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Update News for October 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.
Last month there were a number of product and rate changes actually introduced with the September monthly update in the U.S. One U.S. subscriber commented that it would be nice if those were talked about in the monthly bulletin as well as, or instead of, the midmonth bulletin.
There are two points that need to be addressed.
First, we tend to restrict the midmonth update bulletin (called midmonth.txt) to changes that occur to company products (we don't talk about forms). They are the kind of changes and issues that are very timely at that moment, but not very relevant to anyone 6 months later. Occasionally we will slip into the midmonth bulletin a note about a change to the software, but if it is significant that same discussion will appear in the monthly bulletin. The monthly bulletin is reserved for things that are more general subject matter and which may be useful to subscribers later. For that reason, and for reference purposes we keep an archive of monthly bulletins here:
NOTE: You can also access the archive of old monthly bulletins by clicking on "Help" at the bottom of the Red Menu, then clicking on "Monthly Bulletins".
As you all know, we don't have a written manual for Compulife. We have tried it in the past but the product continues to change and keeping up a manual is just too big a time and money issue. Besides that, product manuals do not keep people from calling anyway simply because it's easier to ask how it's done than to look it up in a manual.
So if you really want to read about product features you may not be aware of, then use the library of past bulletins to go back in time and do research. The bulletin index will give you a pretty good clue as to the content, and so you shouldn't have to read the entire bulletin to get a quick overview. It might be nice, at some point, to have an index of monthly bulletins, but there's that time and money issue again. And yes, we could program a search mechanism, but then that would take time away from programming a better Compulife software product.
Second, you can read the most current midmonth bulletin by going to the Red Menu of Compulife and clicking on the "Bulletins and File Finder" button. That button will give you access, at anytime, to the current monthly bulletin in Compulife, and to the current midmonth update bulletin which actually resides on your computer.
If product changes have been included with the newest monthly update, they will be logged into the midmonth bulletin which is included in the installation of the monthly update. Those changes will be at the top of the list, and will have "??? Monthly Update" in front of them, where ??? is the month of the new update.
If we were doing it over, we might have been referred to the midmonth bulletin as the "product change" bulletin, but midmonth has been the term for so long we are not about to reinvent it now. We'll leave that for folks like Microsoft who feel the need to rename their product options for no apparent reason other than to say it's something new, ie "Computer" versus "My Computer". That one still leaves me shaking my head.
While this part of the bulletin is specifically related to the U.S. software, we would like to note that Compulife would be happy to add Simplified Issue product to our Canadian software just as we have been adding to our U.S. software. We would also like to offer a Canadian version of our U.S. graded benefit life policy website: www.gi4sale.com
We own the domain name gi4sale.ca, but currently it simply is forwarded to www.term4sale.ca.
Having noted all that, the following will be useful information about how we have improved the program for SI products in the U.S., and how we will handle such product in Canada if and when we receive rates for those products.
Just after the first of September United of Omaha in the U.S. decided to provide us with the latest rates for their Term Life Express 15, 20 and 30 year term plans.
At the same time the company made a very useful suggestion to help identify which products are Simplified Issue. They recommended adding Simplified Issue in front of the product name and we decided to shorten that up and add :
In front of any product that is identified as Simplified Issue. At this point we have gone through the system and have attempted to identify each product that is Simplifed Issue or Express Issue and have added "SI" to the beginning of the product name.
What this means is that after doing a comparison, you can click on the title which says:
and the results will be in product name order. Using your mouse scroll down the list until you find products that start with "SI - ".
If there are products that we have missed, or that you think should be added, please let us know.
CAUTION - We have had enough feedback to conclude that a "non-med" product is NOT the same as a Simplified Issue product. If you make the case that a particular product is SI because it is non-med, we can add it to those product names that begin with SI but if we receive complaints from subscribers that those products are NOT SI we will remove the SI from the product.
We think that this is a worthwhile change to the software and would like to thank United of Omaha for their very helpful suggestion.
Compulife is now making rapid progress in the changes to our data entry software. Those changes affect the software that we use internally to create and maintain the company and product data files in our system. We will have more to say about that further in our bulletin.
The most critical aspect of this, that will affect some subscribers, is that we will at some point begin to modify the software programs that you use. Those new programs will need to be able to talk to the new way that data is stored in Compulife. This means at some point that the old programs will no longer be compatible with the new data structure.
