29 March 2012

New Developer With A Flare For The Dramatic Business Solutions has a new developer at the Indian office. His name is Anshul Takalkar, and he has been with us since February.

Master of Computer Applications
After his Bachelor of Computer Science exam Anshul went for the Master of Computer Applications degree, and two years ago he begun working as a software developer specialized on web and Windows applications. His education and experience qualified him for a position in the team, and we were all glad when he agreed to join us.

Kanban Task Manager
Kanban Task Manager logotype After the first introduction period Anshul has done a great job with the JQuery-based User Interface of our new project, Kanban Task Manager for Outlook. With this application a workgroup can co-operate on tasks and projects inside Outlook, and Anshul is making sure that we can sort, filter and of course drag & drop the tasks in a user-friendly and snappy way.

Mahabharat actor
Anshul is interested in drama and performed in several plays during his school time. One of them was the great Indian epic Mahabharat, where Anshul played the warrior Bheema.

Mahabharat is one of the world's most influencial texts, on the same level as the Bible and the Koran or the works of Shakespeare and Homer. It is about the war between the Pandavas and the Kauravas but it also has a strong philosophical content. Anshul's drawing below shows the victorious Lord Krishna (in the middle) and the rest of the Pandavas: Bheema, Arjun, Nakul, Yudhishthir and Sahdev.
Mahabharat drawing
Common interests
Anshul shares his interest in drama with the CEO, Peter, who both directed and acted before his fascination for software development took over. Anshul and I also have interests in common – to write and sing.

Anshul Takalkar has already shown that he is a skilled developer and a good team worker, so we all wish him a warm welcome to!

28 March 2012

Multiple Options For The Folder HelpDesk E-mail Thread

Folder HelpDesk logoWith Folder HelpDesk for Outlook you can convert incoming e-mails into tickets to make them easy to manage and co-operate on. Formatting and attachments are included in the tickets, and they can be organized in many different ways. Here is how Folder HelpDesk looks in Outlook:
Folder HelpDesk in Outlook
All about one case in one ticket
If you work with support, handle incidents or manage incoming e-mails in some other way, you know that e-mails often go back and forth a couple of times between the helpdesk staff and the person who reports an issue before the problem is solved. During this process, and also for following up, it is convenient to have all these e-mails gathered in one ticket, and with Folder HelpDesk this may be done in different ways.

Automatic conversion
Folder HelpDesk E-mail historyYou may choose to let Folder HelpDesk monitor an Outlook folder and automatically convert all e-mails that come in to that folder into tickets. Outlook rules can be used for making sure the correct e-mails are converted. For the automatic conversion we offer two different kinds of e-mail threading. You may choose one of the methods or use both at the same time, which ever suits your organization best.

E-mail history in ticket body
When you select to save e-mails in the ticket only one ticket is created – when the case is first reported. After that all e-mails concerning the same case are added to the first ticket body in chronological order. Redundant forward chunks of the e-mails are removed through an intelligent algorithm, and only the required and latest replies are added to the body portion along with the HTML formatting and with a header portion that includes when the e-mail was received, from whom and so on.

E-mail history in subfolders
When the option to save e-mail history in subfolders is selected, subfolders with the ticket ID number will be created automatically under the Folder HelpDesk folder in Outlook. All the e-mails connected to the same ticket ID will be saved in the same subfolder. In the first ticket there will be two new tabs, Sent E-mails and Received E-mails, from where the e-mails may be opened, copied or deleted.
Folder HelpDesk e-mail conversion Manual addition to any ticket
You may also convert the e-mails you want to create tickets from manually, by simply pressing a Folder HelpDesk button in the Outlook ribbon. In this case you may take the e-mail from any folder. A choice is given: create a new ticket or add the e-mail to an existing ticket. When you select the "Add" option you can search for earlier tickets in several ways, and you may also press the button “Only caller tickets”. Then all earlier tickets from the same caller will be shown, and you may easily select the one you want to add the new e-mail to. In this case the new e-mail is added to the body of the existing ticket.   
Folder HelpDesk e-mail conversion
New version
Folder HelpDesk is the new name for the long time flagship product Public Folder HelpDesk. From version 12 we will remove “Public” from the name, as the application may be installed in any Outlook folder. Most of the features described here also exist in the current version, but in version 12 we will add new possibilities. This, along with many other improvements, makes the release of Folder HelpDesk something worth waiting for. In a couple of months we hope to give you a chance to try it!

