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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


Do You Have A Clear Picture of Your Network?

Peeps' Workbench Network Switches

If you want to skip the boring parts below:

  • Walk around your store with a pen and paper and make note of each computer and where its network cable plugs-in at.
  • Make note of each network ‘box’ — e.g. you modem, router, and any little hubs/switches.

At its base-level, a network is a really simple thing — just a wire from each computer, plugged-in to a box.  Sort of like plumbing and pipes that carry water from one place to another — just a series of tubes.  🙂

For a consignment store, this can mean anything from not being able to get on the Internet, to your consignment software crashing, to just one or two computers getting ‘unable to connect to database’ errors.

So I’ve found it really helps to have a clear picture — literally — of your network setup.  Let’s take a look at a few setups and how these relate to a consignment or resale store…

Basic Setup

In a smaller store, you might only have one computer.  It’s also not uncommon to have an ‘all-in-one’ router/modem combo — i.e. a single box that both connects you to the Internet, as well as providing firewall, network sharing, and WiFi functionality.

So here’s what a smaller store’s setup might look like — one computer, plugged-in to the router/all-in-one (even if it’s WiFi, it’s a ‘virtual’ wire), and then to the cloud!

Basic Consignment Store Setup
Basic Consignment Store Setup

For you, your issues could range from not being able to get online, to experiencing *slow* Internet, or even ‘connection failures’ in Liberty.  Possible sources of your issues and steps to troubleshoot:

  • Slow Internet or No Internet Connection — Power-off your router/modem by disconnecting its power cable, then reconnecting its power cable.
  • Connection Failures in Liberty — Even if you’re hard-wired to your router, check to see if your computer has a WiFi connection and if it’s on.  If so, completely disable the WiFi adapter.

Two-Computer Setup

Next, let’s move on to a store that has two computers.  Contrary to popular belief, the two computers do not *plug-in to each other*.  Instead, both of the computers plug-in to a box (your router) and that’s how they share your consignment software’s database, as well as share an Internet connection.

Two Computer Setup
Two Computer Setup

One of the most common issues in this kind of setup, is computer #2 cannot open the consignment software/gets database errors.  This is because it relies on getting through the network, over to the database that resides on computer #1.  If it can’t connect at all, but could *yesterday*, check the network cable — it’s amazing how common a bad/broken network cable is used, which means it slips out of the network jack.  Always use network cables that properly clip-in to place — if your network cables can be pulled out without having to press that little, plastic tab, throw them away and replace them.

There are other issues that can arise in this setup as well:

  • Someone setup your consignment software to point to an IP address, not the server computer’s name.  We recommend essentially never using IP addresses — only use the computers’ names.  By using an IP address, you’re making a ‘brittle’ setup that can break out of the blue, or if you replace your router.  There are only a few circumstances one would ever ‘point’ the workstation to the server’s IP address.
  • The all-in-one has been updated/altered/changed by the ISP, without your knowledge.  This happens quite a lot.  When you lease an all-in-one from your ISP, they own it, not you.  They have access to said device and can (and will) push updates/changes to it.  This can lead to your consignment software on the workstation running slowly, or not working at all.

Extended Network Setup

For larger stores, or stores with “computers up front” for point of sale, the network layout starts to get a bit more ‘complex’.  Basically, instead of all of the computers plugging-in directly to the router, they use an ‘extension’ of sorts — i.e. a network switch.

In the setup below, notice how computer #3 and #4 connect to a little box (network switch) and then that box connects to the router.  This creates a point of failure — e.g. if that network switch breaks, loses power, or becomes disconnected, then only those two computers won’t be able to get online or open your consignment software.

Extended Network Setup
Extended Network Setup

So this is how you can run into issues such as, “Only the computers on this side of the store can’t connect, but all of the other ones can!

In a setup like this, it’s important to know where that little network switch is, to ensure all of the network cables are new and ‘clip’ in to place, and I’d even recommend putting that network switch on a battery backup.

Extended Network Setup w/ Modem

And lastly, some stores have a dedicated modem with their own router — this is the setup we recommend (See: Why You Should Not Utilize Your ISP’s Router).  Some — even techs — use the terms ‘modem’ and ‘router’ interchangeably.  These are two different *things* with different functions.  ISPs have taken to putting both in one box — i.e. an ‘all-in-one’.  This can seem to be convenient, but using an all-in-one comes with a variety of issues:

  • They tend to be lesser devices, which leads to network (and consignment software) slowness.
  • They tend to  be unpredictable — i.e. where you’d never see certain issues with your own router, you’ll experience everything from slowness, to internal routing issues.
  • They tend to fail prematurely.
  • They tend to need to be ‘rebooted’ often.

By having your own, dedicated modem, it helps alleviate the issues outlined above, but you can also run into issues if the modem loses power — e.g. you won’t be able to get online, but you will still be able to use your consignment software throughout the store.

