Archive for the ‘General’ Category

SliQ Invoicing and Windows 10 Support

August 4th, 2015

SliQ Invoicing works on Windows 10 as well as all earlier non-server versions of Windows from XP, through Vista, Windows 7, 8 and 8.1.

If you are taking up the offer of a free upgrade to Windows 10 from Microsoft and downloading Windows 10, during installation choose the option to keep your applications and personal data.

The Windows 10 upgrade process makes some identification changes to PCs. You may find that SliQ Invoicing Plus reverts to a trial copy as a result. If SliQ does display its trial notice dialog, press the Register button on the trial notice dialog SliQ displays when it starts and re-enter your unlock code to get back up and running. You can get your unlock code emailed to you via this web page:

We haven’t experienced any problems so far upgrading any of our PCs to Windows 10 with the exception that one of our older printers no longer worked. As no default printer was then selected in Windows 10, SliQ was unable to do a print or a print preview. If this is the case, go into Windows Settings and set a default printer. SliQ will then print and do a print preview OK. You can access Windows 10 Settings by clicking the new Start button at the bottom left of the screen and choosing Settings then accessing the Device and Printer settings option.

Get Windows Live Mail (a Desktop Email Client) for Windows 8.1

August 2nd, 2015

Microsoft provide a free desktop email program called Windows Live Mail for Windows 8.1. Windows Live Mail can be downloaded as part of Microsoft’s free Windows Essentials package. To download Windows Essentials either search on google for “Windows Essentials” or go to this page:

Download Windows Essentials 2012. Essentials includes a number of programs including Writer and Messenger. If you only want to download the Mail program follow the instructions after the download starts to choose the specific programs you want.

After completing the download and installation, follow the instructions at this link – How to make Windows Live Mail the default email program in Windows. Windows Live Mail will then be set as the default email program allowing programs such as SliQ Invoicing Lite and Plus to send invoices by email.

SliQ Invoicing Plus V5 Released

November 22nd, 2014

Version 5 of SliQ Invoicing Plus has been released. This is a major new version of SliQ Invoicing Plus and is released almost two years after V4. Over 100 additions and modifications have been included in version 5 based on feedback from customers.

The top user-requested features included in V5 are a built-in spellchecker when editing invoices and a stock control system for tracking stock level and helping automate raising orders for low stock items. V5 now also includes the ability to define HTML email templates, allowing users to add logos and formatted signatures to emails sent from SliQ, e.g. when emailing invoices to customers.

A number of smaller features have been added to increase flexibility, e.g. it is now possible to automatically insert date information into line item descriptions on recurring invoices. In V5 it is also possible to configure the date ranges used on ageing reports on statements to bring them in line with invoice payment terms if desired.

Existing customers can upgrade from any earlier version of SliQ Invoicing at the reduced upgrade price shown on our sales page. Any purchaser of V5 will be able to download any updated V5 release, e.g. 5.1, 5.2 etc. will be free updates for those who have already bought V5.

To find out more about the changes in V5, see our Release History page.

How to Capture a Screenshot and Send it via Email

September 20th, 2014

There are many ways to capture a screenshot, save the captured image to disk and then attach it to an email. Some versions of Windows come with built-in image capture tools such as the Snipping Tool in Windows 7.

Another alternative is to use SliQ Screen Capture. This is a free, very simple tool from SliQTools that provides easy options for capturing screenshots of your complete desktop, the current application running in Windows or even a control within an application. By default, when a screenshot is captured, SliQ Screen Capture opens the captured image in Microsoft Paint. In later versions, Microsoft Paint includes a Send in e-mail option that quickly allows you attach the image to an email.

If you want to use SliQ Screen Capture to send a screenshot by email, take these steps:

1. Download and install SliQ Screen Capture from this page:

2. Run SliQ Screen Capture.

SliQ Screen Capture always sits on top of all other windows. You can still work with other applications but SliQ Screen Capture stays visible so you can click on one of its capture image buttons.

3. Click on the window of which you want take an image.

For example, if you want to take a screenshot of a window in SliQ Invoicing, click on the window in SliQ Invoicing Plus with your mouse.

