Cloud Storage Beta Test (2)

Hello again all. I hope those of you who celebrate Christmas had a good one, and anyone else had at least a lovely few days off!

Can I ask again whether some of you who have the Standalone version, use DONATION on more than one computer, and have reliable fast Internet, could please test the new Cloud Storage Service? I really don’t want to release it without more than our own testing and the two users who I know have tested it so far.

Again, you can find it at http://www.software4nonprofits.com/pretest.htm, and the earlier post with more details about this is at https://donationusers.wordpress.com/2015/12/15/cloud-storage-beta/.

The feature is sort of an automated combination of the techniques in the Help topic “Transfer your Data between Computers” and our existing Internet backups. It prevents the dangers of two users making independent changes to their own copies of the database, which then can’t be merged, and means that you never have to remember who has the current “official” copy of the database – the program does that for you.

Testing Rewards

Anyone who does any of the following things, prior to the official release of this version (planned for the end of this month!), who is currently up to date on their payments for DONATION, will receive an extra 3 months’ renewal for support and upgrades:

  • Find and report something that we consider to be bug in a new feature (something larger than a typo in the Help).
  • Point out a flaw, that we consider should be fixed, in the design of a new feature.
  • Do very thorough testing of most or all features in a new release, evidenced by a thorough report back to us on that testing.

I’d be happy to give the same reward to anyone who already did such testing, on request.

Many thanks!

Cloud Storage Beta Test

Hello again DONATION beta testers. As you know, we have been talking about adding a Cloud Storage Service to DONATION for quite a while. It is finally available for beta testing, and we would really appreciate as much testing as possible before we release it to everyone!

The Cloud Storage Service is an optional feature. It is an extension of using Internet Backups to “Transfer your Data between Computers” (as explained in the Help topic with that title). The extension is that when you have it turned on, the program “takes control” of the database when you start DONATION, and then downloads the latest Internet backup. When you exit DONATION, the program uploads your database to become the new latest Internet backup, and releases the control.

You turn on the Cloud Storage Service through a new option at the bottom of the Backup/Restore -> Backup Frequency and Options window.

Under normal circumstances when using Cloud Storage, only one user is able to use the program at a time, because you can only take control if nobody else currently has it. That prevents the current potential problem of multiple people making changes on different copies of the database which cannot be merged. (If someone else has control, you do get an option to use the program “read only”, to just look at data and reports, without making changes.)

The Cloud Storage Service is meant for users who use DONATION on multiple computers, have fast and very reliable Internet access, and do not need simultaneous access. It is a safer alternative to the current “Transfer your Data between Computers” methods, and also an alternative to using the Network version over the Internet, which is complex to set up and something that we don’t strongly recommend!

For many more details, check the following earlier blogs: https://donationusers.wordpress.com/2014/09/26/web-proposal/, https://donationusers.wordpress.com/2015/03/24/cloud-storage-details/ and https://donationusers.wordpress.com/2015/10/29/cloud-storage-question/.

And of course it is described in detail in the Help in the new version! The main topic is titled “Cloud Storage Service” – look that up in the Index of the Help. The topic “Multiple User Options” has also been greatly enhanced to give pros and cons of all of the options.

The new version 3.75 Beta version with the Cloud Storage Service in it is available from our usual beta testing page, http://www.software4nonprofits.com/pretest.htm. Please try it if you can, use the feature, read the Help, and let us know your reactions. If there is any unusual behaviour please let us know in as much detail as possible, and also please give us a general sense of how the service works for you. Corrections or comments on what think might be missing in the Help will also be extremely useful!

There are a lot of features in the Cloud Storage Service. For example, we would like to know your reaction to the way in which we deal with encryption passwords of the Internet backups, especially when you have forgotten your password. A table at the bottom of the “Cloud Storage Service” help page lists various issues that can come up and how the service, or you, deal with them.

You may want to backup your data on to an external location (like a USB memory key) before starting this test. That way, you would be able to go back to the earlier version of your data if something happens during the testing. Another option, if you have extra computers, is to try it on those other computers instead!

Thank you so much in advance for whatever testing you can do. While this feature is conceptually fairly simple, the programming for it was rather complex, so the more different people that test it, the more likely it is to be bug-free when we release it for everyone to use.

 

U.S. Non-profit Postage Permits

This is for our users in the U.S.A. Do any of you use non-profits postage permits from the US Post Office, as described at http://pe.usps.com/businessmail101/postage/designPermit.htm?

One user has asked us to be able to print them on envelopes, and if we are going to consider that, we’d like to know how many other users it would benefit, and what variations in the appearance you are using. If you could send us a scan of an envelope or other piece of mail with that permit printed on it, that would be really helpful.

Thank you.

Help test DONATION Bank Deposits in QuickBooks

If you import bank deposits from DONATION into QuickBooks, and are using QuickBooks 2015, we would very much appreciate it if you could help us with some further testing of a problem one user has encountered. Please email us directly if you can help.

In case you are wondering, the problem has to do with how potentially ambiguous dates, like 11/07/2015 (Nov 7, or July 11?) in the import file are treated, depending on the Short Date Format set in the Window Control Panel Regional & Language tool.

Thank you very much.

Cloud Storage Terminology Question

Hello DONATION advisors. We are finally getting to programming the cloud storage option that has been discussed in previous blogs, most recently https://donationusers.wordpress.com/2015/03/24/cloud-storage-details/.

It occurred to me to wonder whether the terminology we were using was ideal for all users. The particular wording I’m wondering about is talking about “getting a reservation” on the database when you start the program, and “releasing the reservation” when you exit.

Getting a reservation refers to what you (or your program!) does in this new storage option to specify that you are going to be using the database, and nobody else can do so until you release it. After that, the latest Internet database backup is downloaded to your computer for you to work on. When you exit, your modified database us uploaded as an Internet backup, then the reservation is released so another user can use it. The “official” copy of the database is always the latest Internet backup, or the one on one user’s computer that they have the reservation for.

At first I thought that wording using “reservation” was clear, because everyone knows about things like restaurant or travel reservations. But those are always for things in the future, whereas what we are talking about is something immediate.

Would “taking ownership” and “releasing ownership” of the database be clearer? Or introduce other possible confusions?

Any other wording ideas for that concept? Thanks.

Updated Videos & new Bank Deposits Video

Hello again DONATION advisors. I wanted to let you know that over the last couple of weeks, we have updated and re-recorded all of the introductory and training videos on the Demos and Samples page on the website, at www.software4nonprofits.com/demos.htm. They are also now hosted on YouTube, and can also be found there by searching.

There’s also a new video on that page on configuring and creating bank deposits, and exporting them to our ACCOUNTS bookkeeping program or Intuit QuickBooks. We’d be most interested in hearing what you think of the new and revised videos.

Thank you.

 

DONATION and U.S. Receipts for over $300

Hello DONATION advisers. This post is only for those of you in the U.S.A.

I was talking to a potential new user today who said that U.S. charities are required to send an official individual acknowledgement of donations of $300 or more. Can any of you explain that further please, if you know about it? Would our receipts (for instance at year end) showing the details of each individual donation not be sufficient to satisfy this requirement?

I said that with the full Standalone version, they could do a mail-merge letter for such donations. However, with the Lite version (which she was starting with) it’s more of a problem, if they don’t want to create such letters manually.

I did say that one option was to create a year-to-date official receipt prior to entering that larger donation, then another receipt right after entering it. Obviously that’s a bit awkward.

Any other thoughts on this issue and ways to handle it? Many thanks.