Meeting Notes

Meeting Date: May 14, 1996

NEWS YOU CAN USE: The ACT! SIG will be on summer hiatus for July and August. Our next meeting will be September 10. The topic will be ACT! 3.0. (Our Hard Copy column will return the following month.) Have a great summer!

Windows users: the latest released version of ACT! for Windows is version 2.0.8. This update provides for smoother operation of Mobile Link and enables Windows 95 users to use direct Internet e-mail via the Microsoft Exchange. ACT! 2.0.8 is available from Symantec or from E Tech Systems at (847) 352-4770.

Macintosh users: the latest release is version 2.52. Patch discs are available at ACT! User Group meetings.

MEETING FEATURE: ACT! Add-Ons. At this month’s meeting, we took a look at a number of "add-on" programs designed to help users get more utility from ACT!. We were joined by co-presenters Tom Grannan, Senior Vice President of Product Development and Bart Carson, President both of Napersoft.

Due to ACT!’s popularity, third party programs have proliferated. For example, there are programs that display and allow you to select contacts graphically on a map such as Maplinx (described in our May 1995 column), programs that enable you to transform business cards into ACT! contact records (Corex’s Card Scan or Seiko’s Smart Business Card Reader), or programs that allow you to use ACT! with your favorite word processor (Napersoft’s WinMerge or Oakhurst Systems’ ACT! Pack).

Tom Grannan of Napersoft described two products his company developed to work with ACT!: WinMerge Standard and WinMerge Enterprise. Both products permit ACT! users to use word processors such as Word, AmiPro, Word Perfect, and Word Pro instead of ACT!’s built-in word processor.

With WinMerge Standard, for example, you can create mailing labels - or for that matter, form letters - using data from your ACT! contact list using Microsoft Word. This enables you to insert an Excel chart or graph, for example (provided you have Excel), into a document being sent to your contacts. Since WinMerge Enterprise can access data from any Windows program, Enterprise adds the capability of integrating ACT!’s database with others. For instance, you could draft a document in Word to ACT! customer contacts with a table of products and prices that are specific to particular contacts. Each contact record would need to contain a customer account number which acts as a reference to that customer’s record in another database. It is in this other database that the specifics of products and pricing for each customer are recorded.

WinMerge Enterprise also has built-in intelligence which will apply proper capitalization (case), format phone numbers (adding parentheses for area codes), and check for missing required data (street address, city, etc.) in data imported from outside databases.

Next, we demo’d Seiko’s Smart Business Card Reader and found it to be a very effective tool for automatically entering name, address, company, etc. into ACT!. The system (which is priced at about $200) range includes a small scanner which plugs directly into the parallel port of your PC. No special interface card is required. To use the Smart Business Card Reader, simply insert business cards one-by-one into the reader. The reader displays an image of the business card on your monitor (automatically inverting the image if you happened to insert the card upside down) and shows you what data is being entered in each field.

The Smart Business Card Reader has its own database. This allows you to review all entries before sending them into ACT!. Though much improved over similar devices available a couple of years ago, the Smart Business Card Reader may occasionally have difficulty reading certain fonts or colors. Though not as fast as an expert typist, the Smart Business Card Reader might be a worthwhile investment if you tend to collect a lot of business cards.


Scheduling Events In Multiple Databases

Q I’ve got two ACT! databases. Is there a way to schedule my monthly staff meetings (and other events) in both databases without doing double the work?

A ACT! can only schedule events in the (one) database currently open. However, you might try merging the two databases into a temporary database. After you have done your scheduling, delete this temporary database.

Looking Up A Specific Phone Number

Q How can I look up a specific phone number in my ACT! database which is not in the main phone number field?

A If you know the specific field the phone number is in, use the command LOOKUP, OTHER. You’ll get a blank contact screen. Execute the command EDIT, CLEAR to clear the previous query. Then, type in the phone number you are looking for in the appropriate field. Click OK.

If you only know part of the phone number, or are not sure which field the phone number is in, use ACT!’s keyword search. Execute the command LOOKUP, KEYWORD. Type the phone number in the dialog box. (Remember you can use "*" to denote unknown characters. Typing "708*" will select all contacts in the 708 area code.) Before clicking OK, don’t forget to check off contacts, activities, notes, etc. in order to instruct ACT! as to where to search.


of the ACT! User Group will be held on Tuesday September 10. We will have a progress report on the next release of ACT!: version 3.0. User Group meetings are free and open to all C.C.S. members. They are held on the second Tuesday of each month 8 times a year at the Midway Motor Lodge in Elk Grove Village. Call E Tech Systems at (847) 352-4770 for details. Have a great summer!

© Copyright 1996 by Alan M. Lee, all rights reserved. Other nonprofit computer user's groups may reprint this material providing credit is given the author and C.C.S. Future rights for publication reserved by Alan M. Lee. ACT! is a registered trademark of Symantec Corporation.