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Newsletters – July/August/September 2011

QuickBooks 2010

Using QuickBooks Premium and Pro 2010 means you can create and track estimates for customers.  To seen what your pipeline is looking like every day, create a report in reports / jobs, time & mileage / Estimates by job.  You can save this report in your custom report lists for regular use.  To keep your key information displaying every time you open QuickBooks, go to Edit / Preferences / Desktop View and make sure that Keep previously saved desktop is selected.

 For more information, phone the team on 011 802-2685 / 6440.

Computius Say:

Newton's Laws of Motion as applied to Business:
First law (Inertia): People and Companies tend to keep doing what they are doing (even if it doesn't work).

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: AutoCAD, Caddie, dotPLOT, etc.
  • 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© 2011 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 - July 2011

Editorial

The strike season has hit business hard again this year.  As of today (15th July) NUMSA has settled, so engineering companies will be back to work next week - if there's any petrol to get them there!  However, there has been more traffic on the roads, which would seem to indicate a positive movement in the economy.  South Africans are a very resilient people and also highly creative.  We seem able to make silk purses out of the most unlikely sows' ears!

We'd like to welcome to our team Sphamandla Masikane, who has joined as a Trainee Programmer.

News on dotPLOT 64-bit for Soil Profiles and Borehole Logs

The Beta version of dot7001 has been in testing for some months by our dedicated team of volunteers, and is expected to be ready for release at the end of the month.  It is, if anything, faster and slicker than before.  Winston Jones has done a lovely job of rewriting the program in PowerBASIC.  If you have a 64-bit PC, e-mail us now about dotPLOT for 64-bit!

Green Tip

I'm keeping the contacts here for Johannesburg, the Environmental Health Department's Oscar 074 429-7469 can assist you as can Mr Kagiso Mokone 083 381-7473.  Joburg Water can also be contacted through Baldwin Matsimela 082 859-0459 and bmatsimela@water.co.za.

Total have started setting up recycling banks at their garages, so now we have somewhere to take our pre-sorted recyclables.  Please support them!

Autodesk Upgrade Special ended!

Autodesk has ended the special on upgrades and also the free offer of Design Suite Standard.  However, we have taken a thorough look at the Design Suites and find that the Standard version is an excellent solution for a designer who wishes to produce high quality work to presentation standard.  Costing only slightly more than AutoCAD 2012, it enhances the productivity of any designer from sketching a concept through to the final high quality presentation.  Going straight for Premium, gives you access to the power of Autodesk 3ds Max Design for just a little more.

Here is a brief overview of the products included in the Design Suites:

AutoCAD

Design and shape the world around you with the powerful, flexible features of one of the world’s leading CAD tools. With new and updated tools for 3D conceptual design, model documentation, and reality capture, AutoCAD software helps you maximize productivity and quickly drive projects to completion.

Autodesk SketchBook Designer

Sketch concept designs directly into AutoCAD software, and tap into a unique, hybrid paint and vector illustration workflow to explore creative design concepts and communicate ideas graphically.

Autodesk Showcase

Quickly and easily transform your AutoCAD designs into compelling imagery, movies, and interactive presentations for design reviews and sales pitches. Evaluate design variations and accelerate feedback by reducing the need for physical prototypes and long rendering times.

Autodesk 3ds Max Design

Perform daylight analysis and create cinematic-quality 3D visuals with the animation, character, effects, and point-and-shoot rendering and lighting analysis tools in Autodesk 3ds Max Design software. Convey the story behind your design for design reviews, marketing materials, or public outreach --before it’s real.

Autodesk Mudbox

Refine your Autodesk 3ds Max Design model with Autodesk Mudbox software. Its powerful textured painting and digital sculpting toolset lets you finesse the details of your ultra-realistic models.

Alias Design

With the comprehensive conceptual modelling and surfacing capabilities in Autodesk® Alias® Design software, you can capture ideas digitally, create production-quality geometry, rapidly iterate concepts, and deliver designs that address both aesthetic and functional requirements.

What does the Design Suite range contain?

Autodesk® Design Suite Standard

This consists of AutoCAD®; Autodesk® Showcase®; Autodesk® Sketchbook® Designer and Autodesk® Mudbox.

