Products and services.

The Goods

Organize Information in a Flexible Database

C PAs handy with spreadsheets often use them to perform double duty as databases. However, while a spreadsheet can run some database functions, it cannot successfully tackle major, complex database jobs. The askSam database, which resembles a word processor, is good news for CPAs unfamiliar with database software. It handles heavy-duty database functions easily; as a bonus, it works well with online services and the Internet, and can be used to organize information in free form or with fields of information.

The product does not require extensive, time-consuming programming. Information can be typed in, downloaded from another source—the Internet, text, spreadsheets and even other databases—and imported directly into askSam.

As information is becoming increasingly accessible online, the askSam Web Publisher can help askSam users publish their documents and databases on the Internet. This software package, sold separately from askSams database, is designed to simplify getting information on the Internet—creating new documents or importing existing ones—without any knowledge of HTML.

The cost of askSam for Windows is $149.95. The askSam Web Publisher costs $1,495. More information: askSam Systems, P.O. Box 1428, 119 South Washington Street, Perry, Florida 32347; 800-800-1997 or 904-584-6590.

Easy Screen Saver: Clever Marketing Tool

I f you want to keep your companys name or product line fresh in clients minds, consider creating customized screen savers for promotional distribution.

Easy Screen Saver Creator 2.0, ideal for electronic advertising, lets users make, sell or distribute professional-looking screen savers and minipresentations without needing expert programming knowledge. The package imports images, videos and sounds from the Internet and provides 10 different visual effects so your screen saver can be unique.

The program contains a number of tools and templates that make it easy to produce special effects, photo frames and word balloons. The software also can create personalized photo calendars, magazine covers and brochures for mailings and can import graphics for business presentations such as portfolios or slide shows.

Easy Screen Saver Creator 2.0 retails for $199. More information: MicroSeconds International Inc., P.O. Box 201, Rancho Santa Fe, California 92067; 800-889-3279.

23 Calculators in One

A new tool for financial and estate planners performs complex calculations, generates alternative scenarios and integrates results into client documents. CCH FinEst Calcs, a Windows-based suite of specialty calculators also for use in networks, contains 23 separate calculators which can be modified to accommodate multiple computations.

The software consolidates calculation, analysis and documentation in a single application and provides several retirement, financial and tax calculations related to estate planning. Each line of data is validated to ensure accuracy, and inapplicable fields are disabled automatically. Three different scenarios may be computed simultaneously for side-by-side comparisons and detailed analysis.

CCH FinEst Calcs costs $395. More information: CCH Inc., 2700 Lake Cook Road, Riverwoods, Illinois 60015; 800-248-3248.

7-Hour Power Pack for Laptops

C PA business travelers who need to work on their laptops are guaranteed a maximum of seven hours of power using the 7-Hour Portable Power Pack. The three-pound device is small enough to fit into an airline seat pocket, leaving the entire tray space free for a laptop, and can be plugged into a car cigarette lighter socket.

The user can get nearly a days work from a laptop without bothering to change or recharge the Power Pack. Recharge time of a completely drained Power Pack is estimated to take 8 to 12 hours. The unit can be recharged between 500 and 750 times during the course of its life.

The 7-Hour Portable Power Pack costs $149. More information: 1-800-Batteries, 14388 Union Avenue, San Jose, California 95124; 800-228-8374.

—Vincent Nolan


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