Reckon Accounts Pro 2013 error Error 1920. Service QuickBooks Database manager Service (QBCFMonitorService) failed to start

Today I upgraded my laptop to Windows 8.1 Pro. By ‘upgrade’ I actually mean backed up, formatted & installed Windows cleanly. It went surprisingly well and was pretty fast. The only Microsoft glitch I had were some updated that failed to install until after I rebooted, then away they went (though they gave me no indication that a restart was needed).

I’d been running QuickBooks Pro 2012/2013, so it was time to install the new version – Reckon Accounts Pro 2013. And this is where I went around in circles.
The product is supported on Windows 8, but the installation failed with “Error 1920. Service QuickBooks Database manager Service (QBCFMonitorService) failed to start.” The installation would then roll back.
This kb was hopeless:http://www.quicken.com.au/kb/issue_view.asp?ID=4906
And another kb was hopeless that told me to delete a bunch of folders (that hadn’t been created) and try it again. It mentioned that my installation was having trouble connecting to the company database file, which made no sense seeing as I’d pick the stand-alone client option (as our company file is on our file server, no my laptop).

My laptop had no anti-virus software on it (yet) and no previous versions of QuickBooks.

Unfortunately the error is a bit generic and had to search for, because 1920 is the standard windows error code for any service failing to start.
But the solution actually wasn’t that complicated after all. Compatibility mode!

Here’s what worked:
Browse to the contents of the DVD and find the autorun.exe file. If your ‘file extensions are hidden’, you’ll see a few autorun files listed, but only one of them will say Application in the type column:
Capture2
Right click that file & choose Properties. Then put the tick on to run in Compatibility mode as Windows 7:
Capture

Click OK and run the autorun file. My installation then completed successfully, without any errors.

So far I haven’t needed to run the program in compatibility mode, just the installation.

And there you have it. After my lost productivity/time to figure this one out, I hope it saves somebody else! It’s just a shame that solutions like this aren’t easy to find, especially in the software maker’s own knowledge base.

-SCuffy

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When business & IT collide.

I had the pleasure of showing a team the features of their new CRM software. Have I lost you yet with how boring that sentence is? Fortunately the reality was far from boring.

To me – the CRM system is a plugin to a Joomla website. There are some bits I can configure & some bits I can’t (especially as I’m not the Joomla site admin nor do I ever ever want to be.
To the business owner – the system means no more monthly fees to a Cloud CRM system. This one off purchase will last her for at least 3 years and will handle the growth she is expecting. It’s also one place to see how her sales pipeline is looking & to get instant access to the conversations had with & information that’s been provided to her customers & prospective customers.
To the team members – this is a ‘central console’, one place to get a picture of what they have on the go and what others are working on too.

So you see, I’m the only person who views this system with technical eyes.

The business owner sees the results she can get from it and the capability it will give her.
The team members see how it can track the work that’s being done & how it will help them organise their next move.
THIS is the value of I.T. This is truly ‘information technology’ at work, delivering business benefits.

The session was purely run by demonstrating how to create & edit information & how to report on it. It was filled with ‘what happens when’ and ‘if we do this, what would enter into the system’ type questions. 99% of the answers actually had more than one way of doing things and were solved by refining the business process or drilling into more detail about what they actually do right now, without this system in place. As nervous as they may have been about learning a new system, they walked away with lightbulb ideas about how they would be using it.

Bliss.

Now they’ve been sent their logons. Even more importantly, they’ve been given a test Person and a test Company to play with. Change details. Create, edit & delete deals. Play. Try. Do.

This is not the Rolls Royce of CRM systems. It’s also not the prettiest web-based software I’ve seen. But right now, it suits them. It’s functional without being overly complicated. And sometimes that’s all you need.

Don’t be distracted by new, shiny things. Be inspired by how it will actually help your team to do their jobs (and help you to do yours).
When business & IT collide, in a good way, it’s actually pretty exciting.

-SCuffy

Vodafail by another name: 3 Mobile demands payment during overseas trip.

Brace yourselves – this is a rant.

In my opinion, mobile phone companies are right down their with real estate agents and used car salesmen. But let me lay out the facts and you can decided for yourself.

