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Newsletters 2004

Note this is looking at history right now!  Going forward through 2005, you will see our new identity grow!  Click on a link to any of our recent newsletters, or just scroll down.  Every month there are valuable tips and hints on Microsoft Excel, Maximizer and more!  In Internet Explorer, you can search this page for keywords using Ctrl+F. On our home page you can search this entire web site.  Click here for the list of ALL Newsletters.

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Communication in Action – January 2004 Newsletter

Editorial

Welcome to 2004!  May this prove to be a rewarding year for everyone.  We have started the year running with some big contracts and installations to work with, plus two job vacancies.  Have you recently matriculated offspring looking for an opportunity in IT?  If so show them this newsletter and they can make their choices!  We really want to assist those who have potential to realise it and to give them on the job experience.

Vacancies at Communication in Action (Pty) Ltd

We have a vacancy for a junior sales person to assist with selling Maximizer and other solutions.  Prime requirement – sell yourself to us after visiting our website and finding out about our products.  We require a clear idea from you of how our products can be made to offer solutions to customers.  Contact Judith on (011) 802-2685 to begin the process!

Please note – one of our previous juniors is now in a senior position travelling widely and seeing the world!

A second vacancy is for a trainee programmer in Microsoft Visual Basic, Access and SQL Server.  If you are maths- and computer-literate, this could be your springboard into IT.  Contact Rick with your CV – rick@softwareafrica.co.za

Maximizer update

Maximizer has just been highly rated by the Hewson Group – see our web site to get the PDF file of the full report.

First Announcement: HotPlot for dotPLOT!

dotPLOT is the famous DOS borehole- and core-logging program written by Winston Jones.  New developments include the option to write PDF files, thus allowing output to most installed printers, support for colour, and screen preview using Acrobat Reader.  HotPlot is an exciting new Windows front-end for dotPLOT, developed with the support of Winston.  HotPlot provides you with a Windows interface that runs dotPLOT for you, producing output in any of several file formats.  In the case of PDF output, the program lets you preview or print the file immediately via the Adobe Reader.  It includes a text file editor specially designed for dotPLOT, supporting the special symbols that dotPLOT uses.  If you would like to download a free test version of HotPlot, Click here and send the resulting email.

Click here to go to the HotPlot Page.

Product Highlight: Résumé, the CV Database

This program, written by us, is a great solution for Personnel Agencies and any organisation that has to produce different versions of a Curriculum Vitae (CV) depending on circumstances.  The program lets you put the CV of each member of staff in one place for easy updating and access.  You can then print just the relevant parts for a given job, e.g. print just the experience the candidates have had on Water Projects.  It can also produce the standard South African Department of Works tender document.  Multi-user access ensures that CVs are kept in one place and not here and there in different versions on various PCs.

A useful Tool – Maxdoc.exe

Want to make the most of tracking your documents in Maximizer?  Then download Maxdocs from the CABC website – www.cabc.co.uk!  They give you a 60 day trial before purchasing

Microsoft Office 2003

We’re still waiting for our copy to arrive – more soon!

Series: Excel Tips and Tricks 10 – Useful Functions:

Some short hints to get you started for the year: There are two formulas that search for text:

SEARCH is case insensitive (doesn’t care about upper or lower case).
FIND is case sensitive.

Syntax: SEARCH(find_text,within_text,start_num) and FIND(find_text,within_text,start_num)

Find_text         is the text you want to find. You can use the wildcards “?” (question mark) and “*” (asterisk – no, not Asterix, he’s a comic book character!).  A question mark matches any one character; an asterisk matches any sequence of characters. To find an actual question mark or asterisk, type a “~” (tilde) before the character.

Within_text      is the text which you want to search for find_text.

Start_num        is the character number in within_text where you want to start searching.  Use it to skip a given number of characters at the start of find_text.

There are also two similar functions, SEARCHB and FINDB, which return a count in bytes (for use with double-byte characters such as Chinese).

The functions return the character number at which find_text was found.  If it is not found, the #VALUE! error appears.

Examples: Cell A1: abcde         Cell B1: =SEARCH("B",A1) returns 2,  = SEARCH ("z",A1) returns #VALUE!, =FIND("B",A1) returns #VALUE!, =FIND("b",A1) returns 2.

Next Month: SUBSTITUTE(text,old_text,new_text,instance_num) and REPLACE(old_text,start_num,num_chars,new_text)

Series: Maximizer Tips to increase your effectiveness

Now we are back in action for the new year, Maximizer starts to work again!  The Hot List becomes our guide to better follow ups and the calendar fills up as we obtain the appointments that we want.  Now how do we report those results without writing them out again?

Two forms of report exist in Maximizer – your phone log and the built in reports under File | Print.  The latter can be made more powerful by setting up a catalog of searches which display the results that you want.

First let’s look at the Phone Log and its use:

Every time you make or receive a call, use the Telephone icon to indicate that this is what you are doing.  In this way, the call is put into the Phone Log with its result.  When making a call, I find the contact, click on them and drag them to the Telephone holding down the left mouse button.  This then gives me the number to call and four choices – Answered, Message, Busy and No Reply.  The last three just indicate the result but the first give you a dialogue box when clicked on so that you can make notes about the call.  When the call is finished, you click on Hangup and this moves you to the result window, where you can choose the outcome (or add it if it is not in the list).  Click on OK and you are reminded to set up the next contact.  This means that you are creating a sound customer service element in your workflow, as customers remain “on your mind” using this process.

When receiving a call, find the contact and click on them.  Then click on the Telephone and on Incoming to continue with the call as above.

Now, at the end of the day, you can print out your phone log or better still, save it as a file in My Documents.  This means that you can send it by e-mail to your manager.  Painless reporting generated as you work!

Useful Searches for Reporting Purposes

Amongst those reports required by Sales Managers are how many customers have been contacted in the month, how many new leads have been sourced, how many presentations/meetings have been done.  Many Maximizer searches can be done around dates and creator names.  There is also the one which identifies who hasn’t been contacted in the month as well.  It is useful to find out who has been neglected so that they can be prioritised for the next month and the oversight rectified.

Customers contacted during the Month

To generate this list, click on Search | Notes; find your name under Creator and click on it; then put in the dates for the report (1st of the month to the last); remove the ticks from Companies and Individuals under Find Matching, so that you only have your contacts returned; remove anything that is not relevant from Type of Note; make sure that the Modify current address book entries is set to Replace list with search results and then click OK.

Now you can go to File | Print and choose to print a Notes report of this search result, choosing the time period and the types of notes to print.  Again, you can save it to a text file and e-mail it to your manager.

To obtain the customers who have not been contacted – make your search look for only Phone Calls and remove all the other ticks in the Note Type boxes.  This is the only search where you cannot create a catalog of the ones that we are looking at.

New Prospects for the Month

This is a search which can be repeated by saving its parameters to a catalog.  Choose Search | All fields; then choose ID and Salesperson (or the equivalent field where you can find your name.  Click on OK after making sure that each has a tick in the box beside it.

For ID put in 040101* (This stands for this year 1st January) in the first box and then tab to the next one and put in 040131* (end of January 2004).  This will then report for the whole of January.  For February, change the 01 to 02 and so on.  Click on OK.  Next click in the box beside your name and then on OK.  Make sure that you are looking for Companies and Individuals but not contacts (untick this box) and that the list is replacing the current Address Book list.  Click on Catalog and call it My new prospects.  Confirm that you want to be prompted for values as the dates will change each month.  Click on OK and the search will return the companies which meet the criteria.  Again, you use File | Print | Column Report to create the file for e-mailing to your manager.

These are just a few reports that you can generate easily from your use of Maximizer.  By saving them as files, you have continuous access to them as well as giving them to your manager.  Also, this way they do not have to be printed out, which saves paper and ink!

 Just a Reminder!  We can Help you with:―

·         Training your company on Maximizer, Excel, Word, Access and Windows.  We do all levels from raw beginners through to Programming using Visual Basic.

·         Personal Training: If you’re an MD or Executive and embarrassed to show the rest of your staff how little you know about computers, we can arrange one-on-one training to suit your schedule.

·         Templates for your Corporate Identity.

·         Creating stand-alone programs, databases, and spreadsheets for you.

·         Developing your own databases and spreadsheets:  Do your own development in Microsoft Access and Excel, call us when you get stuck – we’ll help with the tricky bits and explain them so that you can do it on your own in future.

·         Productivity Software: We re-sell and support a select range of our own and other companies’ programs.

That’s all for now from the team!
Bye!
Judith and Rick

Directors, Communication in Action (Pty) Ltd
PO Box 987, Gallo Manor, 2052 South Africa.
Tel: (+27 11) (011) 802-2685.  Fax: 802-4576.  Cell: 082 389-3481/2.
E-mail: judith@softwareafrica.co.za

This entire newsletter is Copyright© 2004 Communication in Action (Pty) LtdPlease share it with your friends or post it on your site as long as it is left intact with all links unchanged and includes this notice.  To Subscribe to this newsletter, Click here and SEND the resulting e-mail.  To unsubscribe, Click here and SEND the resulting e-mail.

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Communication in Action – February/March 2004

Editorial

Enthusiasm is high this year – are we going for the best ever?  I hope so as it would be wonderful to grow the economy by more than 3% this year – a real acknowledgement of 10 years of real democracy.

