terça-feira, 3 de maio de 2011

The last post

Hello, everyone. I've kept this a secret for a while, but it's time to tell you the truth: this is my last post... from blogger, that is! I noticed that you, my readers, would also like to see some exclusive content, so I've moved to wordpress and split this blog in two, as follows:

I'm sure you'll love the new design of both blogs: it's much cleaner, easier to read and streamlined. 
    Have fun!

    sexta-feira, 22 de abril de 2011

    Exclusive article: V for Vendetta.

    I just wrote an exclusive Triond article that talks about this amazing Graphic Novel. V for Vendetta isn't your ordinary comic: it's a one-of-a-kind work. Read more about it here: 


    and don't forget to press 'like' if you do like the article!

    quinta-feira, 21 de abril de 2011

    Using Yammer to increase workflow and reduce dependency on email lists

    Hello, everyone! I'm sorry about the lack of daily updates: it is because I've been writing a lot lately. Anyway, I'm excited to show you the article that just got approved: this one was written for Yammer through MediaPiston. For those who don't know, Yammer is company that sells integrated communication solutions to over 100,000 companies. No, I didn't get the number wrong. Check out their website. (By the way, I got 4 stars out of 5 for this article – pretty nice for a company this big, isn't it?)

    Anyway, without further ado, here is the article.

    Do you know how old emails are? 10 years old? Of course not. 17 years old, dating back from 1994? No, not even close.

    Believe it or not, emails are a technology dating back from 1962, when the first rudimentary electronic network was created. That would be... 49 years, considering it's 2011 right now! This means, of course, emails may be older than you ever imagined they were. In fact, they might be older than you are.

    Since emails have been there for so long, you probably also know what email lists are: you setup a server, and then addresses may be added automatically (as people send emails through them) or manually (as you setup a private list. Setting up a mailing list also requires you to decide if you want them to be "announcement lists," (a type of list that only sends email), "discussion lists" (where everyone is free to join – not very suitable for internal communication, right?), and the subscribing model. Oh, let's not forget spam, which requires a lot of time and money to get rid of.

    This is your typical 1962 computer – it's amazing how old emails
    are and how they have evolved together
    with technology, isn't it?
    Another problem inherent to emails, as you might have already noticed, is their slow response time: if you need something solved now and you only have an email address – well, don't count on it. Having a phone number might help these times – but what if you need to send messages to everyone, quickly?

    Right after that, corporate (and internal) communication tools were born. These you might already know: Windows came with one built-in in their earlier versions. However, they were still very limited. It was the release of tools like ICQ that changed everything: now you could interact with a co-worker or employee even if they were outside of work, and messages were sent instantly. Then, MSN, AOL, Yahoo Messenger, and many other tools were born. However, the many choices of a myriad of tools also meant co-worker communication could be very hard – very quickly. If you are old enough (and now you don't have to be that old), you can probably picture yourself as John, James, or both of them.

    John (on the phone): Hey, James. Say, I need to discuss some company issues quickly and send you a report. Do you have an MSN account?

    James: Sorry, buddy. I only have an ICQ account. I don't trust MSN. It just keeps crashing.

    John (irritated): Well, can't you create one?

    James: Ah, that stuff is too complicated. Can't we discuss this through email? You attach the report and I get it as soon as I can.

    John: (*Sigh*.) Ok. Bye.

    John and James after they traded emails. They don't look very happy
    about  the outcome of their conversation, do they?

    Not to your surprise, the issue that was so urgent took more time than the expected to be solved, right?

    Attempting to solve all these problems, many other social media tools that were born just the last decade: Facebook, Twitter, Myspace, Digg – even YouTube can be considered a form of social media, however visual. Now these were even better: no need to install software, friend searching, customizing applications: you could create an entire different world – your world – within your own account. Unfortunately, these tools lacked what the seriousness of the email and the sense of urgency of instant messaging.

    Let's face it... can a company handle all this information? What to choose, among all of these tools? And why did I read up to here only to read about Yammer? What's so special about it?

    The reason Yammer is unique is that it changed the whole corporate communication system: before 2008, the answer would be to deploy your own communication strategy, alternating between a myriad of tools. But no more. In 2008, Yammer was born – and now, 3 years later, it is even more powerful than before.