Autodesk® Design Suite Premium

This consists of Autodesk® Design Suite Standard plus Autodesk®3ds Max® Design

Autodesk® Design Suite Ultimate

This includes Autodesk® Design Suite Premium plus Autodesk® Alias® Design

Please contact Judith judith@softwareafrica.co.za or 011 802 2685 for more details or to set up an appointment to discuss your drawing office requirements.

Excel Tip #90 -  Excel 2007/2010: Secrets of the Ribbon (V) - The Home tab (Styles group)

We continue looking at the Ribbon, Microsoft's gift to the computer training industry.  Here's how the ribbon looks when Excel is maximized on a wide-screen PC with the Home tab (the first tab) showing:

In Tip #87, we saw how the Home ribbon is divided up into groups (named at the bottom), each with a particular focus.  So far we have looked at Clipboard, Font, Alignment and Number.  We now investigate Styles:

This is an area that has been greatly expanded from Excel 2003.  There, with Conditional Formatting, one could change the text colour, background, font style, and so on, but not add wholesale special effects.

Unlike the Number group, Styles has no tiny little arrow button at the bottom of the ribbon (as circled in red above), so the group as a whole has no pop-up.  Rather, each of the buttons has its own list with a wealth of possibilities:

  • Conditional Formatting: The collage on the left gives some idea of the many and varied choices:
    • Highlight cells according to rules (Greater, less than, between, equal to, even duplicate values),
    • Top and bottom rules (lowest or highest n items (you define "n"), or by percentage, or above or below average),
    • Data bars - coloured bars, the length of which indicates relative values,
    • Colour scales - for example, shaded from red for lowest, through orange for medium, to green for highest,
    • Icon sets -  for example, red down arrow is bottom third, orange right arrow is middle third, green up arrow for top third
    • New rule - rules are now applied to whole blocks, rather than something you create for one cell and then copy;
    • Clear rules - to get rid of ones you don't want;
    • Manage Rules - where you can change any set of rules to your heart's content. Edit rules, create new, delete, change formatting, conditions, etc.

  • Format as Table looks at first glance, much simpler than the above: A set of coloured tables so that you can, for example, format alternate rows in contrasting colours.  However, when you click in a table thus formatted, a new tab "Design" shows up on the ribbon, with a whole new set of options similar to the Data menu in Excel 2003 and earlier.  Here you can change the table format, name the Table, resize it (add or remove rows and columns), use Pivot Tables, remove duplicates, convert to a range, export, and connect to external data.  At the top of each column in the table, a drop-down list lets you sort by that column, hide rows according to criteria you select, and filter according to your criteria.
  • Cell Styles: This section is simpler than the previous two: This is just static formatting using pre-set formats (or you can make your own).  Nothing conditional is involved.  It's rather like Word's styles, except that apart from font style and size, you also get background colours.

Lest we again put you into information overload, we'll leave the following for the next issue:

  • Cells: insert cells, delete cells, more formatting
  • Editing: Autosum, fill down, clear, sort and filter, find, replace and select.

QuickBooks 2010 and ACCTivate

Using QuickBooks Pro or Premium, with ACCTivate,  means you have a complete business solution including CRM.  The solution is closely integrated and provides all the tools and reports that any successful or would be effective entrepreneur desires   For more information, phone the team on 011 802-2685 / 6440.

Tired of printing out Adobe forms, scanning them back into your PC and e-mailing them?

Well, we are!  Microsoft Word has, since the Word version in the late 1990s, enabled you to set up a form document which can be filled in online.  The only scan needs to be your signature, so that you can sign the document.  The form is protected and prevents text being changed by the person completing it.  In the most recent versions, you need to turn the Developer Options on.  If people are interested in learning how to develop form documents, please let Judith know, and she will make it a tutorial aspect of future newsletters.

Computius Say:

Reading the "News of the World" on the loo: Garbage In, Garbage Out.

