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The Real Best Consignment Shop Software

Not really the best consignment software...
Not really the best consignment software...
Not really the best consignment software…

I’m sure you are wondering which program really is the best consignment software?  The Computer Peeps know how confusing it can be to make sure you purchase the right consignment software that matches your needs.

One thing to pay close attention to when purchasing consignment software, is that most of the major consignment vendors claim to be the best consignment shop software on the market. What you read isn’t always true, and what your friend says is the best consignment software, might not be the best consignment software for you.

It’s true, most of the consignment software programs offer similar features, but what you should keep in mind is how the consignment program feels when you are using it. You wouldn’t buy a car just because your friend said it drives nice!  More importantly, you wouldn’t buy a car just because it’s pretty! My point is before you buy software you need to demo, demo, and do more demoing!

Also, specific features.  Make sure you verify if the software handles any unique needs for your consignment store – e.g. flat rate buyer/item fees vs. percentage buyer fees, etc.

Make sure you really kick the tires @ adding items, ringing up sales, and paying out consignors.  You want to have practiced the actual processes you go through on a daily basis, within the software you’re about to invest in.  Don’t add items and practice paying out consignors on the day you actually need add inventory or pay consignors.  You get a free trial with each of these programs and you can take a consigned item all the way through the complete consignment life cycle, before you decide to purchase your consignment software.

So no, there is not “one” best consignment shop software. It truly all comes down to which program offers you the specific features you need, and which program feels the most usable!

The Computer Peeps would love to answer any additional questions you might have about the various consignment software programs on the market. We are experts in the industry and no one knows consignment software and consignment hardware the way we do!

Critical Java Flaw Leads To 0-day Exploit for Linux, Mac OS X, and Windows

[info_box style=”warning”]This effects Linux, Mac OS X, and Windows users![/info_box]

Critical Java FlawI first read about this yesterday and now multiple tech blogs [1, 2] are reporting a critical flaw in Java which is being exploited actively in the wild.  Security exports are recommending Java be disabled immediately, as the 0-day exploit spreads.  In case you didn’t catch the big alert above – this affects Linux, Mac OS X, and Windows.

For our consignment store owners out there, the majority of the sites you visit do not use Java.  This means Java can typically be disabled or completely removed and you’ll never notice.  In fact, Firefox has been disabling this plug-in in recent updates, due to continued security issues.  NoScript users are already protected from this sort of content as well, since all active content is blocked by NoScript.

For customers that are on The Computer Peeps’ Monthly Support Plan, we will be handling this issue for you.  For everyone else out there, please make sure your antivirus + anti-malware is up-to-date.  If you have any questions about removing or disabling Java, just let us know!

Facebook App Redesign “Tricks” Users Into Installing Apps

Facebook VirusTechCrunch just published a fantastic article outlining the deceptive new layout for Facebook Apps.  Facebook has changed the buttons/options you see when an app would like access to your Facebook profile.  In the past, you would be greeted with an “Allow” or “Don’t Allow” option.  Now you are no longer presented with the clear options and in fact now, there’s only one button – “Play Game”.  This is something to be expected from ‘hackers’, virus writers, etc.  They’re intentionally trying to deceive people into clicking on buttons or pictures that appear safe.  Coming from Facebook though, I think this is a bit much.

I have a feeling this is going to lead to more users allowing malicious apps to have access to their user profile.  I’m all for trying to make things easier for users, but I think there’s a stark difference between “Allow/Don’t Allow”…

Old Facebook Allow/Don't Allow Options
Old Facebook Allow/Don’t Allow Options

As compared to the new “Play Game” option…

Facebook 'Play Game'
Facebook ‘Play Game’ instead of ‘Allow’ or ‘Don’t Allow’

This is social engineering 101!

Make sure you discuss this with your employees so they’re aware of this change.  Bogus apps will typically redirect you away to another 3rd party site which attempts to download and install malware on your system.  All it takes is one simple, “Oh, I didn’t think a Facebook App could be harmful” to bring a system down.

