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Category: Software

Bespoke Software Development Tips

Software lies at the core of business efficiency. It may be a lot cheaper to go for a software solution that is bought off of the shelf. However nothing meets the efficiency and effectiveness that can be reaped through implementing a bespoke software solution. This type of software will be completely tailor-made in order to suit your business; the size of your company, the activities you need to carry out, the data you need to store and your goals for expansion in the future. Read on to discover the top seven tips for having your own bespoke software developed.

Feasibility check

A lot of people overlook this point; however a feasibility check is essential. What is the purpose of developing your software? How is it going to provide you with improved efficiency? How will ROI be affected?

Technology infrastructure plan

Draw up a plan compromising of all the technologies and servers utilised in your business at present. This is essential because the software you develop needs to be compatible with the technology you use if you are to benefit from a cost efficient and time effective software development process.

Outsourcing

Outsourcing can ensure your software runs effectively for a lifetime. You can of course take advantage of the fantastic professionals out there who are trained and qualified in software development. But what a lot of people do not realise is that not only will you have the peace of mind that your software development is in the hands of the best, but you will also know you are covered in the future should any glitches occur. This is because these businesses provide substantial care and after support.

A long testing period is essential

Whether you are getting a company to develop your software or you are doing it yourself testing is imperative. This does not merely relate to a quick hour of playing around on the software. You need a testing period of approximately a month in order to ensure everything runs properly.

Find a robust software programming language

Believe it or not, but all software does not speak the same language! From Visual Basic to Java to C++, the choices are vast. Don’t try and go for something unusual – this will make bespoke software development and integration of other systems extremely difficult. Make sure you opt for a robust option. Aside from the three just mentioned other good options include; VB.NET and C#.

Web-based software application

Web-based software solutions are on the rise, with so many options, from SD-WAN to productivity apps. These are seen as highly beneficial as the only thing that is required is an internet connection for it to run. This type of software is seen as the future.

Lots of features are not always a good thing

It can be very easy to get distracted and build a software solution with a monumental number of different features. However, if these are not necessary, then don’t include them. The whole point of bespoke software is so that you can manage segments of your business efficiently. Pointless features simply complicate it.

If you follow the seven tips given in this article then you should have no issue when it comes to developing the perfect bespoke software solution for your business.

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Useful Tools For Keeping Your Business’ Finances On Track

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Of all the things that need doing to keep your business running smoothly, finance isn’t everyone’s forte. In fact, managing your finances can be far down on your list of priorities – but it’s one of the most important processes. Even if you’re not the most mathematically savvy, there are tools available to you that make running your business’ finance easier than ever.

Save time and keep your money in check with these useful tools for keeping your business’ finances on track.  

Accounting software

For small businesses, hiring an accountant can be a no-go, as hiring more personnel could be at the bottom of your priorities. However, thanks to technology, there is accounting software and applications designed to help make keeping your accounts up to date easier. The best accounting software will help you keep everything stored in one place so that you can manage your accounts on the go.

Reconciliation tools

Errors in reporting can be detrimental to your business, and even if things are better than what you expect – there should be no errors when it comes to your financial reports. Bank reconciliation software can help you manage your cash flow, match up your transactions and make sure that the balance you see for your business is accurate. This way, when it comes to your business’ finance, you’ve got all of the correct and up to date information at your fingertips.

Payroll management system

A payroll management system can be vital for managing your employees – especially if you deal with shift workers or contractors who might not get paid the same amount each month. Through a payroll management system, you can add rosters, apply payments and monitor things like vacation days to keep everything up to date. A cloud-based system will provide greater access to staff out of hours in case they need any information about their pay and other details.

Expenses tracking

If you usually gather all of your receipts in a box or some other form of unofficial ‘filing’ system, there’s a strong possibility that something is going to end up missing! Keeping track of your business expenses helps to keep things up to date, lets you see what you’re spending and keeps the tax man happy. Tracking your expenses in real-time can be a good way to reduce your small business spending and make sure that you are on track with your receipts. Seeing all of your spending in front of you could identify simple areas for cuts that will help your business run more efficiently.

