Blighthouse Trouble

Of course, my titling this piece “Blighthouse Trouble” instead of the actual company name, “Brighthouse,” as in networks, will obscure it from Internet searches; however, we had a blight in our house on the network and it took Blighthouse far too long to eradicate the problem. Exposing yet another stupid company is not my objective. It’s just another example of a greedy corporation in the United States, and there’s nothing news-worthy in reporting that. This report is only to document how stupid companies are when it comes to supporting their products.

Until early 2014, I had very little experience in network products and technology when we started adding a large number of network devices.  These included iPhones, iPads, Windows and OSX computers, multiple IP surveillance cameras across our property, HomePlug power line adapters (with EOP/POE features), multiple Android Wi-Fi tablets (running picture slideshows) with front-facing cameras, UAVs (Unmanned Aerial Vehicles or drones), a Windows 7 server, and numerous switches, routers, and modem to interconnect these devices.

I’d like to reinforce my neophyte knowledge of networks and their interconnecting devices. Everything my partner and I had installed was typically plug & play with minimal skills or knowledge required. So, I viewed each Blighthouse rep with expectations of high expertise and superior to anything I could understand. In the end, I finally realized with all the network devices I had configured and resolved issues, I had learned enough detail to figure out solutions to problems I never imagined I could understand.

But one day back in mid-2015, we started having problems with temporary bandwidth dropouts sporadically during the day. Our initial assumption was that the line voltage carrying the network signal to our equipment was dropping out. We watched daily as the download speed descended to 10% of its typical performance. Then after a few minutes, returned back to double digit download speeds.

We began trouble-shooting this problem with Blighthouse Networks support reps to systematically determine the point of failure. They sent out reps on separate dates over time to replace the wire from the road, replace the wire inside the house, and replace wall outlets previously installed by a Blighthouse rep. Each time they came to us, they identified some bogus problem they supposedly fixed; however, the dropouts continued to occur.

I was misled all the way up to the last visit by a Blighthouse rep who never said anything about their modem replacement product was also a router, as in combo. Based upon my support call to one intelligent trouble shooting rep, the field rep’s instruction was to install just a modem only, and from what the field rep said, that’s all it was. But in reality, the device was not just a modem. It was a modem and router combined.

After the rep successfully installed the device and departed, I eventually looked at the back of their “modem” and found multiple ports, as a router would host. What it proved to me is that these Blighthouse reps barely know what they’re doing. That’s because this last installer got it half right and hadn’t completed his job. I had to figure out how to make the modem/router be just a modem by configuring it to bridge mode that would allow our Apple AirPort Extreme Wi-Fi router to manage our home network configuration.

The way I figured it out was that our Apple router had a 192.16.1.1 address (Windows network numerics) as the default router and I knew then that their replacement modem was operating as a router, too. That’s when I called Blighthouse yet again.

They configured the modem/router remotely to bridge mode and our home network began working as it had with our original two-year old NetGear modem that exhibited dropouts.

As for backstory, April Fool’s Friday 2016 was the second time they had dispatched a rep to install their “modem,” that same week. On the previous Wednesday, the rep didn’t even recognize the NetGear modem that Blighthouse recommended we buy and install (the modem that became suspect for our network dropouts). Then when I told him our router was on the lower shelf in the stand right in front of him, he picked up the Synology NAS box on the middle shelf, as he thought that was our router. I corrected him multiple times.

Then once the Wednesday guy got their replacement modem installed, our router complained with an error about not being configured correctly. The guy had no idea what to do. That’s when I told him to pack it up and get out.

Then that Friday with the final field support rep, the same Apple router error occurred. However, this time, after a few minutes, the router somehow adjusted itself and the error message went away. After getting the Apple router working, he should have known to configure their new modem/router to be in bridge mode, just as I had finally figured out by calling their phone support rep to fix.

I also suggested we inform the Wednesday rep how he had installed it correctly but hadn’t waited. But this successful rep told me he was a contractor and not a Blighthouse employee, although they sent him to us as a “field supervisor.” He also said without me having a receipt, which I did not have, he couldn’t identify who the rep was on Wednesday, and added that the Blighthouse employees don’t know what they’re doing beyond a simple home installation.

My biggest issue is the longevity quality with these modems, in general. I decided to rent a Blighthouse modem because this purchased NetGear modem was only two-years old, out of warranty, and I don’t want to have to buy a new modem every two years. I’ve learned network gear is low-quality after any length of time. That too applies to the Apple router we had to replace weeks before the new modem, without any clue why it died. Apple can’t even determine why their router failed but instead expect people to replace it with a new or refurbished one.

As you can imagine, each time I called Blighthouse to report the dropouts while we slowly isolated the problem finally down to the modem, I’ve had to walk each phone support rep through all of the steps we’d done up to each point in time, even though it was documented on our account. It appears they can’t read or write, or both. When they failed to understand the issue and “robot-repeated” their corporate customer script, I escalated to a supervisor. That’s when it was a pleasure to find someone who actually understood the problem and we were able to make progress.

One final note that I don’t know if it’s published anywhere is that they can put a “device watch” diagnostic utility on the modem to monitor and record the signal to the house. However, once you do that, you have to find someone in their Internet customer support group to do anything with the logs. If you call the regular support group, they go brain-dead and have no idea what device watch is or who to transfer the call to for them to take any action.

Fixing this simple problem has had to have cost them hundreds, if not thousands, of dollars simply because of ignorance and lack of followup training.

In the final minutes after installing the replacement modem, my ignorance was about where the DDNS is configured for our network. For some reason, I go brain-dead when it comes to the outside access and which part of the network gear does the addressing, internally and externally. After all these final installation issues, I now will remember it’s the router, silly.

The day I originally published this post is the day after the final modem installation, and it’s only for testing to confirm the NetGear modem wasn’t causing the dropouts. So far, none.

NOTES

EOP stands for Ethernet Over Power. This technology is a standardized product of HomePlug Alliance where my long-term close friend, Rob Ranck, is CEO.

POE stands for Power Over Ethernet. This technology is a product of IEEE standards defining the use of DC power on a Category 5 (aka CAT-5) cable with RJ45 connectors. This has become the standard method of providing power to network-ready devices, like IP surveillance video cameras.

EOP/POE is the combination of both standard features in a single device. A EOP/POE adapter product (COP-Systems offers this product on eBay) replaces two adapters to accomplish both features, having only one standardardized feature per unit.

Android Tablets are ViewPix Frame prototypes running a picture slideshow. These Frames are designed for the senior market where families wish to contact elderly parents with video calls.

The reason for mentioning the front-facing camera, in the intro above, is to include this note about my installing an IP surveillance camera app on the Android Frame. I prototyped this feature by configuring an IP WebCam app to demonstrate its ability to be added to IP camera surveillance software that records this Frame’s video camera stream. In this configuration, Digital Watchdog Spectrum server software manages the Frame IP camera and records its video stream. This is illustrated in the floor plan at the link below, near the middle of the page.

Orlando Configuration Floor Plan 2016

Goddard Recovery Day

Yesterday, 2 October 2014, was a recovery day for the residents of a Goddard Avenue home in Orlando, Florida. Troy and I had lost two important items in our lives due to accidental casualties in their daily activities: Quad-copter propeller and Ziggy’s Big Blue Ball (BBB).

ARDrone2   Ziggy Big Blue Ball

The prop failure was caused by too many learning-curve practices that resulted in crashes that ultimately caused a motor to fail. Below is an illustration of what had to be replaced to get the Parrot AR Drone 2.0 back up and running. The blue rectangle contains the parts that were first replaced on each of the four arms: Prop, two gears, and axel. The hardest part of this exercise was aligning the axel at the top of the prop so that the C-clip slid into the microscopic slot at the end of the axel.

So, Troy and I replaced all the props and mechanical pieces to test if the motor would start working; it didn’t. So Troy ordered the replacement motor and it arrived the day before yesterday.

prop arm graphics

Yesterday morning, I replaced the motor and leg, the latter had continued to break off in crashes with any minute stress, like replacing the motor. The yellow arrow above identifies the motor that also included a small printed circuit board (PCB), see below, and the white arrow indicates the seam in leg where I glued the leg back (it actually stands slightly taller than the rest so it is no longer a flat plane when on a flat surface).

Drone MotorThe above illustration is to give you an idea how small the parts are for this drone. The six microscopic screws had to be pressure inserted into the PCB holes and then aligned beneath the top casing where the last three screws secures the top, the board, and into the bottom casing of the prop arm. It worked, first time trying!

This time I purchased Loctite Impact Resistant Superglue to glue the leg back on the base of the prop arm. Before, I had tried Loctite Special Plastic Superglue that didn’t appear to bond properly. Well, after a day of practice, the copter has crashed twice, using the new glue, and the leg is still attached.

The other replacement was a late evening ball playing incident that resulted in an unretrievable ball in the dark. After many days of rain, the ball was not needed because it was too wet to walk or play ball in our neighborhood park. This afforded me time to search the local area, not remembering (it was late) where I threw the ball.

At lunch, still yesterday, I ate at Beefy King before searching the stores for a replacement ball. After the first pet store, Frank found the ball at Sports Authority, a little further down the road. It worked. Ziggy is now suckling and flying in the sky for his Big Blue Ball!

Ziggy Flying

And finally, below is a cropped picture from the drone test flight yesterday of me flagging the drone while wearing the Oregon State University tee-shirt that Rob Ranck gave me. This is just days before Frank planned to drive to Tampa to meet up and celebrate Rob’s anniversary with his wife Cathy.

Frank Flagging

While at Beefy King, a patron cheered me and said, “Go Beavers!” It took me a minute to figure out what the guy was saying!

Terminating a Business and Trust

29 September 2014

This article attempts to document the actions that occurred between Frank Gould, Les Stone, Rob Ranck, and the Gigafast team. Rob had originally provided Les and Frank with a contact, the president of Gigafast, to source a specific product that provided a single device that removed the requirement for three power outlet devices, all combined into one: Gigafast PE928-POE HomePlug AV EoP/PoE Adapter.