26 March 2012

A Prince For

Baby Rimza imageLast month I wrote about the birth of a Swedish princess, and today I will introduce a prince to you: Lead Developer Jayant Rimza and his wife Sushma have have had their first child, a little boy. He is not a real royalty, but to us he is! Jayant took this photo when his son was only a couple of hours old.

E-mail updates to the team
We knew Sushma was expected to give birth soon, so when Jayant e-mailed us and said he would be a little late back from lunch because he had to take her to the hospital, we all understood why. One hour later – on the minute! – there came another e-mail sent from Jayant’s Windows Phone: “It’s a boy. Hurray, I am so happy!”

Family photo


Of course Jayant never returned to the office that day. Instead some of his work mates took an extra-long tea break in the afternoon to visit him and Sushma at the hospital and see the little prince. One of them was his brother, Developer Rinku RImza, who has now become an uncle. The Swedish team members sent a huge bouquet of flowers and the sweets we learned are customary after a child is born in India.

From single to daddy in three years
When Jayant started working for in the beginning of 2009 he was single, but in November the same year I could tell you the happy news about his engagement to Sushma. They married one year after that, at a fantastic three day party. Our CEO Peter attended, and on the image below he and the newly wedded couple pose for the photographer.

Wedding photo   
Free to choose his future
India is a country in rapid development, and baby Rimza is born into a well-situated and educated family, so I hope he will have all opportunities in life and be able to choose his future freely. In that respect he is more fortunate than the Swedish royal baby, Estelle, who already has her life staked out for her.

I have come to know Jayant as an honorable and reliable man, an intelligent and imaginative developer and a very nice person to work with. I am sure these qualities will also make him a good father. The team once again congratulates the family on the new member, and we wish the little boy all the best for the future!

21 March 2012

Swedish Parliament Votes For EU Data Retention Directive While Commissioner Proposes Clean Up

Today it was decided that the European Union Data Retention Directive will be implemented in Sweden, after the government proposal was passed by the numbers 233-41 in Parliament this afternoon.

Reaction to terrorism
The EU Data Retention Directive was created after the terrorist attack in Madrid in March 2004, when 191 people died. A driving force behind the directive was the then Swedish Minister for Justice, but in spite of that Sweden has been slow to accept it. Even today the discussions in Parliament took several hours before the voting could take place.

Data kept for law enforcement
The Data Retention Directive imposes governments to legislate that operators must store traffic information on their clients' communications by telephone, sms or email. The aim is that the police should be able to see who we call or e-mail, when we do it and where we are when doing it. The content of messages must not be saved. Data will be stored for at least six months, and it must only be used when investigating serious crimes.

Helpful to the police
Where the retention laws have been implemented they have already been a good help in law enforcement. Europol recently revealed a large child pornography network thanks to data storage, and by tracking e-mail traffic the French police has found a murderer responsible for some very tragic killings earlier this week,. In that light it is difficult to object to the Retention Directive, but it is absolutely vital that it is strongly regulated, and that does not seem to be the case today.

Criticized directive
The EU Retention Directive is controversial because it involves an invasion of privacy. The basic principle in both the EU and Swedish legislations is that no outsider has the right to take part of our communications by telephone or e-mail. The only exception is if you are suspected of a crime. The Data Retention Directive is a departure from that principle because data is stored whether someone is suspected of a crime or not.

EU reports on flaws
ACecilia Malmstrom imagen upcoming report by Swedish EU Commissioner Cecilia Malmström shows that The Data Retention Directive has major security problems. Ms. Malmström wants to change it, to tighten the retention periods and who may request information from operators. “My ambition is to present a proposal that will provide much greater clarity regarding these deficiencies - how to use it, who gets access, and what protection there is. I think everyone realizes that we need to clean up in this Directive”, she says.

One problem is that the EU member countries in many cases have poor statistics on how the data retention has been managed and used in practice. Critics argue that it is therefore impossible to make the necessary assessment to decide if the intrusion into the personal sphere is proportional to the benefit of law enforcement. The work continues, and we follow it with great interest.

