Auto Repair Bill app login issues

We are received a large volume of requests regarding our Android app not being able to login customers.  The issue has been identified now, and a fix will be rolled out as promptly as possible. We would like to apologize to our customers for this inconvenience, it would appear only some phone models/android versions are affected, this does make it more difficult to fix but we anticipate a release before the holiday season.

In the meantime, we advise our customers to use the web app on their mobile until this can be resolved fully on the native app.  We noticed issues also in accessing the service from mobile devices using Chrome, and this has been resolved now, please find that the login on website on a mobile device is accessible by clicking Menu at top of homepage, and selecting Login.

We are currently experiencing a high volume of user signups and our systems are getting a little strained, we will have everything back to the smooth service you are used promptly. Some aspects of our system need to be scaled better, and it is aimed to be completed by the end of the month.

Blockchain: What is it and how can it benefit you?

Crypto-currencies are gaining major ground and mainstream interest in the last few years.  Bitcoin is familiar to most people, it’s checkered past with incidents on the deep web like Silk Road, regulatory problems and corruption form NYC state officials, a mysterious headman that little is known about, and the biggest question on anyone’s mind when it comes to money is, “can I trust this”, the answer is yes you can.

The beauty of the blockchain is that it is decentralized, there is no one central repository or point of failure; the system can neither be contained or privatized into sectors, as many financial institutions are currently attempting, and here it is, the bank will just be another bitcoin consumer, equal to you, me and everyone else.

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Traditionally when money is exchanged, lets say an immigrant worker tries to wire money home, currently this is handled by a trusted third party, a bank, Western Union, PayPal, all of whom steal you blind with massive fees to simply keep track of a ledger that says one party no longer has the funds and the other party now has the transferred amount and/or services.  With the blockchain, there is no middleman, the ledger is essentially maintained across the globe on millions or more ‘nodes’, these all talk to each other and update eachother as transactions happen; maintaining one irreversible global, anonymous ledger, based on computers trusting eachother on established protocols. It is also completely  transparent, everyone can see the ledger, but everyone’s identity is anonymous. Why is this distributed nature so important? It cannot be taken down, think of it like torrents for money but transferring, not making copies.

Consider what money really is; just a record of  who owes what to who and accounting for it.  Now we all know the banks made a spectacular mess of the entire global economy, but what if there was an alternative? What if this can be done by a trusted network of computers replacing the role of corruptible middle-men stealing more than a slice.

The fact that the blockchain is trust among people directly, and that the financial structure of the network can’t be influenced by deep pockets or manipulated with traditional banking deviousness and it is really pissing off the banking industry.  All their quick buck screw the public and crash the world bankers who brought us quantitative easing, sub-prime mortgages, debt swaps, CDO’s, this cannot be done on the blockchain value system, and it is doubtful bankers will ever find a way of ever corrupting the blockchain; remember technology will always outpace regulation, law and control, but the wheels of law while moving slow, eventually come down with a mighty hammer. This is normal for any new tech, the government will want in, but until bitcoin becomes a legal currency, there really is not a lot they can do once your identity is concealed and you are careful where and how you transact. Crypto-currency is taxable in many countries so seek advice from a local accountant if you are going to trade on the blockchain or invest in it, if you are unsure yourself of any legal implications.

Of course the media are highlighting the phenomenal growth in the last year in bitcoin value, and there is still time to get in on it, but like any investment it is subject to risk and market fluctuation. The chart below shows in one year it has mushroomed from $750 up to over $11,000.

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Realtime bitcoin value: http://www.xe.com/currencycharts/?from=XBT&to=USD&view=1Y

The bigger benefits of the blockchain lies within using it to transact in; paying for and getting paid with bitcoin and crypto-currencies, everything happens outside the traditional walls of banks and state, the benefits of doing business this way is much more profitable with very little regulation as of yet. The eco-system that blockchain provides is far greater than the currencies that sit on top of it.  Their are rich APIs available to build all kind of value transfers on top of the blockchain, you will start to see ‘blockchain apps’ in the next year or two starting to appear.  Think of traditional transfer of knowledge or assets such as a deed to a house, much of this is now already possible on the blockchain and more and more applications will be added.