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© 2011 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 - August 2011

Editorial

The weather is starting to warm up and the birds are beginning their dawn chorus again.  However the strike season does not seem to have ended and the prospect of unemptied dustbins looms.  In Johannesburg, we could well see an increase in billing problems arising from the SAMWU strike.  Sadly, strike action affects everyone of us in our pockets, as the price of everything increases, productivity is lost and so are orders.  In addition, the soaring cost of electricity and the prospect of Gauteng toll fees will both impact prices of goods.  The challenge that South Africa faces, is finding appropriate ways to encourage increased growth of the economy, so that the unemployed can be trained into jobs and thus earn a wage.  We need more focus on job skills projects that will take people of the streets and help them to become work-ready.  In fact, SA is desperate for plumbers, electricians and other artisans - all very worthwhile and eventually well-paid occupations.

All South Africans need to take accountability for changing our lives and making our government serve our needs.  We need to ensure that our voices are heard - and the Gauteng tolling is one good place to start.  After all, it is probably where we agree with COSATU!

News on dotPLOT 64-bit for Soil Profiles and Borehole Logs

The first 64-bit release version, dot7002, was released at the end of July.  It is, if anything, faster and slicker than before.  Winston Jones has done a lovely job of rewriting the program in PowerBASIC.  If you have a 64-bit PC, you can upgrade to it now: e-mail us about dotPLOT for 64-bit!

Green Tip

I'm keeping the contacts here for Johannesburg, the Environmental Health Department's Oscar 074 429-7469 can assist you as can Mr Kagiso Mokone 083 381-7473.  Joburg Water can also be contacted through Baldwin Matsimela 082 859-0459 and bmatsimela@water.co.za.

City of Joburg is going to extend its recycling project and is threatening to fine people who do not recycle.  If you do not have their bags to recycle, the layout at the Total garages is very clear and bright.  In fact, with a strike happening on Monday, get recycling right away!  Just split up your bottles, papers and cardboard, tins and plastic into separate containers and then visit your local Total!

AutoCAD WS - the Powerful Time-Saver:

This is the wonderful interface that enhances collaboration in AutoCAD 2012!  Not only does it enable to you place files on the Web for easy access from anywhere, but you can work with your clients on-line to discuss and alter the designs you have done for them.  This comes with the AutoCAD package so it's there on purchase, and all you have to do is create your account.

It will make you so much more productive as you can work in your office whilst meeting with your clients.  Lees time in traffic, lower travel costs and greater productivity are all part of the mix that we need in today's economy!  It also means that you can work from home (if you want to) further cutting lost productivity through delays in traffic jams!

Remember that you can load AutoCAD on your laptop as well when travelling and activate the licence for a month or longer.  No additional licence is needed in these circumstances.

A Reminder about the Design Suite range

Last month, we covered what each individual product does and how they fit together.  When you add AutoCAD WS to the mix, then the strength of going for a Suite becomes very clear.  Productivity is notched up; excellent documentation is put in place and your clients are impressed.  To remind you of the range, they are:

Autodesk® Design Suite Standard

This consists of AutoCAD®; Autodesk® Showcase®; Autodesk® Sketchbook® Designer and Autodesk® Mudbox.

Autodesk® Design Suite Premium

This consists of Autodesk® Design Suite Standard plus Autodesk®3ds Max® Design

Autodesk® Design Suite Ultimate

This includes Autodesk® Design Suite Premium plus Autodesk® Alias® Design

All deliver on a USB device and are easily loaded and activated!

Please contact Judith judith@softwareafrica.co.za or 011 802 2685 for more details or to set up an appointment to discuss your drawing office requirements.

Excel Tip #91 -  Excel 2007/2010: Secrets of the Ribbon (VI) - The Home tab (Cells group)

We continue looking at the Ribbon, Microsoft's current bright idea.  Here's the ribbon when Excel is maximized on a wide-screen PC with the Home tab (the first tab) showing:

In Tip #87, we saw how the Home ribbon is divided up into groups (named at the bottom).  In previous tips we have looked at Clipboard to Styles.  We now investigate Cells.  Unlike the Number group, Cells has no tiny little arrow button at the bottom of the ribbon (circled in red above), so the group as a whole has no pop-up.  Each of the buttons has its own list:

