Newsletter - February 2015

Editorial

February is proving hot with a real heat wave hitting many parts of the country.  It has now moved down to the Cape and returned to Gauteng after barely a day's relief!  Whilst SONA spoke of infrastructure projects being a focus of policy yet again, very little proof of their being released is showing up in the companies expecting them.  With the slow rollout of the tenders and Eskom unable to supply adequate power to users who have already cut their requirements from 2010, the economy is in a state of stagnation. 

The construction of enclosed estates, office parks and malls, however, continues unabated.  If this development can continue - can we not perhaps look at means of tackling infrastructure repair and development as a by-product?  Innovation is required if we are to move forward and there are plenty of amazing innovators in South Africa.  Waiting for them to step up to the block and put forward their proposals to break the logjam!

dotPLOT Changes

dotPLOT is the South African standard in easy-to-use Soil Profile and Borehole Log software, now in version 7019 (Winston never liked decimals in version numbers!).  From this year, HotPlot (the Windows interface) is sold in a bundle with new copies of dotPLOT, rather than being optional, as in the past.

Previously, when you bought dotPLOT, you bought the package for a lump sum upfront.  This often made it difficult for smaller firms and start-ups to afford.  In addition to once-off purchase, we are now introducing a subscription model: Licence dotPLOT for a year, or even a month at a time, when you need it.  The price for a year is one-third of the once-off purchase price; for a month it is one-tenth of the once-off purchase price.

PC Tip: Mouse Tricks

From Andy Lanning (Subscribe to Computer Super Secrets):  Over the years I have preached "efficiency" in your daily computer use. And yet the mouse we cling to all day long is one of the most under-used tools on our desks.
1. To zoom into a web page or email with small text, simply hold down the CTRL key while you spin the mouse wheel either up or down to zoom in or out.
2. You don't have to aim the mouse pointer into a scroll bar to scroll up or down a page; just leave the mouse wherever it is and scroll with the mouse wheel.

More next time!

QuickBooks

From a start-up to a really successful and growing business, QuickBooks is able to offer a solution plus grow as you grow.  We do not advise Simple Start, as it is very limited in application.  QuickBooks Pro may look like a daunting investment.  However, it is a solid platform on which to build your business and will not require replacing or upgrading for many years.  As we have discovered, many of our customers only upgrade when the windows operating system will no longer support their current version!  Upgrading is smooth and, once done, enables them to continue without a pause!

Want to build your firm business foundation for growth - please contact Judith or Willy for quotes.

Green Tip

Water access is becoming a problem.  There are many problems assailing our water from source to sea.  Unfortunately, rubbish, sewage and other toxic wastes pour into our rivers on a daily basis.  This means that bring water to potable standards is becoming more expensive.  So respect that water coming out of your taps.  Make sure that you have no leaks and that users turn taps off properly.  Use a strong yard brush to brush your paving - and cut out the water wash down.  Remove water-greedy invasive plants from your garden.

Autodesk

The big change for this month is in the AutoCAD LT and AutoCAD product choices.  For a long time, we have been able to purchase the Design suites on the Desktop Subscription model for either 3 months or a year at a time.  Now these options are available for the two entry level products.  This makes it far easier for start-up businesses to access the software they require, as well as offering a project bound solution.  When a company is faced with the need to employ extra staff on a contract basis, there is no longer a requirement that they buy the permanent licences.  Rather lease the software for the duration of the project instead.

There are two advantages to this solution:

  1. The cost of the software may be included in the project expenses
  2. The cost of the software is immediately tax deductible, as it is a direct operational expense.

Basically this takes away the need to depreciate software over a three year period and leaves the company with a stronger cash position.  We would like this offering to expand across the entire product range so that we can assist all our SMME customers proactively in meeting the demands of their customers effectively.

Please contact Judith or Willy for quotes.

Autodesk Subscription Overview

This month we will look at the Cloud 360 subscription and what it means for the subscriber.

Accessing the Cloud 360 Subscription

The basis of Cloud 360 Subscription is that the subscriber has access to their drawings any time, anywhere, and on any device!  They may used their space in the Cloud to update critical drawings against the reality on the ground during site inspections and report back on errors immediately to the rest of the team.  Collaboration across the entire project team is facilitated, meaning that deadlines can be kept firmly on track and the accuracy of the design ensured.

In addition, many file formats can be displayed in the browser, so that individual drawings can be checked for veracity.  All the files required for a meeting or site inspection can be uploaded for viewing on a laptop, tablet or smart phone.  The drawings can be annotated and altered on the spot, as well as approved by the client.  Other people involved in the project can be advised of problems with the project or updates that need attention.

Do not forget that you can also access new apps and services here as well.  Cloud subscription is taken for any of the Cloud based solutions and valid for 3, 6 and 12 months.

In order to access your Cloud 360 subscription as a user, you log into the Subscription Centre from any Autodesk.com page using the second choice under SIGN IN:

This takes you to the area where you can either sign in with your existing account or create one if you are a first time user:

Once in you can see your status:

Notice how the site gives you immediate support plus full updates of your status.  A full audit trail of all interactions around drawings and documents is held for access at any time.  This means drawing changes and approvals do not go missing.

Next month we will cover the Desktop subscription.  This is the solution to managing projects which require software for 3 months to a year or where contractors or interns are used for short periods. 

Desktop Subscriptions are therefore very flexible as you can have them for the life of the project and thereafter do not renew them until you require another subscription.

If you have this kind of requirement, please contact Judith or Willy for quotes.

For more information go to https://360.autodesk.com/landing and http://www.autodesk.com/subscription/overview.

Excel Tip #131 - The View tab (III): Window Group, Part 1

Last time, we viewed the "View" tab, the third group, "Zoom":.  We now look at the "Window" group:

The Window group has these buttons:

Next time, we will continue with the Window group in the View tab: View Side by Side, etc.

Computius Say:

Guide to Computer Terms:
"USB" - really short for "Universal Serial Bus":  More space than a Putco bus, not same cereal as you have for breakfast.

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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