Choosing the right financial tools for your business can take the stress out of business accounting and help free up your time to deal with more important matters. With more and more tools becoming available all the time, it’s worth keeping an eye on finance and business news to help you stay up to date. Managing your business’ finances might have been a pain in the past, but the future is certainly looking brighter.

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What Different Types of Business Software Are Available?

These days, many business owners are focusing on investing in software rather than physical equipment. This certainly appears to be the way that the future is heading. But if you are not hugely clued-up in this area, you may be asking what type of business software is going to work best for your company. First of all, you need to have a better understanding of your options, and that is what we will be aiming to provide right here in this article.

Business Invoicing and Billing Software

In days gone by, you would have to go through the huge effort of creating every single invoice from scratch to send out to your clients and get paid. Often, this type of software uses templates which can be customised to match the needs of your company. Ultimately, this is designed to save you a lot of the admin work which would cost you a great deal of time. Not only this, it takes away the risk of human error which is always possible when something is being done by hand.

Payroll Software

Another type of software in the financial sector is payroll software, which is designed to help you to manage your payroll taxes and payments in a more efficient manner. These often allow you to print out the paychecks and forms which are needed for all sorts of different tax purposes. Whether you only have a single employee or several thousand, there is no doubt that this type of software can prove to be useful.

Database Software

Database software comes in a number of different forms and can be designed and shaped depending on what sort of company you are running. So, Versum – salon software has been specifically designed to help people out who are running this kind of business. Some of the features contained in database software tends to be business names and contact addresses, to-do lists and other important documents directly relating to the successful running of the business. Larger companies will often require server databases, while smaller and medium-sizes ones often rely on web or desktop based systems.

Asset Management Software

If your business is directly involved in sales and distribution, asset management software can help you to keep track of what physical assets you have available. These type of programs can often offer suggestions based on what sort of information you are inputting regarding things like depreciation rates and dates for replacement.

One of the central selling points of business software is that it is there to automate processes which would have previously taken up a great deal of time and would have been subject to human error. Ultimately, it is worth checking out what sort of software is available before taking the decision to invest in it. You should also check out the different brands and programs, as well as the reviews which are available to see if they are right for you.

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Using IFTTT to connect Reddit to Discord

I spent far too long this morning trying to get posts from a particular subreddit to show up in a particular channel on a Discord server I belong to. There was a lot of bad and wrong information out there on how to do this, and finding the correct way took me down many incorrect pathways.

The goal here is to set up the workflow like this:

Reddit post in /r/yoursubreddit > IFTTT applet > Discord webhook > posted to your Discord channel

Essentially, the Discord webhook is a very simple Discord bot that is fed content by IFTTT when someone posts to the subreddit of interest. The webhook takes that content and feeds it to the channel you desire.

For the record, this is the way to do it.

Prerequisites

  • A sufficient user role to edit the channel settings on Discord of the channel you want to post your Reddit content to.
  • Webhooks capability enabled for your Discord user role *and* for the channel you want to use. See here for more info on how to enable Webhooks.
  • An If This Then That (IFTTT) account.
  • Optional: an image/icon for the webhook. This will show up for the account that will be posting the Reddit post to your Discord channel. I used this one.

The Setup

Let me preface this by saying that these instructions were created using the desktop version of Discord and a desktop web browser. It may be a little more tricky on mobile, and what you see may be a little different, but perhaps not.

Create a webhook for your Discord Channel.

1. Go to the Discord channel you want to use and click the gear icon to Edit Channel:

 

 

 

2. Click Webhooks in the left-side menu, then click the blue Create Webhook button on the right.

3. Give your webhook bot a name such as “Reddit post bot” and select the channel you are having it post to.

4. This is where you can optionally upload an icon for this bot. This will show up as the user icon when this bot posts to Discord.

5. Copy the Webhook URL, or keep it handy, so that you can paste it elsewhere in a few steps.

6. Click Save.

Create an IFTTT recipe

8. Open your IFTTT account, go to My Applets, then click New Applet.

9. Click the blue “+this” to add the first action.

10. Use “Search services” to search for Reddit, and choose the “Any new post in subreddit” trigger

11. For the “Subreddit” field, enter the subreddit you want to use without the “/r/” in front of it. For example:

12. Click Create Trigger.

13. Now you should see something like the following:

 

 

Click the “+that” link.

