Alice for Windows


Dual Barcode / Spine Label Report

Printing the resource barcode and spine label at the same time saves time and including the title on the barcode simplifies matching the labels to the correct item.

Download this self extracting file LabelrZ5.exe to install this new Resource Barcode / Spine Label report into Alice.
Note: If your Alice is not installed in L:\OASIS you will need to adjust the ‘Unzip to folder’ appropriately.

This report is designed to print on the Dual Labels available from XJ’s Pty Ltd (http://xjs.com.au phone (03) 5968 6755. They cost $60.50 (in June 2010) for a pack of 100 sheets (1800 labels). Smaller packs are also available. The layout is 9 rows (32mm high) x 2 columns (100mm wide) with a 5mm margin all round the edge of the sheet. Each of the 18 labels contains two sections. The Barcode section is 75mm wide and the Spine label section is 25mm wide. If you want this report to work properly, use these exact labels.

Report Management, Forms, Labels, Z5 - Spine/Barcode Labels 2 x 9 (Dual Labels from XJ's) (1 line Dewey) is based on 55 – Spine/Barcode Labels 2x9 (Specialised)

 

The changes are:


Reset SHUTDOWN Machine

To make a computer the SHUTDOWN machine:

System, Parameters, Library, Shutdown:

 

 

Click EDIT (blue Pencil icon)

Place a tick in the box 'This Is the Shutdown Machine'

Click SAVE (Yellow disk icon)

 

Any computer that was previously the Shutdown Machine will lose this status and the computer where this change is made will become the Shutdown Machine

 


Generic Individual Overdue Notice

Alice has many customised Individual Overdue Notice formats in Circulation, Notices, Individual Overdue Notices, but as these include site specific details like a particular school’s name and address, they are no use to other schools.

This format, BZ – Overdue Letter (Generic), provides a single page per borrower Overdue Notice, addressed for use with window faced envelopes. It removes the hard coded school specific details and replaces these with the same information from Alice Parameter settings so it is suitable for use by any school.

To install:

Download and RUN this installation file: INDOVNBZ.EXE

This will add the report format file INDOVNBZ.SRF into L:\OASIS\ROASIS.

 

Note: If your Alice installation is non standard, you will need to change the destination path to the location of the .SRF files in your Alice system.

 

To Run:

Circulation, Notices, Individual Overdue Notices, BZ – Overdue Letter (Generic)


Print ISBN List

SCIS now has the option to provide book cover images with each SCISWEB catalogue record order. By reprocessing the ISBNs already in your catalogue you can ‘harvest’ cover images to load into Alice.

You can use this report to export a list of ISBNs from your current catalogue into a file. It adds an extra report to

 

Reports, Management, MARC Export:

99 – ISBN Export

 

To install:

Download and RUN this installation file: MARCXB99.EXE

This will add the report format file MARCXB99.SRF into L:\OASIS\ROASIS.

 

Note: If your Alice installation is non standard, you will need to change the destination path to the location of the .SRF files in your Alice system.


Additional Borrower Barcode Reports for Alice

Download this self extracting file REPORTS.EXE to install these new Borrower Card and Label reports into Alice.

Report S9 is particularly good for printing class sheets of borrower barcodes.

Circulation, Forms, Borrower Cards

BcardrS2         Borrower labels – Big names Companion Stock (3x10)
BcardrS3         with crest, School Name, Phone, Large borrower names
BcardrS9         Borrower labels – Big names and barcode Companion Stock (3x10)
BcardrW1        Borrower labels – with larger Borrower name – Avery 5371 (2x5)

Management, Forms, Spine Labels

LabelrS1          Spine labels with no location – Avery Laser L7651 (5x13)
LabelrS2          Spine labels lower – Similar to L7651 (5x13)


Windows NT, 2000 and XP workstations and Alice

Running Alice on a Windows NT, 2000 or XP workstation has additional configuration requirements.

