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Update News for May 2010
Here is a quick run-down on what you will find in this bulletin:
These topics will be dealt with in more detail throughout this bulletin.
It took much longer than we anticipated to get the no lapse UL modal premium system implemented but we were able to complete the job by the end of April. After a lengthy process of tracking down odd bugs, we think we now have a solid system that can quote modal premiums for all cases of no lapse UL products where companies do not use simple conversion factors like .09 to turn an annual premium into a monthly premium.
If there is a no lapse product in Compulife for one of your favorite companies, and we aren't quoting the premium modes you like to sell, then you need to put a fire under the company to get us their modal premiums. This is no different than limited pay versions of no lapse UL. Now that we can handle the new options, some companies will have to do some work to get us the numbers. Typically the people who can do that within the companies only respond to squeaky wheels.
Having noted the major changes that we have made to deal with no lapse UL modal premiums, those changes will also need to be implemented into our internet web engine. Those of you who have your online web site quotes done by Compulife ($99 per year) are already looked after, but those who maintain the internet quote engine on their own servers will need an update to take advantage of the new web quoting function.
Further, there are now new data files to upload and maintain on your server. Once again, if you have you web site quotes done by Compulife ($99 per year), then this is already taken care of for you.
For any given category or type of insurance, Compulife has had two files:
Where the question mark is a numeric or alpha value. For example:
Those are the two files that the system uses to quote 10 year term policies.
With the introduction of modal premiums, there are now 8 of these files, not two. The 8 files are:
Where "M" is for monthly, "H" is for semi-annual, and "Q" is for quarterly. All of these files will now need to be placed onto your internet server or your system will not quote the modal premiums for those products properly. This is in addition to updating the new internet engine in May.
To date we have used the new system to add the modal premiums for UL products for:
Once again, if you have a company that has a no lapse UL product in Compulife, and the monthly premiums are not quoting, you need to contact your company and let them know that Compulife can now use and quote monthly premiums from monthly premium rate tables and we will add those values to our system just as soon as the companies get us those values.
Once we are certain that the new system is settled down and working properly, for the Windows program and for our on-line quoting systems, we will turn our attention to updating our Palm and Windows PDA software.
Increasing number of agents are using on-line phone/pda systems and that has already been updated on our web site at:
NOTE: That site will eventually be replaced by personalized versions. Go to the section of this bulletin called "On-Line PDA Software" for more information.
While we are discussing PDA's, you need to be aware that Palm is no longer using it's old operating system (the one we use) in any of the new smart phone devices that it is now manufacturing. That means, for all intents and purposes the, old Palm operating system is dying. The question is, how much longer can/will Compulife support the old Palm system?
We expect to support the old Palm devices for another year to two years. As we have been discussing at the bottom of each bulletin for some time, we are making plans for a significant overhaul of our system, including the data structure we are using for our software. As in the previous example, there are now 8 separate data files required for us to quote 10 year term products. In the new generation software we are planning to develop, those 8 files will be combined into a single file. And the new data structure will make it much easier to add the kind of changes that we have just spent a month working on, to deal with no lapse modal premiums.
Our transition will be such that we will be running the old system and the new system concurrently for a period of months (and that's at least a year away assuming no more significant delays). If, when we switch over to the new system, we run into any problems, we will have a copy of the old system in your \COMPLIFE folder so you can fall back and use the previous system. We did the same think when we transitioned from DOS to Windows.
We also did that in April when we gave you a backup of our previous Windows program. It was installed on your computer with the April monthly update and it is called "OLDGOWIN.EXE". Some of you found the need to use that last month because we had a bug with the way the new web updating software was downloading subscription renewals. That same "fall back" strategy will be implemented when we convert to the new file system.
So in the future, when we introduce the new software, and for a period of a few months following that, you will have old and new programs and data in your system. As long as the old data is current and maintained, your Palm program will work. But we will not be converting the Palm software over to the new data format, which means when we have finally completed our transition to the new programs and data, you will lose the ability to use your old Palm device with the Compulife. Again, we think that is probably 1 1/2 to 2 years from now.
In its place Compulife will continue to support Windows Mobile devices, providing Microsoft does not make a significant change where there new Windows mobile devices won't run old Windows Mobile software (which is what Palm has done).
Further, and as we have been trying to get to, our next major job is allowing you to have a web version of Compulife for phone/PDA devices that are connected to the web, such as the Apple Iphone. More and more agents are buying and using those devices.
If you are a current subscriber to Compulife, and have never before had our web quotes on your web site, you can have the option for 4 months for FREE - with no obligation to purchase the service at the end of 4 months. This is a standing offer.
To date just under 300 Compulife subscribers have acted on this offer and have added our quote system to their web sites.
To obtain your 4 months of free quotes for your web site, complete the application here:
But what do you do if you don't have a web site?
We are routinely getting calls from subscribers who ask for our advice about setting up a web site. That is no surprise really, given that we can now add life insurance quotes to a web site for only $99 per year and that's a hot ticket for a life insurance web site.
