Why CRM

Recently, my wife started selling Jamberry Nail Wraps. They’re a neat little wrap that you apply to your fingernail rather than painting. They’re safe, sturdy and easy to apply. There are some pretty cool styles that are available so if you’re interested, please feel free to wander over to her website to order or to host a party.

There are some challenges to starting and maintaining this type of a business and most independent agents of this type of product (read: Pampered Chef, Jamberry, Avon) really miss out on some of the benefits of Customer Relationship Management software.

Why CRM

A lot of larger sales companies use CRMs to help manage possible leads, keep up with contacts, and track interactions with customers. This is a trick that many independent consultants never know about and miss the opportunity to keep track of their contacts. Bigger firms have the advantage of keeping a full staff of IT professionals to set up and maintain their CRMs but independent consultants don’t have that advantage.

Last night, as the wife was going through her process of preping and sending prizes and managing here parties, I noticed that she was keeping track of her contacts and sales on paper. She was even looking at a form that her Lead Consultant was using to help her organize the information. I mentioned that she should be using a CRM for this kind of work and that it might help her speed up the process that she was currently managment manually.

The hunt for an Open source CRM.

I promised my wife that I would look into what it would take to build a CRM for her and her team. After a quick check of CRMs on TurnkeyLinux.com I came across the Zurmo CRM. This is a pretty nice looking CRM that is Open Source, not overly resource intensive and pretty easy to set up on one of my local machines.

I downloaded the TurnkeyLinux ISO and setup a quick VM. After playing with it for a while I brought my wife over to show her how it worked and what it could do. She was happy with the results so I began hunting for an installation guide. Zurmo has some pretty good guides but they’re a little more scattered than I normally would like so I keep hunting.

I eventually can across this website and it’s walk through for Ubuntu 14.10. Now, I wanted to install it on Debian since I am hosting it on a BeagleBone Black. Thankfully, Ubuntu and Debian are related to each other, the installation guide on the website I found worked perfectly. In only an hour or so, I had Zurmo working without any issues.

Now, to get it tweaked to work for here perfectly and then I’ll set it up so that she can add any other consultants that she’d like to share the environment with.

Learning Path

Learning

I’m a big fan of continually expanding one’s knowledge in all directions. In my case, I continue to expand my knowledge of the Computer/Technology areas. My work history is revolves almost exclusively around technology and Transportation. This doesn’t limit me on what I’m trying to learn, but rather keeps me working on technologies that are used by Transpiration based companies. Things like SCADA, CAD/AVL, Radio, and Maintenance Tracking Applications tend to get most of my attention.

Now, though, rather than working to continue to limit myself to the Transit industry, I’m working on learning things that are less specific. Networking, Cloud Computing, Programing are all things that I’m trying to become more familiar with. So, for the sake of sharing, I’m listing my current learning path for the world to see. Hopefully I’ll remember to keep updating as I complete items and expand on things that I have reviewed/learned.

  1. Networking: Specifically, I have enough knowledge of networking to be really dangerous. I need to get past that point so that I can intelligently diagnose networking issues.
  2. CloudStack/OpenStack: I completely understand the theory behind the *Stack setup but I haven’t gone in and set my own *stack up yet.
  3. Programing: I’m trying to get a few different languages under my belt. Python and C are first, others will follow.
  4. SQL: I’m actually pretty good with SQL Administration but when it comes to developing tools that utilize SQL, I’m lacking. Hopefully, I can integrate my incoming programing knowledge with my SQL knowledge and make something super useful.

Books

Below is nothing more than the current resources that I’m using to expand my knowledge:

  1. Networking: A Beginner’s Guide: Fifth Edition by Bruce A. Hallberg
  2. Hacking: The Art of Exploitation by Jon Erickson
  3. Learning Python the Hard Way (http://learnpythonthehardway.org/)

As I finish these books, I’ll continue to look for new material and will try to create a bibliography of things that I’ve read.

