How Not to Release a New Software Update Version

I’m a family history nut case. Inordinately obsessed with genealogy, my friends and family would say. Always have been, and recently I decided to do something about it. Okay, I started doing something about it ten years ago, but now I’m really doing something about it.

Much of it was spurred on by the loss of my long-time favorite genealogy software program, The Master Genealogist. Personal problems and age made it difficult to continue, and while there was a huge fan base of seriously genealogist supporting it, there wasn’t a programming fan base to take it over, though a few tried.

I spent a long time evaluating the different genealogy programs, eventually selecting RootsMagic. Part of what influenced my decision was their willingness to embrace former fans of The Master Genealogist, a wise business move.

RootsMagic Interface.

In December 2015, Ancestry.com announced they were retiring Family Tree Maker software to focus strictly on their online tree version. The genealogy community gasped as many had been using the software for years. I’d considered it but dismissed it as a bit too much fluff, as it was designed to be very WYSIWYG graphic interface without much support for serious research, IMHO at the time. I’ve since reconsidered that decision slightly, finding it improved but cumbersome to use, but still use RootsMagic as my main program.

Family Tree Maker interface.

Not long after the announcement, two interesting things happened. First, RootsMagic announced a deal with Ancestry.com to use their API to integrate Ancestry more into RootsMagic much as they currently do with FamilySearch.org. Huzzah! Many Family Tree Maker folks flocked to RootsMagic as the company once again stepped in to help save researchers.

Then The Software MacKiev Company announced they’d bought Family Tree Maker from Ancestry and would continue forward, leaving many thrilled.

Both companies have worked overtime for over the past year to make their features integrate into Ancestry.com’s system, dealing with changes in Ancestry’s API, database structures, and more.

A key difference is that RootsMagic has offered a couple previews and teasers but only once proclaimed an actual “it will be done by” date only to apologize for missing the self-imposed deadline.

MacKiev, on the other hand, has made almost monthly promises that the next update will be out and ready to try and buy. The list of update announcements are on a single post rather than individual ones, so users have to bookmark that post and refresh to find updates since email announcements, etc., are not automatically generated with old posts that are updated, only new. This makes it difficult to track what is going on, and complaints flood the MacKiev Family Tree Maker forums, even to the point of trolls.

Having worked with many software programs and web apps for decades, I learned a long time ago about how to handle updates and new releases. Tease only, make no commitments. People pay attention to those details, and they hate being deceived, even if unintentionally.

I knew from the beginning that this was going to be a huge ordeal for whomever took it on. Ancestry still has a ton of legacy bloatware inside of it, hacks and whacks to make things work with a database that has seen better days. Extracting Family Tree Maker from its bowels left holes, and the APIs needed updating, as did their servers. With integration through APIs with RootsMagic and Family Tree Users, and other companies that want in on the API pie, the number of users smacking the database and servers tests their ability to stay on track.

Yes, MacKiev has worked overtime with alpha and beta testers, and have been fairly transparent (especially recently) about the process at every step and promise. They have put a tremendous effort into this, so it breaks my heart that so many are thrashing them publicly for issues that aren’t necessarily their fault. Blame them for being a little too forceful with their promises rather than fault them for exceptional work to push this through so all of us may benefit. It just takes patience.

Still, lesson should be learned, folks. Be careful with promises you might be able to keep, and keep us happy to be supporting and cheering you and your work on rather than whining about how you haven’t met self-assigned deadlines.

Why Is It Soooo Difficult to Uninstall a Program?

Seriously. Why is it sometimes such a pain to uninstall a program. It’s usually not my problem that Windows can’t find the uninstall program to uninstall a program. The program should just be able to be removed with a single click, without all the muss and fuss and panic that strikes us when the warning signs come up that tells us the computer can’t do anything without something you know nothing about.

Windows Installer Popup - Cannot find uninstall program to uninstall the program.

I faced that repeatedly recently as I cleaned up software I no longer use, both to make space on my root hard drive, but also because of the risk of these obsolete programs automatically updating or inviting malware or viruses, something we all should worry more about than the things we are often worried about, like who our children should marry (and only marry well, of course), or whether or not the kids will graduate from high school (they will figure it out, and if not, they will figure it out later, trust me).

I kept coming up with “can’t uninstall because I can’t find the freaking uninstall file to uninstall this program that you no longer want on your computer,” or something to that effect.