    You see, with Yammer you don't need to choose between tools: Yammer can unify them all into a single solution for you, with no need for installing any software at all – that means no crashing, reduced maintenance needs and improved workflow! Key features include:

    • Send long messages through email integration, or short, instant ones with Twitter (or Google Talk) integration.
    • Connect everywhere, from nearly any phone: Yammer supports iPhones, BlackBerries, Androids, Windows Mobile – and even regular cell phones through SMS integration!
    • Don't you like the official Yammer apps? Access Yammer through many third party apps: Gabble, OneLogin, itDuzzIt – even a Firefox extension is available!
    • Is the flow of messages too large for you to handle? No problem – specify the keywords you need and Yammer will search relevant data for you!

    Wait – you might protest – you haven't described how to reduce dependence on email lists!

    Indeed, I haven't: that's because there's no need of setting up email lists when you use Yammer: after all, Yammer only allows connections from within your network. This is because, to sign up, all you need is an email address and your business contacts, and it also translates into no spam and a productivity increase of up to 60%.

    After hearing to all this, it may seem Yammer is expensive: in fact, it isn't. Yammer is "Freemium": you can get access to the most basic services for free, and advanced services cost only $5 per user/month.

    You don't trust us? Great. Skepticism is good! Trust the 100,000 companies and organizations that opted for our services instead. They include, but are not limited to: UNICEF, Fox International Channels, AMD, LG, eBay, PayPal – and so on.

    Guess what all these companies have in common?

    Yammer: THE Freemium integration social network.

    sexta-feira, 15 de abril de 2011

    Child's play: Underwater kites fly deep under the ocean and turn the sky green

    This article was originally written for Cooler Planet, Media Piston's client, who requested an article about Green News.

    I bet you have never seen this kind of Kite

    The sky has never been greener. Minesto, a Swedish company specialized in converting tidal currents into green energy, has created undersea kites that will expand United Kingdom's green energy. Called "Deep Green", this project has ambition of amplifying UK's power supply by 1% by 2020, but if the projects goes well, this kind of technology could provide the country up to 5% of their technology in the future, Minesto's press release states.

    A video demonstration of Minesto's Deep Green Technology 

    Although skeptics comments in Minesto's Youtube video question the idea, stating that it may not generate enough energy or threaten Marine life, or be threatened by algae comments both at Youtube's link and Daniel Carrington's blog (the head of the environment section of British news portal "The Guardian", pro-tidal visitors state that "the device is noisy, and unlikely to attract Whales and Sharks", that the device can be made algae-resistant either "chemically or electrically", and that tests could be made in a few areas to ensure this device can be redesigned not to harm marine life, if needed. It's also worth noting that the project has been under development at least as early as 3 years ago, as reported back then by Clean Technica, another news site about green energy.

    A fact, however, cannot be denied: United Kingdom's government is not going to give up the idea anytime soon. RenewableUK Wave Tidal 2011, for instance, states that "the UK is already the global leader of wave and tidal energy", which is being held today, as of March 2nd, 2011. This event will discuss the technology's future, which is heavily competing with alternative energy sources as renewable gas technology, solar panels, recycled landfill gas, and wind turbines (which, among them, one that deserved praise, according to Clean Technica, is the AeroEnvironment Architetural wind, capable of adapting to urban areas and architeture and "producing 28,000 Kw/hour under normal wind conditions".

    Despite the challenges renewable technology has to face, any new, renewable green technology is welcomed. Oracle ThinkQuest Education Foundation, for instance, states that as of now, ways to permanently handle nuclear technology – one of the major energy alternatives to coal today, are not satisfactory, as it usually takes thousands of years for nuclear energy to be fully decomposed. Therefore, extracting energy from the ocean can prove to be a great source of energy – even more reliable than, for instance, wind technology, as wind currents are not always reliable.

    1. Minesto's website:  http://www.minesto.com/news-2

    2. Daniel Carrington's Environment blog:

    3. Clean Technica News portal:

    4. Oracle's ThinkQuest Education Foundation:

    quinta-feira, 14 de abril de 2011

    Why buy a Mercedes?

    This article was originally written for Mercedes-Benz of Bellevue, a branch of the ever-sophisticated Mercedes-Benz. It tells you about the Mercedes E-class – and why you should buy it.

    When you buy a car, there usually trade-offs as, "should I buy a car with a more powerful engine or the one that will save me money?", or, "should I buy a car filled with accessories or one that will last?"

