Newsletter - April 2015


A number of new and exciting developments have pushed us to produce the newsletter earlier in the month than usual.  This has been made easier by load shedding, which cuts off our telephones, but leaves everything else working fine!  We are working on renewing the battery backup for this part of our operations!

During load shedding, we can still be contacted via our cell phones - 082 389 3481 and 082 389 3482.


Do you own or run a Civil Engineering Laboratory?  Are you having trouble managing the many tests that you do?  Tracking all the samples, making sure that they are tested on time and, most importantly, that you bill the client promptly for all the tests?

We have Labbie, your "Laboratory Data Retriever".  Labbie is a database for managing all the tests done at your lab: Things like concrete cube crushing, Asphalt tests, Sieve analysis, Mechanical analysis, Hydrometer Analysis, Atterberg Limits, Maximum Dry Density, CBR, etc. etc.  Contact Rick for details.

Useful Mouse Tip:

My mouse had become sluggish: That is, the mouse pointer was responding imprecisely to movements of the physical mouse.  What to do?  Back in the day when mice had balls, one would open the mouse and clean the ball and the wheels. A mouse with a furry ball did not work well.  This, however, is an optical mouse, with no balls at all. I tried cleaning the optical sensor: No difference!  Counter-intuitively, I decided to clean the feet too: They had become quite furry from moving around the desk.  Remarkably, this worked: The mouse is back to its sprightly self!

Short of the possibility that even computer mice respond to love and attention, I suspected that the dirt on the feet raises the mouse just enough to put the optical sensor out of focus.  In the interests of scientific investigation, I stuck some folded paper under the feet and, sure enough, the sluggish behaviour returned.

So, even optical mice require cleaning from time to time!

QuickBooks - Quick Payroll packaged with Pro and Premium

This month, QuickBooks Pro 2015 and Premium 2015 have the Payroll Lite for 1-20 employees bundled with them.  This is a great opportunity to put your workers onto a fully fledged payroll system and start the new tax year with everything in place.  It is SO much easier to generate your eFiling returns using the Quick Payroll, plus all your IRP5s are generated for your employees and submitted to SARS.  Then, when employees create their tax returns on eFiling, SARS includes these IRP5 forms automatically.

Who wants to take this opportunity to cut down their work and automate everything?  If it's you - please contact Judith for quotes.

In addition, upgrading your QuickBooks to 2015 now attracts a 30% discount, so it's a great time to become fully compliant.

Green Tip

Do you know what you are eating?  Do you ever read the labels on pre-packaged food?  If not, please start!  Many pre-packed foods contain high amounts of sugar and salt, never mind unpronounceable chemicals and preservatives.  You may well have seen the debates about how these foods are contributing to obesity and ill-health worldwide.  So check and put your health first!

Autodesk - the best news yet!

ALL Autodesk products are now available on the Desktop Subscription model for either 3 months or a year at a time.  In addition, the Desktop Annual Subscription can be taken for 1, 2 or 3 years.  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 three 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.
  3. You can lapse and then renew the subscription as required

Basically this takes away the need to depreciate software over a three year period and leaves the company with a stronger cash position.  This model is extremely flexible for all sizes of companies.  It is also a great solution for companies that take on interns or temporary staff for large projects.

Please contact Judith for quotes.

Autodesk Subscription Overview

This month we will look at the Desktop subscription changes and what they mean for the subscriber.

Desktop Subscription update

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. They come in two flavours:  Annual and Quarterly.  They come with either Basic or Advanced Support.  The latter support option gives direct support as opposed to the 24 hours response for Basic.  This means that problems are solved faster, as you have telephone access to the support desk.

The Annual subscriptions now come in 2 and 3 year options as well.  By year 3, you reach the breakeven point against purchasing the permanent licence and doing the lower subscription renewal.

Desktop Subscriptions are very flexible: You can have them for the life of the project and you do not need to renew them until you require another subscription for a new project.

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

For more information go to and

An Opportunity to make use of right now

Please note that the Autodesk Permanent Licence option will be phased out in their financial 2017.  So, from February next year, only the above subscription options will be available.  If you wish to buy permanent licences - this is the time to do so.  Again, please contact Judith for quotes

Excel Tip #133 - The View tab (V): Macros

Last time, we finished viewing, on the "View" tab, the large group "Window".  We now conclude with the Macros group and its one button:

The Macros button is a "split button". The upper section, containing the picture (Shortcut: Alt+F8), opens the Macro window shown above. In that window, you can select a macro, then run it, step into it (run it one line at a time), edit it, delete it, change its properties, or create a new one (type a new name).

The lower section of the Macros button, labelled "Macros", opens a drop-down list with these options:

So what are macros? At its simplest, a macro is a recording of actions (keystrokes, mouse clicks, and menu choices) that you performed. You can then play back --"run"-- the macro later.

Macros can be used for much more than this: There is an entire programming language, known as Visual Basic for Applications (VBA) built into Excel.  We will touch on this when we look at the Developer tab, next time.

Computius Say:

"He defenestrated his PC!"
Does that mean he "removed Windows from it", or "threw it out of the window"?
People have been known to do either.

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 standard and custom PC programs, databases, and templates using Microsoft technologies"
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