Chess Computers

The Good

There are a number of benefits to owning your own chess computer. For example, you can play whenever the mood strikes you from early morning to the middle of the night. You don’t have to wait around for your friend to be in the mood. You also have the ability to use tutorials that can help you to learn to play or to increase your own playing abilities with these computers. They are designed to allow for all sorts of play, so you get to do what you feel is necessary. You can also restart a game that has gone bad 😉

The Bad

There are some disadvantages of owning these computers as well. A chess player that is not human can not make the mistakes that a human can make. Therefore, the computer is a much more difficult competitor. Not only that, but they also do not prepare you for the reactions of human play. And, of course, they can be quite an investment as well. You can find various options to choose from, though, from software programs to complete programs.

The Verdict

It’s important to weigh the advantages and the disadvantages when it comes to computers like these chess computers. For many, the goal of owning a chess computer is only a dream. You should realize that they are mainly for those who are advanced players who are playing chess at the club level. Then again, to get to this point, many will need a chess coach. The chess computer can be the chess coach that you need to take your game to the highest level it can be at. If you have the funds for a chess computer and a true love of the game, making that purchase can put you one step ahead of the rest.

Tools for Customizing Great Plains

Dexterity

Although Dexterity requires the user an extensive knowledge in software development (primarily in C/C++ or Pascal) and experience in scripting languages (VBScript, or Dexterity’s own script – SanScript), this proprietary programming language that Great Plains was developed in allows access to all of Great Plains resources such as tables, reports and scripts. With this access, you can manipulate and define triggers such as opening a form or leaving a field. Moreover, it can be used to call up procedures and functions and create new applications without interfering with other customizations already in place and integrate them into Great Plains user interface easily.

Dexterity can be installed using CD #2 that comes with the Great Plains 7.5 package.

Modifier with VBA

Modifier with VBA is one of the simplest tools to have for end-users and developers alike. It uses common graphic drawing techniques which can be used to alter the appearance of a Great Plains application. It can be used to move, alter or delete menus within a window so that you can manipulate the importance of each field. It also allows for addition of new windows or controls or simply rearranging those that exists. This customization tool is safe to use since the original information is stored separately from the modified one. Modifications can also be shared with other users. However, unlike Dexterity, it is not recommended to create new applications with Modifier VBA.

Continuum for VBA/Delphi

This tool uses Great Plains as an OLE Server. It captures the VB or Delphi code as queried by the user for macro recording. However, we do not recommend it since it is an old technology.

Crystal Reports

Great Plains comes with its own Report Writer. However, its functionality is limited. Introducing Crystal Reports to Great Plains opens up a whole new world of creating reports. With the use of the Crystal Report Designer Interface, you can easily create complex reports with formatting and grouping just the way you want it – professionally done. Grouped data can be summarized and subtotaled and with its drill-down capabilities, the user can view report data in detail.

Crystal Reports also came up with a version for Visual Studio .NET. With all the features of Crystal Reports 8.0, the Visual Studio .NET version gives .NET users the flexibility to share information and reports over the internet. Through the use of Database drivers, Crystal Reports connects to the Great Plains database and accesses the specific data as queried by the user and selects the tables or views according to the user’s proposition.

In Great Plains, the Tables structure can be found in: Tools > Resource Description > Tables

Direct Web Publishing

If you’re looking to publish your Great Plains information over the Internet, then using Visual Studio .NET is the right tool to use. It allows the deployment of Web-based applications and XML Web Services and can be leveraged by the use of programming languages like Visual Basic .NET, Visual C# and Visual J#.

eConnect

Integrating data from outside sources, such as your point-of-sale applications, customer relationship management applications and Web services, to your Great Plains application is what eConnect is all about. eConnect can filter data or add script to the business object according to the specified diagram. It enables for limiting the number of values entered in a field or setting a default value for the field. Although eConnect promises integration, it asks for advanced programming skills. It uses a number of different programs including Microsoft SQL Server, Visual Basic objects and extensible markup language (XML).

Integration Manager

Converting and transferring data (importing) from one database format (ODBC-compliant) to a Great Plains application can be done with the use of Integration Manager. This tool enables the end-user to map the data source to the target field without the need to search from the database tables. SQL queries can also be defined to accompany your integration and data validation. Integration Manager requires development experience with a background in database maintenance, SQL commands and VBA or VBScript to name a few.

SQL Queries

Microsoft SQL Server is a database engine that gives users tools for creating, configuring and maintaining databases. It is integrated directly into the Great Plains database. Its Query Engine enables you to create statements to call up certain information from the database. Although this is a powerful tool, SQL queries should only be done with experienced hands. One false statement could wipe out your database.

