logs the usage of computer time. Information logged
includes login date/time, operator, project name,
and logout date/time.
For many years, tax experts have said that computer
expenses being deducted at tax time may be
challenged in the event of an audit. Since most
computer owners have no evidence to prove the actual
percentage of computer time used for business
purposes, the IRS frequently disallows the
deduction. Tax experts agree, however, that the
most effective means of substantiating such a claim
is a log.
For some people, this sensible advice would be
reason enough to start a log immediately.
Unfortunately, most of us are not endowed with that
much discipline. Well then, for the rest of us
there is now an even better reason.
On July 18, 1984 a new tax law went into effect.
The Deficit Reduction Act of 1984 states in one of
its provisions that personal property used less
than 50% for business purposes is subject to a new
restriction. A log of the properties business uses
must be maintained.
Syslog provides the log you will need to support
your tax deduction, and does so in a relatively
unobtrusive way. Since your computer will keep
accurate date and time data, all you need to provide
for the log is the operators initials and a
description of what project is being done.
For your information, Syslog was written in
MS-Pascal ver 3.2, and was compiled to run under
MS-DOS 2.0 or greater OS's. A new version of this
program is currently 'under construction' and is
being written in 'C'. The improvements are aimed at
reducing the size of the program, as well as adding
some new features.
Syslog expects to find the log file, SYSyy.LOG
(where yy is the current year), in the root
directory, although the program itself may reside
in any directory. When the New Log option is used
to create a new log, Syslog will put the log in the
root directory of the default drive. If you need
further explanation of the DOS root and sub
directories, see your MS-DOS manual for a complete
discussion of the topic.
o Getting Started
In order to use Syslog you will first need to copy
the file 'SYSLOG.EXE' onto your boot disk. Do this
with the DOS COPY command.
o Entering Parameters
Syslog commands are entered as parameters.
Parameters are specified at the DOS prompt when the
program is executed. This method should be familiar
since many DOS commands work in the same way.
Upper or lower case letters may be used to enter
parameters. Only one parameter may be used per
invocation of the the program; multiple parameters
are not supported.
Some parameters also accept time and date qualifiers
to further limit their response. Either '-' or '/'
may be used as separators in entering dates (ex.
1-1-84 or 7/4/84).
When entering time data you must use military time
and ':' must be used to separate the numbers. Only
hours and minutes are entered (ex. 7:45 or 17:00);
seconds are not used in any entries. Military time
is very easy to use once you get the hang of it.
For any time after noon, simply add 12 to the hour.
Appendix B contains a complete list of available
Note: Syslog looks for the log file each time it is
run. If the file is not found, the error
message 'System Log File Not Found' is
o Setting up a Log - /N
Before you can begin logging entries with Syslog you
will need to set up a new log file. At the DOS
prompt type: 'SYSLOG/N [Return]'.
Note: The log file name is 'built' using the
current year. Therefore, at the start of
each year you will need to start a new
You will then be prompted for the serial number of
the computer. The serial number can be found on the
back panel of the system unit or on the shipping
container for the system unit. Enter this number
and press [Return].
A new log file will now be created in the root
directory of the default disk drive. The file will
appear in the disk directory as 'SYSyy.LOG' (yy is
the current year).
WARNING: If the /N option is selected and a log
file is found to exist already, you will
be warned that continuing will permanently
erase the existing log. Use caution, and
be sure of what you are doing!
o Making Log Entries - /I, /O
There are two ways to make log entries, the first of
which is to login. Login (/I) is used to create a
new entry in the log. The second way to make a log
entry is to logout. Logout (/O) is used to close an
existing entry. In order to visualize what happens,
it is useful to understand what the log contains.
The log is maintained with six pieces of information
in a completed entry: Date-In, Time-In, Operator,
Project, Date-Out, and Time-Out.
Whenever a login is performed, the first four items
are filled in. The computer will supply the date-in
and time-in, while you are required to enter the
operator and project. The date-out and time-out are
left blank. Log entries which do not yet have the
date-out and time-out completed are called OPEN
entries. An open entry is always the result of a
Whenever a logout is performed, the date-out and
time-out information is completed. Once the
date-out and time-out are entered, the entry is
CLOSED. A closed entry is always the result of a
You are now ready to login; at the DOS prompt type:
At the 'Oper :' prompt, enter the operators initials
and press [Return]. A maximum of three characters
may be entered for the operator; longer entries are
Next you will be prompted to enter a description of
the project. At the 'Project :' prompt you may enter
up to sixteen characters and then press [Return].