Some quick tips for staying safe while on Facebook:

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  • Only install apps that you trust and that come from legitimate developers.  If you’re unsure, then you don’t need that app.
  • We recommend using a Javascript blocker, such as NoScript for Firefox.
  • Utilize an ad-blocker, such as AdBlock.
  • Always make sure you have the latest operating system updates.
  • Ensure you’re using good, up-to-date antivirus + anti-malware software – we recommend ESET Nod32 and Malwarebytes’ Anti-Malware Pro.

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Just keep an eye out and read before you click!

Tropical Storm Isaac Is On Its Way

Tropical Storm/Soon-to-be Hurricane Isaac
Soon-to-be Hurricane Isaac

Consignment stores in Florida – how’s your backup/disaster recovery plan looking?  Isaac is currently a Tropical Storm and it’s looking like it will be classified as a Hurricane come tomorrow night.  If your store flooded, do you have your consignment software’s database backed-up off-site?  Have you read our article on CrashPlan yet?

This is a good time It’s always a good time to discuss backups, regardless of your location.  Do you know for certain if your backups are even functioning properly?  When you close your consignment software each day and click ‘Yes’, do you feel extremely confident that your backup is being sent to at least one external disk and at least one off-site location?  What if you didn’t click ‘Yes’, did you still get a backup anyway?

With backups, you should know that your important consignor and customer data is being backed-up on a daily basis.  If you are holding your one and only backup on a USB drive in your purse right now, then your backup plan is not cutting it.  Think of all the items you’ve entered.  Think of all the consignors whose balances are still outstanding.  It’s easy to sweep backups under the rug, because it’s just bits…but it’s not.  Your backup is your livelihood.

If you have a backup of your database, how quickly can you get back up and running?  Do you have a temporary system at home you can bring in to get you by until a new system is configured?  It’s important to have a backup/disaster recovery plan.

Here’s a quick checklist:

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[checklist]

  • Make sure your consignment data is backed-up to a removable drive – e.g. External USB drive, USB flash drive, etc.
  • Configure a supported, automated backup of your consignment software’s database.
    • These backups should take place in addition to and regardless of whether or not your daily shutdown backup takes place.
    • Liberty users – know what RWMaint is?  Do you know where it stores those backup files?
    • ConsignPro users – Do you know what the shadow backups are?  Know how to automatically copy those to another location?
  • Utilize a compatible online/off-site backup solution – e.g. CrashPlan.
  • Have a home computer or secondary store computer that can function as a stand-in, should your primary database server go down.

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It’s not difficult to implement a solid, reliable, compatible backup system which provides you with a redundant set of backups.  Even using an online file-sync program such as SugarSync or Dropbox provides you with an off-site copy of your data.  The issue with programs such as Dropbox is, if you (or someone or something) accidentally delete your backup, it deletes it from all computers.  You can dig through the delete history to see if you can recover the file, but your data isn’t kept forever once deleted.

Hopefully this storm just blows right by, but we wanted to take this opportunity to make sure backups & disaster recovery are always in the back of your mind.  If you don’t have time to worry about that sort of stuff, then ask The Computer Peeps why so many consignment stores rely on The Computer Peeps’ Monthly Support Services.

Stay safe, everyone!

Can I Buy Or Sell ‘Used’ Consignment Software?

Consignment SoftwareThis is something we are asked frequently.  Store owners decide to sell their store and as part of the package, they wonder if they can sell their consignment software along with their store.  The answer is, no.

With software, you are typically purchasing a license to use the software, not the software itself.  A CD or a digital download is not the *thing* you’re purchasing.  Instead, you’re paying for a license (or licenses) to utilize software in your business.  Even with free or open source software, you don’t own the software.

BCSS tries to use this as a marketing tactic, but it’s a bunch of bologna.  See our Consignment Software Vendor Overview for details on each of the consignment software vendors, along with their contact information, respectively.

If you are selling your store or if you are about to purchase a consignment/resale store, make sure you get the details of the license transfer directly from the consignment software vendor in question.  Typically, you must pay a license transfer fee.  There are stipulations though – e.g. is the store name and location the same, but the store owner is changing?  You cannot just close your store and sell your consignment software to a completely different store, in a different location.  Always check with the software vendor directly to verify the terms of their license agreement.

Make sure you know what you’re buying if you’re a prospective new store owner.  We’ve had many new clients buy a store, thinking the consignment software was included.  None of the major consignment software vendors will allow their software to be resold.  Don’t make the mistake of buying something that isn’t allowed to be sold in the first place.