Since 12 June 2014, Frank worked with Les to test and confirm the EoP/PoE adapter worked and would be a product to offer with the, at the time, only product COP-Systems would offer: YardCam350. Then Les decided that he wanted to be the distributor for the adapter only, and Frank withdrew his work on that product alone.

During this time, Frank spent hours working with the different software products to make sure the YardCam350 would operate to deliver dewarped fisheye lens video for general use and surveillance playback. Les constantly picked at everything Frank provided. From calling Frank an unprofessional windows user and an embarrassment for demonstrations to getting hung in a loop putting down Apple products or “Watts equals Volts times Amps” (W=VA). Constantly complaining about what Frank did or said.

Troy Mueller, Frank’s partner, complained about how much bickering Les and Frank exhibited while working together. Frank then started working to manage Les’s behaviors and after a ballistic phone call that Frank hung up on, Les finally started to calm down. Frank still had to be diligent in stopping Les from getting hung in a loop, arguing about every little detail.

One of the big opportunities that came up with Frank working with Cracker Creek recreational and historical park was a potential YardCam350 order. This was something Frank had shown the part-owner who suggested Frank write up a quote to mount the camera down by the shoreline to watch for returning watercraft rental customers. Frank and Les visited the property during this exercise to gather information and test the power circuits for that quote. Frank mentioned to Les afterwards how well they had worked together solving problems and pushing each other over the technology hurdles. Frank then spent hours putting together a specification and calculating the expenses, permits, and final quote.

One interesting observation about Les was during the permit process after Frank sent the following email to the Port Orange City Permit Office:

I called your office a couple days ago and Julie suggested I send you an email to ask you the questions I was asking her. I’m putting together a proposal for an outdoor webcam at the launch site at Cracker Creek, 1795 Taylor Road. My partner (Les Stone, copied) and I have already installed a similar product in Orlando and we needed different permits for different things. For instance, I’m in the county, not city, and the county required a low-voltage permit. My partner, who is in city limits, had to get the permit just to erect the pole.

So, our question is what permits will we need to install the products described below. We’re in the process of finishing up a proposal for Cracker Creek to consider but we need the final cost for any permits or other requirements. If you have any further questions, please call me at my number below. We appreciate your time.

Camera Installation Configuration:

  • Network into switch off router and into Cracker Creek office network.
  • Wireless Bridge from office LAN to pavilion network switch.
  • Switch provides EoP in pavilion and exits to launch site through power outlet.
  • Launch site power outlet used to provide network connect and PoE power to camera.
  • Outdoor CAT-5 wire underground in conduit from power outlet to DockCam pole near Spruce Creek.

[Cracker Creek map excluded – see on specification]

On a subsequent phone call, Les informed Frank that his email (above) makes no sense to him, the map is confusing, and that one of them will have to call to explain what we are really asking to get. After talking to the permit officer, Frank was happy to write the following email back to Les:

He also said he had no problem understanding what we’re trying to do, so your comment about my email [being incomprehensible] was invalid. He even told me to bring that map for the application submission. I will use the map I sent him since that’s all he knows or has seen.

A little later, Les was sending email about “forward manual,” which only confused Frank with the vague change request Les was attempting to ask. After Les wrote back that he had no idea why Frank couldn’t figure out what he wanted changed, Frank decided to provide the details of what was not making sense. Part of the confusion was the wrong words Les had used and the missing illustrations, mentioned below, showed up in Word for Frank as blank or blacked out boxes.

Writing requires you understand and communicate a concept as concisely as possible and attempt to cover all angles, and that includes clarifying illustrations (which I can’t see). For instance, when the subject of the sentence is singular, all references back to that subject must be singular or the reader cannot understand the sentence. Words also have multiple meanings, such as manual and forward. When you use two ambiguous words together, their meanings get lost and a writer has to add additional words to give it clarity. Otherwise, it’s a failure to communicate, especially for those who don’t speak English as their first language.

From your insistence, I think you’re trying to say “manual foreword,” not “forward.” I assumed you knew the difference, which is why I said it makes no sense.

What ended up happening is that Frank and Les sat down together in front of a PC to edit the final versions for both the COPS-928-POE user manual and the data sheet.

On 10 September, Les sent an email to Gigafast with the product label changed to a different part number than Gigafast and Frank had previously adopted and published. Frank was blind-sided without discussing the change and it made no sense to change from COPS-928-POE to CP-928-POE, as Les proposed in his email. Frank was livid and wrote a furious email asking why he changed it before discussing with him and how it affects multiple systems. Les offered to meet for breakfast the next day to discuss. Here’s the email prior to deciding to meet after Frank’s furious email.

I don’t recall us discussing the part number, you may have told me or mentioned it. You made a random number that’s where it came from not me, and your e-mailed label earlier was when I saw it and went Oh No. I didn’t like what you had, your number was searchable if I remember. I should have picked up the phone as we decided earlier to discuss.

Les had mentioned in past conversations that they hadn’t discussed the part number but Frank didn’t think a discussion was necessary, unless he objected to it, which he didn’t at the times he said we hadn’t discussed the part number. In hindsight, Frank should have realized that Les was saying he objected to the part number, but that was never spoken. Also, Les admits he should have picked up the phone, of course, because Frank had no idea he wanted to change the part number. Then Frank sent him the following examples, one from Gigafast, the other from the store website Frank was in the process of building for COP-Systems.

Gigafast COP-System lable

COP-Systems Store Product

During Frank and Les’s breakfast meeting 12 September, it took Frank a while to calm down from all his pent up anger about the changed part number. Frank asked why and Les replied, “because of the search engine.” Frank was dumbfounded and asked “what the hell does that mean?” Les couldn’t provide any valid reason for the change, and Frank finally said, “You use your company name anywhere you can.” Frank had already used it for all the different brands so users can differentiate the products, like vivo-[existing product number] for Vivotek products, and HP- for Hewlett Packard products.

Because of his insolence and arrogant decisions regarding the part number change, Frank told him he would quit because he can’t have things changing behind his back. There were too many things to do going forward, he didn’t have time to go back to change things, especially things that don’t need to change.

Les finally calmed Frank down to finish discussions about the website and products. Les agreed to call in the future to discuss things with Frank before sending email or making changes. Frank reminded Les that he needs to test market the four Gigafast units on eBay and put together packages and/or kits. Les agreed to make progress on these action items.

Frank continued to research the BigCommerce.com and Ordoro.com to determine what it will take to automate the order and delivery processes. Frank was also working on an interactive infographic as an automated order entry site to capture information from customers who want to do it themselves to install a surveillance camera, from several makes and models, for inside and outside installations.

This was a major potential content marketing tool that would guide the customer through the steps to measure, determine lighting amounts throughout the day, order any new network equipment, and finally place an order using their input. This order would go to Ordoro to complete the packaging, and if the customer needed it to be setup and configured for their network, the ordered products would be sent to COP-Systems to configure the equipment and/or software, customized for the customer.

For the next meeting, the following Wednesday, Les picked up Frank and went into a tirade about Frank thinking COP-Systems was a global corporation with endless funds.

After Les finished, Frank calmly replied, “I have been working on automating the order process so that if we do start selling large quantities, we have a path to solve that problem. I don’t want to be in a position where we can’t deliver products because we’re overloaded with orders and lose business because we can’t deliver. As for corporate thinking, I am working on this as a small business which is why we decided to use BigCommerce for the order entry at a low monthly subscription price without contracts, and Ordoro to deliver the products, some drop-shipped from manufacturers. It may take a while to get Ordoro up and running but we can fulfill the initial orders manually until it’s fully operational.”

Frank also told Les that he had made an appointment with Ordoro in October because they are so busy with other customers (Frank’s assumption). This was not a good start for a company that needs to support their new users, like COP-Systems. Then Les showed Frank his penciled list of packages; however, Frank noticed all the manufacturers were BrickCom, something the two hadn’t discussed. Les was supposed to create packages with the existing COP-Systems products. Frank said nothing about this.

Frank eventually worked on the final version of the installation manual that he edited from the draft Gigafast sent for COP-Systems to edit and distribute. This manual would be included on the CD inside the COPS-928-POE box. Frank had fought for months to exclude the CD and felt the manual should be downloaded from the COP-Systems website, for many reasons.

Les believed the CD was something customers expected but Frank said that the CD is called gold plating. Les didn’t understand that concept so Frank explained it as something that’s included with a product that it doesn’t need, like the CD. Frank also reminded Les that in the past, he had told Frank that he should not use the CD provided with a product but to go directly to the vendor’s website to download the latest version. That advice never persuaded Les.

With the final version of the manual, Frank decided they should get Rob’s opinion about any copyright issues and/or other comments. On 15 September, Frank sent an email to Rob with the draft manual and some final questions about this release, knowing time was running out. Because Rob is a very busy person and had just lost three days due to some kind of a stomach virus after a trip to Paris, France, Frank knew that it would be a stretch for Rob with such a short deadline.

Rob is also a very generous person with his time but this time, he was not able to commit time, anytime soon. The deadline was 19 September but Frank assumed it was delayed until Sunday after Les said Gigafast would not be able to do anything with it at the end of the day on a Friday afternoon but only after returning to work that next Monday when it will be there for them to proceed. Turned out that Les was only saying that hypothetically and he had not changed the deadline to the following Monday.

Of course, if the manual were online along with any other download materials, the deadline would not be as close; it was only because they needed the manual to burn the CDs that were to go into the final product packages. Which brings up the final issue that Les refused to deviate from and that’s a software utility.

For months, Les had been trying to get Gigafast to send the software to test and understand its operability with other HomePlug devices, from other vendors. Frank again said this should be on the website to download, mainly because of the utility software delay from Gigafast and the deadline.

