Monday, April 24, 2017

How to run your small business with free open source software

Open source office productivity suites

Very few companies using Microsoft Office actually require support from Microsoft, so using an open source alternative can make good financial sense. Open-source suites are compatible with Microsoft Office file formats such as .doc and .xls. Though their feature sets aren't quite as comprehensive as Office, that's unlikely to matter — most people only use a fraction of the available features available anyway.
Here are four open source alternatives to Microsoft Office:
  • Apache OpenOffice, a comprehensive suite for Windows, macOS and Linux;
  • Open Document Foundation's LibreOffice, a fork of OpenOffice for Windows, macOS and Linux;
  • NeoOffice, a Java-based fork of OpenOffice for macOS
  • Calligra, which runs on Windows, Linux, FreeBSD and macOS.

Open source finance and accounting applications

The following financial packages provide open source alternatives to commercial packages such as Quicken, Sage or QuickBooks:
  • GnuCash (Windows, macOS and Linux) helps very small businesses apply professional accounting principles and track bank accounts, income and expenses to help ensure balanced books and accurate financial reports.
  • TurboCASH (Windows), aimed at the small to medium-sized business market, provides a general ledger and offers core functionality such as posting transactions into accounts and producing financial reports. The product supports 80 tax regimes, including the United States and the United Kingdom.
  • xTuple offers both a free and commercial supported version of Postbooks (Windows, macOS, Linux, BSD) to medium and larger companies. It includes accounting (general ledger, accounts receivable and payable, bank reconciliation and financial reporting) as well as sales, CRM, inventory and distribution, and other business management functions.

Open source ERP software systems

Enterprise resource planning (ERP) software is complex and can be very costly. But open source alternatives to SAP or Microsoft Dynamics do exist. Here are three:
  • The popular and comprehensive open source ERP package ADempiere (Windows, macOS, Linux and Unix) offers accounting, manufacturing management, material management, finance, human resource, project management and maintenance management features.
  • OFBiz is the Apache Foundation's Java-based, multi-platform enterprise business package. It includes ERP, accounting, CRM, supply chain management, manufacturing resource management and enterprise asset management functionality.
  • Odoo (Windows and Linux) provides a full suite of applications, including sales management, accounting and finance, recruitment, purchase management and manufacturing resource management. A paid version ($25-$30 per user per month) includes support, automated updates and an unlimited bug fix guarantee.

Open source CRM software options

Commercial customer relationship management (CRM) software is available from niche vendors, software as a service providers such as and large software vendors such as Oracle. Here are three open source alternatives:
  • The SugarCRM Community Edition (Windows, macOS, Linux and UNIX) is the free, unsupported version of a comprehensive CRM product that includes sales force automation, marketing campaigns and customer support.
  • OpenCRX (Windows, macOS and Linux) is designed for organizations that need multifunctional, enterprise-wide coordination of sales generation, sales fulfillment, marketing and service activities for customers, partners, suppliers and intermediaries.
  • The multi-platform Fat Free CRM is a Ruby on Rails-based CRM platform that features group collaboration, campaign and lead management, contact lists and opportunity tracking out of the box.

Open source communications and telephony software

Private branch exchange (PBX) hardware used to be very expensive, but software-based PBX releases bring the price of PBXs down. The open source PBX market is dominated by Asterisk software.
  • AsteriskNOW (Linux) is an easy-to-install IP PBX that comes with the FreePBX administrative GUI. The Asterisk project is sponsored by Digium, which also offers a commercial version of the PBX.
  • Elastix (Linux) is based on Asterisk telephony software, but it also integrates fax, instant messaging and email functionality from other open source projects. Features include voicemail, fax-to-email, support for softphones, virtual conference rooms and call recording.

Open source content management systems

Content management systems power websites — and many of the world's largest sites use an cross-platform, open source CMS such as the following:
  • Big-name sites such as The Economist, and The White House use Drupal. Features include user account registration and maintenance, menu management, RSS feeds, page layout customization and system administration.
  • WordPress started as a blogging system but has evolved into a full-blown CMS with thousands of plugins, widgets and themes. It's the most popular blogging platform on the Web and powers about 20 percent of the top 10 million sites on the internet.
  • Second only to WordPress in implementations, Joomla is used by organizations including Harvard University and Citibank. Thousands of extensions, both free and commercial, are available from the Joomla! Extension Directory.
  • Java-based OpenCMS offers a browser-based work environment (including a WYSIWYG editor) as well as asset, user and workflow management.

