May 31, 2005
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Importing information into QuickBooks

turn123 is the Page Editor for Applications, Productivity Applications, CRM and ERP. He loves to tinker with stuff.

In the past several weeks I've noticed an increase in the number of questions regarding how to import data into QuickBooks. Since it appears that the EE membership would benefit this article is about the different options for importing bills into QuickBooks that I am aware of.

The first option (and the one that I use) is the QuickBooks SDK. It's free which is a major strength in my book and every commercial App that I am aware of that interfaces with QuickBooks uses it. The documentation is excellent and the support forums are active with most questions asked receiving a reply. You can download the documentation from http://www.developer.intuit.com/ and as long as you use a version of QuickBooks that supports the SDK you can give the App to your client and expect it to work as soon as they grant permission to access the company file to your app while logged in as the Administrator.

The second option that is also free and used a lot due to its apparent ease of use is the IIF method. This is not recommended and Intuit has stated that they expect to drop the IIF from future versions of QuickBooks so don't expect your App to keep working for too much longer if you use this method. If you still need to go this route read http://developer.intuit.com/Support/FAQs/?id=144#faq_qbsdk_q4 then if you still feel that this is the route you need to follow there is a fairly complete list of sample files at http://www.quickbooks.com/support/faqs/docs/w_iiffiles2.html. This is the method I used when I first started to play with when integrating with QuickBooks and I didn't have a large number of issues with data not coming in as expected but constant checking of the data coming in is recommended.

There are two commercial options that I am aware of but haven't used myself.

I personally used the software put out by Acctsync Technologies Inc. before /n acquired them and found their support and documentation to be excellent (before and during the transition) and the software did what it said although it was one version behind the QuickBooks SDK. I eventually stopped using the software for this reason as I needed a feature that the SDK had and this software didn't. I have also heard that this works well for some people on Experts-Exchange who have tried it. You can find it at http://www.nsoftware.com/ibiz/quickbooks/.

I've heard many good things about QOBDC and on Experts-Exchange and off but was never able to get it to work for me due to an extremely large company file. I left it overnight once and it was still going the next morning.

Taming the Tiger: Installing the new Macintosh OS X

In our issue two weeks ago, we inadvertently left a couple of links out of an article by Macintosh Page Editor cracky. He recently deployed the new Tiger version of the OS X operating system; we've included the final paragraph of the article, along with the links.

All in all, I found this update did wonders for performance with very few niggles. For the sake of brevity, I'll spare you the nitty gritty of the UNIX core updates, but I will leave the more interested of you with an infinitely more detailed account from ARS Technica. For those keen to find out about the less well documented updates, Daring Fireball has a regularly updated list of differences both good and not-so-good, so make sure you subscribe to the feed.

After reading this, the massive flood of switchers are welcome to ask any questions they may have. We'd be happy to help *wink*.

Hey... where'd my question go...

EE_AutoDeleter is a automated process to delete questions which are in excess of 21 days since being asked, and do not contain any visible expert comments. He also feels unknown, so we are giving him a chance to tell his story.

Although driven by a state of the art fuzzy logic system and platformed on a biological neural network of decision making processes, there are some times when I may goof and delete a question by accident even when intending to skip past it. There are other times I will delete a question because it slips through my fingers (so to speak) unnoticed.

This seems like a much-overdue time to state some of the criterion that make me operate. Knowing the criterion that applies will make it more effective for members to post questions such as pointers, notices, and such and minimize the accidental removal.

I am fed a list of question ids from the EE database that is divided into two separate lists to start, from those questions that are a minimum of 22 days since being created, and cover a range of 1 to 3 days depending on the frequency of my running, and almost always, overlapping a day or more with a previous range just for certainty.

List 1 is made from those questions which consist of just a question body, and no VISIBLE comments -- deleted comments are not considered as something to influence the results.

List 2 is made from those questions which are a question body and at least one or more VISIBLE comments, where the comment is either an Asker comment or Administrative comment.

From List 1, the questions are listed alphabetically by title with tagging on some keywords to bubble particular titles to higher attention. The titles are examined visually for possible non-questions (Link-to question on routers... Expert needs help with router...) but sometimes they may sneak through the cracks here because even us robots are somewhat human.

Questions which get 'Hmmm, suspect' tagged from List 1 are then added to List 2 for later processing. The remainder of List 1 then thus includes the Question-body only questions which have hopefully had all the pointers, link-tos, notification threads, etc... all put aside. Then each question on the remainder of List 1 is deleted with points refunded.

List 2 with its suspect questions is then examined one at a time and those which have only "Hello, is anyone here?" comments added by the asker get deleted. Any questions which have a PE comment "I have moved this to xxxxxxx TA" and no further comments, or "Thanks" from the asker also end up deleted. Questions with possible self-solutions are left at this time for CVers, because my PAQing ability broke.

Since the first failure point in my system, the point which may result in a pointer question or expert notification thread getting deleted by accident, is the failure to isolate such question from the "There are no VISIBLE comments AT ALL" here list, the first key to minimize accidental deletion: Post a comment in it. The presence of a visible comment takes it right out of the scope of List 1 automatic deletions, and puts it into List 2 scope of visually examined.