That is NOT a problem for those who use our Windows software, or those who use our web based software, simply as we will add or replace those programs at the same time as we are rolling out new data. You will (should) see absolutely no difference in the function of the software.
Those who actually purchase the Internet engine ($995 per year) will need to upgrade to the new software (included in the annual fee) and we will let those folks know when that needs to happen. We will provide the new internet engine software that they will need to make the change.
Unfortunately, for the few who still have them, we do not intend to make changes to the OLD Palm or OLD Windows PDA software which we have continued to support. Keep in mind that you can no longer buy a new device (hardware) that runs that old software. We were, for a long time, selling used versions of that old hardware at greatly discounted prices, but have not sold a thing for a number of years. We continued to support the software for those devices because it required no program changes on our part.
NOTE: All Compulife data files are compatible across all programs that we support. That's why the old Palm and Windows PDA programs can still run new rate updates (for now).
However, once we begin to change the data files, the new data will not run with the old programs. At that point old Palm and Windows PDA software will not work properly.
While we are advising you that the support for those devices will end on January 1 2014, it is possible it may go longer. It will depend on how long it takes us to get to data changes that actually affect those devices. They will continue to work until we actually roll out the new data structure changes.
The point of all this to let you know that it will not happen before January 2014, but could happen anytime after January 2014, and there will note be a lot of advanced notice of that date.
If you are one of the handful of people still using an old Palm or Windows Mobile device, you need to be planning to upgrade to one of the new smart phones. Virtually EVERY smart phone in the market, which offers you the ability to browse the internet, works perfectly with our new mobile software. Compulife's mobile software is included, completely free of charge, with a subscription to Compulife. The exception is the low cost "Term4Sale - Agent Edition" which does not come with free mobile software (or a lot of other things).
If you are still one of the few folks using the old Palm or old Windows PDA, you will be faced with the cost of a hardware upgrade to a new smart phone and the cost of browsing services for a smart phone. That means you can continue to have Compulife in your hand and can take it anywhere you go, just as you did with the PDA.
And finally, if you are still using the Palm or old Windows PDA and are not happy about this, please don't blame us. We don't control the hardware market and all we can do is roll with what happens in that market. We strongly prefer only using the Internet for updates, and not for actually producing quotes but there are too many different smart phone operating systems for us to be producing "aps" for each one. By using an internet version of our software, to produce a "mobile" version (internet based application) for use on your phone, we run on anything and everything that has a basic browser.
Further, and once the data upgrades have been made, we will be moving to enhance the mobile edition of our software, so that they will be able to do more of the things that the Windows desktop software does now.
The other alternative is to go back to carrying a laptop. Those can be acquired at very little expense and if you need help buying one give us a call.
On the "tablet" front (super big phones) we are wondering if anyone out there has purchased a Windows based tablet and if you have had a chance to try running Compulife's Windows program on that tablet. You can find out which tablets are supposed to run Windows software here:
Once again, has anyone bought one of these and has anyone tried to run with Windows version of Compulife on it? We would love to hear from you.
If you have a Windows tablet, and have not tried to put Compulife on it, give us a call. We can help you get that done and see how it works.
If not, at some point we will make the leap ourselves and buy a tablet. At that point we will give it a go.
Of course all those tablets, and any of the other tablets in the market, like the i-pad, can and do run the "Mobile" version of Compulife. Did we mention that is completely FREE with your Windows subscription?
The problem is that the Mobile version of Compulife does not have all the options, features and capabilities of our Windows software, and so you get less in the mobile version. As we have already said, once we have completed the new data structure changes, toward the end of 2014, we will be turning our attention back to the mobile edition of Compulife, and attempting to enrich it with added features and capabilities.
We are reaching the end of the first leg in our data structure changes. You can refer to earlier bulletins if you like, but we had confessed earlier on that we are still running DOS programs to enter and manage the data files for Compulife. No problem there, I know those like the back of my hand and they are completely reliable and get the job done and done well. Even so, we can't take advantage of a lot of improvements that we have been wanting to make, until we upgrade those data entry systems to Windows.
While the old DOS software is rock solid, the problem is that making changes is much more difficult than doing it with Windows, given the wide variety of Windows programming tools that we have at our disposal. The DOS programming tools are old and clunky, and it just takes a lot longer to make changes.
The first leg of the journey has been to convert the old user interfaces from DOS to Windows, and we have been doing that for the software that works with the current data. We have also been making enormous improvements in the user interface part of the data management, and the results are just spectacular.