Open source ecommerce tools

Ecommerce software packages, such as the three cross-platform products listed here, include everything from product presentation to shopping carts, checkout and payment processing.
  • OpenCart is a turnkey shopping cart for small and medium-sized retailers. It includes order management and multiple payment gateways, provides the capability for customers to leave product reviews and ratings, and offers lifetime free community support. (Commercial support is available through an international partner network.)
  • PrestaShop is a popular and easy-to-use platform that offers product displays, translations, marketing, localization and taxes, and product export to eBay. Support is available as a paid service. Training is offered in France.
  • An older ecommerce platform that branched from osCommerce, Zen Cart is aimed at developers and advanced users. Features include discount coupons, gift vouchers and multiple payment options.

More open source essentials

Open source security tools
If you haven’t been looking to open source to help address your security needs, you’re missing out on a growing number of freely available tools for protecting your networks, hosts, and data.
Open source network management tools
Can open source products deliver enterprise-grade results? To answer this question we tested four open source network monitoring products: OpenNMS, Pandora FMS, NetXMS and Zabbix.

Open Source Software: 10 Go To Solution for Small Businesses

While closed-source operating systems such as Windows and Mac OS may still dominate the OS market, not everyone can afford the high costs that they entail. For small- and medium-sized enterprises where every penny matters, taking advantage of open-source software such as Ubuntu’s Linux is a good bet to boost productivity and cost effectiveness. The fact that open-source softwares have evolved to become somewhat user-friendly and sleek also helps a good deal. 
A number of open-source office productivity suites are available in the open market. The term implies that users can download these softwares for free, without having to pay a subscription fee. However, services and support are generally not available in these free versions, but can be availed of at a small additional cost. The good thing is that many of these open-source softwares are compatible with Microsoft Office file formats such as .doc and .xls, which is a plus point. 
We review here four open-source systems that you can avail of:
1. Apache OpenOffice: An open-source suite that is a comprehensive suite for Windows, macOS, and Linux, it allows various functionalities such as word processing, spreadsheets, presentations, graphics, databases, and so on. It has been developed over years of open development process, and now allows users to freely report bugs and suggest enhancements. The best part is that is it user-friendly and can be learnt very quickly and is applicable on Windows, macOS, and Linux systems. 
2. Open Document Foundation's LibreOffice: Another powerful office suite, its feature-rich and clean interfaces have a number of applications such as Writer (word processing), Calc (spreadsheets), Impress (presentations), Draw (vector graphics and flowcharts), Base (databases), and Math (formula editing). It is compatible with document formats such as Microsoft Word, Excel, PowerPoint, and Publisher. It is free and can be shared, modified, and used by anyone. It can be used for Windows, macOS, and Linux. 
3. NeoOffice: For Mac users, NeoOffice provides a great office suite based on the OpenOffice office suite. It allows users to view, edit, and save OpenOffice documents, LibreOffice documents, and Microsoft Word applications such as Excel and PowerPoint documents.
4. GnuCash: A finance and accounting application that works on Windows, macOS, and Linux, it helps small businesses easily track bank accounts and income and expenses using standard accounting concepts. Book balancing and financial reporting are now a breeze with GnuCash, since it works equally well on Windows, macOS, and Linux. 
5. TurboCASH: Designed for small and medium businesses, it helps tax calculations and reporting for the US and the UK. It also allows business-as-usual financing tasks such as ledger maintenance and posting transactions into accounts. 
6. ADempiere: It is an Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP) app that offers accounting, manufacturing, material, finance, human resource, project management, and maintenance management features. It runs on multiple platforms such as Windows, macOS, Linux, and Unix. 
7. SugarCRM: The community edition works on Windows, macOS, Linux, and UNIX as a comprehensive CRM application, including modules related to sales force automation (SFA), marketing, and customer support and service. 
8. AsteriskNOW: An open-source communication software designed for Linux, it utilizes the FreePBX administrative GUI. 
9. Wordpress: Though it initially started off as a blogging portal, it has evolved to become a full-blown content management portal. Various widgets and plug-ins make it a versatile platform, especially since it powers about 20% of the top 10 million sites on the Internet.
10. OpenCart: For small businesses looking to establish an e-commerce presence, OpenCart is a great shopping cart resource. It offers services such as order management, payment gateways, product reviews and ratings, and great support. 
Each of these open-source tools can add great value to your business by enabling and empowering you to independently carry out your core tasks to their optimum levels. 

