Friday, January 29, 2010

FBS Systems Celebrates Its First 30 Years With "Count-the-Computers" Contest

When FBS released its first software program—“Commercial Pork Package”—the state of the art was the Radio Shack Model One or Apple II using 8-bit processors and cassette or puny floppy disks for storage. While slow, unreliable and expensive by today’s standards this nascent technology opened up new possibilities for serious managers who needed to organize, retrieve and analyze production and financial information. Most output was though noisy dot-matrix printers (if you wanted color you used green bar paper), and the most immediate gratification was that the software printed checks!

In the era of the powerful, flashy gadgets, such as smartphones and iPads, that are obsolete within nine months, we remind you of the enduring value of your business’s production and financial data. That’s why long-time FBS users have been able to transfer records—the lifeblood of their business—from generation to generation of computer system. We’re very close to releasing software that runs on the next generation of PCs (64-bit).

We appreciated the support and confidence you have given the employees of FBS Systems over the past three decades as we continue to provide the technology and support to help you cope with the management challenges of the 21st Century.

Speaking of transitions, we’re announcing a new contest to recognize the FBS client who’s used our software on the largest number of computers. That number could be based on serial usage (i.e. transferred computer to computer) or concurrent usage. The winner will receive $1,000 worth of software credit.

February Webinar Schedule

Join us for these 1-hour free webinars beginning at 10:00 am CST.

What's New in Version 8.1 Monday, February 1
LifeCycle Budgeting Monday, February 8
Smart Feeder Reports Monday, February 15
Overview of TransaAction Plus Monday, February 22

To register, e-mail by 9:00 am on the day of the webinar.

End of (DOS) Life as We Know It?

Yesterday I visited briefly with one of our users at the Iowa Pork Show. He volunteered that his wife (the company bookkeeper) is still using the DOS FBS version (even though all of our software has been converted to Windows over the past decade or so.)

We're happy that we can provide alternatives solutions for a wide spectrum of agriculture. That's why we offer so many combination of modules and allow users to run older versions of our software, including plenty of clients still plugging away in MS-DOS (Microsoft Disk Operating System).

The demise of DOS has been widely predicted ever since Windows 3.1 hit the scene 18 years ago, but now its creator, Microsoft, has driven the final nail in its coffin with the release of the 64-bit version of Windows 7. Not only is there no easy way to print (DOS doesn't support USB printers), but you can't even open up a command prompt to launch the software.

Keep in mind we're talking only about 64-bit Windows 7; however, this flavor is fast becoming the default configuration--you have to look on some back shelved or special-order 32-bit computers.

So pamper those clunky old Win 98 and XP boxes. When they die so will your DOS FBS programs. If you delay long enough, the data conversion process will be complicated and expensive (rather than automatic and free).

FBS Users in the News

Congratulations to Mike VerSteeg, Pork All-American from Iowa. Mike and his family were recently honored with the pork industry's top award at the 2010 Iowa Pork Congress.

Three FBS users--Jean Bell, Dave Heisler and Chuck Wildman--hold director's positions in the Ohio Pork Producers Council.

Don Anthony, Lexington, Nebraska, describes how he monitors his center pivots via cell phone in the January 2010 Successful Farming article, "Telematics Magic." He can even make adjustments to his irrigation system remotely from the combine seat, in Washington D.C. or the CHS headquarters, where he serves on the Cenex board of directors.

Q&A of the Month--Work Station Woes

Q. I am on a network, and all of a sudden I can't open FBS, but my colleague can. What’s wrong?

A. Either the FBS icon/pathway back to the server or a common file on your PC has become corrupt.

The first thing to try is to re-install the FBS workstation on your PC.

Insert your current FBS CD in your local computer and press the Exit button; do not install standard FBS software on a work station.

Locate the FBSWorkStation icon on the CD drive using Windows Explorer and double-click it to reinstall the work station common files on your local computer.

Next delete the current FBS icon on your desktop and make a new desktop icon. To do this, right-click on your desktop, select New and Shortcut.

You will then need to browse to where FBS is located on your server. You might want to look at your colleague's shortcut properties to make sure you use the same path. Once you have the path set correctly, click Next and then Finish. You now have a working FBS icon on your desktop.

Finally, launch FBS and on the Change Company Screen make sure you are pointing to the correct folder to find your data file on the server.

Thursday, January 21, 2010

Power out in western Illinois

We apologize to anyone trying to call our switchboard or send an e-mail to us today (January 21). An ice storm has shut power down for Amerin customers in dozens of counties in western and central Illinois.

Thank you for your understanding and patience.

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

Enterprise Analysis with Quickbooks?

One of the more valuable sessions at the Missouri Computers on the Farm Conference was entitled, "Enterprise Analysis Using Quickbooks." Presented by an Extension economist who was also a CPA, it mirrored work done by Texas A&M to extract meaningful farm analysis from this popular "main street" accounting program.

On the plus side, he demonstrated how Quickbooks offers a very flexible interface, definitions and reporting format understood and supported by many accountants. Quickbook "classes" are rough parallels to FBS "centers" (originally called "enterprises").

I appreciated his candor, though, as he described the convoluted process of capturing quantites in the Quickbooks "memo" field, then exporting reports to Excel to "mash up" dollars with externally-maintained quantities (acres, bushels, gallons, bags, etc.) in order to produce some type of useful unit-based cost analysis. (Determining overhead allocations is also an external process.)

As the instructor so effectively demonstrated, Quickbooks offers many alternatives in setting up accounts and classes to emulate the financial, if not the quantitative, dimension of a farm. Which raises the question, where does the average farmer turn to for training and technical support in applying Quickbooks to the day-to-day operation of his own business? It's obviously a different experience than what FBS clients are used to.

What do you think?