Archive for the ‘small business’ Category

PayPal Changes it’s Canadian Pricing

Sunday, June 8th, 2008

I read some good news for small businesses in Canada who use PayPal to receive credit card payments.  The transaction costs have dropped by $0.25.  I’m happy, especially since our transactions upgrade price for Premium access price is currently $10 so percentage wise, the extra $0.25 has a noticeable benefit on our margins. *

The percentage that PayPal takes also drops if you’ve gone past the 3000 per month bracket.

In my humble opinion, PayPal is now an even better deal for small scale web sites. The threshold where I would spend the time and money to move to a merchant account with a bank just got bumped up by a lot.  I’ve helped set up a “proper” merchant account for a client in the past, and it’s not fun nor cheap.  And programming for PayPal is really nice in comparison.

Also note that the entry level currency conversion for Canadians at 2.5% still stinks.

At Perceptus, we use a US based USD chequing account through RBC Centura where we withdraw our funds in USD.  Then we either convert to CAD with the somewhat better bank exchange rate, or we pay Leonard in USD to avoid exchange costs altogether.

The PayPal blog post is here:

* Hmm… what’s with that emphasis on the word “currently”?

Fixing the Time in Windows

Thursday, February 14th, 2008

In theory, Windows XP in a home (i.e. non-domain) setting should have no troubles keeping its time accurate. All you need to do is enable the “Internet Time” option so that it synchronizes with a network time protocol (NTP) server. It looks so easy, but it turns out that it’s really not bullet proof.

Most users should try a different NTP server first. The default server is heavily overloaded, and it’s hard to consistently get a sync. Try – that’s actually a network of machines that share the load.

But that’s not the solution in this blog post. IMHO, NTP is unusable in many small network environments because of firewalls and network address translation (NAT). Even the built-in Windows firewall can block NTP traffic which operates on UDP port 123.

Most home PCs connect to the Internet through a small, inexpensive router from the likes of D-Link, NetGear, Linksys, etc. Many of these block NTP or don’t work with it properly. This used to be a common problem with NATs. Port forwarding UDP port 123 to a computer works for some people, but that only works for one computer. And it didn’t work on the two routers I tested with today.

My solution that is generally bullet proof? Use a protocol that is TCP based. I don’t want to get too technical, suffice it to say that the chances of a TCP protocol working with all NATs is higher than that of UDP. Luckily, I found a perfectly good protocol and client (my backup plan was to write a crazy script to screenscrape a web page). It’s called DAYTIME it’s actually older and technically inferior than NTP, but what’s a second or two of accuracy if it works?

Now for a basic client, one might as well go to the source: It’s free, as functional as it needs to be, open source, and provided courtesy of a US government agency.

I setup a this as a weekly time update job on 10 small retail store POS networks through a generic maintence scripting system that is already in place: “nistime-32bit.exe Once -s5”. That’s it. It runs the time client, fixes the time, then exits. There are other options, but for this client, one time synchronizaton per week should be more than enough.

The moral of the story? UDP is over-rated in an Internet that is flooded by little home routers.

Who knew that Small Businesses can save a bit on GST?

Friday, November 30th, 2007

If you are a small business in Canada and are already using the “Quick Method” of accounting for your GST remittances, then stop here. You’re smarter than I was.

Sometimes one stumbles upon a quarter on the sidewalk. Today, was kind of like that. While browsing for a CRA payroll form, I ended up meandering to the information page about the “Quick Method” option for GST. I’ve noticed the term on the GST forms… and now I wish I had researched it earlier.

In short, if your business qualifies for the Quick Method, you don’t need to remit your GST collected less GST paid. Instead, after registering, you can remit an 3.6% as laid out in this table for 2008 (when GST goes to 5%). You get to pocket the difference. As a bonus, you skip out on a lot of annoying things like adding up all those ITCs, and calculating ITCs for stuff bought from the US and other non-Canadian sources.

  Permanent establishment in a non-participating province Permanent establishment in a
participating province
  Current rate Reduced rate Current rate Reduced rate
Supplies made in a
non-participating province
4.3% 3.6% 2.6% 1.8%
Supplies made in a participating province 11% 10.5% 9.4% 8.8%


If you’re a low overhead operation, you’re probably going to save a few bucks. Look into it. You do have to pre-register… so, with the new calendar year around the corner, it’s a pretty good time to consider it.

First Post!

Monday, November 19th, 2007

A blog? How times have changed.

So, what is It is intended to become a place where little tid-bits of information about Perceptus’ cool stuff get posted. New features to our websites, the rationale behind some of our operations, etc.

It will also cover various topics that super-small companies (i.e. the more-or-less one man show) face in Canada. Things like taxes, currencies, and international shipping have and will continue to cause frustration to me, Leonard Chan, and my company, Perceptus Solutions Inc. of Vancouver, Canada.

Where is the line between ranting and informative blogging? I’m not sure, but I think we’ll find out soon.