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Let your computer create certificates of analysis.

COAG or Certificate of Analysis Generator was developed by one of our members, Joe Pyziak, MCIC, based upon his laboratory experience. The program's objective is to supply the customer with a report showing that the product sold to them meets or exceeds the required specifications. Version 3.0 works with pull-down menus and has on-line help for assistance. As well as printing the certificate of analysis (C of A), the user creates customer, product and certificate databases for future reference.

When I first tried to use the program, I tried to call up the manual using the commands supplied in the covering letter. This did not work, so I tried again - several times. As a novice computer user, I am still a very strong believer in reading the instructions; it was traumatic enough to put a new program into my machine and have to do something with it before I could even see the manual.

As always (frequently) when I can't get my machine to do what I want, I called my friend Marv (Silbert) and said "Marv, this (expletive deleted) thing doesn't work, how in the (expletive deleted) do I get the manual?" He, as always, told me I didn't need the manual. After I argued this point for a while, he pointed out that since I wouldn't lose anything even if I loused up the program (providing I work with a copy) I should quit worrying. So I did. I got into the program and wandered around for a while, finding what and where and decided to try and actually create some files. I created a file for a customer and then got really brave and went through the entire reporting process starting with a simulated part, to which I assigned a set of specifications. Everything worked well - I could run it with no difficulties and get it to do whatever I requested.

I still couldn't get it to print the manual. As I said, I'm stubborn. Even if I was running the program and didn't seem to need it, I wanted that manual. I took the disk over to Marv's house and he tried unsuccessfully to call it up. Finally, he looked at the file and said it was ASCII text; so I should be able to read it directly into WordPerfect. I took the disk back to work with me and printed the manual (I'm still a paper and pencil person).

The next step was to try it with real data. As I have not been in QA (quality assurance) for two years, I asked one of our chemists in my old department to create a C of A for one of our products and see how he liked it. He reported back to me that it was simple to use, but for our products (pharmaceuticals and medical devices) there was not quite enough flexibility'. When I asked him to explain, he told me that there was only one line per specification and only room for nine specs. He liked the fields and format and said that if the same fields were spread over two pages and if he could get 12 specifications onto a certificate he would consider buying it (he uses words like fields and knows what they mean in computer talk, which I don't).

In summary, someone very uncomfortable and almost illiterate on computers was able to create files and Cs of A without any instruction other than the prompting that came up on the screen. The things, I could do, seemed to be valuable to someone creating certificates of analysis, storing QA files, and keeping a record of which products were shipped to which customer. For most applications, the capacity for nine specifications should be more than adequate. Editor's Note: Jack's copy followed a minor upgrade and showed Murphy's Law at its best. The name of the manual file was changed and as the program wasn't told, it couldn't find it. This has now been corrected. Joe is also prepared to add the additional capacity if there is sufficient demand.
COPYRIGHT 1990 Chemical Institute of Canada
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Copyright 1990 Gale, Cengage Learning. All rights reserved.

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Author:Clark, Jack
Publication:Canadian Chemical News
Article Type:evaluation
Date:Nov 1, 1990
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