Thursday, March 30, 2006

MoneyLink Deluxe Edition?

David Kendall, from Ultrasoft who provide the MoneyLink software (allowing you to view your Microsoft Money data in Microsoft Excel), has posted to the Ultrasoft support forums to get feedback on a possible 'Deluxe' edition of the software.

In addition, there is a poll to ask whether people would be interested.

Here's what he says:

From time to time, people ask about MoneyLink Deluxe.

We had planned a -Deluxe and Business Edition-, with features driven by
user demand. But interest from the user community never materialized, so
it remains on the on the drawing board.

If you have any ideas for features we could add to a commercial (i.e.
not free) edition of MoneyLink, please post them here!

Where 'here' is the Ultrasoft support forum at: MoneyLink Deluxe Edition - Support Forum

Redirection in the site

The site uses extensive redirection, as the FAQ items are retrieved dynamically from a database.

The tool I use use UrlRewritingNet.UrlRewrite, which provides me with permanent and temporary redirection, regular expression support, and a number of other things which makes it easier to provide 'nice' URLs (ie, without QueryString parameters).

The UrlRewriting.NET code has just had an update, which will be deployed onto the site shortly.

Tuesday, March 28, 2006

Cost basis in foreign investments

One of perhaps the more annoying issues with Microsoft Money, is when you have investments in a currency which isn't the base currency in the file.

The article: Cost basis in foreign investments, explains an issue where the price will change on a daily basis, because it is recalculated based on the prevailing exchange rate.

IMHO, this could be greatly reduced by remembering the exchange rate at the time of the 'buy' investment transaction, but it's probably a bigger problem than that, as one would need to remember all investment transaction exchange rates, and then do some humongous calculations to get the correct figure out.

However, might be one for lobbying to Microsoft.

Sunday, March 26, 2006

Stopping the MoneySide (Money Viewer) opening automatically

Stopping the MoneySide (Money Viewer) opening automatically.

MoneySide (or the Money Viewer) has been removed from Microsoft Money, but for those people still using it, this article says how to stop it opening automatically when using Internet Explorer.

Friday, March 17, 2006

Security in Microsoft Money

New article - Security in Microsoft Money.

Security is important in Microsoft Money, but is only as good as the weakest link in the chain.

Microsoft are very secretive on their security policies, so it is difficult to ascertain too many details. They do take it seriously though, and use various mechanisms to protect the data that is held on MSN Money servers, as well as to secure your own file.

Some of the security information that I have managed to find is on the article.

Wednesday, March 15, 2006

Generating 'FAQ Article xxx' links

In the website, i often refer to or cross-reference FAQ Articles. In general, they are linked as "FAQ Article XXX" which will open the link in the browser when clicked.

To ease development and page generation, I use a shortcut to generate these links - I code the FAQ Article number between square brackets [[ ]], which then generates a hyperlink and also adds a tooltip on the link with the title of the article.

ie, [[340]] turns into: FAQ Article 340.

To do this, I use Response.Filter in the Global.asax to utilise some code I found at

Sub Application_BeginRequest(ByVal sender As Object, ByVal e As EventArgs)
If Not Request.Url.PathAndQuery.ToLower.IndexOf(".aspx") = -1 Then
Response.Filter = New MyHttpFilter(Response.Filter)
End If
End Sub

The filter itself is as above from the codeproject site. I change the 'Write' function though with my own customization.
Public Overrides Sub Write(ByVal MyBuffer() As Byte, _
ByVal offset As Integer, ByVal count As Integer)
Dim data(count) As Byte
Buffer.BlockCopy(MyBuffer, offset, data, 0, count)
Dim s As String = System.Text.Encoding.UTF8.GetString(data)
Dim myDelegate As New MatchEvaluator(AddressOf MatchHandler)
Dim pattern As String = "\[\[(\d{2,})\]\]"
Dim re As New Regex(pattern, RegexOptions.Multiline _
Or RegexOptions.IgnoreCase)
s = re.Replace(s, myDelegate)
' Finally, we spit out what we have done.
Dim outdata() As Byte = System.Text.Encoding.UTF8.GetBytes(s)
_sink.Write(outdata, 0, outdata.GetLength(0))
End Sub 'Write

Private Function MatchHandler(ByVal m As Match) As String
Dim mFaqId As String
Dim faqTitle As String = ""
Dim returnString as string = "<a "
mFaqId = m.Groups(1).Value
Dim c As New cacheClass
Dim dv As DataView
dv = c.getfaqList()
dv.RowFilter = "id = '" & mFaqId & "'"
faqTitle = CStr(dv.Item(0).Item("title")).Replace(Chr(34), "''")
Catch ex As Exception
End Try
returnString += "title=" & Chr(34) & faqTitle & Chr(34)
returnString += " href=" & Chr(34) & "/faq/article/" & _
mFaqId & ".aspx" & Chr(34) & " >"
returnString += "FAQ Article " & mFaqId & "</a>"
Return returnString
End Function

Note how it uses the regular expression to find a match and make the change.