Then Rob replied with an email, on 18 September, containing answers to the list of questions from Frank; the answer that stood out from all the questions was the following:

I don’t see the 928-POE listed in the HomePlug Certified products list. Perhaps Gigafast has done the testing and just hasn’t posted it to the system – you’ll need to check with them. Also, that’s the old certification logo, the official one is shown here: http://www.homeplug.org/products/cert_mark/

This created questions back to Gigafast with the following answer regarding certification, received at 2:29AM, 19 September:

For PE928-POE, this product haven’t apply for HomePlug certification yet. So you may not use HomePlug [certification] logo on this device.

Then later that day, Frank and Les discussed the certification issue above on the phone and decided Frank would draft an email asking more details about this product release. Below is the initial draft version Frank sent to Les:

Greetings all,

It appears we have a bit of a misunderstanding. When we started this transaction, Frank sent the data sheet detailing the product we are purchasing. Now, based on the email below [Randy’s from this morning], it appears the device is not HomePlug certified. We need the product to sell as a certified HomePlug device as it was represented in your data sheet.

The other issue is the PPU software. Since we cannot provide a user manual for our customer’s, it appears that we won’t be including that with this product. Besides, we never received the software to even confirm that it will work for our customers.

At this point, we need to postpone any production plans for our order until these issues are addressed and we know exactly what we’re getting. We do not want to find out any other surprises until we’ve taken time for due diligence regarding the PE928-POE.

Please take a moment to document exactly what we’re NOT going to get that is defined on the attached data sheet. HomePlug is mentioned eight times.

Les called to discuss Frank’s use of certain words that might be interpreted wrong by non-native, English-speaking people, like “surprises.” Frank told Les to work on his own version and then call to discuss. Instead Les sent the following email to Frank:

I’m having an issue with the second sentence that say’s Frank sent the data sheet. That means you sent them back their PE-928POE data sheet attached to one of your correspondence. Were specifications the content of that e-mail? Let me know or send copy so I understand context. I doubt they would remember getting it back maybe we should say ‘they provided us the PE-928POE data sheet and that’s what we bought.’

Later that same day at 2:35PM, Rob called Frank and spent about 26 minutes discussing this product release. He told Frank that they needed to play like the big-boys by putting everything online and use a QR code to guide the users easily to the download site. For the HomePlug certification logo, it cannot be used on any literature, but the “HomePlug AV” can be used because it is compatible, just not certified. He added that with other similar “alliances,” like USB and WiFi, they’re not all certified because of time-to-market and batched certifications. Rob also spent time discussing the manual and suggested it be stripped down excluding all the extraneous information about security and alternate configurations.

Frank immediately called Les at 3:04PM to inform him what Rob said, including all topics in the paragraph immediately above. Frank suggested they take the weekend to think about these issues and not send anything for the next communication to Gigafast until they had discussed all final release changes. Frank also offered to take a shot at Rob’s suggestions about the manual online and QR codes. Les did not say anything different, so Frank assumed he agreed to this plan.

Frank spent the whole day Saturday creating a new installation manual and based it on an example installation manual he had from NetGear. This significantly reduced the number and sizes of the pages and got directly to the point about installation. After creating a landing page and uploading the manual, Frank sent the email below to Les, Saturday afternoon at 3:45PM. NOTE: The links below have been changed to this WordPress.com site to illustrate from this document what was actually on the COP-Systems website, that Frank created. The QR codes included below are the actual links to the original site; click on them below to go to the duplicate destinations. You may alternatively try these codes to go where Frank had originally created them; however, that may have changed over time and these QR code decoded links might not work, today.

Below is the QR code to the temporary website where I created a landing page with a link to the new pdf Installation Manual. I think this is what Rob was talking about, dump the non-important info.

QR-Code-DS-pdf

Below is the QR code that goes directly to the pdf. Keep in mind, we still need to migrate this over to cop-systems.com before the final version.

QR-Code-DS

Sunday morning, 21 September, Frank woke up to a copy of an email from Les to Gigafast sent at 11:33PM the night before. Below is the email Les sent to Gigafast:

Greetings,

It appears we have a bit of a misunderstanding. When we started this transaction, my associate Frank Gould copied back the Gigafast PE-928-POE data sheet which detailed the PE928-POE product we are purchasing, and which we made our decision to OEM our own product. Now, based on Randys email from September 19, 2014 stating “PE928-POE, this product haven’t apply for HomePlug certification yet. So you may not use HomePlug logo on this device.” We need the product to sell as a HomePlug AV Powerline certified device as it was represented in your data sheet.

Since we have not heard a factory schedule at this point, we need to postpone any production plans for our order until these issues are addressed and we know exactly what we are getting. We want to find out if we can get our model certified and if so how long will it take. Also are there any other specifications on the PE928-POE data sheet that are incorrect.

The other issue is the PPU software. Since you cannot provide a user manual for our customer’s, it appears that we won’t be including this software with this product. When we were first asked about getting the PPU software we were told that most customers do not include that software, so maybe acquiring licensing is an issue. I have purchased numerous Powerline devices and every one came with the PPU Privacy software. We never received a copy of the PPU software to even confirm that it will work for our customers.

We need to know about certification of the device and how we can proceed from here.

My best,

Les

Les Stone
COP-Systems
http://www.Cameras-On-Patrol.com
Theft and Vandalism Deterrent Systems

Because Frank believed Les agreed to wait to discuss this next correspondence (above) to Gigafast (since it was pretty serious and significant), besides the fact Frank had sent him a draft copy of the manual with QR codes, Frank was floored and totally angry at what Les wrote to Gigafast. First, Gigafast was doing COP-Systems a favor to supply their product, to a very small business, and through Frank’s close friend. Second, Frank told Les that HomePlug certification wasn’t necessary and the president of HomePlug advised how to handle this, compatibility was still approved and had been tested at Frank’s residence over months for the COP-Systems application. Lastly, Les opposed the use of a web download method that Rob and Frank both recommended and would buy time for the final deliverables.

After all these Les-created and self-imposed barriers to entry, Frank decided that he could no longer trust Les in business. These experiences proved that Les was not aware of his behavior and failed to deliver items he had committed to provide to the team. Frank sent his resignation email, 21 September at 5:41AM, as follows:

From the beginning I said I wasn’t interested in working on getting this product as the only thing we distribute in this country. You then convinced me that it was the corner stone to differentiate our offering from others, which made sense.

Then we found a discrepancy in their data sheet that I brought up with the President of the HomePlug alliance and was told it doesn’t have to be certified to sell as a HomePlug compatible device. No one said we needed to be certified with a HomePlug logo, although it was deceptive in their literature.

Now you have demanded from someone who has offered you an opportunity of a lifetime to demand it be certified, something that makes no difference, costs more money, and time. You were supposed to think about this and consult with me before taking any action. But, in your infinite wisdom, you wrote this email [to Gigafast demanding certification].

Thus, You’re On Your Own now. I am tired of your late night email and stupid single and simple-minded decisions. This is why companies choose to not provide products because the recipient company has no empathy for those competing in a global market, especially as a bottom feeder offering.

For my full evaluation of this project, you have not provided anything that we’ve agreed you’d provide: package kits, camera model offerings, and test market results. Instead, you buy a camera while drunk, try to make me buy it, then send an email without my consent even though it is to a supplier that is intimate with my friend and could damage his relationship.

I had already given up depending on what you say because you constantly write that we’ll meet up tomorrow then nothing happens, no call, no nothing. However, I trusted you as a friend to not do something Jay Rogers would do, but you did. You lied to me. How can anyone depend on someone who does that? What kind of business relationship does that portend? Which is why I shouldn’t be surprised you’d send something behind my back after we agreed to discuss this before taking any action. I guess that’s my stupidity for trusting yet another “friend” to do what he agreed to do.

So, I can only hope that you make it on your own and that you might find the time to write me a check for the items I’ve provided: Hi8 camera [eBay asset dump] and 4 [Gigafast] PE928-POE adapters. No charge for the months of research to build a prototype store website, marketing content, Windows laptop product evaluations, and such. Just another educational expense for me at the price of a friend.

Best of luck.

Frank then sent an email to Rob to give him heads up about his severed business relationship with Les and for any damage control he might need to help with this issue. Rob replied requesting copies of the email Les sent. Frank forwarded that to Rob and included the following email from Gigafast:

Sorry for the miss communication. This product haven’t got the certification yet, we will apply it together with our other models. I just know that the price for getting the certification is the same as you apply for one or for several models. So we will apply for the certification all at once. As you know the certification guarantees their conformity and high level of interoperability with other products on the market. And we are sure PE-928POE is compatible with other devices.

Without the certification, you can still put HomePlug logo on the user manual, because we are the member of HomePlug Alliance. I have confirmed about this issue.

Randy will email you the software for you to confirm shortly.

Les then sent the following email to Frank on 24 September:

Hello,
Hope you’re havening a good week, I have a check for you. Let me know if you want me to just mail it or will you give me a few minutes to review BigComm to see if I can possibly comprehend it. I was on it yesterday for a while and the foundation you have built is a great start. Since I have the framework it will be a lot easier to just monkey see monkey do to remaining products. I have quite a list going I was almost finished with for phase 1 when we stopped.

The main thing I can’t figure out is where do you create a relationship with the vendors to have inventory of the other products on COPS site.

If you want to put me in the I’m done with you, like Jay category just let me know and I’ll mail the check.

Thanks for all you have done for me in the past. Say hello/goodbye to Troy

L

$117 was the take on the Hi8 minus the 10% And $117 for the PE-928POE You paid $35 for wire transfer. So I have a check for $240 if that’s Okay?

Just remembered You have some Brickcoms?

If you are talking to me do you want to test the PPU?

Frank replied with the following email, 25 September:

I had to look up “stupid is as stupid does” and there’s not a lot of information regarding that phrase. In essence, though, it says that intelligent people who do stupid things are actually stupid and not so intelligent. However, I believe it has more to do with emotions than being stupid, just selfishness and arrogance. This has been one of those epiphany years where people with Masters degrees, honorary PhDs, and magna cum laude still make stupid mistakes and decisions.