Twenty minutes of research into this topic after weeks of frustration, I found an answer, though I have to warn that the link might change and the fix may not work for your operating system. At least for Microsoft systems. I spotted a history of advice and points to helpful tools over the past ten years that end in dead web pages. So for now, this works. And works really well.

Microsoft’s Knowledge Base includes “Fix problems that block programs from being installed or removed,” a downloadable cab file that enhances your uninstall capabilities with the Uninstall Troubleshooter.

It scanned the computer for installed programs and asked me if I had trouble with installing or uninstalling. I selected uninstall.

Microsoft Uninstall Troubleshooter for uninstalling programs that will not uninstall.

It loaded a list of all the programs installed on my computer. I found the one I wanted GONE GONE GONE and selected it. A few more clicks, patience waiting through “working” screens, and it was GONE GONE GONE. Good riddance to bad rubbish.

Okay, that’s not fair. At the time I needed the program, it was fabulous, but now I don’t need it, so “wave your little hand and whisper so long dearie!”

Can’t Install the Program? Use Our Un-Handy Clean Up Tool.

As if life cannot be more technically complicated…

For the past three years I’ve been trying to uninstall Corel PaintShop Pro X7. I’ve had every version that ever existed of PaintShop Pro, upgrading it faithfully through every ownership transfer and horrid incarnation. It is my go-to tool when it come to affordably editing and creating images. For me, its use is second nature, and for the photography world, for a long time, Jasc PaintShop Pro kept Adobe PhotoShop on its toes, with many of its powerful features finding their way into Adobe’s product.

Since I purchase the upgrade regularly, even though I’m extremely frustrated with all the products consumed by Corel (and I use many of them), I keep doing it. Over the past few years I’ve upgraded to PaintShop Pro X8, then PaintShop Pro X9, but I couldn’t uninstall PaintShop Pro X7. It would keep coming up as the default, so I’d exit the program and load the newer version to use those features and settings.

I finally set aside an hour today to rid myself of this bloat on my computer, again. Yes, again. Every time I try to uninstall it, Windows 10 uninstaller tells me that I don’t have admin access to uninstall it.

I DO!!! SERIOUSLY, I DO!!!

I’ve tried a wide range of techniques to fool Windows 10 into thinking I’m the admin, when I really am the admin, to no avail.

I began with a search that opened many a tab with others searching for the exact same help. I searched through the Microsoft Forum and Knowledge Base, finding many requests for help met with a template reply that didn’t answer the question, and then through PaintShop Pro forums. I finally found some help in the Corel Knowledge Base: How to manually remove PaintShop Pro X4?.

Yes, it is the wrong version, but it listed a routes to get to the same goal: Uninstall PaintShop Pro.

Clean Up Too for PaintShop Pro.

One of the many routes mentioned the PSP Clean Utility program supplied by Corel. I found them for each version on the Corel USER to USER Web Board as “Clean Up Tools for: PSP X4 through to X9.”

I downloaded and ran the setup for my version, and within a minute, and years of agony, PaintShop Pro X7 was GONE!

PaintShop Pro X7 is finally uninstalled - on Windows Uninstall App.

With all the problems I’ve had with Corel products, trust them to have a tool to help remove their products from your computer as their uninstall feature doesn’t work.

SIGH. WHINE. NAG.

How to Reinstall OneDrive After Being an Idiot

Little angry girl with text 10 minutes at work and I start using Fuck like a comma - FunnycoI’ve spent the past two days living the life of whining and complaining as the official Tech Nag only to find out that I screwed myself in my zealousness.

With the Windows 10 update, my world suddenly revolved around OneDrive. I have Google Drive and Dropbox, which the majority of my clients and students use, so why do I need another cloud-based service? With Microsoft changing and rechanging their free and paid storage plans, last thing I need is something else to confuse me.

After a couple months of confusion and inability to find my backup files and running into files being saved to OneDrive without my wishes, I’d had it. It was time to uninstall OneDrive and be done with it.

It took some work, too. It can be done and here are some resources on how to remove OneDrive.

Skip forward and I’m heading to a huge multi-day conference with my new Surface Pro 4, and I’m ready to take notes. Usually I use Evernote, but the integration and ease of OneNote caught my attention, so I thought I’d give it a try. Works lovely for what I’m doing, but pain in the ass when it wouldn’t sync between my desktop and Surface Pro 4.

