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.

The Hunt for Myst-like Games for Android Mobile Phones and Tablets

Myst game logoI’m not a fan of most computer games. I have had enough violence and racing in my life to not want to invite it in through games of violence, war, racing, chasing, or bashing in heads. Among my favorite computer games are Myst and its sequels, Exile, Riven, The Revelation, and Uru, created by Cyan Worlds.

Myst and its sequels are beautiful mind games, challenging the best in us through complex puzzles accompanied by phenomenal real-life graphics. My husband and I would play these together, discussing strategies and solving the problems over meals and long drives. We’d email or instant message chat back and forth things to try or experiment with to solve the puzzles. They took our minds other places while we were in places and dealing with things we didn’t want to deal with. Great distractions, but more than that – great mind teasers.

We’ve been searching for Myst replacements for years on our desktop computers without success. With the new drive in mobile games for cell phones and tablets, we felt confident that the need for Myst-like brain games would generate something. After several years of poking, we’ve found some possibilities. Unfortunately, most of these are more like pretty maze games rather than mind-benders.

I used to think there was a difference between a Myst-like problem-solving game and a simple hidden object adventure game. As the games improve their visual quality, the simple games of finding hidden objects to solve puzzles can become as interesting as Myst-problem-solving games that require a little more brain power. I’ve included some well-reviewed hidden object games in the list below accordingly.

Myst game - the swampTo be true to the concept of a Myst game, I believe the game should put you in the key role of the player, giving you a vested interest in solving the puzzles. There should be little interaction with other characters, just you and the environment, where the pieces of the puzzle tell more of the story than the characters could. The puzzles should make you think, fuss over, and experiment with before solving, but not be too simple nor too inane. You should shout with joy when you figure them out, not groan. This is where many of the new games miss the mark. I rarely have the overwhelming impulse to jump up and down and shout, “I did it!” Or do I experience the water-cooler effect praising the game long after finishing the play.

It’s sad because we need this form of escapism today more than ever. Continue reading