Tuesday, April 11, 2017

List of Cheap Chinese Online Buying sites


This list is not in any way a recommendation, sanction or endorsement by Ozbargain, its members or its affiliates. This list is provided for information purposes only. Sites on this list have not gone through verification. Also the quality of products bought from these sites is often hit-and-miss: You get what you pay for.

List Description

Here is a list of various Online sites for buying direct from Hong Kong/China.

The List

Price Comparison

These sites do price comparison for the Chinese buying sites:

Tips and Advice

  • As stated above, OzBargain, its members or its affiliates cannot be held responsible by for any shops listed here. If you do decide to use these sites, they are not sanctioned or recommended by Ozbargain.
  • Products bought from here are often much cheaper than a similar product at a retail store, but this often comes at the cost of quality.
  • The products are mostly advertised in USD and often include free shipping
  • Shipping varies widely between stores, but generally expect anything from 15-60 days.
  • Large numbers of products in a single order may cause your order to be delayed, as sellers tend to wait till all items are instock before shipping.
  • DHL/EMS are usually good options for faster postage at higher cost.
  • Try searching for coupons for a site before checking out; often you can save around 5% with a simple google search.
  • Most of the stores listed above have been used by ozbargain members – try searching the forums before trying a store.
  • Some of the above listings are marketplaces for sellers (like eBay), so you need to verify the quality of the seller as well as the quality of the marketplace.
  • Some sites may appear to be missing from this list – some have been banned on ozbargain for spam, sockpuppeting or other major issues, if you notice one missing, try searching the forum first or ask a mod.
  • Many sites have Affiliate Programs, where you can get a commission on sales. Do not abuse this on ozbargain, you will be banned. See Posting Referral Links for more info.

Prudent Warnings

  • Use your judgement – if its too good to be true, it probably is.
  • NEVER pay via credit card to avoid credit card fraud.
  • Pay with PayPal where possible to benefit from PayPal buyer protection.
  • It is YOUR responsibility to avoid importing illegal and dangerous products. Stay away from imitation weapons, lasers, fireworks, telecom/radio equipment that operates in illegal frequencies. Customs will pick it up and you will be fined $$$. Don't trust the sellers specs on lasers – if Customs tests it and it is mislabelled, YOU will be held responsible.
  • Consider your safety: cheap make-up products from china may contain very dangerous/toxic chemicals!!
  • You will get what you paid for – if its cheap, don't expect high quality or precise manufacturing, build quality or reliability.
  • It is common for popular products to be 'cloned' by a different manufacturer at a lower price, often at a cost of lower quality. It is even common for clone products to be cloned! (e.g. SJ4000 action camera) Often these stores can be a good way to buy high-quality products designed for the China market, but cloning is rampant so be careful.
  • Do not be fooled by the photos, do your own research.
  • Some are well-known stores others are not. Do your own research on google and search the ozbargain forums.
  • These are international stores. Don't expect them to honour price errors or Australian consumer laws.
  • If a product seems substantially cheaper than elsewhere ask – how yourself: could they have cut corners manufacturing this product? Will it perform to the same standard and am I happy to accept this if not?

Warranty and Faulty Products

  • Being polite and patient in communication is the best way to get help and support from these businesses.
  • Never threaten, or get abusive or rude – the person you are dealing for support with has nothing to do with the quality of the product.
  • Send a photo of the issue to the seller.
  • For lower value items, typically the seller will issue a refund or ship a replacement to you.
  • For higher-value items, you will be responsible for return postage costs – this can be costly so consider warranty costs before purchasing.
  • Generally warranty service can be difficult to obtain beyond 6 months after purchase, the policies vary from seller to seller.

