Newsletter - April 2013

Editorial

This has been an exciting month and will end with a major update event on Autodesk products.  This means we will increase our product knowledge and improve our service.  In addition, winter is beginning to be felt and we are looking at updating our heating arrangements.

We are having wonderful support from all of our customers, which we really appreciate.  Please let us know of your specific requirements and we will happily come and discuss them with you, so that solutions can be found.

Autodesk Updates

The specials have ended and the 2014 product range has been launched.  The 9th and 10th of May is a two day workshop for all partners to get some in-depth training on the range.  Thereafter, we are looking for the next specials to come online.  The Suites are truly great solutions if you are using three or more Autodesk products as they give you a very good discount compared to  the cost of buying the products individually.

After the workshops, I will update everyone with the new features and advantages.

QuickBooks Updates

QuickBooks is really simple to install and use.  It is also very stable, which means that you can easily check your data's integrity and trust it completely.  Whilst we seldom recommend Simple Start, it does have its uses.  Pro is the most effective entry level solution.

In addition to selling you your QuickBooks or Quick Payroll, we also offer installation and telephone support.  Depending on where you are situated, the cost of installation is low but travel may add to it.

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

dotPLOT and HotPlot

dot7012 was released, somewhat later than planned, on 27 March 2013.  If you are a user, expect an e-mail in the next week linking to a survey we are conducting to find out what you would like from dotPLOT on mobile devices.

Labbie is Growing

Labbie, our program for the Civil Engineering Laboratory, was recently released with the new Dynamic Cone Penetrometer (DCP) test form and results printout.  Many minor improvements have been made.  There is also a more rigorous set of Soil Classifications intended to supersede the previous "simpler" version. This new version makes fewer assumptions for the COLTO Classification, and hence requires more data including rock type. The four Classifications are: AASHTO Group Index (formerly HRB), Unified Classification, TRH 14 Material Type, and COLTO Type of Material.  For the detailed COLTO, both G-Classifications (natural samples) and C-Classifications (Stabilised samples) are done).

Green Tip

Are you living by a river and affected by squatters?  We know that this is a major problem.  If you are in Joburg, City Parks is of little assistance as are the SAPS and JMPD.  You can negotiate with City Parks to take stewardship of your river.  This means that you have the authority to maintain the river banks.  By forming work parties, you can clean the area and this then pushes the squatters away.  A second initiative is to press for more homeless shelters to be erected, as these people have nowhere to go.

Excel Tip #111 - The Data tab (IV): Data Tools - Text to Columns

We continue looking at the "Data" tab on Excel 2010's Ribbon, and the move on to the "Data Tools" group.

The "Text to Columns" function is what Douglas Adams might have called "staggeringly, mind-bogglingly useful", at least in certain cases.

What Text to Columns lets you do is to separate the contents of one column of Excel cells into separate columns. For example, you can separate a column of full names into separate first and last name columns. In effect, you use this feature to convert the selected column into a table, splitting the text at each comma, full stop, tab, or other character you specify.

You would usually start by pasting the data from somewhere else, Word or Notepad, or a programming language, perhaps.  The data will all be in one column but have some character, say a comma or a space, indicating the separate columns required.

Start by selecting the data.  Click the "Data" tab on the Ribbon, and the "Text to Columns" button. A dialog box appears.

  1. Step 1: Choose "Delimited".  If there were no delimiters and the data was suitably organised, you could use "Fixed Width".  Click Next >
  2. Step 2: Choose your delimiters, one or more of tab, semicolon (;), comma, space, and a character of your choice.  Click Next >
  3. Step 3 allows you to specify the data type for the each column of the output. Normally "General" is fine, but you should specify "text" for items that look like numbers but aren't, such as postal codes and unpunctuated telephone numbers.  You can also specify the data format to expect (some dates can be ambiguous). The "Advanced" button allows the import to cope with numbers that have unusual punctuation.  If you don't want to overwrite the data, you can choose another destination.  Click Finish.

The result: The data split into columns at the separator, as previewed in the last step.  Tip: In the case of our specific example, there are also spaces after the commas, so the =TRIM() function is then needed to eliminate the leading spaces.  It is easier to do a search for "comma space" and replace with "comma", before doing the conversion.

We will look at more of the "Data Tools" next time.

Computius Say:

You know you have been using computer for too long when fly settle on your monitor screen and you try to stab it with mouse pointer.

Remember:  We can make your business run better by:

All the Best from the team!
Judith and Rick

Members, Communication in Action cc trading as Software Africa
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