The smooth operations of your business depend on YOU. With the right experience and education, these tools for customizing your applications and database can lead your business to a better ground.

Crystal Reports For Microsoft Navision

  • C/SIDE database – use C/ODBC to create the connection for your Crystal Report. You have to make all the links inside the report. The drawback of this approach – report becomes inflexible if you would like to change database mapping (re-link from work to historical tables for example) – it is probably easier to redo report from scratch. You can use something like Crystal Query – which is still very restricted in its functionality.
  • Microsoft SQL Server – you are better positioned to create Crystal Reports. You can deploy MS SQL Server views. View will allow you to unionize work and historical info, pull the data from several databases to name a few nice features. Also the option to use stored procedures (or stored procs) enables you to create temp tables for data manipulation before sending the final result set. You can also have parameters (name of the company/database, dates restrictions) – this gives you additional advantage versus SQL View
  • Reports on geterogeneus databases – imagine creation of Linked Server in your Microsoft SQL Server Enterprise Manager. If Navision sits in MS SQL – you create linked server to the third party database (Oracle, DB2, Unidata, Ingress, Sybase, Pervasive, Ctree, MS Access). If you are on C/SIDE DB – you create linked server to it via C/ODBC, then you create additional linked servers to your legacy DBs. Now you are ready to create geterogeneus SQL View to link all your databases and have the data shown in one Crystal Report. You should probably familiarize yourself with OPENROWSET statement in Transaction SQL

Microsoft Great Plains Integration Manager

Multiple times in our consulting practice we saw the need to integrate General Ledger transactions from one text file and here we give you this and even more complex case, when credit and debit amounts are present on the same line with their own account numbers. Let’s assume that we have tab delimited text file, GLSOURCE.txt. Here is how the line looks:

“11242004” (date) “11020016000” (debit account) 212446.68 (debit amount) “15260005400” (credit account) 212446.68 (credit amount)

Pretty challenging, isn’t it?

Let’s begin

First of all and this is probably easy – you need ODBC DSN, use Microsoft Text Driver, change default directory, select the file and switch to tab delimited type.

Next, open Microsoft Great Plains Integration Manager and create two new queries – one will be for the Header and the second for distribution lines in GL transaction. In both cases use Advanced ODBC type of text queries.

GL Header should aggregate by date, so in its SQL window enter this:

select F1 from GLSOURCE.txt group by F1

Now the lines – here we need unionizing and checking if amount is not zero:

select F1, F2, F3, 0 from GLSOURCE.txt
where F3”
union
select F1 F4, 0,F5 from GLSOURCE.txt
where F5”

The one above is the most difficult part of this article. Please understand it – we are splitting line into two by union, first we create debit part and then we attach credit part, plus we are weeding out 0 amounts.

Next – we need to link two queries – simply link them by F1 field (date). Do it in query relationship. When you are done with linking, right click on the arrow, open properties and in Select Relationship Type window change to:

There can be 0 or more records in the child for each record in the master.

This is important – we’ll have more than one line in GL distribution.

The rest should be familiar for IM consultant.

Select destination as GL Journal, assign transaction date and batch ID as F1 from Header query, switch to entries and select them from debit and credit parts of the lines query.

As additional tools in filtering your text query you could use VBA scripting and even translation.

Translation is the way to go when you need to replace account numbers from the text file with different or translated accounts in Great Plains.

Significance of a Web-To-Print Storefront

Printing has been a part of human civilization since many years. What the world today knows is web-to-print. Web to print is a technological advancement where World Wide Web is in use for printing purposes. Technology has given this opportunity where customization is possible in every sphere of life. Demand is of customized products and online web-to-print software solutions a medium, which supplies that demand.

If you are in the printing business and if you are looking for cross-city, cross-country or even cross continent selling, you need an online store. A web to print storefront is a tailor made digital print shop. This shop stations all the features and tools which you need for printing purposes. Right from the tiny little things like pens, pen drives, t-shirts, mugs, and many more products can undergo customization. Let us now check out the importance of a web-to-print storefront.

The print commerce has been through a severe change. Web-to-print software solution gives an opportunity to you, to your store, and to your print e commerce. It is a technology driven innovation using which makes printing possible using online websites.

Scalability

An online web-to-print solution is a medium, which has the potential to give you the thrust of scalability. You should not be taking it for granted as it removes all the barriers of locality. It gives your store an online platform using which you can interact with people all over the world. Above all, it gives your customers the treasure of personalization and customizations.

