Apple Mac: How to Take a Screenshot

January 13th, 2013

One nifty feature I’ve found with my new Apple Mac Mini is that taking screenshots is real easy. If you want to capture an image of a portion of the desktop, simply type the key sequence:


i.e. press down both the cmd key and the shift key then press the 4 key at the same time.

The Mac then displays cursors that you can drag with the mouse to grab any portion of the screen you like – press the left mouse button to begin capture then move the mouse to encompass the desired are before releasing the left mouse button to complete the capture. The image is then automatically saved as a PNG file on the desktop.

After the image is saved onto the desktop, double-clicking the image with the mouse displays the image in the Preview tool. The Preview tool contains a number of handy features, e.g. the Tools menu lets you resize the image and the File menu contains options to export the image in different formats, e.g. as a .JPG file.

Apple Mac: Enabling the Mouse Right-Click

January 13th, 2013

Having recently bought an Apple Mac, I’d begun working my way through tutorials on how to use XCode, Apple’s IDE for iPhone/ iPad development. Coming from a PC, I had a learning curve on how to use some of the basic Mac features. I’m not saying the Mac is better or worse than a PC, just different. It’s always good to learn something new!

One thing that did confuse me for a while was that the tutorials I was following required me to right-click the mouse on certain items to bring up a context menu. Unfortunately this simply didn’t work, I clicked on the right side of the mouse but no menu appeared. My confusion was increased as the mouse I’d bought (for over £30!) didn’t appear to have separate left and right buttons. Eventually I figured out that the mouse was configurable and that I had to enable use of the right mouse button feature as it wasn’t enabled by default. To enable the right mouse, I had to open the System Preferences by clicking on this button:

Apple-Mac-System-Preferencesthen navigate to the Mouse preferences under the Hardware section in the preferences. Finally I had to enable the Secondary button for the right mouse button as shown in this picture:


After doing this, I could right-click the mouse and bring up the context menu, just like on a PC.

Hands Up Who Likes Business Planning?

November 20th, 2012


Do you find you don’t have time to do any business planning?  Are you too busy getting on with the actual business side of things, the things that get the income coming in? Or perhaps more honestly, you think that “planning” or “strategy” is:-

a) boring as heck?
b) a mystery?
c) irrelevant?

So What Is Business Planning?


Well there’s the start-up business plan which is your tool for setting out your initial goals and how you will achieve them. It takes a detailed look at your proposed business idea and how likely it is to succeed. It includes financial forecasts covering what money you see coming in and going out of your business. It usually covers a 3-5 year period. This video explains more about it –


You’d be forgiven for thinking that “business planning” was only something to do when starting up rather than running a business. If you google “business planning” for example, a high proportion of articles will be about start-ups and creating you first  business plan.
But once you’re in business, it pays to refer back regularly to your original plan to see whether things are going according to plan, financially and in relation to your other goals.

If you aware that things are not going to plan, you can do what is necessary to address any issues before they become critical. Also unexpected changes can be positive developments. You may find a market for your audience that you hadn’t been aware of before. If you take the time to look at how these changes fit in with your overall goals, it will help you keep focussed.
In addition to regular monitoring of your cashflow, you might once a year, review your goals & make plans in the areas of finance, sales, marketing, HR, for example.

Setting measurable objectives for the year ahead makes it easier to monitor your performance. So rather than vague goals such as “increase sales” or “raise company profile” set specific and realistic targets such as % increase in sales, 3 articles in local paper, x number of facebook fans, reduce overdraft by x amount.

I’ve talked to several people who run small businesses over the years and I’m always amazed that planning is often so far down on their agenda or sometimes not on their radar at all!

If you applied that logic elsewhere it would seem a bit odd. For example, you don’t step out of your front door in the morning without an idea of where it is you’re going.

