Tag Archives: Glenn Taggart

Timberline Estimating Software Review

Popular guest writer, Glenn Taggart who, in the real world, has a real job (like many of us bloggers), has some definite views on construction estimating software and, on how to avoid being lured into purchasing  a less than suitable solution.

imageWhile the thought of being a full time blogger is certainly romantic, the reality of my life is that of a construction project manager and estimator. As I become busy in my professional life, something has to give and I guess writing articles is that something that has to give.

Before any project gets built, the owner wants to know how much the project is going to cost. Most of the time we are providing cost estimates and competing with anywhere from 5 to 10 other contractors. In most cases, the low responsible price wins the contract.

On a $3 million dollar project, I will spend about 2 weeks putting the project estimate together. Estimating software is of the most important software that I use on a regular basis.

Recently, the company I work for tasked yours truly to oversee a new computer and software upgrade. This particular upgrade included a new company server, workstations, and estimating software.

Prior to the upgrade, we were using a product from Sage software called Timberline Estimating. I believe Timberline was the first mainstream estimating software. I personally have been using Timberline Estimating software for the past 15 years.

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After enduring multiple webinairs from multiple estimating software platforms, I narrowed it down to two choices – ProEst and Timberline.

Timberline has the advantage of being a tried, true, and tested estimating platform by companies large and small. It also had the advantage that all of us at work have been using it for a long time. Because estimating software is the most important function for us at work, we desire to utilize the best software to help us with our estimating.

Let me make it clear that the estimating software is a tool that we use. We are NOT slaves to the software and the software does not “think” for us. I guess an analogy would be playing the guitar. You aren’t simply going to put a Les Paul guitar in someone’s hands and all of a sudden they become Eric Clapton.

ProEst has a great marketing department. They are able to clearly articulate and demonstrate the great things that ProEst can do. Unfortunately, that is as good as it gets with ProEst. The program is slow and klunky and I personally ran into several bugs that, according to ProEst support, were being worked on and “would be fixed in an upcoming release”.

Our company went so far as to buy several licenses under the false pretense that we would be able to get some of our money back if things didn’t work out. Long story short, things didn’t work out. Nearly all of our estimating team found the software to be too slow and time consuming to use. Our estimating team consists of 6 who all have at least 10 years estimating experience. Once they have their hands on your money, they will not do the honorable thing and hand it back (as we were lead to believe).

Unfortunately, ProEst’s answer to our unwillingness to have them force feed their software to us was simply that we needed to sit through umpteen hours of their web based support. I beg your pardon? Hey ProEst, we’re not dummies. We recognize a sub par estimating platform when we see one.

What I can’t explain are all the favorable reviews for ProEst. The only thing I can think of is the people who are favorably reviewing ProEst are ProEst employees or folks that have not tried the more superior, refined, and FAST Sage Timberline estimating.

Like I said, Timberline estimating has been around since day one. The folks that put this fine piece of precision software together are not without their A-Game. The programmers who put Timberline together have obviously made it their priority to have people from the estimating profession give input into making the program function.

Timberline really excels with it’s excel spreadsheet integration (no pun intended), report writing, address/contact book, and did I say FAST! With Timberline you never more than two clicks away from entering an activity. ProEst on the other hand…Ugh! After opening at least 3 or 4 windows (I honestly lost count), you finally get the opportunity to enter an activity. ProEst is simply too slow of a process to contend.

If you are sitting on the fence in trying to decide which estimating software to use, look no farther than Sage Timberline Estimating. There is absolutely no comparison. Simply put, no other estimating platform even comes close.

Bio: Glenn Taggart of The Crazy World of G, – one of the hardest working people I know – brings a background as a high level super user, to the Blogging world. Glenn has been a contributor here almost since “day one”.

Drop by Glenn’s freeware page.

If you found this article useful, why not subscribe to this Blog via RSS, or email? It’s easy; just click on this link and you’ll never miss another Tech Thoughts article.

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Filed under Commercial Applications, Computer Tools, Guest Writers, Opinion, Productivity Software, Software

Download Free Orb – Stream Your Media to Any Internet Connection

My good buddy from the Pacific Northwest, and popular guest writer, Glenn Taggart, is excited about the freeware web based media streamer Orb.