4. In SliQ Screen Capture, press the Capture Foreground Window button.

The button is highlighted with a red square in the following picture.


Then wait for Microsoft Paint to launch.

5. In Microsoft Paint, open the File menu and choose the Send in email option.


A new email window should then open with the captured image attached.

6. Edit the email as normal – enter the email address you want to send the picture to, the subject and email message – and press the Send button to send the email.

If you are looking for help on taking a screenshot on an Apple Mac, see this blog post:

Configuring Email Read Receipt Options in Outlook

June 30th, 2014

Microsoft Outlook allows you to configure options for how read receipt requests are handled. When you receive an email for which the sender has requested a read receipt you can configure Outlook to ignore the read receipt request, always automatically send a read receipt or ask you email by email whether to respond with a receipt or not.

To configure the read receipt options, choose the Options option in the Tools menu.

The, in the Outlook Options dialog, choose the Email Options … button near the top of the Preferences tab.


In the Options dialog, then press the Tracking Options … button.outlook-email-tracking-options

Finally, in the Tracking Options dialog, choose the desired option before pressing the OK button.


For more Outlook tips, see Configuring the Default Email Account in Microsoft Outlook.

How to Fix a Hacked Website – Hacked by r00t3xpl0i7

November 4th, 2013

Coming back to one of my WordPress blogs at the weekend I had a nasty surprise. The website was showing the page below indicating that the site had been hacked.


To try and see how this could have happened, I attempted to log into the wordpress admin account by going to the URL: www dot mydomain dot com/wp-admin/. What was really surprising was that I could not log in as admin even though the correct WordPress login page was still visible in the wp-admin subfolder.

Fortunately, I was able to log in to the cPanel for the site through the hosting company’s main website and using the File Manager in cPanel, I began to look for any suspicious files or changes.  As I was unable to log in to the WordPress site, I knew I also had to check the passwords in the WordPress MySQL database.

To correct the password, I opened up the WordPress MySQL database using PHPMyAdmin and looked at the admin password and email address in the wp_users table. I found that the email address wasn’t mine – it had been changed. I edited the email address back to mine using PHPMyAdmin and cleared the password field:


I then went back to the WordPress login page on my site (www dot mydomain dot com/wp-admin/) and clicked the Forgot password link and followed the instructions to set a new password. To be on the safe side I set a very strong password. Having done that I could then login OK to the WordPress control panel.

However at this point, the website was still showing the hacked page. Going back to File Manager in cPanel and looking through the PHP files, I found that the index.php of the WordPress theme (in the wp-content/themes/theme name/ folder had a very recent modified date. Opening up the index.php for viewing showed that the file had been overwritten and now contained PHP to show the hacked page. Unhacking the site was then easy – I logged into the WordPress control panel and switched themes – the site was then back fully functioning. To be on the safe side, I deleted the hacked theme in the WordPress control panel. At this point I’m assuming the hack was due to a weakness in the PHP for the WordPress theme as the password was pretty obscure. However, I’ll be monitoring the WordPress blog to see if the site goes down again.

Do I need an accountant?

July 17th, 2013

We’re often asked by small businesses if they should employ an accountant. The answer often depends on the type of person you are and the type of business you’re running.

It’s a good idea to employ an accountant if your tax affairs are complex but many sole traders don’t necessarily need to go to the expense of an accountant. You can save yourself several hundred pounds per year if you’re organised and don’t mind doing a bit of research. It’s easier than you may think to get to grips with it using our practical tips.

1. Deciding Your Tax Year

If you are starting up and deciding on your tax year, it’s simpler and will save time filling out the paperwork, if you run your financial year in line with HMRC’s – 6th April to 5th April

2. Tax Return- DIY!

Tax returns can be much less daunting than they look. Particularly if your turnover is less than the £77,000 threshold, you can fill in the shorter version of the tax return.  (see for more information on whether you are eligible for the shorter version)

It’s helpful to take a look at the form first so you know what kind of information you’ll need to supply. The forms can be downloaded at:

These guidance notes contain really helpful information for example, how to calculate your income and expenditure figures and what expenses are allowed:

Make sure you fill in any of the supplementary sheets that apply to you: “self employment” or “partnership” for example.

