When Your Business Has Outgrown Excel

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COMMENTARY

- When Your Business Has Outgrown Excel
- Editor's Note: IT Pro of the Month

READER CHALLENGE

- December Reader Challenge Contest
- November Reader Challenge Winners

NEWS & VIEWS

- New Web Browsers Show Big Gains

RESOURCES

- Tip: IE Versions--Making 7 Appear to Be 6
- Thread: What's going on in the Windows XP forum this week?
- Blog: Voice Recognition With An Aussie Accent
- Featured white paper, Web & live events, announcements

NEW AND IMPROVED

- Byteplant Arctor 2.0
- Tell Us About a Product; Get a Best Buy Gift Card!

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==== COMMENTARY: When Your Business Has Outgrown Excel ====

by David Chernicoff, david@windowsitpro.com

Like many small-business owners, I use Microsoft Excel when I do my business accounting. I realize that Excel isn't an accounting system, but for my limited needs it's always worked fairly well. I use it with Microsoft Word to generate invoices and track payments. Analyzing my business data is a bit tough--it becomes a brute-force type of process where I create new spreadsheets with links to other spreadsheets to create the reports I want--but because I run a sole proprietorship, this clumsy process hasn’t been a major problem.

Unfortunately, however, I've noticed that many of my clients do the same thing. Although most have seven-figure annual revenues, their accounting process still depends on nothing more than a spreadsheet program and ledger books. A few are using custom accounting apps that were written ten or more years ago, and the only person who can solve problems with the application is a consultant who isn't local.

The few who have looked into improving their systems have talked to vendors who recommend large, complex, and expensive accounting applications with significant training expenses. I've also recommended Intuit's QuickBooks to some of my clients. When I see these clients six months later, however, they haven't made any move to fix their accounting problems. The most common reason for the inaction is that nobody is willing to spend the few dollars and time necessary to get a new application, even an inexpensive one, up and running.

Lately, I've been telling these clients to try Microsoft Office Accounting Express 2007. It's free for the download, which takes away many of the excuses for not acquiring the software, and the wizard-driven setup makes configuring it for a small business fairly simple. The download totals 208MB, and if that's too much for your connection, Microsoft will send you an installation CD-ROM, gratis, within two weeks.

Nearly half a dozen of my clients are using Accounting Express. All are small businesses with fewer than five employees, and this is a major step forward for them. One client was getting ready to launch an Internet-based business on eBay and is happy with the way Accounting Express can integrate with eBay for posting and managing auctions and sales. He pointed out that the tools he had originally planned to use would have cost a few hundred dollars; not only is Accounting Express free, but he's also getting accounting features with it.

Microsoft Office Accounting Express 2007 can be downloaded from http://ideawins.com

Editor's Note: Congratulations to Simon Zeltser, who was voted the November 2006 "IT Pro of the Month." Adapting a solution he found in "Windows Scripting Solutions," Simon developed what he calls a ProfileBackup solution, which executes in two phases: backup and restore. He was able to upgrade more than 1500 PCs remotely, saving the IT staff time and the company money. To learn more about Simon's solution, and to find out how you can become the next "IT Pro of the Month," please visit:
http://www.windowsitpro.com/go/itpromonth

==== READER CHALLENGE

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by Kathy Ivens, challenge@windowsitpro.com

December 2006 Reader Challenge

Solve this month's Windows Client challenge, and you might win a prize! Email your solution (don't use an attachment) to challenge@windowsitpro.com by December 14, 2006. You MUST include your full name, and street mailing address (no P.O. Boxes). Without that information, we can't send you a prize if you win, so your answer is eliminated, even if it’s correct).
I choose winners at random from the pool of correct entries. I'm a sucker for humor and originality, and a cleverly written correct answer gets an extra chance. Because I receive so many entries each month, I can't reply to respondents, and I never respond to a request for an e-mail receipt. Look for the solutions to this month's problem at
http://www.windowsitpro.com/articles/index.cfm?articleid=94502 on December 15, 2006.

The December 2006 Challenge:

This is another challenge that came from a reader who uses the WINDOWS CLIENT UPDATE Reader Challenge in his IT department as a form of playing "Trivial IT Pursuit." Thanks to Jose Canera, of New York, for this contribution.
The in-house development team at his company works in a small lab environment, and at the beginning of a development project many things go wrong, causing the workers' computers to hang. Mr. Canera decided that everyone was losing a lot of time each day waiting for Windows to tell users that a process was hung, or to complete the End Process function in Task Manager. He also realized that if a process hangs during shutdown, it takes a while for Windows to stop the process and proceed with shutdown. He distributed instructions to everyone in the lab about how to speed up the process of ending a process. What did he tell his colleagues to do to speed up the shutdown of a hung task?

