Posts Tagged ‘frugal’

Buyer Beware: The Hidden Costs of Free Software for Nonprofits

July 8, 2014 Comments off
Contributed Article bNon-Profit Easyy Gretchen Barry, of
The Appeal and Illusion of Free
When it comes to purchasing new software, many organizations do so to increase efficiency, save time, and reduce costs. This is particularly true of nonprofits, which often have limited staff and busy schedules.
Enter “free” software: on its surface, a simple, cost-effective solution. However, free software isn’t always free, and nonprofit executives often learn this the hard way: after incurring costs from implementation, consultants, ancillary features, support, and ongoing maintenance. These costs add up to more than a solution with an upfront cost but long-term savings.
Below are pitfalls to avoid and tips to help you select something that will be a better fit for you, your nonprofit, and your budget over the long haul.
The Misleading Sales Pitch
Low purchase prices and robust “communities” of users tempt nonprofit executives to invest in these free solutions. However, the “free” program is typically a bare-bones solution, containing only limited functionality. The sales staff exalts the limitations as a selling point, telling potential clients that their software is highly customizable. While this is true, it’s this customization that contributes to the overall cost.
If You Can’t Implement the Software, It Will Cost You in the Long Run
Consultant fees for implementing a system you can’t negate any initial cost savings. Why? Transforming the basic software into a usable solution for your organization typically requires consultants. Most nonprofits do not have IT personnel on staff, which means that they are completely dependent on these consultants to implement the software. More complex features increase implementation cost. Consultants work on an hourly basis, often charging up to $150 per hour. And once the system is up and running, the staff needs to learn how to use it. There is often limited documentation on these low-cost products, and the trainers to help also cost additional money. What does this say about a system that is so difficult to understand that it requires consultants to manage? In the end, the nonprofit could have paid a higher up-front fee for an all-inclusive software solution and greatly lowered their costs.
How to Find a Comprehensive and Cost-Effective Solution
Organizations should look for all-in-one software solutions which don’t require external consultants to set up or maintain. All-inclusive CRM solutions will provide many of the above costs in their total pricing. That means that nonprofit executives know exactly what their up-front and ongoing costs will be.
Ask providers the following:
• How many of their clients require consultants or trainers during implementation.
• The price per hour for any consultants.
• The average cost of total implementation for most of their clients. 
• A detailed price breakdown of:
 – purchase price for the software
 – installation and implementation costs
 – customization options
 – migration of your data from the old to new system
 – ongoing monthly fees
 – staff training
 – ongoing product support
Research Now, Save Later
While it can be tempting to “save now and pay later,” it is worth your time, now, to do your homework, test drive software, and calculate the full cost of “free” and paid software solutions. Free often comes at a higher cost in the long run.
About the Author:
Gretchen is Director of Marketing for NonProfitEasy, an all-in-one software solution provider whose mission it is to change the status quo for the greater good. Gretchen’s passion is to ensure that every nonprofit has the technology to deliver services to their communities as affordably and efficiently as possible.

Keep Your iStuff Stylishly Under Wraps with Mummy Cases (Review)

February 17, 2014 Comments off

iPad Mummy CaseMummy Cases for iPad, iPhone, and iPad mini
Loop Attachment Company
Price: $40.00 for iPad. $24.95 for iPhone. $30.00 for iPad mini.

The Mummy cases for your iPad, iPhone, and iPad mini are just what you need for keeping a firm grip on your mobile device, while also keeping a firm grip on your sanity when using your very expensive gadgetry. Mummy cases are called “mummy” because their design is somewhat reminiscent of mummy wrappings. One significant thing to note about the cases is that they do not cover your product’s cameras, speakers, power connector, earbud interface or Apple logo.

I’m not sure the last one is an absolute requirement but some people like for you to know they’re using Apple products instead of some knock off or lesser quality device. Actually, not covering the logo is really a secondary feature–the real feature is so that you can stash your credit cards, your ID, your gym membership card, or even a few business cards.

The cases are constructed of high-quality silicone rubber polymer, which is chemically unreactive, stable, durable, impact absorbing, and shape retaining. It is also highly resistant to changes in temperature and mechanical stress. In other words, this case will likely outlast the electronic device that it protects by a factor of ten.

iPhone Mummy CaseAnd now, my personal experience with the Mummy case for iPhone 5:

Did you ever have one of those days where everything seemed to go wrong? And one of those things was that your iPhone slid off of your car’s dashboard and hit the floorboard hard after, of course, making an impact on your gearshift lever. I’ve had it happen to me more than once. My iPhone 5 has taken a minor beating because of my desire to have it handily placed on the dashboard within reach. No, I don’t text and drive but I do have a Bluetooth enabled car so I can make and receive phone calls by pressing steering wheel buttons and speaking.