Even if you decide you want an accountant to submit your tax return, you can save on costs by preparing a draft of the form for them to check over.

3. Keeping Proper Records

Sorting out your expenses receipts

Make sure you keep all expenses receipts. If you’re organised you’ll file them straight away. If you’re like me, you’ll shove them all in a big pot to deal with later.

If your annual turnover is below £77,000 (as at 2013) you do not need to provide HMRC with a break down of the different types of expenses. You can just put a total figure on your tax return. So you can just go through the receipts and add them up. You don’t need to number them or type them up, you can just write down the total figure for the year’s expenditure.

Having said that, it can be handy to keep tabs on what you’re spending in different areas so if you are really pushed for time or if you have a large number of receipts, you could pay a book-keeper or admin assistant to do this for you.

If you use an accountant to do your tax return, you can still save money by providing them with this total figure instead of paying them to deal with your receipts.

Don’t forget to include expenses that you might not have paper receipts for such as direct debits and online purchases.

Keeping track of your sales

You should try to make a note of all your sales and other income as you go along. Invoices that you issue should be numbered.

You should include a note of other types of income and sales that may not be invoiced or go through the till such as: money paid into the business from personal funds or goods or services taken for you or your family or to pay someone in kind.

Know Where Things Are!

It really helps save time if you can keep the following together in one place, so you have it all at your fingertips when it comes to doing your year-end figures:

  • Receipts
  • Invoices
  • Bank & credit card statements
  • All correspondence from HMRC

HMRC provides more details about what records you need to keep:

4. Ask for help

Don’t forget you can ring HMRC and ask for help with record-keeping and filling in your tax return. And it’s free. Contacts are here:

5. Get your money’s worth

If you do decide to use an accountant, it will increase your knowledge and understanding of your business if you ask them to explain how they have worked things out. Rather than leaving it all to the accountant, if you take ownership of your finances, you are likely to make wiser decisions and make more money in the long run. It may also give you more confidence to do your own tax returns in future years.

Good luck!

Love your work but hate the finance aspects?

July 10th, 2013

If the work you do is something you’re passionate about then the business side of it can often take a back seat. I’ve worked with many owners of small businesses who work all the hours and are talented at what they do but don’t even know if their business is profitable.  Being ignorant about the financial performance of your business is risky and many small businesses fail as a result.

There are many reasons people stick their head in the sand including:

  • Fear and loathing of anything to do with “boring” business or finance
  • Lack of knowledge and unsure where to get help
  • Secretly know that the business isn’t making enough money but don’t want to give it up

There’s no reason why you can’t love your work AND be in control of the business side. You could start by getting to grips with whether your business is financially viable. It’s worth asking yourself why you want to run your business in the first place. What are your goals?

  • Do you need the business to make you a certain amount of money each month?
  • Do you just want to be your own boss?
  • Do you want to fulfil a long held aspiration?

Whether or not money is your first priority, it can only be helpful to know how much money you’re likely to make – or lose! This will help you decide longer term, whether running this business is right for you. To help you get to grips with the maths, we’ll use the example of Jane who is returning to work and is considering launching a cake-making business …

1. Estimate a realistic monthly figure for the sales of your product or services

For Jane, the number of cakes she thinks will sell multiplied by the amount she will charge per cake.

12 celebration cakes per month @ £45
70 simple cakes per month @ £4

Total = £820

2.Work out as accurately as possible, how much it will cost you to sell those products

This includes not only the cost of the product itself but a proportion of other associated costs such as electricity, premises, equipment and marketing. For Jane this means the cost of all the cake ingredients plus kitchen equipment, packaging, delivery and a proportion of her household fuel bills.

Cake ingredients = £220
Additional costs – £75

3. Subtract the product costs from the sales figure

Jane’s figures are £820 – £295 = £525

4. Work out the number of hours of your time you will spend on your business

For Jane this is 4 hours per day = 20 hours per week = 80 hours per month

5. Calculate your hourly wage

To do this, divide your figure in 3) by the number of hours in 4)

Jane’s is £525 divided by 80 = £6.56 per hour which is around the minimum wage mark.

