Home | Programs | Support | Training | Templates | Development | Downloads | Free Tools | Newsletter | About Us

Newsletters – July to September 2008

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.  Below and on our home page you can search this entire web site.  Click here for the list of ALL Newsletters.

Below: 2008: JulyAugustSeptember – Back: < 2008: January – March< April – June 2008

Next: 2008 October - December >

Back: < 2007 Oct – December< 2007 July – Sept< 2007 April – June< 2007 January – March

Back Issues: < 2006: January – March< April – June  –  < July – Sept  – < October – December

Sept 2000 - April 2001 – May - Dec 2001 – All 2002 – All 2003 – All 2004 – All 2005

To subscribe to this newsletter, Click here and SEND the resulting e-mail now!  We don't disclose your e-mail address to anyone else.  Promise!


Newsletter – July 2008

Editorial

The year has turned and we are slowly moving towards Spring again.  Just to be exciting, we are upgrading to QuickBooks Premier 2008.  This has some very new approaches to VAT filing and it is challenging to work through them.  Sorry, it won't affect our invoicing!

The flow of new work into the company is good and we are very grateful to all our customers for their support.  With the growing levels of the petrol price, rising interest rates and rising inflation, we see that we'll have to adopt very different ways of working in the future.

Judith will be in Natal between the 2nd and 14th of July for both business and very special pleasure.  The latter is meeting her grandson of 6 weeks.  E-mail contact and cell phone contact will be maintained during that period.

Green Tips

There is a competition for green-solution companies being run by the Dept of Trade and Industry with a prize of R50 000.  Let's put on our thinking caps and come up with some bright ideas.

After a visit to our local dump with stuff to recycle, we see a crying need for really effective recycling companies!  Ours has had its factory burn down, and Pikitup is no substitute!

An Equipment Costing Database for Industry

Archer Mining in collaboration with Software Africa has for several years been developing a database to handle the running cost of mobile earthmoving equipment.  EquipCost is applicable to equipment in general and therefore the earthmoving and material handling industries. This would include construction, mining, industrialised agriculture, forestry, materials handling and plant hire, and probably the on-highway transport industry.

Each order for parts is allocated to a machine and tracked through to payment.  Likewise, we record fuel and oil issued per machine.  These costs can then be viewed or graphed, individually or in total, on a monthly basis, projected into the future, and compared to budget.  Capital costs and interest can be included.  Non-performing machines, or classes of machine, can be identified and replaced.  Monthly financial statements can be compiled easily.

EquipCost is easy to learn to use and quickly becomes a reliable and user-friendly source of information for management on the shop floor.  It provides an easy-to-get answer to the burning question “how are we doing?”, rather than a store of complex engineering data that requires high level analysis before it can produce information that the shop floor can relate to.

The system has been tested on mines at Delmas, Sishen, and Mamatwan, where it has produced significant cost savings.  It can now be licensed to other companies on a monthly or annual basis.  Need More Details? Click Here to go to the EquipCost page on the Web.  Please e-mail us about EquipCost, or call Rick at 011 802-2685.

Excel Tips #55 – The Microsoft Office 2003 "Save My Settings" Wizard

A short tip this time, but it may be a lifesaver!  It applies to the whole of Office 2003, not just to Excel.

Over the course of time we tend to set up the various Office programs to suit ourselves, customise toolbars, set Template folders, collect Templates (Excel and Word) and Signatures (Outlook), all of which we stand to lose if we reinstall Office or move to a new PC.

If you need to reinstall Microsoft Office 2003, or want to transfer your settings from your old PC to a new one, this might be a time to bless Microsoft for its foresight.  Click Start > Programs > Microsoft Office > Microsoft Office Tools > Microsoft Office 2003 Save My Settings Wizard.  Step through the options and choose a suitable place to store the output file (no, not on a hard drive you are about to reformat!), and Finish.

After the Wizard has completed, do your uninstall/reinstall or go to the new PC, then run the Wizard again and restore your settings.