A while back I was working as Communications Officer for an organisation and had been asked to produce a Communications Strategy. I was talking to my boss one day about the importance of strategy and said “if you don’t have a strategy, you’re in the dark, a bit like trying to pack for a holiday without knowing where you’re going “. He said “Oh! I’d happily go with an empty suitcase!”.
That taught me a valuable lesson. To remember that not everyone has the same outlook on life, the same values or personality. Luckily for me, I like planning, I’m more of thinker than do-er, so it’s not a chore for me to spend time analysing and committing ideas to paper. But if you’re a do-er I can quite understand that you may well prefer to watch paint dry than sit down and write business forecasts.

If for whatever reason, you find yourself saying “no” to the task of business planning, at least be aware of how vulnerable that makes your business.  Lack of planning is often cited as one of the reasons for small business failure.  There’s plenty of guidance on planning out there. Here are a few sources of information to start you off:

For further business tips, check out our blog post on simple accounting tips.

Windows 8 Tablets – Two Tablets for Different Users?

November 18th, 2012

Tablet computers like the iPad are extremely convenient for mobile use, e.g. sending emails or browsing the internet. However they aren’t so handy for performing the kinds of task you might use a PC for, e.g. using Word or Excel. Personally, I love the iPad for browsing the internet but for data entry, e.g. using an application like Word or Excel, or even simple actions like copying and pasting text between web pages I much prefer using a PC.

Recently, Microsoft have released Windows 8 and at the same time a new Windows 8 tablet – the Microsoft Surface RT. At first glance the Microsoft RT seems like an ideal mix – a handy, touch-sensitive tablet like the iPad that will also run your familiar applications like Word, Excel (or even our own SliQTools applications :)). However, bear in mind that there is more than one form of the new tablet and you should make sure you are buying the correct version.


Microsoft Surface RT – an iPad-like device

The current release of the Surface is the Microsoft Surface RT.

The first thing to know is that the current Microsoft Surface – the Microsoft Surface RT – will NOT run the normal desktop applications you can run on Windows 7. The Surface RT is much more like an iPad than a laptop computer running Windows 7 and the Surface RT will only run the new tablet-like Windows Apps, purchased from the new Microsoft Windows Store. The new Windows 8 Apps are more like iPad apps than the normal programs we’ve all been running on Windows 7.

The exception to the “does not run old application rule” for the Surface RT is that it does comes preloaded with a special version of Microsoft Office 2013 specifically designed for the RT so you can work with your older Word and Excel documents on the new RT.

Microsoft Surface Pro – Laptop PC + iPad-like device in one

In the new year, Microsoft will release the Microsoft Surface Pro. This is the killer machine in my view. It will work like an iPad, with a touch-sensitive screen, run the new Windows 8 Apps from the Microsoft Windows store, but also run ALL your old programs that you were using on Windows 7, Vista, XP etc. The Surface Pro will cost more than an iPad but will double up as a laptop with a proper keyboard and mouse pad for effective data entry.

One clear area where the new Surface machines win out on over the iPad or Android tablets is in connectivity. The Surface machines come with USB ports,  microSD card slot, headphone, micro-HDMI, keyboard dock and charging ports as well as an in-built camera.


Information on the new Microsoft Surface and Windows 8 releases can be confusing. Make sure you know what you want to do with the Surface and that you are choosing the right version when you buy. Personally, I’m waiting for the Surface Pro to be released as the ability to browse the internet conveniently as I can with my iPad but also run my normal desktop apps means I’ll get the best of both worlds in terms of portability and flexibility.

For more Windows 8 topics, see and

Windows 8 – How to set Live Mail as the Default Email Client

November 8th, 2012

Some time ago I wrote a blog post about how to set Windows Live Mail as the default email client on Windows 7. Windows Live Mail is still present on Windows 8 but the procedure for setting it as the default program for sending mail via programs like SliQ Invoicing is different as Windows 8 has a new start menu. Here’s how to set Live Mail as the default:

Note: If you follow the instructions below and can’t find Windows Live Mail in the list of programs, read this blog post on how to download and install Windows Live Mail as part of Microsoft’s free Windows Essentials.