  1. Edit FILES=255 into the CONFIG.NT file.
    This file is located in C:\WINNT\SYSTEM32 for NT and 2000;
    C:\WINDOWS\SYSTEM32 for XP;
    %SYSTEMROOT%\SYSTEM32 for non standard installations
  2. Modify Security on the Alice local workstation directory C:\WINNT\AFW (C:\WINDOWS\AFW for XP)
    Run Afw.exe logged on with Administrator rights to the local workstation to allow Alice to create this directory and the work files it contains.
    Use Windows Explorer to grant [Full Rights] to 'Authenticated Users' to this ..\AFW directory.
    If the user has insufficient rights the symptoms are:
    - Asked for a Machine Name at every Alice logon
    - Inquiry will crash when an Advanced search is attempted
    - Inquiry and Circulation/Loans will not start at all.
  3. Rename or delete AFWLANG.DEF from the base Alice Directory.
    If this file is present, NT, 2000 and XP workstations will take a very long time to start Alice and will create an enormous amount of network traffic while loading.

Internet Inquiry Installation Notes

Notes about installing Alice Internet Inquiry


How to identify AfW version from the data

The size and date/time of LLANGMAS.D will indicate which version of AfW from which the data has been derived.

Version

Size

Bytes

Date

Time

5.33

3,572

3,657,262

24-11-99

09:40a

5.40

3,981

4,076,169

08-03-01

06:51a

5.42

4,034

4,130,633

11-10-00

03:06p

5.45

3,915

4,007,964

19-02-01

04:07p

5.46

4,113

4,211,564

08-06-01

08:38a

5.48

4,430

4,535,797

04-09-02

10:55a

5.49

4,772

4,885,989

15-04-02

04:09p

5.50

5,110

5,232,109

07-02-03

11:13a


Enable new menu items after upgrade (security)

The dots on new menu items are RED after an upgrade because they are not automatically added to the AfW security.

To change the security settings for the new items:

System, Security, Settings

Select a Security Group
to modify

Right click on the menu item

Context menu.

Open

Add To Favourites

─────────────

View

Print

Edit

Add

Delete

─────────────

What’s This

From the middle section of the popup context menu, tick the appropriate properties from View, Print, Edit, Add, Delete.

Note: Not all menu dots will have all these properties.

Hint: Ticking Add will automatically tick View and Edit. Unticking View will remove all ticks.

Repeat for other menu dots.

When finished, close the Select Group Window.


AfW 5.40 - Real quick start installation notes

Want to install or upgrade to AfW 5.40 without the bother of reading too much? These instructions are for you!


Very Slow Performance from AfW Circulation

Many AfW sites have recently reported very slow performance when lending or returning items in circulation. At times it will take up to 8 seconds to process a loan or return. Installation of Windows NT Service Pack 6 appears to be implicated and ACT schools have been advised to uninstall Windows NT Service Pack 6 and install Service Pack 5 on stations that will perform circulation. The symptoms have been observed on AfW 5.25 and AfW 5.33 sites and also sites with Windows 95 workstations.

The symptoms occur when more than one station is running AfW in management mode.

Inquiry Only access via AFWOPAC.EXE does not cause slow down of the circulation station.

If Circulation is being used on one workstation and any AfW menu option is selected on a second workstation, response on the Circulation station will plummet to take around 8 seconds to process a loan or return. Terminating the module selected at the second workstation will not immediately restore normal performance to the Circulation station, however, closing the Circulation window and the starting circulation again will restore normal operation.

A temporary workaround for small libraries is to have no other stations running AfW management options while circulation is begin performed, but this is hardly practical for a large library.


Shutdown Station Lost

One workstation in AfW is designated as the Shutdown Station. When you exit from AfW on this computer, you are given the option to go through the AfW Shutdown procedure. This includes:

If AfW fails for any reason, it will require a system check to be performed at the shutdown station. Sometimes AfW 'forgets' which station is the shutdown station and then you are stuck. AfW will only do the system check at the shutdown station, but you no longer have a shutdown station. There are three ways around this depending on the version of AfW being used.

