What is the Discussion Board?

One of the new features on this web-site is the Discussion Board. The Discussion Board, powered by Simple Machines Forum software, is a community forum where you can ask (or answer) questions related to your Maxwell Systems Software.

Because of the ‘sharing’ aspect of the Discussion Board, other people can view the question you ask and they can answer your question. Once a question is asked and answered, other members will be able to benefit from that exchange.

So, if you have a question, or a comment, or a solution, please feel free to contribute to the Discussion Board. The more questions, the better!

Live Help Chat

To offer another avenue of support and to better assist visitors to this site, I’ve installed the Live Help software from Crafty Systems. Essentially, this allows you to start a chat session with me by just clicking on the “Click for LIVE HELP!” icon over to the right. A window will be displayed; there you enter your name, your e-mail address, and your question. Then, click on “Send” to initiate the chat process.

Live Help first screen

Once the chat session has begun, as each of us responds, you will see an ongoing display of our converstaion. I will see whatever you type, and in turn, you will see what I type. Click the “Say” button at the end of each of your reponses. At any time , you can end the chat by clicking on Exit. At that point, you will be afforded the opportunity to receive a transcript of the chat session via email.

Live Help chat screen

So please, if you have any questions, don’t hesitate to “Click for LIVE HELP!”. I look forward to hearing from you.

National End-User Workshop 2006

It is exciting to annouce that Maxwell Systems is holding their National End-User Workshop for 2006 in Orlando, Florida on May 8th and 9th.

The Workshop is designed for users of the Maxwell Management Suite software. The Workshop is designed to be informative and engaging for all skill levels of Maxwell

There will be two tracks to follow at the Workshop. The Service Track is designed to tie together the aspects of dispatching, managing of contracts, and invoicing, together for service organizations. In the non-Service Track, the Workshop will instruct users on how the Maxwell Management Suite can better assist in the intregration of accounting and project management roles in a construction company environment.

Both tracks will help users learn how to make better use of the tools they have available in their systems. In addition, there will be several roundtable discussions that will allow attendees to share their knowledge and learn about the experiences of other Maxwell users.

Listed below are the links to a brochure describing the Workshop, a link to Maxwell’s registration, and a link to Caribe Royale hotel registration. Please join us in Orlando. Looking forward to seeing you there.

Workshop Brochure
Maxwell National End-User Workshop Registration
Caribe Royale Hotel Registration

Disaster Recovery

Does your business plan include disaster recovery procedures? The terribly sad loss of life and property caused by Hurricane Katrina will continue to dominate the news for the weeks and months to come, but, on a smaller scale, I wonder how all the small businesses that were affected by Katrina will recover? What happened to all their business records? Will they be able to recover all their computers and the data held on those computers?

This is a good time to re-evaluate your backup and recovery procedures. Begin the process by preparing an assessment of your computers and records what assets are critical for your business to operate?

Next, allocate the resources (money and manpower) to sufficiently protect, recover, and restore, those assets. This could involve purchasing extra backup devices, spare computers, off-site backup storage, and off-site office space to store extra computers and office equipment.

Then, develop your disaster recovery plan. This plan should include details of who is responsible for backups, where those backups are stored, and what should happen in the event a disaster occurs.

Finally, you should test your disaster recovery plan. This includes making sure your off-site assets are working and that your backup media can be restored.

Though you may not experience a hurricane, businesses can be ravaged by fire, flooding, theft, tornados, earthquakes, terrorist attack, loss of electricity, and even computer viruses. Please, set aside some time to prepare and review your disaster recovery processes and if they need to be updated and improved, do it now!

If you can’t visit at least FEED yourself

You don’t have to visit this web site to get the information that is posted here. You can use RSS, which is short for Really Simple Syndication, in conjuction with a news reader such as FeedDemon, to subscribe to and pull down the comments posted here.

This RSS stuff may sound a bit complicated, but it’s really quite easy. On the Tutorial page, you can access a screencast by Alex Barnett that shows you how easy it is to use RSS. More importantly, subscribing to a web-site’s feed means you don’t have to always navigate to that site to get the information you’re looking for. It will save you time and make you more productive. Give it a try! Oh, and make sure you add this site to your reading list!

Using Advanced Filters

If you need to create a report of subcontract Vendors that have expired insurance dates, you’ll need to learn how to use Filters. There’s two types of filters. The first type of filter I call a Simple filter because you use a series of pull-down boxes to define your filter. The second type of filter is an Advanced filter where the filter definition is manually constructed.

In this example, we’ll need to use an Advanced filter, because the Simple filter can’t handle the complex logic. Remember, the report must show all subcontract Vendors (Vendors with a Normal G/L Account of 507000) where the Workers Comp, General Liability, or Other Insurance dates are expired (expired before the current terminal date).

Here’s the filter:

(WORKERS_COMP_INSUR_EXPIR_DATE$ < X$(41,2)+X$(37,2)+X$(31,2)+X$(34,2)
GENERAL_LIAB_INSUR_EXPIR_DATE$ < X$(41,2)+X$(37,2)+X$(31,2)+X$(34,2) 
OTHER_INSURANCE_EXPIR_DATE$ < X$(41,2)+X$(37,2)+X$(31,2)+X$(34,2))

The X$ stuff represents the current date, so this filter shouldn’t need to be changed each time it’s used for a report.

If you ever need to report data and don’t want to see pages and pages of information, then remember to use a Filter. And if the Filter is complex, you may need to resort to constructing an Advanced filter.

Monarch mines for data

As good as Maxwell’s DataLink Module is at exporting reports and data to text, Excel, and PDF files, there are times when you need something more in your tool-kit. That extra tool could be Monarch Pro from Datawatch.

Monarch Pro is called a data mining or data extraction tool. It takes the output from any report you have, extracts the data from the report, and outputs it into a file, such as an Excel spreadsheet, for easy manipulation.

The beauty of Monarch Pro is it’s simplicity. Just print your report to a text file, then point Monarch Pro to that file. Then a simple to use parsing tool scans, filters, and extracts data from your report into a spreadsheet like format. The data can then be output to almost any type of file including spreadsheets. And once the parsing rules are defined, you save those rules as a template to be over and over each time you print the report.

Monarch Pro can also access data files directly. Almost any file can be read by Monarch Pro. Access and Excel files as well as any data file accessible via ODBC can be read and manipulated.

So if you can’t get just the right data extracted using your standard tools, consider Monarch Pro (priced at $559.00 at this time).