1. If you are in desktop mode in Windows 8, press the Windows key on your keyboard (which will switch Windows 8 to show the Start menu).

2. Then just start typing the word “default programs”. The Start menu will then list programs matching the text you are typing and should show the Default Programs app on the top left of the screen as follows:


3. Click on the Default Programs App.

Windows will then switch to desktop mode and show the Set Default Programs window.


4. Make sure Windows Live Mail is selected in the list on the left and click the Set this program as default button (highlighted in the picture above).

Windows Live Mail should now be your default email program, so if you click on a file in Windows Explorer and right-click then email it, Windows Live Mail should be launched automatically.

For more email troubleshooting advice with SliQ Invoicing Plus, see

How to turn off a Windows 8 PC

November 1st, 2012

With Windows 7 or Vista, turning off a PC is simply a matter of clicking the Windows button on the left of the task bar and clicking the Shutdown button. Having just installed Windows 8, it took me a while to work out how to turn the PC off as there is no longer a Windows button and the Start menu is completely different. Here’s how to do it:

1. Bring up the Windows 8 Charms buttons (a strip of buttons arranged down the right of the screen) by moving your mouse cursor the very top right of the screen.

2. Click the Settings charm button.

3. In the Settings, click the Power button:


Problems running .Net 2.0 programs on Windows 8

November 1st, 2012

Unlike Windows 7,  a Windows 8 install does not always include .Net 3.X and .Net 2.X versions. I’ve upgraded a Windows 7 PC which already had the older versions of the .Net frameworks installed and the frameworks were preserved in Windows 8 but on a fresh install to a PC only .Net 4.5 was included.

Since .Net 2.0 is not always present on Windows 8, this makes it difficult to know whether older programs will run successfully. It turns out that support for .Net 2.0 and 3.5 is an optional part of Windows 8. Quite why they’re optional I don’t know. However, if you are trying to run an older program on Windows 8 and as soon as you try to run it, Windows says “XXX has stopped working”, the first thing I’d recommend checking is whether .Net 2.0 and 3.5 are included.

With earlier versions of Windows, you’d have to manually download and install the frameworks but Windows 8 includes a neat way of adding features like the .Net framework. For those unfamiliar with Windows 8 (which included me), finding the features dialog took some searching. Here’s how to find the dialog and turn on support for the older .Net 2.0 and .Net 3.5 frameworks:

1. Show the Windows 8 charms (a set of buttons down the right hand edge of the screen), by moving your mouse cursor into the very top right corner of the screen as shown in the following picture:


I must say this way of bringing up the charms didn’t feel very intuitive, especially as I had to move the mouse right to the very top of the screen rather than just to the right where the actual charms buttons appear.

2. Press the Search charm button to bring up the Search panel. Then click on the Settings button and type in Windows Features to the search box:


Windows will then show the Settings items matching “windows Features” on the left of the screen.

3. Click on the Turn Windows Features On and Off button:


Windows will then show the Windows Features dialog.

4. In the Windows Features dialog, make sure that the .Net Framework 3.5 (includes .Net 2.0 and 3.0) option is checked:


5. Then click OK.

Windows 8 will then install the required files. At the end of the install, a reboot may be required. After the reboot, older programs needing .Net 2.0 or 3.0 etc. should run OK.

Twitter email problem: Is your email address active?

October 28th, 2012

Of late, we’ve been using Twitter more frequently but twitter keeps displaying a message saying that it is failing to send emails to us “Is your email address active? We’ve tried to send emails to … “.


However, the email address was fine and emails from other sources sent to that address were getting through OK. Investigating more into our twitter account showed that we’d missed several weeks of direct messages from followers. Missing notifications, especially direct messages from Twitter followers could be quite serious as we may have missed out the opportunity to follow up on leads and enquiries. A little experimentation showed that adding the domain to the email/ firewall whitelist allowed the emails to come through properly. Quite why this worked I’m not sure but since adding * to the whitelist, I’ve continued to receive twitter email notifications about new followers, direct messages and so on.

