Xero bank reconciliation with GoCardless

If you’re using automatic repeating invoice generation with Xero, and a monthly direct debit plan with GoCardless, there’s a ‘problem’ in that the value credited to your bank account by GoCardless already has their transaction fee deducted – so Xero won’t spot the invoice amount to reconcile against.

Here is how to use Xero’s bank reconciliation screen to do it.

Go to your bank reconciliation page in Xero. You’ll see that the incoming cash isn’t matched. Click on the Match tab.


You’ll see a list of all your unmatched invoices. Pick the one that matches and Xero will alert you to say the total is out by (in my case) £2.


Click on the Adjustments button and select ‘Bank fees’. Type in something like the following.


Note: GoCardless fees DO NOT include VAT. I asked them. They said:

In the UK payment processing is VAT exempt. As such, no VAT is paid on any of the GoCardless transaction fees.

Everything should now go green and you should see the OK button appear at the top of the panel:

OK to match

Job done!

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How to get Squirrels Reflector working from iPad to Mac

If you want to record your iPad using Squirrels Reflector software*, but the iPad won’t show your Mac on the list of Airplay devices, here’s a workaround I found that others might find helpful – assuming you’ve got an iPhone, that is…

  • Make sure the Reflector software is running on your Mac
  • Now, on your iPhone, set up a personal hotspot (in Settings > Personal Hotspot)
  • Connect your Mac and your iPad to the personal hotspot
  • Now pull up the Airplay option on your iPad again and.. voilà!

I spent a good hour trying to open up various ports on my BT Home Hub router, shutting down the 5GHz band and trying to open up various ports to get it to work. In the end I had to give up.

* I have version 1.6.6, there is a version 2 that I guess might work off the bat.


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A simple shell script to check MySQL slave replication status in a cluster

We use MySQL in a master-slave configuration, with one of the slaves designated to take over as the master should anything nasty happen to the master.

Before switching to the new master, we used to flip onto each slave and check the replication status. This got to be quite stressful and prone to error, so I’ve written a small shell script to help with this. Comments welcome! Enjoy!

As root, put this script in /usr/local/bin, call it (say) mysql-get-slave-server-status

echo ""
echo "Checking status of mysql servers"
echo "================================"
echo ""
echo "SSH-ing onto the servers listed in $mysqlServerFile"
echo "Running SHOW SLAVE STATUS on each box"
echo "Storing results in /tmp"
echo ""
for host in $(cat $mysqlServerFile)
 echo $host
 ssh -l root $host "mysql -u root -p$mysqlmaster -Bse 'SHOW SLAVE STATUS\G'" > /tmp/mysql-slave-status-$host.txt

echo ""
echo "Extracting data based on list in $parameterFile"
echo "================================================================================"
echo ""

for parameter in $(cat $parameterFile)
 echo $parameter
 echo "------------------------------"
 for host in $(cat /etc/cluster/mysql-servers)
 value=`cat /tmp/mysql-slave-status-$host.txt | grep $parameter | awk '{print \$2}'`
 echo $host: $value
 echo ""

The box this runs on will need to be able to ssh onto the other servers without needing a password. Don’t forget to put it on your failover box as well!

You will need to tweak mysqlmaster, parameterFile, and mysqlServerFile settings and then create the mysql-parameters and mysql-servers files to cover your cluster

For example, mysql-servers:

And mysql-parameters


Good luck. Please note I’m not able to provide tech support (sorry!). But if you do make an improvement, let me know. You might be able to test if the mysqld process is running on the box first, for example.



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The SaaS market is changing – perspective from a SaaS MD

Until recently, the market for SaaS software has been like the “American Frontier” in the United States – what I mean by this, in the context of my absence management software company TeamSeer, is that we were selling to customers who were buying something completely new, had probably never bought a SaaS product before, and were probably using paper forms and spreadsheets to track their holidays. We might on rare occasions replace “in-house systems” (as an aside, see my post on “why developing an in-house absence management system is crazy” from 2010) but we never, ever replaced one of our competitor’s systems.

Twelve months ago, that started to change. We won our first customer from a competitor that had let them down. Since then, we have won several new customers who have been using another SaaS product. There seem to be two main reasons – limited functionality, and poor customer service. Not price.

As regards functionality, one of the things that’s interesting / difficult about selling software is resisting the urge to show your prospective customer everything the software can do. It presents us with a dilemma, because while we think TeamSeer has the most comprehensive functionality, we don’t want to overwhelm our prospective customers. So if a prospect has a demo from Competitor A, Competitor B, and a demo from us, then they might go away thinking “well, these systems are all the same”.