Maximizer 10

Maximizer 10 offers mobility for the sales force, strong customer tracking and marketing facilities.  Please phone Judith to obtain more details or e-mail her on judith@softwareafrica.co.za

Maximizer Tip
The change in "Group Edition"

This is particularly useful when synchronising laptops.  Once the database has synchronised, users will need to do a Search | Company and mark Contacts as well as Companies and Individuals to retrieve the newly entered contacts.  Then repeat the Search with contacts unticked to remove them from the main address book. Otherwise the contacts do not refresh correctly after synchronising.

Parthian Shot: South African Murder Stats

There is a point in the recently-released crime statistics for April 2007 to March 2008 that has not had much coverage.  There were 18,487 murders (4.7% down on last year), but 82% of these were "social crimes".  This gave me a good chuckle because I thought all murder was anti-social, until I found out that it means that the people involved were known to each other.  So instead of being fearful of being killed during a hijacking or house robbery, you should rather pay close attention to your spouse when she or he is sharpening that kitchen knife, and at work make sure that you never sit with your back to the door!

Remember:  We can Help you with:―

  • Automating your processes with a custom program or database.

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

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

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

  • Your corporate image with a set of templates on Word or Excel, linked to your address list.

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: 011 802-2685.  Fax: 011 802-4576.  Cell: 082 389-3481/2. E-mail: info@softwareafrica.co.za

This entire newsletter is Copyright© 2008 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 provided to a third party without your permission.

Back to top


Newsletter August 2008

Editorial

A break in the clouds as the petrol price drops for the first time in months.  Meanwhile everything else is rising and the Monetary Policy Committee is due to meet again this month.  However, that has not daunted the birds, who are all preparing for the Spring.

Addition - Funiwe gave birth to a son in early July and mother and child are doing well.  Another addition: six new Labrador puppies for SA Guide Dogs for the Blind, one of whom we will "puppy train".

Green Tips

Great news here - Resolution Recycling, our favourite recycling company, is back recycling with a passion again!  They remove paper, cardboard, plastic, glass and tins, and do the separation themselves: 011 618-2246 or info@resolutionrecycling.co.za.

Now to find one that does electronics, old ovens and washing machines, garden furniture and such as well.

We are re-covering an old duvet with an old duvet cover to extend its life.  This means that we will avoid suffocating in loose down.

What Will the Cash Flows be on my Equipment?

Are you involved in budgeting, setting up future cash flows, or working out the viability of a business that uses plant and mobile equipment?  Then you know how complicated it can get, and how difficult to quantify.

The Archer Mining Equipment Costing and Cash Flow Forecast System ("EquipBudget" for short) may be your solution.  The system starts with a list of your equipment.  Each machine will have a maintenance and repair cycle designed by the manufacturer, possibly modified in the light of experience.  This will specify when each part of the machine must be replaced, and the costs of replacement: For example, a Cat 992 front-end loader needs its engine replaced every 15,000 hours at a present-day cost of R770,000.  We also specify fuel consumption, Oils, and Lubrication Life Cycle Costs per 1000 hours.

For a given operation, we set up the running hours expected of each piece of equipment per month based on the production plans.  This is linked to the costs specified above to give a consolidated cash flow over time..

Now the capital cost, replacements costs, and rates of interest and depreciation can be brought into play.  Finally, the series of cash flows is consolidated and can be graphed.

EquipBudget will allow you to do "what if" scenarios with different combinations of equipment, different rates or production, interest rates, and financing options.  It has been invaluable in proving the viability of several mining operations, and is now being made available for licensing by Archer Mining.

The program compliments the EquipCost system mentioned last month. EquipCost records historical data and is a useful check on the input to EquipBudget, which looks at future cash flows.  Need More Details?  Please e-mail us about EquipBudget, or call Rick at 011 802-2685.

Excel Tips #56 – Array Formulas I (MINVERSE)

We all know about Excel functions like =SUM(range), where a formula can use a range of cells.  This formula is entered into a single cell.

However, did you know that there is a whole class of formulas that are entered into a group of cells at the same time?  They are called Array Formulas or Array Functions.

