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Newsletters – January / February / March 2010

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.

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Newsletter – January 2010

Editorial

All the very best for 2010!  We are being promised much by forthcoming events and by government, that, if only half is realised, we will see an improvement in the economy after last year's meltdown.

After disappointing Matric results, the challenge of how we improve the skills of our young people is becoming a pressing one.  We have far too many youngsters between the ages of 18 and 30 who have few if any job prospects.  This is producing an undesirable situation as few real training courses exist for them to gain skills.  The unfortunate failure of most of the SETAs in delivering solutions to the unemployed has come home to haunt not just government but society in general.

As we have urgent needs for plumbers and electricians, perhaps we can all put pressure on our local Chamber of Commerce; our MPs and councillors; petition the President's hotline etc. to get apprenticeships re-established.  There is a need to make trade a worthy occupation and to facilitate young people to qualify to do these trades.  The richness of the creativity of our wire artists is an outstanding example of how much talent we have in the country.  Why are we neglecting it and trying to make everyone academic successes?

Short Courses at Entrepreneur.co.za

These will include Windows, Word, Outlook, Excel, PowerPoint, Presentations, QuickBooks and a Business Law explained for non-lawyers.  Please ring Khanya for details on (011) 802-2685

Special Presentation on 18th January 2010 at Entrepreneur.co.za

Judith will be presenting "Raising the Bar – Using Software effectively" starting at 15:30 and finishing at 18:00.  Bring your laptop along so that she assist you in solving problems, as well as providing you with some tools to make using Microsoft Office a pleasure!  There is no charge for this presentation - however please book with Khanya (011) 802-2685 to ensure that there is a place for you.

Entrepreneur.co.za – Are you serious about business success?

As everything is dynamic - so is Entrepreneur.co.za.  The year is starting off by looking at where members want the entity to go, what it can most usefully offer during the coming months.  I know that I have benefitted from their seminars and from the contact with experts in their fields.  Best of all has been the "Explosive Sales" Seminar, which has put me back on track.  Would this benefit you?  Then click on this link and sign up

Support for MyMobility Discontinued

The mobile solution "MyMobility" has frequently been promoted in this newsletter.  Unfortunately communication with the management of the company has proved to be extremely difficult and transparency in the relationship has been lost.  Consequently Software Africa is no longer willing to promote the product nor to be associated with it.  This is much regretted because it was a good product.

Green Tip

Allow overland runoff from the recent heavy rains to flow into your swimming pool for a really green pool!  Also, look at creating swales to sink the heavy run-off into the ground, so that you hold water in reserve for drier periods.

Maximizer CRM - power up your sales for 2010!

Already have Maximizer but feel rusty around using it?  Want a motivated, shining team raring to go in 2010?  Then call us and book an interactive user course.

For February, we are offering this for you and your team at a special price of R6 700 inclusive of VAT for the day's training.  We take up to 6 people per course and run it at your premises.  We are fully booked for January.

Ring now to book!

Judith (011) 802 2685 or e-mail her on judith@softwareafrica.co.za.

Free Spreadsheets

The updated Bank Reconciliation Spreadsheet version 3.01 includes three FNB account formats: "Cheque" with Reference and Charges, "eBucks" with Charges, and "32-Day Call Account" (plain).  Apart from ABSA, Nedbank (Cheque and Savings) and Standard that were there before, we have added Nedbank Card (a different format to NedBank Cheque), and SA Home Loans with a graph.  The ABSA sheet also works for Virgin Money.

You copy from the bank's internet banking page and paste into the spreadsheet, then click a button and Excel reformats the data into a meaningful arrangement in date order, complete with running balance and available amount.  There is space for you to add expected income and expense items to predict your cash flows.

To order this and various other free spreadsheets, visit our free spreadsheets web page.

Legal Contracts just where you want them!

Just setting up a partnership agreement?  Employing new staff and want the right contract?  Frightened of high legal fees?  Then Agreementsonline is for you!  Please click here to access their website and see what they offer!