  1. Temporarily tell AfW that nothing is wrong so you can re-establish the shutdown station.
    - Rename \OASIS\FLAG.??? to be FLAG.OK
    - Start AfW and use System, Parameters, Library, Shutdown, This is the shutdown machine to reset the shutdown machine status. DO NOT MAKE ANY OTHER CHANGES TO ALICE.
    - Exit from AfW. DO NOT run a Shutdown.
    - Rename \OASIS\FLAG.OK back to whatever it was before and restart AfW.
  1. Start AfW with the /MACHINE:n parameter until you find the entry which belongs to the shutdown station
    Click Start, Run, Browse to AFW.EXE and add to the command line /MACHINE:1
    e.g.
    L:\OASIS\AFW.EXE /MACHINE:1
    If that doesn't make AfW think it is the Shutdown Machine, try /MACHINE:2 and so on until it does.
  1. Logon using the Password of the Day.
    This will temporarily make this workstation the Shutdown Machine and will allow the system check (and any recovery that may be required) to proceed.
    Then use System, Parameters, Library, Shutdown, This is the shutdown machine to reset the shutdown machine status.
    The Password of the Day can be obtained from Softlink and Catholic CEO support.

Note: Losing the shutdown station seems to be particularly prevalent on NT workstations particularly if you logon with a different username. I suspect that this is because AFW.INI is stored somehow as part of the individual user's profile.

Starting Alice from a different path will cause a different machine number to be assigned and only one of these will correspond to the Shutdown machine.
For example; if L: is mapped to
\\SERVER\ALICE$, then \\SERVER\ALICE$\OASIS\AFW.EXE and L:\OASIS\AFW.EXE will both start Alice but will produce two Machine entries in AFW.INI each with a different machine number.


Refreshing Borrower Data from OASIS Admin

Borrower details can be refreshed into Alice from OASIS Admin using System, Data Loading, Borrower Load.

Step by Step

  1. Before you start: Check in System, Parameters, Library, Barcode that the Next Borrower Barcode is correct and that the Incrementing Character Position is 5.
  2. Prepare the refresh data disk in OASIS Admin Extras (CEO Reports and Utilities) v 00202 or later, using F5/G4 -Borrowers to Afw Lib.
    Select <A>fW Borrowers,
    <S>tudent,
    <A>ll Students,
    [F10],
    <P>rint,
    Floppy <A>,
    Filename 'STUDENT'.

    Do NOT use OASIS E2/I3. This option will NOT work with AfW.
  3. Login to AfW and copy the data for loading at Afw Shutdown using System, Data Loading, Borrower Load. Select Comma Delimited as the format to load. Choose Borrower Type, Loan Category and Barcode Prefix appropriate to your library.
    Tick the REFRESH box if the transfer file contains ALL students and you want Alice to delete students who have left the school. Students with outstanding loans will not be deleted.

  1. Do an AfW Shutdown to actually load the borrower records and archive the changes.
  2. Review the newly added borrower records using Circulation, File, Borrower.
  3. Establish Loan Limits for the new borrowers using Circulation, Global Change, Limits of by editing each borrower record individually.

Issues:

  1. Borrower data is not actually loaded into Afw until an Afw Shutdown is performed.
  2. The Shutdown will force a data archive which may take quite some time for a large library
  3. Borrower records will be duplicated if borrowers have been entered directly into AfW with no Student Code or an incorrect Student Code. AfW uses the Student code to match student records and will create a new borrower record if a borrower with a matching Student Code is not found.

Installation Hints

Before Starting the installation:

  1. Set FILES=255 in CONFIG.SYS or CONFIG.NT
  2. Set Language to English (Australian)

FLAG.OK must exist in the \OASIS directory or the upgrade will fail.