Extended Network Setup w/ Modem
Extended Network Setup w/ Modem

That last one, is really important, because even though most of the consignment programs do not require an Internet connection, Internet-connectivity issues with an all-in-one can prevent your consignment software from running.

If there’s one takeaway from all of the gibberish above, it’s this — just make sure you (and your employees) have a basic understanding of how all of the computers plug-in to the network.  This alone, can help prevent down-time and minimize the amount of stress that comes from not knowing what the heck the issue could be.  🙂

New MiniPeep for Orange Peel

MiniPeep Consignment Computer System for Orange Peel

The Computer Peeps proactively monitor and maintain all of the computer systems for Michele @ Repeat Street in Mississippi.  In addition to Repeat Street, Michele also owns Orange Peel and Revolution Consignment.

The primary/database server PC @ Orange Peel started triggering File System Corruption alerts:

File System Corruption

Now, File System Corruption can happen outside of hardware failure (e.g. sudden system shutdowns, no battery backup in-place, etc.) but we also monitor the hard disk health.  Shortly after the system started triggering File System Corruption alerts, it triggered a sudden and severe Disk Health drop:

https://thecomputerpeeps.com/images/snaps/dean/18/2018-02-23_0854.png

The drive is reporting Bad Blocks as well.  So combined with the age of the drive (~4 years), File System Corruption, and the clear drop in health, this hard drive is on its way to imminent failure.

This is where a system that’s not monitored, would turn into the following:

  • Database corruption.
  • System slowness.
  • Software crashing.
  • ‘Out of the blue’ system failure.

Given the age of the computer, we opted for replacement.  This system is the database server for Orange Peel, serving data to both itself, as well as a secondary inventory intake workstation.

All of The Computer Peeps’ MiniPeep consignment computer systems are built-to-order.  This system will be utilizing a 250 GB Samsung EVO mSATA SSD, 8 GB of Crucial Certified RAM, and an Intel i5 processor.  We perform a clean installation of Windows 7 Professional 64-bit on each system, install all system drivers, install all Windows Updates, and properly harden the system via Peeps’ Configuration Protocol, utilizing a combination of Group Policy and industry-standard best practices.  This ensures the system remains running perfectly without the concern of “Did an employee change/do something?” and it also is a requirement of the PCI DSS.

New MiniPeep for Repeat Street IL

Repeat Stree IL MiniPeep

One of our long-time clients, Julie @ Repeat Street, is expanding her consignment store.  We’re building a new MiniPeep computer system + providing all of the consignment hardware for her to utilize with her Liberty4 Consignment software.

We start with a new Gigabyte Brix system, new Crucial or Kingston RAM, and a new MyDigital or Samsung SSD.  We only utilize well-vetted, in-house tested, field-tested hardware that we’ve seen work reliably for years — it’s our clients’ businesses, time, and money that are on the line and we take that seriously.

New MiniPeep for Repeat Street IL

I hand-build each of our systems for our clients — these are not off-the-shelf computer systems.  First, installing the new RAM:

New MiniPeep for Repeat Street IL

And then the new SSD:

New MiniPeep for Repeat Street IL

The benefits Julie @ Repeat Street will see from this build:

  • A pre-built, pre-configured, clean, secure system, ready to go when it arrives.
  • A clean installation of Windows.
  • A properly hardened, fully PCI Compliant system.
  • A fully labeled system, from ports, to each and every cable — this makes all the difference when you have a variety of cables running through countertops.
  • A system that automatically backs-up the entire computer each night, providing a one-click recovery via Macrium Reflect.
  • A system that’s not only warrantied for a year, but since she’s on Peeps’ Support, we replace our clients’ systems at any time AND we proactively monitor the system health so we know about issues before they become actual issues.

 

SSD Is Where It Be!

Intel SSD

The most common complaint I hear about computer systems is, “My computer is slow!”  There’s the usual litany of items that can cause this, including:

[checklist]

  • Inadequate hardware
  • Viruses/malware
  • Too many programs running

[/checklist]

Most computers either aren’t properly configured from jump, or aren’t well-maintained.  Those that are though can still seem slow at times.  Even with a decent amount of RAM and even if you have an i5 or i7 processor, take most any modern-day consumer or business-class system and it can still *feel slow*.  You’re simply not going to be able to tell the difference between a system with an i3 and an i5, under most circumstances.

It’s Your Hard Drive

So what’s slowing things down?  Chances are, your hard drive is slowing things down.  Traditional hard drives consist of a series of platters which rotate.  Much like a record player, an arm moves back and forth across the surface of the spinning platters.  Spinning isn’t instantaneous though, so there can be delays while the disk spins-up.  Then, that little arm has to move around to read/write data.  Think about what it’s like when you put in a CD or DVD – it literally has to spin up before you can begin using it.  Hard drives work in the same manner.

