May 2004

Cyber News and Reviews is a monthly column published for parents, teachers & business owners featuring kids educational software reviews, business software reviews (small business & home business), games and entertainment articles, a free resource since 1995.


QuickBooks Premier - Professional Services Edition 2004 from Intuit Inc. and Imaginext Pirate Raider from Fisher-Price and Vivendi Universal Games

By Howard Berenbon

QuickBooks Premier - Professional Services Edition 2004 from Intuit Inc.

In June 2001, I reviewed QuickBooks Pro 2001 and found it the perfect software for any small business.  Not just because the price is right, though that is a consideration, but because it’s a full-featured accounting program with tools you can depend on to help run your business on many levels. You'll prepare estimates, create customizable invoices, track inventory, generate purchase orders, create sales receipts and customer statements, track jobs, create reports and graphics, track expenses and payroll and manage accounts payable and accounts receivable.  Also, you can write checks from any number of business checking accounts, track your business charge card usage, e-mail your invoices and estimates to your customers, share your company files over a network in multi-user mode and track your sales and business taxes.  Now, with QuickBooks Premier – Professional Services Edition 2004, you’ll see many more features, with updates and improvements.

Changes and additions include a professional services navigator and new professional services reports, industry expert help tips, forms and reports e-mailed in the PDF file format, enhanced import and export with Microsoft Excel, improved time tracking, flexible client billing rates, new invoice and proposal form templates, vehicle mileage tracking, improved reconciliation, new tax decision tools, additional form details and more.  In fact, users requested some of the features that were added.  In my previous review I found that you couldn’t e-mail your customer a sales receipt from within the Enter Sales Receipt window.  The e-mail button was missing.   But, you could e-mail an invoice, proposal or estimate from within the Create Invoices or Create Proposals and Estimates windows, where the e-mail button was available.  Now, that’s changed and you can easily send a sales receipt via e-mail from within the Enter Sales Receipt window.  I worked around the problem by creating a sales receipt template from within the invoice window, and then e-mailing the sales receipt invoice.

After a quick installation from a single CD, you’re be running your business through QuickBooks Premier 2004 in no time.  All financial features and functions are easily accessible from the main menu including your bank accounts, checking accounts, charge card accounts, customers, vendors, lists (chart of accounts, price, items, customers, payroll) employees and your reports.  Also, alerts are activated when it's time to pay your bills or if payment is expected from a customer's outstanding invoice.

Before using QuickBooks Premier, you'll need to enter your business information into the setup forms, which can take just an hour or several days, depending on the date you want QuickBooks to start tracking your business activities.  It's recommended that you use your current accounting system to the end of your fiscal year (usually December) and then start using QuickBooks for the new year.  For example, if your business year begins in January, use your old accounting system through December of the previous year.  However, you may begin anytime during the year, but you'll need to enter all your business receipts, expenses, invoices and etc., starting from January through to the present. If you need technical support over the phone it’s available, but for a fee.  However, free self-service support is available online.

Whenever you need help, you're just a mouse click away from step-by-step detailed instructions for any task.   Help is available from the Help Menu as well as within the page you're accessing.  For example, if you're creating an invoice, and have a question relating to the procedures, click on the "How Do I?" button, in the margin of the invoice template.  A new feature allows you to type in your question, and them press the ASK button for help.  It searches the help files and gives you a list of files to look through for your answer.

A very important next step for your business is to setup your accounts receivables and accounts payables and customize your forms (invoices, estimates and sales receipts).  You’ll also want to enter your product descriptions, price and services, with the specific fees you charge for each item.  Now you're ready to process your product orders or create estimates for the services you offer and let QuickBooks manage your receipts and expenses, and process your invoices.  After you've created an invoice, estimate or sales receipt, it's easy to e-mail to your customer or client over the Internet.  It’s now send in Adobe Acrobat PDF file format.   If you don't care to use the Internet, you can fax your invoices right from QuickBooks, or print them for snail mailing.

This is a full-featured business accounting system complete with all the necessary tools to run your small business effectively and efficiently.  Once you’ve used QuickBooks Premier for your business, you’ll wonder why you hadn’t used it before.  It’s easy to use, very inexpensive (for a professional business application), and just a great product.  If you’re considering starting a small business, you should have QuickBooks Premier installed in your computer and ready to go from day one. 

QuickBooks Premier - Professional Services Edition 2004 sells for  $299.99 after a $120 rebate, and will run on any multimedia PC, 350 MHz Pentium II or faster (recommended) with Windows 98/NT 4/2000/Me, with 64 MB RAM and double-speed (2x) CD-ROM drive. 

Imaginext Pirate Raider from Fisher-Price and Vivendi Universal Games

Imaginext Pirate Raider is fantasy game with a pirates theme from Fisher-Price and Vivendi Universal for kids ages 5 and up. The goal is to sail the salty seas in search of an abandoned, but powerful, pirate ship.  Kids will begin the adventure by building a sea worthy ship with cannons, armor and add a crew.  As you search for the pirate ship you’ll need to avoid monsters, thunderstorms and swashbuckling skeletons.  You’ll also find treasure used to strengthen your ship and prepare for the final adventure: to become the Pirate King.  In your journey to become king of the sea, you’ll find great 2-D and 3-D graphics, pirate style music and realistic sounds, all in 25 different adventures.

After a quick installation from a single CD, you and your kids will be roaming the seas in search of gold and the abandoned pirate ship. First, you’ll sign in (with the help of a talking parrot) and then view a short movie for background information, and then you’re on to the Mission Screen where you’ll meet your First Mate, Solomon Goodfellow, to guide you from mission to mission.  Your first mission will be to find and sink a pirate ship.  Click “Set Sail” and you’re on your way to victory and gold.  You’ll use the keyboard arrow keys to move your ship, and when you find the pirate vessel, use the spacebar to fire your cannons.  If you sink the ship you’ll get the gold, and then on to your next mission.  At anytime during your voyage, you can click a button on the tool bar to return to Buccaneer Bay to re-supply and make repairs if needed.  You’ll use your gold to buy weapons and other provisions.  Then it’s back to battle stations and on to the next mission.  You could be firing on an enemy for or searching for treasure on a pirate ship you boarded.

As a bonus in the box you’ll find a small plastic figure of a bearded pirate with a sword dressed in the typical pirate garb for kids ages 4 and up.  Although the software has a rating of E for “everyone” I think the upper limit would be age 8.  Becky, my 9-year-old, wasn’t at all interested in the game.  She does like fantasy adventure games, but this one was way to simple for her.

Imaginext Pirate Raider sells for $16.99 and will run on any multimedia PC, Pentium II 266 MHz or faster, 64 MB RAM with Windows 98/ME/2000/XP and a 24x CD-ROM drive. It also runs on a Power Mac G3 300 MHz or faster with 64 MB RAM and a 24x CD-ROM drive.

Software Companies Mentioned

Intuit Inc.
2500 Garcia Ave.
Mountain View, CA 94043
Phone: 1-800-446-8848

Vivendi Universal Games
4247 S. Minnewana Ave.
Fresno, CA 93725
Phone:  310-649-8004