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Newsletters – April to June 2007

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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  • Newsletter – April 2007

    Editorial

    How many eggs did the Easter Bunny leave you?  It's a pretty tale about her.  The goddess Eostera had a bird which she changed into a rabbit to amuse some children and the bunny laid them coloured eggs – much to their delight!  It is from her name that we get the words Easter, oestrous and egg.

    April in South Africa is not Spring and reawakening, but Autumn and the harvest time.  What have you harvested this year?  I see lemons on our trees ready for turning into wonderful jams and marmalades.  Beautiful vegetables ready for making into warming soups for the Winter months.

    I also look at our harvest of projects – some completed and some in progress.  Then I acknowledge all those wonderful customers who make our business work.  Thank you all of you for your contribution to our business and also thank you to our employees, whose contribution is just as valuable.

    QuickBooks and Quick Payroll

    Contact Simphiwe for more information on these products!
    Tel. 011 802-2685 or simphiwe@softwareafrica.co.za

    Customer Acknowledgement taken to new heights!

    Do you have special customers whom you wish to acknowledge in an unique way?  How would being able to send them a personalised card for their birthday, impact on your relationship with them?  Or perhaps a hand delivered present?  If this idea appeals, then RMail may be the fit you are looking for – contact Judith for more information (011) 802-2685 or judith@softwareafrica.co.za

    Lotus SmartSuite is still around...

    ...and is a complete office suite for people on a low budget.  For just R2228 inclusive of VAT and local delivery, you have WordPro, Lotus 1-2-3 spreadsheet, Approach database and Freelance presentations.  Please contact Simphiwe for more information.  Tel. 011 802-2685 or simphiwe@softwareafrica.co.za

    Problems and Solutions - the Q&A of Debt Collecting

    Excuses for not paying the account on time...as supplied by our customers and ex-customers (edited a bit)!

    • ABSA is not paying us because their new SAP system is not working, so we can't pay you.
    • No-one can sign cheques because the Directors are in Mauritius.
    • Yes, I told you we would be paying, but I'm not the one who does the payments.
    • I didn't say we would pay, I said we would try to.
    • I didn't get the invoice you e-mailed (what, you got a "read receipt"?  That's hardly conclusive –did you get DNA evidence?

    Excel Tips 40 – SUMIF()

    Last month we looked at the IF function (Syntax: IF(comparison, true part, false part) ) used to return one of two values (or formulas) based on a comparison.

    Now consider this scenario: You have your bank statement on Excel, imported from Internet Banking.  In a column next to the data, you put in an allocation –for example Groceries, Bank Charges, Municipal, Vehicles, etc.  Of course you know how to use =SUM() to get a total for all the figures, but what if you want separate totals for each allocation?  You use =SUMIF.  The syntax is:

    =SUMIF(range, criteria [,sum_range])

    Range is the range of cells you want Excel to check for the Criteria, which can be any logical expression (in quotes), text, or a cell reference.

    Sum_range is the range of cells you want Excel to sum.  [sum_range is shown in brackets to indicate that it is optional.  You don't enter the brackets.]  If you leave out sum_range, Excel will sum Range.

    How to use this: Let's say that you have the statement on a sheet named "April", containing the columns A: Date, B: Description, C: Amount, D: Balance, and E: Allocation.  You want to sum the amount from Column C for each allocation in Column E.  We'll assume the headings are in row 1 and the data starts in row 2.

    Insert a new sheet, let's call it Totals, and create two column headings, in A1: Allocation, in B1: April.
    From cell A2 downwards, list your allocations, one per cell, in column A.
    In cell B2, enter the formula: =SUMIF(April!$E$2:$E$1000, Totals!A2, April!$C$2:$C$1000)

    This tells it to look on the April sheet in the range E2:E1000 (expand if necessary) for the allocation (criteria) in A2 (the top allocation) and, where the criteria matches, sum the value in column C (sum_range C2:C1000).

    Copy this formula down as far as your allocations go, and you will get a total for each allocation.

    Bonus: As a check that you have not missed any allocations (or added new ones later!), it is a good idea to do a SUM of the SUMIF formulas, then compare this with =SUM(April!$C$2:$C$1000) which is of course the sum all the amounts.  Can you think of a formula that will do the check for you and display either "OK" or "*** Error! Amounts not Allocated! ***" ?

    Next Month: Counting a range of figures that meet a condition.

    and version 9.5

    Marketing Campaign using HTML documents?

    Maximizer's Campaign Manager uses two types of documents - HTML and Maximizer's own format.  HTML documents mean that you can use pictures and text formatting, whereas Maximizer's own text format is very plain.  What are the advantages?

    With Maximizer's own text format, you can use merge fields, whereas HTML does not allow this unless you have a good HTML programmer to assist you.  However, if you want really good formatting, remembering that the email will contain the addressee's name in the To: section, HTML is the way to go.