Why would anyone want to do this, I hear you ask?  Not with SUM, certainly.  However, consider matrix manipulations, such as matrix multiplication and matrix inversion.  You might want this, say, to solve a set of simultaneous equations.

In the case of a matrix, the position of the element in the matrix is of vital importance.  So the formula is entered into a range of cells in one operation.  The magic key combination is Ctrl+Shift+Enter.

Let's do a demonstration with the matrix inversion formula, MINVERSE(range).

Enter into Excel, or copy from here, the following data:

  A B C
1 1 2 1
2 3 4 -1
3 0 2 2

Some rules apply to inverting matrices:  The matrix must be square and filled with numbers, and the inverted matrix must be the same size.  Some matrices can not be inverted due to division by zero (producing a #NUM! error).

To invert the matrix: Select cells A5:C7 (also a 3 x 3 range).  Type =MINVERSE(A1:C3) and press, NOT just Enter, but Ctrl+Shift+Enter  together. In each of the cells you will see {=MINVERSE(A1:C3)}, the braces a subtle hint that this is an array formula, and in the spreadsheet the inverted matrix:

  A B C
5 2.5 -0.5 -1.5
6 -1.5 0.5 1
7 1.5 -0.5 -0.5

We will look at more array functions next time, and see how we might use them.

Maximizer 10

Maximizer 10 offers mobility for the sales force, strong customer tracking and marketing facilities.  Please phone Judith to obtain more details or e-mail her on judith@softwareafrica.co.za

Maximizer Tip
Planning

When embarking on a Maximizer installation and rollout, remember that there are two key areas to concentrate on.  The first is the structure of the database.  Make a clear list of what you want it to achieve, as the power of Maximizer lies in its searches.  With Maximizer's able assistance, I stay in contact with a number of NGOs.  Mailing them is simplified by the searches that I have set up.

The second area is user training.  Users adopt if they are trained well and formally.  Include them in your planning!

Rick's "Did you know"?

It's amazing what one can learn from talk radio. This week on the business news I discovered that there is an "Overall Mining Index". And to think that I've always believed that overalls come from the textile industry!

(pity they didn't mention which mines have the richest seams of overalls...)

Remember:  We can Help you with:―

  • Automating your processes with a custom program or database.

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

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

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

  • Your corporate image with a set of templates on Word or Excel, linked to your address list.

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: 011 802-2685.  Fax: 011 802-4576 and 086-635-7902/3.  Cell: 082 389-3481/2. E-mail: info@softwareafrica.co.za

This entire newsletter is Copyright© 2008 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 provided to a third party without your permission.

Back to top


Newsletter – September 2008

Editorial

This month we welcome Funiwe back from maternity leave and Mzamo Nkosi as our junior programmer.  Khanya is now fulltime on telesales.  September has come in with a rush and a drop in temperature!  We are now moving forward to make sure that all our projects are in hand and we are building up our sales funnel for the end of the year.

It is amazing how quickly 3rd quarter turns into 4th before you notice if there is no focus!

Green Tips

Now is the time to put leaves into the beds to provide mulch or onto the compost heap.  Both improve the quality of the soil and the former retains water, decreasing watering requirements.

"Your Internet Access is Going to Get Suspended!"

We were surprised to get an e-mail with the above Subject, saying:

The Internet Service Provider Consorcium was made to protect the rights of software authors, artists. We conduct regular wiretapping on our networks, to monitor criminal acts.

We are aware of your illegal activities on the internet which were originating from

You can check the report of your activities in the past 6 months that we have attached. We strongly advise you to stop your activities regarding the illegal downloading of copyrighted material or your internet access will be suspended.

Sincerely
ISC monitoring team

You will have spotted the miss-spelling and the awkward English.  The Internet Systems Consortium, Inc.(www.isc.org) confirms that this is a fraudulent communication using their logo and website.  After the "originating from" is a web address that looks up your IP address –rather cute.  The attachment is a ZIP file containing an EXE file that is a Trojan virus.  If you get one, do not open it!