We have also managed (courtesy of the mother) our best Labrador live births litter to date - eight strapping babies, who are growing apace.  Eight future guide or service dogs for SA Guide Dogs!  Does anyone want to join their Puppy Walking programme?  If so please phone them on 011 705-3512 to volunteer.

The International Marketing Council has had many successes recently with marketing South Africa.  – let’s all do the same and really get our country on the map!

Welcome to New Staff

We would like to welcome Claudia Skrabl and Kumaran Anthony to Communication in Action and hope that they will prosper and grow with the company.  Claudia will be assisting Judith with marketing, and Kumaran joins the programming team as a trainee programmer.

Maximizer Update

Maximizer Enterprise 8.0 is released and has many new features.  Of a priority customer wish list of 20 items 17 have been included.  A major change is the ability to have a User Defined Field within another one.  This means that you can have a customer who has bought a number of items of the same type and you can list the serial numbers under that particular thing, instead of having to type everything in repeatedly.  E.g. Epson Stylus C20SX is the main UDF then SN 1; SN2; SN3 and so on are inside it.

The Marketing Campaign is now inside Maximizer and fully integrated with it.  Long term campaigns have been revamped to allow for all three types of campaign to be included.

Customer Service has been extensively rethought and the entry form redesigned to make it more logical to use.

And finally, e-mail uses HTML throughout, so you can send out really beautiful e-mails at last.

Contact Judith for upgrade information – Judith@softwareafrica.co.za

eScan Antivirus solutions

We are resellers of this extremely easy to install and very reliable antivirus solution.  It comes in single user through to large enterprise versions and also covers mail servers.  It also offers a three year contract.  Its major advantage is the small download size of the updates, but it also includes spam filters and pop-up filters.  Again contact Judith for more information.

Reminder: HotPlot for dotPLOT!

dotPLOT is the famous DOS borehole- and core-logging program written by Winston Jones.  New developments include the option to write PDF files, thus allowing output to most installed printers, support for colour, and screen preview using Adobe Reader.  HotPlot is a new Windows front-end for dotPLOT, developed with the support of Winston.  HotPlot provides you with a Windows interface that runs dotPLOT for you, producing output in any of several file formats.  In the case of PDF output, the program lets you preview or print the file immediately via Adobe Reader.  It includes a text file editor specially designed for dotPLOT, supporting the special symbols that dotPLOT uses.  For a free demo version of HotPlot, Click here and send the resulting email.

Product Highlight: Time-Binder

This program, written by us, is a general-purpose Timesheet solution for companies that bill their time to customers under various job numbers.  The program has a function to create Invoices in QuickBooks and various reports and graphs that let you track the time your staff has spent on their jobs.  A special section allows hours spent to be deducted from pre-paid service contracts.

Series: Excel Tips and Tricks 11 – More Useful Text Functions:

Some more useful formulas that work with text:

SUBSTITUTE(text, old_text, new_text, [instance_num]) is used to return text replacing other text.   The first parameter, “Text”, is the text or cell reference to use.  instance_num (optional) is used to restrict the replacement to just one (numbered) replacement.

Try:      In cell A1 enter the text “Lovely cat in the cattery today!”.

            Dog lovers, in cell A2, enter =SUBSTITUTE(A$1,"cat","dog")

            Now copy it one cell down and modify it to read =SUBSTITUTE(A$1,"cat","dog",1).  Notice the difference!

REPLACE(text, start_num, num_chars, new_text) is used if you know where the text is that you want to replace (start_num) and how many characters (num_chars) you want to replace.

Try:      Following on the from the above example, in cell A5 enter the formula =REPLACE(A3,19,7,"kennel")

Series: Maximizer Tips to increase your effectiveness

Using Opportunity Manager – Part One

This will be focussed on the end-user putting the Opportunity Strategy to work.  Not creating the strategy at this point! 

What is Opportunity Manager?

Very simply, it is a tool for measuring the likelihood of success in a particular project.  When you have a long sales cycle, Opportunity Manager can assist you in keeping on top of the process.  Using a strategy, you are handed the steps that have to be performed along the way to the prospect becoming a sale.  As you progress, so the comment under the Rating column will change from “Not started” to “Fair” and so on through to “Won”.

Reminders will be automatically placed in your Hot List as milestones are close.  Finally, you will be able to document how the contract was won or lost!  So, how do you use it?

You have a prospect in mind that looks good for an order.  You have made the initial contact or perhaps you have still to do so.  Placing your cursor on the prospect’s name, you drag them to the Opportunities tab below them or to the Opportunities icon on the left of your screen.  This opens up the Opportunity dialog box.

The first window of this states the company associated with the opportunity.  You can now put in your objective and a possible value for the sale.  Click on the Assign button and find your name in the list, highlight it and click OK.  If you wish, you can put a comment in the area for that.

Next, click on Strategy to open that area up.  Open the Strategy list and choose the one you want to use.  (You may only have one).  This will tell you how long the sales cycle should take.  If you have a number of strategies, they will have been set up to cover different scenarios.  You will also notice that you have three columns at the bottom of the dialog box: Steps, Success Factors and Roles.

Steps  are the things that you have to complete along the way to the sale.  They will include doing a quote and having meetings.  Success Factors are those things which impact on the customer’s view of you and your company.  They will always include Political Alignment and On Schedule.  There may be no others at all or there may be many.  Roles are the players in the sale – the decision maker, the influencer etc.  There are also three buttons with the same three headings on them.  By clicking on one of them, you will be reminded that you are accepting the chosen strategy for this customer and asked to click OK to confirm it.  Here, you can review the activities around a particular step; standings around success factors and ratings around roles.

The next tab is User Fields associated with the strategy.  You click on the tab and select the appropriate fields if they exist.  The Competitors tab can be filled in if you have your competitors on your database and the same is true for the Partners tab.

The last tab is Status which will have In Progress selected.  The close date will be Waiting and the commencement date, the date you are working on (today).  Click OK.  Your opportunity now appears in the list.

At the top, you will see a bar of icons, including the Column Setup one.  To its left is an icon with two “feet” on it.  This is steps icon.  Click on it.

Now, you can work the steps through to the order!

To gain the ratings, however, you need to click on the Scales and add the names of the people in the company that you are dealing with to the appropriate roles.  Click on the Standings button to select how they feel about your company and you.  You will need to come here occasionally to update the standings as you progress towards the order.

Next month – Reporting from Opportunity Manager

Just a Reminder!  We can Help you with:―

·         Training your company on Maximizer, Excel, Word, Access and Windows.  We do all levels from raw beginners through to Programming using Visual Basic.

·         Personal Training: If you’re an MD or Executive and embarrassed to show the rest of your staff how little you know about computers, we can arrange one-on-one training to suit your schedule.

·         Templates for your Corporate Identity.

·         Creating stand-alone programs, databases, and spreadsheets for you.

·         Developing your own databases and spreadsheets:  Do your own development in Microsoft Access and Excel, call us when you get stuck – we’ll help with the tricky bits and explain them so that you can do it on your own in future.

·         Productivity Software: We re-sell and support a select range of our own and other companies’ programs.

That’s all for now from the team!
Bye!
Judith and Rick

Directors, Communication in Action (Pty) Ltd
PO Box 987, Gallo Manor, 2052 South Africa.
Tel: (+27 11) (011) 802-2685.  Fax: 802-4576.  Cell: 082 389-3481/2.
E-mail: judith@softwareafrica.co.za

This entire newsletter is Copyright© 2004 Communication in Action (Pty) LtdPlease share it with your friends or post it on your site as long as it is left intact with all links unchanged and includes this notice.  To Subscribe to this newsletter, Click here and SEND the resulting e-mail.  To unsubscribe, Click here and SEND the resulting e-mail.

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Communication in Action – April 2004 Newsletter

Editorial

With both Easter and the election past, we have one more day off to celebrate – Freedom Day!  As this is combined with the inauguration of the President, it is going to be spectacular.  Ten years done the line, we have come a long way, as people, as a country and as a democracy.  However, like everything else, there is a still an ongoing need to keep working at improving and honing the results.

It is rather like being in business where you are constantly searching for better ways to achieve your objectives, increase sales and productivity, whilst making sure that customers and workers are happy!

The recent spate of viruses has resulted in many fake e-mails circulating as unprotected address lists are invaded and their contents used to spam others.  Does your anti-virus solution strip all attachments thus ensuring that these invaders are stopped in their tracks?  Make sure as this will prevent your address lists being vulnerable.

Appointment Vacant

We have a vacancy for a sales person to assist with Maximizer Enterprise and Productivity Manager sales.  They should have their own transport, be excited by the idea of improving their customers’ return on investment and enthusiastic about increasing the user base of these two products.  Please contact Judith 011 802 2685 or Judith@softwareafrica.co.za .

Maximizer Update

We currently running a special on Maximizer upgrades – please contact Judith for details – Judith@softwareafrica.co.za

eScan Antivirus solutions

We are resellers of this extremely easy-to-install and very reliable antivirus solution.  It comes in single-user through to large enterprise versions and also covers mail servers.  It also offers a three year contract.  Its major advantage is the small download size of the updates, but it also includes spam filters and pop-up filters.  Again contact Judith for more information.

