e-Newsletter, March 30, 2000

Roundtable Software E-Mail Newsletter Issue #4, March 30, 2000

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New Format For DOS Patches

Starting with Patch 6 we are making patches available in a new format that will save you time and trouble. We are now using a utility called DeltaPatch that creates patch files with just the changes between one version and another. This makes the download patches much smaller than in the past. For instance, patch 6, which would have been about 200k using our old method of distribution is only about 5k!

In addition, DeltaPatch offers the benefit of checking your system to make sure that you have all the current patches (except the one to be installed, of course). If you don't it will not install the patch. As this makes distributing patches more secure, we are dispensing with patch passwords. Note that this does mean that you will no longer be able to pick and choose the patches that you want - you will have to install them all. Since the patches will now be very small, we feel that this really shouldn't be a problem.

Before installing the new type of patch you will need to download the patch application software. This is a very small program (about 28k) called DELTADOS. It is available on our website on the same page with the patches. This program can be put anywhere on your system, but we recommend that you put it in your PROGS directory. When you start getting new patches you should download them to the same directory.

Applying a patch is easy. You type:

 DELTADOS  <patch file name>

The program will find the correct directory in which to install the patch by checking your AUSER, APROGS and AFILES environment variables. If you do not have these set in a regular DOS session, just add the correct path to the command line. For instance,

 DELTADOS PATCH6  (if environment variables set)



If the program determines that the patch can be installed it will tell you which files were updated. If any of your files are not on the correct versions for the patch to be installed the program will tell you which file(s) are incorrect.

Duplicate Terminal Numbers

Since we released version 3.2 we have been getting calls complaining about error messages regarding duplicate terminal numbers. There is a very good reason that people are getting these error messages and they ARE valid errors. This is a new error we have added in version 3.2 and its purpose is to alert you to real problems.

As you know, it is very important that each 'instance' of the Roundtable Software Advantage Accounting System running on a network have a unique terminal number associated with it. The assignment of terminal numbers is based either on an environment variable called TERMNO, or if that environment variable has not been defined then a call to your network asking for a terminal ID.

No matter which method you use for assigning terminal numbers, it is very important to make sure that each terminal/node on a network get assigned one that is unique. It is very easy to test this. Simply log in to the Roundtable Software Advantage Accounting System on each workstation, press the F1 key twice at each one and you will see an information screen that shows, among other things, the console (terminal) number. If you have any duplicates you have found the problem.

On the other hand, you may not find any duplicates but nevertheless get these error messages. Why? There are two possible reasons.

REASON #1 - Opening multiple 'instances' of the product on a workstation

Terminal numbers are assigned based on which workstation you are working on. This is perfectly fine unless you are on an operating system that allows for multiple sessions of the same program on the workstation (all Windows and most UNIX networks). In other words, if you start a window running the Roundtable Software Advantage Accounting System on a workstation, then start a second window also running the product, you'll find that both 'instances' use the same terminal number.

The easiest way to avoid this is of course to not run multiple instances of the software. However, it's sometimes nice to be able to have two or three windows open concurrently. If you wish to do this then it is imperative that you get a different terminal number for each window. This isn't particularly hard but you do need to do a little setup to have this work properly.

In order to get different terminal numbers for each instance of the software, you'll need to create separate icons for each one. You can name the icons to remind you which is which (ADV1, ADV2, etc). Each of these icons should call a DOS batch file that assigns a different terminal number. For instance, instance #1's batch file might be:


and instance #2 would be:


That way as long as you don't run the same icon twice you will never have to worry about duplicate terminal numbers.

REASON #2 - User has insufficient rights on the network directories containing the Roundtable Software Advantage Accounting System

The Roundtable Software Advantage Accounting System maintains your login information in temporary files in the AFILES directory. These files are named TERM##.LOG, where ## is your terminal number. When you log in to the package the file is created, when you log out, the file is deleted.

However, if your network login does not have the proper rights to be able to delete that file, then the file will get left there. The next time you log in the program will see that that file is out there and report that someone is already logged in with your terminal number.

The fix in this case is simple. All users MUST have full rights in all directories (AUSER, AFILES and APROGS). If a user is unable to delete files in those directories then not only will they get annoying messages about duplicate terminal numbers but they will also have problems with orphaned work files.

We have had people argue with us that neither of these two reasons apply in their case, but we promise you that one (or both) of these two problems account for 99.99% of all cases. In many cases problem #2 can be tough to troubleshoot because security on Novell and Windows networks can get into a real mess, especially if different people have worked on the system at various times.

Just a reminder that free update certificates for version 3.01 to 3.2 expire on March 31st. If they are not in our hands by that date they WILL NOT be honored. If you are an end-user, you must remit these to your Roundtable Software Advantage Accounting System reseller, NOT directly to us (if you do, the certificate will be returned to you and at this late date will be worthless).

We made a mistake in our documentation of new features in version 3.2. We documented that the new printers added for OSTYPE 5 were as follows:

Adv Ptr Win Printer
6  LPT4
7  LPT5
8  LPT6
9  LPT7

They are actually:

Adv Ptr Win Printer
6  LPT6
7  LPT7
8  LPT8
9  LPT9

We apologize for the confusion.

DOS Scripting

We've had some calls asking about this new feature in 3.2. Some people are apparently not familiar with the concept of DOS scripts.

A DOS script is essentially a set of commands that you can create in a text file that can then be applied or run through a DOS program like the Roundtable Software Advantage Accounting System. This probably isn't very clear, so here's an example. Let's say we create a text file called TEST.TXT containing the following:


This is exactly what I would type if I were to go into the product, go to AR program 23, then quit out of the software.  The first two lines are my login name and password, then the next line brings up the Goto window, the next is the command to go to AR program 23. The three 'Q's quit me from AR program 23, then the AR module and finally out of the software altogether.

To execute this script I go to my APROGS directory and type:


This command tells DOS to run the Roundtable Software Advantage Accounting System and take input from the TEST.TXT file instead of the keyboard. In other words, whatever is in that file will substitute for things I would type manually.

This is a very powerful feature of DOS, but previous versions of the package from Armor were incompatible with it (the old Premier system was compatible). Scripting can be used to automate many tasks, much like the macro feature within the Roundtable Software Advantage Accounting System.

Why use scripts instead of macros? One important reason is if you need to change the processing occasionally. Since macros cannot be edited, such processes are better handled with scripts since scripts can easily be changed. On the other hand, macros have their place too. In a script you cannot easily put in keystrokes like function keys or up and down arrows. Macros do not have this limitation.

Here are a few things you should know about scripting with Version 3.2 of the Roundtable Software Advantage Accounting System:

  1. A script must end by quitting out to DOS otherwise it will lock your computer. Note in the example that we quit all the way out of the accounting system.

  3. If you are printing a report through a script then you must insert a special code that we call 'bang-bang' otherwise your script will lock up after the report starts printing. After the print job has begun (your script has specified the output device), the next line of your script should consist of two exclamation points (!!). This is a special flag that tells the accounting system it should wait until the print job is done to continue processing your script.

  5. If you absolutely must have a function key, arrow key or the like in your script it can be done. In System Administrator program 2, you can redefine these keys to be anything you like. For instance, if you must put an up arrow in your script, redefine the up arrow in the Roundtable Software Advantage Accounting System to be some unusual character like tilde (~). Then in your script you can put a tilde wherever you would normally use an up arrow.

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