Y2K, Internet, and Beyond!
These are exciting times. Technology is changing the way people do business. The key to continued success is to take advantage of the technology and apply it in ways that enhance our ability to address customer needs. Certainly the potential problems of Y2K have many worried, yet there is a saying:
"If you are not moving ahead - You are falling behind."
We are please to announce that our search for a new support/training person has ended most successfully with the addition of Robby Gutierrez to our TUT support staff. Robby brings 7 years experience in direct customer support. Additionally he has already demonstrated excellent writing and training skills. Please extend a warm welcome to Robby as he joins our TUT family.
In response to an overwhelming number of TUT user requests, we now have a web page (www.tutsoftware.com) and in conjunction a special area (User Group) where TUT users can confer and exchange ideas. Please give it a try and using the (Contact TUT) link from the home page, give us additional feed back on further improvements you would like to see.
TUT 5.0 is finished and contains some Y2K cosmetic fixes and a lot of wonderful new things including: AIA Billing, an enhanced Job Cost Report writer,
menu programs to Void Checks (AP & PR), and more that a page full of other new options. Please note that this is a MAJOR upgrade. It includes over 200 different program changes, several database schema changes, and more than a years worth of work.
In the past it would take us almost a month just to help everyone install the update. With our customer base now over 115 and growing, customers expect upgrades to be available both more frequently and in a timely manner. With this Y2K thing, almost immediate need for upgrades from not only TUT, but both Novell and Microsoft as well will probably be required. To this end, we have made several substantial investments in technology to improve the way we provide both Updates and Support.
Our web page (www.tutsoftware.com) and special high speed, always on, internet service (416K DSL fixed IP address) are the foundation of our new direction. Via our web site, through the (Support) link, you can down load the 5.0 Update. With the help of our recently acquired installation tool called "Install Shield", you can install and upgrade TUT yourself. I'm sure you will recognize most of the screens from other products you have installed. This is the best and most popular installation product on the market. You can expect to see smaller maintenance type updates monthly.
By now you are probable thinking one of three things:
"It is about time!"
You are probably already on the net and wondering where have we been. It should be noted that over 80% of our the installations in the last year have been conducted "over the net" to people who were already on the net. The net has many useless, entertainment type, functions. However, so does the "Home Computer turned Home Entertainment Center" and yet we welcome the reduced pricing and improved computing power derived from wide spread non commercial usage. And still it CAN be used as strictly for business and has in fact been a major factor in the business growth of companies previously too small to afford computers. The Net is the same thing. Overwhelming public acceptance of it's non-commercial aspect has brought almost "free" availability of a technology which can be used to benefit business as well.
"Ok, if you insist BUT ?????"
If you will follow these basic steps - most of your concern will be addressed.
First: Only plug the phone line into the modem when you need support or we have faxed you notice of an important update now available. It is just like using the modem you have now for us to connect, You only plug in when necessary. When it is disconnected, no one can get into your computer.
Second: If all you will ever use it for is TUT Support, it can be free. We know of several "free" internet providers. Their catch is that you have to put up with an advertizing banner on you screen - but only while on the internet. The banner has no affect on our ability to support and/or update you. As long as you do not read the advertizing and do not buy something from it, you can actually get "free lunch".
Third: It actually makes sharing the fax and modem lines easier. Because you call out to the internet service phone number (you are in control - you make the call) and it is not an incoming call, the fax can just stay on and connected to the same phone number. Modems only fight faxes over answering an incoming call.
"I'm sure I do not want to go there at all!"
This choice is yours to make. Be aware that both DOS and Windows 3.1 are not Y2K compatible and will become extinct December 31, 1999, while both Win95 and Win98 include everything necessary to use the internet. The net is the future. Some time later next year, we will be implementing "Voice over IP", a way to both talk and remote control support at the same time over the same 1 line through the internet. "Net Cam" cameras are already available to see each other as we talk. I saw a Dell commercial that included one in the package. It is just a mater of catching on and their prices will tumble down where everyone has one.
The other side of the decision is the ever increasing costs of operating the "old manner" (ie people/phone time intensive). We have only raised our support $50 in eight years. By using the cost effective technologies of the net, we can continue to hold the line. For the "non-net" customers there will be a support surcharge of $100 per year starting second quarter 2000. Please consider the net. Call me if you need further information.
"Back to the Future". We are about 80% complete on a new "Learning TUT' manual, a revised user manual will be next. The fourth major initiative after the Web site, full time internet, and Install Shield was our acquisition of a training course authoring tool called "Asymetrix Tool Book". This tool will help us build CD and Web based training courses for both Accounting and Estimating, so that customers can train backup or additional personnel.
Finally as some of you have already experienced, we are preparing written instructions to solve many of the faxes we receive. We are then compiling these faxes and will soon make them available via our web page. We also now have 3 new email addresses: moreinfo@ tutsoftware.com (grace)
email@example.com (bob & robby)
firstname.lastname@example.org (yours truly)
Please keep in mind that while this is our first effort at many of these services, we are committed to quality services. We have positioned TUT for the future by bringing in quality people and investing in the latest technology. Your ideas and suggestions are encouraged as we strive to exceed you expectations.
Jim Meidl, President