Newsletter - January 2013


We wish everyone a successful 2013.  May we all see the economy get into gear fast and new projects run out to improve infrastructure throughout the country.  We are back to having no programmer as Zinhle received a job offer that she could not turn down.  However her replacement will be starting on the 4th February.

Current staff can speak Zulu, French and Afrikaans as well as English.  Thuli speaks Zulu, Willy French and Rick Afrikaans.  I murder both French and Russian, whilst requiring a dictionary to make sense in either!

QuickBooks Update

Please note that Simple Start does not run customer statements.  A number of customers have been told otherwise, but we have checked this out with QuickBooks and been assured that it does not.  Your most satisfying entry level solution is QuickBooks Pro.  For companies wishing to do quotes, QuickBooks Premier or Accountant are the best solutions.

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

dotPLOT Version 7011 with HotPlot 3.11.0 Released

If you already have the 32- and 64-bit-compatible dotPLOT, then your latest version is ready for installing. Go to  You can install it directly from the Internet, or download to install on multiple PCs.  This is a free upgrade for existing dot7000-series users.

For dot7011. we found (and Winston fixed) some obscure bugs in keyword detection where the special format chars were interfering in both descriptions and notes, and underlining would in some circumstances extend to the end of the layer.  dotPLOT was revised to make red the default text colour highlight (activated and turned off with double asterisk: **). Null Descriptions now give a single blank page. Stuart found a bug in the symbol summary justification when using 9.5 point text.  More details in on-line Help.

There was an increase in the price of HotPlot to R2500 + VAT, effective 1 January.  HotPlot is still under-priced for what you get, so if you are not using it yet we suggest you upgrade.

Green Tip

If you would like a presentation on greening your office or school, please contact Judith.  As the branch co-ordinator of Earthlife Joburg Branch, she does such presentations in exchange for a donation to Earthlife plus travelling expenses.

AutoCAD 2013 and Design Suites

The special for AutoCAD LT and upgrading to the Design Suite of your choice has ended.  Please, any company who has AutoCAD 2010 or earlier, upgrade before the 25th January, as you will have to buy a completely new package from 1 February.  If you have later versions, please renew your subscriptions as well, because it will cost 70% of the package cost from 1st February as opposed to 50% until then.

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

The weakening Rand versus the US$

This is giving us considerable concern, as R9.50 to the dollar is inflating prices of imported software from Microsoft and Adobe, as well as Autodesk.  What costs around US$4 000 is R38 000 before VAT.  Please, if you have needs for these products, look at purchase before any greater weakness happens.

Excel Tip #108 - The Data menu (I): External Data, Connections

We start the new year by looking at the "Data" tab on Excel 2010's Ribbon, a useful and interesting tab --at least for the technically-minded!

The Data tab consists of five groups, Get External Data, Connections, Sort & Filter, Data Tools, and Outline.

The first two groups go together, so we will look at them this time.  The first four buttons in the first group, Get External Data, allow you to connect to a variety of data sources and get data from them.  Sources include Microsoft Access, the Internet, text files, and –in the button "From Other Sources"– SQL server, XML, and other sources as shown alongside.

The button "Existing Connections" then lets you manage or change a connection you have already established, while the Connections group lets you manipulate your connections in more detail.

 If, for example, you use the first button "From Access", you will be asked to locate the Microsoft Access database you want to connect to, followed by the table from which the data must be obtained.  Finally, you will be asked how and where to import the data, as shown on the right:

The data then appears in the spreadsheet in the format requested, and the Table Tools Design appears selected on the ribbon, so that you can make changes to the appearance of the table.  If you selected a table as the format, you will see drop-down arrows at the tops of all the columns, allowing you to filter any columns by criteria that you select.

The "From Text" button is very similar to File Open on a text file, but allows you to easily re-import the text file when it has changed.

While the cell selector is in an existing linked table, you will find that the "Get External Data" group is not available, but you can use the Connections group to refresh the data, or alter the properties of the connection.  Note that the "Refresh All" button comes in two sections, the upper button that performs the action immediately, and a lower section that gives you a drop-down list of extra options including connection properties for the connection used by the current table.

Unless you are working with data, you are unlikely to use these features.  Next time we will look at ones you're more likely to use.

Computius Say:

Local Area Network in Australia is the LAN Down Under.

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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