14. This time, under “Search services,” search for “webhooks.” Select the result and click “Make a web request.”

15. Now you can paste the Webhook URL you created in Step 5 above into the URL field here.

16. For “Method” choose POST and for Application Type choose “application/json”

17. Here’s the crucial part. Under “Body” copy and paste this entire line of json code exactly as-is EXCEPT, change YOUR BOT’S NAME to the name you want to give this bot (such as “Reddit Feed Bot” or “Fred”):

Optionally, you can change the “I have received a new post!” text to anything you want to show up any time there is a new post to Discord from this bot. Leave all the rest of the code as-is.

18. Click Save.

That’s it! Any new posts in the subreddit you chose should now show up in the Discord channel you chose. Keep in mind that it isn’t instant. It usually take about 15 to 30 minutes for new posts to show up for me, for whatever reason. If anyone knows how to speed that up, please feel free to post the solution in the comments section below.

Enjoy!

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What Note Taking App is Best for PWK and OSCP?

A very common question in OSCP student chat rooms and channels I hang out in is “should I be using something other than Keepnote?”

It is a fair question considering Keepnote is recommended in the PWK course materials. However, you may notice that it hasn’t been updated in over 6 years, and has actually been dropped from recent Kali versions. I have heard tales of OSCP students’ notes getting corrupted and lost, which is not a good situation to face when you are paying for limited time to complete the coursework (and exam).

If you are starting down the PWK/OSCP path, you will soon realize that you will need to take a lot of notes. Not just on the course materials, but on every exercise you do and every machine in the lab that you work on. This includes screenshots, copy-pasted output from nmap and other tools, and the specific steps you took to conquer a box (and hopefully the steps that didn’t work, from which you can reference in the future).

It adds up quickly, and it’s a challenge to keep straight as you hack away at box after box in the lab. Being a person that has kept a keen eye on note taking apps in general, long before I got my OSCP, I have some recommendations, with pros and cons of each.

In no particular order (see my Recommendations at the bottom):

CherryTree

Learn more and download CherryTree here.

The Good

  • Hierarchical (pretty much unlimited depth)
  • Free, open-source software for Linux and Windows. You *can* get this to run on a Mac, but it’s buggy
  • Highly customizable through preferences and templates
  • Imports notes from tons of places, does some good exporting too

The Bad

  • Can’t paste images from the clipboard directly into notes
  • Not the greatest at embedding files in general
  • Not easily synced between devices/VMs
  • No Mac or mobile device support

CherryTree is like KeepNote in many ways, but it is has many more features and is actively maintained. If you are going to be solely storing and referencing your notes on one machine (your host or Kali VM), use this tool. The template feature is really awesome, and it lets you create a new note based on a template of your design. This means you could create a template for Lab VMs that you can quickly populate with data as you work on a given machine. You could do something similar for PWK exercises. It should make reporting much easier.

Evernote

Download Evernote here.

The Good

  • Feature rich app, integrates with Web Clipper browser extension
  • Windows, Mac, iPhone, Android native clients with web version for Linux
  • Is modern and hip, if that matters to you

The Bad

  • Costs $ if you want it to be any good. Free features seem to be waning as they push people into paying for the service
  • Lacks true hierarchical organization (uses tags instead of folders)

My struggles with Evernote have been well documented on this blog in the past, but some people still swear by it, so I thought I’d mention it here. They do make ease-of-access a priority, and you can get to your Evernote stuff from just about anywhere. Using it is easy until you need to organize things with any complexity, and for the PWK labs, you’d have to be OK with using the #tags instead of folders.

Microsoft Onenote

Download Onenote from Microsoft here.

