main->Appearance that said "Quake style slide down".

OH! Guess I don't need that autohotkey anymore.

I selected that and then, as suggested by a hover-tip, went to the top level of "Keys & Macros" and the top option is "minimize/restore (Quake-style hotkey also)".

I selected that, set my preferred Hotkey and I was ready to rock!

BONUS! includes some BASH functionality, mostly geared toward interacting with GIT.

I didn't like the appearance settings in cmder as much as I do Guake, but I got it close enough to what I wanted after messing with it for a while.

If you're looking for a Quake console or "tilde" style terminal for windows, I think cmder is the way to go.

A common use-case for me is simply pinging a URL to verify what IP it's on. This is important when moving a website from server to server or otherwise adjusting it's DNS. I found it very convenient to simply hit my hotkey and have a console directly available instead of having to find and run cmd.exe. I'm certainly glad I installed this.

Thursday, January 14, 2016

CoWork Tampa

If you are the owner of a very small business and you're currently working out of your home, you may have considered how you might remove yourself from the distractions of home to make yourself more productive.

If you live in one area but frequently have to work in another, you may be accustomed to going to a library or coffee shop to do a little work. These have opposite problems. In the library, you can't make a phone call because you might disturb the patrons. In the coffee shop, you can't make a phone call because the patrons might be too loud and disturb your call.

The solution to either of these issues is a co-working space.

 The space I have chosen is elegantly named "CoWork Tampa". Not much on naming creativity, but it gets the point across. The plan I'd suggest for most single person companies is just $77/month and allows you access to the facility during business hours. (9-6) but they also offer round the clock access for another $20/month and a dedicated desk where you can leave your stuff for $147/month.

The co-working space is currently 9 round tables with overhead extension cords so you can sit down and plug in. They have a decent WiFi system and it doesn't get too loud.

If there's an exception to "doesn't get too loud", then wearing some earbuds and jamming to your favorite music is a decent work-around.

There's free parking, free coffee and a pool table (free, not coin op)

If this sounds like an advertisement, maybe it is a little. Let them know you came through me and I'll get a little kickback.

OH, They also have small offices from $650/month to $1200/month +$77 per extra person.

Check them out if you fee like it.

The prices I mentioned are accurate as of 2016/01/14 but are subject to change at any time.

Here's my current situation.The CoWorking area is occupied this week, so the owner lets coworking members take over an office or dedicated desk. I pulled up their web-page on my browser for the pic, you can see the $400 price. That's the office I'm in.

Pretty cool. When the time comes that I actually NEED an office, I think $400/month is a good deal considering I don't pay for electricity, internet or COFFEE  

Wednesday, January 13, 2016

New Business Owners, Don't Get Scammed!

When you start a new business, there are a lot of people that want your money.

You may have to pay state, county and even city taxes. You have to prepare for federal income taxes. Let's not forget your employees and vendors.

There's another group of people that would love to separate you from some of your hard earned dollars. They may skirt the edges of fraud, but I'll certainly call them scammers.

These are the folks that send solicitation for "services" that are disguised as government fees or domain registrar notifications.

Let's tackle the domain registrar issue real quick. If you have a website, then you should own your domain name. If you have a strong relationship with your web developer and he owns it for you, that might be okay, but make sure that either way, you know who the registrar is. (GoDaddy, Network Solutions, Active-Domain...)

Expiration Notice:
Scammers will check publicly available information, see that your domain expires soon, and try to trick you into switching to them at an unusually high price. If you get a domain expiration notice from someone other than your registrar, ignore it. If you get a notice from your registrar, have your web developer or webmaster verify the information.

Alternate Domain Names:
Some scam companies will send out letters with language that you can almost hear the frightened tone in the text, warning that your domain name is available in other endings. (We technicians call these "TLDs") Those TLDs are quite often obscure and foreign. So, you have to ask yourself, do you CARE if your domain is registered with ".asia" or ".kr" at the end? Unless you are trying to do business in areas covered by these TLDs, you probably don't. If you do, check with your current registrar or a trusted business coach to get the correct domain at the best price.

There's a variant of this with slight misspellings of you name. Registering those might be a good idea, but be sure to do it with your own trusted registrar.

Compliance Posters:
The U.S. Department of Labor and your own state government will require you to post certain information visible to your employees. You can print your own, or one of your vendors, perhaps your payroll company, might offer them for free as a bonus. You can find legitimate companies to purchase them from as well. Don't get suckered in by an official sounding letter that threatens fees or fines if you don't comply. Ask your business coach for more details.

Annual Meetings:
I know of this from a Florida specific viewpoint. Please confirm the details for your own state.

You may be required to have an annual meeting, but you don't have to pay to file it. You keep it for your records. You file an annual report each year between 1/1 and 4/30 to keep your business active. (Corporation or LLC). The cost, as of 2016, is $150.00 or $138.75. This is done at the state website,

The wording of these scams vary, but the theme is that they try VERY HARD to look like government documents. They offer you the "service" of preparing your Annual Meeting Notes. Don't be fooled. Be ever vigilant and ask your business consultant before you pay any fee that you don't recognize.

Certificate of Status:
Very similar to the annual meeting scam, there really is something called "Certificate of Status" and it costs about $5.00 or $8.00 at Companies will offer to obtain one for you at a cost of $60 or more. Quite the bargain! You may never need one anyway, but if you do, just visit and get one there.

These companies stay in business because the skirt the law. They are right on the edge of trickery and fraud. If you read carefully, you may see their disclaimers.

One day soon, I'll write about those that don't care about the law and disclaimers. Those that will outright steal from you and disappear into the night.

Thursday, January 7, 2016

Avoid fraud when doing business abroad

There may come a time in the progression of your business that the United States just isn't big enough for you any more and you need to reach across the border to Mexico, Canada or even across the ocean to Europe, Asia and the Middle East.

Each destination has it's own challenges. One considerable challenge is international fraud. You don't want to become a victim and you don't want to innocently get pulled into a fraudulent scheme.

Do your homework. Know the U.S. laws and the foreign laws concerning the type of business you do before you get started in the other country.

Read more about this and other issues here: Small Firms Doing Business Abroad

Wednesday, January 6, 2016

Buy a Giant Balloon

In Tampa, Orlando, Jacksonville or even way down in Miami, if you're looking to rent a searchlight or giant balloon, I've already written about my client, Giant Balloon Rental, where you can rent these items and more.

What I haven't mentioned is that Giant Balloon Rental also sells balloons.

My suggestion is that you start out by renting a balloon. Once you've determined the best style and size of balloon for your product and location, buying a balloon will likely save you money. Once they are deflated, that are compact and easy to store.

You can also purchase wind dancers, also called "wind tubes", to advertise your business.

If you've decided to buy a giant balloon, consider a custom made advertising inflatable to match the branding of your business.

Visit for all your outdoor advertising.