Tue 18 May 2004
The Fat and Thin Luca
Category : Technology/fatThinInstaller.txt
The nice thing about doing Postfix Enabler is that the code forms the basis of a general purpose installer.
With Luca, I've re-used the Postfix Enabler framework to help me create an installer that can populate either an existing MySQL installation or a brand-new MySQL installation with the basis of an accounting database, e.g., a user-selectable Chart of Accounts, depending on what business a user happens to be in, as well as enough data to show how the system can be used.
It would have been difficult to do this - as well as several ideas that we're about to explore - using the existing standard mechanisms available for software installation on Mac OS X.
The problem I had with Luca was that I went for the option that uses a separate external database, rather than embedding one inside (e.g., using SQLite), because I wanted to be able to offer the users power (e.g., Oracle and MySQL) and choice. But that made the system more complex because we've got two parts which could come apart quite easily.
And we've forced people who might otherwise like to use an accounting system (especially if I can find a way to make it clear that you're actually doing wealth-management rather than accounting) care about something that should properly be kept transparent to them, i.e., the use of a database system.
So we've thought long and very hard about this installer - because it could help us make the use of the database largely transparent, again, to people who don't want to care about it.
We've made some refinements to it. We've now made two versions of the installer - fat and thin - so that people who already have a MySQL installation can download and try out Luca that much faster, while people who don't know what MySQL is could still get to use the accounting system rather painlessly, though it will take a longer time to download.
Don't know if it works well, but we'll learn something whichever way it goes.
Teach Yourself Accounting
Category : Commentary/essentialsOfAccounting.txt
This is the best book that I know of, if you need to teach yourself about accounting principles, concepts, and terminology very quickly. It's called, "Essentials of Accounting" by Robert N. Anthony. Read the Amazon.com reviews and you'll get a very good feel for what this book is about.
Accounting may seem like a dry, boring subject but this book works very well if you have the desire the learn, have very limited time, and have zero prior knowledge of accounting. And it's a surprisingly enjoyable read, too. You feel like you're being guided by a calm, sure, steady hand.
When I was going through the book many years ago, I wished I could have worked through the many examples (that the author provided) on an actual accounting system. Well, you could use something I didn't have then - Luca.
I believe that a good working knowledge of accounting principles is one of the most important skills that anybody involved in running a business has to have.
If you can operate an accounting system which, say, has extended features to manage payroll, inventory, and time billing; and you get utilties to set up a mail server and a few other Internet services, so long as you have a broadband line. All these, together with, say, Microsoft Office or AppleWorks - would it be enough to help anybody set up and run a business on the Mac? Of course, you'll need to supply your own business acumen. But we're on the way to putting all these together for our own use. If you'd like to share it, be our guest.