  • Insert: This item has two parts, as you'll see if you mouse over it: A button at the top, which immediately inserts a row on the sheet, and a drop-down list that gives you various choices:
    • Insert cells: Although Excel only tells you this if you hold the mouse pointer over the item for a while, this is the same as Ctrl+Shift+Equals (using the alpha keypad). Or use Ctrl+Plus on the numeric keypad. You get the choice to shift cells right or down, or insert whole rows or columns
    • Insert sheet rows: They mean "insert rows on the sheet".  Previously called "insert rows" since everyone understood it was on the current sheet.  If you selected more than one sheet (by Shift- or Ctrl-clicking the sheet tabs) the rows are inserted on all selected sheets.
    • Insert sheet columns: As for rows;
    • Insert sheet: Inserts a new sheet before the current one, and makes it current.
  • Delete: Analogous to Insert, also has a button and a drop-down list with choices:
    • Delete cells: the same as Ctrl-Minus (numeric keypad). You get the choice to shift cells left or up, or Delete whole rows or columns
    • Delete sheet rows.
    • Delete sheet columns;
    • Delete sheet.
  • Format: Unlike the previous two items, this is just a a drop-down (illustrated on right). This is largely the old "Format" menu. Most of the choices are self-explanatory, so we'll just mention:
    • Format cells: this brings up the "Format Cells" dialog (same as Ctrl-1 and also accessible by clicking a little arrow button at the bottom of the ribbon (circled in red in the picture above), 
    • Lock Cell has the icon highlighted because cells are locked by default. After selecting your cells, you would click this to unlock the selected cells.
    • Protect Sheet: You use this after unlocking the relevant cells, to stop data entry on the rest of the sheet (the cells that have remained locked).

We'll cover the final group in the next issue:
Editing: Autosum, fill down, clear, sort and filter, find, replace and select.

QuickBooks 2010

Using QuickBooks Premium 2010 gives you full VAT 201 reporting, including filing your VAT.  In addition, if your keep stock and need information on-build assemblies, Premium really makes your life a pleasure!  It will enable you to track stock levels and give warnings when your stock is low.  The Build Assembly will give you all the items involved in the production of a finished item, together with the input cost and the final mark-up.  The stock control sheet makes verifying your physical stock against QuickBooks' levels quick and easy at stock take time.   For more information, phone the team on 011 802-2685 / 6440.

Computius Say:

He who hesitates is probably right.

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: AutoCAD, Caddie, dotPLOT, etc.
  • 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© 2011 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 - September 2011

Editorial

The heady perfumes of brunfelsia and jasmine plus some new bird calls really indicate that the cold weather is over.  What is more, the economy seems to be celebrating as well!  I hope your order books are perking up like ours are after a long drought!  To add to all of this, our current Labrador breeding lady has produced a lively litter of nine healthy puppies for the SA Guide Dogs Association for the Blind.

We have made a record amount of lemon and honey jam as well.  The support from AutoCAD with courses and on-line seminars is assisting us in getting to grips with the product and increasing our knowledge as well.

News on dotPLOT for Soil Profiles and Borehole Logs

There are new releases of the 64-bit version, dot7003, and  the 32-bit version, dot6008 on our web site.  The changes are minor: Both will warn you, if you try to use one, that they do not support linearized PDF Logo files (a complicated type of PDF), and dot7003 (when run from HotPlot) now supports file names and paths containing spaces.  The User Manual and on-line Help have been updated and expanded.

HotPlot now has a licensing form included in the package, so you do not have to use DOS, but can fill in a Windows form using cut and paste, and all mod. cons., as they say in the property advertisements.

Green Tip

I'm keeping the contacts here for Johannesburg, the Environmental Health Department's Oscar 074 429-7469 can assist you as can Mr Kagiso Mokone 083 381-7473.  Joburg Water can also be contacted through Baldwin Matsimela 082 859-0459 and bmatsimela@water.co.za.

Sadly dumping is becoming a worse problem than ever.  We found a huge pile of road material dumped outside Joburg Water's Zandfontein Depot in Kramerville on Sunday.  No sign of the perpetrators unfortunately.  If you do see people dumping, try and get their vehicles registration numbers and report them to JMPD.

AutoCAD 2012 and AutoCAD LT Specials running to the 13th October:

AutoCAD new commercial SLM (single user licence) including subscription R24947.50 ex VAT!

