Thursday, August 23, 2007

Microsoft Office Accounting 2007

What were we thinking? Over a year ago we decided to abandoned QuickBooks and TimeSlips as our accounting and time-billing software. We decided to move to what was then Microsoft Small Business Accounting 2006 primarily because we thought there was an opportunity for us to write some add-on reporting tools and because it used SQL Server (MSDE) as its data-store and because it would allow us keep track of our time directly from Outlook.

Well, 2006 was painfully slow and the Outlook integration was nowhere near what it should have been. (Biggest problem is getting the descriptions of our work into SBA.) The opportunity for reporting is great because there are few (if any) meaningful reports in the package. Data in MSDE is cool because we can report against it any way we want. (tons of tables and tons of views, but DJ says they don't really want us working against the data directly, they'd rather have us use the API to get at stuff. Whatever. I used VFP to write a great WIP report in no time.)

I think I forgot to mention how troublesome it was (is) to get Outlook Business Contact Manager to integrate correctly with SBA - particularly on a laptop that leaves the office.

Anyway, 2007 (Now called Office Accounting 2007) came out and we upgraded 4 or 5 machines. The upgrade left MSDE and installed SQL Server Express on each machine and I'm still not sure where the BCM data lives. Upgrading these machines was a completely different experience on each machine. On Andy's machine, the problems were so significant it took us over a month to get him back to the point where he could track his time directly into OA2007. DJs machine went pretty well. My tablet went OK. The Terminal Server machine went OK.

Then I bought a new machine. Andy loaded all the core applications but I forgot to have him install BCM or OA2007. Installing BCM seemed to work, but it never showed up anywhere. Googling finally revealed that there was a bug that was addressed in SP1 that only impacted users running against MS Exchange Server. OK, the update fixed that problem. BCM was loaded and working. OA2007 though, would install and repeatedly tell me it wasn't the newest version and the database was in the newest version so I couldn't use it.

I went to Microsoft Update and loaded all the latest updates and service pages. (Oh, and I installed and uninstalled both apps several times in this process.) No luck.

Finally, Googling lead me to a cryptic KB article about SP4 (no mention on Microsoft Update) which mostly talked about a fix for OA2007 on Vista. (no Vista here, thanks) SP4 did the trick. Everything works now - as well as designed anyway. By the way, I just spent another 20 minutes trying to find the link to SP4 and couldn't find it unless I included 'vista' in my search - even though I don't use vista. The title is "Description of Service Pack 4 for Outlook 2003 with Business Contact Manager Update and for Small Business Accounting 2006"

From the KB Article:

Issues that the service pack fixes

Service Pack 4 for Outlook 2003 with Business Contact
Manager Update and for Small Business Accounting 2006 fixes the following issues
that were not previously documented in the Microsoft Knowledge Base:

• Application compatibility between Windows Vista and Outlook 2003 with Business Contact Manager

Note: Small Business Accounting 2006 and Windows Vista are not compatible. If you are running Windows Vista, upgrade to Microsoft Office Accounting Professional 2007.

• Application compatibility between Outlook 2003 with Business Contact Manager Update and Office Accounting 2007

Note: The fixes and updates that are provided by this service pack are only for those
computers that are running Windows Vista or that have Office Accounting 2007
installed. If the computer does not meet these requirements, do not install this
service pack.

I guess it does describe my situation, but it was hard to find.

Bottom line - Upgrading from 2006 to 2007 seemed to go ok - even without the service pack. Installing clean with 2007 causes all kinds of problems. There seemed to be issues with BCM not having MSDE loaded and now I can't remember what made me think of that.

We've been invited to test the beta for 2008. I just can't decide if the opportunity to get a jump-start on the new version is worth the risks. Given that there aren't new versions of SQL Server involved, maybe the risks aren't so large.

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Wednesday, August 1, 2007

Man, am I out of shape

I've lived within 10 miles of my office since 1999. (Ok, I lived at my office in 1999 and 2000!) I've always intended to ride my bike to work and for one reason or another (or perhaps for no good reason) it has never happened.

This year we joined the downtown Y so that my wife could work out on her way into work and so that I could have a place to shower after I rode my bike in. The new Boll Family Y is a really wonderful facility right downtown just a few blocks from my office.

Well 8 months later, inspired by Kevin and Emily riding from Detroit to Chicago, I finally did it - I rode into work yesterday! It was about 10.1 miles and it took me about an hour. After about 6 miles I was sure there was no way I was riding back home that night. In my distant past I've ridden 80 miles in a single day and 10 miles shouldn't have been that hard.

The ride was uneventful and relatively flat. I had a mild head-wind, but nothing too terrible. I was just really out of shape.

So, I got to the Y, locked up my bike, took a shower and walked to the office, still unsure of whether or not I'd ride home.

At the end of the day, I was rested enough to give it a shot. I decided to try out the newly opened portions of our new Riverfront. The opened portions are beautiful and leave me anxious for the remaining portions.

The down side is that it somehow added 2 miles to the trip home. Although again wondering if I'd make it, I perservered and made it all the way home - but just barely!

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