However, when one of these friends gets into a position that jeopardizes a close friend’s business partner’s relationship because of a stupid decision, I have to honor the friends who are doing me a favor, as I was trying to do for you. I apologized for your decision and insolence but it is the last time. Your behavior has been nothing but grievance and damage control for me. You behave like you want to fail, opposing what we agree to do and my recommendations. What kind of business relationship do you think that is?

I have spent hours trying to work with you and keep you from going ballistic, repressing me, and fighting some demon inside you when it comes to working on this project. I, on the other hand, have tried to show appreciation and respect with positive reinforcement for your accomplishments. The only positive reinforcement I’ve seen or heard from you is the “great start” on my BigCommerce “foundation,” below [in this document, it is in the email above].

Then you don’t even remember my educating you on what I’ve been trying to build. The reason you can’t figure out the product relationship is because it’s not in BigCommerce. Can you remember where it is? Did you listen to anything I’ve said? Apparently not. The answer is in an email I sent you.

Yes, I have both of your Brickcom cameras sitting by the front door. At this point, I am still raging with anger inside for what you did. I don’t see any apology but that’s probably because you have no idea what you did wrong because you don’t listen to me or can’t remember

If you read this far, I would like to give my life some time away from this stupidity so I can resume my posture and emotions. Kindly mail me a check and let me know when you’ll be away so I can drop off the cameras and the keys to your house (and also after I get my car back from Magic Mechanic), while you’re gone.

As for the PPU, I tried to unzip that file from Randy on Windows and mac but it failed. I would like an operating version of it, if you were successful unzipping and running it. The only reason for this is for me to see how this product fully works, after all the time I’ve wasted on it. If you can, put a copy on your camerasonpatrol.com server and I’ll download it from there.

Of course, there was never an apology, remorse, or conciliatory response. He did send an email with the unzipped PPU software link; however, he provided it in DropBox, again not on his camerasonpatrol.com website, showing how he was not following my instructions and not setting it up for a download, for potential customers. Then, on 27 September at 10:25PM, yet another late night email, Les sent the following:

Frank,
I am still staggered that you blew up at me for the e-mail that I sent to Gigafast that you had originally authored. I did not originate that the device needed to sell as certified. You found out from Rob it wasn’t. After I had received your e-mail about Rob saying it wasn’t certified, I called for us to discuss as you asked. You were upset at Gigafast, even used the term fraud.

We talked for 11 minutes then 3 more [minutes,] 10 minutes later. I said I would clean it up, and you said OK I don’t care what you do. I knew better but took you at your word, how could I change what you said to much? You did not say pass it on as the e-mail for you to send to Rob when we talked on the phone. Just send it to Gigafast

The next day you go off your rocker.
Please read below and tell me how my reply is more offensive than what you wrote?? Plus they gave a quick easy answer, no harm no foul other than your foul temper.

Robs relationship was never jeopardized. AND IT WAS YOUR COMMENTS I SENT. I DIDN’T WRITE THAT, YOU DID!!!!!!!!!!.

—–Original Message—–
From: Frank A Gould
Sent: Friday, September 19, 2014 2:14 PM
To: Les Stone
Subject: PE928-POE

I am thinking we send this email to all the parties we’ve worked with so far, including Jay and Rob. I’ll try to contact Rob before we send it so he has a heads up and maybe send him an advanced copy to make sure we’re not missing something else or offend his business partner. Give me a call to discuss.

FRANK YOU WROTE THIS! A

Greetings all,

It appears we have a bit of a misunderstanding. When we started this transaction, Frank sent the data sheet detailing the product we are purchasing. Now, based on the email below [Randy’s from this morning], it appears the device is not HomePlug certified. We need the product to sell as a certified HomePlug device.

The other issue is the PPU software. Since we cannot edit the user manual to meet our customer’s need, it appears that we won’t be including that with this product. Besides, we still have not received the software to even confirm that it will work for our customers.

At this point, we need to postpone any production plans for our order until these issues are addressed and we know exactly what we’re getting. We do not want to find out any other surprises until we’ve taken time for due diligence regarding the PE928-POE.

Please take a moment to document exactly what we’re NOT going to get that is defined on the attached data sheet. HomePlug is mentioned eight times.

I WROTE THIS. All I did was clarify the items and who said what where B

Greetings,

It appears we have a bit of a misunderstanding. When we started this transaction, my associate Frank Gould copied back the Gigafast PE-928-POE data sheet which detailed the PE928-POE product we are purchasing, and which we made our decision to OEM our own product. Now, based on Randys email from September 19, 2014 stating PE928-POE, this product haven’t apply for HomePlug certification yet. So you may not use HomePlug logo on this device. We need the product to sell as a HomePlug AV Powerline certified device as it was represented in your data sheet.

Since we have not heard a factory schedule at this point, we need to postpone any production plans for our order until these issues are addressed and we know exactly what we are getting. We want to find out if we can get our model certified and if so how long will it take. Also are there any other specifications on the PE928-POE data sheet that are incorrect.

The other issue is the PPU software. Since you cannot provide a user manual for our our customer’s, it appears that we won’t be including this software with this product. When we were first asked about getting the PPU software we were told that most customers do not include that software, so maybe acquiring licensing is an issue. I have purchased numerous Powerline devices and every one came with the PPU Privacy software. We never received a copy of the PPU software to even confirm that it will work for our customers.

We need to know about certification of the device and how we can proceed from here.

1. Frank called Les (at 3:04PM on 19 September) for the 11-minute phone call mentioned in the email above to explain what Rob had suggested (in their 26 minute call starting at 2:35PM) about certification, user manual, utility software, and to take time to think about a response and to discuss before sending anything. On this 3:04PM call, they did not discuss the previous email draft (that Frank mentioned as fraud), as Les asserted, other than to wait to discuss before sending any response. From his action of sending the original draft-edited email content without discussion, it appeared that Les either didn’t listen to Frank or decided on his own that he must demand Gigafast certify the device. This is the behavior that Frank didn’t understand but in hindsight, it could be passive aggressive behavior (i.e. Les didn’t understand the instructions/agreements) or inferiority/superiority complex (i.e. Les wasn’t going to follow advice from industry experts: Frank and Rob). Instead of working as a team, Les sent the wrong email at the wrong time without any consultation, just as he had done with the part number. From the email below sent 21 September (same day Frank resigned), it appears he realized his mistake and attempted to reverse directions, yet again (there were no discussions about this email below, after Frank sent his resignation email, above, Frank was not communicating):

Hello,
After further discussion I wanted to let you know that we would accept the product without official HomePlug certification. We are comfortable with the performance of our samples and we know they are compatible devices.

I now understand there may be extra cost on your part to have a product certified. My concern was that the PE-928POE was presented to us as a Homeplug certified device on your data sheet, so we were expecting it.

Please let us know what the status is for our device, and we look forward to proceeding as soon as we get answers to this issue regardless of official certification.

We trust and respect you and your company and look forward to our continued association.

My best,

Les

Les Stone
COP-Systems
http://www.Cameras-On-Patrol.com
Theft and Vandalism Deterrent Systems

2. Frank believed his second call to Les was to assure he does not send anything until they had a plan for the product release (however, he could be wrong on this, it could have been a plethora of other issues and topics or something he forgot to tell Les that Rob had suggested). During this call or the previous call, Les said that QR codes would be dead in 10 years. Frank responded that that didn’t make any difference for this project and the AR Drone 2.0 box has four QR codes for different features for their product and it appears to be a contemporary industry standard.

3. At 3:45PM on 20 September, Frank sent Les a draft manual and QR codes to use instead of a CD, as Rob suggested. Les never acknowledged Rob’s recommendations mentioned in item #1 above, nor that he received the draft manual email. Frank used the most reliable email address for Les, because he has so many email addresses that fail and the one Frank used had been the most repeatedly proven successful.

4. Les had agreed to call before changing or sending any changes, in general, but he failed to do so with his final email bomb demanding certification.

5. On 29 September in the morning, Frank received the following email with no additional details:

Dear value customers,

It is my pleasure to service you during my time at Gigafast. I am sorry to announce that today is my last day at Gigafast. In the future if you need any service or information, please feel free to contact the director of sales team.

Sincerely,
[Gigafast sales rep]

Frank replied to Les’s 27 September email above with a link to this article to explain Frank’s position on all these transactions and behaviors. However, the purpose of this article is to document this business relationship failure.

Epilogue

Around 3 December 2014, Les texted the following to Frank:

I’ve been really pissed at you since yesterday.  Get the feeling that Robs job was your preferred gig and wanted any excuse conscious or not to blow me off. In a dream I see me hand you $6k and you just burn it in front of me. Same difference I guess.

The sad part about this message is that I had told Les in a meeting subsequent to my resignation email that he has no obligation to purchase the products for $6k. I recommended he cancel the order. His response was that it was his moral duty to complete the transaction.

His accusation about Rob’s job was misinformation he dreamed up because I had no idea about Rob’s project until I met with him the first week in October 2014.

Connecting the Dots 2013

As my acquaintances, friends, and family know me, I have a diverse range of skills and talent for creating all kinds of products. From carpentry, to software development, to web design, to project management, to video production, I can produce products that people appreciate and use. Well, a few months ago, I realized that I was missing an important piece that connects all these diverse product sets. Of course, the web is the most important marketing venue these days and the piece I was missing was branding and content marketing.

Well, this Fall, my dear friend Jill Musson Williams asked if I could help her increase her video and written content for her company Cracker Creek. I had no specific ideas what she wanted but had helped in the past and wanted to continue doing so. Besides, she said she wanted to pay for my services.

As it turned out, Jill had discussed increasing sales at Cracker Creek with others in her community and they suggested she increase the online content to market their products, both written and visual. I had an idea what that entailed but I didn’t have any scope for how far to go and exactly what to do.