Ah, that’s right, I uninstalled OneDrive and it is highly dependent upon OneDrive. That’s okay, I thought, I’ll just sync everything to Google Drive.

Three days later, it’s a mess as my ridiculously slow Internet is dragging ass as Google Drive is now hooked up to the Surface and 60 gigs of crap is filling it up. That’s fine, it can take it, but it is day three and I’ve got over 4,000 files not yet synced, and some of these are huge. Add to that there is a plane with my name on it and my ass and this computer need to be on it shortly.

Without a way to tell Google Drive to only sync with this machine and not that, and not dump everything onto a computer where I don’t want it (Hey, Google Drive folks, you listening?), all I freaking want to do is sync my OneNote notebooks without all this pain and suffering.

I make the decision to use OneDrive for my OneNote notebooks, if I don’t ever use it for anything else.

Except that it isn’t on my computer.

So I download it and double clickeroo to reinstall OneDrive and nothing happens. Silence. Dead Zone. Nothing here to look at folks.

I try every configuration and possibility, rebooting too many times, reinstalling Office 2013, and all but stripping things down to the bone and redoing the entire MFing computer setup of Windows 10 because OneDrive is integrated into the operating system.

Ah, that was my first clue.

Through days of searching, I finally found the answer here in Microsoft Support – Turn Off or Uninstall OneDrive.

In my zealous determination to rid this desktop computer of OneDrive, I turned off the computer privileges that allow it to activate and be used. This is why the programs didn’t work when I tried to run the installation software.

To keep this nag short:

  1. Click Start > Run > type gpedit.msc
  2. Navigate to Local Computer Policy > Computer Configuration > Administrative Templates > Windows Components > OneDrive
  3. Change it to NOT enable (if it says “enable” it won’t install or activate OneDrive)
  4. Apply, Save, or whatever the hell you have to do to make it take
  5. Download OneDrive (not the business version)
  6. Install it and pay close attention to where it sets the default OneDrive folder(s) through the installation process

Lesson learned, be careful with your zealous nature, and take freakin’ notes so you can remember how to undo what you did – and store them in a place where you can find them again.

Ingress: You Only Think It’s a Game

The following is for a presentation on Ingress at Clark College for faculty and staff.

“So you think this is a game,” scoffs Agent Klue introducing the world to the augmented-reality massively multiplayer online role playing GPS-dependent game created by Niantic Labs. “The world around you is not what it seems.”

Ingress is a MMORPG (Massively Multiplayer Online Role Playing Game), a new form of mobile game playing that supports millions of players, and for many, Ingress is not a game.

If you look at Ingress as a game, you may do the following:

  1. Collect points to achieve game levels
  2. Capture and claim territory
  3. Accomplish tasks to achieve game badges
  4. Complete missions to achieve more game badges
  5. Work with teams

What it is is more than a game. It is a lifestyle, a habit, a compulsion, a motivation, inspiration, and personal challenge to the way we are living today.

There is an active story behind Ingress. Some players dive deeply into the mystery and intrigue of the backstory, others ignore it and just play the game. The ability to do both adds layers to the game.

The game makers’ framing device for the game is as follows: Physicists at CERN have discovered that the Earth has been seeded with “Exotic Matter,” or XM, associated with the Shapers, a mysterious phenomenon or alien race which is neither described nor seen (and which thus functions as a MacGuffin). The in-universe motivation for the Enlightened faction is their belief that the Shapers are working toward a powerful enlightenment which will uplift all mankind. The Resistance believes that it is protecting humanity from Shaper ingression. The factions have, however, been occasionally observed to ignore the back-story and to co-operate for the sake of real-life gameplay and game balance, for example by establishing neutral zones and rules of engagement.
Ingress (game) – Wikipedia

Continue reading

Am I Satisfied…Not Really, Sprint and Samsung

In November 2012, Google announced the Jelly Bean release of the Android mobile phone operating system. The end of March 2013, the push of Jelly Bean in the United States to Samsung and Sprint phones finally commenced.

The process of updating the phones involves downloading over 500 megabytes in a single file called “Simple Upgrade Tool. It takes hours to download on DSL but promises 15 minutes to install to your phone.

The 15 minutes is about right, but there are a whole series of steps to process as part of that 15 minutes, some of which involve taking the back off the phone and removing the battery and replacing it, unnerving to those who are not tech-savvy, and great warnings that this “flash” of the phone could destroy everything you hold dear, so add an hour or more to your time for backups and syncs of everything, redundant if you are paranoid like me.