Again, longer entries will be truncated.
Having now completed a login, you now have three
ways available to close the open entry just created.
1. Logout the entry using the current date and
time. Type 'SYSLOG/O [Return]' at the DOS prompt.
2. Logout the entry using a specified date and
time. Type 'SYSLOG/O hh:mm mm-dd-yy [Return]',
substituting the closing time and date that you
need. The time may be specified alone and in that
case the current date will be used. If the time and
date supplied precede the login date and time an
3. Logout the entry and then login a new entry.
Type 'SYSLOG/I [Return]' at the DOS prompt. You
will be prompted for the closing date and time of
the open entry before the new entry is created.
o Display Last Entry - /L
Sometimes you will want to look at the last entry in
the log. The /L parameter displays the last log
entry on your display screen along with other
information about the log such as date started,
number of entries, status of last entry, and
computer serial number. At the DOS prompt type:
o Printing the Log - /P
Printing the log is an essential feature. If you
can't show your log to anyone, it won't be of much
use to you. The /P parameter allows you to print
the current log or a log from any other year. You
may also specify the date from which printing will
To print the entire contents of this year's log, the
/P parameter is used alone. At the DOS prompt type:
If you are interested in only printing a part of the
log, you can specify a date with the /P parameter
and Syslog will begin printing from that date
forward. If, for example, you wanted to print the
log entries for the second half of 1984 you would
enter: 'SYSLOG/P 7-1-84 [Return]'.
The same technique of specifying a date is used to
print a log from another year. If you wanted to
print the entire 1983 log (assuming, of course, that
the 1983 log file is located in the root directory)
you would enter: 'SYSLOG/P 1-1-83 [Return]'.
Terminate a long printout at any time by pressing
o Erase Last Entry - /E
Occasionally it may be neccessary to erase an entry
which has been made incorrectly. The /E parameter
has been provided for this purpose. Erased entries
are not actually removed from the log. The project
name is simply changed to read 'ERASED', and the
number of entries counter is decremented. When the
log is printed, the erased entry will show up on the
list until a new entry is created to replace the
At the DOS prompt type: 'SYSLOG/E [Return]'.
Use of this feature should be limited due to the
fact that corruption of the log will make its use as
a reliable tax document subject to serious question.
WARNING: The /E option will permanently erase the
last entry. You will be warned of this
and given the opportunity to stop. Use
caution, and be sure of what you are
In actual use the program should be 'forced' upon
the computer user to insure that entries are
made in real time. The best way to accomplish this
is to include the statement 'SYSLOG/I' in an
autoexec.bat file on the boot disk. This technique
will force a login and allow the logout of an open
entry if one is found.
If you are using any software to set the system
clock with a clock card, make sure that Syslog is
run AFTER the time and date have been correctly set.
If you do not have a clock card, include the two DOS
commands, DATE and TIME, in your autoexec.bat file.
DOS will not prompt you for the date and time when
an autoexec.bat fill is used.
Log entries use 48 bytes each in disk storage space.
At 350 entries per year, this amounts to a log file
which will reach about 17K bytes over the course of
a year. This is not a very large file; however, it
may exceed the available space on the DOS Disk if
you are using a single sided disk drive.
One way to avoid this problem is to create a 'boot
disk' which you can always use to start up your
computer. This would be a disk that contained only
those files needed at boot time, such as software to
set the system clock, electronic disks, print
spoolers, screen saver, etc. (and DOS, of course).
/P [date] - Print the contents of the log. If a
date is supplied in the form mm-dd-yy, all
entries from that date to the present will
be printed. If a date is specified, then
the year given will be used to select the
/I - Make Log Entry. The current date/time are used
for the new entry. If a prior entry is
open, the user is prompted for the closing
time/date and the entry is closed before a
new entry is started.
/O [time[date]] - Close Log Entry. If a time/date
is supplied, then it will be used to close
the entry otherwise the current date and
time are used.
/L - List Last Entry.
/E - Erase Last Entry.
/N - Start New Log.