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How to Change the Default Location for Universal Search Index Files in Sage ACT!

Since ACT! 2012 added the Universal Search feature, there have been a few instances when the ACT! Index files have grown very large on the C: drive and needed to be moved to a different drive.

As a Best Practice on servers we tend to try to limit what gets installed to the C: drive so that we can keep it clean and tidy and keep the server running as optimal efficientcy.  Sometimes Microsoft overrides our best efforts and likes to store things on the C: drive anyway.  Such is the case with SQL.  SQL has a lot of moving parts and we have to make some manual configuration changes to keep everything neat and tidy.  When installing ACT! and SQL on a drive other than C:, you can point the index files to another drive as well.

The directions below come from the ACT Knowledgebase article number 28454 and they are specific to the version of ACT that you have installed.  Take note of the version you have installed and follow the instructions for that section:

Sage ACT! 2012 (V14)

  1. Close Sage ACT!
  2. Through Windows® Services, stop ACT! Service Host and ACT! Smart Task Service Host
  3. Delete existing Indices folder Default location:
    • Windows® XP, Windows Server® 2003: C:Documents and SettingsAll UsersApplication DataACTACT DataIndices
    • Windows Vista®, Windows® 7, Windows Server 2008: C:ProgramDataActACT DataIndices
  4. Locate the Act.Server.Host.exe.config file within the Sage ACT! installation folder Default location:
    • 32-bit Operating system: C:Program FilesActAct for Windows
    • 64-bit Operating system: C:Program Files (x86)ActAct for Windows
  5. Right click on file, select Open With, select Notepad
  6. Locate the section configSections:
    • Remove the beginning and ending comment characters
    • Update baseIndexFolder to desired location (Example: D:ACTIndex Files)
  7. Save changes, close file
  8. Through Windows Services, start ACT! Service Host and ACT! Smart Task Service Host
  9. Opening the database will trigger the creation of the new Indices folder in the designated location

Sage ACT! 2013 (V15.0)

  1. Close Sage ACT!
  2. Through Windows® Services, stop ACT! Service Host and ACT! Smart Task Service Host
  3. Delete existing Indices folder. Default location:
    • Windows® XP, Windows Server® 2003: C:Documents and SettingsAll UsersApplication DataACTACT DataIndices
    • Windows Vista®, Windows® 7, Windows Server 2008: C:ProgramDataActACT DataIndices
  4. Locate the Act.Server.Host.exe.config file within the Sage ACT! installation folder Default location:
    • 32-bit Operating system: C:Program FilesActAct for Windows
    • 64-bit Operating system: C:Program Files (x86)ActAct for Windows
  5. Right click on file, select Open With, select Notepad
  6. Locate line: <searchSettings databaseIndexBatchSize=”20″/>
  7. Update the line to read:

                          <searchSettings databaseIndexBatchSize=”20″ baseIndexFolder=”.”/>

  1. Update baseIndexFolder to desired location (Example: baseIndexFolder=”D:ACTIndex Files”)
  2. Save changes, close file
  3. Through Windows Services, start ACT! Service Host and ACT! Smart Task Service Host
  4. Opening the database will trigger the creation of the new Indices folder in the designated location

Sage ACT! 2013 Service Pack 1 (V15.1)

  1. Close Sage ACT!
  2. Through Windows® Services, stop ACT! Service Host and ACT! Smart Task Service Host
  3. Delete existing Indices folder. Default location:
    • Windows® XP, Windows Server® 2003: C:Documents and SettingsAll UsersApplication DataACTACT DataIndices
    • Windows Vista®, Windows® 7, Windows Server 2008: C:ProgramDataActACT DataIndices
  4. Locate the Act.Server.Host.exe.config file within the Sage ACT! installation folder Default location:
    • 32-bit Operating system: C:Program FilesActAct for Windows
    • 64-bit Operating system: C:Program Files (x86)ActAct for Windows
  5. Right click on file, select Open With, select Notepad
  6. Locate line: <baseIndexFolder=”.”/>
  7. Update baseIndexFolder to desired location (Example: baseIndexFolder=”D:ACTIndex Files”)
  8. Save changes, close file
  9. Through Windows Services, start ACT! Service Host and ACT! Smart Task Service Host
  10. Opening the database will trigger the creation of the new Indices folder in the designated location

ACT! and iPad

A few months ago I was asked to present to my fellow ACT! Consultants information on ACT! on the iPad.

Since there is no actual App for that (yet) I needed to provide them with ways to show their clients how to get to the ACT! data via the iPad.

I had already been through the paces of every App that I could find to find the easiest and most user-friendly solutions possible.

