Have you tried re-installing it?

Filed Under Misc, News

You know what, I actually think I’ll get a reply from Ed – he is doing a good job of restoring my faith in support, if not Sage as yet. For that we’ll see how they deal with the actual support call when it goes in.

Well, to say not well would be an understatement.

I listened in on the support call that we made to Sage today. Apparently it is all the fault of someone else. Third party software you see.

No, it’s not ACT!’s fault that it incorrectly queries the OS for available TAPI interfaces. Its all to do with the way they link in you see. If the 3rd party software (a telephony interface, AFAIK, barely constitutes 3rd party software, but that’s why I’m not good enough to be a Sage tech support guy) isn’t written specifically to link in the right way with the way that ACT! links, well then the link is all wrong. And with wrong linkage – well – that’s out of supports hands! What can they do? No – of course they can’t tell ACT to requery the TAPI interfaces. No no no.

That is the sum total of the support I got. The TAPI interface was there, I uninstalled it, removed it as suggested by Ed and it still wasn’t there. I repeated this on a machine where ACT! had found the TAPI interface, and again ACT! lost it.

And this is where we got to the piece de resistance.

Have you tried re-installing it?

Why would I do that if it wasn’t ACT!’s fault? Maybe re-installing the software will rewrite the third party software’s bad linkage?

Why yes … that makes sense …

Whilt I commend Ed for trying to offer support, I condemn the actual support you get off them – especially the chap who tried to tell me the story of the never ending linkage. It was a stream of rubbish that nearly rivalled the salesperson who once told me the difference between a 486SX and a 486DX was that a DX could have an internal modem!

Sometimes, just sometimes, the person calling in for support actually has a fairly good handle on all things IT. Trying to baffle them with bullshit is a poor tactic in these cases -especially when you’re called on it and asked ‘how does ACT! query TAPI interfaces?’ and the best you can manage is ‘support doesn’t write the software’. This underlines your understanding of the problem and indicates that perhaps you are out of your depth a little.

Good luck buying support from Sage. You’ll probably end up spending good money to hear ‘it’s 3rd party software you see, not designed to link it properly with our linkage. Have you tried re-installing it?’.

Cunswups πŸ™

Sage – The End?

Filed Under Misc, News

And for the final chapter in the ongoing crusade between firstline Sage Corporate Support and poor little old me? Or alternatively, the final chapter in the ongoing crusade between corporate greed and the poor end user?

Thanks, I’ve put the note on the account you’ve given.

Thanks Ed – appreciate it. We’ll see if support can help me out on this issue.

In exceptional circumstances (such as this) we may be able to offer one-off courtesy calls to assist customers who have been unable to set up and configure their software within the 45 day warranty period. The majority of people, though, simply don’t need this and are up and running within that period.

We try to be flexible, as it’s very much in our interest for a customer to have the software successfully installed and being used. But for customers who think they’re likely to require support above and beyond installation after that initial 45 days (and your example below would be one of these situations, as the warranty doesn’t re-start with each new licence – just the initial purchase of the program), we offer our SageCover support contracts.

It does however still look like you are saying to your customers that they shouldn’t budget for the future. Where I am currently working is in the process of expanding – especially the IT division. We’re looking at bringing more people on board as are some of the other divisions.

What you are telling me here is to get any support off you, I have to buy the product on a case by case basis. Not to budget and grab a 10 user license when I only have 8 users, with a view to expanding and eventually using those other 2 licenses.

Because, and this is the point I appear to be unable to convey to you, you deliberately shaft the end user on the amount of support they can get without paying for it. I have to activate my license for ACT! – the 45 days should run from then. Not from the first install we do in a test environment prior to running it out in production. Not from some arbitrary timepoint completely unrelated to the installation that requires support.

Equally, if you do want extended support cover for ACT!, you’re not obliged to buy it from Sage – many of our business partners offer support services that match our own, some even going beyond what can offer here to the level of site visits, managing installation and rollout for you.

Lovely. I understand you wish to upsell people to an all inclusive, super-dooper support ‘care’ package. It’s not the point at hand though.

The fact is that unless you purchase only enough licenses to be used in 45 days, then you are sh*t out of luck if you need to call support on any of your unused licenses when you come to use them. The fact that you don’t cover BASIC OPERATION OF THE SOFTWARE is WRONG.