Creates Brand Value

Branding is extremely important for any business. The web-to-print storefront gives you an opportunity to brand your store. With its elegant and standard designing, you can create the brand of your own store or you can rebrand your already existing store.

Build Stronger Relationships

Bring your store online and build stronger relationships with your customers by using the analytics tool. You get to know your customers closely; you get to interact with them more smoothly. You can even deal with their grievances before they even come and complain to you! With an online store, you can also attach a customer relationship management (CRM) tool and build stronger relationships with them.

Sell Customized Products

The competition and the scope of opportunities have been immense with the growing population and technological innovations. If you do not give your customers what they want they surely will leave your store! You need to break all the shackles and launch your store into one of the online portals and give your customers the taste of their desires. This reduces your overall rejection rate and increases the usability. In addition, you can also magnify your return of investment.

No More Limitations

It gives e-com entrepreneurs & existing print business owners to leverage technology and simplify the complicated and time-consuming custom printing process. All the physical limitations of receiving a bulk of orders and then delivering are no longer a limitation with the web-to-print software solutions. The transactions become easier, transparent as the tool also integrates the online payment feature.

Software Piracy

Types of Software:

There are three basic types of software, although these do have their own subsections, as will be discussed later:
1. Commercial software, purchased with a licence for one or more computers. This generally is coupled with some form of support and regular updates to patch errors etc. Sometimes a new version of the software is offered at a reduced rate as “update”. This type of software is generally relatively expensive and is often designed to cover specific industrial purposes. The big exception is the various sets of “office” software, which are designed for use in the commercial environment, but can naturally be equally used for various tasks at home. The most common application in this category is, of course, text editing. Most of the other classic “office” applications, such as calculations and data bases are only of limited use in the domestic environment, although they will be used in some cases, particularly now that the more computer-literate generation is growing.
2. Simplified or “lite” versions of the commercial software. These are intended principally for small businesses and enterprises that do not need the complete capabilities of, say, a 3-D modelling system, but must be able to view such documentation and prepare compatible drawings. Again, the “office” environment was a long time not represented in this sector, but has recently started to be available. These will also come with a single or multiple, but limited licence and now mostly be registered with the manufacturer.
3. Free or “open source” software. This is designed for general distribution and has no particular limitations as to use, except that it may not be changed in any way. Naturally, such software has its limitations, but may serve very adequately for many purposes. Practically all types of software are to be found in this category. One notable application distributes the software to read its documents freely, but charges for the software to produce the documents. This policy is arguably the motor behind its ride to a position as industry standard, since you can always be certain that he receiver can decipher whatever is sent, without long discussions about compatibility and versions. Clearly, there can be no piracy of products that fall into the third category, except for changing of the code or reuse of the code for other purposes, but this does not appear to be a major issue at the moment, so we will concentrate our attention on the first two categories.
Both of these categories contain software that is copied and distributed either free of charge or for a nominal fee. Naturally, the full versions of the software are preferred, but the simplified versions are also to be found, depending on what is available.

Types of Software Pirate

This puts our software pirates into two categories of their own:
1. Those who knowingly use a copy of software “borrowed” from work or supplied by friends, who probably acquired it by the same means.
2. Those who prepare copies of software from an original and sell it at a low price through internet auctions or on market stands. Their customers may, in many cases, be unaware that the software has been pirated and simply be pleased to acquire a software package at a bargain price. Some will be quite well aware of the actual source, but still prepared to take this means of saving money. 

Composition of the Groups:

So who is to be found in these two groups?
1. This group is very widely ranged and consists of school children, people practicing at home with the company software, various private persons with an interest in computers who will try anything that is free and, possibly, very small businesses. Many schools will supply their students with copies of software licensed for the school to enable them to complete homework or learn to use it for technical subjects. A student finishing a technical school with little or no knowledge of the technical software used in their industry will not easily find employment, so a blind eye is turned in many schools to this practice. Schoolwork is often required to be written on computer these days, and again, this is only really possible if some form of text software is available. Those who use company software at home to play with or for their children to complete homework are also a large group. The computer has become a part of our lifestyle in the western hemisphere, and many people are interested in the possibilities opened by the modern generation of powerful number-crunchers. The days of mainframe computers costing hundreds of thousands of dollars is not gone, but the small computer in a network has taken over in many areas, so the professional software that would earlier have required a mainframe connection and a whole basement full of equipment will now run happily on a home computer. There may be a loss of speed, but who cares? The vast majority of these people know full well that what they are doing is not allowed, but consider this as a very minor matter, and would laugh at any suggestion that they should purchase the software officially. The few companies that also do this are saving money that they probably do not have, despite being aware of the risks.
2. The group of people who copy software and distribute it for sale as being genuine are working simply for profit, taking advantage of the simplicity of the process and the high prices of genuine software. The general public is not aware of the penalties for this type of action and is often unsure about recognising the genuine article. Other items in the consumer market are available from many manufacturers as basically identical products, so why should this not be the case with software? Very many are simply duped into buying what they see as a cheap alternative to a brand-marked product. 

