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How To Fix Windows Networking Issues After Windows Updates KB4480960 & KB4480970

TL;DR: Head to Control Panel > Windows Updates, click View Update History, click Installed Updates, uninstall KB4480960 (reboot) then uninstall KB4480970 (reboot).

K, for those who ran into issues accessing files, printers, shared .MDB Access databases (e.g. ConsignPro software users) this week, the cause was two Windows Updates.

Fortunately, the great community over @ /r/sysadmin was all over this.

In short, after Windows Updates rolled-out on Patch Tuesday (1/8/2019), if you have a network of computers where they connect to folder shares, printer shares, etc., they were no longer able to connect.

For those running consignment software, this impacted stores either completely, or partially — e.g. ConsignPro uses a file-based database (MS Access .MDB file) which a share is setup on the server, then workstations are pointed to that share via UNC path. For other consignment programs that utilize a SQL Server-based database management system (e.g. Peeps’ Consignment Software, Liberty Consignment Software, etc.) this didn’t impact the software’s ability to run, but any file-based features — e.g. images, report files, etc. — could be impacted.

The fix — roll-back (uninstall) the two, offending Windows Updates.

Below is a detailed outline of the screens/steps. Hope this helps!

Head to Control Panel > Windows Updates:

https://thecomputerpeeps.com/images/snaps/dean/18/2019-01-11_1121.png

Click View Update History:

https://thecomputerpeeps.com/images/snaps/dean/18/2019-01-11_1114.png

Click Installed Updates:

https://thecomputerpeeps.com/images/snaps/dean/18/2019-01-11_1115.png

Uninstall KB4480960 (reboot) then uninstall KB4480970 (reboot):

https://thecomputerpeeps.com/images/snaps/dean/18/2019-01-11_1115_001.png

Be patient. On systems without SSDs (Solid State Drives), this can take a long time to process. On systems with SSDs, this can still take a bit, but it processes much quicker. You might see ‘Preparing to configure…’ during this process and then ‘Configuring Windows Updates 100%’ for quite some time:

https://thecomputerpeeps.com/images/snaps/dean/18/2019-01-11_1143.png
https://thecomputerpeeps.com/images/snaps/dean/18/2019-01-11_1247.png


Consignment Software End-of-Year Backups

Peeps' Consignment Software

For ConsignPro consignment software users, you’ve been told for years, “Make sure you do your end-of-year backup!” Stores would call us, ask us how to do this, and every year it would be an ordeal as stores tried to accomplish this task.

I figured, why not just write our own software that does this for ConsignPro software users. 🙂 So every year, Peeps’ Automatic Backup Software for ConsignPro, automatically creates your end-of-year backup if you’re on Peeps’ Support:

ConsignPro software end-of-year backup by Peeps

Now, the reason ConsignPro wants this, is because ConsignPro deletes/purges data every day when you close it. As you roll into the new year, your consignor account history, is deleted. To be able to ‘prove’ to a consignor that they used store credit last year, you’d have to have a backup to restore.

For those on Peeps’ Consignment Software or Liberty consignment software, we also do an an end-of-year, but not for the same reason. Over the years I’ve learned that having an end-of-year backup, has come in handy when a store is audited, or if the storeowner decides to sell.

So if you’re on Peeps’ Support, we do an automatic end-of-year database backup for you, regardless of consignment software. 🙂

Another ‘ConsignPro Software Email Settings Erased’ Call

ConsignPro Software

Another call from a store, where the employee is reporting, “I’m trying to send emails in ConsignPro, it said it sent it to me, but I’m not receiving any emails!

Issue #1 — ConsignPro will say it sent the email successfully, even if the SMTP settings are incorrect.

Issue #2 — The SMTP settings are exposed and in the most-vulnerable screen possible, able to be accidentally (or intentionally) changed by employees.

The latter of which, was the issue this morning — on one of the store’s computers, the SMTP Server had been accidentally changed to “Nancy’s email.”  🙂

ConsignPro SMTP Server -- Bad UI Design

I know when ConsignPro was first developed, there wasn’t much programming experience or real-world experience behind it.  20 years later though, I think it’s common-sense that this is a support-call-creating, issue-creating design.

‘Sensitive’ settings like that, shouldn’t be in such a vulnerable location.  Things getting plopped-down on the keyboard, an accidental barcode-scan, etc. and consignors can no longer receive their emails.  It takes the Pro out of ConsignPro.  Or, maybe that’s the goal?  Maybe ‘Pro’ means “prone to issues.”

