I use VoIP to connect my US customers to my office here in Sussex. But sometimes it’s not easy. I want to recommend this product that I use, the MagicJack, and on the surface of it the idea is pretty good – a little device that plugs into your router and you connect a standard land line phone to it and off you go – local US # for everyone to reach you. The problem is their support is so poor, so lacking any redeemable quality, that I just can’t recommend them. Also their website and their interfaces are of such poor quality – the website looks like it was designed around the same time that Prodigy was released (the web service, not the band). And their program, the PC based app, is so bad – the install process shows you nothing, no status, no percentage completed, no choices of where to install – just one long advert: ‘tell your friends!’

So I will tell my friends this: don’t bother. Sign up for something else, if you can find it. It works for me, finally, but it was not without its headaches. It took me hours hours of being on their silly support chat to get anything done, and in the end it was me who figured it all out and not the support people, Not to mention that any company that only provides internet chat support as opposed to a live person on the telephone is clearly a company that completely disrespects, if not hates, its own customers. So, there you have it- pretty mild for a rant, but don’t buy MagicJack unless you’re really ready to bash your head up against a wall getting it to work.

On the document management side, we spent a bit of time yesterday evaluating how to get WinAutomation to work with some TET scripts we’ve developed for PDF data extraction. That TET is an impressive product, really does what it says on the tin, but you have to be ready to delve into some pretty technical stuff so by and large IT departments at companies across the world won’t be using it – they’re too busy with the day to day running of a company. Everyone is always ready to bash that IT department, but much love and much respect to the IT guys around the world. My only complaint about IT departments is that if there is a long way around to doing something, generally that’s what they’ll choose. Quick and easy and IT departments generally don’t mix. Job security. I get it.

The point being, I’m in love with AM9 and I think it’s one of the best products I’ve come across in years, but it’s a little on the pricey side and it has one massive drawback: you can’t package things into an executable or a windows services and have a developed process run remotely. You can do it with their client, but almost immediately that prices them out of the picture. It goes from $2k to $4k and then an additional $2k for every client – wipes out profit pretty quickly because a lot of these processes are simple routines for document management service providers who already have tight margins. Along comes WA and now I can package a design into an exe, and then I can use another product to convert that .exe into a service. Not only is the core product significantly cheaper (around $400) but you can create unlimited exe packages from that one license. It doesn’t have every feature that AM9 does, but the trade-off is massively in favor of WA.

One last thing: one company I will highly recommend is 1&1 for web hosting and the like. They get bashed here and there on the web, but I’ve used them for years and find them highly reliable and they have good support. No complaints about them at all. Wix, on the other hand – let’s just say I can’t wait to stop paying them their monthly fee. It was a mistake to sign up with them, but it served its purpose for a short time. But it’s really not a great service. WordPress is tops. Can’t wait to bring my WP site live. Very soon.

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