Along popped up this article from Social Media Today talking about the new Google Hummingbird algorithm that is supposed to comprehend and process a broader range of data and how it “de-emphasizes specific keywords in the search/search results schema in favor of semantic searching.” Then in that same article, it mentions how to use the web to increase marketing channels and connect with web users and buyers. It went as far as to say “content marketing so helpful people would pay you for it.” A book called Youtility appeared on my screen and after downloading a Kindle ebook copy, I read it to learn how to connect all my skills and talents to market a product, online. Cracker Creek was the perfect opportunity for me to build a case study for marketing my skills.

Some of the concepts I learned included charts as displayed below that are from both Youtility and Epic Content Marketing.

Sources of Information ECM Hub of content ownership ECM Content Atomization

From those two books, I was able to create a Marketing Plan and Business Plan for Cracker Creek using an automated prezi presentation. But they needed results and to do that I needed a way to measure traffic with a focus on inbound traffic into Daytona, a much higher recognized brand over Port Orange, where they are located. The Daytona-brand location would increase their exposure and competition, however, target those interested in Old Florida, tropical ecosystems, kayaking and canoeing, and tours. Besides the location, Cracker Creek had created several names such as Cracker Creek Canoeing, crackercreek@oldfloridapioneer.com, and just Cracker Creek.

So, I had my work cut out for me. I needed to expand the Cracker Creek presence on the web and focus the products for search engine optimization. As I had researched the different web services targeting audiences and product marketing sites to learn user popularity, I started putting Cracker Creek on the maps of watercraft launch sites, campgrounds, road trippers, and boat rental sites. I also added links on the Cracker Creek website to different vendor’s mobile apps that were applicable to the Cracker Creek products, such as knot typing apps for campers.

Having tested Google webtools with another friend’s website, I setup Cracker Creek to recognize the Cracker Creek sitemap. Then I installed Google Analytics to start collecting accurate statistics and reporting results. However, since there were no statistics before my changes to the website, we could not see historic results prior to my website updates. Below is the graph directly from the Google Analytics view of the Cracker Creek website.

GoogleAnalyticsDec13

Now being new to the Google world of the internet, I learned that their software still has bugs and on many occasions, I had to wait a few days before Google cleaned up it’s data. For instance, below are two message windows about logging into Google Analytics within seconds of each other.

Attempt to get password sent to email addressAttempt to get password sent to email address  Attempt to create new email addressAttempt to create new email address

This kind of dysfunctional behavior also happened with a file called robot.txt where the “test” resulted in being blocked from analyzing a public website. Another when sitemap couldn’t find the server which became frequent as I setup different aspects of Google web tools. The example below is when trying to setup the Cracker Creek using tags associated with the image and text on the page as part of the semantic algorithm.

TaggingErrorThese kinds of anomalies continued to hit me across the web. Be it a rental site that on a mobile device displaying all prices at hundreds of dollars too high, even to purchase a vessel like displayed in the ad, or fixing driving directions on Google maps where it takes visitors to a residential neighborhood instead of Cracker Creek.

Besides that, I had to have multiple identities to work on Cracker Creek accounts as well as my own personal sites. This created a delay in the creation of a Cracker Creek business account and website on LinkedIn where my first attempts failed to deliver the activation email. Finally solved this one by changing the LinkedIn email address to mine so I could activate and create the Cracker Creek business page.

I have since worked through most of the outstanding issues and we are now linked to the major social media sites with icons prominent on the home and contact pages, as illustrated below. In the lower picture, you can see the floating left social media bar courtesy of a Joomla! plug-in that illuminates the social media icon when the mouse hovers over them. The Zap Weather forecast window shows a week’s predicted. The weather forecast window and the Tide Forecast window, not shown below, are tools to help people decide to go fishing, kayaking, or just a day out canoeing down the creek. That was my attempt to provide “marketing so helpful people would pay for it” by visiting Cracker Creek.

SocialMediaIcons

CrackerCreekLowerHomePage

To measure the website’s improvements, I took a snapshot of the hubspot.com Market Grader application’s analyzer in October and today I took another. You can see in the snapshots below that the website’s marketing score has increased almost double from what it was when I started.

October 2013

October 2013

December 2013

December 2013

And finally, for the sake of content marketing, I just finished adding the voiceover for an online marketing campaign focusing the values of Cracker Creek for elementary students. This video required me to attend two events with local third grade classes and another event to record the different options available for teachers, organizations, and parents. To view a preliminary version, click on the image below.

In closing, this project has connected all the dots in my skills and talents pool. I created a chart to show the different roles and product learning curves I’ve accomplished for this project since September 2013, illustrated below. The difference today versus 5 years ago is now all of these tools are in high definition.

Connecting-the-dots-diagram

As for results, I’ve been credited with increased inbound marketing from Google searches that have brought in customers and created a reservation for 40 visitors in January, from Illinois. Thus, our target market. After two months, Google Analytics shows the site is still getting 80% and more new unique visitors, and we’ve yet to start online transactions that will take some time to integrate into their business operations and management.

Update 24 January 2014:  Over the last month, I’ve worked on the Florida Department of Environmental Protection Designated Paddling Map for Spruce Creek. In it was old and misinformation about the area and no mention of Cracker Creek being an access point. Today, they published the new map and copy which now includes links to Cracker Creek and more information about Gamble Place and the Russell Property that share residence on the creek. Click on the image below to see the Volusia County website and scroll down to Spruce Creek to see the full document.

SpruceCreek_guide

Final Cut Pro X – Personal Review

After reading finally from Oliver Peter’s Final Cut Pro X review of release 10.0.6, I decided to learn how to use the majorly upscaled application as a trial version.  I will say that it works fairly quickly; however, it did not perform the background tasks transparently.  I had several times when the spinning beach ball took over my cursor.  In general, it appears to still be a high-end video editor with a few improvements in the user interface.  I was delighted to be able to use the same shortcut keys to edit on the timeline and had no problems working with audio tracks.  To perform some learning tests, I took my original VHS Towerview Marketing video and edited it to remove the old analog artifacts from the VGA resolution video to create a new version.

There were a few interesting difficulties that was able to either figure out or never could find a solution.  I’ve listed them below for specific review.

Superfluous Video Removal

I was trying to use the existing audio with freeze frame slides.  To do this, I decoupled the audio from the video and muted the video.  I had tried several ways to delete the old video but I couldn’t separate it from the other clips in that track.

Exporting

Apple appears to have integrated well with the online world.  This is probably the most important feature for the life of Final Cut Pro and expanding markets.  With the option to share your rendered files, you can select popular video sharing sites, like YouTube and Vimeo, as the destination, log on to the site, and the background process starts uploading the video.  It renders to their standards and all you have to do is wait for the site to finish processing the video, then it’s there online.

In addition, you can still save the file off as a media file for use in other editing applications, like Final Cut Pro version 7.  I was able to share the media and load it into version 7 to edit as a ProRes 422 file.

Projects and Sequences

Probably the most hidden are the background tasks and what used to be called sequences.  In version 7, it was obvious in the listing to see audio, video clips, bins, and sequences.  In version X, you have to navigate to the project properties option to switch to another sequence.  Perhaps there’s a shortcut I didn’t see but I would have thought there would be more tabs or exposure for sequences.

Frank’s History Since 2001 Perú Tour Blog

As for what’s happened since the last time I shook hands with fellow travelers to Perú in 2001, I’ve been traveling south to visit our neighbors in the other Americas:  South and Central.  Before the US oligarchy took over the US economy, I traveled to Brazil (São Miguel do Araguaia, Brasília, and Pantanal), Perú, Costa Rica, El Salvador (twice, second time for b-roll), and Venezuela (twice).  I actually learned Spanish enough to communicate when I visited.  Until 2007, I was fully funded by corporate capital.  Then I graduated out of the corporate morass and back to nature.  Here’s a short clip of what happened to my Career History since 2007.

But what I’ve done in the last decade has been very rewarding in accomplishments.  I bought a video camera in 2002 and started shooting my own travels.  The first was Brazil when I took a two month leave to volunteer for Habitat for Humanity in São Miguel do Araguaia to build homes for the locals, visited the IBM offices in Brasília, and counted animal species at the Conservation International’s Pantanal reserves, as a volunteer for Earthwatch.  Just before I left for that trip, I shut down several aquariums, sold our Basilisk lizards, and kicked my nephew out of the house (because he’d become a dead-beat), after, of course, the terrorist bombed the World Trade Center.  I went as a personal endeavor to show how US citizens care about neighboring countries and people.

The Brazil trip was quite interesting.  It is a tropical destination with an aggressive edge, like I imagine Africa.  In the Pantanal, plants and animals are a bit more protective with barbs and stingers to thwart attention.  But the birds, reptiles, and plants are incredible, think Hyacinth Macaws, huge Caiman, and Acrocomia palms (with long thorns covering its trunk).  I created my premiere cinematography and gave the video as a Christmas DVD gift; I just recently uploaded it to YouTube.  Because this was my first attempt to shoot video in foreign countries with strangers, I learned a lot, like use a tripod.  What I also learned from this trip was that the camera is no good for recording audio.  I spent hours using SoundForge trying to remove the camera hum or background motors at the same time preventing the sound from flanging.  What a waste of time.  So, I had to come up with a better solution.

Then in 2003, my partner Troy, my nephew Chris, and I went to just the Amazon river basin.  Troy is an audio engineer, so he provided the audio for my video that I produced into a DVD.  It will soon be online as a FREE download from MoPix to experience (MoPix is a startup company who offers VoD for independent feature film productions – they actually asked me to publish my Amazon Explorama video production on their site).  I also got great reviews from work associates with whom I had shared copies as Christmas (EOY) gifts, again.  My supervisor actually said he thought it looked as professional as National Geographic.  Of course, that was an exaggeration but incouraging.  What I learned from this trip was how to manage a crew and equipment, again in a foreign country but not necessarily strangers:  We ended up with Cliver Acosta as our solo tour guide, who was one of our tour guides our first time in the Amazon river basin.