A variation of this comes headed "Your illegal internet activities are being logged" with a list of web sites and the message "We have attached a report about the copyrighted movies, music, softwares (sic) you downloaded or searched on these webpages. We strongly advise you to stop any future activities regarding the downloading of illegal content or you can expect prosecution by 17 U.S.C. §§ 512, 1201§1205, 1301§1332; 28 U.S.C. § 4001 laws" purportedly from MediaDefender Inc. and with the virus attachment.  Snopes and TruthOrFiction.com don't have these listed, but they are mentioned at http://blog.trendmicro.com/spammers-masquerade-as-internet-copyright-police/.

All those in favour of the death penalty for virus writers, raise your machine gun....

Excel Tips #57 – Array Functions II (TREND)

Last time we started looking at Array Formulas (also called Array Functions), which you enter into a range using Ctrl+Shift+Enter, and demonstrated the matrix inversion formula, MINVERSE(range).  Now we will look at TREND.

You probably know that when you plot an X-Y (scatter) graph in Excel, you can get the program to draw a best-fit straight line (a "Trendline") through the points.  The trick is, how do you get hold of the equation of that line or, better still, look up values on it?  Here TREND comes to the rescue!

The syntax is =TREND( Known Y-values, Known X-values, New X-values) –note that Y comes first here!

Let's demonstrate with an example: Say that you want to predict the petrol price for the next three months –something even economists can't do! 

Enter into Excel, or copy from here, columns A and B of the following data:

 
  A B C
1 Month R/litre Line Fit
2 4 R9.22 R9.05
3 5 R9.33 R9.38
4 6 R9.33 R9.72
5 7 R10.40 R10.05
6 8 R10.20 R10.38
7 9 R10.81 R10.71
8 10   R11.04
9 11   R11.38
10 12   R11.71

To fit a straight line to the data, select cells C2:C7 (remember, we are going to enter the formula into a range of cells).  Type the formula =TREND(B2:B7,A2:A7) and press Ctrl+Shift+Enter  together. In each of the cells you will see the formula in braces {}, and the values that Excel calculates on the Trendline (shown in blue above).

For our prediction, we need to add the range of New X-values:  Select cells C8:C10.  Type the formula =TREND(B2:B7,A2:A7,A8:A10) and press Ctrl+Shift+Enter together. You now have your predicted values (shown in red above), and I hope you trust them!

Maximizer 10

Maximizer 10 offers mobility for the sales force, strong customer tracking and marketing facilities.  Please phone Judith to obtain more details or e-mail her on judith@softwareafrica.co.za

Maximizer Tip
Using it to build your business

This lesson came home for me today!  Maximizer's hot list is your most powerful tool for staying on top of your sales pipeline.  I have had a customer interested in a product since the end of June 2007.  Through utilising the hot list and setting up a follow up after each call, the business has finally materialised.  This is not the only business to come in as a result of keeping an active hot list.  Constant scheduled customer contact in this way keeps me aware of who is likely to require upgrades, licence renewals, new products and services.

I also use the hot list to remind me of birthdays etc so that I can send greetings to my customers.

Police Humour (for a Change)

Our Reservists arrested two kids yesterday.  One was drinking battery acid, the other was eating fireworks. They charged one and let the other one off.

Remember:  We can Help you with:―

  • Automating your processes with a custom program or database.

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

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

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

  • Your corporate image with a set of templates on Word or Excel, linked to your address list.

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: 011 802-2685.  Fax: 011 802-4576 and 086-635-7902/3.  Cell: 082 389-3481/2. E-mail: info@softwareafrica.co.za

This entire newsletter is Copyright© 2008 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 provided to a third party without your permission.  To unsubscribe, Click here and SEND the resulting e-mail from the address to which this newsletter was sent.

| Back to top | Back: < 2008: January – March < April – June 2008 – Next: 2008 October - December >

©-2012 Communication in Action CC t/a Software Africa. All rights reserved.  Updated 21 November 2012 e-mail Webmaster.