Souped Up Computer Cases

Looks are probably the first thing that you would look for. At the very least you will have to look at your case, so it should look good. Many cases, even really cheap ones can come in many different colors and styles. Of course looks are important, but that is an easier thing to decide than the more unseen details that can effect the design. We will look at those in details, so that apart from a good looking case, it will be functionally good too.

Construction of the case will mean the difference in how much of a beating the case can take, how sturdy it is and how easy parts are to put in. Most cases utilise aluminum of thin steel. Very cheap cases that use aluminum are often very flimsy because the aluminum is more expensive and so they keep costs down by making it thin. Under $50 don’t expect much. Might be fine if it’s never transported or knocked. More expensive cases for $150 and up are aluminum. They are constructed from tough, thick aluminum, because of this, they are heavy, which is an easy way to tell if its strong or not. Avoid aluminum, except for more expensive cases.

Fans on the case keep air flowing through the computer, pushing cooler air into it and sucking the warmer air created by the CPU and other parts out. Modern computers have become hotter as they’ve become more powerful so they need more air passing through. Unfortunately the answer of more fans makes more noise. Cases can often take up to 4 80mm fans. This will provide enough air going through. Sometimes you can use less, if not none, for underclocked or light load computers. An option that I like is 120mm fans. They move twice as much air as 80mm fans, but with the same noise, to 2 120mm fans will move as much air as 4 80mm ones, but produce half the noise. Cases need to be made to take 120mm fans or modified yourself.

Thumb screws instead of screws that need a screwdriver are a cheap extra, but can make the opening of the computer that much less hassle, requiring one less screwdriver to be used.

Another extra to be considered are mounting brackets for hard drives and optical drives. Instead of having to open the case to take out the drives, brackets are included. The brackets are attached to the drives with the normal screws and then the drives can be slotted in and taken out without tools. Useful if you take them out a lot, I don’t, so it’s not high on my priority list.

Something that effects convenience is the positioning of the USB ports and sound plugs. There are always the standard ones on the back of the computer, but the other ones on the case can be just about anywhere. Most common is on the front, but there are some that position them under a flap on the top. On the top is okay, but if your case is in a closed area with something over its top they will be inaccessible. See if the position in convenient for where you will keep your computer.

Expert System Powered by Uncertainty

Expert Systems managed goal oriented problem solving tasks including diagnosis, planning, scheduling, configuration and design. One method of knowledge representation was through “If, then…” rules. When the “If” part of a rule was satisfied, then the “Then” part of the rule was concluded. These became rule based Expert Systems. But knowledge was sometimes factual and at other times, vague. Factual knowledge had clear cause to effect relationships, where clear conclusions could be drawn from concrete rules. Pain was one symptom of a disease. If the disease always exhibited pain, then pain pointed to the disease. But vague and judgmental knowledge was called heuristic knowledge. It was more of an art. The pain symptom could not mechanically point to diseases, which occasionally exhibited pain. Uncertainty did not yield concrete answers.

The AI community tried to solve this problem by suggesting a statistical, or heuristic analysis of uncertainty. The possibilities were represented by real numbers or by sets of real-valued vectors. The vectors were evaluated by means of different “fuzzy” concepts. The components of the measurements were listed, giving the basis of the numerical values. Variations were combined, using methods for computing combination of variances. The combined uncertainty and its components were expressed in the form of “standard deviations.” Uncertainty was given a mathematical expression, which was hardly useful in the diagnosis of a disease.

The human mind did not compute mathematical relationships to assess uncertainty. The mind knew that a particular symptom pointed to a possibility, because it used intuition, a process of elimination, to instantly identify patterns. Vague information was powerfully useful to an elimination process, since they eliminated many other possibilities. If the patient lacked pain, all diseases, which always exhibited pain, could be eliminated. Diseases, which sometimes exhibited pain were retained. Further symptoms helped identification from a greatly reduced database. A selection was easier from a smaller group. Uncertainty could be powerfully useful for an elimination process.

Intuition was an algorithm, which evaluated the whole database, eliminating every context that did not fit. This algorithm has powered Expert Systems which acted speedily to recognize a disease, identify a case law or diagnose the problems of a complex machine. It was instant, holistic, and logical. If several parallel answers could be presented, as in the multiple parameters of a power plant, recognition was instant. For the mind, where millions of parameters were simultaneously presented, real time pattern recognition was practical. And elimination was the key, which could conclusively handle uncertainty, without resort to abstruse calculations.

Voice Recognition Identification Technology

The Story: Kay woke up with a start as the alarm on her clock radio blared. Reaching across her pillow, she noticed the time, 5:15, and hammered the snooze button in the hopes of grabbing another five minutes of sleep. Tired as she was, her mind began to race as she considered the day ahead. In less than four hours she would be enroute to L.A. with an aircraft full of passengers. Slowly the thought of additional sleep became less important as she considered all that she had to do before leaving Teterboro. Quietly she slipped on her robe and slippers, poured herself a cup of coffee, and slinked into the shower.

As Kay walked across the tarmac, she saw the fuel truck pulling up to her aircraft and the caterer at the gate waiting for a security clearance. It was 6:48 and already she could feel the heat lifting off of the pavement. Another scorcher she thought; at least L.A. will be cooler.