The conversation usually begins, "I've been thinking about getting a web site but I don't know where to begin." So here is the advice that we have been giving:
First, godaddy.com is just to good not to use. These folks can help you get your domain name and set up a site, and the first year cost (for their economy package which is way more than you need to start), is $50.
While godaddy is not the only provider out there, we use them as one of our providers (we have several) and I have to say with some satisfaction, that they have done as good a job as any of the other providers that we use.
So here is the first thing that you do. You go to www.godaddy.com and start searching for an available domain name. It's the box at the top of their home page called: "Start You Domain Search Here..."
Obviously, if your company is called "Compulife", then you will want compulife.com. Sorry, that's taken, we have that.
If you call yourself "Barney Insurance Agency", then the first thing to check would be "barneyinsurance.com". Ooops, that one is already taken. So the next you would try is "barneyagency.com". Hooray, that one is available. Register it immediately before someone else gets it. I wish I knew all this 10 years ago.
Now normally if all you are doing is registering the domain name, godaddy is going to charge you $10.69 per year. But if you do it and order a hosting package from godaddy at the same time, they will cut the price to $1.99 per year. I recommend the 1 year hosting plan, which will cost you $3.99 per month - which is $47.88 per year. Add $1.99 and your web site with domain name is $50 for the year.
OK, so buy that and you don't need to buy any of the vast sea of options that godaddy will try to sell you as you move through the purchase process.
So now, in real estate terms, you have just purchased a vacant lot which has a street address. Now the question is, what kind of building(s) will you put on your piece of internet land?
Here's something you can do right away - and I'll take care of it for you. If you send me the FTP information for your new site, I will put up one of these for you, for free for 4 months:
No cost, no obligation. There, you now have a site and you now have a quote system on your site.
Do you want more on your site? Sure you do. You will want pages that tell people who you are, what you do and sell, and how to contact you. The best way to get pages created for your site is to go to your local college/university and ask for a 2nd or 3rd year student who knows how to construct web pages, and hire them for dirt cheap. I know students (graduates) who worked for free just to have something for their resume.
Keep it simple to start. Your web site is an expanded business card. It tells people about you. Instead of packing all that on your card, you put on your card:
NOTE: That is actually a web site offering "FREE" web sites. I would recommend against doing that because nobody does anything for nothing. The godaddy package is CHEAP and there are no strings attached.
Email addresses @hotmail.com and @gmail.com strike me as "kinda unprofessional". It sends the message to you colleagues and clients, "Yep, I am a computer newbee and do not have a web site."
Once again, after you order your site, you can email me your FTP information and Jeremiah or I will put a quote system on your site FREE for 4 months. To FTP to you site we need the following:
Once again, here is a sample of the free quote system we will put on your new site for 4 months:
Email us your FTP information at email@example.com
We will then email you a link to the control panel for your quoting site. The control panel will allow you to choose which companies to quote, and to enter which email address requests for applications go to (they won't be going to us - they go to you).
Some people may be concerned with sharing their FTP information with us for their website. It's tantamount to you giving us your email address and password and so you shouldn't give the information to just anyone. But we promise to ONLY use it to load your quoting web page to your web site. But if you are concerned, here are some instructions on how you can do it yourself, FREE - NO CHARGE!
When you set up a website with a company like godaddy (IP - Internet Provider), what you are doing is buying space on one of their computers (called a server) that is connected to the web.
Usually you develop pages, which are really just text documents, on your computer (or your developer's computer). When the pages are ready to try out you transfer (copy) them to your server using a program called an FTP (file transfer program).
When you run the FTP, having entered in the address, userID and password to make the connection to the server (godaddy), your computer's folders and files will appear in the left window of your FTP, and the internet computer (server) will appear in the right window. You then just copy from the left window to the right window, and the files go to your server. It's no different than copying files from one folder of your computer to another drive or folder on your computer.
Here's a good video with more information on that:
The next logical question is, how to I design a web page?
Once again, web pages are just text documents with instructions built into them that tell the browser (Internet Explorer, Firefox, whatever) what to display and how to display it. Pages can be simple or they can be very complicated. Guess what, we like simple.
Now if you were going to design a magazine ad, would you do it yourself or would you hire someone who knows how to do it? Likely the latter. That's why, I strongly recommend going to your local college or university and hiring a 2nd or 3rd year student to do the work for you. They are enthusiastic, need the money, and typically are very creative. But if you are one of those people that love to change their own brakes, here is a basic introductory to web page design:
Good luck with that.
Assuming that you have someone else design your web pages it is still a VERY GOOD IDEA to learn how to use the FTP. Why? Because you will want to back up the pages from your web site (the files on the server) to your own computer. You do that by copying the files from your server, to your computer, using the FTP. Let your developer develop, but make sure you back up what you pay him to do, from the server to your computer.
Here's another tip. Make sure EVERYTHING your developer is using for your website, is on your website, and not somewhere else. If your developer has something on their server, and you and the developer part company, then what you used on their server will be gone, which is going to really tick you off if you thought you had bought and paid for it.
Which brings up one last thing when retaining someone to design your website. You want to make absolutely certain that it is your mutual understanding that if you pay someone to design a web page for you, that it is YOUR webpage and not their webpage.