    Security, economy, handling, choose as you wish: a Mercedes E class fares among all them very wisely. Although only a little slower than a Lexus in accelerating - an E350 will go up to 60 mph in 6.8, and the E550 up to 60 mph in 5.3, against 60 mph in 5.2 seconds in a GS450h, having a Mercedes E class just feels a lot smoother to drive: the new Bluetec technology achieves about 30 mpg in a highway, compared to 23 mpg of a Lexus. Buying a Mercedes not only is Luxurious, but it is Luxurious to suit your needs and safety: AttentionAssist, for instance, tells drivers when they are drowsy, and Pre-safety ensures you will rest assured: unlikely the Lexus GS450h, it doesn't act during the collision: the E-class has 200-meter sensors that will react to any danger before it happens, from moving seats to a less threatening position to the passengers to dynamically adjusting airbags that fit the frame of a person, light-framed or heavy-framed; small or tall.

    A Mercedes-Benz E-Class – in all its Glory.

    If you insist into buying a Lexus, you have a few options to choose from: 
    • Lexus of Bellevue: 101 116th Avenue Southeast Bellevue, WA 98004-6365, phone: (425) 455-9995. 
    • Lexus of Seattle: 20300 Washington 99 Lynnwood, WA 98036, phone: (425) 774-7900. 
    • Lexus of Tacoma: 1708 40th Avenue Ct E, Fife - (253) 922-7100.
    But, if your choice is a Mercedes E-Class and the safety, comfort and sophistication it offers (included being government-tested, with excellent ratings, compared to Lexus GS450h, which was not government-tested yet), visit Barrier - the Mercedes-Benz of Bellevue - which complies to everything a Mercedes offers:
    • Customer care hotline.
    • Online service scheduling - why bother going out home? Schedule services in your house easily and safely! 
    •   90 day Barrier extended guarantee for pre-owned vehicles - because we trust our work!
    • Urgent care service, with no scheduling needed - because we're there when you need us, anytime.
    If you need to contact us, don't hesitate - here's our address: 
    •   Mercedes-Benz of Bellevue 11950 Bellevue - Redmond Rd Bellevue, WA 98005 Sales: 1-866-509-9650 
    • Service: 1-866-509-9649

    quarta-feira, 13 de abril de 2011

    Travel All Over the World for Just a Few Cents (Client: Park Plaza Hotels)

    This article was originally written for Park Plaza, a big chain of 40 hotels spread in 15 different countries. It was rated "5-star" by my client.

    Westminster Hotel, London

    Does a romantic trip all over the world sound like a fantasy to you? Well,  Park Plaza deals are here to prove you otherwise. You see, Park Plaza is present in 15 countries worldwide, with a pleasant choice of 40 hotels to choose from. With them, you can taste London's finest breakfast, enjoy the lovely scenario of Amsterdam with your loved one riding a bike, or witness the beautiful scenario of Bangkok. A trip like this need not be expensive, but you can still have the luxury that you deserve. 

    Sukhumvit Hotel (Lobby)

    Let's explain how Park Plaza makes your trip all over the world cost less than half a penny: first, you pack your luggage and fly through one of their airline partners to London, earning gold points. Then, you spend a night into Westminister Bridge London, one of their most Luxurious hotels, opposing Big Ben. After that, when you decide to travel to Park Plaza Victoria Amsterdam to enjoy a typical Amsterdam bike walking, you can use those gold points to get a great discount – while still earning more free points. Then, you go to their Sukhumvit Bangkok hotel, which offers stylish facilities, and from there you rent a car from one of their partners, visiting central Bangkok to eat exotic thai food. In the end of your journey, you might have so many points you might earn a free flight and stay into Liau Hotels in Brazil, Sao Paulo, so you can enjoy the typical warmth of Brazilian people, witnessing a tropical paradise and their wonderful hospitality.

    If you visit Victoria Amsterdam Hotel,
    you'll have the opportunity to visit
    this city's famous canals.

    Do you think your advantages end there? Think again. We from Savings.com offer many deals and coupons from many different companies, among them: cloth shops, bookstores, electronics shops, drugstores – you name it. When your dream comes true – because that's certainly not of a matter of "if", but "when" – you'll certainly be able to send "those" special shoes for your best friend for almost free, too. And, if you visit our site, you may also grab a Park Plaza discount code: after all, you never known about the wonderful surprises that are waiting for you.

    quinta-feira, 7 de abril de 2011

    Right, I write

    Right. All Right. I write, and it's past midnight. Left, the pen, right there. And from my head, nothing comes all right!