After receiving a wedding invitataion, we decided to pack up the kids and head to Wellington for a 10 day holiday. We’re self-employed with clients who rely on us, so by ‘holiday’ I mean ‘time away from the office’. We accept that our lifestyle means our phones come with us and so does the laptop. Then again, we didn’t have to get annual leave approved.

As bad luck would have it, someone’s server decided to have an inexplicable brain fade on the first business day of our holiday. This meant a number of phone calls and SMS messages over a 48hr period. A big number. Fine, that’s the cost of having your own business and deciding to go overseas, without staff back home to handle it. I was expecting to pay a premium for it.

Our first contact from 3 was an SMS asking us to contact them about our bill, currently $338.  No biggy, I thought, I knew why the charges were high. Great customer service that they are warning me that there might be something dodgy going on, or I may be unexpectedly be racking up mobile data charges by putting my happy snaps on Facebook.

The next day, Tony missed a phone call then I received a call from a blocked number. The Indian call centre wanted to talk to me about the large bill. But because I couldn’t remember the PIN number I had set on the account 9 years ago, though I could tell them a million details about the account, they refused to talk to me about the account. I explained the situation to them but they refused to listen.

Two minutes later, we both receive an SMS stating we needed to call 3 urgently about our $883 mobile bill or our account would be terminated. W T F ?

So, Tony calls them and explains the situation, to be told the following: 3 Mobile are allowed to demand immediate payment of a large overseas roaming spend or terminate our account. Note, we are on a business post-paid account here. And apparently this little clause is in the terms and conditions (not that I can find them on their website). So, we’re out sightseeing with our family, with no access to the internet and facing termination of our mobile service WHICH IS ESSENTIAL TO OUR BUSINESS.

We asked for them to extend the deadline until close of business the next day, still extremely unhappy about the whole thing.

Once we’ve returned to our friend’s house, I jump on the internet and can find no way to pay our account. Being post-paid, it’s normally taken out by 3 via direct debit, so I have no BPAY history to them. I could do a new BPAY payment if I had the reference number off my bill .. which hasn’t been sent to us and I don’t have last months because it’s back in BRISBANE. It’s not even viewable on the ‘My 3’ website.

Rock, meet hard place.

I’m not a young backpacker who doesn’t know how global roaming works. I still think it’s a complete rort that telcos get away with such huge roaming charges. I understand there’s extra admin between the visited country and the home country, to get your costs back to your home bill. But the extra amount they charge for that is ridiculous. This is Australia & New Zealand we are talking about, 3 & Vodafone (or should I say Vodafone & Vodafone).

But to demand that the phone user pay that amount immediately or be disconnected is complete bullying tactics. And to point out ‘it’s in the contract conditions’ is a complete waste of time and a cop-out. I’m still yet to find this clause, by the way.

So, that’s the first part of the saga. I’ll update you when I have more to add. Right now I’m starting down the barrel of another phone call back to 3 to hand over my credit card details presumably to pay the bill that I’ve just incurred. So much for monthly post-paid.

Let this be a warning, all you business owners. If you ever go overseas and, heaven forbid’ actually need to use your mobile phone for business purposes, you better keep your credit card handy and stand by for the call from the accounts department. Because, like me, I’m guessing you won’t have read all of the fine print of the mobile service you signed up for 9 years ago.

-SCuffy.

When Breastfeeding becomes your PR disaster

OK, this one is a ‘mini-post’ to ‘get the subject off my chest’ – yes, pardon the pun.

On the news yesterday we heard of a mother who was approached by a staff member at a council-run public swimming pool, because another swimmer was uncomfortable with this lady breastfeeding her baby at the poolside. The mother was embarrassed & humiliated and chose to leave the pool. To her defence, she stated that she was supervising her other children who were still in the pool. It’a also against the law to discriminate against breastfeeding mothers in public places.

I don’t like confrontation myself, and I would have done exactly the same thing – left. She had a right to feel upset and now it’s hit the national news and turned into a breastfeeding in public debate.

To me, it feels a little like a time warp that we’re even having this conversation. Again. But I’m not going to tackle that side of the story. I’m going to talk about the staff.