Excel Tip #73 –  Welcome to Excel 2007!

We have resisted Excel 2007 so far, viewing it as Microsoft's effort to milk the market by fixing what is not broken, while breaking a lot of what was OK before.  However, new machines now come with Office 2007 instead of the old reliable 2003 (which is no longer available), so this year we start by looking at Excel 2007.

The first thing one notices on opening the program is that the menu and toolbar structure has altered radically.  There is still a main menu, but the items on it have changed completely, necessitating re-learning.  The familiar sub-menus no longer drop down from the main menu. Instead there is a kind of multiline toolbar attached to each main menu item.  This monstrosity is called the "ribbon".  It was obviously designed by people who have unlimited screen space, far too much time, and no contact with real-world users.

The "ribbon" is much less flexible than the previous system of menus and toolbars, which could be easily customised, turned on or off separately, parked at any of the edges of the window or even floated anywhere on the screen.  This giant leap backwards is much less flexible.  About the only option is that it can be minimized (the part of the ribbon underneath the main menu is then displayed only when you click on the menu item but is hidden otherwise).

The one toolbar that has survived the onslaught of the Microsoft Useful Features Elimination Department is now known as the "Quick Access Toolbar" and will be found at the very top of the screen, on top of the left-hand end of the Title bar.  This comes with only the features "Save", "Undo" and "Redo", but you can add most anything else to it.  To customize it, right-click on it or the menu below it to get the option "Customize Quick Access Toolbar…".  Alternatively you can click on the little loose-floating down-arrow just to the right of the toolbar.
Right-clicking on the title-bar (which seems the intuitive thing to do since the toolbar is sitting on the title bar) does not work.

In case you are wondering why the title bar and the window edges look so strange, this area is semi-transparent and blurred.  Why?  Presumably Microsoft thought they could show how clever they are, since there is no sane reason for it.

Next month: The nightmare continues...

Remember:  We can make your business run better by:―

  • Automating your in-house 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).
  • Supplying software: We re-sell and support various CRM, accounting, timesheet, scheduling, and productivity programs.
  • Providing world-class programs for the Civil Engineer and Engineering Geologist.
  • Making your Civil Engineering Lab run smoother and more profitably with Labbie, our Data Retriever.
  • Promoting 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

Members, Communication in Action CC t/a Software Africa
"Empowering African Business with custom PC programs, databases, and templates using Microsoft technologies"
Reg. 2009/007863/23 ~ VAT No 4500104387 ~ 126 Kelvin Drive, Morningside Manor, Sandton, 2191 South Africa.
Tel: 011 802-2685 / 011 802-6440/1 ~ 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© 2010 Communication in Action.  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 the newsletter, click here and SEND the resulting e-mail. Your data will not be provided to a third party without your permission.

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Newsletter – February 2010

Editorial

The year has started with some of the highest rainfall for years in Gauteng.   This has added to the hazards on the busy roads with the creation of huge potholes; non-working robots and street lights and copious amounts of sand in heaps as well!  It seems that business is picking up strongly in many areas.  The completion of the stadiums has impacted on the number of people employed in the building trade; however, there are signs that other building projects are replacing these.  We still have a major road improvement project underway on all our local highways and the Rea Vaya needs extending to all of its destinations.

Speaking of the latter, my training project in Market Street gave me ample time to see the stations and the buses in operation.  If the Sunninghill route had been operative, it would have been the way to go, instead of by car.  Alas, that leg is at least three years away and has some big challenges before it breaks through into the northern end of Johannesburg.

Now that we have a laptop with Windows 7 and Office 2007, I will be looking at extending our existing courses to cover those products.

