Newsletter - November 2012


The year is coming to an end with another 4 weeks officially for business.  However, we only take the holiday week from 24 December to 2nd January.  Even then you'll probably find Rick and Judith in the office backing up data and cleaning up for the New Year!

The current heat-wave is making the swimming pool look very attractive!  Hope everyone is keeping cool!

QuickBooks Update

We are looking at a CRM solution which is very well integrated with QuickBooks.  It enables users to draw up estimates and create invoices without them having access the QuickBooks itself.  We will report back on it in the next newsletter.

We are able to take on your Excel data into QuickBooks by using our programmers to write macro solutions.  Unfortunately this takes time but does save you manual take-on time.  Please make sure you give us all the fields that you want and are clear on how they are to be treated.  This saves us time and you expense.

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

Development News: Labbie, the Laboratory Data Retriever

Development is currently underway on Phase 6 of Labbie, the Civil Engineering Lab Program.  This involves adding the DCP and ITS Tests, other improvements, and the C-Class of the COLTO Classification.  The first Beta version will be released soon.

Dynamic Cone Penetrometer (DCP) is an in-situ test in which a weight (normally 8 kg) running on a rod is manually lifted and repeatedly dropped on a cone, which penetrates the ground. The mm penetration per 5 blows is recorded and this is used to estimate certain soil properties.  Roadlab has previously processed these test results using a spreadsheet, but this had the drawback that people can change the spreadsheet, so it is now being incorporated into Labbie.

We are also extending the existing COLTO calculations in Labbie, bringing more detail into the existing G-class classifications, and adding the more complex C-class for stabilised soil types. One of the requirements of the COLTO C-class is an Indirect Tensile Strength (ITS) value, so are adding this. Because it is very similar to (and often done with) the UCS (Unconfined Compressive Strength), we are adding ITS to the UCS form.

Green Tip

Increase awareness of pollution remediation by encouraging your colleagues and children to put their litter into the appropriate bins.  Set up an recycling initiative at your offices or at your local place of worship or school.

AutoCAD 2013 and Design Suites

The range of Design Suites is on an upgrade special discount of 15% until the 20th January 2013.  Upgrading can be done from previous versions where you have not renewed your subscriptions as well as from current versions of LT and 1-3 previous versions of AutoCAD.  For more details, please contact Judith or Willy. 

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

How does licensing work?

This is a question that we have been asked a lot recently.  Customers wanting 6 licences expect a far lower price and are surprised when this is not the case.  They feel that if they have already bought a copy of the software, additional users should cost less.

However, we are now able to ask for a special discount on high volume orders of the Autodesk range of products.

In fact, with all software solutions, this is not the case, as they are buying a licence to use the software, not the software itself.  With large orders, we are certainly able to offer some discount and will do so to the best of our ability, although we do not receive a further discount from the distributors.  AutoCAD LT is one exception, as the 5 user pack is discounted at source by Autodesk.

Where a number of people require to use the AutoCAD range, network licences can be purchased.  A one user network licence allows one user on the software at a time.  As you add additional users on the network, then more people can work simultaneously.  We will strive to make sure that you maximise your investment through this mechanism.

With Accounting and CRM solutions, the licences are user bound, so you are obliged to have one licence for every user who must log in.  This is also true of Microsoft Office, but not of the server products, which work more like Autodesk products.

Compliancy and your product licences

Not only Autodesk, but every software supplier, is working with the Business Software Association to ensure compliancy.  In terms of all software products, they may not be sold by the company that bought them to anyone else.  The right of use is for the original purchaser only.  With operating systems, the product lives and dies with the PC or laptop on which it is loaded.  We can help all our customers with ensuring that they are compliant with their product licences.

Excel Tip #106 - The Formulas menu (III): Formula Auditing

Last time we looked at Excel 2010's Ribbon on the Formulas tab, in which we studied the Defined Names Group.  Today we will look at the next group on the Formulas tab, the Formula Auditing group.  The items in this group are very useful for debugging your spreadsheet formulas.

First, some terminology: "Precedents" are formulas that supply values to the formula that we are looking at.  "Dependents" are formulas that get information from the cells we are looking at.  To demonstrate, consider again our free Fuel Consumption calculation spreadsheet (available by e-mailing with the subject "Please Send me the Excel Fuel Consumption Spreadsheet"). We have a column headed "Distance" in which the formulas work out the difference between the current and previous km readings.

If we select a few cells in the distance column, as shown above, and then click the button "Trace Precedents", Excel will show us dots in the cells in the km column that are used in the formulas we selected. The arrows show the direction in which the data flows from the km column to the distance column.  If we then click "Trace Dependents", Excel will insert arrows showing which cells receive information from the selected cells.  Red arrows indicate an error.  When the spreadsheet has become too cluttered with arrows, you can click on "Remove Arrows" to remove them.  Excel will do this on its own under certain circumstances, such as when you save the spreadsheet.

Other useful features in this group include:

You might expect this group to be on the Review tab instead of the Formulas tab, so remember where it is!

Next time we will look at the "Calculation Options" group, the final (small) group on the Formulas tab.

Computius Say:

With Halloween just past, does Microsoft Office have spell-checker for witches and wizards?

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
"Empowering African Business with custom PC programs, databases, and templates using Microsoft technologies"
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