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The New Firefox ‘Quantum’ Update

Firefox Quantum Tagline

The new Firefox Quantum update is here!  I’m writing this post mainly with consignment and resale storeowners in mind.

The first thing you’ll likely notice is, the ‘tabs’ have changed.  They’re square-ish and by default, the tabs you’re not currently viewing are darker:

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https://thecomputerpeeps.com/images/snaps/dean/15/2017-11-22_1243.png

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You’ll also probably notice the ‘bouncing dot’ page loading indicator:

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https://thecomputerpeeps.com/images/gifs/firefox_quantum_bouncing_dot.gif

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Also, by default there’s a bit of blank space — a.k.a. Flexible Space:

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https://thecomputerpeeps.com/images/snaps/dean/15/2017-11-22_1243_001.png

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The NoScript plugin (that little ‘allow’ icon) was not immediately available when Quantum launched, as it hadn’t been ported to a WebExtension.

In addition to the cosmetic changes, you should notice Firefox is much-faster and consumes less resources (less RAM/Memory, fewer CPU cycles, etc.)

Some of the post-update maintenance tasks Peeps perform on our clients systems:

[checklist]

  • ‘Prune’ the toolbar — e.g. remove the Flexible space, position the uBlock Origin icon directly to the right of the Address Bar, etc.
  • ‘Prune’ the default New Tab page — e.g. remove Snippets, Highlights, and Recommended By Pocket clutter.
  • Disable Privacy & Security > Firefox Data Collection and Use user telemetry.

[checklist]

Firefox Quantum also now includes a Deceptive Content and Dangerous Software Protection security setting (on by default):

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https://thecomputerpeeps.com/images/snaps/dean/15/2017-11-25_1052.png

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It’s a welcomed addition, especially for consignment & resale storeowners who search the web all day long for item information, brand information, etc.  While this alone isn’t as effective as NoScript + uBlock Origin @ blocking JavaScript, redirects, etc. it’s better than nothing — I just can’t say I’d rely on it solely.

In summary, there are both cosmetic as well as performance differences, which are the key items I wanted consignment & resale store owners to be aware of.  Even a slight cosmetic change can throw someone for a curve and we get that, so I’d rather stores know it was a change that came with a reason vs. “Is something wrong with my computer/Internet!?”  🙂

Peeps’ ConsignPro Settings File Alert Utility

Peeps' ConsignPro Settings File Checker

In the years I’ve been monitoring and maintaining systems for consignment store owners, I’ve found ConsignPro (CP.exe) has a propensity to crash at the end of the day, when closing.  When this happens, the following morning, ConsignPro will fail to open, reporting its settings file is missing:

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https://thecomputerpeeps.com/images/snaps/dean/15/2017-11-24_1653.png

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The problem:

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  • ConsignPro tries to rename its settings file from cp.ini to cp2.ini.
  • It then tries to make a backup of cp2.ini and name it cpini.back.
  • It fails to rename cp2.ini back to cp.ini.

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I don’t think ConsignPro should be renaming this file at all and I’ve outlined my reasoning in our original post about this issue.

From a system administrator’s perspective, with hundreds of clients relying on their businesses running smoothly when they open, I need to know the following things:

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  • Does that cp.ini file exist.
  • Can I restore a backup.
  • Can I be alerted when that file doesn’t exist.

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So I wrote my own application that we schedule to run every morning, on every system, so I (and my client) can be alerted if there’s an issue that was caused by ConsignPro crashing the night before.

Here’s Peeps’ cp.ini Checker:

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Peeps’ cp.ini Checker
Peeps’ cp.ini Checker | Click to Enlarge

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It’s a very simple application, with a very effective result — alert me and my client before their store opens, so they don’t have to start their day off on the wrong foot.

Some additional thoughts:

  • I don’t think ConsignPro should be renaming this file at all — it increases the chance for problems.
  • I think there could be better exception handling done by ConsignPro.
  • I think ConsignPro should keep redundant copies of the cp.ini file (like ConsognPro does w/ the consign.mdb file) and automatically choose the last-good file, if it’s not empty.

For clients utilizing Peeps’ Support & System Monitoring services, I automatically deploy this utility on all of our clients’ systems that are running ConsignPro.

When ConsignPro Has No Ticket Printer Selected…

ConsignPro Not Responding

A client that utilizes ConsignPro, purchased a new HP printer.  I installed & networked it between her two systems.  I forgot the client utilizes a plain-paper printer to print tags/labels, as opposed to a tag printer — e.g. a Zebra thermal tag printer.

This morning, when she went to print tags, ConsignPro locked-up:

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https://thecomputerpeeps.com/images/snaps/dean/15/2017-11-21_1156.png

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The issue?  There was no printer selected for the My ticket printer is option:

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https://thecomputerpeeps.com/images/snaps/dean/15/2017-11-21_1238.png

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What ConsignPro was actually doing, was printing to the first printer enumerated in the combobox/dropdown — i.e. the Microsoft XPS Document Writer.  Hence why ConsignPro was Not Responding — the Save As dialog was open at the bottom/in the Taskbar and the Microsoft XPS Document writer doesn’t ‘steal focus’ from other applications and stays behind the currently-focused application.

It should’ve detected the setting string is Nothing and prompted.

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Note: The other issue here is, ConsignPro is still listing a printer that isn’t even installed in Windows (the Epson 545) as an available printer…because ConsignPro reads these from the Windows Registry and will continue to display and even attempt to utilize, printers that don’t even exist.

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After taking calls like that for nearly a decade, I decided to handle this different in Peeps’ Consignment Software:

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https://thecomputerpeeps.com/images/snaps/dean/15/2017-11-21_1154.png

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Programming isn’t always about extensible code, normalized database design, etc.  Simple decisions, based on user experience, can both create issues for the user, as well as increase support costs.

So to me, it behooves a developer to always think about a little ‘cul-de-sac’ like this and do your best to prevent issues — it only makes your application run better for the user, which improves the user experience.

Liberty Ambiguous Column Name ‘UPC_CODE’ Error

If you’re seeing the Ambiguous Column Name ‘UPC_CODE’ Error when viewing items in a Retail Vendor account in Liberty, this post is for you.

There’s a bug in Liberty, where if you try to sort any of the columns on the Inventory tab in a Retail Vendor account, from that point forward, you’ll see an error when you click on the Inventory tab:

https://thecomputerpeeps.com/images/snaps/dean/15/AMBIGUOUS_COLUMN_UPC_CODE_LIBERTY.png

You then won’t see any of your items:

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https://thecomputerpeeps.com/images/snaps/dean/15/2017-11-19_1829.png

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I’ll let you do a Google search for SQL queries and how Ambiguous Column Name relates, but to get right to it, you’ll need to delete a Registry Key to fix this…then make sure you never try to sort columns in a Retail Vendor account.  🙂

The Registry Key in question is:

HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE\SOFTWARE\Wow6432Node\ResaleWorld.com\RWD\Grids\TclFrmRetailClient\dbgrdRetail

You can safely delete this key, but please, if you do not feel comfortable doing this or if the Windows Registry *frightens* you, don’t you dare touch a thing!  😀

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https://thecomputerpeeps.com/images/snaps/dean/15/2017-11-19_1832.png

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Once you’ve deleted that key and restarted Liberty, the datagrid will be functional again and you’ll be able to view your items in a Retail Vendor account:

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https://thecomputerpeeps.com/images/snaps/dean/15/2017-11-19_1834.png

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As always, if you have any questions or if you’d like us to help, just let us know!

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