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Update News for August 2014
Here is a quick run-down on what you will find in this bulletin:
To Be Removed From Personal Use Edition
These topics will be dealt with in more detail throughout this bulletin.
As we prepare for the introduction of a new version of Compulife, we are reviewing some of the options and features that will be available in the different editions of Compulife. Currently our Windows product is available as:
One of the options not in the Term4Sale Agent Edition, which is in the personal use and standard editions, is the multi-user log in. It is our intention, in the not too distant future, to remove that option from the personal use edition. The option will continue to be available in the Standard License Edition.
During July I had a call from a subscriber who was using the multi-user log in order to retrieve an old client record that he had entered in previously. He was using the multi-user login to store by client name, something we have suggested as an option in times past. The file was giving him an error and so I had him delete the user folder for that particular log in, and start again. That resolved the problem. He went to another record and ran into the same problem. Needless to say, he was not happy because it seemed to him that all the various user records were lost and he wanted to know what I was going to do about it.
To make matters worse I could not replicate the problem. When I pointed out that he would need to zip up his user folder and email it to me, so I could investigate what was causing the problem, he was even more upset. He wanted me to log in to his computer and fix it.
For the record we don't log in to anyone's computers. I realize that there are some software service operations that do so, but after 32 years of experience doing this, we are not going there. The reason is simple. ANY problem a user has following such an "intervention" will naturally be blamed on the poor service person who last logged into that computer. The complaint would go something like this "My computer was working just fine, except for that one problem, and after you logged into my computer the whole thing is not working properly". Of course the unhappiness with the customer spirals down from there.
It's the same reason we avoid logging into people servers to fix problem related to our internet engine. Often our engine users have complex code written to either talk to the engine, or to obtain and process the results from the engine, and we simply cannot be expected to debug that code. And if we logged into their server, did nothing, and problems occurred from that point forward, guess who get's blamed? It's a lose/lose scenario.
It's why we ask internet engine users to keep the generic pages that we originally provide them with the Internet engine, resident somewhere on their server. That way, if a problem or issue arises, we can go back to the generic pages to test if the internet engine is working properly. If that advice is not followed, then those pages need to be reinstalled so we can test the engine function when a problem is encountered.
Back to the multi-user login. The original purpose of the multi-user log in was to keep two different users from bumping into each other as they ran Compulife from the same computer. Of course if the file in one of those user folders was damaged, we simply delete the user and start over. No real harm. That is of course unless the subscriber was trying to keep some historical record in that folder, and then if it no longer works, we are supposed to fix it. Realistically it can't be done.
The frustration with this user merely underlined the need to re-evaluate the option as we move forward toward introduction of the new version of Compulife. We will no longer be offering the multi-user log-in for personal use edition users. That change will occur some time in the near future. We have no idea who this will impact, as we don't know who uses that option and who doesn't. We suspect that very few will read this and so when we turn the feature off, we will be called by some unhappy folks.
Here are some further thoughts if you are affected.
First, you will be able to upgrade to the Standard License for an additional $100 per year. So if you are a personal user, and like the multi-user login option, then you can continue to have it.
Second, those who use our personal use edition in conjunction with the GBS client database, will be affected. Incidentally, that is the software product we recommend for those who want to maintain records of their clients on their personal computer. The GBS database is integrated into Compulife and lets you automatically run quotes from a client record in the database, and lets you keep historical records (PDF's) of quotes that you did for that client. This is by far the more elegant way to do things and while there is the added cost of having GBS it is worth it.
In order to function with the GBS database we rely upon the multi-user login. What we will probably do is preserve the integration feature in the personal use edition, but if you log into the personal use edition directly, and NOT through GBS, the system will default to the non-multi-user login.
Unfortunately we don't know who has GBS and who uses that function and who doesn't, and most people don't read these bulletins. Too busy of course. Once again, we'll find out pretty quickly when we turn off the function. We'll try to pick a time when we can field the calls from those who suddenly can't make it work. We'll also try to stage it so the function works in the monthly update, and then is turned off in a midmonth update, so some can go back to the monthly update to function temporarily until we are able to upgrade their subscription.
Regardless, we advise against using the multi-user log in to maintain historical client quotes. A few have done so but with the coming roll out of our new software, it would require a lot of additional work to make old user folder information compatible with the new program, and we simply are not going to do it.
Those who use the multi-user log in to keep different people separated on our system will have no problem. The new system will simply use a new folder for users, and the old and new data will not mix. That makes it an easy upgrade for us.
Our next data conversion effort will focus on those products which have Return of Premiums and which use factors to calculate the total premium.