It was a great trip.  We all got a long professionally (although Troy and I wanted to kill Cliver and Chris when they talked over the animal sounds, again I spent hours editing audio and creating foley to cover verbal reactions) and saw more unique and incredible stuff.  I included an interview with Dr. Linea Smith and the Amazon Medical Project she runs there.  On this trip, we got close to pygmy marmosets, tapirs, and natives who make charcoal on the river banks.  During this trip, I toyed with the idea of moving there or maybe somewhere in South America.  Dr. Smith advised me to learn Spanish, if I did decide to move there.  So, I started learning Spanish and started writing a script after I got home.

Then in 2005, I had learned Spanish from the first collection of Pimsleurs language audio CDs and took a trip to Costa Rica by myself to checkout possibly moving there.  What I learned from this trip was that it was a US polluted country and shortly afterwards Wal*Mart moved in.  So, I kept learning Spanish but the rest of this year didn’t do much in video until the end when I went to Boston to shoot an Earthwatch Institution conference, in particular Dr. E.O. Wilson.  That DVD turned out nice but was pretty boring watching speakers present their stories and statistics.  That Christmas gift sort of bombed.

Then in 2006, I got a call from a friend’s daughter who was going to El Salvador and asked if I wanted to shoot their trip.  I went to see what it was like there and learned how much the US had destroyed that country through proxy wars.  What an experience and shocking eye opener.  Oliver Stone did a pretty good job documenting the history of that country and my video never made it to a final production DVD.  I did share footage with my friend’s daughter for her to use to present at a fundraising event in San Diego.  My next two trips, I went to Venezuela once with my nephew (wrote a story about this trip) and then by myself to Margarita Island for Spanish emersion.  I had finished fixing up my house to sell by the middle of the year but the market crashed and I knew then I’d not be able to sell the house or move to South America.

Then I left IBM after 24.5 years working as a computer consultant and was ready for a change.  With IBM severance funds, I finished my Spanish courses and was certified as a Project Manager Professional.  If you watch my career history video, that pretty much sums it up to where I am today.

Oh, and on the personal side, Troy and I have adopted two Rottweilers, a female and her brother and in December, we adopted a Boston Terrier puppy.  We converted our pool into an aquaponic system with blue gill and tilapia.  Grew a load of okra this summer and are working on getting other veggies to grow.

If you’re interested in seeing more of my work, here’s my professional profile page:  http://frankgouldportfolio.wordpress.com

The Dinosaur’s Long Tail – Part 2

Welcome back to the saga of old computer equipment in today’s world.  This time was a dive into Windows crash world and locked up Internet Explorer.  Thank Gates for an operating system beneath a GUI.  I used the Holy-3 key combo (Cntrl-Alt-Delete) many times to start the task manager to operate the PC.

What caused this anomaly was my stupid click on the wrong download button.  I was trying to install an application to capture the window activities to demonstrate software I had created, like in this video.  I had tried to capture my Morningstar application using a Microsoft provided tool but what I got appeared like the image below.

Morningstar capture

It should have looked like this:

Morningstart good image

If you couldn’t tell, the image immediately above has a higher resolution color gradation across its background, not blocks of solid colors.  Anyway, in my attempt to find a FREE solution, I accidentally clicked on a download link that included other browser plug-ins that I had no interest in using.  By the time I realized what a stupid mistake I had made, the application had already started installing itself.  I Holy-3 commanded Windows and stopped the process before it finished.  That was the beginning of my XP nightmare: Internet Explorer (IE) locked up or crashed every time I tried to start it (fortunately Firefox continued to work), all short-cut links were broken, the Quick Launch bar was gone, Microsoft Office apps had compatibility warning windows when starting, and after rebooting it took about 5 minutes before the desktop and icons appeared.  That’s why the Holy-3 were my saving grace.

Using Firefox launched from the command prompt to search the web for solutions, many suggested I uninstalling the Service Packs, at least back to 2, which I did.  That didn’t work.  So at the suggestion of different forums, I uninstalled .Net, IE 7 & 8, then used Norton Symantec Cleansweep to clean the registry, tried a few registry edits, but nothing worked.  It took about a week to realize I needed to restart from the beginning.

My friend Les Stone was kind to let me borrow a copy of his XP Pro install disc to reinstall, and upgrade from my Home version.  The licensing logic in this was that my other IBM Netvista server was Pro.  Since the hardware no longer works, I’ve removed the drive and use it for its old data.  That included my online web site I hosted here at the house.

After researching and recording the OEM hardware information using KeyFinder, I started the install and used the keys provided on the disc envelope.  Then after a few hours, it rebooted and everything worked satisfactorily, even IE 6 and Office 2000.  This was the beginning of the final restoration that only yesterday completed with the install of Sony Vegas, .Net, and using Remote Desktop Control (RDC).

Once XP Pro was running successfully, I was able to run my original Amazon Expedition 2001 CD.  Because in 2001 when I created the Amazon Expedition website on my home server, I used Microsoft FrontPage to create the pages.  Much to my chagrin today, none of the animated buttons worked on my macbook pro, only in IE on XP.

So, I installed RDC and remotely controlled the CD playback from my laptop in the living room, over WiFi into our office, to view and copy the web page contents running in IE, and finally pasting the copy into my WordPress page.  I have to thank Kyle Prince for his dabbling with this technology to watch Nathan Frankowski edit the movie Renee remotely at Universal Studios.  It is amazing technology that worked from the first install and configuration.

But what really amazed me is the ability to install Vegas remotely.  That was the last application that needed to be restored because it would shut down after starting and reporting that .Net was not installed.  Because I used Vegas to edit the video my nephew shot in Venezuela, when not played back in Windows, there was a watermark in the upper right corner of the screen, like illustrated below.

WMV Watermark frame

Not that it was all that important and because the video was a hack on my nephew’s still camera, in low resolution, but because I could fix it and have the time.  So, I reinstalled Sony Vegas, converted the 4 short clips to avi, then color enhanced and rendered the video for the web using Final Cut Pro.  These clips are a part of my essay about our interesting adventure in Venezuela.

Once I got the first clip to playback correctly and enhanced, I completed the same process for all of the clips.  Below is what it looked like on my laptop.

Screen Shot 2012-11-30 at 11.59.04 AMIn the center of the screen and towards the bottom is Vegas running in a Windows window on my apple macbook pro.  You can see the time bar toward the middle top of that window.  Then above and behind the Windows window, you can see another time bar pop-up window for Final Cut Pro rendering the Devil Dance video.

This is proof to me that our old technology is still functioning over a decade after it’s product lifecycle.  I have to thank the Microsoft team for building and maintaining an operating system that survives today’s maladies and tools that integrate the old with the new.  And I thank today’s technology achievements that make platforms to share this information and travel journeys with global audiences.  And finally, I thank Al Gore for inventing the internet.  Thank you for reading this.

Barriers to Entry: Orlando Pride Events 2012 – Brunch & Movie

Aside

I am writing this post because I would like the Come Out With Pride Orlando (COWP) organizers and vendors to recognize and address customer interface improvements that need to be made for future events.  In particular, the Sunday opening ceremony event that featured a movie I had worked on as a Valencia motion picture student.

Image

Leigh Shannon, one of the stars in the movie, posted the poster above on his facebook page to advertise this event.  I immediately went to the COWP website to checkout the reservations for the brunch.  Because it was the “Pre-Film Festival Opening” movie, I went to the menu option for the Film Festival.

There was nothing there about My Fair Lidy or the brunch.  So, being the investigative person I am, I went back to the event’s menu and found the brunch listed further down in the options list.  I clicked on the brunch, landed on the web page ad, and clicked on the link to purchase tickets.

Well, that was yet another misdirection.  The next page had buttons on it to make a reservation or modify a reservation.  I had expected it to go to a page that showed the specific event and ask for how many reservations I want to make.  So, I assumed I needed to click again on the make reservation button, which I did, and it took me to another unexpected page.  It asked for my email address and confirmation that I’m reserving tickets, not booking a hotel room.

At this point, I was curious to see how many bogus pages I had to pass before I could place an order for the reservation.  I input my email address and clicked to continue.  Then I saw the reservation options and discount code field, but by this time, I realized that I should ask my friend, who I had told about making this movie, would like to join me.  So, I exited the website and contacted her.

I also contacted the COWP email address to ask if they had discounts for cast and crew, since there was a discount code field and most movie workers get discounts or credit for attending screening events. The response I got was that there were no discounts because this event would only be covering their costs with no profits for the venue.  I thought that was strange and wondered if there were tickets for the movie without the brunch.

After a few days, my friend said she would like to attend and was trying to make the reservations online but couldn’t figure out how to do that.  So, we got on the phone and I walked her through the queer reservation workflow (no pun intended).

By this time, my feedback about brunch not being listed on the film festival page and a note on the page showing that tickets should be reserved using the make reservation button (duplicate click) had been improved with some bright red words.  When my friend got to the email address input page, she entered a bogus address because she didn’t want spam, and we finished making the reservations.

I was in constant communications with the COWP rep about the weird workflow and why it asked for email before making the actual reservation online.  He told me that was so he could reply back to those who don’t make a reservation in an attempt for him to urge them to fill out the credit card form.  Evidently, there are a lot of users who get to that page and proceed no further with a transaction.  I told him that my friend had entered a bogus email address and she never got a confirmation email or anything displayed on screen indicating how and when to pickup tickets.

I told him that users, like my friend, may not be computer savvy and get confused with unexpected input fields when trying to purchase a reservation.  He couldn’t understand how anyone would input a bogus email address or have problems with the workflow because his friends said it worked for them.

Well, that was about as far as I was going to try to convince this young man that 1) he’s not listening to customers, 2) he can validate email addresses, if that’s necessary, and 3) you’re probably losing revenue because users give up and ignore your email.  Then I saw this post by Leigh in facebook.