Here are some of the questions that need to be answered first:

Do you just need to have the Contacts and Calendar sync to your iPad, or do you need access to the ACT! Data?

If you *need* access to the ACT! Data, how much of it do you *need* access to?  Contact geographic information?  Histories and Activities?  Sales Opportunities?

There are different solutions for what you want to accomplish.  This is, by no means, a complete listing of every possible solution, but I did exhaustive research trying several different options to save my clients time, energy and money on wasted Apps.

“I just need to see my contacts and calendar on my iPad”.

Short, simple…  to the point.

This option sends the Contact data fields (name, address, phone, fax, email address, website, etc.) to the Contacts icon on your iPad and send the Calendar information to the Calendar icon on your iPad.  Some of the options can even include a few history items along with the data but it isn’t sortable and you can’t add histories or clear activities.

  1. 123 Synchronizer – For a contact and calendar sync via Outlook with Exchange my favorite option is 123 Synchronizer.  They have done a fabulous job of providing an environment that cuts down on those duplicates and triplicates.
  2.  Companionlink – Companionlink will sync your data from ACT! to Outlook, ACT! to Google or they have a wireless subscription that will send your ACT! data to the cloud and wirelessly to your device (for a monthly subscription fee).
  3. Handheld Contact – Handheld Contact has a Basic subscription plan that will sync  your ACT! data to the cloud and wirelessly to your device.  Click here for a free trial.
  4. Sage Connected Services- With an annual subscription, your ACT! data is sync’d with the cloud and you can open the browser on your iPad and log into the site and see your contact data and your calendar.

“I would like to have Contact information, Calendar, Activities and Histories”

                There’s an App for that!  – Handheld Contact Professional Edition

Handheld Contact Professional Edition actually puts an “app” on your iPad that you can open and it gives you a slimmed down version of your database.  You can see a the basic contact fields.  You can show some custom fields (there is a limit to the number of custom fields) .  Your calendar and Activities are available.  It even shows your Histories!

You are able to clear and add activities, add history items, and it can even track your outgoing emails, depending on your setup.

You do not have access to the Opportunities with this method.

All in all, it is a great choice and one of my favorites.

“I need to have access to EVERYTHING”

There’s an App for that too!

When you need access to the entire ACT! program, you will need to remote into your desktop/laptop.  Remote Desktop allows you to take control of your entire computer and use every program just like you are sitting in front of it.  There are many programs on the market that allow you to do this but they are not all created equal.  Some of the free ones work ok, but in this case, you get what you pay for and most have quirks. 

My favorite is Logmein Ignition.  It costs $29 from the App Store.  It has the most bells and whistles and has the best handling in my opinion.  You can use any program on your desktop including ACT!, Outlook, QuickBooks, or any other program just like you are sitting there.  It is incredibly easy to set up and doesn’t require you to “open an ports” or mess with your firewall.

Some of the others that are available:  VNC, RealVNC, Screens, Mocha VNC Lite, iTelport, and Pocket Cloud.  Some of these programs require configuration of ports or firewalls.  (we can help you with that!)

So that should get you started with your iPad endeavors.   Of course we are always here to help you to decide which solution is a best fit for your organization and assist you with the setup as we work with all of these programs on a daily basis.

Thank you for your time,

Danielle

ACT! by Sage and Microsoft Outlook Tips and Tricks

The ACT!/Outlook integration has come a long way in the last fews years and I am pretty happy with it.  There are a few tweaks I’d like, but overall it’s easy to use for both recording outgoing e-mail messages as well as selectively attaching incoming messages.

If you’re familiar with the Quick Attach feature, you know that it allows you to choose one or more messages and then click the Quick Attach button and it runs throught the process of attaching each message where it finds a matching address in the database.   Somewhat of an (understandable) frustration is that you don’t have any quick indication of whether or not the sender’s e-mail address is in your ACT! database.  If there is no match, the message just drops off into an imaginary bit bucket and is not attached to any record.

Here’s what I do when in doubt as to whether someone’s address is in ACT! or not:

  1. I select the message
  2. Click the “Create ACT! Activity” icon (looks like a handshake)
  3. If the activity window comes up and shows the sender, I know the address is in ACT! (because ACT! uses the e-mail address to make the match)
  4. If it shows my own record, I know that e-mail address does not exist.

You can also check by using the “Attach to ACT! Contacts” button to do this, but I find that it takes longer to load, especially if you have a large database.