    Stiff, stuck, stopped and blocked. And then, I'm back to my computer – I am completely locked.
    Right, All right. This is not poetry; this is prose. And yet – just yet – I feel the need to express myself freely, properly.

    Right, all right. Nothing comes to my mind. Over and over I read different books wanting inspiration and then I break the rules of punctuation and the commas suffer and the periods suffer. And then, no inspiration – no motivation – to write.

    But hey, it's ok, right? Over and over, the same words I write – and then, thinking I'm escaping from these rhymes, I do the evolution:

    Right. All right. Nothing comes to my mind. And then – just then – I get away from the computer and grab a pen.

    As I write, my fragmented thoughts become organized; as I write the same words on a different sheet of paper,  shit happens – then, shit vanishes.

    No, not right. In fact, this is completely wrong. You aren't reading this; this text doesn't really exist – but that's how my text is, and published with all the might and courage it shall be!

    (P.S: What do you guys do when you feel your writing feels the same all the time? Leave me a comment.)

    domingo, 3 de abril de 2011

    Document generation software, part III: how to impress your boss quickly and easily

    Monday. Another rainy day at the office. As your boss arrives – grumpier than his usual self – he says: 

    "Joe, I need you here. Now."

    Your heart pounds. Sure, your boss is a person with lots of responsibilities – but something looks definitely wrong. What could it be? Did you miss something important? Does he think you're killing off time during your work hours? Did he find someone else to replace you? – No, that can't be. You have always been a dedicated employee. Maybe not perfect, but you've always been there. 

    But then, what could he possibly want?
    Your heart pounds. And then, it races. But you need to go to his room and face what he wants. And, trying to be as calm as you can possibly be – at least on the inside, you walk into your boss' room, expecting the worst. 

    "Joe," – he starts talking again, showing now nervous and anxious he is – "we have a reunion with one of our most important clients today, and that company said that they need to see a report showing how concrete their return of investment has been 6 months ago and wants to see how estimates 6 months from now. We only have one hour to get this data and to create a presentation that will impress them, so hurry."

    Your heart pounds. How come you have been told just now of something so important?! How can you do that in one your with the complicated reporting tools you have at your disposal? And – most importantly – how can you do that in one hour? You need to use all that complicated software again and do the job thee times: once to get the data, another to get it imported into the file format you want, and, finally to tweak your presentation – because, more often than not, your presentation will be broken "out of the box", and you need to tweak it!

    Knowing how much is at stake, you tell yourself, "I'm so fired. I can't do this in one hour."

    Stop right there. Who told you that you can't do this? You can! But we have bad news and great news: the bad news is that there's no software that can do that in an hour. The good news, however, is that there's something out there that can do it in less than five minutes. 

    The Light at the End of the Tunnel
    Meet Windward Reports. Windward Reports, this is Joe User. Joe User, this is Windward Reports – wait, what am I saying?

    Believe it or not, Windward Reports  knows you already. Although you probably don't know much about it, this software knows what type of user you are, what you want, and what you need to get your job done as painlessly as possible. But how come, after all, that Windward Reports knows about what you need?

    The reason Windward Reports knows and understands you is because they have been spending years researching what you really need and want. After experiencing it, retrieving information from a database with a program and then using another program retrieving information from a database and then using another to get your presentation formatted into a certain file (DOC, DOCX, PPT, PPTX, et cetera) will be a thing of the past. And why is that?

    You see, Windward Reports is something different from the competition: after it gets installed, all you need is to use Microsoft Office to get your job done – and you'll need to do it only in a single step, which will take not an hour, but five minutes. You can get as innovative and flashy as you want, or just as austere and minimalistic – you see, Windward Reports is versatile, and can impress you with many different template styles – or you can easily create your own in Word, just as you are always used to do. No longer you'll need to read lengthy instructions about how to get started: now, it is you that are in control – not your software.

    Wait – what are you still waiting for? Hurry! Convince your boss to purchase Windward Reports right now: buying it takes less than one or two minutes, as it is available digitally. Also, integrating it into your workflow will take virtually no time. After your purchase, watch as your wonderful presentation gets generated instantly – getting your boss out of his grumpy mood and getting you some time to relax. In fact, your buss might be so happy about that deal with his big client he might give you a big promotion.

    sexta-feira, 1 de abril de 2011

    Document-generation software, part II: how should them be?