Product Highlight: Flag Changes

This program from Communication in Action will be useful to other developers.  As code is modified over the course of time, it is useful (if not essential!) to know who modified the code and when.  If it is necessary to roll back changes, it is obvious how far one has to roll back.  You also know who is responsible for bugs!

The Flag Changes program simply marks all the lines of code that are on the clipboard, with the user’s initials and the date.  They can then be pasted back into the program whence they were copied.  The program can be set to stay always on top, and has features for “commenting-out” code, uncommenting it again, and reformatting e-mail lines to a specified length.  Click here to ask for more information.

Series: Excel Tips and Tricks 12 – The World’s Second-Most-Useful Numeric Function!

SUBTOTAL(function_num, range)

No doubt you have done a list with subtotals using SUM() and then found to your annoyance that SUM() included other SUMs in the grand total, meaning that for the grand totals you had to laboriously add up add the subtotals in a formula.  SUBTOTAL addresses this problem.

Example:             Enter the words “Subtotal 1”, “Subtotal 2” and “Total” in cells A5, A11, and A12 respectively.   In cells B1:B10 enter the number 100 (quick way: Enter 100 in B1, select it, and drag the cross at the bottom right corner down to cell B10).  Delete (clear) cell B5.  Click on B11 and click the S (Sigma = AutoSum) button on the Standard Toolbar.  Press Enter – this produces the formula =SUM(B6:B10).  Do the same in cell B5, producing the formula =SUM(B1:B4).

              So far, so good: We have subtotals in cells B5 and B11.  Check mentally that they are correct: 400 and 500.  Now we want a Grand Total in cell B12: Enter =SUM(B1:B11).  A moment’s reflection will show that this is wrong, because the subtotals have been added in, producing 1800 instead of 400 + 500 = 900.

              Now we’ll try it with Subtotal:  Copy cells B1:B12 to C1:C12.  Select C1:C12.  Press Ctrl+H (Replace).  Find SUM( and replace with SUBTOTAL(9, then press Replace All.  Notice the difference!

Why it works: Unlike SUM, SUBTOTAL ignores other SUBTOTAL formulae, and only totals the other figures.

What is the “9” for?  SUBTOTAL does a lot more than just subtotals.  The 9 is used for a SUM, 1 for AVERAGE, 2 for COUNT, 3 for COUNTA, 4 for MAX, 5 for MIN, 6 for PRODUCT, 7 for STDEV, 8 for STDEVP, 10 for VAR, and 11 for VARP.  You’ll see that “SUM” is ninth in the alphabetic list.  In each case it ignores the other Subtotals.

And the “most useful numeric function”?  Still SUM, we’d readily admit!

Series: Maximizer Tips to increase your effectiveness

Using Opportunity Manager – Part Two

Just a further point on the Steps and the Opportunity Analysis icons – they each have a specific purpose.  The Steps icon is to take you through the process of the Opportunity until you realise your objective – eg a sale.  You work in the Steps making phone calls and follow ups including your appointments so that these are attached to your Opportunity and demonstrate what you have achieved physically.

Opportunity Analysis is for giving the “emotional” feedback which assists in rating your progress towards a sale or the likelihood of obtaining it.  By putting in the company’s reaction to you and your offering, you can either increase or decrease the rating.  Putting in the contacts in the company and rating their reactions adds further weight towards the sale.  If you are not making it with one of your contacts, be honest, as then you can handle the problem with someone else to find a solution.

Reporting from Opportunity Manager

In versions earlier than version 8, all the reporting is from Maximizer itself or Report Smith.  Version 8 brings in reporting via Crystal Reports, which increases the reporting power considerably.  For the purpose of this session, we will look at only what is available in all versions.

The first one is the Forecast Report.  Click on Reports | Opportunities | Forecast Analysis.  This opens a dialog box asking you for the date range of the report, the number of copies, and how the report must be printed.  As it can be sent as an e-mail, saved to file or (in 8) placed in a Word document as well as previewed, printing is only really one option.  Opt for preview, so that you can see what it will look like.

Note that close dates which precede a period will not be reported on, so if you want everything, choose All Dates

The report will show you the total potential value of closed business plus a weighted average.  The latter gives you a mean to work on as it looks at the ratings of the opportunities.

Sales Alert Report

This report shows you which opportunities have fallen behind their deadlines.  This enables neglected ones to be revitalised.

History Report

This gives you a report on all the steps undertaken on the selected opportunities.

Win / Loss / Abandoned / Suspended Reports

These reports give you the details as to how and why the result occurred.

Executive Report (version 8 only) 

This report can be scheduled to run on demand or automatically.  It gives a full report of Opportunity Manager Opportunities and of the Customer Service cases.  It provides a graph of when sales are due to be closed and their value.  This graph can be broken down to the individual sales person’s forecast.  The report is put out into Internet Explorer.

Next month – Using Customer Service

Just a Reminder!  We can Help you with:―

·         Word and Excel Templates for your Corporate Identity.

·         Training your company on Maximizer, Excel, Word, Access and Windows.  We do all levels from raw beginners through to Programming using Visual Basic.

·         Personal Training: If you’re an MD or Executive and embarrassed to show the rest of your staff how little you know about computers, we can arrange one-on-one training to suit your schedule.

·         Creating stand-alone programs, databases, and spreadsheets for you.

·         Developing your own databases and spreadsheets:  Do your own development in Microsoft Access and Excel, call us when you get stuck – we’ll help with the tricky bits and explain them so that you can do it on your own in future.

·         Productivity Software: We re-sell and support a select range of our own and other companies’ programs.

That’s all for now from the team!
Bye!
Judith and Rick

Directors, Communication in Action (Pty) Ltd
PO Box 987, Gallo Manor, 2052 South Africa.

Tel: (+27 11) (011) 802-2685.  Fax: 802-4576.  Cell: 082 389-3481/2.
E-mail: judith@softwareafrica.co.za

P.S.  Do visit our web site at http://www.softwareafrica.co.za where you can find all sorts of free stuff to download.

This entire newsletter is Copyright© 2004 Communication in Action (Pty) LtdPlease share it with your friends or post it on your site as long as it is left intact with all links unchanged and includes this notice.  To Subscribe to this newsletter, Click here and SEND the resulting e-mail.

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Communication in Action – May 2004 Newsletter

Editorial – BEE Threat to Small Business

Peter Carruthers, who sends out a very informative weekly e-mail on topics of interest to small businesses, and runs very useful seminars including CrashProof your Business, points out in the May 19th Pete’s Weekly Business Idea (“BEE a Zebra”) that big companies are currently collaborating on BEE charters, which will apply to small businesses as well, and be so onerous that they are likely to drive us out of business (which may be plain thoughtlessness, or a way of getting rid of the competition).

He quotes from the ICT (Information Communications Technology) Charter: “No enterprise shall be exempted to perform or meet the transformation targets related to any of the Core Components or Indicators of the Charter as set out in the scorecard.“ and says:

“In English I understand that this means that if a sole proprietor [specialist computer programmer, for example] does not 'meet the transformation targets' s/he/it cannot supply any BIG firm in the ICT sector. What I don't understand is how my tiny sole proprietor business can achieve the following goals within 5 years in order to get the Gold Certification that I will probably need to be merely considered as a supplier:

·         “between 25% and 35% direct shareholding by black people (the definition of black people includes anyone who is not white)

·         “between 15% and 30% of these must be black woman or black people with disabilities

·         “between 30% and 50% of the people in senior and/or executive management must be black

·         “and between 15% and 30% must be black women

·         “apart from my contribution of 1% of payroll in terms of the Skills Development Act, I must offer an additional 1-3% of my payroll targeted at black employee education

·         “30 to 60% of my goods and services must be procured from black-owned enterprises

·         “I must publish an Affirmative Action Procurement Policy and Supplier Questionnaire approved by the ICT BEE Council

·         “I must invest between 1% and 2% of my profits before tax in sustainable ICT Council accredited projects.”

Even assuming that we could achieve these targets, small business is going to be seriously harmed by having yet another layer of bureaucracy to attend to, apart from the 14-odd types of tax we already have including the Skills Development Levy.  We need simpler laws, not more and more more-and-more-complex ones!

Drafts of the ITC Charter were to be found at www.ictcharter.org.za/draft.htm.  The latest is 884 KB in PDF format and 64 Pages long!

We SMME-types have a crisis on our hands and need to band together!  Please get involved!  You can e-mail Peter on peter@petesweekly.co.za, or us at Judith@softwareafrica.co.za.

Small Product Highlight: RiReplace (Rick’s Replace)

This program, available free in Visual Basic 6.0 Source code from the Free Tools page on our web site will be useful to other developers.  This is a suite of three programs to replace text in files:

·         RiRep – handles Text files,

·         RiRepBin – handles Binary files, and

·         RiRepFil – handles Text files using a “list of changes” in a text file.

The programs will search selected files for all occurrences of a given text string (or strings in the case of RiRepFil) and replace them with another string (or strings).  Very handy for changing the names of Menu items, for example!  For a nominal charge we can supply the programs in a compiled form for developers who do not have Visual Basic 6.0.  Click here to ask for more information.

