Tuesday, March 31, 2015

New mobile computer

After about a year and a half with the slimline Dell laptop computer, yesterday it was replaced by one from Toshiba; I think that the model is Z301. It has a touch screen although I doubt that I will make much use of that functionality.

The great advantage of this computer over the previous one is that I now have 3 USB sockets, a network cable socket and a screen adaptor socket. Previously I had only two USB sockets; the screen cable would connect via a special connector, but the network cable would connect via a USB interface, thus reducing the computer to one free socket - which was almost always taken up by the mouse.

Almost all of the software has been transferred without problem, although this isn't saying much as I have only the minimum installed. No Word or Excel, but there is Outlook, which I will later define to use my home email. Dropbox has been setup successfully but not Skype.

Wednesday, March 25, 2015

Zooming the Millenium

Sometime around 1998/9, I wrote a report for our old ERP program which was considered to be "the report to end all reports". I know the approximate date as I called the report "The Millenium Report" - in 1999, everything was millenium this and millenium that. The report traversed over purchase parts and collected data such as the amount needed for customer orders, the amount currently in inventory, the amount in open purchase orders, the average usage per month and other such data. This report helped the purchasing manager to maintain an optimal level of stock for parts which were frequently used.

When we moved to Priority, one of my first programming tasks was to translate the Millenium Report to Priority (this is after I figured out how to use the report generator). This was accomplished without too much difficulty (as far as I remember). The report has continued to serve as a backbone for purchasing. I even ported it to the company for which I am consulting (the contact person helped in developing the original report).

Yesterday I showed one of the zoom (aka linked) reports to one of the people who currently executes the Millenium. I had shown him a report last week but he didn't grasp the significance then.  Once he realised now what the zoom technology was capable of, he wanted the Millenium 'zoomed'; today he sent me a list of requirements.

As if 'zooming' the original program wasn't hard enough, the requirement was to display in one report detailed data from four different sources (amounts needed, amounts in inventory, amounts ordered and amounts used over the past few months). It's not immediately clear how to do this in Priority although I have done this before; it's a daunting but not impossible task. After a few hours of wrestling, I was able to create the required detailed report and insert it into the zoomed program.

The feedback was almost instantaneous - "To be honest, I can't remember when I was so excited about a report". I think that today can go down in history as a very successful day.

On the same subject: another person who uses this report generally sends its output to Excel so that he can fiddle with it and waste his time. I note with sardonic glee that a zoomed program does not work with Excel - the hyperlinks get lost during the transfer. Another reason to work in a natural manner within Priority and not to export data to Excel.