e-Newsletter, December 9, 2002

Roundtable Software E-Mail Newsletter Issue #16, December 9, 2002

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In this issue...

Magnetic Media for Tax Year 2002

The 2002 edition of the Advantage Magnetic Media reporting system is now available. The new version is needed by any business which plans to submit their W2s or 1099s electronically or on disk this year. The suggested price for this package is $295 for DOS/Windows or $395 for UNIX. Please call your dealer to order.

Those who own previous versions of the package should note that they should not be used to make new submissions as the government has made changes this year (as they do most years).

W2s and 1099s

Those of you who generate paper W2s through the Payroll module can download a patch from our website that updates Payroll program 26 with the 2002 OASDI limit and also makes a few minor changes to the W2 form. In addition to these programming changes, this patch includes an updated PL file that contains a double-wide W2 format and updated tax tables for the Federal and state withholding that we know have changed to date.

Those of you who print W2’s through General Ledger must remember to manually change the OASDI limit from 80,400 (the 2001 limit) to 84,900 (the 2002 limit) as you print the forms.

The layout of the 1099-MISC forms are exactly the same as they were last year, so Accounts Payable, Accounts Receivable and General Ledger don’t require an update. To make sure you are current, here are the versions you should have:

If you are on Advantage root version 3.2 then you will need to purchase an update to get these versions. If you are on Advantage 3.3 and have earlier versions than the ones listed above, you can download patches from our website to bring your installation up-to-date.

Many people have asked us to create a print layout that works with double-wide dot matrix W2s forms. Such a layout has been added to the Payroll PL file and can be downloaded from the website. Remember, in order for this layout to be available in your software, you may need to copy the format from the 00PL that you download to your company-specific PL file.

Our test forms this year were supplied by one of our dealers, RDI/Ryll Diversified. These forms are generic and should be identical to other standard form sources, but if you'd like to be absolutely sure your forms line up as perfectly as possible you can order from RDI by calling (407) 321-7948.

Regarding 2003 payroll tax tables, we have made updated tax files available on our website that contain the 2003 tables for Federal withholding, OASDI and the following states: California, Louisiana, Minnesota, Missouri, New Mexico and North Dakota. As other states publish their changes (if any) we’ll update these files on the website, so if you know your state has changed, check the website periodically for an updated table. These updated tables must be copied from the TAX1 or TAX2 file that you download to your live data through Payroll program 58. (Refer to instructions on how to do this.)

How To Post Bonus Checks In Payroll

It’s that time of year when employers are paying out bonus checks, and, as always, we get calls asking how to handle this situation in the Payroll module. The basic problem is that bonus pay generally only has the FICA deductions withheld.

As a separate check, you can post this in one of two ways: (1) post everything--pay and deductions--directly in program 14, posting only the deductions you want to be withheld from the bonus check. When posting deductions in program 14, you don’t need to enter any amount; when program 15 calculates the check, it knows to use the deduction’s table to determine the correct amount. Or, (2) you could set up the bonus pay type to be exempt from all deductions that you don’t want withheld from the bonus check, then autopost deductions in program 13 and post the bonus pay through program 14.

If you want the bonus pay to be included as part of a regular check, you’d set up the pay as described in (2) above and post the bonus amount through program 14.

NOTE: When exempting deductions, flat amount deductions will still be withheld. When you exempt a pay type from a deduction, you are telling the system to not use the wages paid under that pay type in calculating that deduction. Since flat amount deductions don’t use any wage base (they stay the same no matter how much an employee is paid), they are taken from all pay. In this case, you’ll have to delete the flat amount deductions through program 57 before calculating the bonus check.

Using TSRs With Windows XP

We’ve had several dealers ask for help in getting the Expert TSR to run under XP. Here's what we've done to get an icon that works most of the time; we've not been able to have it always launch--sometimes, it flickers--but eventually, it always starts for us. If you go into Advantage and stay there all day, you shouldn't have any problem.

Get an XP Command Prompt onto your desktop.

Right-click that icon and select Properties.

Turn the XP Command Prompt into an old-style command prompt by changing the Target to:

Click OK and save this change; when you next go back to the Properties window, it will have changed to the old PIF-style interface.

Now, under the Program tab, set the Working directory to your Advantage PROGS directory and, in the Command Line box, enter the name of a batch file that will load the TSR and then call Advantage. At the end of this discussion, we've reproduced the batch file used for our testing; you'll see that we set the Advantage environment variables, then load the TSR, call Advantage, and then unload the TSR and unset the environment variables as the batch file exits.

Under the Memory tab, set the Total Conventional memory to 560 and the Initial environment to 1536. Check the Protected box under Conventional as well. If listed, set the Expanded memory to None and also set the Extended memory to None. We also do not have the Uses HMA box checked, but since the Extended is set to None, we don't know that it matters. Leave the MS-DOS protected-mode set to Auto.

Under the Compatibility tab, set it to Windows 95; we found that worked slightly better than 98.

Under the Screen tab, in the Performance box, de-select the Fast ROM emulation and the Dynamic memory allocation boxes.

Under Misc, we turned off screen saver and fast pasting.

After all that, we get an icon that loads to the Advantage login screen and allows us to access Inventory Expert through the Shift-F2 key combination. The icon always works the first thing after a cold boot, but after that it's a crap shoot; sometimes, we can run it again with only one click on the icon; other times, we have to click the icon 3 or 4 times before it successfully loads. When it fails to load, it just flashes to the screen and nothing happens. That was the main difference we found between 95 and 98 emulation--when we had it set to 98 it would sometimes hang, leaving a DOS window stuck on the screen. Under 95 compatibility it either loads or not--no hung windows.













If you are trying to run the BL/OE Message TSR, you can replace XP_TSR with MSG_TSR in the above batch file. We had very limited success with trying to load both; it only worked first thing after a cold boot and even then we had to click the icon several times.

All of this was tested on a stand-alone XP machine.

Windows Terminal Server

In the last few months we have had a number of dealers trying to set up Windows Terminal Server networks. Why this sudden burst of enthusiasm for this oddball of the Windows family we don’t know, but in any case it has pointed out to us that this network is either inadequately documented for mere mortals to successfully install, or it is just plain full of bugs. We have worked with three different dealers on three different installations recently, and in all three cases we and they have been unable to get the system to function properly. Problems included record and file locking that made no sense (locking when it shouldn’t, not locking when it should) and also what seem to be caching-related problems like updating some files but not all during a big updating process like Billing to AR or Point of Sale to AR.

Because we have not had any success in getting any of these installations to work properly we have updated our website and documentation to reflect the fact that we now specifically DO NOT recommend the Windows Terminal Server system.

Our recommendation to dealers who want to put together a terminal based network is to forget about this highly questionable OS and use one that was built to be terminal based from the beginning--use UNIX.

If anyone is successfully using Windows Terminal Server and would be interested in consulting with some dealers who are having troubles, please give us a call.

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