Banish 3 Common BI Myths

Business Intelligence (BI) has become a major aspect of business, as such, companies large and small are adopting implementing BI projects. The problem is, this can cause concern regarding job safety among other things. These “myths” can quickly spiral out of control and demoralize a whole office or company. In order for this not to happen, you should be aware of the common myths related to BI.

Myth #1: BI will replace experienced judgment Managers and users often perceive that a BI solution may replace or override their knowledge and experience for business decisions that affect their area of responsibility. The reality is that BI empowers decision making and leverages experience by providing supporting detail often otherwise missing. Critical to the success of any BI implementation is a common vision of how BI is going to improve business decisions.

Debunk Myth#1 with clear expectations and assurances that the value your employees experience will only be augmented with better information.

Myth #2: Users prefer to figure it out rather than receive training Even the simplest BI tool takes time and practice to help users make the most of the solution. Companies that don’t invest in training often end up wondering why no one uses the tool. The entire organization from top to bottom should receive some level of formal training to get full value from the BI solution. Allowing users to focus time and attention on learning how to use the BI solution will help with user adoption and acceptance.

Avoid Myth #2 by scheduling formal training – away from their regular job – that provides users with hands-on training. (But don’t make them work overtime to “penalize” them for training.)

Myth #3: Once the implementation is done, it’s done A BI project is not over simply because the application has been deployed. BI is an evolution that supports the change and growth of an organization. Start with highly visible and easy-to-implement projects so that people build confidence in its value and in using it. The more complex projects should be scheduled for implementation after familiarity and confidence have been sufficiently built.

The whole point is to leverage the organization’s information assets to new levels of utility and value, so that decision-making across the entire organization, from top to bottom, and with the organization’s external partners, is more effective and productive. Revisiting the uses of BI on a regular basis will ensure that the organization is making the most of their investment.

Debunk Myth #3 by incorporating BI as a strategic component of all business planning activities.

Let’s talk about what BI solution is right for your business. Call us today.

Windows 8 is near. Can it handle the competition?

Windows 8 will be released at the end of this month (October 2012) and that is causing quite a commotion. Why? Because the hybrid OS will be a game changer or a massive flop!

Realistically, the shelf life of business computers ranges between three to five years; our laptops are three years old while our desktops are more than five. These old computers are slowing down and are starting to get in the way, but will Windows 8 be the right OS choice?

Is Windows 8 the next best thing?

Until recently, everything I had heard about Windows 8 indicated it might be a terrific OS for tablets and phones –  but a disaster for laptop and desktop users. Instead of relying on hearsay I installed the preview release of Windows 8 into a virtual machine and tested it for myself.

The verdict? Anyone who still accesses their applications with a keyboard and mouse (rather than a tablet) and expects to have multiple tiled windows open to multiple applications  will be challenged by this new OS. Even Microsoft co-founder Paul Allen has some problems with how Windows 8 works on his desktop.

Although It was not tested on a tablet or touchscreen device, I could easily imagine how the Windows 8 design would make sense on those devices. But when it came to doing work on a desktop it was awkward, Counterintuitive and – in some cases – incapable of simple task.  I like learning new things. Yet the appeal of gaining knowledge is greatly diminished when at the end I have an absurd system that makes me less, rather than more, productive.

My Initial fears were that it would be difficult or impossible to purchase a new computer with Windows 7 after the end of the month. After some research i’ve  read that Microsoft will continue to support Windows 7 for some time. You can read the details on ZDnet but the summary is:

  • Microsoft will still support XP SP3 until April of 2014 and Windows 7 until January of 2020.
  • Microsoft will allow OEMs to sell computers pre-configured with Windows 7 until October 2013.
  • Microsoft will also sell Windows 7 software for installation on a computer until October 2013.
  • If you buy a new computer with Windows 8, you will have downgrade rights to Windows 7.

 Is Windows OS 8 another Vista?

When Vista was released it was possible to purchase a computer with a downgrade to XP. It should be noted that in general, this option wasn’t available on consumer computers and the options to do this for business use quickly narrowed (unless buying a large number of machines).

A similar option might be available where you have your choice of Windows versions for awhile. That sounds great in theory but who knows how long that will work in practice. If Windows 8 turns out to be a disaster of Vista proportions for business users, then fasten your seat belt, because we’re in for a bumpy ride.

I got to thinking that, if forced to get a new OS as part of our computer upgrade, maybe it is time to consider getting an Apple, with an OS that will be a pleasure to learn. My impression of Apple’s newest OS X release (Mountain Lion) is that Apple still recognizes that a laptop or desktop computer is different from a tablet or phone. Microsoft’s Windows 8 seems unclear on that concept. Are they so focused on dominating the tablet market that they’re blind to the impact Windows 8 will have on computer users?