Seeing your figures in this way, may prompt other ideas about how you can earn more from your business. For example, if there is only one of you doing the work such as with Jane’s business, there may be ways of maximising your time. Jane could invest in a bigger oven and time-saving kitchen equipment in order to increase the number of cakes she produces in the same number of hours. Or, you may be happy enough earning a minimal amount in exchange for the added benefits of being your own boss and being able to fit your work around family commitments.

Whatever your take on it, knowing your figures means you can make informed decisions about the business you love.

5 Tips for setting up your business

May 17th, 2013

Once you have your killer idea for a product or service that will fill a proven gap in the market, you’ll need to go about setting up your business. Hopefully you’ll have done your business planning, if you need some tips on this, do look at our other post here.


Here are 5 practical steps you’ll need to consider to actually get the show on the road:

1. Get the name right. Make sure it’s a name that sums up what you offer, either your product or what you want to be known for (your brand values).

There are some useful resources on this website:

2. Register with Inland Revenue for your Tax and National Insurance payments. You can find more information about that, PAYE and importing & exporting here

3. Assuming you already have the finance you need to start your business, you’ll need to keep track of your money. Regularly recording both the money going out (purchases or expenditure) and the money coming in (sales or income). You can hire a book-keeper to do this for you (if you’re the sort who likes to keep your receipts in a carrier bag and hand them over to someone else!). Or you can log them yourself in a spreadsheet or specialised software. Don’t forget, if your business issues invoices, SliQ Invoicing Plus is perfect for start-ups as it’s very quick to set up and simple to use.

4. Get yourself noticed. Think about who your likely customers are and the best methods of reaching them. Promotion could include the more traditional leaflets and local newspapers which would be effective for a local trades person for example. If you go the online / digital route, make sure your website appears high in the Search Engine rankings. You may need to hire a professional to advise you here. Regarding social media, it’s worth considering a training course or again, hiring a professional. There are some great tips on digital marketing here:

5. Tap into one of the many sources of business advice just to make sure you have everything covered. The Federation of Small Businesses (FSB) and the Governments business support provide advice on all aspects of running a business.

For more business startup tips, read

Human-Centered Design – An Introduction to Designing for Ease of Use

January 18th, 2013

Designing products that are easy to use is not a simple exercise. After a number of years spent designing a range of PC and industrial products, my experience is that those products which appear the simplest, cleanest and easiest to use are, more often than not, the ones that took the most amount of effort to design and complete. Constructing a product that simply exposes every possible feature at once to the user is relatively easy. What’s more difficult is prioritising the user interface, making the most frequent and essential elements readily available while pushing the more advanced, less frequently used features into the background.


One of the biggest obstacles to overcome when beginning to design anything that is easy to use is the designer’s ego. Almost all designers, whatever their field, e.g.  software, mechanical, usually hold some sort of innate belief about what the user wants and what the best solution should be. This is a natural and essential requirement for any designer. Without the self-belief and initiative to construct a solution a designer would not be able to form an innovative solution for a user need. However, in any mature development process, the ultimate design of a product should not be allowed to rely on what may turn out to be a prejudice, personal desire or pet theory of the loudest or most assertive engineer (or manager) on the team.

One process that can be adopted in any development program is Human-Centred or User-Centred Design. For a process that has sounds rather complicated, it’s actually based on some very simple and low-tech ideas. To describe HCD, let’s break the development process into 3 distinct stages:-

1. Understand the user’s requirements for the product.

In particular try to gain an understanding of the user’s pain point or difficulties.

2. Innovate and design a solution for the user’s product requirements.

3. Test and evaluate the solution with users.

Take the lessons learned and go back to stage 1.

Repeat steps 1, 2 and 3 as required. Any development is a compromise and engineering judgement needs to be used to decide when the improvements are no longer worth the effort of repeating the cycle. HCD techniques come into play mainly in stages 2 and 3 giving the solution developers a set of techniques for presenting and evaluating solutions with users as well as techniques for prioritising evaluation results.

I opened this post by saying that designing for ease of use is not a simple exercise. Although there are only 3 steps listed above they all involve a lot of work, usually over a significant period of time. Adopting HCD techniques can help you increase the chances of a successful development. I’ll elaborate on the HCD techniques in a follow-up post.