20 March 2012

Whistleblowing Against Corruption At Swedish Development Agency

whistleblower iconThe Swedish International Development Agency, Sida, has introduced a Whistleblower form on its website. This government organization under the Swedish Foreign Ministry is the first public authority in Sweden to do so, and we hope the new idea will help the agency stop corruption.

Vital fight against corruption
Corruption is widespread in many of the countries Sida cooperates with, and the fight against it is one of Sida’s most prioritized areas. Corruption affects the poor the hardest, and it is a serious threat to development. Corruption also weakens the trust in society and thereby undermines democracy.

Expanded term
The English term "whistleblower" refers to a person within an organization who puts her or his employment at risk by publicly disclosing irregularities. Sida has expanded the term to mean all who have knowledge about corruption.

Anonymity accepted
The new whistleblower may be used by anyone, both within and outside Sida, to ensure that Swedish development assistance funds are used as intended. It is possible to remain anonymous when reporting to Sida, which is another difference compared to the meaning of the original term. This may of course be abused, but I trust that Sida will conduct a thorough investigation of each report.

The team at Business Solutions wishes Sida good luck in their work to reducing corruption. It is an importand mission!

19 March 2012

Switching A Facebook Business Page To The Timeline

Today the Community page on Facebook has the new Timeline look. This layout is forced upon us by Facebook, so we can only try to take advantage of the good things and avoid the drawbacks as much as possible. Here I will give my comments to the new design from a company point of view.
Facebook cover image
Obligatory switch
Facebook users have had the option to use the Timeline for a rather long time, but as I did not like what I saw I did not bother to investigate how the page would look with the new design. Not until we had a message that the switch would be forced upon us on March the 30th, I decided to take a closer look at the Timeline.

To get ideas I browsed around to other company pages on Facebook, and I discovered two things: many are still using the old design, and the ones who have switched to the Timeline have not been able to solve the issues I have seen.

Photo album instead of news update
The Timeline design has made Facebook more of a photo album, but that is not how Business Solutions wants to use Facebook. Instead we wish to tell our fans the latest from the company and also share other news that we think might be interesting for them. By having a Facebook page for this kind of communication we make it easy for Facebook users to follow

Jumping back and forth across the line
The Timeline gives entries on both sides of a central line, and that makes the rows shorter and easier to read. However, with the old design the order of the entries was obvious, but in the new design you have to look back and forth across the line and you might very well miss an entry. This placement of the posts also lead to other problems.

Gaps give unnecessary scrolling
I wish the Timeline would give me a possibility to move entries without having to changing the date. The current Timeline design is too rigid, and it leads to unmotivated gaps between posts. At the end of the visible timeline, before the “See more …” and "Show all ..." buttons, the design creates gaps if the posts on the two sides of the timeline do not add up.

Highlighting entries creates even more gaps
I like the possibility to highlight a post by making it fill the whole width. This is good if I want to make sure visitors see important news, like an update of a product. But highlighting one entry often create new gaps in the flow of entries. Just look at the grey field to the left in the image below. Not very elegant!
Facebook gap   
Why not let us group entries instead?
If Facebook wanted to create something more interesting than the old design, they could have given the possibility to group entries. News from on one side of the line and general business news on the other side would have been a better solution for us, and I am sure that also many private users would have found a grouping feature useful.

Compulsory photos
In the Timeline design the Profile and Wall pages are merged together, and below the top cover there is room for a short presentation and some apps. I like to have the presentation visible there, but I don’t want to be forced to show photos. It is not possible to remove the photo app, and if you have no other photos your profile photo is shown there also.

Bad display dimensions
Of course Business Solutions has a lot of screenshots from our Office applications that we would be happy to display, but unfortunately the quality deteriorates when I upload them to Facebook. The display dimensions are unconventional, and even if I can drag the image in the viewer I often have to crop or resize the photos before uploading. This cannot be done in Facebook directly. As long as this problem remains I would prefer to just link to the website, where the images are of good quality.

Cover image
What I really approve of in the Timeline layout is the Cover image on top. It took some time before I got it right, though. The Facebook instructions say nothing about height but only mention a minimum width of 720 pixels. When I first tried it the image was distorted,  so I turned to the graphic designer, Jitendra Joshi. He explained to me that the width is actually  851px, and the height should be 315 pixels, something that is not at all mentioned in the Facebook instructions.