Actually, thats really just about it, because even tagging the title a special way won't make it an absolute certainty of it being noticed properly for examination.

I hope that the very limited number of cases where I might have accidentally deleted a question which was on List 2 can be overlooked, but even more hope that by having the PEs aware that by preventing questions from being put in List 1 and instead helping to force the question into the List 2 pile right from the start, that should greatly reduce the probability of my accidentally deleting a question not intended to be deleted.

Extensions for Mozilla technology
COBOLdinosaur, the Page Editor for the Web Development topic areas, says this article "almost wrote itself".

It should come as no surprise that the hottest and most useful web developer support widgets are coming out of Mozilla. The gang inside and around the open source asylum keeps adding new gadgets to extend the lead over the decrepit IE technology.

The case in point is the rapidly growing list of extensions. These are pieces of code that integrate right into the Mozilla base technology -- not patches hung on externally, but code that integrates and get managed with the Mozilla extension manager that is built right into the browser. It is one of the big benefits of open source. Everyone knows the code so someone with a good idea just does it and offers it on the open source altar.

Some extensions like greaseMonkey (http://greasemonkey.mozdev.org/) even go so far as to create complete subsystems with extensive and extensible sets of functions. The hosted scripts for greaseMonkey let almost anyone with just normal programming or scripting skills join the team and make something new and special available to the open source community.

For me the latest great piece, written by Chris Pederick, is the Web Developer Toolbar version 0.9.3. It is the best browser integrated developer assistant I have ever seen. In the three weeks I have had it installed it has save me many hours of digging around debugging or analyzing web pages. It eliminates the need to use the DOM inspector most of the time, and in combination with the javascript console it provides just about the most comprehensive real time debugging you could ever ask for. Total download and installation time is about 30 seconds, and you get that back the first time you want to see the structure of a web page, and you get it with a quick couple of clicks on the toolbar, without ever having to look at the source code. It can be downloaded from Chris's page: http://chrispederick.com/work/firefox/webdeveloper/, OR from the Mozilla developer site (mozdev): https://addons.mozilla.org/extensions/moreinfo.php?id=60.

There are a couples of other I find useful for development and debugging. The IEView extension lets you launch the IE browser from inside of Firefox with the current page loaded -- very handy when you are finishing up a page and checking cross-browser support for that last little change you just added. Get it at http://ieview.mozdev.org/.

Another great on the fly piece is liveHTTPheaders which gives you real-time display of HTTP header as you are loading in a page. Download from http://livehttpheaders.mozdev.org/.

This is just the start of what is going be a flood of new and useful software spinning off the Mozilla vortex. It has taken many years and dedicated work by a lot of people but open source is now maturing. Large corporations and organizations that previously shied away from open source because of security, support and ownership issues are now embracing technologies based on Apache, Mozilla, Linux and PHP. Groups like SourceForge are leading the way in innovative solutions with monumental offerings like Eclipse, spinning off and generating their own communities and extensive new pieces to support continued growth.

The future belongs to open source, and the great part is that any of us can get in on it. We can all contribute our great ideas. Our 15 minutes of fame could turn out to be a lot more substantial if our idea turns out to be the next hot item from the open source community, and we have dinosaurs writing articles about the value of our work.

Now back to cave where I have to continue trying to figure out XHTML2.

More News and Notes
Tip for New Members: The 500 point maximum

The maximum number of points that can be offered for any question at Experts Exchange is 500. So what do you do if your question can be asked in a number of different topic areas? Can you ask the same question four times, for 500 points each time?

The answer is no. What you can do, however, is ask your question, and then create pointer questions in other TAs; the Page Editors and Moderators will reduce the points to zero and refund them to you. To ask a pointer question, first, ask your question, and copy the URL. Then go to one of the other appropriate topic areas and ask a new question, worth 20 points (the minimum), and in the title, put something like "500 points in XYZ area". In the body of the question, post the URL to your original question.

Once you've accepted an answer in your original question, you can go back and delete the "pointer" questions.

On The Origin of Software by Means of Natural Selection
or The Preservation of Favoured Practices in the Struggle for Software Stability (First Edition) - Part Two
PaulCaswell, the Page Editor for C Programming, offers his take in a two-part article. Part One can be read in the Newsletter archive.

The Present

With .NET, Java and all the internet available now and Grid on the near horizon, we stand at a major junction of ways. Are we on the right path? Are our advisors the mythical liars or truth-tellers? How can we formulate the right question to ask?

Here I return to what Darwin and Tim Berners-Lee did. We must find patterns in the past and, with vision from other disciplines, weave them into something that enables a future that is multi-hued. We must make no predictions of the future. We must carefully open the box and leave the money there!

The Pattern

Drawing parallels with anatomy, we're missing a standard design for nerve cells. All other components seem ready and willing. The brain is currently a data storage device, legs; network protocols, arms; resource management utilities, we have eyes, ears guts, anus and many more.