“I think some of you…said you tried to get tickets on line….and could not..PLEASE just show up.”

The day came and we were able to park a few block away and walked in the cooler Autumn weather under trees.  We brought our transaction printout as had been requested in the email that my friend finally got after phone calls and email exchanges.  Everything was fine.

We had a good brunch consisting of the usual quiche, fruit, croissant, bacon, orange juice, and coffee.  Before the show, the producer Sandi Bell and director Ralph Clemente came up to say hello.  I asked if she worked with the show to correct the webpage and she said yes.  But she was surprised only today to learn that they were offering movie-only tickets for $8.  Ralph said he could have probably filled the place had he known that.  His students would have a harder time paying $25 or $30 to watch a movie.

I was the only student from my 2011 class who had worked on the movie.  There turned out to be about 40 people total in attendance.  During the brunch, the AV department was working on the video feed that was jumping out of sync on a regular basis.  Then the show began.  The sync problem was fixed but now the audio blasted out so loud that it was distorted and we could only hear the sound from the left speakers.

I thought about talking with the audio mixer but at this point I had decided I was not going to even try to fix their production problems.  I could not hear the audience responses so I missed part of the reason for attending.  Moreover, my friend could make out the main story but a lot of joke were lost in the distortion.  I plan to buy a copy of the DVD so my friend can watch it at home at her convenience and at normal volume.

I can only hope that next year the vendors supporting COWP Orlando will make changes to their workflow, communicate product offerings with prices, and find an audio engineer who can hear.  My pleasure of the whole event was in getting feedback about the movie from my friend.  She said she thought it was a great story and that more people should watch it to learn about tolerance and friendship.  That made me happy.

Missing Links

To protect the innocent and naïve, I have changed names and business functions so I don’t expose anyone directly to my comments in a negative way. I only write this because I think it needs to be publicized to show how businesses operate these days (i.e. transparency) and its affect on those who try to make successful business decisions so their customers are satisfied and successful. I also copied and pasted the email exactly as it was sent to me, so all typing and errors are what I received from everyone.

Over the last quarter century, I have met people who have had to use personal computers but totally hated them and couldn’t learn how to use them. There have been a few who finally conceded and started training so they could conduct business in an efficient manner. This included a web presence that I was able to manage in concert with their training.

Unfortunately, there are businesses who either don’t train their employees or can’t because their employees refuse to learn computers. This becomes a nightmare for technology providers, especially when these users do not follow instructions and/or advice. The media distribution business has speculators and buyers of multimedia products that they believe a specific product will be successful in their established media channels.

In this case study, a couple of older men, who wrote children’s coloring books, were approached by an older distribution speculator, who was barely able to manage his email.  We’ll call the writers “Fredrick” and “Fihad.” “Fidel” is the name for our media speculator.

When Fidel approached me with this project, it seemed like a very simple job to use a web browser to display a menu or index for the user to select a page to printout. Fredrick and Fihad had already provided a portable document format (PDF) file with the book’s index, how to use the coloring books, and a section of pages from one of the types of pages. These types of pages were grouped under two column headers in the index, Ages 2-3 and 4-5. Each PDF file contained several pages of outlined drawings containing objects like vehicles, birds, playgrounds/gardens, mammals, and such.

To prepare a prototype, I used Dreamweaver on my IBM NetVista server that I purchased in 2000. In the first prototype, I created a very crude web page to show the layout of the menu, some artwork, and a couple of functioning buttons, very basic web browser buttons.

This was my first exposure to the difficulty that eventually doomed the project when I asked for design requirements from the customer. I’d be pointed to the artwork in the PDF files and they wanted to add page numbers. So I spent some time on the phone with Fredrick to explain how I thought the product should be implemented on a CD and used on a computer. I gave a quick-quote of $100, if they used only simple web buttons. However, in my mind, I felt the client would want to use their artwork for buttons, and I told Fidel that would increase the quote cost.

That was the only time I was ever offered the opportunity to talk to the client. After that Fidel was the middle-person sending email to/from the client and me. We actually made great progress and the client appeared to be learning to understand how the final design would look and work using their artwork. I wrote a design spec and quoted $205, if the client supplied the button artwork.

As it turned out, the client had no idea how to create buttons from the PDF artwork. So, Fidel approved 3 additional hours for me to cutout the buttons from the artwork and use them on the main menu.

In the final prototype version, Fidel sent a copy to Fredrick and he responded back with 5 simple cosmetic changes. Once I completed the final version, Fidel took my master and tested it on several PCs in his office. He then sent a copy to the clients and they approved the CD and ordered 500 hundred copies.  Fidel shipped the discs.

Then about 2 weeks later, the clients went nuts.  Below is the first email declaring a problem.

Fihad cannot open the CD successfully.

He is now on a brief vacation, but he is quite concerned because he sees :
Install
Run…

He says it tries to open in Firefox and looks like a webpage. I am not certain what he means.

But thissounds a lot like the problem I had with the prototype you had sent a few weeks ago. Fihad has tried to open the CD on 2 different computers.

If people cannot open these CDs successfully, we CANNOT sell them.

WHat’s rthe problem?

Have we just wasted an awful lot of money on a product that cannot be marketed?

WHy do they not open to show the “opening page”?

We are quite frustrated right now.

My first surprise was that they had already approved the final design as fully operational to mass-produce CDs and now report a problem.  My second surprise was that Fidel forwarded this to me because the product was finished.  Regardless, I decided to help fix the problem asking for more information from the client. After testing everything on different computers in my home, I responded with the following:

I tested the CD on both my Windows XP and mac laptop. It works with the auto run and mac instructions like it did last time I checked. I also tested Firefox, Internet Explorer, and Safari by using the File Open option, navigating to the CD and running either the Startup.html for mac and Startup-w.html for Windows. These worked fine on the mac but on Windows XP, the page couldn’t find the buttons and banners when I used the wrong version (Startup.html for Windows). That’s why we have the auto run and Readme.txt files on the disc. So, I have no idea what their problem is.

Maybe they can send us some screen shots to show what they are doing. They need to remember to let the CD program run the auto run after they see the warning message.

Also, have them read the Readme.txt file and see if that answers any of their questions.

This email generated a response from Fidel that essentially said he wanted a bullet list of the steps the users were supposed to do for both mac and PC users.  I replied:

Yes, I can write something up but we need to know what they are doing before I can show the right direction.  I’ve pasted the Readme.txt content below.

[ReadMe text file removed for brevity – see full email at the end of this story]

A suggestion:  If they’re going to sell a product, they should spend some time figuring out how it works and know what’s on the disc. I would be glad to walk them through some of the technical issues but there is TONS of information on the internet that should help them. I can try to find examples should you think that would help.

My response generated the following email:

I put the CD into the drive and it launched with a window which said “run” and “open with” or something like that. When I clicked I got a black screen with a DOS like message on it. Otherwise, nothing happened. When I went to “computer” and selected DVD drive, it opened in Firefox with about 7 rows of toolbars and the document in the middle of the “webpage” The only way I could navigate through it was to go BACK to the beginning (which I discovered was in a toolbar marked “index” or something like that and it returned me to the opening index page. I could not scroll through pages using the arrow keys, and I could only view one section at a time. I had to start over in opening the sections to view them separately. In other words, I could not browse through the document as one “book” And even though it looked like a webpage, the “back button” was not active.

Honestly, if I was at a trade show and saw a sample of this CD, I would not buy it. The toolbars were very distracting and the [home] page itself was displayed in only about half of the “webpage”

Again, this user was attempting to document a problem with vague terminology and no illustrations to show what he was trying to communicate. Obviously, things were working because he said it launched: “black screen.” Then when he tried using the browser to directly open the CD drive, it too worked. After that, there was no way of knowing what the words button, toolbar, or index meant.

Of course, when I asked for specific screen results, I didn’t expect “or something like that.” No customer service person can support a user if he or she doesn’t provide exactly what is displayed and when.  My response was to take each salient sentence and ask specifically what he was talking about.  Again, my full response is at the end of this story.

Yes, this does sound like a mess: on their computer. I don’t know why it doesn’t work past the black screen (which is required to run the auto run and worked on both your and my computers). We need to know more information about this issue. I’ve pulled some sentences out below to get more clarification about the other issues mentioned. Obviously this person doesn’t use the correct terminology, so I’m not exactly sure what s/he is talking about. As I asked for before, it would be better to see screen shots instead of trying to interpret vague words.

[specific questions removed from this section for brevity – see full section at the end of this story]

I think this associate and Fihad need to talk about what they want the product to look like and do. It also seems to me like this user is fighting the new technology, not embracing and learning it. Maybe we need to go back to the original simple buttons that look like buttons. I believe we’ve delivered exactly what Fihad asked for.  If there’s a user having problem running the auto run, that’s why there’s a Readme.txt on the disc. If that needs to be written somewhere else on the disc or case, we should get requirements from the client.

The response I got from Fidel to all of my specific questions was as follows:

How does he take the screen shots you have requested?
He has asked how to take them and how to mail them

At this point, I was losing patience and becoming suspicious that these users were trying to bamboozle their supplier.  Since I had no connection with the client and relied on a middle-person to send email back-and-forth, I responded as follows (full text):

I would like to request you have someone in your office to help your client. It is not a good method to train people using email. Maybe Joan [in your office] can help your client by talking him through the process. Joan might even be able to resolve this problem by just talking with your client. I also thought I had sent enough questions in my last email to get a better understanding of what the rep is reporting. What we need are step-by-step explanations of what he’s doing and seeing. I don’t care about the black window. I don’t think that’s a problem. It may be his computer is slow opening the initial window “or something like that.” If he just blurts out a bunch of words that don’t make sense (even if he includes pictures), I can’t evaluate the problem.