Have I mentioned I have a large music collection? For the past year, I have managed to convert my hundreds of CD’s to digital format so I can preserve them and of course listen to them with my computer. I have also bought Western Digital’s WDTV Live so I can wirelessly stream them from my computer to my stereo system so I can rock the house!!

The last remaining task that I have recently accomplished is to be able to stream my music collection through any internet connection.

Enter Orb.

Orb is a web based media streamer that is so simple to set up, a caveman can do it. An added bonus with Orb is to be able to remotely access your computer folders and files as well.

The process is very simple. You install the client side software on your home computer, go to settings and set up the drive(s), folder, and file access you want. For Orb to work, you have to make sure your host side computer is on.

Once you’ve downloaded and installed Orb to your home PC, login to mycast.orb.com, using any internet-connected device with a streaming media player (mobile phone, PDA, laptop) and start MyCasting all your digital media anywhere anytime.

ORB

Your music – at the office, in the hotel, at the Wi-Fi hotspot.

  • You can stream music to your laptop.
  • Select songs, make playlists, right from the laptop.
  • ALL your music is available (and internet radio, podcasts, and videos).

Turn your laptop into a movie screen.

  • Play any movie or video that you have on your Orb PC.
  • Watch from the hotel or coffee house – anywhere you have an internet connection.

Don’t miss your favorite TV shows while you are away.

  • Watch live and recorded TV shows on your remote computer.
  • Watch from the office, hotel or coffee house – anywhere you have an internet connection.

Photo collections should be seen

  • You can enjoy your photos on any remote computer.
  • It’s easy to watch – or send – slideshows with photos stored on your PC or on the internet.
  • You can even set up a desktop photo widget with photos from your home computer.

Share your media with your friends

  • Your friends receive an email: with their Orb FREE account, they are the only ones to see what you shared with them!
  • Your media is served by your PC: safe, secure
  • No more big file attachments hassles!

From a security standpoint, be very careful how you set this up. I recommend you create a public folder and copy any media files or other files you want access to to this folder. I’m always a little paranoid about making my root directories available to a 3rd party website. If you need to be able to access your root directories, I suggest setting up a virtual private network or FTP.

Orb works great with mobile phones as well. I currently have my HTC Incredible hooked up to Orb and can watch videos and listen to music from my own computer!

System requirements:

Windows 7, Vista, XP with Service Pack 2 or later, Mac OS X Intel 10.5 or later.

AMD Athlon 3200+ processor or 2.4Ghz Intel Pentium IV processor or equivalent (a slower processor may cause “stuttering” when streaming TV or videos)

512MB of RAM

Broadband connection

Download at: Orb.com

Guest Writer: This is a guest post by Glenn Taggart of The Crazy World of G, one of the hardest working people I know, who brings a background as a high level super user, to the Blogging world.

Drop by Glenn’s freeware page.

If you found this article useful, why not subscribe to this Blog via RSS, or email? It’s easy; just click on this link and you’ll never miss another Tech Thoughts article.

9 Comments

Filed under Audio Applications, Cloud Computing Applications, Freeware, Interconnectivity, Multimedia Tools, Software, Streaming Media Applications, Video, Video Tools, Windows 7, Windows Tips and Tools, Windows Vista, Windows XP

Free AxCrypt – Encrypt, Compress, Decrypt in Windows Explorer

My good buddy and regular guest writer, Glenn Taggart, has a pretty convincing perspective on what he’s looking for in a free encryption application. See if you agree with Glenn.

Since I made the move to Windows 7 about a year ago, I was unable to continue to use one of my favorite programs.

AxCrypt is a program that will encrypt a file or folder, and will also compress and shred files. My primary use is encrypting my personal information in the event prying eyes happen upon my stuff.

Before I started using Windows 7, I was using Windows XP 32 bit. At the time, AxCrypt did not support 64 bit systems. When I upgraded my operating system to Win7, I upgraded to 64 bit. AxCrypt no longer worked and I complained!

Since I was on AxCrypt’s email list, I got a message a month or so ago, that AxCrypt now supported windows 7 and 64 bit. To say the least, I was relieved because I have tried many encryption programs for the past year, and none of them held a candle to AxCrypt.