Although Apple borrowed many features first released in the iOS operating systems for iPads and iPhones, they have not succumbed to the same problems. The interaction with software and files on a Mac is more intuitive than on Windows 8. In fact it seems less a transition to move from Windows 7 to OS X than it does to move to Windows 8.

 

The Verdict?

Microsoft seems to be pushing business users to reconsider whether they need Windows on the desktop if most of their work is in the cloud. If so, that’s a strategy that could backfire, as you may decide you just need an iPad. But if you are a power user at work(which most of you are), you’re not going to be happy with a new Windows 8 laptop or desktop until they figure out how to support multiple, simultaneous application access and a few other bugs.

Achieving Nirvana in the Workplace – Office Yoga

It’s four o’clock in the afternoon, and you find yourself nodding off at your desk. You muster up what little energy you have left and make your way to the break room in search of an antidote. Your mind and body on auto pilot, directing you towards “something sweet” and a cup of coffee.

Or perhaps you’ve been working at the computer for hours when suddenly your vision begins to blur. Realizing you’re on the verge of a tension headache, you down three Tylenol® (the recommended dose stopped working a few months ago) and get back to work.

Don’t feel too bad if either of these scenarios seems familiar; it probably means you’ve been working very hard. The real issue lies in your choice of solutions. Next time you find yourself without energy, or on the verge of a headache, try doing a little office yoga.

Yoga, a practice which combines exercise with relaxation and breathing, is something that can be done in the privacy of your own office, often while sitting in your chair. Here are a few simple stretches that are sure to help:

For low energy and fatigue – Sit near the edge of your chair, holding onto the sides of your seat. Gently stretch your chest forward and up. Tilt your head back, and breathe deeply in and out through your nose. Relax into the stretch while allowing oxygen to pass through your body.

While standing, raise both arms above your head and grab your left wrist with your right hand. Gently stretch to the right while breathing through your nose. Switch sides and repeat.

For headaches and eye strain – Place your index fingers directly above the middle of your eyebrows. Press with your fingers and hold. Close your eyes and breathe deeply through your nose.

If you’re working at the computer, try to refocus your eyes every ten minutes by looking out the window. Once an hour, take a moment to close your eyes and allow your face to soften. Slowly roll your eyes in a circle. Take a few breaths and return to action.

Practice these techniques, and before long you’ll be replacing caffeine and acetaminophen with good ol’ oxygen and streching.

Apples latest Kitty released to the wild!

In the animal kingdom cats all share the same family, Felidae. All cats are characterized similarly  and are recognizable as felines. It may be for this reason that Apple has taken to applying code names from the Felidae family to different versions of their popular operating system OS X. Regardless of the name, the latest version is here with some interesting new features.

OS X 10.8, or Mountain Lion as it’s commonly known, was released into the wild on July 25, 2012 and will come standard on all new Macs purchased thereafter, or can be bought and downloaded from the Apple store for USD$19.99. Six features of Mountain Lion that you and your employees will definitely find really useful are:.

•              AirPlay Mirroring. Want to project your Mac’s screen onto a TV or larger screen? If you have an Apple TV you can mirror your display and audio to a TV or projector screen in HD. If your office uses Apple computers this could be a great way to give presentations, by simply setting up an HD projector to an Apple TV. Employees can then give presentations from their Macs at the press of a button, no wires required.

•              Power Nap. This is a great feature that allows newer Macs (models released after mid 2011) to receive emails, download and install updates while the computer is ‘asleep’. This should help IT install updates during non-business hours. It will also allow employees to start their day right away, with no waiting for the computer and programs to start up.

•              Gatekeeper. Gatekeeper gives the administrators of the new OS the chance to set which apps can be downloaded and installed. This should make management of systems easier, as IT departments can control what’s installed, and it should minimize malware and viruses.

•              Notification Center. Taking a page from iOS – Apple’s mobile OS – Mountain Lion now includes notifications. Available updates, upcoming calendar events, and messages, etc., will show up as a notice in the top right of the desktop and slide away in five seconds. They can be viewed again by hitting the Notification button on the top right of the screen.

•              iCloud. iCloud was introduced a few months before the release of Mountain Lion and is Apple’s answer to integrating all their different devices. With the update, documents stored on iCloud can now be accessed and modified by all devices, with changes showing up in the docs. stored on your Mac.

•              Reminders. If your employees are involved in one or more projects, or need a way to manage their tasks, Reminders can help. Essentially a to-do list that is integrated across all Apple devices that will pop up when a scheduled task needs to be done, or provide a reminder about meetings or whatever.