Review: Microsoft Multimedia Keyboard (1A), made in China

This keyboard has a wonderful feel to the keys and should enhance the typing speed of any user – it has certainly improved mine (Rick’s)!  Unlike the Microsoft “Natural” keyboard, the main keypad is in one piece and not split for the two hands, which is the way most of us are used to it.

On the downside, Microsoft has seen fit to put the F-Function keys on the front of the top row of keys instead of the top: For them to work, the new “F Lock” key must be pressed – which is not the way the PC boots up.  There is also a large area at the top of the keyboard consisting mostly of wasted space (increasing its size on the desk) with an “artistic” arrangement of mostly-useless multimedia keys.  The Insert key has been misplaced, which is particularly bad for Maximizer, and PrtScn requires F Lock off in order to use it.  While we appreciate some Microsoft innovations, when will they learn “not to fix it if isn’t bust”?

Series: Excel Tips and Tricks 13 – The T() and TEXT() Functions

T(cell ref)

TEXT(cell ref, format_text)

These two functions are superficially similar, but do very different things.

The T function makes sure that you get text back from a cell (cell ref above): If the value in the referenced cell is numeric, T() returns a blank string.

The TEXT function, on the other hand, takes numbers and formats them as text that looks like a number, so that you can use them in text formulas.

Where would you use them?

Say that you had a salary slip where you were printing out the original and a copy on the same page, and then cut it in half.  You would probably copy the cells from the original to cells lower down on the same sheet.  For subsequent months you would probably change the figures at the top, and want the figures lower down to pick up the upper values and text by means of cell references.  If your formulas refer directly to cells (e.g. =B4) this does not work well for blank cells – the formula produces a zero instead of a blank.  However if you use the formula =T(B4) to refer to cells that either contain text or are blank, they will come through correctly.

The drawback to T() is that if you refer to a cell containing a numeric value, the formula returns a blank.

To refer to a cell containing a numeric value, use the TEXT() function and a suitable format.  What do we mean by a “format”?  Excel’s Help says:  “Format_text   is a number format in text form from in the Category box on the Number tab in the Format Cells dialog box.”  This is not very helpful:  If you follow Help and use “number” or “currency” for Format_text you get rubbish.  What they actually mean is that you should be looking in the Custom formats.  You would typically use "#,##0.00" for number, and “R #,##0.00" for Currency.  More about this next month.

Demonstration: Set up the following worksheet:  Put the formulas in cells B2:D2, then copy down to rows 3 and 4.  You will of course see the answers to the formulas, not the formulas themselves.  Note that cell A4 is blank.

 

A

B

C

D

1

Value

Formula

T()

TEXT()

2

123

=A2

=T(A2)

=TEXT(A2,"#,##0.00")

3

Hello

=A3

=T(A3)

=TEXT(A3,"#,##0.00")

4

 

=A4

=T(A4)

=TEXT(A4,"#,##0.00")

Next month: How the formats for TEXT() work, and useful applications of the TEXT() function.

Series: Maximizer Tips to increase your effectiveness

Using Customer Service

The Customer Service module is there to handle those incidents and accidents which make your customers unhappy.  It can be used to track repairs from their being checked in through to completion amongst other things.  A problem can be assigned to a responsible person with the incident being “owned” by a manager.  As part of the set up, the customer can be alerted of the status of the incident regularly via e-mail.

In setting up Customer Service, you identify the products, categorised them and set up the descriptions for each type of case that may be encountered.  Billing can also be included in this set up process.  Once everything has been completed (usually by the Maximizer Administrator), you are ready to go ahead and use this powerful module.

Upon the customer ringing in, you open a case for them, recording what product and category it is for, include a brief description of the problem and then put in the customer’s details, the urgency etc before assigning the case to an appropriate person.  Alerts will then be given to the case owner and to the responsible person when the deadline is approaching.

Reporting from Customer Service

Reports include overdue cases and unassigned cases as well as one on the case loads of the various people responsible for handling cases.  This means that work loads can be balanced

Executive Report (version 8 only) 

This is used to prepared focussed reports from the Customer Service module..

Next month – Using Customer Service’s Knowledge Base

Just a Reminder!  We can Help you with:―

·         Solving your Microsoft Access, Excel and Word problems.

·         Training your company on Maximizer, Excel, Word, Access and Windows.  We do all levels from raw beginners through to Programming using Visual Basic.

·         Personal Computer Training for your company or one-on-one to suit your schedule.

·         Developing your own databases and spreadsheets.

·         Software: We re-sell and support various CRM, timesheet, scheduling and productivity programs.

We still support and sell Lotus software!

That’s all for now from the team!
Bye!
Rick and Judith

Directors, Communication in Action (Pty) Ltd
PO Box 987, Gallo Manor, 2052 South Africa.
Tel: (+27 11) (011) 802-2685.  Fax: 802-4576.  Cell: 082 389-3481/2.
E-mail: info@softwareafrica.co.za

P.S.  Do visit our web site at www.softwareafrica.co.za where you can find all sorts of free stuff to download.

This entire newsletter is Copyright© 2004 Communication in Action (Pty) LtdPlease share it with your friends or post it on your site as long as it is left intact with all links unchanged and includes this notice.  To Subscribe to this newsletter, Click here and SEND the resulting e-mail.  To unsubscribe, Click here and SEND the resulting e-mail.

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Communication in Action – June 2004 Newsletter

Editorial – Newsletter format feedback

Judging from the feedback to our placing the newsletter as an attachment, this way of sending it out is preferred.  A number of people have mentioned that they cannot print or view the newsletter.  Please come back to me with information about your version of Internet Explorer and your version of Word.  One of these may be the source of the problem.

I am looking at converting the newsletter into Adobe PDF format to prevent the Excel Tips being stopped at your door as the information is read as dangerous code by some firewalls.  This will probably happen in about two months!

Following Comrades and Youth Day, everyone is back to the grindstone – unless you took this side of the holiday that is!  This week saw the shortest day of the year and the longest night, although I doubt that will have any impact on the working day!  Now is the time to plan towards a successful year end so that the December holidays can really be enjoyed.  Perhaps we should all stay at home and cut the road death rate.

On the 28th July Sandton Community Police Forum is holding its AGM at the Sandton Police Station in Summit Road Morningside in the evening – probably starting at 17:00.  If this is your station and you want to find out more about participating in preventing crime – please diarise this date and come.  The Sector Policing is now underway and Sandton is providing some of the best possible policing with the help of the largest reservist unit in Gauteng.  Someone is on duty 24 hours a day seven days a week!.

Small Product Highlight: WinMatch (Windows File-Matching Utility)

This program is useful for comparing different versions of the same folder, e.g. for backup purposes. I t allows you to visually match two folders with the files lined up side by side.  A click of the mouse will cause it to mark newer files.  You can tick or untick files, or change the selection of files to compare using wildcards.  You can then copy files in either direction or delete selected files.  WinMatch can be downloaded from the Free Tools page on our web site.  The program is Shareware, which means that we ask for a  payment if you find it useful (R25 in South Africa / US$25 elsewhere).  Visual Basic source code is available separately at double the Shareware price, subject to certain conditions.

eScan – the intelligent anti-virus solution

Tired of long downloads and having to make sure that they have happened?  eScan has been in South Africa almost a year now and we have used it for eight months.  It updates silently on every PC but pops up an information box to let you know.  Ideal for fixed line and ADSL, it also works well on dialup both analogue and ISDN.  Please contact Judith for more information – Judith@softwareafrica.co.za

Series: Excel Tips and Tricks 14 – How the Formats Work

Last month we introduced the TEXT() built-in function, which takes numbers and formats them as text that looks like a number, so that you can use them in text formulas.

TEXT(cell ref, format)

We gave one example of the format: "#,##0.00" - this formats a number with a thousands separator (usually a comma) and two decimals, for example 12,345.67.

The format uses the following symbols:

0           Display a digit or a zero.

#           Display either a digit or nothing.

. (full stop)      Decimal place holder (even if the decimal on your PC is a comma, as set  in Windows Control Panel, Regional Settings.

%         Show number as a Percentage, e.g.: =TEXT(A11,"#0.0 %")

, (comma)      Thousand separator (even if your Thousand separator is not a comma).

E+         Scientific format, e.g. "#0.00 E+#0"  (E- omits the + for positive powers).

/             Date separator between day, month, and year (depends on International setting).

- + $ ( ) space                   Display the character itself.

\             To display any other character, precede it with a backslash (\) or enclose it in two double-quotes ("" "").

A format expression for numbers can have one to three sections separated by semicolons (;).  The first section applies to positive values, the second to negative values, and the third to zeros. e.g. =TEXT($A20,"#,##0.00;(#,##0.00);""Nil""") which will show negative numbers in brackets and zero as "Nil".

Date and Time Format Symbols

d       Display the day as a number without a leading zero (1-31).

dd     Display the day as a number with a leading zero (01-31).

ddd   Display the day as an abbreviation (Sun-Sat).

dddd Display the day as a full name (Sunday-Saturday).

m or mm        Display the month as a number respectively without/with a leading zero.  If m or mm immediately follows h or hh, the minute rather than the month is displayed.

mmm              Display the month as an abbreviation (Jan-Dec).

mmmm           Display the month as a full name (January-December).

yy      Display the year as a two-digit number (00-99).

yyyy   Display the year as a four-digit number (0100-9999).

h or hh            Display the hour as a number without/with leading zeros respectively.

s or ss            Display the second as a number without/with leading zeros.

