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Update News for March 2013    


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.


Monthly Versus Mid-Month Updates

There are two separate mechanisms that keep Compulife updated on your computer. We thought it would be good to review what they are, what they do, and the logic of the process.


Monthly Updates:

At the end of each month, Compulife prepares a new version of our software called the "Monthly Update". The monthly update is a complete working version of our software that includes all the files necessary to function. It does not need a previous monthly update in order to work. If you missed a month, you will have everything when you do the current monthly update.

Further, if you need to install Compulife on another computer for the first time, you can ask Compulife for an installation email with a link to your installation web page. Once you run that installation process, a small portion of Compulife is put on your computer sufficient to allow the program to run and download a monthly update. It will then tell you that you need the monthly update. Once that update has been downloaded and installed, a complete and fully working copy of Compulife, together will all the data files as of the first of the month, resides on your computer.

Once you get a monthly update there is no reason to get it again. Some people wonder, if they ask for it a second time, why there is an override that would let you get it again. The reason is simple. Occasionally someone will have a file damaged on their computer. This can happen for a variety of reasons. If you call for help, and if we determine from the conversation that you might have a damaged file, we will tell you to get a monthly update again. This will refresh the program and give you a brand new start.

Monthly updates are also what we rely upon to govern subscription renewals. Each subscriber buys a subscription for one, two or three years. We create a subscription file that allows you to get monthly updates until the end of that subscription period. If you don't renew, you can no longer get monthly updates and the program will cease working.

Beginning on the 28th day of each month, the Compulife program will automatically check for new monthly updates until it finds the monthly update for the following month.


Mid-Month Updates:

Mid-month Updates can occur ANYTIME after the beginning of the month. Occasionally we will go a week without posting a mid-month update, but we have also had times where there has been more than one mid-month update on the same day.

Mid-month updates are incremental. What we mean by that is they provide you with the files that have changed since the last monthly update. However, there is no concern if you miss one of the mid-month updates. Each mid-month update will continue to include ANY files that changed from the beginning of the month. If you miss a mid-month update, but get the latest mid-month update, you will have everything you need.

Mid-month updates are ONLY compatible with the current monthly update. If you attempt to use a mid-month update from February, with the March monthly update, the system will reject it because it is NOT a mid-month update for March. The March edition will contain ALL the changes that were made during February.

IMPORTANT: There is a frequency setting for how often the Compulife program checks for mid-month updates. The old default was "7", which meant that the system auto-checks for a midmonth update once every 7 days. In days gone by, when some folks had slow internet connections, the process of checking to see if there was a new update could delay the start of the program. However, that is rarely an issue anymore and we strongly advise that you set the midmonth update to "1".

To check/change the frequency setting for mid-month updates, go to the top of the Red Menu, where is says "Options". This is above the Enter Client Information button.

When you click on "Options" a list will display. The second last option says:

Number of days between update checks (7).

The number between the brackets is the number of days. If you want to change that value, click on the option and a box will pop up that lets you change the frequency.

NOTE: If you set the frequency to "0" (zero), the Compulife program will check for a mid-month update every time you run the software. If your internet speed is really quick, you will probably not notice any hesitation. If you do see some hesitation, then set it back to "1" (one).


Manual Updates: We strongly urge our subscribers to enable the automatic updates from the Internet. Unfortunately, for differing reasons, our software may not be able to do automatic updates. The most common reason is because the subscriber is in a large office (like a life insurance company) where the Information Technology Department keeps a tight reign on what individuals are allowed to do with their computers. For that reason we do offer the ability to manually download an update, but the manual download process is a pain in the butt for most computer users. It involves saving the update file to the \COMPLIFE folder, and while it's a common procedure for many file downloads from the internet, it's just more complicated than automatic downloads.

If your Compulife is already getting automatic updates, disregard the following. If you know that your Compulife will not get automatic updates, and that we have intentionally set your system to do manual updates, then disregard the following.

If you simply have been getting manual updates because that's the way you thought it works, it means that your option to select automatic updates has been turned off. To turn it on go to the top of the Red Menu and click on "Options". The third last option will say:

"Enable automatic downloading from Internet"

There should be a check mark in front of that option. If there is no check mark click on the option. This will cause the "Options" list to go away. Click on "Options" again and the check mark should now be on that option. If the automatic updates refuse to work, then you can remove the check mark by clicking on the option again.


Anti-Virus Software That Behaves Like A Virus

One of the problems we seem to routinely encounter is virus software that takes an exception to our software when it checks for or is processing (decompressing) updates. Problems arising from these situations probably account for as much as half the time that we spend on the phones, helping our subscribers with their software.