Move these to a separate form, protected by security, or at the very least make these Text fields + Check Box Read Only and provide an edit LinkLabel or Button, protected by security.

As a storeowner running ConsignPro, all you can really do is make employees aware of this screen, so they’re in-the-loop on how easy it is to accidentally break email settings, preventing consignors from getting emails.

Reason #247 Why Peeps’ Software Is Better Than The Old Consignment Software Systems

Peeps' Consignment Software

Just got off the phone with a customer that called-in to report, “We’re down — we can’t ring-up any sales!!!”  Their issue?  The NumLock key was off on their keyboard.  🙂  NumLock off = can’t type numbers using the numbers/keypad on the right = can’t type-in dollar amounts, item numbers, etc.

We get that phone call a few times per week.

When you do support for consignment stores, you learn from the mistakes the old consignment software systems have left unaddressed for decades.  The old consignment software systems make problems and increase your cost of support.

Peeps’ Consignment Software fixes problems and reduces your cost of support.  😉

All it took was A) the recognition of, “Hey, wait a minute, I can detect if NumLock is on or off on a keyboard!” and B) adding this to Peeps’ Consignment Software.

We do this both when you start a new sale:

Peeps' Consignment Software

As well as when you start entering/pricing inventory:

Peeps' Consignment Software

It’s something that seems so simple and minor, but if stops a business from functioning, why not make your consignment software better?


Liberty Consignment Software Access Violation

Liberty Consignment Software Access Violation

While you can get an Access Violation printing tags in Liberty consignment software for myriad reasons, this post is focusing on one specific reason — i.e. if you add a second tag printer.

Summary

  • If you have just one tag printer that has been printing properly before *today*, then you add a second printer to the same computer.
  • Liberty will trigger an Access Violation any time you try to print a tag.
  • You have to close Liberty, re-open Liberty, change the Tag Printer under Tools > Options to ANY printer other than your tag printer (e.g. PDF Printer, XPS Document Writer, etc.), print a tag to said printer, close Liberty, re-open Liberty, change the Tag Printer under Tools > Options to the desired printer.

So here’s the Print Price Tags screen in Liberty consignment software, ready to print to a newly-installed, completely functional Zebra LP2844 thermal tag printer:

Liberty Consignment Software Access Violation

And even though all printers are functional and are not faulting…

Liberty Consignment Software Access Violation

You’ll get an Access Violation when trying to print tags to ANY printer:

Liberty Consignment Software Access Violation

How to Fix This

  1. Close Liberty or use Peeps’ Kill Liberty button to force it closed.
  2. Open Liberty.
  3. Go to Tools > Options > Printing and change your Tag Printer to *any* printer — e.g. the Microsoft XPS Document Writer.
  4. Print tags to this temporary printer.
  5. Go back to Tools > Options > Printing and change your Tag Printer to your desired printer — e.g. your Zebra printer.
  6. Close Liberty.
  7. Open Liberty.
  8. Print tags — you should now be able to print without getting an Access Violation.

This issue is reproducible through the latest versions of Liberty consignment software (both 4.6c and 4.6d) and has been a known issue for at least 5 years.

What Makes Professional Consignment Software, Professional?

Peeps' Consignment Software

What makes professional consignment software, professional?  What makes one programmer better than another?  Something I’ve learned over the years and something I take pride in, is paying attention to the details.

In Liberty Consignment Software, when you type in text fields — specifically, when you’re adding new consignors — Liberty lets you put in a bunch of blank spaces at the beginning and the end:

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I think this looks…sloppy.  I personally think professional software, shouldn’t do this.  And what’s more, there’s actually a name for this — rather, a specific function used to prevent this.  It’s known as trim and it’s how you automatically remove (i.e. trim) leading and trailing blank spaces from a string.  This is important, because “Name” is not the same as “    Name    “.

Now, whatever — it’s just blank spaces, right?  This can both look bad, as well as cause issues when searching, printing, managing accounts, etc.  A great example of where this can lead to actual, time-consuming issues, is when adding an account for a consignor that already exists — the check to see if any consignors with the same first/last name exist, will fail to validate, because “Cindy Jones” is not the same as “    Cindy      Jones  “.  So then you end up with duplicate accounts, items entered-in to disparate accounts, money owed in disparate accounts, etc.  If it’s ‘the best consignment software on the market’ though, I think things like this, shouldn’t happen.  If you don’t think it’s a big deal, then you haven’t taken that support call hundreds of times, helping a storeowner make sense of why they have duplicate accounts for the same consignor, with items and money split between multiple accounts.