We could show you what we have done but then we'd have to kill you.
All joking aside, it's a very proprietary and secret part of what we do but let's just say that the changes that we are making will dramatically improve the ease and speed of making data changes to our software. The new program is also very intuitive and will make it easier for the next generation to carry on. Having said that, no one should be too concerned. I'm 59 with no serious health issues (yet) and I have no intention of ever retiring. I plan to die with my boots on. Dad worked for the company until he was 79. My dad didn't start Compulife, I did, but he got on board after he was retired from his previous position running a dairy factory. He worked for Compulife for over 20 years.
Even so, it's only logical that some of the work that I do be shared with the next generation. If I should have a serious problem, and I am unable to get something done, there will be backup for me. In that regard Jeremiah, my son-in-law and our office manager, has been working closely with myself and our programmer as we roll out these new internal changes. While Jeremiah has always had a basic sense of how data was entered and maintained, he will be getting in neck deep on the new systems. While that will remain my area of expertise, I want him able to step in more easily if there are emergencies.
As I said, we are closing in on the first leg, which is a change to the interface. The second leg will begin the conversion of existing data files to a new data format. We intend to walk before we run.
The first data files that will be converted are the data files that record the Company information. Currently, if you are in the Display Single product window, and you click on options, you will see a "Company Information" option. If you click on that it will display a window with company name, address, phone numbers, email address and contact person.
Another option for a single company is the "A.M. Best" guide which gives more information about the A.M. Best rating for that company, such as when A.M. Best gave that rating to the company.
The company info and rating windows are going to be expanded and enhanced once we replace the old data file with the new. We intend to add more information and more links.
In addition to the information already being displayed for A.M. best, we intend to add the A.M. Best "outlook" for a life company's rating. A.M. Best assigns either stabile, negative or positive, giving an indication of which way the rating might move in the future, if changed. We will be adding the NAIC reference number of the company. We will be adding the date when A.M. Best first started providing ratings for the company.
But we would like the the A.M. Best rating to be expanded to a general "ratings" windows. We would also like to add other ratings to our software. In that regard we have formally contacted Standard and Poors, Fitch and Moody's to see what would be required.
Moody's got back to us first and said the cost would be about $10,000 per year. After I picked myself up off the floor, I referred the company to a web page I put together for the purpose of doing research on ratings. You can review it here:
I asked the company to explain why a significant number of life companies were able to display the Moody's ratings on their sites, apparently for free, and why I would/should need to pay $10,000. I also asked why I would not be able to simply pick up that information from their sites. I indicated that at the very least I could simply build the links in our software to the respective company pages and let our subscribers see it on the company's sites. I should note that that is something we will do if we cannot arrive at a reasonable arrangement with Moody's or any of the other two ratings agencies.
We'll keep you posted and let you know how that goes.
The enhanced company information will be a change made to the existing GOWIN.EXE program. There will be one other change made to that program prior to the new data structure being rolled out and it will affect renewal premiums on term life insurance. Neither of these changes will affect the web software that we currently have, but the second change (mentioned above) will definitely affect the Palm and Windows Mobile software which does use those renewal rates that will be modified. At that point the Palm and Windows software will stop working properly.
The bigger and subsequent changes to a new data structure will come with a new windows program that will be called CQS.EXE, not GOWIN.EXE.
CQS.EXE will talk to the new data and GOWIN.EXE will continue to talk to the old data plus the company info and renewal changes we are making first. You will not likely see CQS.EXE until the fall of 2014. Even after we introduce the new CQS.EXE program, we will continue to provide and support the GOWIN.EXE and old data files for a period of time after. This will ensure that the new CQS.EXE is completely accurate and reliable. We did the same thing when we went from DOS to Windows. We never toss aside the old stuff until we know the new stuff is bullet proof and everyone is happy.
While the logic of CQS.EXE will be rooted in what GOWIN.EXE does now, the new program will look different. We will be using the occasion to introduce a new look and fell. For example, one of the things we will be focussed on doing is making it more compatible with touch screen technology. We expect, by the time we get it out, that a lot of folks will be using touch screen windows based hardware, and so CQS.EXE will work better on those machines while at the same time supporting those of us who like are keyboards and mice.
We have heard nothing further from subscribers since producing this report:
Subscribers Feedback - Claim Denials
In fact it's been nothing but crickets.
As promised, we will continue to update that report as additional comments or information are received. If you have something to add, we'd like to hear from you.