My needs were simple – I wanted a program that ran as an .exe that would bring up a password window, open, and when I closed the file, would re-encrypt – AxCrypt does exactly that.

AxCrypt also integrates nicely into the right click context menu in Windows Explorer, so encrypting new files or folders, is a very fast process.

So, if you have files or folders that you need to protect, look no further than AxCrypt! It supports XP, Win7 32 and 64 bit operating systems.

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Fast facts:

Right-click integration with Windows Explorer makes AxCrypt the easiest way to encrypt individual files in Windows.

Double-click integration makes it as easy to open, edit and save encrypted files as it is to work with unencrypted files.

Many additional features, but no configuration required, just install it and use it.

AxCrypt encrypts files that are safely and easily sent to other users via e-mail or any other means. Self-decrypting files are also supported, removing the need to install AxCrypt to decrypt.

Available languages: English, Danish, Swedish, German, Dutch, Hungarian, Spanish, French, Italian and Norwegian.

System requirements: Windows 2000/2003/XP/Vista/2008/7 (32 and 64 bit).

Download at: Developer’s site (Skip Navigation LinksAxantum Software AB)

Guest Writer: This is a guest post by Glenn Taggart of The Crazy World of G, who brings a background as a high level super user, to the Blogging world.

Drop by Glenn’s freeware page.

If you found this article useful, why not subscribe to this Blog via RSS, or email? It’s easy; just click on this link and you’ll never miss another Tech Thoughts article.

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Filed under downloads, Encryption, Encryption Software, Freeware, Guest Writers, Software, Utilities, Windows 7, Windows Tips and Tools, Windows Vista, Windows XP

Media Monkey – Media Control to the Max

Guest writer Glenn Taggart is a true music lover, and he has some definite ideas on the best free media player out there. Glenn gives you his views on his favorite music media player – Media Monkey.

In the world of web based music media players, there are many to choose from.  I know many of you are quite content with the pre-packaged media players that come with the Microsoft operating system.

However, if you want to listen to other file types such as OGG or FLAC, or, say you want to sync your iPod, iPhone, or other Mp3 players, Microsoft can be a real bummer.

Enter my favorite music media player – Media Monkey.

Media Monkey will play all music files and will also sync with your iPod. Other great features of Media Monkey include the ability to retag your music collection in case you have music that is tagged improperly. Media Monkey will also rip CDs, and will convert your audio files between the various music formats.

The user interface is intuitive and is easy to set up. Whether you want to have your music collection in file format or playlist format, Media Monkey has you covered.

Did I mention system resource use? As a former XP user on an older machine, CPU and RAM resources were thin. Media Monkey solves this equation and operates on very low system resources.

Of all the music players out there, and I have tried them all, only Media Monkey has all of the bells and whistles and ease of use for the casual and power user.

Media Monkey is compatible with XP, Vista, and Win7


Fast facts:

Organize music and edit tags in your audio library with a powerful, intuitive interface.

Automatically lookup and tag Album Art and other metadata.

Manage 50,000+ files in your music collection without bogging down.

Manage all genres of audio: Rock, Classical, Audiobooks, Comedy, Podcasts, etc.

Play MP3s and other audio formats, and never again worry about varying volume.

Record CDs and convert MP3s, M4A, OGG, FLAC and WMA files etc. into other formats.

Create playlists and let Auto-DJ & Party Mode take care of your party.

Sync iPhones, iPods, & MP3 players, converting & leveling tracks on-the-fly.

Plus much more…

If you have been thinking about downloading a FREE 3rd party music player, give Media Monkey a try!

System requirements: Windows 98/Me/2000/XP/Vista/7

Download at: Download.com

Guest Writer: This is a guest post by Glenn Taggart of The Crazy World of G, who brings a background as a high level super user, to the Blogging world.

Drop by Glenn’s freeware page.

If you found this article useful, why not subscribe to this Blog via RSS, or email? It’s easy; just click on this link and you’ll never miss another Tech Thoughts article.

20 Comments

Filed under Audio Applications, Audio Software, Digital Media, downloads, Freeware, Media Player Replacement, Software, Windows 7, Windows Tips and Tools, Windows Vista, Windows XP

Think Out of the Email Box with FilzMail – A Disposable Email Address

image Yesterday’s article on “Nigerian Spammers Take On the FBI” drew a facetious comment from a reader in which he stated, in a manner of speaking, that he likes to hit back at spammers.