    You already know the story:  your company is growing and you need standardized tools to generate help manuals, FAQs and technical manuals in multiple languages. Maybe, just maybe, you are a computer-savvy user already, and even tried free alternative like LaTeX or Docgen yourself.
    But let's face it: some tools are very time-consuming. Do you really want to get a book to Learn LaTeX or to face the limited quirks of Docgen?
    No, I'm sure you don't.  Therefore, document generation tools should be easy and reliable to use, and provide a minimum learning curve.

    How a document-generation tool should not be.

    • A good document-generation tool should not be outdated. Take a look at Docgen again. As you can see on their site (http://sourceforge.net/projects/protege-docgen/) the last update was two years ago. That's a lot of time! Who knows how many bugs are lying right there, waiting for some hacker to get them exploited?

    • A good document-generation tool should not have a bad support team. And this is not just the problem of Docgen; many open-source tools, as LaTeX or Doxygen, have an informal support team that consists, basically, of technical members – usually developers of the project themselves. That would be all nice and great, except for something: they hate when laypeople ask them "dumb" questions. Well, newsflash: of course they are "dumb!" The developer knows everything about the project, and the user just to generate his report and be done with it. He certainly does *not* want to look at the project's source code just to figure out some obscure functions.

    • A good document-generation Tool Should not be filled with half-baked tools. We've seen this everywhere – even in commercial software. Now imagine the world of *free* software: it has the same problem, except it is multiplied by tenfold: LaTeX, for instance, requires you to be proficient with a text editor. If you aren't, well... you can use some interfaces like Lyx, but beware: your source text may misbehave, the manually inserted formula you just posted might give you the wrong output, and the templates are just plain hard to modify.

    • A good document-generation Tool Should not be hard to use. Again, this is true when it comes to most of the document-generation tools out there, both open source and commercial: they might require that you spend time on IRC (Internet Relay Chat), hoping that some developer will be there, answering your question – which is usually urgent, as you have business to do, too – and then, he asks, have you seen the [outdated] documentation of our project? Or worse: you can hear things like, just google it, or RTFM (search this one out and see what it means; it is not something nice). And be certain of one thing: if you rely on these tools, you might end up reading this words on IRC a lot. If you are fired by your boss because you spend a lot of time "chatting" (which it obviously isn't true), don't say you were not warned.

    But then... how should a good document-generation tool be?

    • A good document-generation tool should focus on the user, not on the developer. And yet, many developers seem to ignore this, which is truth not only to these tools, but it the basis of well-developed software. If you are developing software for an artist, you must think like an artist; if you are developing software for a book publisher, then you must think like a book publisher; and, obviously, if you are developing for people that want documents generated without concern of how they should look like, how should you develop a this piece of software? Yes, exactly: with the user in mind. If you ever meet a developer and he talks to you about a killer feature, then ask him this: "well, how does this killer feature helps me boost my productivity?"

    • A good document-generation tool should have a low learning curve. This has been discussed before, but it cannot be stressed enough: people that look for document-generating software are looking for something that will generate beautiful, quick documents for them. If they have to spend 6 months just how to generate a document, then what's the point? They could just grab a word processor or a presentation tool and do it themselves, and it would be faster and more productive.

    • A good document-generation tool should have a well-trained support team that speaks the language of its users. Again, this sounds obvious, but believe it or not, many projects (and commercial companies) forget about this. A well-trained support team should speak the language of the user, and not force him/her to do the opposite. Furthermore, check if the software you want to download / purchase has online support: it's certainly useful if you do get stuck at some point while doing your tasks.

    My life as a writer: biggest fears

    You know, usually, when I write, my work is done for a client: I rarely write for myself, about myself.

    I wish I knew why.

    Wait – I do know why. When I send a client a text to be approved, that text does have my essence in it – but who I am, or my ambitions, and dreams... no, they must not show up. Therefore, the request I'm given is neither fully the voice of my client nor my own voice, as I portray his/her dreams. The final result, thus, is a mix of the essence of my client and of my own.

    Writing for a client always makes me shiver: I always get that feeling that I'm not going to make it – even though, more often than not (and, sometimes, after a few revisions – I do make it. But hey, feelings aren't easily tamed, right?

    But what wasn't my surprise today when I got an unusual request: submitting a writing sample for future works. This, alone, wasn't unusual, of course: what was unusual is that my client asked me to write in the first person and to convey my own feelings.

    This time around, I wasn't shivering: I was downright terrified. Writing a text in the first person that conveys strong emotions? I felt I would be naked, writing about myself. Of course that I didn't really need to write about myself; yet, I decided to overcome my feelings. I decided I *would* write about myself.

