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Update News for August 2009
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.
Last month we told you that we thought the Windows program was a wrap for the foreseeable future. Apparently we spoke too quickly.
During July we were contacted by two different Compulife subscribers, each of whom were trying out Windows 7 and each of whom were running into some errors on exiting the Compulife program. We finally tracked down that the errors were occurring due to our attempt to write information to our *.ini data files.
You can read more about *.ini files here:
Stupid us. When we were first decided what to name some of these types of data files in our system we decided to follow the naming convention that was used by Microsoft. Apparently Microsoft has now decided that if you have files with .ini file extensions new rules apply in Windows 7 as to where you can place such files and how they can be used. We don't really understand those rules, but in the newest version or our windows program we are replacing .ini file extensions with .prm (Compulife parameter) extensions. This seems to have fixed the problem.
The only file that we have NOT completely changed is the CLIENT.INI file. This is the file that can be created to transfer client information from a third party program into Compulife. You can read more about that by copying and pasting this address into your browser:
If you have a database that creates that file in the \COMPLIFE folder, we will continue to support CLIENT.INI for the midterm, but we will be replacing that file with CLIENT.PRM. The file is "read only" for Compulife which means that we neither create the file or write to it, we only read it if it exists. The process is not a problem for un in Windows 7. Even so, we suspect that customers who use database programs which integrate with Compulife, like the AGENCY EXPERT offered by GBS, Inc., may find those database products running into the same Windows 7 problem that we did.
With that in mind we have alerted GBS to the problem that we have run into with Windows 7 and they have advised us that they will be updating their software to use the new CLIENT.PRM file name at some future point. In the meantime, both the CLIENT.INI and CLIENT.PRM files are supported in the newest GOWIN.EXE program and so there should be no transition issues for GBS customers or anyone else using this feature in Compulife.
If you are shopping for a client database that integrates with Compulife, you can click on the following link which will take you to the GBS site for more info:
The concept of the CLIENT.PRM file means that ANY database program can be modified to talk to the Compulife program. You simply have your database create the CLIENT.PRM file in the \COMPLIFE folder then launch Compulife's GOWIN.EXE program. GOWIN.EXE will immediately read the contents of the CLIENT.PRM file into Compulife's client record, then delete the file. This is precisely what GBS has done and it is seamless.
In addition to transferring the client information to Compulife, we have made some further integration with GBS which permits PDF file copies of quotes produced by Compulife to be stored in GBS's AGENCY EXPERT. If you are interested in trying that, the company does offer demos:
Apart from this issue we are advised that Compulife is running fine in Windows 7. With that interruption over, we can now get back to the changes that we are working on for our web quoting software, which we hope to introduce in the very near future.
We will release the newest windows version, with the above mentioned changes, in one of the midmonth updates in August. August will be a busy money for us as Jeremiah's wife (Bob and Pat Barney's daughter) will be giving birth to their second child and so Jeremiah will not be quite as available as normal and so grandpa (Bob Barney; the old geezer) will be picking up the technical support slack.
In the meantime, if you need to or want to, you can download the latest GOWIN.EXE here:
Further changes to the Windows program, discussed above, delayed the work we have been doing in order to provide a new service for subscribers who have PDA/phones. That work is almost done. The last step in the process is integrating the new service with our database software. The objective is quite simple. When you complete an online application to request the free PDA/phone software, our staff will be able to go into our database, display your record, and click a single button. The database will then install your PDA/phone service to our server and send you an email with a link to your personal PDA/phone page. Further, our database will be able to track the usage of your web page to ensure that it is not being used by multiple agents. Remember, this service is FREE and is intended for the use of subscribers ONLY. Just as we don't want you passing around your copy of the Compulife program, the new web quoting capability is NOT designed for you to share with others. If you want to setup a public quoting service, that option is already available for an additional subscription fee.
Currently Compulife has an early variation of PDA/phone service running at:
If you have a PDA/phone that can surf the web, we would encourage you to check it out. Once the new upgraded service is available, the above link will cease offering quotes and will offer an application form that lets you apply to have a personalized PDA/phone version created just for you. Once you complete that brief application, Compulife will click that button in our database which will email you a link for your new PDA/phone quote system.
The difference between the generic service that is currently available, and the new service that is coming, is that the new PDA/phone service will be personalized for each subscriber. You will have one web address that is your web address for doing quotes (your personal use - it is NOT intended to be a web site that you let other people use). The web pages and quote format are being specifically designed for the "small screen" of your PDA/phone.
You will also have a second web address that will let you select the companies that you want to include in your quotes.
Some new features will also be available with the improved new service. One of the feature we think you will really like is the ability to quote annual and monthly premiums at the same time.
Once again, your personal PDA/phone web address will be for your use ONLY. Functions in the software will report to us if multiple users are hitting your PDA/phone web page. If it is determined that such is the case, then your site will be disconnected,. Needless to say, if we do google searches and find links to these web sites, that will also cause them to be taken down.
If you want a public web site, that anyone can use, then you need to purchase our internet engine or talk to one of our authorized web providers which can add quotes to you web site for as little as $99 per year. Those are the options we have provided for public web quoting and you can also set up PDA web quotes for multiple agents using those options.
Once the on-line, personalized PDA version of the software is up and running, the many improvements to the web engine, such as showing annual premium and monthly premiums at the same time, will be available in the web based software that is used for public web quoting. We have also added some new features for web quoting that we think you will like.
Once that is complete, those changes, together with our new categories, will be made available in the coming upgrade to our web software. Once that software has been implemented at www.term4sale.com, we will be making it available as a FREE upgrade to our current internet engine subscribers and to our authorized web providers.
The upgrade will be available with new documentation that highlights the changes and improvements and how they can be integrated into current web sites. We will let our Internet engine subscribers know when that is ready.
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 fall throughout most of 2009, 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.