The council-run pool had a couple of opportunities here. The first was training their staff before the event. Teaching them what they should and shouldn’t do, what the law is, how to handle customer complaints. We don’t know if that was done or not. The second was the staff member involved. Did they talk to a supervisor before approaching the mother, to check it was ok or not? We don’t know. It’s not even reported that the staff member asked the woman to leave or to cover it. She may have just said that someone else had complained. That would make me uncomfortable enough to leave, even though I had a legal right to stay.

In hindsight, it’s easy to see what should have been done. The staff member should have said to the compaining person ‘I’m sorry you’re uncomfortable but she has a legal right to feed her baby here” and left it at that. Perhaps the staff member was a peace-maker who thought any confrontation would be calmed by quietly mentioning it to the mother? We don’t know.

What we do know is the stunning amount of silence coming from any pool representative. No explanation, no public apology, no ‘we were wrong in how we approached this, breastfeeding mothers are welcome here’. Media silence. This is how you turn a complaint into a PR disaster.

Every complaint gives an organisation an opportunity to turn things around, but they can’t ignore it, especially when the media is involved. And if they sit on it for too long before speaking up, the public goes ‘oh well, now you’re just trying to save face because you’ve been bad-mouthed all over the news’.

The caveat on this is that I’m not a PR expert. But as someone passionate about business, my thoughts went into problem-solving mode. What went wrong? What should have been done then and straight after the incident?

There’s a Seth Godin-like lesson in this. Businesses, please talk to your staff this week about when you legally can ask someone to leave and about how they should handle a customer complaint.

And mums, keep feeding your bubs when they are hungry.

-SCuff

To the cloud .. or not? (A personal account)

To the cloud .. or not? (A personal account)

This isn’t intended as a comprehensive argument on how to evaluate if Cloud Computing is right for you or not.  I’ve written it to show where we use Cloud Computing in our own business, and where we don’t.  As most of my readers aren’t IT Providers, you may find something relevant in this, or you may not.  But I’m a firm believer in recommending the best solution to a client for their individual needs, so our own decision on Cloud Computing has been based on our current business needs.

To the Cloud … Website, System Monitoring, Ticketing & Job Management

Website – We have our own server, and it currently hosts our http://www.ctaspley.com.au website (as at Feb 2012).  We did this because we could, when we started our business nearly 8 years ago. It gave us full control of the website and a chance to practice with website publishing, in an environment that wasn’t too critical (and was backed up).  Since then, our franchise has developed WordPress sites with common themes on a hosted server at another location.  I’m slowly customising (re-writing) the content of those pages and when I’m happy with it, we’ll change our website address to point to this new site.  Our website will then be ‘in the Cloud’ .. so to speak.  The downside? I won’t have full control over all of the design elements. But you know what – I don’t really care. I’m happy with the structure and as long as I can update the content to suit, I don’t need to change the design.  In this case, we are the exception to the rule, as most businesses don’t host their own website anyway.  And if you did want full design control, there are plenty of hosting companies that will let you have that.

System Monitoring –  Now we use some pretty amazing software that monitor’s the health of our client’s computer systems, especially those errors that are screaming silently into the event log. Our access to this is through the Internet to a server managed by a fellow Computer Troubleshooter in New Zealand, who also provides access to North America and the UK.  Whilst the company we buy this software from doesn’t have this internet hosting capability, our NZ group have paved the way for our global franchisees to use this in the Cloud. Once again, I have no control over the server. Once again, I don’t care. As the information on this system is only really useful when it’s real-time, it will re-generate on the current status of the systems when it comes back up.  There are also other monitoring providers that have cloud-based systems as an option (or the only option).

Ticketing & Job Management – Details of our work, including billing hours, are stored in a cloud-based system. This is far more advanced that the previous in-house effort, for a fraction of the cost, plus it has the advantage of the input from thousands of other IT providers in terms of functionality requests, bug reports etc.  At worst, we stand to lose our historical data to some extent – the data centre has hourly backups and offsite backup storage. This information is transferred to our accounting software too, so we have two sources (one in-house, one in-cloud) of our billing information.  And once again, as long as the system works, I’m happy to do the data entry and let the provider take care of the systems administration.