Think wedding photography.
Have you noticed a lot of people pay wedding photographers to photograph weddings, and then discover the photographer OWNS the negatives, meaning that if you want more copies of pictures, you have to pay the photographer an arm and a leg to get them. And you find out you are breaking copyright laws if you copy the pictures you already bought.
Believe it or not, when you hire a college student to do your web site pages, you will have no trouble reaching an agreement that the pages are YOUR pages. But if you pay some outfit hundreds or thousands of dollars to do your site, they will often argue that the pages belong to them. If you leave the relationship, you will have to start from scratch.
Don't have a domain name yet? We have a great list of available domain names that are pre-registered and ready to go. Read on!
Three months ago we told you about the slate of domain names that we pre-registered, and that we are offering for sale to our subscribers. A number of the best one's have been picked through and purchased.
The new price is
$99 $79 $69 - down $10 from last month. Will we drop the price again? Yes, we suspect that by the beginning of June the price for the remaining domain names will drop again. We will probably cut the price dramatically by the summer and by Christmas will be practically giving them away. The point is that we will keep dropping prices until our current inventory is sold out.
The problem is that if you wait you may lose a great domain name to someone else. More than one of the sold domain names were requested by another subscriber after they had just been sold to another subscriber who beat the second person to the punch. You snooze, you lose.
And if the latest price cut doesn't suit you, and instead of waiting around for another domain name price drop, feel free to MAKE US AN OFFER on any remaining domain name(s) that you want. If it is a reasonable offer we are likely to take it.
For more information about the domain names that we have for sale, and the web sites that are ready to go, click on:
We are yet AGAIN delayed on this project, do to the monthly premium change that we are making for no lapse UL products. Our apologies for this taking so long, and hope you understand we are trying to devote out attention to the issues most needed.
The system we are building to track PDA use of our new online PDA service is more involved and has taken longer than we originally anticipated. Such is life in the software business when you are breaking new ground.
For that reason we have taken a baby step forward and implemented the "look and feel" of the new service at:
Once the new online PDA service is available, where you will be able to select the companies you want to quote, an enrollment form will replace the quoting service at:
Once you completed the enrollment form, a personalized version will be created for you and you will have your own Administration Panel that lets you include only those companies that you want to quote. Those of you who are now trying Compulife's new web quotes for your web site will have already seen the new administration panel. The one for the PDA version of the software is exactly the same.
Unlike the new web quoting option that you can buy for $99 per year, the new PDA quoting service that we are rolling out will be FREE but it will be for your personal use only. Your web address, for your PDA online quote system, must be kept confidential and it must not be used by others or made available on your web site. That's why we are implementing features to track who is using your PDA quote system. Remember, this is the FREE version for YOUR PDA only. We will be able to monitor the specific PDA's visiting your PDA quote site, and if more than the allocated number are doing so, the software will notify Compulife and we will shut down your PDA quote site.
If you want a PDA quote site that others can use, we can set that up for you for only $99 per year and we can do that now. And keep reading, you can get the first 4 months of the public PDA version for FREE. Once a public site has been set up for you, you can give the address to anyone that you want.
Once our work on the web engines and PDA/Phone software is complete, we will be turning our attention to some important maintenance work that is needed to the data entry systems. Those programs have not been updated for quite some time, and some need to be converted to take advantage of the newer programming compilers that we have been using for the Windows software that we already distribute to you. Our goal is to make it easier to program future software, which will ensure that we can roll out changes and improvements more efficiently.
Further, having reviewed where we are heading over the next few years, and the changes that we would like to be able to make in the future, we have decided to stop and do a much more extensive overhaul than simply changing our data entry software. We have determine that we would also like to implement a better data storage structure that will make maintenance easier on both a data entry basis, as well as a programming basis.
To achieve our goals in this regard, we will be spending a fair bit of time reviewing our new data storage needs, and then building conversion software that will convert our existing data files into our new data file structure. Once we have done that, we will then introducing new comparison software that does exactly what it does now, but which derives its results from the new data structure. In other words, you will end up with a new program that does exactly what the old program did/does.
Once this first stage is completed, we will have both old program and old data, with new program and new data. Moving forward we will use the old data entry systems to maintain the old version, then converting old data to the new data forms for general distribution.
The next stage is to create the new data entry systems that talk to the new data format. Once we are satisfied that the new data entry system give us everything that we have now, we will then switch to the new data structure alone. We will only do this once we have thoroughly tested the new software to ensure it gives us no problems in maintaining the date. This may take several months. As far as the part you use, by the time we make that transition, you will have been using the new software for several months.
The point of sharing this with you is that the process will be quite lengthy and so from this spring throughout most of 2010, you will not be seeing many changes and improvements to the software that you use, even though the underlying foundation will be going through a massive change. Once the foundation has been reconstructed, and all the tools to work on the foundation have been built, the program will be in a position to make some substantial moves forward.
Think of it as transplant surgery, where you need to keep the patient alive and well, at the same time as you are swapping out the organs.