    Yes. Writing about myself... and evoking my deepest fears; face my "dark mirror." And when I face it, I don't like what I see: my fears, my sins. You might see me clothed, but I see myself naked.

    I fear being alone. And, sometimes, I fear the afterlife: what is there after we die? God? The Devil? Nothing? Will I be reborn as an animal – maybe as a cockroach, a bug which I love to kill?

    I also fear my how my life will be tomorrow: will I be able to "get a life?" To be happy, and to have more personal freedom? Will I ever overcome my dreadful "dark mirror?"

    You see, it turns out this article, too, is for a client. Yes, it is more like me, but I don't usually write about myself. It makes me feel as if I'm exposing myself to you. It makes me feel fragile.

    I'm sorry, Mr. Client. I can't be fully myself here either. But I hope I was a bit "like me," as you wish to see this side, and I do hope you like this.

    To end my writing: I can only thank you so much, Mr. Client. Not only for the opportunity you are offering me, you know – but because you are giving me an opportunity to be emotional.  

    quinta-feira, 31 de março de 2011

    Report and documentation software: an efficient way to save time and money

    Picture this: you want to create an impressive presentation about your company's latest product, and, after you are done, maybe you'd like to send the ones who attended it some print material, or a website showing the same content, but formatted in HTML. However, when you start to create your Power Point presentation, you discover that it looks amateurish – not reflecting the excellent professional you are. To top it off, when you try to create your Word material, pictures go out of their place, and tables are simply tedious to create. HTML? Never mind that. And then, you get frustrated: isn't there anything that would do the dirty job for me?, you think.

    Here comes the good news: there is software that does the dirty work for you, and this kind of software is generally categorized as report and documentation software.

    How Does Report and Documentation Software work?
    This kind of software offers you predefined layout: write your text, and it will choose size and fonts appropriately; insert table data, and it will be created, colored and positioned automatically; create graphs, and they'll be consistent everywhere. This is similar to what MS Word styles are, but better: this kind of software supports multiple document formats too, ensuring you can, for instance, create a wonderful, elegant presentation out of an ugly Microsoft Excel spreadsheet. Beware, though: choosing the right software is not a task to be taken lightly.

    What Is the Best Report and Documentation Software out There?
    Mainly, we have 3 alternatives on the market: Crystal Reports, from SAP Crystal Solutions, SQL Reporting Services, from Microsoft, and Windward Reports, from Windward Studios.

    Crystal Reports is, currently, among the most known software today. However, the learning curve is ridiculously high: as it can be seen here, Crystal Reports 2008 requires several tweaks to work right on Windows Vista. This flash demo, showing one of their presentation examples, isn't very impressive either: when you click the round button to do calculations dynamically, the mouse behaves in a weird way, making the button not to spin correctly. See here:

    all this means you'll need to spend time fixing your install and presentations. Wasn't the whole point of this to save time and money?

    SQL Reporting Services, on the other hand, is a popular Microsoft product. However, it manages to fare than Crystal Reports: sample reports are difficult to find, and you have to read a whole book just to know about what has changed when they released service pack 1 (I wish I was kidding. Look here: http://www.viciowarez.com/descargar-ebookz-15/microsoft-sql-server-2008-reporting-services-unleashed-858035/, right in the section "Understand How to").

    Last, but actually the most surprising of all of them, is Windward Reports: of all three, this seems the best option to save time and money: their program can either run on .Net or Java, and integrates seamlessly with MS Office. This means that although there is a learning curve, it is negligible compared to what Crystal Reports – or worse, SQL Reporting Services – demands of you. And since you don't need to learn as much – not even how write a single line of code, in fact – you are saving a lot of time and money. This is the whole point of why you are buying reporting and documentation software, isn't it?

    The Bottom Line
    Among all of them, Windward Reports seems to be the most promising: it offers near-seamless workflow integration and it's extremely lightweight. And as mentioned before, no programming required! Frankly, leave programming to programmers and don't worry about getting a new book every time a new service pack of your software is released so you can learn "what's new." Do what you do best: talk about business and your latest products – and then, profit.

    Publisher's site: http://www.windwardreports.com/

    segunda-feira, 28 de março de 2011

    Guest article published: "How to write... with style!"

    This is Liz Cornwell, a successful freelance
    writer specialized in writing about information technology.