Friday, April 7, 2017

How to buy handsets and other electronic devices from Chinese online stores

There are many new handsets being launched in India, unfortunately there are better ones with latest hardware available on Chinese websites. You can buy the handsets from Chinese online stores, and here is what you should know.
Now before you plan to go ahead with the purchase do note that there is a minor risk, it is with reference to the device you order. For example you might face issues with the phone you bought or it does not start at all, in such a case sending the device back / after sales support will not be that easy. But in most cases you will get a perfectly working phone, but yes keep in mind there is this small risk. You should also check the terms and conditions from the site you are buying.
There are two ways to order you can either go for the express shipping or ordinary registered post. The express shipping is costlier but in the end the shipping cost + custom duty comes up to the same as normal shipping, though better to use express shipping as it delivers faster.
Now avoid using gift / lower invoice value especially for mobile phones. It is better to be honest and if possible ask the seller to attach a screen shot of the product with the actual price.
I have used both ordinary post and express shipping and here are my experiences.
Buy handsets and other electronic devices from Chinese online stores

Ordinary registered Post

This is cheaper takes a lot of time and the custom duty is always higher, better to avoid it for high cost products (over Rs. 7000).

Express shipping

This will cost you extra, its faster and the custom duty is comparatively lower.
In general the extra charges i.e. shipping + customs will come to near about the same for both express / ordinary post.
Some users / sellers suggest to ship the handset with lower price tag like $30 or under so as to avoid the custom duty for such devices. However it will all depend on your luck if you are lucky you will not have to pay any duty, but if you are not, you will end up paying the actual duty + in some cases extra fine that will be much, much higher will cost you 2x or more the amount you spend on your phone.

How much custom duty you need to pay?

Well you can check it on but do note that every time the duty will be different, depending on the custom official inspecting your device. Just to give you an idea. I have paid Rs. 4,000 for a Rs. 7,000 device (using ordinary post), at times Rs. 900 for a Rs. 8,000 device (using DHL). And recently Rs. 6,200 for 2 smartphones totaling to $320 from China using DHL post. Also better to attach screen shot for device + price from the seller website as proof. And guess what I got the OnePlus One from USA (a long time back) – $349, that time I paid Rs. 3,420 for custom + shipping, Customs Duty was Rs. 1,573.
It is safe to assume that for a 160$ handset from China you will end up paying anywhere from Rs. 1000 to Rs. 3000 total custom duty.

Where do you pay the custom duty?

If you have ordered it from normal post you will need to pay it to the postman. And if you have used express shipping you will have to pay to the courier guy at the time of delivery.

Popular Websites

Pandawill, aliexpress, gearbest, coolcool,, dx etc.

Which Shipping service to use for shipping into India

For high value products say 50$ and over better use DHL or Fedex. I know these shipping services cost extra, but they are far cheaper than the EMS Speed Post services.
If you use EMS shipping in case of custom verification you will have to visit personally or via your agent/authorized person, you will not only be wasting your time but also end up paying much higher amount, it is cheaper to leave the package there. Just avoid EMS at all cost, pathetic services, go with DHL or Fedex they are 1000 times better, cheaper and honest (as long you are honest).
Also note for EMS dutiable articles, intended for personal use, imported by post or air are restricted to Rs. 2000, anything above that and you will have to pay duty + fine on full amount, they will also calculate shipping, so avoid EMS, period.
Check the image below – it is the reason why most people fall into the trap, they think importing goods from EMS/normal post is free and most free shipping use this option. Instead of putting a board outside the custom office saying “do not pay bribe/ report bribe” it would be better if they put up rules and regulations and educate people regarding the rules of EMS/ import.
Indian EMS rule
If you get called you will need to pay almost the same cost that you spend. Problem is most people don’t really know how EMS works and it is not a good option for importing goods over 30$ for personal use. It looks cheaper but it is not, and also the primary reason for corruption.