AM/PM or am/pm    Use the 12-hour clock and display AM or am with any hour before noon; display PM or pm with any other hour.

The following are examples of date and time formats.

m/d/yy                12/7/95

dd-mmm-yyyy     07-Dec-2004

d\ mmmm           7 December

h:nn am/pm          2:50 PM

d/m/yy hh:nn       14/7/95 02:50

These format symbols can also be used under Excel's Format > Cells > Number in the "Custom" Formats section.

For a free spreadsheet of examples,  Click here and SEND the resulting e-mail.

Next month: Useful applications of the TEXT() function.

Series: Maximizer Tips to increase your effectiveness

Using Customer Service’s Knowledge Base

The Knowledge Base is where you place the solutions to problems with key words for searches.  As a problem is solved, go to the Knowledge Base and insert a new article.  Initially, this may be a draft and it can have a number of different statuses – draft, published, internal and expired (e.g. no longer relevant), as it proceeds through approval.  Each article will have an owner – usually the person who solved the problem.

It will be attached to a product for which the problem was solved and a specific category – e.g. Product: Windows XP Pro Category: Access Rights.  Give it a meaningful title and keywords.  Now you are ready to put in the input of the process of solving the problem.  Once this is done, check the spelling and click on OK.

Searching the Knowledge Base

When you need to look for a solution, you access the knowledge Base and then click on Search.  Choose either Any field or Phrase.  The former gives you a dialog box to select various field from – some of these have dropdown lists to choose from and some you will have to type text into.  Once you have made you selections, you click on OK to begin the search and then the relevant articles are retrieved.  Note that such searches can be catalogued as in any Maximizer Search.

The Phrase search looks for a particular group of words in the articles and it can search titles and/or the document body.  These searches cannot be catalogued.

Next month – Setting up HTML in version 8.0

Remember:  We can Help you with:―

·         Solving your Microsoft Access, Excel and Word problems.

·        Training your company on Maximizer, Excel, Word, Access and Windows.  We do all levels from raw beginners through to Programming using Visual Basic.

·         Personal Computer Training for your company or one-on-one to suit your schedule.

·         Developing your own databases and spreadsheets.

·         Software: We re-sell and support various CRM, timesheet, scheduling and productivity programs.

We still support and sell Lotus software!

All the Best from the team!
Judith and Rick

Directors, Communication in Action (Pty) Ltd
PO Box 987, Gallo Manor, 2052 South Africa.
Tel: (+27 11) (011) 802-2685.  Fax: 802-4576.  Cell: 082 389-3481/2.
E-mail: info@softwareafrica.co.za

P.S.  Do visit our web site at www.softwareafrica.co.za where you can find all sorts of free stuff to download.

This entire newsletter is Copyright© 2004 Communication in Action (Pty) LtdPlease share it with your friends or post it on your site as long as it is left intact with all links unchanged and includes this notice.  To Subscribe to this newsletter, Click here and SEND the resulting e-mail.

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Communication in Action – July 2004 Newsletter

Editorial

On Wednesday 28th July Sandton Community Police Forum is holding its AGM at the Sandton Police Station in Summit Road Morningside at 18:30 for 19:00.  If this is your station and you want to find out more about participating in preventing crime – please diarise this date and come.  The Sector Policing is now underway and Sandton is providing some of the best possible policing with the help of the largest Reservist unit in Gauteng. 

Otherwise, the weather at the moment seems like a good excuse to go on holiday!  Or indulge in warm fires and good red wine.

We are busy researching add-on products for Maximizer, as well as developing our own solutions in response to customer enquiries.  If you have any suggestions or needs which have not been met, please let us know.

Product Highlight: Benefactors Database

This Microsoft Access 2000 database was created for the South African Guide Dogs Association for the Blind (SAGA), who have been using it most successfully since January 2000 and are now making it available to other charitable organisations.  It is used to track all people who have donated to, joined, collected for, or otherwise assisted SAGA. The program is used to issue receipts, collate banking (including a ledger transfer to Pastel), and print labels, letters and reports.  It can be customised for other organisations.

eScan – the intelligent anti-virus solution

Tired of long downloads and having to make sure that they have happened?  eScan has been in South Africa almost a year now and we have used it for eight months.  It updates silently on every PC but pops up an information box to let you know.  Ideal for fixed line and ADSL, it also works well on dialup both analogue and ISDN.  Please contact Judith for more information – Judith@softwareafrica.co.za

Series: Excel Tips and Tricks 15 – Useful applications of the TEXT() function

Last month we gave you formats that can be used with the TEXT() function (and also under Excel's Format > Cells > Number in the "Custom" Formats section).  This month we put it all together with examples.  Remember, the syntax is TEXT(cell ref, format_text).

Numeric Examples

Number

Display

TEXT Formula:

1002

1,002.000

=TEXT(A7,"#,##0.000")

0.23

23.0 %

=TEXT(A8,"#.0 %")

1004.123

R 1,004.12

=TEXT(A9,"R #,##0.00")

1014

1 014.00

=TEXT(A10,"# ##0.00")

1017

1.017 E3

=TEXT(A11,"#.000 E-#0")

0.001018

1.018 E-3

=TEXT(A12,"#.000 E+#0")

Date and Time

Display

TEXT Formula:

7/4/2001

=TEXT(E6,"d/m/yyyy")

07-04-2001

=TEXT(E7,"dd-mm-yyyy")

Sat

=TEXT(E8,"ddd")

Saturday

=TEXT(E9,"dddd")

21/04/01 06:01

=TEXT(E13,"dd/mm/yy hh:mm")

23/04/01 18 05 11

=TEXT(E14,"dd/mm/yy h mm ss")

06:01 AM

=TEXT(E19,"hh:mm am/pm")

03 Feb 2004

=TEXT(E20,"dd mmm yyyy")

3 February 2004

=TEXT(E21,"d mmmm yyyy")

Conditional

Pos Format

Neg Format

0 or Blank Format

TEXT Formula:

1,020.00

-1,021.00

0.00

=TEXT(B26,"#,##0.00;-#,##0.00")

1,020.00

(1,021.00)

Nil

=TEXT($B26,"#,##0.00;(#,##0.00);""Nil""")

For a free spreadsheet with many more examples,  Click here and SEND the resulting e-mail.

 

Series: Maximizer Tips to increase your effectiveness

Setting up HTML in version 8.0

The real joy of version 8.0 is the ability to send e-mails directly out of Maximizer using HTML.  To activate this, go to File | Preferences | Email and tick Compose messages in HTML.  Please not that you require Service Pack 1 loaded for this to work 100%.  If you require this and do not have good download facilities, ask your Maximizer support person to bring it through for you.

Once HTML is activated, you can now go ahead and send emails with full formatting in the text area of the e-mail.  This includes being able to insert backgrounds and pictures.

If your require an HTML file for your signature to be inserted in e-mails, please ask us or your Maximizer support person to provide you with one.

Next month – Creating User Defined Field Folders in Version 8.0

Remember:  We can Help you with:―

·         Solving your Microsoft Access, Excel and Word problems.

·         Training your company on Maximizer, Excel, Word, Access and Windows.  We do all levels from raw beginners through to Programming using Visual Basic.

·         Personal Computer Training for your company or one-on-one to suit your schedule.

·         Developing your own databases and spreadsheets.

·         Software: We re-sell and support various CRM, timesheet, scheduling and productivity programs.

We still support and sell Lotus software!

All the Best from the team!
Judith and Rick

Directors, Communication in Action (Pty) Ltd
PO Box 987, Gallo Manor, 2052 South Africa.

Tel: (+27 11) (011) 802-2685.  Fax: 802-4576.  Cell: 082 389-3481/2.
E-mail: info@softwareafrica.co.za

P.S.  Do visit our web site at www.softwareafrica.co.za where you can find all sorts of free stuff to download.

This entire newsletter is Copyright© 2004 Communication in Action (Pty) LtdPlease share it with your friends or post it on your site as long as it is left intact with all links unchanged and includes this notice.  To Subscribe to this newsletter, Click here and SEND the resulting e-mail.  To unsubscribe, Click here and SEND the resulting e-mail.

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Communication in Action – August 2004 Newsletter

Editorial

Perhaps the suggestion that Spring was close in last month’s newsletter was premature, but the birds and bees are showing definite signs now that they are in Spring mode!  Much nest building is going on around us and new leaves are coming out.  Somehow, this brings freshness and a feeling of optimism into life for me.

There are signs that the economy is moving forward positively, whilst inflation is under control.  Nevertheless, we do require a higher growth rate in the country and more investment.  When you hear that word –investment– do you think money?  Whilst money is one way of putting in an investment, time is another and it can be equally powerful in increasing potential and business.  Large companies have Research and Development departments, in which they invest in people’s time finding new products and developing them (amongst other things).  For some years, I did research for a company which did projects for the United Nations.  My research enhanced their products, although I would have been hard pressed at the time to place a monetary value on the work.