So a simple, but professional difference between Peeps’ Consignment Software and Liberty, is we pay attention to the details.  You can’t even enter blank spaces when adding accounts — not blank spaces alone.  If you type a name, then go back and force blank spaces at the beginning, we automatically trim this:

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I was working with a customer today and was reminded that again, that just because software has been around for 25 years, doesn’t mean it’s the best consignment software out there.  And even if Liberty finally fixes this, it’s been that way for 25 years, so fixing it only validates (no pun intended) the very issue I’m talking about.

Liberty Consignment Unable to Connect to Database

liberty consignment unable to connect to database

Liberty Consignment unable to connect to database is a common issue with Liberty.

https://thecomputerpeeps.com/images/snaps/dean/18/2018-10-31_0823_001.png

Sometimes, simply rebooting can fix this.  That might not always work — sometimes you might have to reboot twice.  Reboot twice!?  Yes, reboot twice.  Microsoft SQL Server is a Microsoft product, so Windows Updates can impact it.  If updates have impacted it, rebooting doesn’t mean everything’s done — that’s when updates actually install.  Then, there’s post-update processing when you first log-in.  Once this has finished, reboot again, and you’re back to *normal*.

There can also be times when rebooting isn’t going to help:

  • You have three computers, but the main/server computer, is powered-off, has become disconnected from the network, etc.
  • A new change to your systems — e.g. installing firewall/security software — is blocking incoming connections to MS SQL Server.

For Peeps’ customers and the systems we monitor, knowing if our stores’ systems can connect to MS SQL Server and if Liberty will be up and running for them when they open, is critical.

Peeps’ Liberty Connection Checker

For customers on Peeps’ Support, we’ve learned over the years, that you can check all you want @ making sure MS SQL Server is up and running — that does NOT mean Liberty (or anything) is actually able to connect to the database.

So after having stores call-in and report they’re unable to open Liberty — even though we monitor to see if MS SQL Server is running — we wrote our own, redundant monitoring software that actually tries to connect to the database — Peeps’ Liberty Connection Checker:

https://thecomputerpeeps.com/images/snaps/dean/18/2018-10-31_0824.png

This guarantees us that our stores on Liberty, will be able to run Liberty when they get in.  If it can’t connect, we’re alerted, as is the store:

liberty consignment unable to connect to database
Click to Enlarge

Liberty isn’t perfect and Liberty doesn’t check these things for you.  Two simple things Liberty could do to minimize your support costs:

  • At the very least, suggest you reboot the computer.
  • Automatically try to Stop/Start the MS SQL Server service for you.

Peeps v2.10 Update!

Peeps' Consignment Software

The v2.10 for Peeps’ Consignment & Resale Software is here!  It’s actually been out for a few weeks now, but I’m just getting caught-up with our blog, so I wanted to make sure this was post up and live!

There are so many awesome features in this update, along with bug fixes.  We’ve been out for 2 years now, proving any of the consignment software vendors could’ve re-written their software from the ground up.  This isn’t about being perfect, but it is about proving you listen and respond immediately to bugs and feature requests.

Some of the goodies in Peeps’ Consignment Software v2.10:

  • Custom email messages!  Network-wide, custom email templates WITH auto-merges!
  • Scan barcodes converted from Liberty Consignment Software & ConsignPro Software (or any consignment software) in to the Status Items screen.
  • Built-in, scheduled alert & notification system for employees!  Setup alerts that pop-up for employees when they log-in, so they can be reminded of tasks, or just told good morning.  🙂
  • Bulk email and SMS directly within the software!  No 3rd party services, no worries about being sent to spam — Peeps’ Consignment Software is the ONLY consignment software on the market that can do this!
  • Set all new accounts to your preferred Frequent Shopper Program.
  • Beautiful, easy to read charts and graphs!
  • Much, MUCH more!

Here’s the full list of what’s in Peeps’ Consignment Software v2.10…

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Click To View Release Notes

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Jumping To Barcodes in Peeps’ Consignment Software

Consignment Software Peeps

Locating items in your consignment software is a common task for store owners.  In a consignor’s account, you may end up having hundreds or even thousands of items in their list.  Instead of having to scroll though that list, you can go straight to the item in Peeps’ Consignment Software.