Jitendra created a new cover image with the correct measures, and he added the product icons at the bottom, in the “extra” space. You can see it in the beginning of this article, but I hope you want to visit the Community Facebook page and have a look at it in full size.

Even if I like the new cover image, the switch to the Timeline took some time that I could have used in a better way. I imagine I am not the only one who wishes that Facebook had come up with something better than the current Timeline design.

14 March 2012

Enhanced Auto-Emails In New Folder HelpDesk For Outlook

The issue tracking add-on for Outlook has the capacity to send out a number of automatic e-mails. The upcoming version 12 will have nicer default templates, and it will also be easier to customize them.

Run the helpdesk in any Outlook folder
Folder HelpDesk logoWe plan to release the new version of the Outlook helpdesk in about two months. Just like before it will work completely inside Outlook, and to emphasize that it might be installed in any Outlook folder we have decided to rename it. From version 12 the current Public Folder HelpDesk will be called Folder HelpDesk.

Enhanced default templates
Folder HelpDesk will not have the same default templates for automatic e-mails as earlier versions. If you have used or tried PF HelpDesk you know that the templates could have a nicer look. Our thought earlier was just to give a simple structure for the users to customize, but from version 12 all the default templates have a more elegant design from the beginning. I hope you like the template below, for the automatic e-mail to the caller when a ticket is closed.
Folder HelpDesk template
HTML Editor for customizations
To make customizations of the templates easier, Folder HelpDesk has an HTML Editor under the Templates tab in the Settings, where all the different templates are gathered. You don’t even have to know HTML code to make changes in them. The Editor is of the type WYSIWYG – what you see is what you get – so you can change the text as you like in the editor, and the HTML code will be changed accordingly.

New checkbox for sending
Folder HelpDesk has a checkbox where you can enable/disable each automatic e-mail. When you wish to use the default text for the caller e-mail when a ticket is closed, just check the box at that template and an e-mail with the correct info will be sent to the correct caller each time a Folder HelpDesk ticket is closed. If you want to change the template, just do that first and then check the box for sending.
Folder HelpDesk settings

Many new features
The new templates and the HTML editor are only two of the many new enhancements in Folder HelpDesk. As this is one of the most popular applications many are waiting for the new version. When your organization is a Member of the Community you may upgrade for free. The only thing we request from you is some patience until the release!

09 March 2012

UNHRC Incorporates Internet Freedom In Human Rights

Last week I wrote a post on the United Nations Human Rights Council panel discussion about Internet freedom, and here is a short follow up. As I said in the earlier blog no immediate changes were to be expected, but the result was still satisfactory as the Human Rights Council now officially has incorporated the fight for internet freedom in its work.

The Swedish Foreign Minister, who initiated the panel discussion, was happy that a majority of the world's governments have the same view on internet freedom as Sweden. However, many speakers expressed their concern about the internet being used for distributing harmful content or commiting crimes. This is undoubtedly a negative side of a free internet, but as many others pointed out it must be fought against with education and social reforms, not with restrictions on the freedom of expression.

There is however a long way to go. Cuba was a strong opponent to the whole meeting, and China got support from several other countries for its statement that control of the internet not internet freedom was the most important question. It is not unlikely that these countries will form a stronger alliance to limit the freedom of the internet.

Unfortunately it is also not unlikely that countries who say they support internet freedom still will act as if they do not. We often see examples of such hyphocrisy, also here in Sweden. Still, a step in the right direction has been taken, and that is a positive thing. I urge the UN and the Human Rights Council to keep up the good work!

08 March 2012

Six Smart And Reliable Women

Today, on the International Women’s Day, I want to pay tribute to six people who are important to me in various ways.

The Matriarch
Ingalill Dahlstrom imageI know Kate has presented her mother in this blog earlier. To me Ingalill is the kind grandmother who has always been listening to my ramblings and tried to understand even my most high flying and technically advanced ideas – while feeding me her home baked cookies.

It has been a joy to help Ingalill take to computers and the internet, and when I brought her an iPad from the US before they were even sold in Sweden she was delighted.

