Announcing Cogniviews Excel-to-PDF-Converter (and a bribe)

I am very proud to announce that we have released the beta version of Cogniview’s Excel to PDF converter.

The ‘Excel to PDF Converter’ is the first out of several open source projects we will be releasing in the coming months and it is the only free Excel-to-PDF converter that supports hyper-links.

here is the official Excel to PDF Converter product page.

Plus… we need your help to make ‘Excel to PDF Converter’ better. That is why we are offering the following ‘bribe’:

We will be giving away 10 Amazon Gift-Cards, worth $15 each, to people that will download ‘Excel to PDF Converter’, play around with it and post their feedback as comments on this blog post.

The gift cards will be given to 10 most helpful commenters.

I know that you’ll find Cogniview’s Excel to PDF Converter useful and I hope our little bribe can convince you to get involved with this project.

PDF2XL is 4 Years Old!

Dear Friends,

This month Cogniview is celebrating the 4th Birthday of PDF2XL – our flagship PDF to Excel conversion product.

It’s not that we always had PDF2XL. You see, Cogniview started as an Enterprise software company that aimed to sell its Enterprise-Level software products to IT departments in large organizations.

We spent a lot of money on flamboyant marketing campaigns, well-dressed sales people and a variety of other time/money wasters.

After 4 years of struggles that resulted in a huge hole in our bank account, we woke up and realized we had to survive. So we turned to our customers who said: Make us a decent PDF to Excel converter – and that was how PDF2XL was born.

Since then, PDF2XL licenses were bought by more than 15,000 companies in a variety of industries all over the globe.

We are thankful to our customers, our employees, our partners and our blog readers who have contributed their time, energy and resources to help Cogniview achieve so many successes.

So, let the party begin!

And what’s a party without party gifts?

First a special Excel Productivity Guide that can help you save even more time when working with Excel.

Click here to Download the Excel Productivity Guide

PLUS…

We would be overjoyed if you would consider leaving PDF2XL a birthday greeting as a comment on this Blog post. The best 10 greetings will entitle their authors with a $15 Amazon Gift Card.

The best part is that the best greeting out of the top 10 will also win a Flip Mino camera!

Amazon Gift Card Camera

So, we invite you to share your thoughts with us by leaving a comment on this post.

And once again – thank you!

Yoav Ezer, CEO
Cogniview Systems 2002

From Programmer to Puppet-Master: How I Didn’t Rig the Zimbabwean Elections with a PDF Converter

Here is the unbelievable story … Last Thursday (03/28/2008) a newspaper called “Zimbabwe Online” published an article accusing my company (Cogniview) of helping Robert Mugabe, The infamous Zimbabwean president, rig the Zimbabwean elections.

Link to full story
The article continues to claim that my company has secret ties to the Israeli Mossad, and that the accusations came directly from the General Secretary of the MDC, Zimbabwe’s largest opposition party.

Before I go on with the details of the story, here’s my official response … this story is NOT TRUE. In fact it could have only been more fictional if we were accused of using alien technology. Here are some more facts:

The full story up until now…

On Wednesday, a day before the article was published, I received an email from a Yahoo email address, inquiring whether my company was helping Robert Mugabe win the upcoming Zimbabwe elections. The email was so funny, I assumed it was spam and deleted it (not before being very impressed with how well it was tailored for my company).

A day later, an email from the site ZimOnline alerted me that there was an article on the site that concerned Cogniview. The article was even funnier than the email. At this point my respect for the Zimbabwean scam-artists was at an all-time high. Not only did they send me a well crafted email, they went as far as to setting up a mock newspaper and publishing an article there.

And then it became very serious very quickly …

I was contacted by a gentleman called Phil Matibe, a human rights activist from Zimbabwe currently living in the US, who wanted to get to the bottom of this story (I will be speaking with Mr. Matibe later today).

We also started getting emails from angry people telling us that we “sold the Zimbabwean people for 20 pieces of silver”

And then additional articles began to appear. Apparently we got 3 million dollars for helping Mugabe.

What I think happened

About a year ago we developed an Open-Source PDF converter called CC PDF converter. This converter (which is available for download for anyone that has an internet connection) allows one to convert anything printable into PDF. It also allows adding a Creative Commons license as the last page of the document. And at the very end of this page there is a link to Cogniview’s website.

I also learned (from the people that called to chastise us) that the voter-roles that were provided to the MDC by Zimbabwean officials were in PDF format and had a link to Cogniview’s website.

My guess is that the people at the MDC wanted to get the voter data in a format they could easily handle (like Excel) and instead got it in a PDF file (that was produced by our converter). They got (justifiably) angry and concocted a story about the Israeli Mossad and my company (this part isn’t justifiable).