    Hello, everyone! I was honored to write a guest post to Liz Cornwell, who owns a writing service company and is an experienced freelance writer and translator. Here it is: 

    I hope you enjoy it.

    domingo, 27 de março de 2011

    XML vs. SQL: which database is the right one for you?

    Are you the owner of a medium-sized company? Then, you probably know how increasingly hard it is to keep track of your clients: long gone is the time you could write down the name of your clients using a pen and a schedule, or – if you are really computer-savvy – a small, offline application to store their names and addresses. And now, it is time to think BIG. Except that... how exactly should you start thinking BIG?

    The best way to start thinking BIG is to think of a database that processes BIG chunks of data: after all, in our era, information is pure gold.

    Database Wars: Simplicity vs. Efficiency
    SQL (Structured Query Language) has been an industry standard for quite a while, and there are several flavors you can get a taste from, ranging from "free" (MySQL) to "commercial" (Microsoft SQL). Even the free alternatives, however, prove to be great for serious business, being very fast and efficient. Unfortunately, efficiency doesn't mean simplicity, but quite the opposite: SQL can turn out to be quite complex and hard to manage, and should a database get corrupted, data recovering can prove to be quite complex.

    XML (Extended Markup Language), on the other hand, was never created to serve as a database: although it is a long-time standard, only a bit more recent than SQL is, it's simply a series of tags designed to work together.

    Ironically, XML is so simple that it can itself be used as a database – a very flexible one, indeed: your XML implementation can be infinitely customized through tags and a different array of libraries. As a plus, should your database get corrupted, you can open it in virtually any text editor – it's a text file, after all. However, XML has a major drawback: it is slower than SQL when processing data, and requires more resources to run.

    The Bottom Line
    If you want something fast and can handle complexity, choose the tried and true SQL. On the other hand, if you can afford faster hardware and bandwidth in exchange for a database that requires much less maintenance and is ever-evolving, choose XML.

    sábado, 26 de março de 2011

    HTML vs. XML reports: how to choose what's best for you

    We all know HTML reports are popular for displaying online content: being extremely flexible, they allow many different types of information to be displayed in a semi-automatic way. However, they are as easy to get wrong as they are to generate: tables can behave differently in different browsers; boxes may be out of place, or some of your text may even not show at all. Should this happen, your company may get a bad reputation it does not deserve.

    So, is there a way out?
    As a matter of fact, yes, there is: you can implement a XML reporting system. Similar to HTML, XML reports also use tags, but they have many additional points in their favor:

    • XML reports are much cleaner than HTML reports are. 
    • They can be customized to suit your needs, as you can create your own tags
    • Like HTML reports, XML reports can be viewed in a browser, but, unlike them,  they can be used as the source for many formats of online and offline content. 
    • Finally, should things go wrong, you usually can edit your XML reports by hand, as many programs generate clear, human-readable output. 
    Let's be realistic: although HTML is here to stay, XML reporting tools are getting more and more promising by the hour: as you read this article, these programs are getting easier and easier to use, and supporting more and more formats. 

    The bottom line is: if you were to choose, what should you choose? 

    If you were to choose, certainly choosing a XML report system is the way to go: not only XML reports are more versatile than HTML, but this system can also generate HTML reports itself should you need them. Certainly, the cost of implementing this kind of system is much higher; however, if you can invest into it, affording the time, money and complexity required this is the way to go if you need your documents available in 10 different formats and then some. Although you will spend a while training yourself and your employees, opting for XML reports, in fact, will certainly save you money in the long run.

    HTML vs PDF reports: which one should you choose?

    Ever since the Internet was acknowledged as a commercial success, circa 1944-1995, it has been regarded as a near-universal online reading format: it is flexible and has a simple syntax and loose conventions, ever-allowing the expansion of its standards; therefore, it's no wonder it is being widely used and accepted since then.

    As HTML is so flexible and so easy to understand, it is no wonder that HTML reporting has been created: HTML reports, combined with CSS, allow the display of your data in multiple ways, changing just a few lines of code. Don't like the fact that your tables have an orange header when they should have a blue one? No problem: just change the CSS, and done.

    An HTML report, however, has many shortcomings: it is hard to print, there is no guarantee of consistency among different computers, and layout freedom is very limited compared to a PDF reporting. Long story short, HTML reporting is very good for what it is intended for, but were you to print them, you should have too many headaches.