Currently, we are investing our time in training young people to improve their computer skills.  Once they reach a certain standard, we are then able to offer them a position or prove their work experience to other employers, so that they become economically productive.  This is a real return on investment for everyone.

Another valuable investment is that of investing in yourself.  Recently, I have been doing this again and it has changed my outlook.  I have used two opportunities – the SalesBytes Breakfasts and courses, and the Upline Marketing breakfast and courses.  I am arranging for the rest of the company to participate in the courses as well.

Suzanne of SalesBytes publishes a really great newsletter each week  with great sales tips in it –if you would like to receive it, ask me to forward you a copy then you can join her list – judith@softwareafrica.co.za

For details of the Upline events, you can e-mail me too.

Thought for the month, courtesy Fine Art:

Happiness adds and multiplies as we divide it with others!

Product Highlight: HP & Rental Database

We wrote this database some years ago, but it is still relevant.  It is for companies issuing recurring Hire-Purchase or Rental contract invoices, for example piano or TV hire shops.  The program produces invoices (either on dot-matrix continuous stationary or Laser stand-alone page) for Hire-Purchase and Rental customers.  For HP the Interest is capitalized up front.  Various reports are included including debtors aging.  Other invoice layouts can be added as required, as could an interaction with accounting packages.

eScan – the intelligent anti-virus solution

Tired of long downloads and having to make sure that they have happened?  eScan has been in South Africa almost a year now and we have used it for eight months.  It updates silently on every PC but pops up an information box to let you know.  Ideal for fixed line and ADSL, it also works well on dialup both analogue and ISDN.  Please contact Judith for more information – Judith@softwareafrica.co.za

CPS MaxOut - Really Superb Synchronisation

After a problem with Maximizer 7.0 PE’s synchronisation with Outlook, I went onto the Maximizer Partner Support group and asked if there was a solution.  This resulted in finding out about CPS MaxOut, which does an excellent job.  The product works with version 7 and 8 PE and Enterprise.  It is downloadable from the Internet and costs around R500 plus VAT to activate.  Now I know that Maximizer is synchronising properly.

Series: Excel Tips and Tricks 16 – Working with Dates

Last month we looked at some practical applications of formats that can be used with the TEXT() function and also under Excel's Format > Cells > Number in the "Custom" Formats section.  Of these formats, most complex are those that deal with dates.  They are however also very versatile.

When you type a date into an Excel spreadsheet, for example 14/8, two things happen: (a) Excel stores the date as a number that represents the number of days after 31 Dec 1899 (i.e. day “one” = 1 Jan 1900), and (b) Excel formats the cell using a date format.

Because the date is stored as a number, you can do calculations with it.  The easiest is to subtract two dates: This will give you the number of days between the two dates, e.g.:

 

A

B

1

Start

14-Aug

2

End

21-Aug

3

Days Difference

=B2-B1

(Of course, Excel is too clever for its own good and, in this case, formats cell B3 as a date too, which isn’t what you wanted)

This is useful, for example, in calculating interest based on a daily balance, such as here:

 

A

B

C

D

E

F

1

Date

Item

Int. Rate

Interest

Amount

Balance

2

01/08/2004

Outstanding

13.5%

 

 

-R6,000.00

3

10/08/2004

Paid Forex US$ 1500.00

13.5%

-R20.00

R9,038.10

R3,018.10

4

13/08/2004

Interest Rate changed

13.0%

R3.23

 

R3,021.33

To calculate simple interest, in cell D3 we would use the formula =F2*C3/365*(A3-A2)

This takes the outstanding balance, F2, and multiplies it by the daily interest rate, C3/365, by the number of days which is the difference between A3 and A2.

In practice, we would probably use compound interest on daily balance.  To get the compounded amount we take the balance times (1 + the daily interest rate) raised to the power of the number of days.  To get the interest only, we then subtract the original amount, thus:

 =F2*(1+C3/365)^(A3-A2)-F2

We would usually round the result to whole cents, making this our formula in D3:

=ROUND(F2*((1+C3/365)^(A3-A2)-1),2)

 

Series: Maximizer Tips to increase your effectiveness

Creating User Defined Field Folders in Version 8.0

The novelty here is Folders!  This gives you the ability to set up a group of fields within a folder and makes it easier to handle the UDFs altogether.  Much less wading through treacle and you have a snapshot overview of the information.

To set up these folders, you have to go through File | Set up User Defined Fields and I would recommend that only a limited number of users be able to do this.  The new feature in creating a field is that there is a creator, a requester, date and time, plus a description area to state why this field has been created.  With a limited number of people having rights to creating fields and folders, duplication can be avoided.

When you go into the dialog box, you can create either a folder or a field.  There are three levels of folders, which means that you can nest them inside each other.  For instance, you may need to know what types of printer a customer has.  Within each printer type, you can pit a further folder for the serial number of each one bought and then fields within that folder could detail the contract renewal, date of purchase, amount payable etc.

Once the folders have been created, you can drag them into order.  The same can be done with the fields within the folders.  What’s on my wish list for the next version is being able to duplicate folder groups!

Editing old UDF setups in version 8.0

This can also be done safely – I have tested it and it works!  If you have a lengthy complex UDF set up from your previous version of Maximizer, you can create folders and move related UDFs into them.  They reorganise for every user and make the interface much cleaner and simpler to use.

Next month – Troubleshooting problems with Security Groups and Teams

Remember:  We can Help you with:―

·         Writing your custom databases on Microsoft Access, or custom programs in Visual Basic.  If you can’t find that piece of software to do things your way, ask us!

·         Solving your Access, Excel and Word problems.

·         Training your company on Maximizer, Excel, Word, Access and Windows.  We do all levels from beginners to Programming.

·         Software: We re-sell and support various CRM, timesheet, scheduling and productivity programs.

We still support Lotus software too!

All the Best from the team!
Judith and Rick

Directors, Communication in Action (Pty) Ltd
PO Box 987, Gallo Manor, 2052 South Africa.
Tel: (+27 11) (011) 802-2685.  Fax: 802-4576.  Cell: 082 389-3481/2.
E-mail: info@softwareafrica.co.za

This entire newsletter is Copyright© 2004 Communication in Action (Pty) Ltd Please share it with your friends or post it on your site as long as it is left intact with all links unchanged and includes this notice.  To Subscribe to this newsletter, Click here and SEND the resulting e-mail.  To unsubscribe, Click here and SEND the resulting e-mail.

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Communication in Action – September 2004 Newsletter

Editorial

First of all, we have a new member of staff - Funiwe Mahamba has joined us as our receptionist.  I apologise for some dropped calls earlier this week, due to the fact that I had forgotten how to use the switchboard and misdirected her.  Our telephone support company came out and she now knows what to do!  We are really looking forward to her developing her office skills over the next few months, with the assistance of some training courses, so that she can grow into a confident member of our team.

Perhaps a little more on Upline Marketing’s training courses as a follow-on from last month’s hint!  For R349 plus VAT you can enjoy a focussed short course from 19:30 to 21:30 on a number of topics.  The courses are run monthly in either Johannesburg –at the FNB Conference Centre on Grayston Drive or Pretoria.  The next course covers Customer Care.

The last course on Conflict Resolution gave us valuable information on how to avoid and handle conflict.

Suzanne of SalesBytes publishes a really great newsletter each week, with great sales tips in it –if you would like to receive it, ask me to forward you a copy then you can join her list– judith@softwareafrica.co.za

For details of the Upline events, you can e-mail me or Andrew@dveight.co.za.

What are the advantages of networking through breakfasts?

The major advantage for me is the ability to meet more people in business in a relaxed atmosphere in two or three hours than I can phone and speak to in that time!  Follow up then becomes easier as I have a hook with which to make my next contact.  The motivational speakers also give me input and ideas and I leave refreshed and revitalised!

Thought for the month, courtesy of Fine Art:

Small opportunities are often the beginning of great enterprises!

Product Highlight: FAD, the Fashion Agency Database

This program will manage the main transactions of a clothing broker (the middle-man between manufacturers and retailers).  Agents sell on commission at varying rates.  The Agency may hold stock or just take a commission on sales.  This program was designed together with a leading Fashion Agency and contains vital features to make both the agency itself, and the supplier, more profitable.  For example, it can be used to get early warnings of "winners" and "losers", allowing production to be switched to more profitable styles and reducing the amount of unsold stock that later has to be discounted.  Sales Orders can be printed, faxed, or sent by e-mailing HTML.  FAD is currently live at two companies, where it has been running successfully for several years.  The Fashion Agency Database is available for licensing to other companies, and further development to client specifications.

eScan – the intelligent anti-virus solution

Tired of long downloads and having to make sure that they have happened?  eScan has been in South Africa almost a year now and we have used it for eight months.  It updates silently on every PC but pops up an information box to let you know.  Ideal for fixed line and ADSL, it also works well on dialup both analogue and ISDN.  Please contact Judith for more information – Judith@softwareafrica.co.za

Westech Backup Solutions

Recently our trusted HP DAT drive reached end of life and replacement was close on R9000.  As a result, we started looking for another solution and found Westech.  They provide a solution which includes software, two USB removable hard drives and a regular visit from their support engineer.  After some teething problems, which came from USB ports that hibernated at the drop of a hat and a conflict with another process on our server, we are running happily and consistently.  With one drive off site, we always have historical backups available if the worst were to happen.  We can thoroughly recommend their service as being well-supported and cost effective.