November 2006 Reader Challenge Winners

Congratulations to the winners of our November 2006 Reader Challenge. First prize, a copy of "Windows XP Hacks," goes to Sean P. O'Brien, of Pennsylvania (actually from my own home, Philadelphia, where I assume he's joining me in mourning the performance of my beloved Iggles). Second prize, a copy of "Windows XP Cookbook," goes to Xidan Zhou, of Florida. Book prizes are courtesy of O'Reilly & Associates Publishing.
There was a typo in the answers that appeared on our Web site, and the answer to Question 3 was posted as "A" but it should have been "B." My apologies to those of you who were confused and feared your answers would be eliminated. The typo was entirely my fault.

November 2006 Reader Challenge Answers:

1. DHCP can support and track assigned static addresses.
A. True
B. False
Answer is A.

2. DHCP uses which of the following to assign an address:
A. Unique Computer Name
B. MAC address of the computer’s hard drive
C. MAC address of the NIC
Answer is C.

3. Client computers begin a request for an address renewal at which of the following intervals:
A. One hour before the lease expiration time.
B. Halfway through the lease.
Answer is B.

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==== NEWS & VIEWS: New Web Browsers Show Big Gains ====

by Paul Thurrott, thurrott@windowsitpro.com

New versions of Web browsers from Microsoft and Mozilla showed strong gains with users in November, according to Web metrics firm Net Applications. According to the company, usage of Microsoft's Internet Explorer (IE) 7.0 browser tripled last month, while Mozilla Firefox 2.0 showed even stronger growth, pushing usage to five times the previous month's rate.

To read more, please go to http://www.windowsitpro.com/articles/index.cfm?articleid=94489&feed=ArticleLink&promocode=rtartpage

==== EVENTS AND RESOURCES ====

(A complete Web and live events directory brought to you by Windows IT Pro: http://www.windowsitpro.com/events )

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Are you who you say you are? Even on Linux? Really?
If you’re like most IT professionals, this type of identity crisis is a plague. Virtual TechX World--available December 14--makes your life (and the lives of your users) easier by equipping you with the latest interoperability insights and technology. Slots are filling quickly--register today!
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Your business, like most today, relies upon its computing systems to store financial information, house proprietary data, and maintain communications channels. This increasing reliance also increases the dangers to your systems from security breaches, including viruses, spyware, spam, and hackers. Visit the Windows Protection Site at http://www.windowsitpro.com/go/protection for the latest tips on safeguarding your system.

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==== TIPS AND THREADS

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Tip--IE Versions--Making 7 Appear to Be 6

Now that Microsoft Internet Explorer (IE) 7.0 is available through Windows Update, many users are finding that some Web sites don’t function properly with IE 7.0. In most cases, the Web site would work fine if the browser reported itself as IE 6.0. However, because the site doesn’t recognize IE 7.0, it thinks that the browser is an earlier version than IE 6.0 and thus doesn’t function as expected.

To deal with this problem, Microsoft has released version 2 of the User Agent String Utility, which lets users configure their browser to report that it is IE 6.0 to querying Web sites, then to refer the Web sites to Microsoft. The utility affects only the current IE 7.0 browser window. Any other open IE 7.0 window is not affected. You can read a description of the utility and download it at http://www.microsoft.com/downloads/details.aspx?FamilyID=9517DB9C-3C0D-47FE-BD04-FAD82A9AAC9F&displaylang=en

Thread--What's going on in the Windows XP forum today?
"Error 1306 when uninstalling software"
http://forums.windowsitpro.com/web/forum/messageview.aspx?catid=36&threadid=82963&enterthread=y

Blog--Hyperbole, Embellishment, and Systems Administration
"Voice Recognition With An Aussie Accent"
http://www.windowsitpro.com/Articles/Index.cfm?ArticleID=94417&DisplayTab=Article

==== HOT RELEASE

======================

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==== ANNOUNCEMENTS

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==== NEW & IMPROVED

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by Caroline Marwitz, products@windowsitpro.com

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