Roundtable Software E-Mail Newsletter Issue #9, April 3, 2001
Our new release had a few ‘gotchas’ that we missed in testing. There are three patches available on the website for the following:
* wrong screen file was shipped for the PO module resulting in errors when you try to edit a PO in program 9 of that module.
* Accounts Payable program 7 would give a fatal error if you tried to disburse for a vendor who had lots of fully paid invoices on their account.
* In Order Entry programs 1 and 2, orders would not print if they just had service order information on them (no line items on the order). This patch is included in the AP patch above.
* Order Entry program 1 would not allow you to use the on-the-fly customer add feature because there was not enough memory to load that additional application.
If you experience any of these errors (and you may not if your product was shipped after the patch was released) we apologize for any inconvenience these problems caused. On the other hand we’re proud to say that we were able to get patches for these problems ready within a day or two--sometimes within a few hours--of the initial reports from dealers.
Hopefully this will be the extent of the 3.3 gotchas, but if you are experiencing a problem in 3.3 please report it to your dealer.
Apparently the information previously provided by Microsoft and relayed to us by a dealer was incorrect. Microsoft has provided new documentation for increasing the number of file handles needed for DOS programs like ours that require more than the default. The new procedure is:
1. Open a text editor program (DOS Edit or Windows Notepad are fine) and open the file SYSTEM.INI in your Windows folder.
2. Find the section headed [386Enh]. If you find a line in that section with the form:
Change the number to 75. If the line does not exist, add it at the end of this section.
3. Save the file.
4. Reboot your computer for new settings to take effect.
This procedure is only for Windows ME workstations. File servers and other versions of Windows do not require this procedure.
The Unix version of version 3.3 is taking a little bit longer than expected. Our new expected release date for that product is on or before April 30. We will send out a newsletter to announce the release when the time comes.
It seems like every time we release a new product, we get a rash of calls from end-users asking for technical support direct from us. We’d like to remind everyone that Roundtable Software does not provide direct technical support to end-users. All end-user technical support must be through your authorized dealer. Only your dealer can get technical support from Roundtable.
If this seems unreasonable, please keep in mind that this is one of the major ways that we keep the price down on the product. If we maintained a huge staff of support personnel, the price of the product would go through the roof (and with 4% unemployment conditions, you’d probably be talking to a kid who just got fired from McDonalds!).
Does this mean we don’t care about end-users? No, it means we care very much that you be able to get the very best technical support. Your dealer knows your unique setup far better than we can, and they can help you much more quickly and efficiently than we ever could. If your dealer is stumped on a problem, they can call us for immediate expert technical support, and we can help to resolve the problem much more quickly since the dealer knows how to distill a problem down to the essentials.
Your dealer is not just a link in the supply chain--they are an important resource for you. There are not many software products in the world these days that provide you with expert assistance from someone who knows your business--and of the few that there are, most of them cost tens, even hundreds of thousands of dollars. These days some consider it to be downright old-fashioned that Roundtable and your dealer are committed to expert customer support while providing a reasonable priced product. If that’s what it means to be old-fashioned, then we are and we’re darn proud of it!
All that being said, it is an unfortunate possibility that on rare occasions users will have problems with their dealer. In such cases we ask you to call to alert us of the problem. We will follow up with the dealer, and if the problem cannot be resolved, we will refer you to other dealers. Our number one concern is that the user get the best possible support for their system.
As those of you who were affected will undoubtedly recall, the predecessor to Windows 2000, Windows NT, had a major bug dealing with their oplocks functionality that could cause data corruption. Although Microsoft’s website maked no mention of this problem existing under Windows 2000, we have had several reports from the field of users experiencing identical problems under this new version. Though it would seem to stand to reason that Microsoft would have taken care of this problem for their new release, we are talking about Microsoft, and reason sometimes isn’t enough for them.
We are now advising that the oplocks patches be applied on Windows 2000 systems that are experiencing data corruption to see if that takes care of the problem. We have not received any definitive positive or negative feedback on this yet, but the patches certainly don’t seem to cause any problems. We ask that dealers who apply these patches please advise us of their experiences.
Latest news from IC-Verify (the credit card processing software) is that they have discontinued their DOS product. We have been asked by some folks if this means that they should upgrade to the Windows version of IC-Verify. The answer is that unless you really want the expense you have no need of the upgrade. The Windows version of their product includes the exact same functionality for DOS programs as the old version did, so you are not getting anything new at all (except for a new lower balance in your checking account). We have also received occasional reports that the DOS compatability module of the Windows version has some quirks to it that don’t exist in the older versions.
Q. Some of my vendors can send me price lists that they claim can be imported into my accounting software. I’d love to take advantage of this service, but I don’t know how to go about it.
A. Almost every vendor supplies their price lists in a standard ASCII text format. In other words, their files look something like this:
The vendor may supply a lot more data, like descriptions and so on, but it all boils down to a list of item numbers and subsidiary information. Beyond the generic term “ASCII text”, most will further describe their files as fixed-length or delimited (sometimes also referred to as Excel CSV files). This refers to whether the file has the columns lined up like so:
without commas or quotes, which is fixed-length, or delimited by commas or some other separator as in the first example, which is delimited.
If you have a choice, use fixed-length import files. Delimited files can also be used, but may have to go through preprocessing before the data can be imported into the accounting software.
Either kind of file can be imported to your Inventory by using the Import Data module of the Roundtable Software Advantage Accounting System. If you have delimited files, you’ll need to change them into fixed-length files by first processing them through program 4 of that module. This is a relatively simple procedure. Just tell the program how many fields are in each record (our example has two--the item number and a price) and what the delimiters are (in our case, they’re commas) and the program will produce a fixed-length version of the file.
Once you have a fixed-length file, you define an import template in program 1 of Import Data. There are lots of prompts in this program, but most of them are unimportant to this simple import. We won’t go into depth here on defining the template--it is simply a matter of telling the program which fields you want to import and where these fields are located in the records (lines) of the import file.
This discussion assumed that you are updating your master current costs. If you wish to update vendor costs, that can be done through Inventory program 55’s import utility. This program works with both fixed-length and delimited files without preprocessing, but you may have to add a vendor number into the import file if your vendor does not supply that (this is to tell the program which vendor you are updating). You may also have to add a field to the import file which is always zero--because the vendor cost update is through the receiving option, you’ll want to receive zero quantity for the vendor.
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