AutoCAD new commercial NLM (network version) including subscription R30387.50 ex VAT

Get Current upgrade and subscription R18419.50 ex VAT

Upgrade from AutoCAD LT 2009 - 2012 including subscription  R21547.50 ex VAT

Upgrade for AutoCAD 2009 - 2011 including subscription R14067.50

AutoCAD LT 2012 including subscription R7777.50 ex VAT

AutoCAD LT upgrade to current from 2009 - 2011 including subscription R4547.50 ex VAT

AutoCAD LT commercial new 5 users including subscription R35317.50 ex VAT

AutoCAD LT upgrade 5 users including subscription R21037.50 ex VAT

Here are some of the reasons to go ahead with this:

1. Quickly document—and stay connected to—3D models from almost any source (AutoCAD 2012 only)

Save time by automatically generating intelligent documentation for AutoCAD, Autodesk® Inventor®, and other models. Associative connections with Inventor help ensure drawing views, edge display, and location are instantly updated when an engineering change is made. And since you can import models from a wide variety of applications (including Pro/ENGINEER®, CATIA®, Solidworks®, NX®, and Rhinoceros®), you can streamline almost any documentation workflow.

RESULT: Meet customer expectations by using the most complete documentation tools available.

2. Explore design ideas with flexible 3D modelling tools (AutoCAD 2012 only)

With AutoCAD, you have the power to create almost any form you can imagine. Simply push/pull faces, edges, and vertices to model complex shapes, add smooth surfaces, and much more. With tools for surface, solid, and mesh modelling, AutoCAD 2012 provides the utmost flexibility and control when designing in 3D.

RESULT: Develop conceptual designs more easily in 3D with easy-to-use tools.

3. Access the benefits of direct modelling with Autodesk Inventor Fusion (AutoCAD 2012 only)

Shipping with AutoCAD 2012, Autodesk® Inventor® Fusion software adds to the 3D conceptual design capabilities of AutoCAD and sets a new standard for professional 3D modelling ease of use. It enables you to import, flexibly edit, and validate models from almost any source, providing the accessibility of direct modelling in the native DWG™ format.

RESULT: Elevate your product designs with a new modelling standard.

4. Dramatically slash your design revision time with parametric drawing. (AutoCAD 2012 only)

When persistent relationships between objects are defined, parallel lines remain parallel and concentric circles remain cantered, all automatically. And now you can infer constraints in real time as you draw, virtually eliminating the need to manually define all of your object relationships. Including both geometric and dimensional constraints, AutoCAD 2012 can assist with those time-consuming revision requests.

RESULT: Drawing revisions are now much easier.

5. Make renovations easier with point cloud support. (AutoCAD 2012 only)

Bring your 3D scans to life, streamlining time-consuming renovation and restoration projects. With support for up to two billion points— and an enhanced point cloud engine—the point cloud capabilities in AutoCAD 2012 help you more quickly import scanned objects, snap to points, and develop designs using your 3D scans.

RESULT: Save time by bringing as-built conditions into your AutoCAD workspace.

6. Document arrayed objects faster than ever before (Both products)

Save valuable rework time by establishing and maintaining a set of relationships between arrayed objects, like windows on a building or trusses on a bridge. With AutoCAD 2012, you can array objects along a specified path (rather than having only rectangular or polar options), saving even more time when creating conceptual designs or finished documentation. And now you can also array objects in 3D space, helping to increase speed and flexibility in your design workflows.

RESULT: More speed, more flexibility.

7. Attach PDF files as an underlay

A top customer wish-list request, the ability to import and underlay PDF files is now provided in AutoCAD 2012. Simply import a PDF file to an AutoCAD drawing in the familiar way you import DWG, DWF™, DGN, and image files. You can even snap to key points on PDF geometry using familiar object snaps, making reuse of old designs that much easier.

RESULT: Improve collaboration and save time by reusing existing PDF-based design data.

8. Work with designs more easily using multifunctional grips (Both products)

More easily edit objects with direct manipulation of grips. Now the power of multifunctional grips has been extended to more AutoCAD objects, including lines, arcs, elliptical arcs, dimensions, and mleaders, as well as 3D faces, edges, and vertices.

RESULT: The most useful editing tools are always at your fingertips.