    We recommend using FrontPage or a similar html editor to produce your document.  Pictures, contained in it, require that you put them on your website with links to them in the document.  The resultant communication comes onto the recipient's screen beautifully if they are allowed to access graphics, otherwise they receive the text with links to your website.  This means that more people receive your quality communication!

    We have had success with both types of campaign.  Where the Maximizer document format seems to work best is with product introductions.  Plain text makes for easy reading and the merge facility makes it more personal.  HTML is more fun and brings responses from our loyal customer lists.  Try both and see which works for you.

    Next month – The power of Search in creating reports

    What passes for Humour amongst Programmers...

    Question:  Why did the computer cross the road?
    Answer:
      It was programmed by a chicken.

    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, Visual Basic, 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© 2007 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 the newsletter, Click here and SEND the resulting e-mail. Your data will not be sold, rented or given away to any third party without your express permission.  To unsubscribe, Click here and SEND the resulting e-mail from the address to which this newsletter was sent.

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    Newsletter May 2007

    Editorial

    The leaves are falling fast and their colours give a new appearance to the cityscape.  A recent walk down the Sandspruit gave me an opportunity to see that the very shy flock of Macau ducks is still there and growing.  My camera trigger finger was too slow to take a photograph.  Our other groups of ducks are also thriving as people along the river seem to feed them.

    These groups are fascinating being a mix of African Black duck, Mallard and some type of white duck.  They interbreed happily with some amazing colour combinations occurring as a result.  In addition, the Egyptian geese are pairing off ready to produce this season's goslings.

    Walking the river trail is a wonderful way of sweeping the computer cobwebs away.  The Sandspruit down stream trail is rich with bird life - more so than upstream from Ernest Ullmann Park.

    Other non-computer news is a request from SAPS for more people to volunteer as reservists.  If you do not have matric, you can become a "D" reservist patrolling the streets under the supervision of permanent force or "A" reservists.  This form of volunteering is one way to gain job experience and to learn the Sandton area well - think 2010 and showing people where to go as a guide for that event.  PS - It also pays!  Contact your local police station if you are not in the Sandton area or Judith if you are, for more details.

    On the crime beat, please do not leave your laptop on your car's seats.  They are prime theft targets.  In fact anything of value that can be seen by a casual passer-by is inviting criminals to take advantage of you.

    First Announcement: Labbie, the Laboratory Data Retriever

    How do engineers know that their reinforced concrete building will stay up?  Civil Engineering Materials Laboratories strength-test endless batches of concrete cubes for quality control purposes.  The Labs often lack a coherent system to capture the data and report the results to clients, then bill them timeously for the number of tests done.  Our solution, the program Labbie, is now on Beta test at a pilot site.  First Release is due at the end of the month.  Over the course of time we will be adding many other materials tests.  To find out how to join the Labbie bandwagon, e-mail us now or visit the Labbie page.

    QuickBooks and Quick Payroll

    Contact Simphiwe for more information on these products!  Tel. 011 802-2685 or simphiwe@softwareafrica.co.za

    Customer Acknowledgement taken to new heights!

    Did you miss out on Mother's Day?  Your wife's birthday?  Your wedding anniversary?  Do you have special customers whom you wish to acknowledge in a unique way?  How would being able to send them a personalised card for their birthday, impact on your relationship with them?  Or perhaps a hand delivered present?  If this idea appeals, then RMail may be the fit you are looking for – contact Judith for more information (011) 802-2685 or judith@softwareafrica.co.za

    Speaking of Acknowledgement...

    Dear Rick,
    We are sure that you will recall that in April/May 2004 you developed a spreadsheet import routine for our Access database.
    Before you developed this routine the process was a cumbersome, inefficient exercise that used to take at least 5 to 6 days to complete.  It now takes less than twenty minutes and is accurate to the last cent.
    Thank you to you and your team productivity and accuracy has improved in leaps and bounds.
    Keep up the very professional, efficient, and friendly way you conduct your business.

    Best Regards,
    Norman Foulkes.
    Financial / Administration Controller.
    Casey and Associates, 13 Nov 2006.

    Hotkey Shortcuts
    (with thanks to Microsoft MSDN Flash - April 2007 [Microsoft@newsletters.microsoft.com])

    Many tips and tricks for technologies enhance our day-to-day experience. Hotkeys refer to keyboard shortcuts that can be used to simplify everyday tasks. They often make a task faster, since you don't need to reach for a mouse. Beyond CTRL+C to copy text, and CTRL+V to paste text, here are some favourites to enhance your experience:

    Windows: The F2 key can be used for renaming selected objects, such as files and folders.  Use the Windows Key + E to open Explorer, Windows Key + F to find files, Windows Key + M to minimize all to display the desktop, and Windows Key + Shift + M to restore the minimized windows.  For more Windows XP keyboard shortcuts see http://go.microsoft.com/?linkid=6712126. For Windows Vista see http://go.microsoft.com/?linkid=6712127 --use the Windows Key + TAB for the 3D Windows Vista Flip.