    Well, as it was briefly mentioned before, what about layout freedom? If you ever wanted your document to have an specific feel, making it more light-hearted and bubbly, serious, modern – be it as you wish – you know well what I am talking about: in HTML, fonts are restricted to a set of common widely-used fonts, as Arial, Tahoma, Verdana or Courier. Do you think you can easily use Helvetica as text easily when writing an HTML report? Think again. You can use it, that's for sure – but using them is very much of a hassle compared to PDF, and this can also bring legal issues. Let's not talk about object positioning either: using something as simple as MS Word, you can post a photo virtually anywhere in your document, something that cannot be guaranteed when you choose for HTML reporting.

    So, which one should you choose? HTML reports or PDF reports? The answer is simple: choose both of them. HTML reports and PDF reports do not oppose each other: rather, they complement each other. And with a good conversion tool, you will surely generate terrific content both for online HTML reports and offline PDF reports.

    quinta-feira, 3 de março de 2011

    Tick diseases in your dogs: a hidden danger

    You are taking a walk with your dog, and it very energetic and playful, as it has always been... and on the next day, your pet doesn't feel like drinking or eating a lot. Then, you find out the back limbs are paralyzed. You ask yourself, worried: "Could it be rabies?" Reluctantly, you take your beloved animal to a veterinarian, praying it won't be so (and that your dog won't bite you).
    As usual, the veterinarian may ask you to watch your dog's behavior (or ask for it to be hospitalized), while you wait for the results of a blood test, which will be ready by the afternoon.

    4 PM. The phone rings, and you answer, anxious. "Unfortunately, I have some bad news for you," says the veterinarian, in a very somber tone. And then, you try to get a hold of yourself, so you won't cry. Quietly, you keep hearing his grim voice saying: "Your dog has a tick disease. He needs the utmost care."
    You start to cry, mourning your dog's imminent doom, until you realize he said it was a tick disease. And then, after snapping out of it, you think: "What? Does he mean a tick caused all this? That little thing?"

    Don't be so surprised, though. Tick diseases are more common than you might think, and are responsible for many kinds of diseases that are lethal to your pets - and in rare cases, lethal to humans, too.

    Don't be so surprised, though. Tick diseases are more common than you might think, and are responsible for many kinds of diseases that are lethal to your pets - and in rare cases, lethal to humans, too.

    Forms of contamination
    A dog gets sick when it gets bitten by a tick contaminated by a small organism, which can be bacteria, viruses, protozoa, and so on. This kind of contamination can happen everywhere - walking in the park, in the grass of your garden, or even standing close to infected walls.

    A few types of tick disease
    • Babesiosis - An illness caused by a bacteria of the Babesia species, which includes, but it is not limited to Babesia canis rossi, Babesia bigemina, and Babesia bovis. An aggressive disease, it feeds on the red blood cells of your pet, destroying its immune system in the process and damaging the body as a whole. Symptoms may initially show as flu-like, paralysis of the limbs, unwillingness to eat and / or drink, and, notably, not urinating or defecating. If untreated, it may lead to quick death.
    • Erhlichiosis - usually less aggressive than babesiosis, this illness destroys the white blood cells of your dog. Symptoms are very similar to the ones in babesiosis though, except your dog may also show accumulation of fluids in the eyes or edemas. Even though it is less aggressive than babesiosis, it shouldn't be ignored, as it will also kill your pet if the illness is ignored.
    • Lyme disease - caused by a bacteria called Borrelia burgdorferi, it manifests itself from 2 to 5 months after your dog is bitten. Symptoms are similar to that of babesiosis and erhlichiosis. If not treated properly, it is more likely to cause a severe liver disease that may kill your dog.
    Always check for ticks in your dogs and use appropriate products to get them removed. Do NOT crush or burn the ticks by yourself, as they may contain eggs and by doing so, you may help them to proliferate. A good, non-harmful option to your pet (and to your own safety) is to use Frontline products, available at http://frontline.us.merial.com/. Although they do not prevent tick bites, they will kill any tick that bites your dog in 48 hours - and also getting rid of the eggs and the youngsters as a bonus. This product protects against ticks for around a month, and 3 months for fleas. Consider taking blood tests of your pet as well and taking it to your veterinarian routinely.

    If your dog shows signals of being apathetic, not wanting to eat or drink, and most importantly, any kind of paralysis, consult your trusted veterinarian immediately. Once the symptoms start to show, tick diseases may progress to death, as stated previously. However, if treated properly, chances are your dog will live a longer, happier life.