Let me backtrack a little to show you how complicated this doesn’t have to be. I got the notice a few weeks ago that an upgrade was waiting for me. Unfortunately, I was sitting by the side of a dying friend and priorities don’t include racing to my desktop computer to download a huge file for hours, play with batteries, and USB cords. When I was ready, there were no buttons, no handy reminders, no one-click options for me to process the update. Instead, I had to do a search all over the web until I finally found a news report that led me to the download instructions, wasting more of my time as I had to find the update rather than have it awaiting me on my phone. The past two updates have been the same. This is really dumb customer service.

All so far has gone well and my phone is running through its final stages of the Android Update. Yet at the bottom of the instructional page I find this request.

Samsung and Spring - Tutorial Feedback - Did we do a good job with this document.

The request is “Did we do a good job with this document.” Well, that’s the real question.

What I read is “Did we make your life easier with this entire process?”

Yes, the document was easy to read, had big pictures, and stepped me through the process, and it matched the process for the most part that I experienced.

No, the process was not easy. Why did I have to download this huge file for hours, tying up the Internet and slowing everything down on my drip of a connection? Why did such a huge file be necessary for what took less than 15 minutes to install as an operating system on my computer? What do I do with this half gig space waster program? Uninstall it? There is no follow-through on this, Samsung. Now what?

Why couldn’t I have just woken up and found a note on my phone that said, “We adore you and want to reward you for your payment of our over-charging fees and control of a monopoly in your nation that restricts a free market for easy-to-use, affordable cell phones, by giving you the chance to push a single button to give your phone a face-lift, making it more user friendly, faster, and not so taxing on the battery or your brain.” Fifteen, or I would have given you thirty minutes, you would have had a customer not just rejoicing but praising you to the world via social media and on every street corner.

I think of those living on their phones, no laptop or desktop computer in sight. How did they handle the update?

American mobile companies be warned. We’ve taken your abuse lying down for a long time. We’ve been apathetic for far too long. One day, folks. One day we will get smarter and let our dollars do the talking for us, and you will appreciate my recommendation that you make us praise you not condemn you.

Am I satisfied? Absolutely not. Do better.

Godaddy Domains, Allow Us to Choose Private Registration or Not

Godaddy, and possibly other domain name companies, has added USD $20 or more to every domain name you buy or renew for your protection. This is crap.

The extra money goes to Domains by Proxy®, a “separate” company that provides private registration services to keep your name and contact information out of the WHOIS listing.

When you renew a domain today with Godaddy, you have no alternative to say no to private registration. Personally, I never choose it. I’m a public figure and have a reputation to uphold and my contact information on my domains is critical as I set an example for others. If you have an issue with my website, you contact me FIRST. That’s the right way to handle it, the professional way. I have never chosen to make any of my sites private, but when I renewed recently, private registration was forced upon me, with no option to remove it, adding twenty dollars to every renewed domain, adding up to an additional $100 or more to my order. That’s outrageous.

In several Godaddy forum posts, including this one on removing private registration, people are complaining that this is being added without their permission, action, and that it is a big bother to not make it easier for people to choose. Their response is:

Having a separate account for your private registration is an extra layer of security that is included with the Domains By Proxy service we offer. When private registration is added to a domain name, a domain hijacker would need to gain access to not one, but two accounts to move the domain name to a different registrar. You are welcome to use the account retrieval system at DomainsByProxy.com to gain access to your account so you can cancel the private registration.

To remove private registration forced upon you, do the following:

  1. Remove your order by emptying your cart at Godaddy.
  2. Go to Domains by Proxy® and try to login. As you have never set up your own account with them, you have to jump through some hoops to get logged in.
  3. Request a new login by entering the site you are trying to renew.
  4. Get the confirmation email with your customer number.
  5. Request a new password with your customer number.
  6. Once logged in, select the accounts associated with that domain and cancel your private registration.
  7. Go back to Godaddy and refresh the listing of your expired domains. It should now say Public Registration.
  8. Select the ones you wish to renew and you will find the $20 private registration fee now gone from your order.

You will have to do this with each individual domain name unfortunately. If there is an easier way, please let me know.

And while I’m bitching at Godaddy for this, honestly, you should not force this upon your users. It is rude, inconsiderate, and makes some sweeping assumptions about their needs.

Let us choose!