9. Work with hatches more flexibly than ever before

The hatching capabilities in AutoCAD software are now easier, more flexible, and more reliable than ever. With tools for direct manipulation of hatches, live previews, improved handling of dense hatches, improvements to boundary detection, and the ability to send all hatches to the back, AutoCAD 2012 software helps you save valuable time documenting designs.

RESULT: Save time with more flexible, more reliable hatch tools.

10. Document and communicate more clearly using transparency options

Objects and layers have always had a certain set of properties, including colour, linetype, and lineweight. In AutoCAD 2012, objects and layers get another property to help you control the visual appearance of your drawings: transparency. You can set transparency by layer, by block, or individually for an object. Now your drawings can look more exactly how you want them to look, helping you keep organized and better communicate design details.

RESULT: Greater clarity. Greater productivity.

Please contact Judith judith@softwareafrica.co.za or 011 802 2685 for more details or to set up an appointment to discuss your drawing office requirements.

Excel Tip #92 -  Excel 2007/2010: Secrets of the Ribbon (VII) - The Home tab (Editing group)

We continue looking at the Ribbon, Microsoft's latest fad.  Here's the ribbon when Excel is maximized on a wide-screen PC with the Home tab (the first tab) showing:

In Tip #87, we saw how the Home ribbon is divided up into groups (named at the bottom).  In previous tips we have looked at Clipboard to Cells.  We now look at the last group, Editing.  Unlike the Number group, this one has no tiny little arrow button at the bottom of the ribbon (circled in red above), so the group as a whole has no pop-up.  Each of the buttons has its own list:

  • AutoSum: This item has two parts, as you'll see if you mouse over it: A button at the left, which immediately inserts a =SUM() formula in the selected cell, and a drop-down list that gives you the formulas for Sum, Average, Count, Max, and Min.  Finally, there is "More Functions...", which opens up the Insert Function dialog, the same one you get when you click fx on the formula editing bar just above the spreadsheet itself.
  • Fill: This just has a drop-down list that will fill down, right, up, left, and across worksheets.
  • There's also Series, a dialog box giving you several choices as to how your series increases (including dates), and Justify.
  • I don't know what Fill Justify does, and neither does Microsoft, since they didn't put it in Help.
  • Another way to do fill down is to use Ctrl+D.
  • Another way to do fill right is to use Ctrl+R. 
  • The easiest way, IMHO, is to use the mouse and grab the "+" at the bottom right of your selection, then drag it down or to the right.  This has the advantage over all the above methods that if you have selected more than one cell, Excel will fill as a series.  E.g. Enter "1" and "2" into two cells one under the other.  Select both.  Grab the "+" at the bottom right of your selection, and drag it down as far as required.
  • Clear: Like AutoSum, this has a button (which clears everything from the selected cells) and a drop-down list (giving choices to clear all, formats, contents, or comments).
  • Sort & Filter is a drop-down list giving the choices to sort smallest to largest (A to Z if text), largest to smallest (Z to A if text), custom sorting; and filter.  Filter gives you drop-down arrows on your top row (headings), from which you can then sort or select different filters. You can even sort by colour or filter by above or below average.
  • Filtering means "hide rows that don't match my criteria", so it works best where there are duplicates.  Any data to the left or right gets hidden along with the rows.
  • Sorting works better when there are no duplicates, though you can sort on several columns.
  • Note that both Sorting and Filtering work only on columns, and best when you have a single row of unique column headings at the top of the selected range.
  • Clear removes the criteria but not the filter.  Clicking Filter again, removes the filter.  Reapply does not work.
  • Find & Select is a drop-down list containing classic Find, Replace and Go To (a cell address).
  • "Go to Special" extends the possibilities by allowing you to go to (select) various classes of cells such as constants (fixed values), formulas, conditional formats, and blanks.  It also incorporates elements of the old Auditing toolbar, in precedents and dependents.
  • Several of these items are also found directly on the Find & Select is a drop-down list: formulas, comments, conditional formatting, constants, and data validation.
  • Finally, "Selection Pane" is a new and useful addition that brings up a list of all the Objects (pictures, charts, lines, text boxes, etc) in the worksheet, letting you select them and rename them.

We'll cover a new Tab in the next issue.


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