Remember – losing your data can result in your losing your business!

Maximizer Enterprise 8.0 Service Pack 2 and Service Pack 1 Maximizer PE 8

These service packs are now available.  As the downloads for Enterprise are very large, we will provide them on CD to all our current users.

Series: Excel Tips and Tricks 17 – Showing Numbers as Text

Last month we saw how, when you type a date into an Excel spreadsheet (for example 14/8), Excel stores the number as a formatted date.

Similarly, if you type something that looks like a number, Excel treats it as a number.  You may not always want this to happen.  For example, with postcodes, if you type Pretoria, press Enter, then type 0001 and press Enter, Excel obligingly formats the postcode as “1”.

To prevent know-it-all Excel from “doing its own thing” with postcodes, dialling codes, stock codes and the like, do one of the following:

·         Put an apostrophe before the number, i.e. '0001.  The apostrophe will be visible if you edit the cell, but won’t print.

·         For telephone numbers, put something non-numeric in the number, e.g. 011 802-2685 (using space and dash).

·         If you will be entering several cells of text numbers, pre-format the cells: Select the cells, then click (menu) Format > Cells (shortcut: Ctrl+1) > Number (tab) > Text > OK.  This only works before you enter the data.  Be careful, because anything you enter will be treated as text:  Formulas in this area will not work!

Homework:  Next month we’ll be demonstrating a simple yet practical example of formulas: A Car Fuel Consumption Log.  So that you have some data to work with, please do one of the following each time you put in petrol:

(a)     If you use a Garage Card, write the km reading on each slip, and save the slips, or

(b)     If you do not use a Garage Card, start a log book and record the following:  Date, km reading, litres, Cost, Brand, Filling Station, Full? (yes or no).

 

Series: Maximizer Tips to increase your effectiveness

Troubleshooting problems with Security Groups and Teams

Often when a security group or a team has been set up, some members may not be able to see aspects of the database.  What is happening here?

A close look will sometimes reveal that that member is missing from the group or team, in which case they just need to be included.  However, we had a more curious problem recently.  The company’s Sales manager could see all of a salesperson’s opportunities but her own branch manager could not.  After some time looking at the problem, I discovered that the salesperson was missing from the group completely.  Restoring her into the sales team and making her the team leader for her missing opportunities resulted in her manager being able to see the opportunities that she had created.

The real problem here was that the salesperson had been removed from the sales team and thus didn’t show up for allocating the opportunity to in the list.  The company sales manager could see her because he had full control over all the teams when logging on with full security access rights, which the branch manager did not have.

Silly mistake!

This is in the line of Oops I forgot that!  It happened on version 7.5.  All the users had been loaded but only with their IDs not their full names.  So now we set up the sales team and wanted to allocate opportunities to them.  Opening up the opportunity and clicking on Assign, we discovered a list of dots!  This was the case even though we had put the members into the team using “their names”.

Once the light came on, the problem was solved by entering the members’ full names into their user records.  Result – no more dots in front of our eyes!

Customer Service Team

At present there is only one customer service team recognised in Maximizer Enterprise versions 7.5 and 8.0.  This means that when a service incident is recorded, everyone connected with customer service is informed!  This is irritating, but at least you know that something is up!  We are suggesting that more sophistication be developed for future releases.

Next month – Crystal Reports in Maximizer Enterprise 8.0

Remember:  We can Help you with:―

·         Writing your custom databases on Microsoft Access, or custom programs in Visual Basic.  If you can’t find that piece of software to do things your way, ask us!

·         Solving your Maximizer, Access, Excel and Word problems.

·         Training your company on Maximizer, Excel, Word, Access and Windows.  We do all levels from beginners to Programming.

·         Software: We re-sell and support various CRM, timesheet, scheduling and productivity programs.

We still support Lotus software too!

All the Best from the team!
Judith and Rick

Directors, Communication in Action (Pty) Ltd
PO Box 987, Gallo Manor, 2052 South Africa.
Tel: (+27 11) (011) 802-2685.  Fax: 802-4576.  Cell: 082 389-3481/2.
E-mail: info@softwareafrica.co.za

This entire newsletter is Copyright© 2004 Communication in Action (Pty) Ltd Please share it with your friends or post it on your site as long as it is left intact with all links unchanged and includes this notice.  To Subscribe to this newsletter, Click here and SEND the resulting e-mail.  To unsubscribe, Click here and SEND the resulting e-mail.

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Communication in Action – October 2004 Newsletter

Editorial

October seems to have started as the month of fires and disastrous collisions.  It is also one of the busiest to date this year.  Perhaps that means that we are all under pressure and some of us handle it better than others!

New developments happening around us from various events that I have been to include valuable improvements to Stringlite's HTML Builder product.  They have also produced a product that also assists in protecting your corporate identity.  Check these out through e-mailing andre@stringlite.co.za for more details.

Proposed Name Change and Rebranding

All our e-mail addresses and our website refer to Software Africa instead of the more cumbersome Communication in Action, so we are now looking at trading under the brand of Software Africa, which better describes what we do.  This will probably happen in time for the new year.

eScan

This product can be used to prevent unwanted web sites appearing on your desktop.  Open the eScan Content Administrator and choose the settings that you want to activate.  Unwanted web sites' URLs need to be put in the Web Content area and that activated.

eScan Customer feedback

Last month a customer rang me with a BIG virus problem which had nearly wiped out a new PC.  They had tried installing Norton without success.  I gave them the URL for eScan and they downloaded the software 100% successfully.  This was not all however, as eScan found and removed a further 22 viruses on installation and repaired the damaged files as it did so.  Result - one very happy customer and one recovered PC.  eScan's URL is www.mtwi.com.

Telkom fail a customer

Last week Telkom lost a customer (or would have if we had anywhere else to go).  A faulty ADSL router caused a major crash of a domain server which took three days to recover from and restore the data and software set-ups.  On contacting Telkom to have the router replaced, we were told to take it into the nearest Customer Service Centre.  The customer is in Delville, Germiston.  Telkom Service Centres are in Benoni, Alberton and Central Joburg.  No guarantees are given on whether the replacement router will not be faulty, but it is beneath their technicians' positions to come with a replacement one to customer site.  The technician's only job on installing ADSL is to make sure the line (not the router!) is working.

Result - Duxbury's have an ADSL router order and Telkom will lose the customer as soon as there is an alternative supplier.

Is it a Software or a Hardware problem?

Our data server started hanging and occasionally re-booting recently, after installing some new software.  Running a full anti-virus scan and then a defrag unearthed no problems.  Eventually we called in the supplier's engineer – one very unhappy overheated processor proved to be at fault.  Since its replacement, we have had no problems.

This reminds me of the riddle:  How many software engineers does it take to change a light bulb?

Answer:  None!  –It's a hardware problem!

Product Highlight: Can!Do Timebase

This is a timesheet database we wrote for Can!Do Consulting, the ERP documentation and training company, and are authorised to resell on their behalf.  The database is in Microsoft Access, but allows for input from remote sites:  The database will e-mail timesheets as Excel spreadsheets and import the data from the completed spreadsheets.  Projects can be set up with pre-defined Tasks in specified Phases.  There are categories for Productive, Billable, and non-billable items.  There is extensive reporting including pie charts, bar charts and CrossTab reports.  There are also reports for the accounting department detailing what must be billed to clients and expense claims that must be refunded to staff.  An interface to push the billing through into invoices in Pastel Accounting is planned.  If you would like a comprehensive timesheet system for your business, the Can!Do Timebase or our own timesheet database, Time-Binder (see February/March 2004 newsletter) may be cheaper than developing a new one from scratch.  Contact us!

Maximizer Tips

Crystal Reports in Maximizer

Maximizer v8.0 uses a lite version of Crystal Reports and real Crystal users will want to have this upgraded to the full version, which is possible.  The lite version is not as powerful as the full one by any means.

This exercise will cover the production of a simple report template with future ones covering more complex challenges and how to meet them!

To create a custom report, go to Reports | Crystal Reports | Personal | Custom Reports and then choose Create New Template.  This takes you into the Crystal Report window which will be headed Maximizer Report.  The menu down the side is a list of what is available.  Under Database Fields you will have listed the field relevant to where you were in Maximizer - if you are in the Hotlist then AMGR_Hotlist_Tbl will show.  If you open it, then all the fields connect with the hotlist will drop down for use in the report.

This does not give you every field that you require for the report however, so we need to replace it with another table.  To do this right click on Database Fields and choose Database Expert.  This opens the options for choosing your additional tables.  Choose Current Connections and then click on the Tables and choose Client.  Remove the Hotlist table and click OK twice.

Now you can add the fields to the report.  The report that we are creating will give a list of companies, the contacts in them, who owns that contact or company and the Last Modify Date.

All these fields exist in the list under the table heading, so open it and start by choosing Mr Mrs.  Drag it to the Detail Section and make it the first in the line.  Note that the field also appears as a heading on the heading line.  Repeat for Name, Owner_ID and Last_Modify_Date.

