Monday, August 31, 2009

WINXP - Applications to Look At

Normally I do not intend this blog to suggest specific Applications. I do make suggestions on Utilities to use to maintain your WinXP system.

There are 2 classes of Applications where I'm making an exception:

Finance Applications

I suggest that my readers look at Intuit, specifically:

  • Quicken

  • This is the personal and home-business bookkeeping software (I use this at home for years)

    Tracks your accounts (checking, savings, credit cards, investments, mortgages, etc) and Categories for transactions (utilities, interest income, pay income, mortgage interest, and whatever category you want, and budgeting).

  • TurboTax

  • This is what I use for making out my tax returns, Federal & State. Take a look.
    (By the way, looked at your H&R Block tax return, at the bottom? They use Turbo Tax, at least the last time I used them.)

  • QuickBooks

  • This is the small-to-large business professional version of Quicken. Includes several pre-configured Account Setups like Property Management, but you can make your own.

Database Application

This recommendation is because of a problem with database software I use at home.

Some personal background on this. Way in the past I actually wrote database programs in Ashton Tate's dBASE 3 & 4. This included a program for the Navy (NAVAIR) that was popular when the PC was new to the Navy.

A specific example of a database I use: I have a database for tracking the servicing of my car.

  • Title of the service (like 10k Oil Change)

  • Date of last service

  • Last Service at (mileage)

  • Interval (mileage interval, like every 10000 miles)

  • Description of service (a text block aka Memo Field)

  • Next Service (aka mileage_due = Last Service + Interval)

The Next Service is where the problem occurred with newer database applications, especially those base on SQL.

This is called a Calculated Field, in this case the sum of Last Service & Interval.

There are some database software that have a problem with this when it comes to sorting or reports. Also, SQL database does not normally include Memo Fields (text entry with carriage returns like a Notepad document).

The old dBASE 3 & 4 standard was a Calculated Field was just another type of Numerical Field but it's value was calculated. You setup this field just like any Numerical Field so it was part of the Database Record. Therefore you could sort on this field and easily include it in a report.

I want to stress that there are database applications that have these features, but many are not "user-friendly" IMHO. And I have tried several. One of the best, that I used in the past (and is my benchmark), was the database module included in IBM's Lotus Suite. Unfortunately IBM has discontinued support of Lotus Suite, so I've been hunting for a replacement.

What I've found is MyDatabase Home and Business (aka Database Pro)

This is a very user-friendly database Application that has all the features found in Lotus Suite AND more, at a very reasonable price. Suggest you take a look if you use database Applications of course.

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