Everyone worries about the bubble bursting, the blockchain is smart enough to have learned form the mistakes of historical financial structures and have an auto-correcting market valuation, crazy right? Yes, crazy but true…

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It is worth noting the scale of the blockchain network, it currently consumes 1.4% of global energy usage, more than some small nations, and the amount of power required to mine a single bitcoin on the network would run in the region of $3-5000 depending on where you live in the world, still profitable of course, but gives an idea of the amount of computing power going into running the network.

A final note of one weakness of the blockchain, an obstacle to it’s wider adoption in retail is limited by transaction time, the likes of Visa are setup to handle peak transactions of 25,000/s, bitcoin is more like 6/s, often taking up to 15 minutes for a transaction to be fully processed, this is a big issue, throwing more computing power at it would solve it but as you can see that is very expensive, but better hardware is being built all the time, as well as more efficient software running the network.

For those willing to believe, take a little chance, It is a a Brave New World.

We hope to be introducing blockchain payment via bitcoin in January 2018, our new payment system will allow for subscriptions to be paid  for in bitcoin currency and also your auto repair shop will be able to accept bitcoin from customers as a payment option, with an easy link or barcode on invoices to send payments directly to you! Sound good?

Web Summit – Software Conference, Booth A347, Wed 8th Nov

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We are busy with preparations underway for our exhibit at this years Web Summit in Lisbon, and have now been assigned our day and booth location. Auto Repair Bill will be exhibiting at Booth A347 of the Software Conference on Day 2,  Wednesday 8th November, at the MEO Arena in Lisbon.

Be sure to stop by and visit us! We will be in Lisbon from 3rd Nov – 11 Nov, please feel free to drop an email or tweet if you wish to arrange a meetup. Look forward to seeing everyone there!

Runway to Web Summit at Dogpatch Labs in Dublin

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As we get excited for our trip to exhibit as an Alpha Startup in Lisbon for this years Web Summit, we got a glimpse of what to expect and what to do at the Runway to Web Summit event in Dublin on thursday night at Dogpatch Labs, with both interesting and very funny talks. There was a good representation of startups here as to be expected. Although judging by a show of hands not many appeared, or admitted to having the runway to get to Lisbon, so it is hard to know who we may see again when we arrive in Lisbon!  The talks were very casual and Irish, with crazy anecdotes about bathrooms and buying used underwear, with a good deal of swearing thrown just for good measure and added liveliness to the room certainly!

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Spark of Genius Panel

On a more serious note the panels were interesting and insightful with the benefit of both hindsight and foresight from those who had been through the mill, and survived.  Sponsored by ESB Spark of Genius, a panel of three recent finalists and winners from Spark of Genius gave their insights to approaching the scale of an event like the Web Summit and how they made it work for them. It seems the most important take away here was to not make an appointment with an investor before 2pm due to the Night Summit after parties which are both legendary and brutal for an early morning.

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Paddy Cosgrave & Eamon Leonard debating a wide range of issues form tech to toilets

Paddy Cosgrave (Founder of Web Summit) and Eamon Leonard (Cohort) had an entertaining mix of story telling, advice for the summit, anecdotes about the Web Summit first office and having to use the toilet in the Italian restaurant up the road, from little things, big things grow.  Of course they poked fun at the infamous wifi incident in Dublin a few years ago, but I’m sure everything will run smoothly in Lisbon!

Visit us at Web Summit 2017 in Lisbon

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Auto Repair Bill will be exhibited at this years Web Summit in Lisbon, November 6-9, 2017.

We are excited to meet others in the AutoTech and SaaS business, it promises to be an interested event in a beautiful city.  Anyone who would like to book a time to speak with our team our CEO is welcome to do so by contacting us through our website and we will see you there!

We will post more details such as our booth location once it has been assigned to us.  Updates will be posted here and on our social media channels.

Web Summit 2017 – Official site

Itemized labor lines coming to invoices soon

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There is no doubt that the most requested feature we see is the ability to itemize labor in a fashion similar to how our parts handling works.  We have been busily implementing the required background work necessary to preserve your existing data in its current format.

The new editor will feature intelligent, learning auto-completion similar  to the parts items. Many other new features are being introduced, such as multiple labor rates, e.g. if you have a commercial rate and consumer rate, or simply work near the border of two municipalities.