Entrepreneur.co.za - looking at Webinars for communication

As everything is dynamic - so is Entrepreneur.co.za.  The year is starting off by looking at where members want the entity to go, what it can most usefully offer during the coming months.  I know that I have benefitted from their seminars and from the contact with experts in their fields.  Best of all has been the "Explosive Sales" Seminar, which has put me back on track.  Would this benefit you?  Then click on this link and sign up

Green Tip

One swale = one very muddy Labrador!  Being young and adventurous, Wyvern decided that the new swale was exactly what was needed for some new fun.  Consequently, a white Labrador became chocolate coloured!  Hosing down in the yard was the solution, providing yet more water for our garden, which now resembles a wetland after all the rain.  Not the greenest solution, however, we have made up for it by attacking invasives on the Sandspruit and looking at how the river is removing the banks to cope with the increased storm flows as building up stream increases.

Start now, if you live near a river, to plan for a really good clean up of the rubbish brought down in the floods.  Get a group of friends and invite your local schools, plus a team from City Parks and Pikitup, set a date and then starting collecting all the plastic bottles and other stuff from the flood line middens.  It is usually possible to clean about 2 kilometres of river in a day.

Windows 7 - an operating system that works!

Never previously an early adopter, the decision to take Windows 7 came because colleagues had already tried it with success.  The laptop arrived with McAfee Antivirus loaded.  This was tried and fairly soon removed.  After that, packages loaded and Windows restarted without a problem.  McAfee maintain that their product is fully compatible with 7.  Perhaps it just doesn't like other programs?

The main advantage of 7 is that it is easy to configure, add printers, join networks etc.  Network connections appear happily on the desktop so that you can access you documents easily.

If Windows doesn't start after loading a program, starting in Safe Mode enables you to remove or troubleshoot the problem.  I haven't loaded Lotus SmartSuite yet, but all other programs have loaded without difficulty.

Beautiful photos of SA came with the laptop - now firmly in the background and will be added to as more come available.  The changing of the desktop backgrounds now works in a similar way to the Webshots' desktop and is much more user friendly.

Having transparent icons is creative - not sure that it is necessary!

Office 2007 - A different way of working

Office 2007 offers ribbons instead of menus and does not offer a new version of FrontPage.  The replacement package, Expression, looked complex, however, I am now downloading the Trial version to test it!

Strangely, Outlook 2007 doesn't use the ribbons and is very similar to previous versions.  The big changes are in Word and Excel.  My first challenge was finding where the Formula function was for Word tables.  Equations are in front of you in the Insert ribbon.  Formulas hide away and only appear when you are in the table.  Then you get a new ribbon tab - Layout - and there it is!

As the menus changed contextually in Office 2003, so the ribbons change in Office 2007.  I find that the ribbon layout has both advantages and disadvantages.  The main disadvantage is that the ribbon is very busy and it requires you to hunt for what you want more so than the menus did.

The advantage is that it is highly visual and many options, such as sub and super script, are in your face.  The Change Case option, however, is not obvious, as it is similar to the old icon for changing the size of your text.  How I wish that Change Case was available in Excel and PowerPoint as well!

Next month will cover some tips for using Word 2007.

Maximizer CRM - Marketing Campaign and HTML!

Already have Maximizer but feel rusty around using it?  Want a motivated, shining team raring to go in 2010?  Then call us and book an interactive user course.

For February, we are offering this for you and your team at a special price of R6 700 inclusive of VAT for the day's training.  We take up to 6 people per course and run it at your premises.  We are fully booked for January.

Ring now to book!

Judith (011) 802 2685 or e-mail her on judith@softwareafrica.co.za.

dotPLOT 6000 released with HotPlot 2.0.0

The newly-released version of the borehole- and core-logging program dotPLOT contains a ground-breaking enhancement: "Tilde-less" descriptions! Existing dotPLOT users know that key words for soil symbols have to be marked with a tilde (~) for the program to recognise them –no more!  dot6000 automatically recognises all soil symbols in any description that does not contain tildes or the back apostrophe (`).  To ignore unwanted symbols, use the vertical bar ( | ) to "bar" them.  This makes dotPLOT even easier to use.  Existing dotPLOT users can upgrade to dot6000 for a fee; recent purchasers get it as part of the package.