Just in case anyone missed it…

[box with_bg=”true” inner_padding=”small”]No, you cannot sell your ‘used’ consignment software, nor can you purchase ‘used’ consignment software.[/box]

As always, if you have any questions, just let us know!

Google+ Vanity URLs Rolling-out

Google PlusAccording to a Google+ post from Google Product Manager, Saurabh Sharma, Google will begin rolling-out vanity URLs for Google+ profiles and pages over the next couple of days.

Users should be prompted when they visit their profiles and it appears as though it will be rolling-out in selective groups.  URLs will not be case-sensitive – e.g. google.com/+Chrome, google.com/+chrome, and google.com/+ChRoMe all point to the same page.

[info_box style=”notice”]For a business, Google+ is a key resource in improving your SEO results.[/info_box]

Business information is now being displayed in search results as a Google+ page, so if you’re a brick and mortar store – e.g. a consignment or resale store – you should search Google for your store and make sure you claim your Google+ page for your business.

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Google Plus | Claim Google+ URL
Google Plus | Claim Google+ URL

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Gmail Tip | Enable ‘Signature Tweaks’

Ever notice how Gmail doesn’t put your signature below your reply by default?  There’s a handy fix for this called Signature Tweaks available via Google Labs.  To enable Signature Tweaks, click the gear icon and then click [highlight]Settings[/highlight]:

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Gmail Settings
Gmail Settings

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Locate and click the [highlight]Labs[/highlight] menu option:

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Google Labs
Google Labs | Click to Enlarge

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Look for the Lab option named [highlight]Signature Tweaks[/highlight] (ctrl + F always comes in handy):

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Signature Tweaks
Gmail Signature Tweaks | Click to Enlarge

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Now your signature will always be placed directly below your reply.

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Signature Below Reply
Signature Below Reply | Click to Enlarge

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snag.gy | An Easy Way To Share Screenshots

A picture is worth a thousand words.  Often times, a client will want to share something they’re seeing on their screen.  The problem is, getting said screen shot from point A to point B.

snag.gy is a very easy to use image hosting service that solves this problem.

We utilize Jing to quickly share screen shots, but not everyone has their own server and not everyone knows how to configure FTP info.  With snag.gy, there is no special software required other than your web browser.

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To take and share a screen shot, just do the following:

  1. Press the Print Screen button on your keyboard
  2. Press ctrl + v in snag.gy
  3. Share your URL in an email, blog post, instant message, etc.

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That’s it!  We thought we’d share this handy website and hopefully this removes the void between taking a screen shot and sharing it with someone.

“I can build a less-expensive computer!” – No you can’t

PC BuilderPutting the right computers in place is key for keeping your consignment software running properly.  I was working with a client recently and during our discussion of replacing his systems, he suggested that he could just build the computers himself.  A fellow gear-head!

I’m all for people getting their hands dirty – there’s nothing wrong with DIY.  There is a time and place for it though and unless system administration is your specialty, it’s best to leave your system build + maintenance to a professional.

Building computers is fun and it’s a satisfying feeling to put everything together and boot it up for the first time.  How often do you build computers though?  Often enough to know what an external build is?  I’m sure you’re comfy with adjusting settings in the system BIOS.  Dual-channel RAM, you know all about that.  😉

I thought about it though and I wanted to put into perspective exactly what it costs to build a properly spec’d system.  We’ll use NewEgg for our parts, as they’re the most popular website for PC building enthusiasts.  We’ll use the system from the build we were discussing with our client, which was to address database performance issues in a multi-user environment.  Because performance issues were the key element we were looking to address, we’ll use the i3 processor and a Solid State Drive (SSD).

Here’s a parts list:

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[checklist]

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And that system doesn’t include a 3 year next business day on-site hardware replacement warranty.  I didn’t mention additional expenses/costs/labor either, such as thermal compound, a CPU cooler, SATA cables, SSD 2.5″-3.5″ bracket, consignment software installation + configuration, printer installation + configuration, antivirus, backups, etc.  Between the warranty, additional labor, and your actual time, there’s an additional $200-$300 in cost.  You’re looking at about $1,500.00 for a system you had to build and troubleshoot yourself.