Since all of your files, data, and programs reside on your hard drive, you *feel* the slowness when you open a file, open programs, or work with your consignment software’s database.

It’s Time for an SSD

Leaps and bounds have been made in recent years, allowing hard drive capacities to grow.  That’s just it though, the capacities have increased, but not the speed.  Thankfully, SSD prices have dropped.

What the heck does SSD mean?

Great question!  SSD stands for Solid State Drive.  You’ve used and even held similar technology in your hands if you have a smart phone or if you have a little USB flash drive.  SSDs are typically the same size as laptop hard drives @ 2.5″ (or even smaller).  You can install an SSD in a desktop PC which provides a tremendous performance boost.

We only recommend Intel SSDs:

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Intel SSD
Intel SSD

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SSDs contain no moving parts, so unlike traditional hard drives, you don’t have to wait for the disk to spin-up.  If you want speed, the final frontier is your internal hard disk.  Replacing your traditional hard drive with a Solid State Drive, will give you a dramatic performance boost.  Systems with solid state drives typically boot from a cold power-off to a usable state, in 25 seconds or less.  Applications launch nearly instantly.  There is a substantial difference in perceivable and actual performance, by upgrading to SSDs.

So if your friend, your software vendor, or a local tech recommends a new system, don’t focus on the processor as much as the hard drive.  If your consignment software vendor is trying to sell you a computer system, unless it has an SSD, it’s not worth the price.  99% of the time an Intel Core i3 CPU is going to be *more* than fine for what you’re doing.  Even an Intel Celeron is fine for POS and inventory workstations.  It’s the hard drive that’s going to make or break the system’s performance, so always, always go with an SSD.

I’ll take a system with an i3 and an SSD over an i5 with a traditional hard drive any day.

How To Build a Computer for Your Consignment Software

MiniPeep Consignment or Resale Store Computer

One of the most-common causes of issues with consignment software, is running it on an “unclean” system — e.g. one you’ve had for a few years, an off-the-shelf consumer system pre-bloated with marketing supplements, etc.

You do not need to buy a Dell workstation from a vendor for $1,500 — that’s insane.  The price is that high, not because it’s properly configured and not because everything is taken care of for you before and after the sale.  Sure, everyone’s gotta make a living, but $1,500, to me, points to an underlying issue — i.e. consumers don’t have all of the information they need to have, in order to make an informed decision.  In my professional opinion, the price is that high because vendors can get away with charging such a price, based on store owners getting frustrated and just throwing their hands up and saying, “Just send me a system that works!!!”

So, let’s get down to it.  What do you need in order to have a perfect computer for your consignment software?

It’s really easy:

[hr]

[checklist]

  • A clean installation of Windows 7 Professional 64-bit.
  • An Intel processor, specifically an i3.  (If your DB Server is serving data to more than 5 PCs, skip the i5 and go right to an i7).
  • A minimum of 4 GB of RAM, 8 GB if it’s going to be a database server or a manager’s workstation.  Specifically, Kingston or Crucial RAM.
  • A Solid State Drive (SSD), specifically, Intel SSDs.
  • Lots of USB ports — i.e. 10 or more.
  • A non-admin account for day-to-day use.
  • Proper antivius — e.g. ESET NOD32.
  • A secured Web browser — i.e. Either Firefox w/ uBlock Origin and NoScript, or Chrome with uBlock Origin and Ghostery.

[/checklist]

[hr]

It’s that easy, it really is.

Now, how do you get all of these things and make it happen?  In my professional experience — which is 13 years in the consignment and resale industry — I recommend only one of the following:

[hr]

[checklist]

  • A Gigabyte Brix system.
  • A new Dell business-class system.

[/checklist]

[hr]

I can’t discount the value of Dell’s overnight replacement warranty, although I no longer use Dell, as I found A) it’s not really overnight (usually takes 2 days) and B) unless you request it from Dell, they’ll only bring out a hard drive without Windows on it.  This means, they tell you, “Call your tech.”  Even if they DO bring one with Windows on it, you’re still left with a computer that has nothing on it — i.e. no consignment software, no drivers, no antivirus, system security, etc.  If you have absolutely no help locally, at least having Dell replace the drive gets your computer up and running.  You are still responsible for getting your consignment software, printers, etc. up and running though.  Also, even if you buy a Dell, we still recommend wiping the drive and installing a clean copy of Windows.  We do NOT recommend Lenovo systems – See: Two weeks on, Superfish debacle still causing pain for some Lenovo customers.

With a Gigabyte Brix system, you’re getting a faster system, a smaller system (important for shops with limited counter space), and a more-focused system for your consignment software.