Visual Studio and the breakpoint that won’t go away

October 11th, 2012

For the past couple of years I’ve had a breakpoint in a piece of code that wouldn’t go away. From time to time I’d run the offending piece of code in the debugger and hit the breakpoint when I didn’t want to.

The project was originally in Visual Studio 2008 and for a few months I lived with the debugger breaking at a certain point in the code. Once the breakpoint was hit I could remove the breakpoint by clicking on the source line and pressing F9. However, if I stopped and restarted the debugger, the breakpoint reappeared.

Recently I upgraded the project to Visual Studio 2010 and the breakpoint still refused to go away permanently. Turns out all I had to do to get rid of the breakpoint permanently was go to the Debug menu and click the Delete All Breakpoints option. Now the project is free of all unwanted breakpoints.

An Overview of the Template Editor in SliQ Invoicing Plus

October 4th, 2012

If you want easy-to-use, professional-looking invoices that are customised to suit your requirements, then look no further than SliQ Invoicing Plus.

Our handy template editor means you can create any style of invoice, to fit with the look of your business.

We have a range of fully adaptable styles, which can be used with different types of company logo. All you need to do is select the style of invoice or billing template, then add your logo. It really is that simple!

Our templates are not only useful for creating invoices, they can also be used for creating quotes, credit notes or statements.

To give you maximum flexibility, our billing software comes with a range of predefined invoice templates, so that your perfect invoice is only a click away. Simply select the invoice you prefer from the Template Setup tab. SliQ then shows you a preview of your selected template to help you decide which one is right for you. Then just click the Print Preview button to print an example invoice so you know what your documents will look like.


Invoice Template Preview

Have it your way…

While all of SliQ’s templates are pre-designed with all the essential elements you may require from an invoice template, we also offer a helpful template editor, meaning you can fully customise your invoices as required. So if the templates don’t quite suit your preferences, they can be edited in a matter of minutes, using SliQ’s nifty invoice designer. Using the designer’s template editor, you can tweak the layout, change fonts and colours, as well as adding new labels and images to better suit your business.

Your invoices, credit notes and statements really can be completely bespoke. The templates are provided for use with and without a company logo, and a range of options are provided to customise the template, including a function to change the data columns, an option to add standard messages, plus the ability to alter the footer.

You can see some examples of the invoice templates provided with SliQ Invoicing on our website (

Already have a specific company style for your stationery? No problem. Simply use the template editor to make the SliQ templates match your other paperwork. Not only that, but with our easy-to-use editor you can even add extra bitmaps and logos, so if you need to add quality of trade accreditation logos or similar, it’s not a problem at all.

In fact, there are no limits to the range of invoices you can design! By using the template editor you can change the fonts, colours and layouts of items on templates, with the option of editing and saving as many different templates as you like. You can even configure the columns that appear on your templates, meaning you can add a date column to an invoice or show customer delivery addresses for invoices on a statement.


And the great thing is, once you’ve designed your invoice, you can use our clever software to add even more fields to an invoice, and map fields to values from the SliQ database. This function allows you to include a payment summary table that shows all payments made against the invoice. And you can include a VAT (or tax) summary table showing total amounts charged on the invoice at different tax rates.

To recap, there are a whole host of benefits to using the SliQ Template Editor. These include:

1.    Function to change the fonts and colours used on a template
2.    Option to add new logos and bitmaps
3.    Option to add or delete labels and fields
4.    Ability to rearrange the positions of items on a template
5.    Function to change borders and fill colours of items.
6.    Tool to resize columns in tables
7.    Tool to add extra columns to tables – add an item code column to an invoice or a purchase order column to a statement.
8.    Function to change column headings
9.    Option to add boxes, e.g. add a signature box

Want to find out more? Why not download a free 30-day trial of SliQ Invoicing Plus which includes our invoice template editor. You don’t even need to register or make any payment up front, just go to our Downloads page, download and install one of our packages and you’ll be invoicing in style in no time!

You can also find out more about the template editor by reading the SliQ Help File online.