Costs of Software Piracy:

So what are the real costs to the software companies?
In most cases, school and college students would not be in a position to pay the costs for the expensive commercial software they use in technical subjects, and the schools and colleges are not in a position to supply this to them free of charge. Most schools have licences for software to be used on the premises, but this is not available for the students at home. Theoretically, they will use the computers at school to complete work and practice, but this is generally not possible due to a lack of resources, or classrooms locked because of vandalism. The only way to solve the problem is for the schools to simply distribute the software to their students on the basis of it being only for their use. There is no licence and no direct upgrade possible. Generally, although illegal, this system works quite well. Schools try to copy upgrades and patches for their students, mostly successfully. The snag to the matter is that we educate people in that this is perfectly acceptable practice, despite it being illegal. No-one would think of insisting or even checking that drop-out students erase the software and no longer use it, but this is probably fairly well assured by the fact that they have dropped out in the first place! 

Upgrade Dexterity Customization

Great Plains Dexterity is proprietary programming language/environment, which was created in early 1990-th to provide platform / database / graphical interface independence for Mac and Windows based Great Plains Dynamics. Today it is legacy and Microsoft Business Solutions is phasing Dexterity out.

However Great Plains 7.5 and even 8.0 is Dexterity based application, so you have to deal with it and it’s customization.

Good news. Prior to version 7.0 Great Plains had plans on expanding GP functionality and so was changing tables structure – forcing Dexterity customization to be analyzed and partially rewritten with each upgrade. Not any more – GP structure stays the same – Microsoft is doing new modules acquisition and unifying it’s graphical interface to move all it’s ERP packages: Great Plains, Solomon, Navision and Axapta to web-based Microsoft Business Portal.

Still pain. Dexterity has possibility to customize existing Great Plains screens, so called Alternative Great Plains forms. This was upgrade problem in the past and it stays now – there is no way to do it in house (until you are willing to pay for full-time internal developer – who is usually in the learning curve). You got to bring in consultant.

Recommended approach. You should have the strategy to migrate Dexterity customization to SQL, Crystal Reports, custom web publishing – Visual Studio.net and slowly abandon Dexterity customization

  1. SQL Stored procedures – performance improvement. Consider replacing dexterity data manipulation with SQL stored procedures. Dexterity is cursor-driven language and it is not efficient when processing huge datasets.
  2. Crystal Reports. Take advantage of open and leading technology. Crystal Reports will eliminate the need in the future for painstaking Dexterity reports upgrade. Base you Crystal report on the SQL view or stored proc
  3. Do direct web publishing off your GP database. Use Visual Studio – it is easy to find specialists and have them in staff. We are in the World when web publishing is very easy.

Microsoft Great Plains Reporting

  • Great Plains Report Writer (ReportWriter) – this is built-in reporting tool. All the original report in Great Plains are written in ReportWriter. ReportWriter itself is Dexterity module. You should use this tool if you would like to modify existing Great Plains reports, such as Blank Invoice Form – here you can place your company logo, change the positioning, fonts, colors, etc. ReportWriter will allow you also do new reports – simple option if you want to export all the records from one Great Plains table – use it. New report, however doesn’t have interface where you would enter parameters – so it is not useful for real custom reports. Another limitation of ReportWriter – you can not do cross-modules report – when you need sales and purchasing info on the same report for example.
  • FRx. This is excellent tool when deal with financial reporting – it works on the General Ledger level (Balance sheet, P&L, Cash Flow Statement, etc.). It also allows you to do multiple companies consolidation – when you do consolidated Balance Sheet (with inter-companies transactions elimination).
  • Smart List – Export to Excel – this is nice feature in Great Plains – you could create a list with simple criteria and then export it to Excel.
  • Crystal Reports. It gives you unlimited functionality. Obviously flexibility requires you to know Great Plains table structure: Launch Great Plains and go to Tools->Resource Description->Tables. Find the table in the proper series. If you are looking for the customers – it should be RM00101 – customer master file. If you need historical Sales Order Processing documents – they are in SOP30200 – Sales History Header file, etc. Create ODBC connection to GP Company database. Use the same technique as when you create standard ODBC connection for GP workstation – but change default database to targeted company database. Create SQL Query to probe the data – we always recommend tuning your query and see that you are getting adequate results – in any case – Crystal Report is just a nice tool to show the results of your query.
  • Direct Web Publishing off Great Plains databases – yes – it is easy now with Visual Studio.Net and you can hire good programmers. This is good – Microsoft Business Solutions products: Great Plains, Solomon, Navision and Axapta will be integrated into so called Microsoft Business Portal – which will have web interface – you can get the idea if you look at Microsoft CRM web client – so direct web publishing is good taste.
  • SQL Queries. If you have SQL background – this is great field for you. You know – with properly formatted SQL query you can realize simple EDI export/import for the integration with legacy systems.