On a plain vanilla install, the fact that something is missing from an option screen, whilst otherwise correctly installed on the rest of the OS, is INSTALLATION / CONFIGURATION for first time use. 45 days or no 45 days, this is the sort of basic issue that you expect to get supported on without the need to resort to complaining/blogging to get the service.

I don’t care if you offer 450 days support – on the first install of your product, if it fails to correctly identify the telephony settings, the fact that I first installed it on another machine 451 days ago is completely and utterly irrelavent.

Whilst I commend you for your help in assisting me to get this problem resolved – does it strike you as reasonable that these are the hoops I have had to jump through?

I suspect not.

Sage Part III

Filed Under Misc, News

Fair play to Ed Tysoe, he follows up on the issues! I want to publically say thanks to him for sticking with the subject.

Purchases of ACT! (and other Sage programs) include a 45-day warranty. During this period, you’re covered for support with everything – installation, setup, customisation, and more general ‘How do I use..?’ queries.

Also, any issues raised during that warranty period we’ll continue to support for as long as they take to resolve – so if something happens on the 44th day, we’ll carry on supporting that particular issue until it’s resolved.

After that time, though, in the absence of an ongoing SageCover agreement, we do offer help only with the raw installation and registration of the software. Setup of specific program features (e.g. networking, synchronisation, dialler) are not covered.

On this occasion, we’d be happy to provide support for this particular incident, but I would need your account details to record on the account that we’d offered that support.

Assuring you of our best attention at all times.

Kind regards

Ed Tysoe
ACT! Technical Support
Sage (UK) Ltd

Well, I guess I’ll email him back with our details and see what happens. I’m sure you’ll understand if I don’t paste my reply to him verbatim!

I did email Ed back and mentioned the following – ‘What I don’t understand is why you limit it to 45 days on a multi-user install. If I am setting up an office, and expect to grow that office in the immediate future (next 3 months say), I may have unused licenses that remain uninstalled after 45 days. Maybe all the staff haven’t been employed, maybe we are waiting on hardware, maybe our expansion is behind schedule. There are a myriad of reasons for this. So when we install for a new user, on a license we purchased, if our intial install was over 45 days ago … what happens? We’re out of luck?

Are we meant to purchase the software single user license by single user license to be assured that we can actually get it installed? Is it pointless purchasing multi user licenses with a view to the future?’

You know what, I actually think I’ll get a reply from Ed – he is doing a good job of restoring my faith in support, if not Sage as yet. For that we’ll see how they deal with the actual support call when it goes in.

Sage replies!!

Filed Under Misc, Rants

Well they replied, and in the spirit of honesty, please find below their reply and my response to it.

I am surprised that I actually got a response – so thumbs up for that. What I find slightly more concerning is the fact that they just want my details ‘so they can look into the call’. Thumbs down there then!

What I would have expected, in the event of a reply, was one of 2 things :

1. Very sorry, misunderstanding, is covered by support, please give me more specifics so we can prevent this happening again, please call back.


2. Support policy is thus, not covered, hope you understand, if we can be of any more help please call again.

But Ed Tysoe skirted right round the actual crux of the problem – a little odd I find.

It is almost as if they wanted to just address the way the call was handled – ‘Never – ever tell the customer that once the product is installed we wash our hands of them. In the event of the problem, corporate policy is to upsell them to SageCover. This we achieve by …’

But that could just be the cynic in me πŸ˜‰

Ed Tysoe’s Email :

Subject: Sage ACT! Support – Configuring TAPI
Date: Fri, 10 Jul 2009 10:33:10 +0100
From: ed.tysoe@sage.com
To: dispacct@hotmail.com

Having read the above post on your blog, would it be possible to take your sage account details (account number, company name) so that I can look into the specifics of your call?

Assuring you of our best attention at all times.

Kind regards

Ed Tysoe
ACT! Technical Support
Sage (UK) Ltd

ACT! Support – As a valued Sagecover member, you will find useful information relating to support guides, common support calls and a download area plus much more at www.sage.co.uk/customers/home.aspx?tid=133334&stid=133365

If you’ve received this email by mistake, we’re sorry for bothering you. It may contain information that’s confidential, so please delete it without sharing it. And if you let us know, we can try to stop it from happening again. Thank you.