Let’s compare that to a Peeps’ system which arrives fully configured, ready to run, right out of the box:

Peeps' Consignment Software Database Server

Add to that system a $200.00 SSD drive and our fully configured example system comes to $1,395.00!  Don’t forget, our systems arrive ready to go and they have a 3-year next business day, on-site hardware replacement warranty.

So when’s the last time you built a computer?  Looking forward to that all-nighter, trying to get the thing just to POST?  It’s like our kitchen faucet which needs replaced.  What at first looked like a basic job, quickly turned into a “we could flood our kitchen” situation.  We don’t recommend the bog-box stores either, as off the shelf systems are just going to lead to issues like this.

You have to learn when to stand back and let a professional step in.  If you’re serious about your consignment or resale business, then don’t try to slap things together yourself.  You have your consignors’ and customers’ private information to worry about.  You have your business’ sales history, consignors’ payouts, and more, to worry about.  This isn’t about “getting the cheapest deal” – leave that for shopping.  It’s not about wasting money in the wrong areas either, so before you look to your consignment software vendor for a system; before you run into the first big-box store with a door-buster deal; before you spend a week trying to figure out why your DIY system won’t boot, call The Computer Peeps for a quote today!  We specialize in configuring systems for consignment and resale stores and we’re proud to have done so for hundreds of stores all across North America.

Shutting Down Windows 8 | The Long and Winding Road…

Microsoft has done us a favor and doubled the amount of steps it takes to shutdown/restart Windows 8 (as compared to Windows 7).  There’s been a bit of criticism of Microsoft’s new Metro UI – i.e. the new ‘tablet-like’ interface which sits on top of the normal Desktop and Explorer interface you’re used to seeing in Windows.

Windows 8 Metro UI
Windows 8 Metro UI | Click to Enlarge

I’m not here to gripe about change and while I’m not personally a fan of the Metro UI aesthetic, I get it.  Microsoft is going to be pushing their Microsoft Surface hardware and the general ‘touch’ experience on Windows Phone 8.

So, once you get through Metro and make your way to the Desktop, the fun begins.

Where do we go from here?

Windows 8 Desktop
Windows 8 Desktop | Click to Enlarge

We have the familiar Windows Desktop we’ve used for years and years, but what do?  The Start button is gone and I don’t see any visual queues as to where to go.  What do we do!?

Well, isn’t it obvious?  Clearly you’re supposed to move your cursor to the far right-hand side of the screen’s top or bottom corners!  😀  When we move the cursor to the right-hand top and bottom corners of the screen, it reveals

Windows 8 NavBar
Windows 8 NavBar | Click to Enlarge

Hmmm, I want to power my computer off, which one of these buttons seems to be the best choice.  Well, I guess power is a setting, so let’s try Settings!  Oh, yay!  I was right!  Looks like we found the Power ‘setting’:

Windows 8 Settings
Windows 8 Settings | Click to Enlarge

Yep, we have a winner!  The Power setting lets us Shut down or Restart our system:

Windows 8 Shut Power Settings
Windows 8 Shut Power Settings | Click to Enlarge

Woohoo!  We’re finally shutting-down Windows 8!

Windows 8 Shutting Down
Windows 8 Shutting Down | Click to Enlarge

To recap, in order to shutdown Windows 8 we:

  1. Hovered our cursor over one of the ‘hotspots’ at the top and left corners on the right-hand side of the screen.
  2. Clicked the Settings icon
  3. Clicked the Power icon
  4. Clicked Shutdown

Now, let’s compare that to Windows 7.  First, we click the Start button at the lower-left:

Windows 7 Desktop
Windows 7 Desktop | Click to Enlarge

Then we click Shutdown – amazing!  🙂

Windows 7 Start Menu
Windows 7 Start Menu | Click to Enlarge

Yay!  Two clicks and we’re shutting-down!

Windows 7 Shutting Down
Windows 7 Shutting Down | Click to Enlarge

So, to shutdown Windows 7 we:

  1. Clicked Start
  2. Clicked Shutdown

For those of you out there already testing Windows 8, let me know if I’m missing something @ shutting-down Windows 8.

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