Chicago ACT! USER GROUP

 

Meeting Notes

Meeting Date: May 13, 1997

NEWS YOU CAN USE: ACT! 3.0 users, the latest release of ACT! is version 3.0.5. (Use the command HELP, ABOUT ACT! to check which version you have.) If you don't have the latest update, you can download it from Symantec's Web site (or use ACT!'s LiveUpdate feature). Current patch disks are normally available at User Group meetings. Please note, the ACT! User Group will not be meeting during the months of June, July, and August. Our fall kick-off meeting is set for September 9. Mark your calendars now and join us in the fall.

MEETING FEATURE: Alan Lee, ACT! Certified Consultant, discussed the ins and outs of successfully integrating e-mail with ACT!.

Getting Started

When it comes to communicating via e-mail with the outside world (meaning communicating beyond the confines of your company) there are basically two choices: going with one of the commercial on line services such as Prodigy, CompuServe, America On Line, or the Microsoft Network (MSN), or, using an Internet service provider (ISP). Alternatively, a corporate-wide in-house e-mail system can be set up using applications such as CC:Mail. While a thorough comparison of systems is beyond the scope of our discussion, the tradeoffs revolve around features and content, ease of setup and configuration, and how well the systems work with ACT!. When a compatible on line service/e-mail application is used, ACT! treats sending an e-mail message the same as writing a letter. That is, broadcast e-mail (the equivalent of form letters) is permitted and e-mail correspondence is appropriately logged in history. Out of all the commercial on line services, only CompuServe works in this fashion with ACT! (actually ACT! 2.0). Use of ACT! 3.0 with CompuServe is iffy at best.

Though it takes a bit more effort to get set up, your best chance of integrating ACT! and e-mail lies with choosing an ISP. ISPs typically charge $10 to $20 a month for unlimited Internet access with the larger outfits offering more technical support. Some ISPs serving the Chicago area include MegsInet (megsinet.net), MCS Net, and Netcom. You’ll need to choose an Internet browser such as Netscape or Microsoft Explorer. (Browser software is often free from ISPs. Microsoft Explorer is included with Windows 95.) You’ll also need to choose e-mail software such as MS Exchange (now called Microsoft Messaging). (Users report that Eudora and Pegasus are incompatible with ACT!.) If this all sounds a bit complicated to set up, here are some good reasons to go through the trouble.

Why E-mail With ACT!?

It vastly simplifies broadcast e-mailing. If you have read this far, you’re probably well-aware that e-mail is an extremely inexpensive and immediate form of communication. Broadcast e-mail is an inexpensive and quick way to reach any—or all—of your contacts who have e-mail addresses. The right e-mail system means that you can write and send e-mail directly from ACT!. There is no need to create a separate contact list, import the list to another program, manually update each contact record to reflect that a message has been sent, and so forth. When you e-mail through ACT!, contact history is automatically updated. Plus you’ll be able to make use of ACT!’s in and out boxes to manage (i.e. read, reply, forward, save, print, etc.) your e-mail messages.

How To Do It

Sending an e-mail message to a group of contacts is similar to writing a form letter. You’ll need to create an e-mail template containing the body of your message. (Check last month’s issue of Hard Copy for more information on templates and a tutorial on writing form letters.) Next, select the contacts you’d like to e-mail to. Execute the (ACT! 3.0) command WRITE, MAIL MERGE. Pick the template you just created and click OK. Select the e-mail option and type the subject of the message in the subject line. To send messages, click OK, otherwise choose work off line to send the e-mail message(s)at a later time.

You may attach any file (spreadsheet, database, graphic file, etc.) to an e-mail message by selecting the attach file option when creating a message. Beware that such files may need to be encoded using applications such as Transfer Pro or Wincode in order for them to be successfully transferred over the Internet. (Wincode is available as shareware.)

OPEN FORUM:

Latest ACT! Update

Q What "fixes" does the new ACT! 3.0.5 patch have?

A ACT! 3.0.5 contains the latest bug fixes and program enhancements. For example, 3.0.5 permits users to save reports as "rtf" (rich text format) files. In addition, 3.0.5 enables compatibility with Microsoft Office 97. For a complete list of changes, see the readme.txt file included in the patch.

Creating Groups with ACT! 3.0

Q How do you create groups in ACT! 3.0?

A Click on the group icon or execute the command VIEW, GROUPS to view all existing groups. Then click on any group to add a specific contact to that group. Execute the command GROUP, NEW GROUP to add a new one.

OUR NEXT MEETING . . .

of the ACT! User Group will be on September 9, 1997. No meetings will be held during June, July, and August. The ACT! User Group (a SIG of the C.C.S.) holds meetings on the second Tuesday of the month eight months out of the year. User Group meetings are free and open to all C.C.S. members. They are held at the Midway Motor Lodge in Elk Grove Village. Call E Tech Systems at 847-352-4770 to get meeting notices or e-mail us via www.etechsys.com.

E Tech Systems is an ACT! Certified Consulting firm and Symantec Authorized Training Center. E Tech has installed, configured, and customized ACT! for dozens of companies and trained hundreds of ACT! users. Alan can be reached at E Tech at 847-352-4770 or via e-mail to alee@etechsys.com.

© Copyright 1997 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.

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