The photo comes from Ingalill’s Facebook account, and with her 94 years she is the oldest fan of kalmstrom. com Community on Facebook. She understands English but nowadays she prefers commenting in Swedish. With the help of Google translate she even gets understandable answers in Swedish!

The Author
Kate Kalmstrom imageMy mother Kate manages all documentation – website, manuals, demonstrations, slideshows – and normally also this blog. Earlier she was a teacher and an author of school books, so she knows how to make a text easy to read and understand.

Kate also handles much of the marketing, and it is thanks to her – and the merits of our products, of course – that the Office applications are presented at prestigious sites like Microsoft’s Office Marketplace and PinPoint.

It is a bit special to work together with your mother. In theory I am the boss, but as we are both strong-willed people there have been many discussions. Our different opinions have been fruitful, though, and the compromises we eventually have agreed on have been better than the first suggestions.

The Relations Expert
Siret Toots imageSiret is my fiancée, so she is very valuable to me personally. She also play an important role in the team, as responsible for relations both within the team and with our customers and Community Members.

I guess you have to be good at relations to be living with me, but I also noticed it when we visited Indore in December and Siret for the first time met with the Indian team members. They got along excellently.

While representing the employer in more serious matters Siret was able to connect to the team members on a personal level during the free time without losing her authority. She is capable of holding a conversation about any subject, while my own conversations have a tendency to turn into development issues whatever we start talking about!

The Technicians
Kanak Joshi imageNeha Gupta imageAt the Indian office Kanak and Neha have contributed significantly to the smooth cooperation within the team. They are clever and trustworthy, and I am happy to have them in the team.

Kanban Task Manager logotype Kanak is a developer, and right now she is working with the connection to SharePoint of the new Kanban Task Manager for Outlook. This add-on will have a SharePoint alternative to a common database, which will make the application perfect for cooperation on Tasks in geographically distributed work groups.

Folder HelpDesk logoNeha is a QA Engineer, and she handles most of the practical, pre-release testing of the products. Now she is testing the new features of Folder HelpDesk, which is the same as version 12 of PF HelpDesk. Her bug lists on our Office 365 SharePoint site are much appreciated ‒ even if the developers are most happy when they are short and only contain enhancement suggestions.

The New Generation
Elsa Kalmstrom imageFinally I want to mention my daughter, Elsa. She is only ten years old and does not take part in Business Solutions, so to mention her here is just out of affection.

I hope to be able to bring Elsar with me to India next time, though. That would be exciting for her, and as we are invited to Kanak’s wedding it would give her an opportunity to learn more about a foreign culture. It would also be a joy for Siret and me to travel with Elsa, because her eagerness and curiosity is catching and will enrich the experience for us.

Elsa has many good female role models, and it seems she is taking the best from each one of them - because she is fantastic!
Peter Kalmstrom
CEO, Business Solutions

07 March 2012

Skype And Kalmstrom Both Manage Well After Separation

According to VentureBeat, Skype hit a new milestone Monday this week when 35 million people accessed its audio and video conferencing service at the same time. It seems as if Skype manages well without the CEO. Peter is glad to see the success of his former employer, and we are happy to have him more active in the team.

Rapid growth after Microsoft take over
When Microsoft bought Skype in June, Microsoft promised to integrate Skype with its existing products. Except for the beta release of Skype for Windows Phone last week we have not seen so much of this yet, but I assume people feel more confident using Skype now when Microsoft is backing the product. The growth has been rapid, because as late as February 23 Skype for the first time had 32 million people signed in simultaneously.

Skype Product Manager
For five years, 2005-2010, Peter Kalmstrom was Product Manager for Skype Toolbars. If you have seen phone numbers on web pages turn into clickable buttons, you have seen an example of the kind of work Peter was responsible for at Skype. The integration of Skype in Outlook was of course also Peter's creation. Actually Peter first developed an add-on he called Outlook Skype, which was a big success for Business Solutions in 2004. We had to stop selling it when Skype achieved it and Peter was employed by Skype.

Rapid growth for too
After five years Peter felt he wanted to play a more active role in his own business, so he left Skype. At that time Business Solutions had only a few employees, but today we have more people involved in both Sweden and India.

The Office applications are also used by more people around the globe. We will never be able to brag about as many users as Skype, but that is not our aim. Our primary goal is to keep the solid base of users we have today and continue to give them best possible service. The second goal is to improve the products and have more Community Members using them. With Peter at the wheel we will surely reach both goals!