We may monitor any emails sent or received by us, or on our behalf. If we do, this will be in line with relevant law and our own policies.

Sage (UK) Limited. Registered in England at North Park, Newcastle upon Tyne, NE13 9AA. Registered number 1045967.

And my reply

Hi Ed,

As I am sure you can understand, I am reluctant to link my work and personal details.

Perhaps it might be easier if you confirmed or denied the fact that once you can access the database, the product is considered installed and no further support is available until you pay for it?

If this is not the case, I can call again and try and obtain the support that I believe should come with purchasing a product. I don’t believe that basic operational aspects should be covered by an extra support contract – and I think it is positively scandalous that the inital set up, of a purchased product, should fall outside of standard support. I completely understand that support does not cover all and any incidents – if I was having problems linking my ACT! software into some custom hardware then I would expect to pay for the support.

However, to tell me that once you can open the databse – that’s it, product installed, no more support is shameful and if this is the case, then I am afraid that I stand by my post.

Your reply and this email will be posted to the blog – I look forward to hearing back from you.


The downside of working for someone else

Filed Under Funny, Misc, News, Rants

Apparently there are ‘rules’ about what we can send to our clients.

Apparently these ‘rules’ prohibit me sending this to my client … which I think is a crying shame πŸ™‚

I leave the decision with you Ben. I think we have tried very hard to make you happy with mycompanyname and the services we offer but as with any relationship, it is a two way street. I hope you will look and see that we have tried to help as much as we can, but because you are a crayon wielding windowlicker, the basic simplicity of following fucking instructions appears beyond you. So yet again I have to drag my sorry ass down to your office and do the Fisher Price MyFirstVPN setup again and then show you that the black fucking magic actually works. But at least, I hope, you’ll get off my freaking back about this whole thing. I’m not your mother – it’s not my fault you’re retarded. Stop expecting me to pay for your fucking shortcomings.

I thought it had a lovely natural cadence πŸ˜‰

A Moral Dilemma

Filed Under Misc

I have a passion for reverse engineering – specifically software reverse engineering. Though in all honesty, I do it mainly for intellectual reasons rather than to get free stuff – after all, that’s what torrents are for πŸ™‚

Occasionally though you will come across software that doesn’t spring readily off the first page of isohunt and I find myself having to reverse the application to see if it fits my needs.

A good example, hypothetically of course, would be something like iArtwork. A handy little utility for grabbing Album Art for your iPod without the need to sell your soul to iTunes and open an account there. However, it has a limitation of a maximum of 50 albums. Understandable really but it seemed quite slow on 50 albums so what was I to do if I, hypothetically of course, wanted to do a speed check on several 100’s of albums?

Since I couldn’t find a crack for iArtwork on the ‘net (at the time – don’t know if there is one now – probably is as this was a few months back) I had to crack iArtwork myself – a lovely introduction to reflexil – an essential companion to reflector if you want to look at .NET reversing.

In the end I decided it was too slow and removed it (or would have if this example was not a complete piece of fiction) from all of my computers.

But I digress. My moral dilemma is this – what if one finds a piece of software that is very useful, actively supported, actively developed and great value for money? It goes without saying that one should purchase it of course, but that is not the cause of the dilemma.

Do I approach the author and explain how it is possible to subvert his protection system? Do I let him know how to improve and fortify his protection? Do I just register my copy legitimately and hope no-one else discovers (to be fair – the HUGE GAPING HOLE) the same as I did and invalidates all his hard work?

If I knew I had a safe way of approaching him to ask – I may do that. But there are infamous examples of companies suing individuals who have approached them about security flaws in their networks and offering to help – even with no fee demanded.

My paranoia is such I litter even this piece with hypothetical examples and disclaimers about it being fictional to hopefully prevent any DMCA action from those involved.

So what to do? Really – I have no idea – I’m looking at using a disposable email address and using TOR to contact them but it is reliant on them replying within 24hrs. All suggestions gratefully accepted πŸ™‚

PS. In the interests of fairness, the author of iArtwork can contact me here and I will explain how hypothetically his protection can be subverted and offer suggestions on how it may be improved. Though since I’ve never actually done it, they will have to give me permission to look at it in the first instance πŸ˜‰

There will be no fee for this service, nor guarantee. But I’m hopeful I can find a way.