There are a number of other features that users may find useful, and we encourage you to explore the new OS.

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Manage Activities and History – ACT! Tips

Here are some quick tips for using activities, history, and follow-up properly in ACT!  to ensure you don’t miss a beat when managing your tasks and taking care of your customers.

Activities

Activities are items that you schedule in advance that show up in a few places: on your Task List, your calendar, and on the record for the contact that you’ve scheduled an activity with.  To schedule an activity, first look up the contact that you want to schedule with, then choose the “Schedule” menu and choose the type of activity that you want to schedule or use the toolbar icons.

Pretty straight forward, right?  If you’re an ACT! user you’re likely already using activities.  But – are you clearing your activities and creating history records?

History

History items are the details of e-mails sent, meetings held, calls completed and other interactions between you and your staff and your contacts.

To create a history record when you’ve completed an activity, simply right-click the activity and choose “Clear Activity…” and you’ll get a window that allows you to fill in the results of the activity.  It’s important that you fill in the details so that later, when you or other ACT! users need a reminder, the information is there.

If you want to record history, but didn’t schedule an activity first – for example: the phone rings and a customer calls, you skip the activity creation and just record a history.  You’ll find this option on the Contact menu as well as on the History tab in the contact detail view.  Again, make sure you fill out the details otherwise this information would not be useful.

Follow-up

More often than not, when you’ve finished one thing and are clearing the activity, you’ll want to schedule the next thing to be done.  E.g. you clear a meeting but now need to schedule a call to follow up.  The “Follow-up” button will help you do this and saves time by pre-filling the contact and regarding line for you from the previous activity.

Create a Map of Your Contacts using ACT!

Ever want to get a map of your Contacts? well if the curiosity ever struck here’s a handy tool to help you get it done!

  1. Create the lookup of contacts that you want to plot on the map
  2. What you need to do next it to get a list of Contacts into Excel with the following fields: Address, City, State (or Province), ZIP Code (or Postal Code), and Company.
    1. From the Contact List View, click “Options” in the upper right corner and choose “Customize Columns”
    2. Choose just the fields listed above to be included in your list
    3. Click OK to go back to the Contact List View
  3. Click the “Export Current List to Excel” button to get your Contact List in Excel
  4. Highlight the whole works, all the rows and the headings and everything and press Ctrl+C to copy them, or right-click and choose Copy
  5. Go to www.batchgeo.com and click inside of the “Source Data” window and then press Ctrl+V or right-click and choose Paste
  6. Click Map Now (or click Validate & Options for some tweaks) and BatchGeo will crank through your list and display a map for you.

If you’re going to use this on a regular basis, or simply have fallen in love with the concept consider a donation as that’s how Phillip supports and runs the site.

Get your ACT! Task List Into Excel

Sometimes when I have a ton of things to get done, I don’t track all my activities in ACT!, I need a bit more of a unpolished system to sort stuff out.

Why? Well, I have a strategy for getting things done – I like to sort things by both importance and the “fun factor”. I don’t always work that way, but when I’ve got a lot to do, this helps me to:

  • Make sure the important stuff gets done
  • Get the things done first that take more effort and energy, and leave the things I enjoy to be done afterwards, when I might not otherwise have as much energy and enthusiasm

How do you sort by “Fun” you ask? Well, the answer is that you can’t do it within ACT! – but it’s an easy thing to do in Excel by adding an extra column. I won’t get into the details of how to do it, but if you know Excel you can figure it out quickly. Now to get to the point of this post – how to export your task list to Excel. As long as you have a compatible version of Microsoft Excel installed (2002 and later are supported with most recent ACT! versions), you can export your Task List in a single click!

To do it, just look for the “Export Current List to Excel” button which is on the toolbar. In ACT! 2010 it’s right above the dropdown box for the Date filter. In any version of ACT! it looks like a little box with a green X in the middle. Presto! Excel opens with your Task List, almost exactly as it was showing in ACT! when you clicked the button.

You might notice a few things from this:

  • Once the data is in Excel, you can sort and manipulate most of the data, or even do calculations.
  • The columns show up in the same order as they were in your Task List – so if you add, remove, or change the positions of columns in ACT!, you’ll get the same positioning in your Excel export.
  • The filters can be used to change what activities show up. Want a quick way to get a printable report of all the meetings you have scheduled for the rest of the month? Just change the date filter to “Current Month” and the Types to “Meeting” and click the Export button!

So there you have it – Exporting the Task List to Excel. Now that you’ve done that, check out the same feature on the Contact List and Opportunities List.