Dwolla: Cheap flat-fee cash transfers for all of us.

Nov 22, 2011

I just discovered a great new online peer-to-peer cash option introduced nationally last year named Dwolla. It’s a little like using cash or a check, but online. Dwolla is the work of Des Moines, Iowa entrepreneur Ben Milne. It can be used by anyone with internet access and a free Dwolla account. The best thing about it might be the cost—a flat $0.25 fee per transaction incurred by the merchant. That’s it! No other fees, interests rates, percentages, nothing. dwollalogo-300x94.png

You can pay with your smartphone, iPad, or computer. The list of participating merchants is growing daily, and you can locate them using their “Dwolla Spots” on your smartphone.

You can send money to friends and loved ones for less than the cost of a postage stamp. Personal transactions have a limit of $5000 and business transactions, $10,000. The money transfers immediately from one Dwolla account to another. The only delay is 2 to 5 business days when adding funds from a bank account, only due to the Federal Reserve’s ACH network.

There are absolutely no monthly fees, minimum balances. You can send and attach invoices free, too. Dwolla is currently available only in the United States.

The Dwolla service was launched across the U.S. on December 1, 2010 and by June 2011 it was reaching transaction volumes of 1 million dollars a week. One month later it was processing 1 million a day, and continues to grow from there. I would imagine the credit card companies and PayPal® are taking a dim view of Dwolla. I think it’s great, though, and signed up right away for use with my business. I never liked the idea of paying out 30-40 dollars to the plastic people to get paid on a one thousand dollar invoice or sale.

My bet is that Dwolla is really going to take off.

Authorization fee—$0
Statement fee—$0
Monthly minimum fee—$0
Batch fee—$0
Annual fee—$0
•••
Sticking it to “the man”—PRICELESS!

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DWOLLA UPDATE 12-1-2011… FANTASTIC NEWS!

Great—no really great news for businesses doing small transactions: Dwolla has announced that ALL SMALL BUSINESS TRANSACTIONS UNDER $10 ARE NOW FREE!

This is HUGE.

Wait ’til people catch on to this and what it can mean to their bottom line when it comes to people paying for their cup of coffee and a bagel, small donations, short cab rides, small purchases, and so on.

Thank you Dwolla for your big part in helping turn things around for American small businesses.

read more about it HERE

Build Your Own Color Viewing Booth, Cheap and Easy

Feb 18, 2011

booth.jpg If you’ve ever been on a press check at a printing company, you’ve seen those neutral gray proofing booths with the special lighting. These booths can be found at the delivery end of any press and in other locations of the plant where folks need to have a critical look at press sheets. They cost several thousand dollars each.

I’d like to share with you some simple plans on how I put together a great proofing station and it’s very easy and not that expensive. A viewing booth like this is excellent for looking at proofs, press sheets, prints and color comps without being subtly distracted by your surroundings.

The booth itself is simple, designed to sit on top of an existing table, old desk, etc., with a footprint of 43 x 28”. It’s large enough to look at big 26 x 40” proofs or press forms, or to spread things out for comparison. The booth itself can be easily made with just one single 4×8′ sheet of white Melamine® board (a type of particle board with a plastic coating; strong and easy to clean).

Why bother? [Read More…]

Back on track with a fast new Mac (for now).

Nov 2, 2010

I had big plans of posting to Prepress Helper once or twice a week.

That all got blown out of the water a few weeks ago by the welcome arrival of a beautiful, large historical book project. It has all sorts of old-time photos, with drop shadows, silhouettes, clipping paths and colorizations of many serious-looking folks. My own part in the project is preparing the images themselves for press. I’m on a breather today, waiting for the last section of the book. This whole project has been a lot easier since I just bought one of those new 6-core Mac Pros for my Photoshop workstation. Funny, it looks exactly like my trusty five-year-old G5. Never any hint of buyer’s remorse, I’m really glad it’s here! (Well, too bad it had to come direct from China.)

As with every new computer I get, I know it will seem gradually slower as I get used to it. My plan for when that happens: install a new solid-state drive (SSD) to make everything seem snappy again! They’re said to be a much more stable and reliable drive with no moving parts and speeds up to 285MB/s which is many times that of a standard drive with its fallible spinning platters. SSD drives work pretty much the way your digital camera’s memory stick does.

You might want to check out those SSD drives now; they’ll make pretty much any computer substantially faster with all disk-related functions like startup, application launching and more. Prices are fairly high for the larger drives, but appear to be coming down. Just make sure you do a little research and get the right kind; they’re not all the same. From what I’ve read, right now I’d probably go with the Other World Computing’s Mercury Extreme Pro RE SSD to be able to make it part of a RAID array in the future (after I got used to the high speed of a single SSD).

Namely. Ask for it by name!

Sep 16, 2010

I’m just guessing, but I probably launch 15-20 applications every day. Several years back, I found a great little Mac utility called Namely written by Amar Sagoo. Namely makes it a breeze to quickly launch any application, directly from the keyboard. All you need to do is assign your own keystroke shortcut to bring Namely to the front, then just type a few characters of the application name you want to launch.

namely.jpg
You’ll begin to see that Namely is kinda smart. It learns your launch habits, and before you know it, you’ll just be typing one or two characters and hitting Return or Enter to launch anything. You can also set its preferences to avoid displaying any unwanted applications or locations. [Read More…]

Save money: Green up your workstation.

Aug 9, 2010

faronics.jpg For the past year, I’ve been using Faronics Power Save for Mac. This is a fantastic little application that manages the electricity being wasted by your computer workstation during periods of inactivity. Like when you’re out to lunch, or forgot to shut down, helping deliver a baby, etc.

This is a definite money saver as well as doing your part to cut energy waste. On your own machine, as well as for others who really couldn’t care less. I’m using the Mac version here but it’s available for both Mac & Windows. You can set Faronics Power Save to turn off monitors after so many minutes of inactivity, or put the computer to sleep after a different number of minutes. Hard drives can optionally be powered down, or the whole computer shut down after another period of non-use.

It is much more powerful than OS X’s “Energy Saver”. You have the ability to precisely determine inactivity; you define it for your own conditions. Thankfully, you can also set it so Power Save does not manage power at all if certain applications are running. I’ve yet to have it manage power at a time when it would be disruptive.

chia_mac.jpgYou can enter your kWH electric cost and view custom reports showing how much you’ve actually saved, in dollars and kWH. Faronics notes an average savings of $50/yr. per workstation. While great for individual users, this is an exceptional product for schools, libraries, or government, and anywhere IT managers are in charge of many workstations. The savings are incredible. Their site covers different licensing options. I just went with Faronics Power Save for Mac with 1 Year Maintenance Package: $14.40. They also offer some other great software worth checking out. Faronics says they’ve partnered with the largest energy utilities in North America to offer rebates that make Power Save Mac free or available at a 50% discount.

I can’t think of many reasons not to have Faronics Power Save on all computers.