The problem is that I can’t send or retrieve messages using the car’s built-in features. I have to physically press my iPhone’s Home button until Siri responds. Once I do that, all is well but it has to be somewhere handy for me to do it. The dashboard is a good choice–well, would be a good choice if it weren’t for the fact that anytime I turn a corner, it skitters across the car like a rock skipping across a lake, with similar results: I get a sinking feeling at the end of the excitement.

After I received a set of Mummy cases to try, I immediately placed one on my iPhone, my iPad, my wife’s iPad mini, and my daughter’s iPad mini.

I decided that because this case is made of silicone rubber I’d try the dashboard trick again. At least it would have enhanced protection even if it failed to hold the phone in place. To my enjoyment, the case held my phone in place on the dashboard, even through the treacherous, construction-laden streets of Tulsa, Oklahoma. Success. Finally, I can leave my phone on the dash, within reach, without having to hold it down or pick it up every time I turn a corner, swerve to miss an errant driver (don’t laugh, it happens a lot), or to navigate the plague of perennial construction.

Let me say here that the silicon rubber isn’t sticky or tacky, like you might suspect. This is high quality silicone rubber and not the low grade stuff that the “wall walker” toys are made of, nor is it composed of rubber that picks up lint and dust from objects that it touches. It also slides easily in and out of jeans pockets but is “sticky” enough to stay inside under unusual circumstances that I often find myself in during backyard activities, garage puttering, or working in the data center on computers. I don’t have to worry about my phone slipping out of my pocket. That’s one less thing to worry about.

Score one for the Mummy iPhone case.

The iPad case is equally “grippy.” I use my iPad in all sorts of unusual scenarios, such as while I’m watercolor painting, while I’m cooking, or while I’m in the hot tub. Hey, don’t judge me; I like my technology close to me where ever I am.

The case feel good in my hands while I’m playing Trigger Fist or Real Racing 3. Yes, I know that I should be writing, learning, or doing something more constructive but come on–I need my down time too. Didn’t you ever watch Star Trek’s “Shore Leave” episode where they said, “…the more complex the mind, the greater the need for the simplicity of play.”? I don’t care what you think, I’m going with that as applying to myself and as justification for playing video games.

My wife and daughter love the Mummy cases too. My wife really likes the fact that the case has magnetic anchors so that her Apple “smart” cover works with it. She did tell me that you have to be somewhat careful with the smart cover when closing it because sometimes the smart cover doesn’t connect fully and sleep the iPad mini. Neither my daughter nor I have a smart cover so I have to take her word for it.

iPad mini Mummy CaseShe’s had nothing but good things to say about the Mummy case and that she really likes how it feels in her hands. She feels like it enhances her iPad mini experience. Before the Mummy case, she only had the smart cover by itself and she said it felt awkward and never comfortable. She’s happier with it now that she has the Mummy case.

My daughter’s experience is similar to my wife’s with her iPad mini. She plays a lot of video games and likes the grip it gives her on the iPad. She says that it feels “natural.” I’d have to agree. That feeling is purely subjective, I realize, but it’s accurate. It feels like the iPad should have been made with this kind of feel. It’s very hard to explain but it feels natural and it doesn’t add any real weight or dimensionality to the device. It’s “natural.”

Why it’s frugal: The Mummy case is a frugal product because it protects your valuable devices. If that weren’t enough, and it certainly could be, you also have the bonus features of a natural feel, smart cover compatibility, and surface stability–such as on a car’s dashboard.

The only issue I have with the Mummy case is the price. It seems a little high to me. I don’t know how much it costs to produce but the products are made in China, which is slightly offputting. I do prefer American made products. If I’m going to pay $25, $30, or $40 for a case, I’d rather have it made in America. I’d feel better about purchasing the cases if they were $10 per item less expensive.

I love quality products. Apparently other members of my family love them too, because they haven’t removed the Mummy cases since we put them on. The cases are easy to put on your devices, yet give them a snug and stable fit.

The Loop Attachment Company manufactures very well made products. I like the range of available colors and the number of devices they support. The cases fit well and protect the devices they’re meant to protect. The cases are elegant, stylish, and make great gifts for yourself or others. And they’re attention getters–I’ve had several people check out my iPhone case from just the look alone. No one ever did that when I sported my TARDIS case. Oh well, not everyone is a Whovian.

My family and I love the Mummy cases and gladly recommend them for your iStuff. The grip, the natural feel, the range of colors, the warranty, and the added features make them a fine addition to your busy, gadget-centered lifestyle.

Rating: 8.5/10

Recommendation: Buy for yourself or for a gift. You’ll be happy with your choice.

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