Kay greeted Jeff who was busy overseeing the fuel delivery; she then climbed onboard the G-V and gave a similar greeting to Bob who was occupied with updating paperwork. Bob finished what he was doing and briefed Kay with the day’s schedule. Minutes later Kay turned to assist the approaching caterer with the day’s order. Within the hour, the first of the passengers began to arrive. Each sat in the lobby of the FBO waiting to be boarded. At precisely 8:00 a.m., Kay left the aircraft and walked down the ramp to the FBO. She whispered to the waiting security agent who signaled to the FBO customer service representative to make the boarding announcement. “Ladies and Gentlemen, Jet Aviation Flight #001 departing TEB for LAX is now boarding. Please present your identification card and boarding pass to the security agent. Once you are cleared, you will be boarded. Thank you for flying Jet Aviation and enjoy your flight.”

Kay turned and left the FBO and walked back to the aircraft. Both pilots were onboard completing their preflight preparations. Kay stood at the bottom of the steps leading up to the aircraft waiting for the security agent to bring the passengers to the plane. She knew that with fourteen passengers the security clearance would take a bit longer than normal.

Kay considered waiting inside the cabin to keep cool, but knew that it was important that she greet the passengers at the base of the steps in case one of them needed assistance climbing up.” It must already be 85 degrees out here,” she thought as she watched the heat vapors rise off the pavement.

After what seemed like an inordinate delay — Kay’s hair was slowly losing style in the heat — Bob poked his head out of the cockpit and said, “Sorry for the delay, but we caught another one.” Startled, Kay stammered, “You mean one of the passengers failed security clearance?” Bob replied, “Not only that but he is on the FBI’s wanted list of suspected terrorists. The remaining passengers checked out okay, but we’ll be delayed until the agents finish interviewing them to see if they knew the guy.” Despite the heat, Kay shivered as she thought of the potential chain of events a terrorist onboard the aircraft might unleash.

Her fears gradually subsided when Jeff reminded her that the VOICE RECOGNITION IDENTIFICATION TECHNOLOGY (VRIT) unit in the FBO was flawless in the nearly six months of use. Over that time, twenty-six people with a criminal element were pulled, most of whom had been charged previously with petty crimes [such as tax evasion] and were either on the run or would be in violation of their parole restrictions had they left the state. Today marked the first time that a suspected terrorist was caught and as the squad car sirens wailed, Kay knew that this day would be anything but normal.

The above account is fiction, but it pre-supposes a couple of things that could occur in the intervening years that would bring about similar results, i.e., additional and more widespread terrorist attacks being a primary consideration. In addition, a change in the way we do business, i.e., selling seats to individuals instead of selling the entire flight to a company or an individual would have to occur — no longer would you have a lead passenger who could identify all of the other passengers. VRIT is now within reach and will, more than likely, become the norm of the day. Essentially, it works this way: a person speaks into a device that immediately matches the voice pattern with one in the database. The database identifies the person and when a match is made, the person is cleared [unless the database turns up a warrant for their arrest].

Naturally, in order to get onboard a flight we would require passengers to be part of that database. This could occur if VRIT becomes as mandatory as holding a social security number or a driver’s license. Foreign nationals would have to be keyed into the same system to make it work, so the potential for a worldwide Orwellian-type system would be great.

Recently, I had the opportunity to meet with Russ Cooper, a managing partner with COMPUTEK, a Wall Street company that has developed the latest generation of VRIT. He shared with me that both the FBI and CIA use an older generation of VRIT and his company is marketing the current one. Their customer base potential is impressive: government agencies, security firms, airports, airliners, automobile manufacturers, you name it. Wherever a positive i.d. on a person is needed, their technology might be utilized.

According to Russ, the technology is fail-safe. When I mentioned that a voice impersonator like a Richard Little type could sneak by, he claimed that VRIT would still know who he was even with the “Richard Nixon” voice. Apparently, voice patterns are distinguishable even when disguised.

We did not discuss “price” as he was not marketing his product directly to me. I can only imagine that the costs involved would be significant, but then I began to think that they could possibly be offset by lower insurance premiums if insurance companies see the benefit of “guaranteeing” passenger security.

So what role could the flight attendant play in utilizing VRIT? Perhaps in lieu of a security agent [especially in out of the way places like Bozeman, Montana], a VRIT unit would be assigned to your aircraft — much like a cardiac defibrillator monitor — and you would greet each passenger as they boarded the aircraft. Before the aircraft could be cleared for takeoff, the passengers would speak into the handheld VRIT and be given a security clearance on the spot.

Let’s return to our story and amend it with the security check being placed directly in the flight attendant’s hands:

Kay walked down the G-V’s steps carrying her mobile VRIT device and waited as the passengers exited the FBO and made their way to the aircraft. She announced, “Welcome onboard Jet Aviation flight #001 bound for Los Angeles. Please speak your name into the VRIT unit. Once you have been cleared, you may proceed up the steps. The first officer will take your boarding pass and you may be seated. If you need additional assistance, the captain will be glad to help you.”

One by one the passengers filed by, stating their name and waiting for the green clearance light to flash. As they spoke, a signal was transferred to an orbiting satellite and then beamed to VRIT headquarters in Washington, DC. As the last of the passengers approached, Kay continued to greet each one and wait for clearance. Finally, when all passengers were cleared, she climbed the steps and had both pilots speak into the VRIT unit. At last, Kay placed the unit in the First Officer’s hands in order to have him run clearance on her. Kay cleared her throat, spoke her name, but after an extended pause, the VRIT beeped loudly and signaled red. The color in Kay’s face drained away and she turned to flee. Within moments several arms reached forward to apprehend her as sirens wailed in the background.

All she could think about was running away…

Startled, Kay awoke from her dream as the snooze alarm blared away.

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.