-G

The Galago Ultrapro

I finally got my hands on a new System 76 laptop. The particular machine is this amazing Galago Ultrapro. After using this machine for a couple of week, I’m realizeing that I’m very much in love. I haven’t even been working on my desktop, my affinty for this machine has been so great.

This one is an upgraded model, with 16GB ram, a 120GB mSATA hard drive and a 1TB 7200rpm SATA. Dispite my usual urge to hop from distro to distro I’ve decided to stick it out the Ubuntu, though I did do a fresh install to add encryption to the disks. With the disk setup as is, I must say, my VMs are running at astonishing speeds. This is great since I’m regularly running 4 or 5 VMs at any one time while I go through my studies of Linux and other FOSS.

A couple of tweaks I have made to the base Ubuntu install include the installation of XFCE. Unity is perfectly usable and for the most part stays out of the way of my work, I tend to prefer a more clasic menu system. Usually I would use KDE but Plasma 5 has been pretty buggy lately and I’m tired of coming across bugs that have already been reported but never addressed. (Note: this isn’t a dig at the KDE devs, just a note on my own impatience.)

Given the upgrades, the clear screen and the amazing customer service System 76 provides, there is only one thing to say:

I must recommend this machine to everyone. Even if Ubuntu isn’t your operating system of choice, this is still the machine for you.

— layout: post title: “Moving Back to Ubuntu” description: “Switching things up and moving back to Ubuntu” tags: [Ubuntu, Linux, Open Source, Community, Disto, Linux Distro] modified: 2015-04-30 image: feature: ubuntu_orange_hex.png credit: Ubuntu creditlink: https://insights.ubuntu.com/press-centre/ —

Another Hop, Another Distro

I stuck with Bodhi Linux for over a year during is 2.x series. The E17 desktop was top notch and the team building and supporting it are amazing people. So amazing that I had volunteered as the Documentation Lead for quite a while. However, with the implementation of E18 and E19, a lot of things broke and it just didn’t feel comfortable any more and with work taking up so much time, I needed to start looking around again.

With all of my past studies on the LPIC 1 examed I figured it was time to use a non-debian based distro. Options included, Arch, Fedora, and Open-Suse. I played with Arch for a while but I really didn’t have time to get everything configured the way I wanted so I mothballed that install really quick. For some reason Fedora always makes me cringe when I use it for too long. I honestly don’t know why, but it does. So that left OpenSUSE.

I played with OpenSUSE for a while and I do actually think it’s a fantastic distro but I needed to find a distro I could use for teaching people that are new to Linux. OpenSUSE simply isn’t the distro for that. So I decided it was time to move back to Ubuntu. I’m an LTS fan so I installed the 14.04 version. I promptly installed the KDE desktop and I’m running smoothly. One thing that I have to give Ubuntu credit for, eveything is easy. I won’t use that cliche of ‘It just works.’ because it doesn’t with everything, but gosh darn, it’s nice to be up and running in under 30 minutes with all of my favorite apps installed an configured.

Helping at the Hacklab

Getting Involved

I’ve been spending some of my time lately hanging out a local Hackerspace called, Hacklab North Boynton. As far as spaces go, HacklabNoBo is midsized, with a great work area and a fantastic lobby. They have a various wood working tools, rPi, Arduino, soldering, 3D printing, and music work stations.

An Idea.

While hanging around the Hacklab, I noticed that they were keeping an old school paper log of visitors as they walked through the door. This in and of itself isn’t anything abnormal for a hackerspace, since non-profits regularly have to report on attendance and memberships to possible sponsors or donors. What bothered me about it was the fact that they were still using pen and paper. This is a Hackerspace for crying out loud. So I did what any productive member would do, I hacked it.

I took a basic Raspberry Pi, installed the default Raspian operating system on a 4GB SD card. I installed Chromium and set the rPi to launch Chromium in full screen and open a simple Google Form. Once it was all tied together, it became the simplest sign in kiosk I’ve ever created.

'’Sometimes the simplest projects are the most fun.’’