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Every Friday, I post a small insight into running Curio City and/or Blue Hills Editorial Services. My most recent posts are directly below. You can also start with the first post, or use the subject labels to the right to home in on particular topics. Feel free to comment on anything that interests you.
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Friday, June 12, 2009

The QuickBooks Crisis

I reluctantly decided to install the seemingly unnecessary copy of QuickBooks Pro 2009 that I was tricked into buying. When I opened the package I learned that the minimum supported CPU is a Pentium 4 at 2 GHz (a tidbit that I really ought to have noticed when I was researching the software, but never mind). I have a Pentium 4 at 1.86 GHZ. Ordinarily I would figure that 1.86 is close enough to 2.0 to squeak by, but QB is a notorious resource pig. Suppose I go through the install and then find that I can’t run the program at all, or that it slows my computer to uselessness? Some of the reviews warn that one cannot revert to 2006 if the QB 2009 install goes badly. Inserting that install disk is an irreversible act that I dare not risk.

So it seems that I have two choices. I can set aside the $100 program that I bought and continue running my unsupported version until something else compels me to buy a new machine. Or I can lay out $900 for a new laptop now. Do I really need a new computer?

On one hand, it has been four years. As an internet business I do need to keep up with the tech curve. Even if my Inspiron isn’t obsolete yet, it is getting there. I do have a technology budget that probably would have gone mostly for SEO or website upgrades, had I spent it at all. And yesterday I found a sweet deal on a Dell Vostro that, with a couple of upgrades to make it acceptable for gaming, would cost just under $900 delivered. Compared to the $1258 that I paid for my old Inspiron, that's a bargain.

OTOH, spending $900 on a new machine so that I can run a $100 piece of bloatware is ridiculous. The outlay would come directly off my bottom line and reduce my year-end bonus, so even though it's coming out of Kraken Enterprises's pocket, I ultimately end up paying for it personally (although with untaxed dollars, I think). The Inspiron still works fine for everything except QB, and migrating to new hardware would entail recreating or porting over four years worth of settings and customized programs. The new machine comes with a Windows XP downgrade, but that might just be a runtime environment within Vista – might I have to “upgrade” such hoary mainstays as MS Office 2000? Once I install QB 2009 on a new machine, how tricky would it be to import and convert my QB 2006 company file from the old machine? Might I end up right where I started, with an unusable copy of QB 2009?

Crap. I don’t know what to do. That Vostro deal expires today and I am unlikely to find a better value without considerable shopping. One way or the other, it looks like my hand will be forced again, and within the next few hours.


A nice little sales surge late last week finally convinced me to place the full $1,300 cap reorder to get the best pricing and maintain my margin. So much for reducing inventory; my OTB is back in the red, and I still have orders wishlisted. And, as you might expect, sales quickly died again as soon as I placed that big honking order. It looks like Fathers Day is going to be a big disappointment this year.

May's national retail sales actually increased over last year, but that was entirely in automobile and gasoline sales. Real retail sales shrank again. That's some cold comfort for my own lackluster May.


Constant Contact's benchmarks for retailer mailings are 8.0% bounce rate (bad addresses or blocked), 17.9% open rate, and 3.2% click rate. The corresponding numbers from my last mailing are 0.7% bounce, 32% open, and 32.2% clicks. So I guess my results are actually a lot better than I had thought. It’s been over a year since I last purged my list of non-responsive addresses…I could drive my percentages much higher if I did that again. Of course, that wouldn’t change the number of clicks that convert to sales, which is all that matters.

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