Click on File | Save and call the report Customer by owner last modified.  Click on OK and then choose File | Preview to see your result.  Click on File | Exit Preview to return to the design mode and then click on File | Exit to end this session.

Now, using Search select a list of customers and contacts to report on.  Highlight them, then click on Reports  | Crystal Reports | Personal | Custom Reports and choose View a report using an existing template, choose the report that you have just created and click on Open.  Choose Current entries in selected list and wait for the report to be compiled.  If your list is very large, it may well take some time to compile.

Next Month:

Adding and linking tables for more complex reports.

Excel Tips and Tricks 18 – Practical Examples: A Car Log Book calculating Fuel Consumption

Last month, as “homework”, we asked you to start saving your vehicle's fuel records and km readings.  If you haven’t started yet, it’s not too late!

Set up the following headings:  The easiest way to do this is to select the "cells" below, copy, and paste into cell A1 in Excel.  Then remove the lines between cells.  The litre symbol (ℓ) is from Insert > Symbol (Subset: Letterlike Symbols).

 

A

B

C

D

E

F

G

H

I

1

Fuel Consumption

Vehicle:

Make, model & registration

 

 

2

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

3

Totals, Average:

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

4

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

5

Date

km

litres

Cost

R/litre

Distance

ℓ/100 km

Brand & Supplier

Comments (e.g. Oil)

Enter these formulae in the following cells (you'll see the answers to the formulae, of course):

C3: =SUM(C5:C999) This totals the litres of fuel.
F3: =SUM(F5:F999) This totals the distance travelled.
G3: =C3/F3*100 This calculates the average consumption
E6: =D6/C6 and copy to E7: =D7/C7 Divides Rand by litres to get R/litre
F7: =B7-B6 Calculates distance (latest minus previous)
G7: =C7/F7*100 Consumption = litres divided by km times 100

Format Cell A6 downwards for date, columns B, C, and F as "Number, 0 decimals, 1000's separator", G  as "Number, 2 decimals", and D and E as "Currency, R, 2 decimals" or "Custom, R#,##0.00".

Enter the Date, km, litres, and Cost on row 6 for the first slip, and row 7 for the second.  Add other slip data below and copy the formulas in columns E, F and G down as required.  Voila!

This spreadsheet assumes that you fill up your tank every time.  If this is not the case you need to add up the litres of fuel until you do fill up, and then put that in as one reading along with the km reading of when you filled up.

If you are too lazy (or busy!) to do the example, but would still like a Fuel Consumption spreadsheet together with sample data, Click Here and SEND the resulting e-mail, and you will receive the file (31 KB) within minutes by return e-mail.

Remember:  We can Help you with:―

  • Writing your custom databases on Microsoft Access, or custom programs in Visual Basic.  If you can’t find that piece of software to do things your way, ask us!

  • Solving your Maximizer, Access, Excel, Word, and Lotus 123 problems.

  • Training your company on Maximizer, Excel, Word, Access and Windows.  We do all levels from beginners to Programming.

  • Software: We re-sell and support various CRM, timesheet, scheduling and productivity programs.

All the Best from the team!
Judith and Rick

Directors, Communication in Action (Pty) Ltd
PO Box 987, Gallo Manor, 2052 South Africa.
Tel: (+27 11) (011) 802-2685.  Fax: 802-4576.  Cell: 082 389-3481/2.
E-mail: info@softwareafrica.co.za

This entire newsletter is Copyright© 2004 Communication in Action (Pty) Ltd Please share it with your friends or post it on your site as long as it is left intact with all links unchanged and includes this notice.  To Subscribe to this newsletter, Click here and SEND the resulting e-mail.  To unsubscribe, Click here and SEND the resulting e-mail.

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Communication in Action – November 2004 Newsletter

These was no newsletter this month - Sorry!

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Communication in Action Now trading as Software Africa – December 2004 Newsletter

Editorial

Apologies for the lack of a newsletter last month, we went on holiday and came back to a very busy rest of the month!  The real holiday season is now upon us and I am sure that many of you are preparing to leave Johannesburg for the coast or somewhere more exotic.  Please may you travel safely and return refreshed and raring to go for 2005.

The extremely good news that the economy is now reaching for real growth should set us all up after so many years of little effective growth and growing unemployment.  May 2005 be the year where we see unemployment really dropping and school leavers gaining first jobs with ease.

I attended the ISETT SETA AGM last week and found out more about the opportunities available for companies who wish to make use of SETA grants.  One category which I intend to pursue is that of Investing in People.  Once I have more details, I will include them in a future newsletter.

Thank you

A very special thank you to all our customers for their business during 2004, without you, we could not have achieved all that we have.  May you all have a wonderful festive season and a brilliant New Year.

Also to all our suppliers and colleagues, for without you and your assistance, we could not have produced the solutions that we have.  May you too have a wonderful festive season and a brilliant New Year.

To all the people who we've missed in the above, may you too have a wonderful festive season and a joyous New Year!

Proposed Name Change and Rebranding

This is well underway - you may already have received e-mails from Judith with the new look and feel.  Next month, the newsletter will also have the new branding as will our letterheads.  Lots of work to do setting up all our proposal templates and so forth whilst things are a little quieter between Christmas and New Year!

eScan - Anti-Virus

We have just done a full update of our eScan after using it for a year.  This went forward well and now we have regular scans on all our PCs and servers.  Incidentally, eScan's new version picks up Adware and you can set it up to delete these invasive files.  If you require the links for downloading the new upgrade, they are:

Mailscan for MS Exchange:

ftp://ftp.microworldsystems.com/download/mailscan/ms440a/msex440a.exe

 eScan Corporate:

ftp://ftp.microworldsystems.com/download/escan/es2k3e/cwn2k3e.exe

 eScan for Mailscan: (this version of eScan needs to be installed on the PC that has Mailscan installed)

ftp://ftp.microworldsystems.com/download/escan/es2k3e/cms2k3e.exe

Product Highlight: Archer Shares Database

This is a database we wrote for Archer Mining.  Archer manages the Leeupan open-cast coal mine at Delmas on behalf of Kumba Resources, a division of Iscor.  They are a particularly forward-looking company and consistently achieve significant cost savings over comparable mines, using several Microsoft Access databases developed by us or with our assistance.  The Shares database was set up to manage Archer’s Employee Share Ownership scheme.  This complex process handles the share offer (initially to 135 employees), acceptance, signing of documents, issuing of share certificates, cancelling older certificates, and later re-sale of shares.  The program has a workflow component that tracks the progress of each of eight documents (and copies) for each potential shareholder as they move through the processes.  The user works with a task list where the tasks are ticked off as they are done, giving rise to the next task in the process.  Management can constantly monitor progress, and time taken for any task.  Archer has indicated that they are willing to license the database or parts of the technology to other companies.  Contact us!

Maximizer Tips

These will restart in the New Year with "Adding and linking tables for more complex reports".

Excel Tips 19 – A Present for You: Bank Account Reconciliation

Since it's the end of the year, we don't want you to do any work; instead we have a present for you!

The problem:  Keep track of our internet banking accounts on a spreadsheet, make sure that all expected entries appear, and plan future income and expenses.  The difficulty is that each bank has its own format with the result that, in most cases, if you copy from the internet and paste into Excel, it does not recognise the numbers as numbers.  Several banks insist on doing two lines per entry, which makes sorting difficult.  FNB's eBucks site displays the newest entries at the top (descending order), while the others display newest at the bottom (ascending).

The solution:  We've set up an Excel spreadsheet into which you can paste from the on-line statements of the big four banks (20Twenty, ABSA, FNB and NedBank).  You  then click a button on the sheet and it runs a macro that reformats the selected data into single-line entries for ease of sorting, in ascending order, with columns to check your running total against the bank's, and a column giving the available balance with respect to a target balance or overdraft limit.  The available balance appears in different colours as you approach your limit, and red when you exceed it.

To get the (free!) Bank Reconciliation spreadsheet, download the file (660 KB zipped to 109 KB).  Save to a suitable folder, and unzip.  To get WinZip, click here.   The macro code is unprotected and available for you to study, modify if you like, and check to make sure that it is not harmful.

Remember:  We can Help you with:―

  • Writing your custom databases on Microsoft Access, or custom programs in Visual Basic.  If you can’t find that piece of software to do things your way, ask us!

  • Solving your Maximizer, Access, Excel, Word, and Lotus 123 problems.

  • Training your company on Maximizer, Excel, Word, Access and Windows.  We do all levels from beginners to Programming.

  • Software: We re-sell and support various CRM, timesheet, scheduling and productivity programs.

All the Best from the team!
Judith and Rick

Directors, Communication in Action (Pty) Ltd t/a Software Africa
PO Box 987, Gallo Manor, 2052 South Africa.
Tel: (+27 11) (011) 802-2685.  Fax: 802-4576.  Cell: 082 389-3481/2.
E-mail: info@softwareafrica.co.za

This entire newsletter is Copyright© 2004 Communication in Action (Pty) Ltd Please share it with your friends or post it on your site as long as it is left intact with all links unchanged and includes this notice.  To Subscribe to this newsletter, Click here and SEND the resulting e-mail.  To unsubscribe, Click here and SEND the resulting e-mail.

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