Seth Godin’s Blog: Five thoughts on software

Wow! Seth Godin made some great comments about software in his blog post that apply to the sticky situation we face with PrintSmith Classic versus PrintSmith Vision.

I especially like his points in #2 and #5:

“2. Removing features to make software simpler doesn’t always make it better. You could, for example, make a hammer simpler by removing the nail puller on the other side. But that makes a useful tool less useful.”

I can’t help but think of the removal of the Report Writer module for a 3rd party substitute, Crystal Reports. If I’m going to spend hours and hours recreating reports, maybe I ought to look at other solutions that are compatible with my iPad and my iPhone which is even more valuable to me.

“5. Most of all, software as a whole just isn’t good enough. …… But given how cheap (compared to cars, building materials or appliances) it is to revamp and reinvent software, and how urgent it is to create tools that increase the quality of what we make, we’re way too complacement.
Fix all bugs. Yes, definitely. But more important, restate the minimum standards for good enough to be a lot higher than they are.
We need better design, more rigor and most of all, higher aspirations for what our tools can do.”

I have a list of things that need fixed in PS that have been on the list far too long. Now would be a great time to fix them, unfortunately, this brings us back to the issue of incompatibility with the iPad and the iPhone. Thus, we are forced to look elsewhere…..

Heads Up on PrintSmith Vision

Just a quick heads up for those of you considering Vision. If you are currently using Windows computers my recommendation is to stick with the Classic version for now. If you are using the latest Apple computers, you may be forced to upgrade without any opportunity to wait for a more complete version.

Keep in mind that this will not be a quick upgrade like we have had in the past. There are actually fewer features in Vision as compared to Classic and you may be surprised that some of your favorite features are missing (more details in a future post). In addition, you will have to re-create your Invoice and Estimate documents all over again. Bummer if you have additional docs like a Proof Letter, Re-Order Form, and special Unit Pricing estimates.

I would recommend planning at least a week to get Vision setup to a point where you can actually use it.Even more if you have been using Report Writer extensively like me.

Don’t forget that there are also some new hardware requirements that may slow you down also. Bottom line, this upgrade will need some extra planning and extra time before you can go live.

Personally, I am going to wait for a more complete version of Vision.

Workstations “Dropping Off”

When we upgraded our Windows 2000 Master computer to Windows Service Pack 3 (WSP3) we started experiencing problems with our workstations “dropping off”. We would try to open an invoice from the pending list and it just would freeze up on us, no warning message or anything. So we had to go into the Task Manager and shut down the application. This would take several minutes and then restart PrintSmith.

As you can imagine, this doesn’t go over too well with our production personnel because it is a big waste of time. In fact, we cannot use Tracker because of it. So, we have upgraded to Windows Service Pack 4 for Windows 2000 and are in the middle of testing it.

We are also testing the Port Speed Adjustment (Admin > Prefs > Network) again to see if that helps. So far setting it Zero makes it worse. We are going to leave it at 30 for now.

I will update this as I learn more.

Another Bug bites the dust!

Ever since the release of 7.2 I was having some problems with our Commission reports being unable to tell the difference between Ron, Rob, and Don for the Journal Entries. After many, many emails and about 2 months of trying to figure it out, I got the good news yesterday from PrintSmith service that they found the bug and that it was a longstanding issue that only became evident with the release of 7.2.

Look for the release of 7.2.5 soon. That’s 2 bugs in one week!

7.2.4 Bug Update, Changed Print Drivers

Bug solved!!

Although I am not completely happy with this solution I was able to get our reports to print properly by using a different print driver. I was printing to our Xerox 4110 with a PostScript driver which was giving me fits on pages 2 and beyond. So I switched to the PCL driver and now they print fine. Only problem is that the screens are no longer grey, but very large dots.

Also, I failed to mention that my problem was only occuring on scheduled reports to a specified printer. My concern is that I never had the problem until I upgraded. For some reason, every time there is an upgrade, printing from Report Writer becomes an issue.

At this point, I only have 1 major issue with 7.2.4 left to solve, but I am waiting to hear back from service. (And, yes, it has to do with Report Writer.)

7.2.4 Bug Notice: Report Writer Printing

I installed the 7.2.4 updater last week and I have a discovered a new printing bug that was not there before. When we print a report that is more than 1 page the second page starts reducing the graphics about 50% but not the data. This pattern continues on all of the pages thereafter.

This has affected most in our morning meetings where we have about 7 multipage Scheduling reports. Although we can still read the reports, it is more difficult without the grid lines. At this point, I wish I had stuck with 7.2.3 as this new behavior is frustrating to deal with on a daily basis.