In the building trade we'd be building our houses without mortar. We have architects, bricks, windows, doors, pillars, porticos, and so many others it crosses the eyes. We've been through the straw, sticks and bricks but we've left the mortar behind.

Don't get me wrong; we can quite effectively connect up the components to work together in a coherent whole, often quite effectively. The problem is there is no 'standard' way to do it. Every connection must be carefully crafted to suit both ends. There's the problem in a nutshell! Something that must communicate with more than one component must understand both components intimately. You cant just join-them-up.

The Future

I want to join the dots seamlessly. Allow for the direct connection of object properties one-to-another using standard, built-in links. We already have relatively standard 'get/set' methods for properties; we need the ability to reference a property as an object in itself with simple interface requirements (just get and set would be good). Perhaps the new Java auto boxing will take us a little nearer. Imagine an 'integer' object which is the property of an instance of one object linked to a similar property of another object. It's sort of like a reference in a spreadsheet. The link just ensures that any change to one is reflected 'immediately' in the other.

This will require some neat tricks. Every time a property of an object changes, all links to that property must be informed so that the new value is propagated out through the lattice. To add a little icing, can we also build some very simple, predictable changes to the numbers, perhaps just add/subtract/multiply/divide? Also, lets add the ability to link links.

Sounds like we have an opportunity to re-architect the computer into a small number of cisc cpus driving the objects and many more risc ones handling the links. Is this the answer the parallel processing architects are waiting for?

Further, could the links run across a network? Instant grid or what!!! Think about it. Your program is not just a bunch of objects with some bespoke 'glue' holding it all together, it now becomes a lattice of interconnected objects, all running in tandem in an untestable, unprovable but fundamentally imaginable harmony.

All the methods I discussed earlier are tools to make the software imaginable from logic through objects all the way up to design and patterns. This one is the obvious next step. It allows deeper visualization without cumbersome provability.

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Nata's Corner: What's next? DNA samples?

woman in specticalsI had an article last time about the Transportation Safety Administration asking for personal information when you buy plane tickets; unfortunately, the link had been moved by the time a lot of people saw the newsletter. The article said that you'll be asked to give your full name and birthdate, and said that if you don't, you'll probably "undergo more stringent screening at the airport."

But now the TSA and the Department of Homeland Security are really going over the edge, I think. Their latest plan is to use "backscatters" -- X-ray technology -- that will examine people as if they're not wearing clothes. I can just see the job applications flooding the TSA.

Websites that use email addresses as logins are being targeted more and more by phishing scams. The phishers automatically run e-mail addresses through Web site registration and password-reminder tools, and depending on the response they receive, they can find out the addresses of valid customers. A report from Blue Security details both the problem and a couple of things you can do to prevent the problem.

And I promise -- no lawyer jokes for a week. Scott Ziegler, an attorney in New York, has taken the step a lot of us wish we could afford: he's actually filed suit against a spammer and is asking for millions in damages.

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Inside the numbers
ameba, one of EE's prominent Experts, provides us with a list of newly earned Certificates. His list of all of the Certified Experts is located at his site. The list below covers the period from May 15 through May 29.
Expert Certified in Topic Area
tbsgadi thenelson BobLamberson egl1044 amit_g Kevin3NF sudheeshthegreat jrb1 GaryC123 kiddanger archrajan ftaco96 mikeleebrla kabaam bloodredsun tim_holman JBlond Yan_west Arthur_Wood Guru Master Master Master Wizard Guru Master Master Sage Master Genius Master Guru Master Guru Master Master Master Guru MS Access MS Access MS Access Visual Basic Microsoft SQL Microsoft SQL Microsoft SQL Microsoft SQL ASP ASP JavaScript JavaScript Windows 2000 Windows 2000 Java Networking Windows XP Windows XP .NET
Expert Certified in Topic Area
emoreau gregoryyoung Yurich eatmeimadanish b1xml2 ihenry hismightiness dharmesh_amity jaime_olivares Batalf joeposter649 planocz emoreau armoghan bman9111 sirbounty TechSoEasy Roonaan _GeG_ Guru Sage Master Master Wizard Wizard Master Master Wizard Master Master Wizard Guru Guru Master Master Guru Guru Master .NET C# C# Exchange_Server ASP.NET ASP.NET ASP.NET ASP.NET C++ Web Development Web Development VB.NET VB.NET VB.NET VB.NET Programming Win Server 2003 PHP PHP
Expert Certified in Topic Area
kaur_dilpreet Dain_Anderson bmquintas jimhorn tajsimmons snoyes_jw kode99 edwardiii sunnycoder DVation191 Jester_48 PennGwyn pseudocyber GrandSchtroumpf neteducation nobus ShineOn humeniuk imarshad Guru Guru Master Master Master Wizard Master Master Sage Master Master Master Master Wizard Master Master Sage Guru Master Outlook ColdFusion Microsoft Network Databases MS Office Mysql Storage VB Controls C Applications HTML Routers Routers CSS Solaris Laptops/Notebooks Netware Online Marketing GIS & GPS
1433 experts have 2288 certifications: Genius:40 Sage:112 Wizard:138 Guru:401 Master:1597
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