ALOG.D must be empty.

Upgrades from OASIS v2 directly to AfW 5.32 appear to work, but LOANS will fail with 'Files remain open' error message. Workaround is to upgrade to AfW 5.25 first and then upgrade this version of AfW to 5.32.

This problem has been resolved with release 5.33


Performance

  1. Alice wants LOTS of performance in all three components: Server, Network and Workstations. A top rate server will not make up for slow workstations and fast workstations will not make up for a slow server. An overtaxed network with lots of traffic can also be a performance bottleneck.
  2. If you have a choice of operating system, NT Server coupled with NT workstation will give the best results for a given set of hardware.
  3. Comparative operating system testing with identical hardware (Cyrix 333 CPU) yielded the following results with the Alice performance test.

         An NT 4.0 server (128Mb RAM) gave performance figures twice that of the same hardware running Novell Netware 4.11

         An NT 4.0 Workstation (64Mb RAM) gave performance figure twice that of the same hardware running Windows 95B.

         Windows 98 was not tested but I would expect results similar to those of Windows 95                

No attempt was made to optimise either server or workstation other than to NOT use the default of disk compression on the Novell server which is known to affect performance horribly.

  1. 100MHz networking made only a moderate difference in the Alice Performance test figures, but dramatically reduced the program startup time from 15 seconds to just 3 seconds.
  2. Alice, like any bloatware Windows application, LOVES memory. The absolute minimum memory for any workstation running Alice should be: Windows 95: 32Mb, Windows 98: 48Mb, Windows NT and 2000: 64Mb
  3. I have had acceptable performance with Alice Inquiry from machines as low on the evolutionary scale as a Pentium 75, when fitted with 64Mb RAM and running Windows NT4.0.
  4. Don't even think of using a 486. I believe that Alice 5.x is compiled in a way that takes advantage of Pentium processor specific optimisations. These have to be emulated on a 486 and the performance is woeful. I have not actually tested this, so I do stand to be corrected on this point.
  5. Alice seems to be more failure prone when run on slow hardware. This is also an empirical observation rather than the result of rigorous testing.
  6. Running Alice from a Novell fileserver with Windows 95 workstations with POLICIES installed (to prevent students trashing the configuration and hence a mandatory requirement in most schools) seems to be terribly and mysteriously unreliable. I never arrived at a conclusion to what caused this in the three sites where this 'poltergeist' configuration wasted hours of my time and drove the library staff to distraction. I (eventually) changed them to NT / NT configuration and the problems no longer occurred.

No warning noises from Circulation

AfW requires that a sound card and speakers be installed in the Circulation workstation.


AfW Error messages - what do they mean?

AfW will sometimes fail with an error message if it meets a situation that it is unable to cope with. Often error messages are caused by Network or computer problems external to Alice, sometimes they occur through file corruption and sometimes for no apparent reason. Some error messages occur more commonly than others and these are the ones that are listed here together with some suggestions as to what they mean.

Errors during Shutdown

By far the most common reason for an error message during Afw Shutdown is that another station is still running AfW. All stations must be logged out of AfW for Shutdown to take place. AfW is tries to make all other stations to logout when you start the Shutdown, but sometimes it does not succeed and an error results. To fix this:

A CDB (Compound DataBase) Error, means that AfW has been unable to access a file in the way it needs to. Sometimes the filename is mentioned in the initial error window, other times it will be listed in the 'Files remain open' window that follows

The file named does not exist or is set to Read Only and cannot be opened in Read/Write mode

AfW will sometimes fail with an error message if it meets a situation that it is unable to cope with. Often error messages are caused by Network or computer problems external to Alice, sometimes they occur through file corruption and sometimes for no apparent reason. Some error messages occur more commonly than others and these are the ones that are listed here together with some suggestions as to what they mean.


Last Updated: 01/07/2009