And customer service, well, you get what you pay for. When companies have been buying SaaS software they have (in my view) generally ignored the question “what’s your customer service like”. And of course, if you were to ask a software “what’s your support like” they would hardly be likely to tell you it’s poor, are they! 

So – you can only find these things out after you’ve lived with someone for a while. Your software doesn’t do something you want it to do, and the support you are getting isn’t great. And if a company now has several SaaS providers, and a range of experience with them, they can get smart looking around.

My knowledge of American history is a bit limited so I will avoid trying to apply what happened in the US after the colonisation to the SaaS market – but it might be fun! Wars, gold rush, railroads, bandits.. thoughts anyone?!

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SSL Certificates for Exchange 2010 – Generate a CER file not a REQ file

We use the site Certificates for Exchange to generate a multi-domain certificate. When we did the renewal, the new certificate wouldn’t install because it said PrivateKeyMissing.

So we tried to generate a new certificate request from the Exchange Management Console, but it only generated a .REQ file, not a .CER file. What to do?!

For any other confused occasional Exchange Administrators, here’s what we did.


  • exchangeserver.company.com
  • autodiscover.company.com
  • servername.company.local
  • autodiscover.company.local

But the Exchange Management Console doesn’t allow you to generate CER format certificates.

To do this, after a bit of googling (from http://www.digicert.com/csr-creation-microsoft-exchange-2010.htm):

In the Exchange Shell:

New-ExchangeCertificate -GenerateRequest -KeySize 2048 -SubjectName "c=UK, l=London, s=London, o=COMPANY, cn=COMPANY" -DomainName exchangeserver.company.com, autodiscover.company.com, servername.company.local, autodiscover.company.local -PrivateKeyExportable:$true

[Replace company.com etc with your own requirements of course!]

This dumps a certificate to the screen which you can copy to clipboard (right-click and select Mark, then select the screen area, then hit enter to copy to clipboard).

Now you need to find your certificate in Certificates for Exchange and “Re-Key” it.

Paste in the CER, and re-download the CRT file.

Now, in Exchange Management console, refresh and you will see your new request listed. Right-click and select “complete certificate request” and the rest is easy.

By the way, if you get stuck in a loop of doom and can’t seem to delete a certificate using

Remove-ExchangeCertificate -Thumbprint BLABLABLA

because you get an error, then you can delete it by running mmc, snap-in the certificate console, and find the certificate (the SHA-1 key is the thumbprint).

Good luck!

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The Joys of SaaS

The team has been working flat out on the new version of our software, and last night we did a huge release of source code that has been building up and up and up over the last 3 months. So far, everything is running smoothly (touch wood) and I am really pleased and excited.

The thing is .. logging in this morning, none of our customers will notice any difference.

This is one of the “joys of SaaS” and something that is hard to put across to customers as a benefit. “We are working hard for your money, honest!” I say; but when the only thing they see is an hour of scheduled downtime, then it’s difficult to prove.

If we were offering an on-premise solution, the customer would have to pay for a new version, and put up with (and probably pay for) months of implementation. Because of this, as an on-premise provider, you would need to ram in new features to justify the extra cost, when in fact a big part of staying up to date is making sure the low-level stuff (database, code base, framework) is regularly refreshed. How many corporates do you know that are still running applications that “only work on Windows 2000” or “need IE6”. As a SaaS provider, you’ve got the luxury of doing things in phases: you can do a “boring release”, and then do the “cool release”. Once you’ve got the low-level stuff sorted, you can then offer new super-cool features you could never have offered if you were on your old stack. Just don’t expect anyone to pay you for the boring stuff.

In the last 6 months we have completely changed our infrastructure, introduced a new framework, brought in multi-lingual capability, refactored out about a quarter of our old code. It’s like painting the Forth Road Bridge!

As the MD / CEO, you must make sure your team are continually doing some of the “boring” stuff (mixed in with the cool stuff of course) or your will get bitten later.

Now, onto some cool stuff…!

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Is BT selling the fact we’ve moved office to dodgy people?

We just moved office last week, and pretty much the only company who knew about that were the people involved with getting our new phone system – 

  • Approved Index
  • our telephone provider
  • BT

So why are we now getting snowed with mail that is the corporate equivalent of the Nigerian email-me-your-bank-account-number?

  • A phone call from the Utility Registration Board
  • Industry and Commerce Register of Business Information Valencia

We spoke to our telephone provider and they promised they aren’t selling the information .. anyone else got any interesting stories?

BT – are you going to comment and say you don’t do this?

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