Here’s what we are willing to do to help sort out this mess

Every respectable party (UN, US, European) that will want to investigate this matter will get Cogniview’s full cooperation. We will give them unlimited access to our legal and financial Records. We will also allow them to interview any employee in the company. Heck, they can strap us all to lie-detectors – we have nothing to hide.

But I’m hoping it won’t come to this. This story has the potential to damage my company’s reputation as well as to seriously damage the credibility of the MDC officials who spread this lie.

One last thing: If anyone from the MDC is reading this, please check your facts and denounce these lies. They bring you no honor.

I will continue to update as the story unfolds.

Announcing the Creative Commons PDF Converter

The CC PDF Converter is a free (open source) application that enables you to create PDF documents from almost any application (Word, Excel, Internet Explorer and more). The CC PDF Converter also allows you to easily embed a creative commons license in your PDF file.

If you find any bugs or have any suggestions, I would really appreciate it if you leave them as comments on this post.

I can also be contacted through my email (see the About the author page).

One last thing… If you enjoy the CC PDF Converter and you also need to extract data from PDF files to Excel than I would be honored if you could take a couple of minutes to check out our commercial product. It is a professional PDF to Excel conversion utility which is used by over 10,000 companies around the world. If you decide to get PDF2XL you’ll be saving a ton of time on PDF data conversion and helping us create more open source tools for PDF users.

Purchase-order tracking system based on Excel 2007: current process and requirements

Current process

In a previous post, I said that we would be developing a new purchase-order tracking system in Excel 2007. I started by interviewing the customers. I sat down with Inbal, our “accounting department,” and this is what she said …

“Today, we have a licenses management solution [Nick named Hendrix]. Every purchase is entered into Hendrix, and the customer then receives an automated e-mail from Hendrix with his payment code and download and activation instructions.”

“When a purchase order arrives, it is entered into the system, so that a license will be issued to the customer. I also manage an Excel sheet with a list of POs to track.”

Here is a sample of the Excel sheet that Inbal uses:

Purchase Order Tracking Sheet

“Purchase orders are not paid immediately; they usually have net or net+30 payment terms. it’s my job to see that all the payment orders are eventually paid,” Inbal added.

“So, every week, I single out the POs that have not been paid, and according to how late the payment is, I either send an e-mail or mail, or I call the customer. When a purchase order is paid, I update the tracking sheet to reflect that, this way I know not to bother the customer.”

Users’ requirements

I then asked her what she would like to the tracking system to do.
“I need to be able to define contact details for both customer and end user,” Inbal said. “This is because sometimes (especially with POs), the customer’s accounting department is ordering the software for their users. So I need to send the download and activation instructions to the user and work with the accounting department on payment issues. In any case, the customer has to be notified about the delivery of the software as well as the user.

“I want to be able to define the due date for each PO (net, net+30, etc.).”

“I want to get a weekly report of all the purchase orders that should have already been paid. If possible, I want to get it by e-mail.”

“When closing an order, I need a place to enter the payment date and some sort of transaction ID (check number, bank transfer ID, etc.).”

And that was it.

If you have any ideas on how to make this system better, please, pretty please … add them as a comment to this post.

Purchase-order tracking application with Excel 2007: kickoff

The company I work for, Cogniview, offers customers various ways to purchase its products. A customer can use PayPal to purchase online, send a fax order, or send a purchase order by fax or e-mail.

We have had an unusual amount of purchase orders lately. Everybody is happy when a PO comes in, but our accounting department started complaining that tracking those purchase orders is becoming difficult.

We had a meeting in which we agreed that some sort of purchase tracking system should be created. I persuaded everyone that it would take a tenth of the time to write it in Excel 2007 then in C++ (the language of choice for our programmers). So I have been awarded the pleasure of writing it myself.

In the coming week or so, I will share with you the process of designing this system and implementing it–successfully, I hope.

I will also make the Excel application available to anyone who’s interested.

Cogniview is now a certified partner of Microsoft

I am pleased to announce that Cogniview has achieved the rank of Microsoft certified partner. We were always putting off becoming a certified partner because it seemed to be a big hassle. We were right about that. We had, however, an ace in the hole that I wasn’t aware of: you, the customers.

Our customers deserve the credit for our becoming a certified partner. It seems that if you have a product that is used by thousands of customers, you just fly through the product-certification tests (we submitted our PDF-to-Excel conversion product).

The best part was the testimonials. As an ISV, you are required to submit customer testimonials to Microsoft and have the customers who gave those testimonials approve them. It took us just three hours to get approval for our testimonials. The speed with which the approval came moved me.

Thank you, dear customers.

Here are a couple of pictures of the gang and PDF2XL with the goodies that you get from Microsoft.

The Gang with the Microsoft flag

PDF2XL and the ISV competency plaque