Then I received a Word document with 14 pages of screen captures. From what I saw in most of the pictures was that the user was not following the ReadMe instructions. There was the auto run window on the first page followed by the menu page opened in the Firefox browser, just like it was supposed to be. Then the rest of the screen captures showed the user going into the My Computer Explore window and showing the files on the CD, including the content of the ReadMe text file. My response was a full page of questions and responses explaining how they were not following the ReadMe instructions. In the middle of my email, I wrote:

What I see in this attachment is exactly what I expect to see, based upon what they are doing, which is wrong. When they opened a mac page on their Windows PC, there are things missing and appear different than they should. Same thing in reverse, Windows pages on mac. That’s why there are two different versions on the CD. The instructions (Readme) we included tell the users how they are supposed to startup the product. They did not follow those instructions, and this would be what they would tell customers who behave like they are doing.

At this point, I was tired of these users not trying to solve or get outside help. I hoped this last email would be enough for them to make progress.  Instead, I received an email asking where to find the ReadMe text file and another email with a Word doc attached with the following text written across the top of the page, above a single creen capture:

ON this screen there is no working button. This is the best I can get.

When I looked closely at the title bar in the screen capture, I could see that the html page had been loaded into Microsoft Word.  At this point, I was done with this ridiculous process.

First off, this was approved by the customer. It doesn’t matter if they changed their mind and are now pretending to “not get it.” Second, no one should have mass produced any disc that hadn’t been quality tested, which it was by you, me, and him, supposedly the latter. Thirdly, he’s not even trying very hard if he’s just now seeing the Readme.txt file: it was in the pictures he sent us.

To answer his question: No, no other customer has had any problems like his. You have [two other customers in your office] as example customers who “get it.” Tell him to go to a PC repair shop and get his PC fixed.

You are absolutely right, “it should be easy street to use this simple CD.” That’s why I’m getting suspicious that he’s lying. It’s getting too stupid to be reasonable.

I’m pretty much over this myself. You and I provided the customer what he asked for. If he’s not happy with it, then it is sunk cost of his.

I had spent hours examining and questioning about them not following the directions. In a phone call with Fidel during these back-and-forth email, I told him that if someone buys a chainsaw and cuts off his leg, it’s not the manufacturer’s problem. It is user not following directions. My final response:

This is a screen capture of the web page in Word. Look at the top of the window where it says “Microsoft Word.”  Of course the buttons don’t work in Word. He’s lying and wasting our time. No more support now. Please have him consult a PC repair shop.

The next day, I received an email from Fidel who forwarded an email from his client explaining that he had gone to Office Depot and his tech rep reported that the file (no specific filenames provided) was “temperamental or unstable,” files would sometimes open then wouldn’t subsequent times, and that the files might damage the computer. He “could not sell a product like that.” I certainly agree with that conclusion but I do not believe he even went to a store. This story sounded made up, fictional. Below is what Fidel wrote above the client’s forwarded email about going to Office Depot:

I have come to the conclusion that what you authored for this project is NOT an easy to use CD. It has created lots of stress for my clients and myself.

Your attitude has been unprofessional. Neither of these clients are “lying”. The are looking for what we promised and have been more than patient with this whole mess.

Working with you on this project has been embarrassing especially your attitude which has been condescending and moved toward nasty. I wish I had not gotten involved with you on this. It has cost me and them a lot of time and will now cost me a lot of money.

You really should refund the money we paid you for this, but you probably won’t.

To address each sentence in the above email, I have written a bullet response in the list below.

  1. “NOT an easy to use CD.” Fidel tested the final CD and approved that it worked before the client received a copy, tested it, and approved it. This CD was the same thing that two other customers in his office had no problems with when using my software. Was it possible that the CD duplication process failed, as it had in previous burns at this company?
  2. My “attitude has been unprofessional.” I can only associate this with my last email where I refused to support these “unprofessionals.” Fidel turns out to be the most obviously unprofessional because he could not 1.) manage his client’s expectations, 2.) recognize that the client was not solving any problems – just creating chaos and confusion – i.e. unprofessional, 3.) read or understand my email, 4.) get the client to answer my specific questions about the problems, and 5.) be resourceful enough to get the client to understand the product.
  3. “Working with me on this project has been embarrassing,” I totally agree with this statement because Fidel 1.) has a low-level of basic PC knowledge, 2.) doesn’t understand the product he’s trying to sell, 3.) lacks basic people skills to get the parties together on the phone to discuss simple steps the user is doing wrong, and 4.) lost the design spec email from me. Later, I found it in his inbox when we met in his office to review one of the prototypes. As for “moved toward nasty,” that is the interpretation from someone unprofessional and embarrassing then appraising someone who has been certified patient, professional (as in Project Management Professional®), and technology savvy.
  4. “Refund the money,” this one made me laugh. I probably spent as much time learning how to support both mac and Windows PCs, responding to the “stupid user” email, and writing up this case study than I worked on the whole product. I even completed the project an hour and a half sooner than I predicted, thus charging less than quoted. All this time and effort for $310.

Conclusion

I started working with this company because I thought they had fine products, were close to home, and I like the people who work there. Until the end, I liked Fidel. In the future, I will be less interested in working with people who lack basic skills unless they allow me to work directly with the client.

I may also create forms that must be completed before the next step in the process occurs and that it is clearly documented at each step. At this client’s request, I created a prototype to confirm the design met the customer expectations (because they were inept and couldn’t describe their requirements), provided tested CD prototypes for the customer to review and approve, then provided a master copy of the final version.

For each of these milestones in the future, I will use an online form for the user to complete and submit when the milestone has completed. In cases where the milestone is complete with exceptions, there will be a user feedback input field to indicate what must change for the milestone to be fully completed. I will use this field with the client to get changes in writing and respond back to ask questions or get clarification.

As business relationships go, I am not anything like Mitt Romney who states he “likes being able to fire people.” I prefer to work as a team to resolve problems and satisfy customers. And finally, something I found on facebook today: “Crude personal attacks are often a tactic used by the ignorant and an indicator that they have run out of substantial arguments.”

I have also pasted below some links to recommendation letters from professional co-workers and directors.

Paul Sirmons, Former Florida Film Commissioner

Rob Ranck, President HomePlug

Ken McCabe, Director Dolly Parton’s Pirates Voyage Dinner Theatre

My full (minus identifying individuals) email to Fidel dated 15 August 2012

Yes, I can write something up but we need to know what they are doing before I can show the right direction. I’ve pasted the Readme.txt content below.

Thank you for purchasing the CD. This file is to attempt to help anyone using a Windows PC or an Apple mac computer.

Windows PC

The autorun.inf file should automatically load the CD contents into a browser window. This requires that the user has configured the Windows environment to “install or run” an application from a CD. If this does not work, for some reason, follow the instructions below.

1. Insert CD in optical drive reader.

2. Use Windows Explore to navigate to the CD drive.

3. Open the CD by right mouse clicking on the CD drive and select Open.

4. In the Explore window, Startup.bat should be listed as a file in the root directory.

5. Double-click on Startup.bat and the application should open in a browser window.

Apple Mac

There is no auto-run feature for the Mac.  These instructions are also listed on the CD label.

1. Insert CD in optical drive reader.

2. Use Finder to navigate to the CD drive (sometimes the drive displays on the desktop).

3. Double-click on the CD.

4. In the Finder window, macStart should be listed as a file in the root directory.

5. Double-click on macStart and the application should open in a browser window.

A suggestion: If they’re going to sell a product, they should spend some time figuring out how it works and know what’s on the disc. I would be glad to walk them through some of the technical issues but there is TONS of information on the internet that should help them. I can try to find examples should you think that would help.

My full (minus identifying individuals) email to Fidel dated 16 August 2012

Yes, this does sound like a mess:  on their computer. I don’t know why it doesn’t work past the black screen (which is required to run the auto run and worked on both your and my computers). We need to know more information about this issue. I’ve pulled some sentences out below to get more clarification about the other issues mentioned. Obviously this person doesn’t use the correct terminology, so I’m not exactly sure what s/he is talking about. As I asked for before, it would be better to see screen shots instead of trying to interpret vague words.

1.  “When I went to ‘computer’ and selected DVD drive, it opened in Firefox with about 7 rows of toolbars and the document in the middle of the ‘webpage.'”

Does s/he see this below [copyright – image removed] in the webpage and try to click on the buttons (not toolbars) under the banners?

2.  “The only way I could navigate through it was to go BACK to the beginning (which I discovered was in a toolbar marked ‘index’ or something like that and it returned me to the opening index page.”

I have no idea what this means. I keep seeing reference to “toolbar” which is not a button (toolbars contain buttons). As for “or something like that,” it would help if this person would make sure s/he gets the specific name of what’s displayed or we’re just guessing. Better yet, send screen shots. Is the above image [copyright removed] what s/he calls the “index page?”

3.  “I could not scroll through pages using the arrow keys, and I could only view one section at a time.”

This sounds like s/he is clicking on the buttons and seeing just the “one section at a time.” That’s why I asked if they wanted one page with all of the pages on them but Fredrick said he didn’t want that, right? This sentence from the email contradicts Fredrick’s requirements:  “In other words, I could not browse through the document as one ‘book.'”

4.  “The toolbars were very distracting and the [home] page itself was displayed in only about half of the ‘webpage.'”

I thought Fredrick approved this design (re your email 25 July). If not, we need to get specific requirements and/or artwork that they want. That will be a design change. I’m not sure what “displayed in only about half of the webpage” means.  Is this a reference to the size % again? I’m not sure what difference this makes since they’re supposed to use each [page] in a window to print out the page, not read or look at them on the screen.

I think this associate and Fredrick need to talk about what they want the product to look like and do. It also seems to me like this user is fighting the new technology, not embracing and learning it. Maybe we need to go back to the original simple buttons that look like buttons.

I believe we’ve delivered exactly what Fredrick asked for. If there’s a user having problem running the auto run, that’s why there’s a Readme.txt on the disc. If that needs to be written somewhere else on the disc or case, we should get requirements from the client.