Also in the package is the latest HotPlot: This provides an enhanced user-friendly Windows interface with several new features:

  • dotPLOT Installer: The full package includes dotPLOT and HotPlot together.  Once HotPlot is installed it will offer to install dotPLOT.
  • Settings Editor: Now, SET files –language, margins, item positioning, Logo name, etc.– can be edited directly and easily in HotPlot, and you can access the vocabulary files.
  • If you changed the special characters in the SET file, the new ones appear in HotPlot's Insert menu.
  • Help, particularly detailed Help on the Licensing process, has now been included with HotPlot.
  • Updated and enhanced PDF dotPLOT User Manual now including references to HotPlot, opened directly from HotPlot.

You now only have to open dotPLOT itself (and face the stark DOS interface) for two purposes: Once-off Licensing, and to print the list of soil symbols. To read more, visit the dotPLOT web page.  To arrange an upgrade, contact us.

Legal Contracts just where you want them!

Just setting up a partnership agreement?  Employing new staff and want the right contract?  Frightened of high legal fees?  Then AgreementsOnLine is for you!  Please click here to access their website and see what they offer!

Excel Tip #74 –  Excel 2007: The Hidden Menu

Last time we mentioned the "ribbon", which replaces the previous system of menus and toolbars.  We will look at this in detail later.  For now, we want to focus on a less obvious menu, where Microsoft has hidden many essential items that survived MUFET (the Microsoft Useful Features Elimination Team).

The round object at top left bearing the MS Office logo is not there just to waste space and look "pretty": It conceals a vital menu.  But don't bother pointing at it in the hope that a ToolTip will pop up; Tooltips are now apparently for sissies.  Click on it, and most of what used to be the File Menu appears (see illustration below left).  If you point at an item that has a triangle on its right, the pane on the right changes to a series of options as shown for Save As in the illustration below on the right:

Other useful functions found here include, for Print, "Print" (Select a printer, number of copies, and other printing options before printing), .
"Quick Print" (Print directly on the default printer without making changes), and "Print Preview".

Discovering this menu could take you a long time, but who cares as long as Microsoft's designers had fun?  We'll look at more options next time, including the very useful "Excel Options" button at the bottom.

Tail-Ender

Did you hear? The three most popular web sites on the internet, YouTube, Twitter and FaceBook, are going to capitalise on their success by amalgamating into one.

The new combined site will be called "YouTwitFace".

Remember:  We can make your business run better by:―

  • Automating your in-house 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).
  • Supplying software: We re-sell and support various CRM, accounting, timesheet, scheduling, and productivity programs.
  • Providing world-class programs for the Civil Engineer and Engineering Geologist.
  • Making your Civil Engineering Lab run smoother and more profitably with Labbie, our Data Retriever.
  • Promoting 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

Members, Communication in Action CC t/a Software Africa
"Empowering African Business with custom PC programs, databases, and templates using Microsoft technologies"
Reg. 2009/007863/23 ~ VAT No 4500104387 ~ 126 Kelvin Drive, Morningside Manor, Sandton, 2191 South Africa.
Tel: 011 802-2685 / 011 802-6440/1 ~ 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© 2010 Communication in Action.  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 the newsletter, click here and SEND the resulting e-mail. Your data will not be provided to a third party without your permission.

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Newsletter – March 2010

Editorial

I must first say that sales@softwareafrica.co.za was not working.  I have rectified this.  Khanya now receives this e-mail.  She is gaining experience as an effective sales person thanks to the powerful coaching provided by Eunice Raikane of Sales Partners.  Her e-mail address is eunicer@sp-ww.com if you would like your sales people to benefit from her coaching, which I can recommend highly.

dotPLOT 6001 released with HotPlot 2.1

The borehole- and core-logging program dotPLOT had a major release, version 6000, last month.  On 20 March a minor upgrade, dot6001 was released, together with Version 2.1 of HotPlot, the user-friendly Windows interface.

dot6001can do automatic recognition of soil symbols –"Tilde-less" descriptions– even running in Demo mode.  This makes dotPLOT even easier to use.