Some anti-virus software is better than others, but there seems to be a growing trend toward "if not sure, consider it a virus" or better yet, "if not widely distributed software, consider it a virus". What it amounts to is a streak of laziness in anti-virus software producers who have gone from identifying and dealing with known virus threats to throwing mud against the wall. They seem more concerned with selling software than keeping up the quality of their product.

It is always funny (not ha-ha funny) when a virus program suddenly has problems with a Compulife program that has not been changed for years. Of course the virus programs covers their butt by declaring "suspicious behavior", not using the actual "v" word. But that is where the problem is really complicated because the user, who does not really understand what is going on, is asked to make a decision. Usually the virus software will announce "suspicious behavior" and then ask the user if they want to block or quarantine the file. If it is Compulife that triggered the notice, and you block or quarantine it, then from that point forward that feature/function of Compulife will be gone. That triggers the call from the subscriber wondering why their Compulife isn't working.

More often than not we end up doing a re-installation, which essentially fools the anti-virus software. On occasions where it doesn't fool the anti-virus software we then ask our subscriber to turn off the anti-virus software so we can re-install. And that can get interesting as we discover our subscriber doesn't know how to turn off the anti-virus software, or doesn't know what anti-virus software they have, etc., etc., etc.

And therein lies a big part of the problem. You have placed on your computer software that is supposed to protect you but you don't know how to use it. That can be as troublesome as a virus itself, and in fact we have seen some anti-virus software declared "the first virus people pay to get".

We suspect things are not going to get better moving forward. We have had occasion to try to contact some anti-virus software companies which seem to be a chronic problem, but they are NOT helpful. Why should they care? We have a few thousand customers they probably have a few million customers. We have a small niche market that we serve, they have an entire global population of Windows users to sell their product to. And this really kills us: some anti-virus companies allow their products to be loaded "for free", and those products can kill Compulife.

We share this frustration with you because often our subscribers are even more frustrated than we are and there is a tendancy to blame us for the problem. After all, we are the small niche market software company, and the anti-virus company is a big well known name. It must be Compulife. Trust me, it isn't us.

We will continue to work through each individual case that we encounter, and try to be as helpful as we can. But we have to remind you that we didn't put the anti-virus software on your computer, and ultimately are not in a position to tell you how your particular anti-virus software program works. And we really can't afford the time to learn them all. As Dirty Harry (Clint Eastwood) once said, many times in the same movie, "a man has to know his limitations".

Of course if you choose to use the anti-virus software that we use, then we can be particularly helpful:

www.pctools.com/antivirus

NOTE: We are more than a little troubled that PC Tools now have a promotional offering for Norton anti-virus software. We have really had trouble with Norton in the past, see this:

Norton Is Crap

We hope that PC Tools is not preparing to throw in the towel, but it wouldn't be the first time we have had to change the anti-virus software that we use, simply because the anti-virus product took the wrong turn at some point.


Getting Old?
You Need To Treat Yourself

In February I upgraded the 42" 720P inch monitor in my office to a 52" 1080P monitor. What a difference in the quality of the computer display and the ease of seeing my work.

Of course I am not talking about just a monitor, I am talking about a wide screen LCD TV which also has a computer input. One of the computers in my office sits under my desk and across from my desk, on a wall, resides the 52" monitor. My office is relatively small and so I could see the 42" just fine, but I want to tell you that the higher resolution 52" is just so much better. Actually, I took the 52" from another location where we had it hooked up to a computer, and replaced that one with a 60" that we paid a whole $900 for. You can find that new 60" monitor here at Sam's Club. It is both a great computer monitor and a fabulous TV:

Vizio 60" Led 1080p

As I said, Sam's dropped the price to $900 which prompted me to buy two for the office, one for myself and one for Jeremiah. For those of you struggling with smaller monitors, do yourselves a favor and get one of these things before they are gone.

I looked for the TV in Canada, but not much luck. Here it is direct from the manufacturer's website:

Vizio 60" Led 1080p

Once again, not seeing a retailer handling it in Canada, but there are similiar products I am sure. I remember the first color monitor that we bought, many years ago. I believe it was a 14" RGB monitor and I am quite sure that it cost more than $900 (in 1980's money).

Around the rest of the office, where monitors are right in front of us, and not on a wall further away, we use the old HP L2035 20" (4X3) monitors. The original retail on those was about $900 but I think I paid $50 each (used) for the last pair I bought. Typically, when we hook those up to a single computer, we will use dual monitors (side-by-side) on the same computer.