A comment posted on an earlier blog post about setting user permissions got me to thinking.

You can set up user permissions on a module by module basis, and you can specify whether a user can have entry/edit privileges or printing privileges, or both, for any given module.

But you apparently can’t completely lock a user out of a module. They can still open up the center and see data there — albeit on a limited scale.

For example, if you do not give a user permission for sales and A/R functions, they cannot see invoices or sales receipts or other customer transactions. But they can go into the Customer Center and see the list of customers. They can see the customers’ phone numbers and addresses.

quickbooks screen shot for user permissions
You can't see transactions, but you can still see customer data

In the case of employees, you can see not only employee names and addresses, but you can also open attached documents for employees even if you’re not supposed to have access to any payroll privileges.

Why is that? The blog commenter wanted a workaround for this and I had none to give. I suggested that they submit some online feedback within the QuickBooks Help menu about that — perhaps Intuit will implement a more rigorous permission scheme into a future version.

Does anyone else have a good workaround in the meantime?

Sometimes you want to see all the lines and columns on a report, including those with just zero figures.

Sometimes you don’t.

You can tweak out each report in QuickBooks according to whether you want to display or suppress zeroes on the report.

When you run a report in QuickBooks, you’ll have a “Customize Report” button in the upper left corner of the report window. Click it.

customize a quickbooks report

This will bring up the main window for you to make changes to your report formatting. Click the Advanced button in the lower right.

quickbooks modify report dialog

The Advanced Options window will appear.

quickbooks customize report - advanced options

You can make different choices here according to what you want to see on your report:

* Display Rows options. You can choose to see only active accounts, all accounts, or only non-zero accounts.

* Display Columns options. Same choices here as for display rows.

When you’ve made your changes and approved the results, you can click the Memorize button at the top of the report, assign a memorized report name for this version of the report, and click OK. It will save this formatted version of your report to the list of memorized reports for your company. So whenever you run that memorized report again, it will have all of your zero formatting options already in place.

Ever wondered which internet service providers (ISPs) are most popular with QuickBooks users?

Here is the top-ten breakout of that for January-May 2012. The numbers come from analysis of visitors to our QuickBooks Forums:

chart of top ten isps for quickbooks users

Not surprisingly, the biggest cable and telecom companies show up highest.

pie chart for quickbooks ISPs
Breakout of ISPs for QuickBooks users. See legend above. Gray is for ISPs not listed.
64.68% of users are using providers other than those listed above (the gray area of the chart).

Local ISPs are not going to have a large enough customer base to show up on this list. These users are worldwide, with the highest concentrations coming from the US, Canada, Australia, and the UK.

Special characters (like $^*%$& and such) have long been the bane of computer programs. And although programmers try to write their code to prevent special characters from messing up the program logic, things still slip through.

We just discovered a new variation on this theme in QuickBooks 2012, and it can mess up your accountant’s ability to access some of your QuickBooks data. It involves simply using an ampersand character (&) in your external accountant’s user name.

Adding an external accountant with an ampersand symbol
That ampersand symbol (&) is a problem

If you are setting up a user in QuickBooks as an external accountant and use an ampersand symbol (&) as part of the name, when you send the file to your accountant, they will have a problem.

They will be able to open the file fine. But if they try to do the Client Data Review, it will fail. No errors, no crashes. But when they click the command it will not launch.

If, on your side, you rename the external accountant user to something else that doesn’t have the ampersand symbol in it, it will be OK — your accountant will be able to do the Client Data Review with the next file you send them.

I tried some other accountant-specific functions when the ampersand was in place, and everything seemed OK. But I certainly didn’t test everything. I did test a few other special characters without encountering problems with the Client Data Review. It’s hard to say what the scope of the problem is without some serious testing.

The moral of the story is to NOT use special characters in your user names. I think it would be wise to not use special characters in ANY of your user names — external accountant or otherwise.

There are, of course, many other issues that can occur in a set of QuickBooks data that can prevent you making backups or accountant’s copies, and that require data repair.

Have you seen any instances of special characters causing problems in QuickBooks? Share your story.

tomato plants
My babies, fresh from the nursery
The marketer in me enjoys A/B testing, or split testing. That’s when you take an existing offer, change (in a significant way) one element of the offer, and then present both offers at the same time and track your results. You can then see which offer works best, or better yet, has the best ROI.

An example would be to offer a product or service at the regular price, and then make a parallel offer where everything remains the same except for the price, and see what happens. This helps determine price elasticity, as the economists call it.

So I’m bring that concept home today. Yep, I bought my batch of tomato plants at the nursery today, and am going to A/B test them.

The variable? Soil. I’m going to use “Happy Frog” organic potting soil for one of my “Early Girl” plants, and a non-organic Ferti-loam potting soil for another “Early Girl”. Everything else should theoretically be the same between the two plants.

I will be evaluating yield, size, growing/producing season, and especially(!) taste. Ah, can’t wait to do the metrics on this project!

Wish me luck, and if any of you tomato growers out there have any predictions, speak up.