Not in the Cloud … Financial software, Applications, Email and File storage

Financial software –  Our financial software is something that I would have considered using a Cloud-based version of. The problem is that Cloud versions are not compatible with the integration we get from our Job Management software. In English, if I do a job and bill some time, I can transfer that invoice directly to the financial software installed on my PC. I can’t transfer it to a Cloud-based financial system.  So, to save double data entry, the financial software is staying on my PC.

Applications & Email – As an IT Provider, we’re fortunate to get a great deal from Microsoft on their computer software. This includes the latest versions of pretty much anything, so we can use them, learn them and recommend them.  And while some may argue that many Cloud apps are free, I like my Microsoft benefits and most of my clients run Microsoft software too.  It’s a bit hard for me to troubleshoot or duplicate an Outlook\Exchange problem if I use gmail, or a Word problem if I use OpenOffice. Ever heard the term ‘eat your own dog food’?

File storage – Our files are on our server, because we could. Once again, we had the means to have our own server, support it ourselves and experiment with it. Primarily, it provided our email, website, file storage and printing.  We could also experiment with it. So it made little sense to place our file storage in the Cloud, with our local server handling the job quite nicely and also giving us remote access to these files from the Internet anyway.  Yes, it’s backed up.

We did contemplate switching our server to ‘play only’ mode – making it a box that we ran up when we needed it, instead of it being on 24×7. After moving our website, we could have setup a print server box, a Network Attached Storage device (NAS) for our files (or gone Cloud), and moved our email back to our franchise headquarters (as a POP only service, which would have limited some of our functionality).  But we like having a server because it keeps our skills current.

So, as you can see, it is possible to run a mix of in-house and Cloud IT solutions in your business.  You have to weigh up the pros and cons of each, and also look at the big picture. What’s the point in moving to Cloud for email if you still have a server doing file and print?  Where do you think you will save money? If you think that IT support is expensive, have you looked into a Managed Service (with a fixed price and a results focus) instead of support at an hourly rate?

I’m not saying ‘don’t investigate the Cloud’. It’s enabled us with some capabilities that would have been significantly more expensive to do in-house.  And that’s where I think it absolutely rocks for small businesses.

If you want to look at Cloud Computing, make an informed decision that looks at the bigger picture of your business needs, your current IT infrastructure and your support costs.  Whatever route you decide to go, as long as it supports and enhances those three principles, you’ll be on the right track.

Cloud computing picture

-SCuffy.

Attention!!!! All your personal files were encrypted with a strong algorythm RSA-1024 …

.. and you can’t get an access to them without making of what we need!

Read ‘How to decrypt’ txt-file on your desktop for details

Just do it as fast as you can!

Remember: Don’t try to tell someone about this message if you want to get your files back! Just do all we told.

*Eeek*  If your computer’s desktop has suddenly turned very pale and is displaying the above message, I hope you have a good backup*.

Computer Troubleshooters franchisees started to see reports of this from November 25, 2010.  The virus ‘Trojan.Ransom-U’ is ransomware – it hijacks your files and renders them unreadable, threatening to delete them completely unless you wire transfer $120 and email datafinder@fastmail.fm  The ransom note is contained in the How to decrypt files.txt file on your desktop.

Your virus scanning software may detect a strangley named executable file (.exe), where the name is a random string of  numbers and/or letters. 

At the time of writing (Nov 29 2010 AEST), there is no known way to clean or un-encrypt your files.  The only recovery steps are to turn off Windows System Restore, scan and clean your computer in safe mode and restore your files from your last known-working backup. 

If you are fortunate enough to be reading this BEFORE your own PC has become a victim, follow the advice from Lloyd Borrett for AVG to secure your Adobe Acrobat PDF Reader software, with a few changes to its settings: https://ctaspley.wordpress.com/2010/08/24/protect-your-pc-against-adobe-pdf-reader-security-flaws/

Oh, and make sure your backup is working 🙂

*  For single PCs, we recommend Carbonite Online Backup

Protect your PC Against Adobe PDF Reader Security Flaws

Not an original blog entry this time, but advice definately worth sharing from the security experts at AVG – thanks Lloyd!

