January 2001

RTG Bills Version 2.03 Adds New Features

The latest version of RTG Bills, released in early January, enhances the replenishing retainer feature. You can set a Full Retainer for each matter, in addition to the previous Minimum Retainer.

For example, you might set the Full Retainer to $5,000 and the Minimum Retainer to $1,000. If the retainer balance falls below $1,000, the next bill will request an additional retainer to bring the balance back up to $5,000.

This new version includes several other small enhancements. Previously, both the prebills and bills were always printed in matter number sequence. Now you can choose to print them in order by the billing attorney (now called the billing timekeeper), the client name, or the matter number. For both the billing timekeeper and the client name, the order is determined by the Abbreviation field for the timekeeper or the client.

RTG Bills remembers separate settings for the prebills and bills. For example, you might want to print prebills in order by billing timekeeper, so you can easily distribute them for review. The bills, however, can be printed by client name, so you can more easily file a copy of each bill with the matter.

The sales tax feature now permits a tax rate with up to four decimal digits, such as 5.0625%. Previously, only two decimal digits were accepted.

Entering a timekeeper rate is a little easier than before. In prior versions, after you typed the new rate, you had to click Apply or press Enter to save the rate. If, instead, you just closed the window, the new rate was not saved. Now the rate is changed using a separate window with Save and Cancel buttons, so it is clear whether or not the rate will be saved.

Similarly, we changed the shorthand code window. Instead of an Apply button, you click Edit and a new window lets you change the code. After you make the change, you click Save or Cancel.

RTG Bills Version 2.03 is available as a free upgrade from Version 2.02 if you download it from our Support page. You can also order a new CD-ROM for $15.

New RTG Reports

Two new reports have been added to RTG Reports, Bills by Matter and Summary of Unpaid Fees and Expenses. RTG Reports is a free add-on to RTG Bills. After installation, it appears as the menu choice Reports, More Reports in RTG Bills.

The Bills by Matter report shows the bills created for each matter in order by date. For each bill, it shows the fees and expenses billed by each timekeeper, as well as totals. It's an easy way to find out how much each timekeeper billed, and when, for a particular matter.

Summary of Unpaid Fees and Expenses shows the unpaid fees for a matter by timekeeper. To get this information, it has to do the same (rather complicated) calculation as the Fees Billed and Collected report. However, the report itself is short and simple.

Great Free Software

The Internet offers an incredible variety of downloadable software, but software that is both free and of top quality is quite rare. We'd like to mention a few programs that are both top-notch and free.

E-Mail: Eudora in Light Mode

Qualcomm's Eudora 5.0 gets our vote for the best e-mail software, free or not. The most significant feature you give up in the free "Light Mode" is the spell checker. Aside from that, you'll have everything most people need in an e-mail client.

If you have multiple e-mail accounts, you can set up Eudora to use two different folders, with separate mailboxes in each one. You just add the location of the folder to the command line of the shortcut that you use to run Eudora.

But if you want to use the same mailboxes with different e-mail accounts, or you really want that spell checker, you'll need to switch to "Paid Mode" for about $40.

We recently tried another e-mail program, Pegasus Mail, for a few days. It is completely free of charge. But it seemed to have trouble viewing some messages that used styled text, even though Eudora had no trouble viewing the same messages. Pegasus Mail also has one very annoying feature: a dialog box appears every time you reply to a message, even though you will almost always want to click OK without changing the reply settings. We couldn't find a solution to these problems, so we returned to Eudora.

File Compression: PowerArchiver

Zip archives are a common way to compress files and to combine several files into a single file to make them easier to transport. WinZip is the most popular program in this category, but we suggest you try PowerArchiver. You can look at the contents of an archive before you open it and view the "readme" file or the help files.

We haven't used this program for very long, so perhaps it has some problems we haven't encountered yet. So far, it looks quite good. [Note added 10/01: No longer free.]

File Synchronization: qFileSync

qFileSync lets you "synchronize" a folder on your computer with a folder on, say, a Zip disk. You tell it what folders to look at. Any files not on the Zip disk get copied there. Any files not on the computer get copied from the Zip disk. If a file appears in both places, but they are different, the newer file replaces the older one.

Here's an example of how to use this program. Suppose you have a Current Work folder on your computer at the office. You would like to take some documents home to work on over the weekend. So you synchronize the Current Work folder with the Zip disk. Then you take the Zip disk home and synchronize it with your home computer. Now you have the exact same files in three places: the home computer, the Zip disk, and the office computer.

At the end of the weekend, you synchronize again with the Zip disk, take the disk to the office, and synchronize with the computer there. Once again, all three are the same. You don't have to remember which files you changed and you don't have to copy an entire folder. Only the changed files get copied.

You can set up many pairs of folders for synchronization, perhaps one for each project you are working on. qFileSync can synchronize all of them with a single command. [Note added 10/01: Search the Web for "qFileSync" to find a download site.]

Print To E-Mail: eFax Messenger Plus

This program was formerly called HotSend and you can still find it at www.hotsend.com. It lets you send anything you can print, from any program, as an e-mail attachment. For instance, you can send a word processing document from Word or WordPerfect, a spreadsheet from Excel, or a bill from RTG Bills. The person who receives the e-mail needs a special viewer to read the document, but they don't need the program you used to create the document. The document will appear just as it would have looked on paper.

After you install the program, you'll have a new "printer" called "Send with eFax Messenger Plus." Just select that printer from within any program and before you know it you'll have a blank e-mail message in Eudora (or another common e-mail program) with the "printed" document already attached.

The only annoyance with this program is that the viewer, while free to download, does show ads.

RTG Bills and RTG Timer are trademarks of RTG Data Systems. Other company and product names may be trademarks of the companies with which they are associated.

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