Inherent Dangers Of File Sharing Via The Internet.

Spyware infiltrate computer systems along with file sharing downloads. Personal information about us circulates the globe via the World Wide Web, and a web it truly is! This information finds its way to different entities or companies that are keen on knowing our surfing habits and the sites we visit. They also want to know about our file sharing interests. These observations by spyware intrudes on our privacy and security.

We can benefit greatly from “File Sharing” but must constantly be aware of the risks and safeguard ourselves from its many dangers. We must do all we can to protect our surfing habits from the prying eyes of internet snoops.

We can have our password stolen, identity stolen, our personal information abused as well as the loss of privacy we hold so dear.

We must find and remove “Spyware” to protect us from the many dangers of internet spying. One of the ways is to eliminate file sharing that enable spyware to piggyback with the “File Sharing Files” and take up residence in our computer.

Spyware and adware infiltrate and infest computers in very subtle ways when we download our favorite music or movie files, while P2P file sharing and chatting online. Spyware takes advantage of these downloads and creeps into computer systems along with shared files, so that they go unnoticed. We suspect problems when the computer slows down, there are unsolicited advertisements, or browser hijacking. The best way to find such infestations is to use a spyware scanner that will detect them and enable their removal from the system.

Troubleshoot Windows with Task Manager

The Processes tab displays a comprehensive list of all the processes currently running on your computer. This can be very useful for monitoring your system. The process tab displays information about the processor usage and memory usage of each process. The problem is, how to identify a process. Below is a list of some processes you may see in Task Managers Processes list.

“System Idle Process” “System” The Windows System Process “SMSS.EXE” Session Manager Subsystem “CSRSS.EXE” Client Server Runtime Subsystem “WinLOGON.EXE” The Windows Logon process “SERVICES.EXE” Services Control Manager “LSASS.EXE” Local Security Authentication Server Service “svchost.exe” Service Host “spoolsv.exe” The print spooler service “explorer.exe” Windows Explorer “TASKMGR.EXE” The Task Manager “regsvc.exe” Remote Registry Service

“System Idle Process” is basically another name for the time when Windows is doing nothing. There are hundreds of thousands of processes that run on a computer, so you will definitely find names of many other processess that are not listed above. For a list of well known processes, visit www.answersthatwork.com/Tasklist_pages/tasklist.htm You can also learn about almost any task by using it’s name as a search term in google.

Task Manager can also be used to tweak your system if it’s running slow. The Performance tab displays running graphs of your computers CPU and memory usage. If the CPU usage seems to be running over 80 percent most of the time, or if the memory usage seems to be running higher than the total physical memory, you may want to shut down some applications or processes.

On the Process tab, you can identify processes that are consuming a lot of processor time. Click twice on the CPU column heading to sort the CPU column so the processes hogging the most CPU time on top. You can sort the “Mem Usage” column the same way.

On the Application tab, if you right click on the name of an application and, in the popup menu that appears, choose “Go To Process”, Task Manager will open the Processes tab and highlight the process that runs the application. On the Processes tab, if you right-click on the name of a process, you can choose “SetPriority” and promote the priority of the process you need (or demote the priority of a different process to free up some resources).

If you go to the Application tab and shut down an application, you will shut down any processes related to that application. Or, you might choose to shut down a background process that you can identify. To shut down an application or process, click on it’s name in the list to highlight it, then click on the End Task button.

On the Processes tab, if you right click on the name of a process, you can choose “End Process Tree” to kill the process and any sub-processes started by the process.

Task Manager can also be used for troubleshooting. If an application freezes up, you can open Task Manager and shut down the application. If the entire system freezes up, you can use Task Manager to shut down a process that is hogging all the CPU time or memory.

If you spend some time monitoring your computer with task Manager, eventually you will become familiar with the processes that commonly run. Then, when you see an unfamiliar process, you can do a little investigation to make sure it’s not a virus. For example, if you see msblast.exe in the process list, your computer is infected with the Blaster virus. You might be able to detect and eliminate a new virus before an antivirus update is available.