There have been a few delays rolling this out, as it needs to be rigorously tested to ensure it integrates fully  both with our own internal systems, and with third party providers such as CarFax and QuickBooks.

One thing we wish to avoid is making the editor too complex, but I think you will be happy with the new invoices produced!

We can’t say for sure when this will be fully rolled out, but it is slated for the end of July, watch this space.

Invoice

NEW: Parts ordering from online services

We are happy to introduce more improvements and refinements to our Inventory management.  As always, you could add your own vendors and use the automatically created inventory from the parts you use on your invoices, but wouldn’t it be nice to have a simple one click access to the most popular online sales vendors to directly order the parts you need too? Of course it would!

Auto Repair Invoicing Software

Now when you go to add a  part in the Inventory, you will be presented with a list of nearly a dozen reputable online trade parts stores for easy re-ordering.  It is worth noting placing an order on these sites will not update your Auto Repair Bill inventory, as these sites do not offer the integration options to third party apps, we are talking to Worldpac however to see if we can integrate with them.

The full list of currently supported external suppliers are as follow:

We are aware there are primarily USA based suppliers, if our European customers are interesting in adding to this supplier list we are happy to and encourage you to send us your requests please.

As always, we hopes this saves you some time in your daily grind!

Android app updates

We have added several new features to our Android app, the licence plate scanner with Carfax integration has finally been released and is quite cool folks!

We have added a lot of useful features in Work Order management. You can now add photos to a work order directly from the app and view and manage on web app. The tick icon will bring up the signature screen for the customer to sign, and the new camera icon allows you to take pictures and upload for use in the web app.

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Work orders can now also be digitally signed by customers, they can sign on-screen, and the signature will be placed on the work order PDF, to either digitally store, or to print for record keeping.  Aside from convenience, this can also help your company to reduce their carbon footprint and save on printing, paper and storage costs.

We have  a redesign in the works to modernize the look of our app and we are considering a port for iOS later this year.

Android App licence plate scanner

Our Android app had been neglected for some time due to an issue with our licence plate scanner, which thankfully has now been resolved.  We are happy to introduce the new plate scanner which will scan a plate, read the number, then once you select the State, it will attempt to auto fill VIN, Make, Model and Year, all to save you a little more time everyday! We think this will make our mobile app a more useful compliment to our web app when it comes to incoming new clients.

You can now directly dial or send a text message, or email to client from the app on the view client screen.

Other general bug fixes have been applied, including updated permission handling for Android Marshmallow, we are also working on a general redesign which will be on the way shortly too.

We are looking to add service history checks to mobile app also, but we will first need to check with CarFax terms if this is okay to do.

Download on Google Play

NEW: Updates to Invoice & RO Editor

We have started on our upgrades in response to the feedback from our recent user survey, the participants of which we wish to thank again for time to let us know what is right, and what is wrong!

We will be rolling out a stream of minor upgrades over the coming weeks to improve user experience and address some highlighted bugs that have crept into the last release, and also preparing for a major upgrade scheduled for this summer.

In the meantime, we have made some revisions to the current invoice editor, and quote editor, which now shows the Parts/Labor totals at the end of the editor without tax, then the tax line and then final amount, we all admit here that it does look a hell of a lot damn clearer! Seeing this from our customer’s perspective certainly helped out here.  The new format editor better separates out tax, labor, parts and total while making out the invoice, the printed invoice remains unchanged with this update.

New Invoice Editor Update

On the R.O. side, we have added the much requested Repair Order document to include a customer sign-off line, this is now present on all Repair Orders, but we plan to make this optional in Settings soon for those who may not wish to display, for the moment it is now standard on all R.O., you do not have to use it, but there will be an option to remove it for those who do not with to display signature line.

R.O with signature line

In our upcoming update to our Android app, we plan on adding ability for customer to sign-off on a repair order using finger signature on screen of device, our mobile app is currently held up due to an issue with our licence plate scanner we are also adding to upcoming update.

Many more changes are on the way, including the most requested to have multiple labor lines, this is a major upgrade to the underlying systems and will take careful planning and testing before release, but we have begun work on this and aiming for release of this much requested ability sometime this summer.