A pretty natural reaction, I think, to the tons of unsolicited emails that lead to crammed inboxes. I’m sure many of us would just love to hammer these guys.

If you’ve ever been tempted to “fight back” and respond to unsolicited email – don’t. Here’s why – simply opening the email is sufficient to let the “bad guys” know that your email address is “live”. In other words, your address is now good to sell to more spammers, which will guarantee even more spam. So, you see, they still win.

If you’re going to “write” to these people, do so from a disposable mailbox. There are tons of these available, but one of the best was covered here by guest writer Glenn Taggart, several months ago.

There are all sorts of reasons why you might need to setup a temporary email address. But the primary one is likely to be avoiding having to reveal your “real” address to scammers/spammers.

As Glenn explains, setting up a disposable email account is easy.

FilzMail – A Disposable Email Address

image Last week, I set up a new user account on my computer for my oldest daughter who is almost 10. She has been after me to get her own user account for about a year or so.

I told her if she could compute responsibly and not cause any significant registry damage, I would go along with her request. She has shown excellent computer responsibility, and so I followed through and set up her own user account.

Along with the user account she also wanted her own email address. I was somewhat indecisive if I should or not, but ultimately set one up for her at Gmail.

Gmail is a real pain to set up if you don’t have another email address (non Gmail). They wouldn’t let me use my pop3 email address because it was already being used for my wife’s Gmail account.

So I’m thinking – wow, I need a disposable email address.

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Enter FilzMail. After doing a little research on the web, I came across this simple web application that gives you a free email address that self destructs after 24 hours. Using it to set up my daughter’s email account worked fabulously.

In this world of spam, if you come across something that you don’t want to give your regular email address to, head on over to FilzMail and create a disposable email.

FilzMail.com

Guest Writer: This is a guest post by Glenn Taggart of The Crazy World of G, who brings a background as a high level super user, to the Blogging world.

Drop by Glenn’s freeware page.

If you found this article useful, why not subscribe to this Blog via RSS, or email? It’s easy; just click on this link and you’ll never miss another Tech Thoughts article.

9 Comments

Filed under Email, Freeware, Internet Safety Tools, Safe Surfing, Windows Tips and Tools

FreeRip – Free Multi-format Audio-track Ripper

If you’re an audiophile, or a wannabe audiophile, and you love to rip CD’s,  then guest writer Glenn Taggart has some great advice for you.

I have a vast collection of music on CD. I remember buying my first CD in about 1989. Twenty years later, I have hundreds of CD’s.

For the past couple of years, I have been backing up my CD music collection to FLAC lossless audio, which basically copies the music without any discernible loss in quality.

FreeRip is a great CD file ripper that will copy a CD in not only FLAC, but OGG, Wave, WMA, and of course Mp3.

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Like I said, I prefer to rip all of my music to FLAC because most of my listening is on my computer and home stereo systems, both of which support the FLAC audio format.

If you prefer to listen to your music mostly on, say, an IPOD, you will need your music files in the Mp3 format. I also listen to music on my IPOD and have a mirror of my FLAC files in Mp3.

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FreeRip will not only rip music files from a CD but will also convert the files back and forth, to and from, the various audio formats I mentioned above.

Although I prefer another program for tag editing, FreeRip also has a built in tag editor.

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FreeRip is available as a FREE download. The user interface is simple and intuitive which means you can be ripping your CD’s in no time.

Version 3.3 released December 15, 2009.

System requirements: Windows 95/98/Me/2000/XP/2003/Vista/Server 2008/7/NT

Download at: Download.com

Guest Writer: This is a guest post by Glenn Taggart of The Crazy World of G, who brings a background as a high level super user, to the Blogging world.

Drop by Glenn’s freeware page.

If you enjoyed this article, why not subscribe to this Blog via RSS, or email? It’s easy; just click on this link and you’ll never miss another Tech Thoughts article.

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Filed under Audio Applications, Audio Software, CD/DVD Tools, Digital Media, downloads, Freeware, Guest Writers, Software, Windows Tips and Tools