    Internet Explorer 7: CTRL + Left Click opens a link in a new background tab. To Open link in new foreground tab: CTRL+SHIFT+ Left Click.  CTRL + TAB moves forward through tabs. For other IE7 shortcuts see: http://go.microsoft.com/?linkid=6712129

    An Apology from Rick

    In January I urged you to join Business Warriors since membership would close at the end of that month for the rest of the year.  Then in late April, Peter Carruthers unilaterally decided to reopen membership. We had a big argument as a result.

    If you joined just because membership was closing, Peter offers to refund your fees.  I apologise unreservedly if you feel I mislead you.

    Excel Tips #41 – COUNTIF()

    Last month we looked at the SUMIF function (Syntax: SUMIF(range, criteria [,sum_range]) ) to sum values that match a criterion.  You can also count the values that match a criterion:  Use COUNTIF The syntax is: =COUNTIF(range, criteria)

    Range is the range of cells you want Excel to check for the Criteria, which can be any logical expression (in quotes), text, or a cell reference.

    How to use this: Let's say that you have a bank statement on a sheet named "April", containing the columns A: Date, B: Description, and C: Amount.  You want to count the number of credits, that is the number of positive amounts in Column C.  We'll assume the headings are in row 1 and the data starts in row 2.

    Insert a new sheet, let's call it Statistics, and create a column heading in B1: April.
    In cell B2, enter the formula: =COUNTIF(April!C2:C1000, ">0")

    This tells it to look on the April sheet in the range C2:C1000 for the criteria that the number is positive (">0" - note the quotes!) and, where the criteria is true, count it.

    and version 9.5

    The power of Search in creating reports

    By using Search > All fields, you can create and catalogue for future use any number of searches that give you the reports that you require.  The "Catalog" feature in Search is the one which makes Maximizer simple and easy to use.

    To really harness this power, create the views that give you the search results laid out on the screen as you want them, then you just print the column report.

    Next month – A look at Customer Service

    What passes for Humour amongst Programmers...

    Question:  How do you know that a programmer is an extrovert?
    Answer:
      When talking to you, he looks at your shoes instead of his own.

    Remember:  We can Help you with this:―

    • Unable to find good staff?   We can write you a custom database or custom program to embody your business rules and processes in software:  Low-level employees just have to "join the dots" on time, while you monitor for exceptions.

    • Express your corporate image with a coherent set of templates on Word or Excel.

    • Solving your Maximizer, Access, Excel, Word, Visual Basic, 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© 2007 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 the newsletter, Click here and SEND the resulting e-mail. Your data will not be sold, rented or given away to any third party without your express permission.  To unsubscribe, Click here and SEND the resulting e-mail from the address to which this newsletter was sent.

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    Newsletter – June 2007

    Editorial

    It must have been the coldest May out and now June has come around with an equal cold front!  Labour relations between government and workers are just as frosty, and inflation is at a high, as are the interest rate and the petrol price.  Real concerns around cost of on-site support can be addressed by computer programs which can cut petrol costs and travel time to site significantly.

    Do you have sales staff on the road with cellphones?  Then take a look at how this solution can assist as well.  Maximizer CRM is the first solution to also operate via cellphone.  This means that your staff are using their familiar instruments to do their jobs.  No need for high levels of computer literacy in order to track sales efforts.

    New Product: Terra Firma, a database for managing a Landscaping Business

    Corinna Botoulas, an independent landscaper trading as CB Landscapes, approached us early in the year looking for a solution to her paperwork problems.  She manages labourers on various sites on a daily basis, and needs to produce accurate payslips for the month including bonuses, advances, loans, refunds, travel expenses and the like.  She needs to bill customers accurately and on time for the labour, plants, etc. and get a bird's-eye view of what she owes and what she has not yet billed.  Our solution was a Microsoft Access database:  Quick to develop, and affordable even for a small business.  Because Corinna is a newcomer to computers it had to be easy to operate.  The database has now been running for a couple of months and Corinna is feeling like she is getting her life back.  CB Landscapes is now making the database, "Terra Firma", available for licensing to other landscapers: e-mail us now!

    QuickBooks and Quick Payroll

    Contact Simphiwe for more information on these products!  Tel. 011 802-2685 or simphiwe@softwareafrica.co.za

    Customer Acknowledgement taken to new heights!