Karma – Take 2

Filed Under Funny, Misc

Oh please – give me a break. I’ve had more feedback over a post about Karma than I have about terrorism and the stealthy loss of our basic rights. More even than praise for my wonderful writing style πŸ™‚

Anyway, listen up peepz – Karma does not exist and I’ll explain why.

People like to think that good things happen to good people. This is because they like the concept of fairness – nobody likes the villain winning after all. Confirmation bias means that when they see good things happening to good people, they assign this to Karma. This is silly.

For any definition of ‘luck’, there will be people who have more or less of ‘it’. There are no rules saying we MUST get x amount of luck in a lifetime. On average a coin will land on heads 50% of the time. That doesn’t mean it has to, it just means that in a sufficiently large period of testing, the number of heads and tails will tend towards 50%.

So in our group of people, there will be those that call heads and get heads more often than not – these people will have ‘good luck’. Some will call heads and get tails more often than not – these people will have ‘bad luck’. Some will call heads and get heads 50% of the time – these people have neither good nor bad luck.

Some of the people with ‘good luck’ will be nice people and everyone will say “oh look, because he/she is so nice, he/she has ‘good luck'”.

Some of the people with ‘bad luck’ will be nasty horrible little cunswups. Some will say “They never get heads when they call it because they don’t deserve it”. More often than not followed by “so don’t grow up to be like that young Mr Schram or bad things will happen to you”, just to ensure that baby Johnny is scared into behaving himself.

These people call this concept karma. These people are silly.

These people also have a very poor grasp of statistics. We call them rhican. They are wrong more often than not – but even a stopped clock is right twice a day.

Making a bootable USB – the easy way

Filed Under Misc, News

I recently wanted to upgrade the BIOS on my Adaptec RAID controller. We haven’t really seen the performance out of it that we would like to see and have started to investigate the problem.

Obviously the first thing we wanted to do was make sure the drivers etc. were all up-to date. Going to Adaptec’s website showed that there were BIOS updates available so we went with them.

Unfortunately, the UberSpec does not include a floppy drive. To be honest, I’m not sure if I even have a floppy drive on any of the machines I have here. So that was going to make it rather tricky to follow the instructions of

Once the files are extracted please copy each *.ufi file individually to a separate floppy disk. If this is not done, you may encounter read errors from one of the files when flashing the controller.

I’m not an expert in the field of RAID controller cards but I’m going to hazard a guess that any error is bad when dealing with your primary I/O device’s firmware upgrade. So we set about trying to find a way around this.

We went with a bootable USB drive. Well a USB drive anyway.

There are a gazillion different articles on the internet on how to do make a USB drive bootable. A lot of them want you to use the (admittedly excellent) mkbt and the like. Unfortunately a lot of the suggestions involve creating a USB Boot disk of only 1.44Mb which is no good if you want to add files to be used from the DOS prompt. Other solutions would give you a bootable DOS ISO (for instance) which was great – but no USB support.

So I grabbed this HP USB utility and a boot file package and just clicked on the appropriate settings and it did it all for me. After that I copied all the files to the root (the boot files from the package are not visible on the drive after formatting – not even command.com!) and lo and behold it booted beautifully.

To save someone some time – quite a few tutorials also suggest grabbing the HP Drive Key Boot Utility – I found this to be unnecessary and far too large a download (45Mb!).

Hope this helps someone!

Skill can’t beat luck

Filed Under Misc

A Tale of Texas Hold ’em Tragedy.

They say a picture is worth 1000 words

Skill vs Luck

I have to say ‘fair play’ to Inferno for soundly beating me up on that hand – at no point did I suspect even a flush, let alone a straight flush (unsurprisingly at odds of 72192:1).

But I am a big enough man to say ‘Well Done!’ …

You lucky son of a bitch πŸ˜›

Geek Test

Filed Under Misc

I recently had a discussion with my brother-in-law when I told him about my creating this blog.

His reaction was an L to the forehead ‘Loser!’.


I positted that, in fact, he was a bigger loser than I because of the time that he spends painting his little lead dollies and playing Warhammer. Funnily enough, he thinks that is less loser-esque than having a blog that is named after the debugger interrupt call 3h.

So – this is the result :-

Which is more loser-esque?
View Results

edit : changed poll wording as some people were voting for geek == good instead of warhammer==bad πŸ™‚

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