06 March 2012

Who Reads The Blog?

Last week I looked at the statistics for most read blog posts in February, but it is also interesting to see who those readers are. A study of the figures show some expected result but also some nice surprises.

English speaking countries
Calendar Browser iconVisitors from United States and Great Britain dominate among the blog readers every month. This is to be expected, as the blog is written in English and the products are popular in these countries. Of course many users want to keep up with the events of Business Solutions.

India and China
HelpDesk OSP iconTo our delight we also see that the Blog has many readers in India and China. Both countries are in rapid development, and we are happy to be on the scene in India. We hope to soon have a partner in China also, to take advantage of this huge market and the evident interest in the Business Solutions software there.

PF HelpDesk iconAfter USA, UK, India and China comes a group of countries with approximately the same number of Blog visitors. Here we find for example Sweden and Germany, both with many Members of Community. Russia and Ukraine are also included here.

Mac users
TimeCard iconThe Blog statistics also show the visitors’ operating system, and since builds applications for Microsoft Office I was first surprised when I saw that 20 % of the February readers use Macintosh instead. Then I realized that many of them probably use Office for Windows in a virtual machine inside their Mac.

I read an interesting article in Business Insider about this use of Microsoft Office, where Matt Rosoff suggests that Microsoft should build first-class native versions of Office for all popular platforms. We have no objections to that!

Smart phones
KBase iconThe Blog looks nice in a smart phone also, but only a few percent read the blog on their mobiles. I assume this figure will rise in the future, but not that much. I still think most will prefer to read the articles on a computer, even if my aim is to make them so interesting that you want to read them as soon as you get a chance ;)

01 March 2012

One Year Behind The Scene

Some members of the team are highly visible – like me! You look at the work of our designers as soon as you visit the website or use our products, and you meet other team members in support and sales chats and e-mails.

But there are others in the team whose contributions are equally important, even if they are not as easy for everyone to see and appreciate. In this post I will let developer Vijayant Rimza represent those team members.
Peter, Jayant and Rinku
Two brothers
Vijayant – or Rinku, as we call him – joined the team one year ago. He then had a good education but not much experience, so he was willing to start as a trainee. We soon saw his skills and hired him as developer instead. Rinku is the brother of our Lead Developer, but he fully earns his place in the team on his own merits. On the image above our CEO is thanking Rinku for good cooperation, and it is obvious how proud his brother Jayant is feeling.
Microsoft Silver Partner Logotype
Silver Certification Test
Rinku was the developer who tested our products with a special tool that Microsoft provides to Partners. The result of these tests, together with our other achievements, made us Microsoft Silver Partners as both Independent Software Vendor and Business Intelligence specialists.

Premium copies
Premium Members of the Community get their own copy of the application they use. This copy does not have to be registered, and it has the logotype of the Premium Member organization. Rinku is the developer who is creating these copies, and he also makes sure they are updated when we release a new version of the corresponding standard product.

HelpDesk OSP development
In August released version 3 of HelpDesk OSP, the add-on that connects Outlook to SharePoint. Rinku created a significant part of the new version, that had a new design , several new features and a simplified login to the SharePoint site. HelpDesk OSP works with any SharePoint site, and we use it ourselves with our Office 365 SharePoint.

Getting rid of the OWC dependency
Several of our applications require installation of the Office Web Components on at least the administrator machine. As OWC have not been installed automatically since Office 2003, evaluators with Office 2007 and 2010 have to download and install them separately. During the autumn one of Rinku’s tasks has been to handle this problem, and we will see the effects of his work in coming new product versions.
Kanban Task Manager UI
Kanban Task Manager
Right now Rinku is engaged in an exciting new product – the Kanban Task Manager for Outlook. This software will visualize the work with Outlook Tasks and make it easy for a workgroup to work together on projects. As SharePoint will be one of the options for sharing and storage, the members of the group may very well be geographically dispersed.

Vijayant Rimza is ambitious, and in addition to the studies necessary for all team members, to keep up with the latest technologies, he also takes courses in Business Management. It has been a pleasure working with Rinku this past year, and we look forward to a continued good cooperation for years to come!