    Do you have special customers whom you wish to acknowledge in a unique way?  How would being able to send them a personalised card for their birthday, impact on your relationship with them?  Or perhaps a hand delivered present?  If this idea appeals, then RMail may be the fit you are looking for – contact Judith for more information (011) 802-2685 or judith@softwareafrica.co.za

    Reading and Writing Office 2007 Files (with thanks to Microsoft Office Tips and Tricks - May 2007)

    If you still haven't seen the new Microsoft Office, click here to take it for a "test drive". Or you can download a trial version here.

    Perhaps you've had a look at the new Office and want nothing to do with it!  You think the new "ribbon" idea sucks and wish Microsoft would stop changing things for the sake of change, in fact you are perfectly happy with Office 2003 or XP.  There is just one problem: Those darn early-adopters and techno-bunnies are now sending you files in the new Office 2007 formats, and you can't read them!

    Here's help. Ask the person who created the Office 2007 file to save you a copy that is compatible with Word 97-2003, PowerPoint 97-2003, or Excel 97-2003.  If you can't, then you can upgrade your earlier version to open, edit, and save files for Word 2007 (extensions .docx and .docm), Excel 2007 (.xlsx, .xlsb, .xlsm, .xltx, .xltm, and .xlam), and PowerPoint 2007 (.pptx, pptm, .potx, .potm, .ppsx and .ppsm).  Download the Microsoft Office Compatibility Pack for 2007 File Formats to do that.  Warning: It's 27 MB in size!  For more information about the Compatibility Pack, see Knowledge Base article 924074.  The full version of this tip from the "The Crabby Office Lady" is [link no longer exists].

    Quick Windows Tip

    To determine the operating system version and memory available to Windows, click the Start button, then click Run, type winver and press Enter.

    An Apology from Judith

    It is with sincere regret that I apologise to the Business Warrior community, of whom I am no longer one, having been drummed out by Peter last month.  My inadequate proof reading of last month's newsletter was the cause of this.  I miss you all and trust that you will continue to thrive.

    Excel Tips #42 – COUNT, COUNTA, COUNTBLANK

    Last month we looked at the COUNTIF function (Syntax:  =COUNTIF(range, criteria) ) to count the values that match a criterion.

    To complete our knowledge of the "counting" functions, this edition we will look at three simpler ones:

    COUNT(Range) counts the cells that contain numbers.

    COUNTA(Range) (Count All) counts the cells that are not blank (contain numbers or text).

    COUNTBLANK(Range) counts the cells in the range that are blank (empty).  The formula counts any cell that looks empty if unformatted, including formulas that return empty strings (""), and blank strings (single quote in cell), but not zeros.

    The range may be a single range or several ranges or cells separated by commas (e.g. C2:C10,D12,E2:E10 ).  In the first two functions you can also put in values instead of ranges and they are counted appropriately.

    and version 9.5

    A look at Customer Service

    Good Customer Service is the challenge of every business.  You only have to visit www.hellopeter.com to realise how this challenge is a bar too high for many SA businesses - not every time, but you are only as good as your last customer service call!

    Maximizer Enterprise assists in addressing this problem through the built-in Customer Service module.  There are two aspects to it - the incident capture and the knowledge base.  The incident capture, which is the Customer Service area, enables a responder to the incoming call, e-mail, fax or angry customer coming into the premises, to log the call with all appropriate details.  Depending on your business, serial numbers can be logged; equipment types; everything right down to the problem category.

    The case is then assigned to a responsible person for action or sent to the appropriate case owner for assignation.  Completion dates can be set and this date will generate an e-mail to the owner of the case and the person responsible for solving it warning them that it is still outstanding.  This notification happens the day before!

    Once the case is resolved, the how of the resolution has to be entered as well as how long it took.  This information can then be placed in the Knowledge Base for future reference.  This side builds up a searchable database of documents, which can be used for new cases.  We have used this often to resolve recurring problems, with a marked decrease in downtime.

    Customer Service can be set up to calculate the cost of the job and everything can be copied and pasted into the invoice on the job's completion.

    Next month – Why CRM and a look at the options

    Weak Humour from the Programming Department...

    Did you know there are 0010 types of programmers?
    –Those who understand binary numbers and those who don't.

    Remember:  We can Help you with this:―

    • Unable to find good staff?   We can write you a custom database or custom program to embody your business rules and processes in software:  Low-level employees just have to "join the dots" on time, while you monitor for exceptions.

    • Express your corporate image with a coherent set of templates on Word or Excel.

    • Solving your Maximizer, Access, Excel, Word, Visual Basic, 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© 2007 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 the newsletter, Click here and SEND the resulting e-mail. Your data will not be sold, rented or given away to any third party without your express permission.  To unsubscribe, Click here and SEND the resulting e-mail from the address to which this newsletter was sent.

     

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