The whole aim is to reduce the time I spend on the site - it does that nicely!

Sunday, March 12, 2006

Customizing the home page or default first page in Money

Two new articles on customization of the home page or initial startup page in Money.

If you regularly dip into Money, and all you want to do is enter the account register, then starting in the account list could be for you - should save some initial time.

Another useful starting point is your previous ending point, so you can carry on where you left off the previous time.

In addition, the 'home' page can be customized to one of two options.

Use this account in the budget

A short new article has been added. Use this account in the budget.

Account details allow you to select whether the account is used in the budget. However sometimes the option is not available. In the article, which will undoubtedly expand over time, the criteria for having the option available in Microsoft Money are explained.

More articles relating to the budget in Microsoft Money can be found on the budget FAQ pages.

Money 2007 - no news

I've had a number of questions to me asking about Money 2007.

Firstly, there is no news to report at this time. Any news I do have, that I can pass on, will be put on the money 2007 page on the site, and some will be posted in here too.

It is not clear what versions will be available - will there even be a version or not? What about the UK or other countries that didn't get Money 2006?

There are lots of unanswered questions, that only time will provide us with the answers.

Talking of time, just under a year ago (24 March 2005) the invites for the beta program went out. This acts as a good indicator as to the time the released product comes out (3 months later, based on history).

Perhaps we'll start seeing something soon.

Sunday, March 05, 2006

Two new articles

Two new articles for the Microsoft Money FAQ site today, both of which have been on my list to add for quite a while.

The first is Specifications for download formats (OFX, QIF and OFC) - basically a page to provide download and/or reference details for the specifications of these files.

Secondly, a page which shows the Money window (Menus and options in the Microsoft Money Window), showing and explaining the various bits of it. Some of it is pretty obvious, but I have been approached in the past regarding the layout. It is likely that, over time, I'll use the terminology on this page to ensure there is consistency across the site.

Couple of minor formatting updates to some pages today too - nothing worth mentioning here.

Saturday, March 04, 2006

Setting high and low balance limits for accounts

A new article has been added to the site: Setting high and low balance limits for accounts.

There are many configurable settings in Microsoft Money, and this is one I use a lot. I try to run my finances quite tightly, and so when I have what could be considered 'too much' money in my current/checking account, I like to move that elsewhere to an account with better interest or a longer term savings vehicle (such as an ISA, Premium Bonds or other investment).

In addition, it is useful to know when I am reaching a low balance, and so I can ensure I have enough money in the account to avoid a negative balance and using an overdraft which costs me money.

The expert assistant or Advisor FYI helps me with this - it provides "in your face" warnings on balances.

Books on Microsoft Money

I just went to Amazon and looked to see how many books there were on it. I was surprised to see >40 when I typed in 'Microsoft Money' in the search.

So, it seemed like quite a good idea to get some of those books, and list them on the MS Money FAQ site. Up until now, I had a link on the left hand side doing a search and taking you to Amazon. Now, those links go to some local pages.

There are pages for the usual products that I list product information on, i.e., US, UK and Canada.

I've tried to list only those which had a picture available when I was searching through the relevant Amazon site otherwise the pages would have been even longer.

Note that Canada has more books, as they have all of the French ones too.

What was interesting to see, is that there are very few Money 2005 and Money 2006 books - I guess the 'for dummies' series may have cornered the market here (I wouldn't imagine that the market is big enough to sustain many books though).

Friday, March 03, 2006

Entering a monthly budget item that doesn't occur every month

I've added a slightly complex article to the site - Entering a monthly budget item that doesn't occur every month.

The scenario is to try and track items that occur monthly, but occasionally you don't have to pay them (e.g. UK Council Tax). If you want to get your budget right, especially in earlier versions of Microsoft Money which use the 'advanced budget' (i.e. from when Microsoft changed from the pay yourself first to the current budget).

Getting the budget right is something many people strive and fail to do - Money does things that you might not expect. Hopefully this will help some people get things closer to figures they can understand and trust.

As for me, bring back the pay yourself stuff, or bring on the 60% solution!!!

Thanks to Rednelle in the UK Newsgroup for most of the contents of the FAQ article

Thursday, March 02, 2006

Newton fund update

Okay, this is coming from Microsoft, not me. I know some people will be unhappy with what I will say next.

There have been problems with the Newton funds since sometime around the start of the year. I reported earlier in the week on the Microsoft Money newsgroups, that Microsoft were working on fixing them, which they have been.

However, Microsoft have identified that the fix for the Newton funds is not trivial, and can not be implemented immediately. What they do say, is that changing it in the live environment now might break other things, and they don't want to risk the whole feed for one set of funds.

The fix should be implemented in a few months, as part of a larger number of changes (I guess the MSN Money updates that they tend to do around May time).

This is going to disappoint some people, I know.