To jump straight to a Barcode, right-click the Items tab within their account and click Jump to Barcode…

Consignment Software Peeps

We constantly focus on how consignment store owners interact with their software and what tasks they perform day in and day out.  We build Peeps’ Software around how consignment stores truly operate, rather than storeowners having to bend to their consignment software.  🙂

Heading To San Antonio for the NARTS Conference? Keep Your Connection Secure With Private Internet Access!

Private Internet Access

Are you heading to the NARTS conference in San Antonio, TX this year? If so, how you connect to the Internet while you travel, is something you should be aware of – i.e. your connection is likely not secure.

First and foremost, if you connect to a public/free WiFi hotspot, you need to know that all of your network traffic can be captured. There are a variety of things an attacker can do, when he or she has control of your network traffic:

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  • Trick you into visiting fake, malicious sites.
  • Collect your sensitive passwords.
  • Collect credit card information.

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Even if you’re not on a public WiFi connection, your ISP or whoever manages the connection, can see any website you visit.

If you’re connecting to a network that is not your home or business network, or if you don’t want your browsing activity to be viewable by your ISP, we recommend utilizing a VPN (Virtual Private Network).

What the heck is a VPN? A VPN creates a secure, virtual ‘tunnel’ across the Internet, through which your network is transmitted. This prevents malicious attackers from seeing your network traffic as you connect to the Internet and other networks.

Which VPN do you recommend?

There are a variety of VPN options out there and a variety of situations to consider, but for a simple, easy, secure connection, we typically recommend Private Internet Access.  We’ve talked about PIA a few times before.

They have a great video that explains exactly what Private Internet Access does to keep you protected:

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Private Internet Access or PIA, is available for the following platforms:

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  • Windows
  • Mac OS X
  • Android
  • iOS

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PIA is dead-simple to use – just click Connect… that’s it…

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Private Internet Access

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PIA alone, is not enough to keep a device secure, but it does provide you with a secure connection when you have to connect to public networks.

What are some other security tips you recommend?

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  • Prey – Locate your laptop, computers, phones, and tablets if they’re lost or stolen.
  • Device/Disk Encryption – If someone gets your laptop — it doesn’t matter if it’s a Mac or PC — all of your files, are fully accessible. It means absolutely nothing if you have a password — all of your files can be viewed and copied directly from your hard drive. There are a variety of disk encryption options out there and we could dedicate a post to just this topic. Newer versions of Android and iOS are encrypted by default. Many mobile OSes allow you to enable encryption, if it’s not enabled by default. There are also 3rd-party encryption programs, such as the final build of TrueCrypt.
  • Antivirus – I don’t care if you’re running Windows or Mac OS X, you should be running antivirus, period. If someone tells you otherwise, they’re being cocky and they likely are not personally responsible for your computer’s security. Not just any antivirus either. Stick with one of the top-performing antivirus solutions — we typically recommend ESET NOD32 Antivirus. Whatever you do, do NOT use Microsoft Security Essentials. It does not work and anyone who recommends it, well, they should stop doing that – they’re 100% incorrect.
  • Do Not Use Internet Explorer or Safari – Our first recommendation, is Firefox. Some people have been falsely told that “Chrome is the best, install it and you’re secure!” We hope to dissipate that notion. Chrome is definitely a better alternative to Internet Explorer and Safari, however, simply switching to either Chrome, or Firefox, is not enough. You need to be concerned with ad-blocking, Javascript blocking, and malicious changes to your browser, as well as click-jacking. This is why so many Mac users are getting their browser nailed with malware. Instead of letting a website just run whatever it wants in the background (and no, this isn’t stuff you have to enter a password for), you should stop all websites from running anything and only allow websites you truly trust. Right now, you’re letting any website you click, run wild. It’s much better to take the option of NO website can run wild, except for the ones you explicitly trust. This is why we typically recommend Firefox, as the NoScript + uBlock/AdBlock Plus/AdBlock Edge + Public Fox combo is hands-down, the most effective Web Browser configuration @ preventing unwanted downloads or changes in/to the browser itself.
  • Do Not Login As Admin/Root – Whether it’s a Mac or PC, it is better to log in as a ‘restricted’ account, instead of a user that has full access to do anything to your system.

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As always, if you have any questions, don’t hesitate to call us @ (888) 374-5422.

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Featured Image Source: Private Internet Access

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