The Good

  • Feature rich app, integrates with Onenote Clipper browser extension
  • Free Windows, Mac, iPhone, Android native clients with web version for Linux
  • Free version is not feature limited (just space, which hasn’t been a problem for me)
  • Excellent hierarchical organization via notebooks > sections > pages > sub-pages

The Bad

  • Some people feel it has a bloated interface
  • Exporting notes can pose challenges with formatting if you stray outside the pre-made lines

After many trials and tribulations, I ended up going all-in with Onenote for PWK/OSCP, and life in general. The ability to create multiple, separate notebooks (and choose which ones you want to see on which devices) has been my favorite feature. I can separate work from life from projects from shared stuff this way, and I still have a good amount of hierarchical ability to organize things.

Your Favorite Markdown Editor

I see people profess their undying devotion to markdown when the note-taking discussion comes up in various OSCP forums/chats, and I respect their decision and desire for simplicity. However, the one feature I used most, and I can’t imagine living without in the OSCP course, is the ability to paste a screenshot into a note. I did this so much that it would have driven me crazy to have to do anything else, and with markdown, you have to do some form of “save image/reference image via text in the note/embed via some other mechanism”. There are extra steps involved, and you can’t easily do the copy/paste thing.

Clippers/Screenshot Tools

Speaking of screenshots and the need to embed them in your notes, there are several options I would recommend depending on your choice of note taking apps and the platforms upon which you use them. Here are my top three:

  • Snap ‘n Drag Pro (Mac only). Awesome customization options, ability to edit captures (add arrows/highlight/blurs), automatically adds to clipboard.
  • Skitch – If you use Evernote, use this (unless you are on a Mac, see above)
  • Shutter – Native Linux screenshot app

For PWK, I found the Evernote and Onenote clipper browser extensions to be limiting in that they only let you clip things from your web browser, when I needed to clip terminal output most frequently.

My Recommendations

Because I am primarily a Mac user, I need good support for screenshot pasting, and I prefer hierarchical note structure for organization, I went with Onenote and Snap ‘n Drag Pro for my PWK and OSCP work. I continue to use these two tools in my personal and professional life, too.

If I were not a Mac user, I’d go with CherryTree and Skitch.

Have any opinions or additional input about all of this? Let me know in the comments.

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Which Software Is Right For My Business?

Every business can benefit from using software to speed up processes and improve organisation. But with so programmes out there on the market, how do you know which software is right for you? Certain software may be too simple for your needs, whilst other software may be overly complex. There are also factors such as cost to consider. Here are just some ways to help make the right choice when looking for software for your company.

Check online reviews

Online reviews are great at giving you unbiased information on software including the pros and cons. You may find professional reviews in tech publications are the most insightful as these people have tested lots of different software and so have more know-how when it comes to which programme is best (comparison guides are a great read). That said, user reviews can also be handy as they may offer information in layman terms and show how software can be applied in a real life setting. There are also video reviews out there on Youtube that may include walk-throughs of the software on screen so that you can see what it looks like.

Download free trials

Some software companies will offer the opportunity to download a free trial. This allows you to use the software for a few days and get to grips with its interface, helping you to determine whether its right for you. You can get your employees to test it out too if they’re also going to be using it and then you can vote whether you think it’s worth buying. Free trials may not always give you a full experience of what software is like to use – some features may be locked – but you can get a good idea just from the basic settings whether a programme is right for you.

Attend software demos

Some companies will host software demos in which a spokesperson will give a presentation and answer any questions regarding the software. Software demos can be very salesy and you’re likely to get very biased information as a result, however the chance to ask questions and possibly even negotiate pricing can make demos a worthwhile event. They’re also great chances to network with other business owners and get an idea of a software company’s target market.

Consider specialist software

There’s a lot of generic one-size-fits-all software when it comes to processes like accounting and project management. Some of this software is very popular and therefore has had a lot of money poured into improving it and making it reliable, however it may be too generic for some niche companies that need more specific features. Looking for specialist software such as veterinary software or architect software could be more beneficial in certain cases. It’s worth testing out a mix of specialist and generic software.

Go bespoke

There’s also the option to pay a software development company to build your own software. This could be designed entirely to your specs, giving you all the features you need. This can be more expensive, so make sure that you’re going to get regular use out of this software – it could be a way of combining the functions of multiple programmes into one software, saving you money in the long run.

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