In Charge At Home!- by Brian L. Juergensmeyer

In Charge At Home! by Spitfire Software is an entry level financial package that is included as part of the IBM Family FunPak for OS/2. It contains a subset of the features included with the full In Charge package available separately through Indelible Blue or your favorite OS/2 retail software store.

Installation

Installation of In Charge is relatively simple but some of the setup leaves a bit to be desired. For example while the install program will warn you that a shutdown and reboot will be necessary to use the package, it is not, unless you are using OS/2 2.1 or earlier. A folder will be created on your desktop with a sample set of books, the actual program object, an online manual (in .INF format) and an install facility. The online manual suggests that you work with the sample data books to get used to In Charge's interface. However, if you have ever used another financial program, you will probably be familiar almost immediately. Pleasantly, the FunPak de-install feature works flawlessly if you should decide you don't prefer In Charge.

Basic Features

Setting up your accounts is a simple matter of telling In Charge that you want a new account (gif 6.6k) added to your books and then telling In Charge what type of account it is. In Charge supports checking, savings, credit card, and investment (money market, securities, and mutual fund, etc.) accounts. These accounts can be marked as tax-deferred and brokerage accounts. The use of Check-Free is also supported. You then give pertinent information (account number, institution name, etc.) and the account is created. The use of different currencies is also supported between accounts.

What is not very easy to follow (or to do) is to set up your printer to print checks. Be prepared to waste paper in an attempt to get them to print properly. Instead of the program storing common check formats (i.e. an individual check, a sheet of 3 checks, etc.), you must wade through two settings pages and give printer setup strings, line spacings, and tab stops. It took me some 2 hours to get everything set up properly and involved referring many times to my printer manual to retrieve setup strings for switching the printer to landscape mode, to center text, and other things.

Once accounts are set up, adding transactions to them is very easy. Simply select the account that you wish to modify and choose either the Register view (gif 12k) or Enter Account Transactions (gif 11k). Like most other home financial software, you may track your transactions by category. A handy feature here is the ability to split an expense between two or more categories. For example, if you were to buy a new car stereo, you could split the cost of the car stereo between "Automotive" and "Electronics". You are also able to tell In Charge how much (in percentage terms) of the cost to give to each category.

Negative Aspects

The interface for entering account transactions is not the best that I have ever seen. The same dialog box is used for every transaction in my checking account. The only difference between any two transactions is that, when entering a check transaction, there is a line for "Payee", while in the rest of those transactions, that line is marked "Comment". This can lead to confusion if you are trying to tell at a glance if you are entering a check, an ATM transaction, or making a deposit.

Another problem is that there is no ability to enter service charges for a transaction along with the transaction. For instance, if I use my ATM card at another bank, my bank charges a $1.00 service charge. In Quicken, I could enter that service charge along with the transaction. With In Charge, I cannot. This also applies to reconciling accounts.

Tech support for In Charge may be obtained from Spitfire Software between 8:00 a.m. and 5:00 p.m. Monday through Friday. The call is not toll-free, however. Support is also provided through the CompuServe OS2AVEND forum and through the internet. And of course, since In Charge is part of the FunPak bundle, paper documentation is almost nonexistent.

Conclusion

In Charge is a capable program for the home user. It may not be the prettiest thing that I've ever seen, but it works and is native OS/2. However, I would not purchase the FunPak specifically for In Charge. However, since I purchased the FunPak specifically for Star Emperor, I was happy to see that In Charge was included and having it there made me more willing to pay the price for the CD.
 * In Charge at Home!
Spitfire Software
(available as part of the IBM Family FunPak)
Published by: IBM
SRP: US$49
Brian L. Juergensmeyer is a college senior majoring in microbiology, who does OS/2 consulting work in the Manhattan, KS area. He is annoying the VA hospital in Topeka, Kansas (where he actually works) by trying to get their IS manager to convert from NT/WfW 3.11 to Warp Connect/Warp Server.

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