For example, some companies apply a percentage calculation to a premium, in order to convert the non-ROP version of the product to the ROP version. It typically goes something like this:
But the current ROP storage system, which is different from the basic premium storage system, is also different from the new data storage system that we are moving to. Rather than add a third data storage tool for basic premiums, and then convert ROP factors after, we are doing the ROP factor conversion first. That way, once we introduce the new data retrieval system for the new ROP factors, we can remove the old system. That will also give us a chance to debug the new rate storage system with some numbers, and isolate those numbers to a small group of products; those with ROP. If bugs show up, they won't affect non-ROP products.
Currently ROP factors are stored in files called ROPF.D0? (that's D zero ?) where the ? is the category for the rates. For example, 30 year ROP term is stored in the "M" category and so the ROPF factors for the "M" category are stored in ROPF.D0M. Those factor tables will be replaced with one new file: ROPFT.000. All the ROP factors, for the different categories of ROP products, will be contained in ONE file.
Anyway, after the new ROPFT.000 file has been built and introduced into a newer GOWIN.EXE, we will continue to deliver both ROPF.d0? and ROPFT.000 files. We will maintain both for an interim period of time. That means that those with older copies of our internet engine will still have some time to upgrade the engine that they are using to the new version which will work with the new ROP data file. While there will be a time overlap, no one will want to be too tardy doing the upgrade because once we terminate service for the old ROPF factor files, future changes to that data will not be provided and ROP quotes will be wrong should changes to ROP factors occur.
We think this will also be a great trial run of how the new rate storage and retrieval system works. It means that when we begin to replace basic rate files, we will have already gotten our feet good and wet with that mechanism.
NOTE: The following occurred in the U.S., we did not introduce the new file to Canada. However, you need to still pay attention because eventually, some time in August or September, we will re-introduce the new file that set off Norton.
In August we released a new version of our CQSDOWN.EXE program and Norton decided it had a virus (which of course it didn't have). That produced a number of calls. We went back to the previous edition of CQSDOWN.EXE but we still intend to introduce the new one again, as it addresses some common problems and issues that we routinely run into with some people's systems.
CQSDOWN.EXE is the program file that is used by Compulife to download Compulife software updates from the internet.
One of the problems we encounter from time to time is that some subscribers computers download an update file, and then shortly after a newer version of the update file is placed on our server. Some customers, if they attempt to download that file again, do not get the new file, but rather a copy of the previous download from their computer's "cache".
Cache is used by some systems to store files previously downloaded from the internet, so that if the file is requested again, it can be displayed from the computer cache rather than download a fresh version from the internet.
While this is a clever way to speed up downloads of some file, and to reduce actual internet bandwidth use, the fact is that it can be a nasty headache for those who need a fresh copy of the same file, not the previous edition.
This becomes a real pain for us when a customer gets a bad download of an update, and the file is corrupt. When they request it again, they get the same corrupt file from their own computer's cache. It's like a dog chasing its tail.
The same thing happens with subscription renewal files, which are also downloaded by CQSDOWN.EXE. 45 days before the termination of a subscription, our program starts looking for a newer subscription file than the one on the computer. The subscription file is a tiny file that is pulled from our server. If we put a new one up on the server, having received payment, the subscriber may end up not being able to get it right away because the computer is pulling the old copy from its own cache, and not the new one from the interet. This is a particular pain in the butt if the subscriber is late paying their subscription, and needs the new file in order to run an update. Up until now the only solution is to run RENEW.EXE, another pain in the butt because virus programs routinely complain about that.
To address the issue our programmer came up with a way to force a fresh download everytime, bypassing the cache of the computer. Unfortunately that new edition set off Norton, requiring users to go into their Norton system and remove CQSDOWN.EXE from quarantine. Of course many people who put Norton on their computers have no idea how to operate it, and we don't service or support any anti-virus products.
Norton is not the only anti-virus product that gives us trouble, but it has always seemed to be the worst offender, and you can read about it here:
Putting a product like Norton on your computer, and not knowing how to use it, is like buying a gun for home defense which has a safety. If you forget or fail to learn how to use the safety, it's pointless having the gun. Not too many home invaders are prepared to wait while you figure out how to operate your gun.
Personally, my home defense weapons have one safety, it's called a finger.
As I said, while other anti-virus programs have been a pain in the butt, Norton seems to be the worst offender. Perhaps it's because so many people use the product.
Personally I have switched to AVAST, which seems to be well thought of and also seems to work quite well. I used to use PCTOOLS, which I really liked, but which got bought out by Norton. Needless to say, I will not be giving Norton a thin dime. The good news with AVAST is that they have a free version, which is what I am using and happy with.