For ease of installation, dotPLOT and HotPlot are packaged together.  This latest package also has these new features:

  • dotPLOT is more forgiving in honouring existing licenses even if the program has previously run in Demo mode, for example because a license dongle was removed.  Licence permissions have been added to the display and a few other little tweaks.
  • The User Manual has had its Index greatly expanded, and many other improvements.
  • HotPlot has been improved in various ways for greater clarity, for example the SET File Editor and Text File Editor now show the name of the file in the Title Bar, and you can view your Logo directly from the SET File Editor.
  • HotPlot Help has been further improved.

We urge all users to upgrade to the latest dotPLOT and HotPlot now.  The new version will cost you nothing to run with your existing license.  There is an upgrade charge for features you do not currently have licensed, which may include automatic recognition of soil symbols, and HotPlot.  Visit the dotPLOT Setup page to get the latest version.

Entrepreneur.co.za - looking at Webinars for communication

The webinars are great and provide relevant information out of normal working hours at your desktop.  Would this benefit you?  Then click on this link and sign up

Green Tip

Are you near a river or stream?  If so, organise your neighbours, friends and the local schools to do a clean-up over the Easter break.  Then make it a regular commitment and educational experience

Windows 7 - an operating system that works!

Still enjoying it, although the occasional deep thought process is irritating!  Will soon have training material on Office 2007 completed.

Excel Tip #75 –  Excel 2007: The Hidden Menu

Last time we mentioned the "Hidden Menu" button (the round object at top left bearing the MS Office logo).  Below we show a composite picture of the four items near the bottom of the menu: Prepare, Send, Publish, and Business Contact Manager:

While making things cute and pretty seems to take a higher priority at Microsoft than functionality, there are useful items.  Some highlights:

  • Properties, which used to be directly on the File menu, is now hidden under "Prepare".
  • As are the new protection options, Encrypt and Digital Signature (however, Worksheet and Workbook Protection –previously under Tools– are now on the "Review" ribbon).
  • The Compatibility Checker may be useful if you want to Save As an earlier Excel version, but only marginally (because it tells you what the problems are, but not where they occur nor what to do about them).
  • Send as a PDF, and via Bluetooth (to a cell phone or PDA), do look useful.

The "Publish" and "Business Contact Manager" sub-menus are more exotic, and a subject for another time.  In the next issue we'll look at the very useful "Excel Options" button at the bottom.

Tail-Ender

We are used to domains ending in .com, .org, .net, .za, etc. (officially called a TLD, or Top Level Domain).  Now the Domain Names Authority plans to vastly expand this set to allow for many other categories.  For those who can't cope with having to try hundreds of extensions instead of just a few, we suggest they include: .aaargh!

Remember:  We can make your business run better by:―

  • Automating your in-house 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).
  • Supplying software: We re-sell and support various CRM, accounting, timesheet, scheduling, and productivity programs.
  • Providing world-class programs for the Civil Engineer and Engineering Geologist.
  • Making your Civil Engineering Lab run smoother and more profitably with Labbie, our Data Retriever.
  • Promoting 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

Members, Communication in Action CC t/a Software Africa
"Empowering African Business with custom PC programs, databases, and templates using Microsoft technologies"
Reg. 2009/007863/23 ~ VAT No 4500104387 ~ 126 Kelvin Drive, Morningside Manor, Sandton, 2191 South Africa.
Tel: 011 802-2685 / 011 802-6440/1 ~ 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© 2010 Communication in Action.  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 the newsletter, click here and SEND the resulting e-mail. Your data will not be provided to a third party without your permission.



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