Melbourne and Amsterdam, 13 August 2010 – It should go without saying that the best way to deal with malware is, of course, not to get infected in the first place.

Lloyd Borrett, Security Evangelist for AVG (AU/NZ) says, “Being aware of what products are being targeted by the bad guys may help you as well, so it may be useful to know that at the moment Adobe products are virtually the number one target across the world with millions of PCs being hit by infected Adobe PDFs. Others are being pwned via Adobe Flash ads via Facebook and other social media web sites.”

Attackers send a file that has malicious code embedded in it. Once the file is opened, the computer is infected, typically with some form of identity theft malware that then steals data.

The Adobe PDF and Adobe Flash browser plug-ins are also used in “drive-by download” attacks where malware is downloaded onto the PC while the user is surfing the web.

“Adobe products, just like Microsoft Windows and Microsoft Office, have near universal use on home and business computers making these applications prime targets for the bad guys,” Borrett continues. “Unfortunately, since the bad guys realised this and turned their attention to finding security holes in them, they have been very successful.”

Of course, the easiest way to avoid the risk of being compromised via these Adobe products is not to install them! However, this is virtually impossible for most home and business Internet users.

So if you must use Adobe Reader, then please take the time to secure it.

How to secure Adobe Reader  

  1. Open the Adobe Reader application and choose ‘Edit’ and then ‘Preferences’.
  2. On the left you will see several different categories of options to modify.
  3. Under the ‘JavaScript’ category there is a checkbox ‘Enable Acrobat JavaScript’. Make sure this checkbox is not ticked/selected so that you disable Adobe Reader’s ability to run dangerous JavaScript from a PDF.
  4. Under the ‘Security’ category, to specify that digital signatures are handled securely make sure the ‘Verify signatures when the document is opened’ checkbox is ticked/selected.
  5. Under the ‘Security (Enhanced)’ category, make sure the ‘Enable Enhanced Security’ checkbox is selected to help with data protection and privacy.
  6. Under the ‘Trust Manager’ category we’d recommend you disable Acrobat’s ability to call external applications to handle non-PDF file attachments. So, after the ‘PDF File Attachments’ heading, make sure the ‘Allow opening of non-PDF file attachments with external applications’ checkbox is not ticked/selected.
  7. Then click on ‘OK’ to exit changing the preferences.

Adobe is working to address the security vulnerabilities in its products, so it’s vital to make sure you regularly check for updates to Adobe Reader, Adobe Flash and other Adobe applications. Turn on the automatic updates so that your Adobe software stays up-to-date.

Borrett adds, “And also don’t forget to install a complete security suite solution like AVG Internet Security that will provide you with total protection as you work, shop, bank and play games online.” 

AVG (AU/NZ) has a comprehensive range of security tips for home and business users on its web site at www.avg.com.au/resources/security-tips/.

About AVG (AU/NZ) Pty Ltdwww.avg.com.au

Based in Melbourne, AVG (AU/NZ) Pty Ltd distributes the AVG range of Anti-Virus and Internet Security products in Australia, New Zealand and the South Pacific. AVG software solutions provide complete real-time protection against the malware, viruses, spam, spyware, adware, worms, Trojans, phishing and exploits used by cyber-criminals, hackers, scammers and identity thieves. AVG protects everything important and personal inside computers — documents, account details and passwords, music, photos and more — all while allowing users to work, bank, shop and play games online in safety. 

AVG provides outstanding technical solutions and exceptional value for consumers, small to medium business and enterprise clients. AVG delivers always-on, always up-to-date protection across desktop, and notebook PCs, plus file and e-mail servers in the home and at work in SMBs, corporations, government agencies and educational institutions.

Talk to Us

Siobhan MacDermott

AVG Technologies – Investor Relations

E-mail: siobhan.macdermott@avg.com

US Mobile: +1 415 299 2945

For more detailed information please contact:

Lloyd Borrett         AVG (AU/NZ)      03 9581 0807

Shuna Boyd         BoydPR      02 9418 8100