While The Computer Peeps can build one for you, fully configure it, and include an overnight replacement warranty, you still don’t *have* to buy one from us, if you’re capable of doing these things yourself.  Or, you can get the parts and then have us configure it for you.

So I see this as one of the following:

[hr]

[checklist]

  • Order all of the parts yourself, build it, and configure it.
  • Order a “kit,” which is all of the proper parts, but you still have to configure it.
  • Order a “kit” and have The Computer Peeps or your local tech configure it.
  • Order a pre-configured, warrantied system from The Computer Peeps.

[/checklist]

[hr]

I want to put the control in store owner’s hands, not the vendors — they make enough money.  I’m a realist though and I know not everyone has the time or experience required to build a system — I just want you to know you can and it’s easier than you think, if you’re inclined to do so.  🙂

Dean, just shut-up and tell me which parts to buy!

You got it!  K, if you want to do this yourself, here is the parts list:

[hr]

[checklist]

[/checklist]

[hr]

If you’d rather have us ship you all of the parts in a kit so you can assemble it and either configure it yourself or have us configure it from here, we can do that too.

And finally, if you’d just like to have the system perfectly-configured, shipped to your store, and guaranteed with an overnight replacement warranty, then one of our MiniPeeps is the best option.

I just wanted to take away some of the myths about which computer you need and why.  It’s important for consumers to have truthful, accurate information, so they can make an informed decision before purchasing.  My goal isn’t to sell computers.  My goal is to put the best computer in place for consignment and resale store owners, so they know this isn’t “magic” or something they need to spend thousands of dollars on.

AOL Data Breach, User Data Stolen

AOL Logo

AOL is reporting a massive data breach which affects a “significant amount of users”.  AOL is recommending users change their passwords immediately.

According to AOL’s Security Team:

This information included AOL users’ email addresses, postal addresses, address book contact information, encrypted passwords and encrypted answers to security questions that we ask when a user resets his or her password, as well as certain employee information. We believe that spammers have used this contact information to send spoofed emails that appeared to come from roughly 2% of our email accounts.

If you utilize AOL for your consignment software’s email functionality, or for your personal email, please be sure to change your password right away.

Windows XP Users, This One Could Get Messy…

Windows XP

A very common browser hijack/search redirect, Conduit, has a little bug in its uninstaller.  If you attempt to remove Conduit via Add or Remove Programs, it is rendering Windows XP machines unbootable.

For those interested in the technical details, Bleeping Computer has a great write-up.

This could get messy, since many will try to remove Conduit and other unwanted applications via Add or Remove Programs.  A little piece of adware could quickly render your consignment shop’s systems unusable.

The goal should be prevention, not removal.  See our recent blog post on how to better protect you system from this sort of infection.

7 Tips To Help Better Secure Your Computer Systems

We’d like to see as many consignment and resale stores start 2014 out on the right foot.  It is not an impossible task to better-secure your systems and while there is no silver-bullet, it’s a relatively straight-forward set of tools that can drastically help secure your systems.  After all, if your computers aren’t cooperating, it can have a major impact on your business.

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OpenDNS

opendns_logo

Consignment and resale shops spend a lot of time online searching for pricing and pictures, as well as working on social media.  This puts consignment stores at the front-line of where malware and unwanted software can make its way into your systems.

OpenDNS is a service that provides web filtering, which helps prevent bad or unwanted websites from being accessed by employees.  From malware after searching for “free image editing software” to browser infections/search redirects, one of the first places that should be filtered are the websites your computers can access.

In addition to blocking known-malware sites, adult content sites, etc. OpenDNS also lets you block or allow specific websites, as well as view reports of your store’s Internet and search activity.

Once you have registered for an OpenDNS account, all you’ll need to do is update your router’s DNS Servers.

[hr]

Firefox

firefox_huge2The *thing* you browse the web with is commonly referred to as a Web Browser.  On Windows-based computers, Internet Explorer is the default/included browser.  On Macs, Safari is the default browser.  You do not have to use the included browser and you can generally have a safer browsing experience by switching browsers.

Two popular alternatives are Firefox and Google Chrome.  While we utilize each browser for a variety of purposes, we typically recommend Firefox to our clients.  Installing an alternative web browser alone, is not enough to make browsing online safer.  We work with a lot of clients whose browsers are infected with search redirects and other hijacks, yet they felt they were protected from this simply by using Firefox or Chrome.

We feel we can better-secure our clients systems with Firefox.  With Firefox, along with the plugins we outline below (i.e. NoScript, AdBlock Plus & Public Fox), you can establish a first-line of defense as you browse the wild wild web.

Firefox is free and open source.  Once installed, we also recommend enabling Do Not Track.

[hr]

NoScript

noscript_logoWhen you click a link and visit a website, by default, that website can do quite a bit of things – all without you knowing.  It’s sort of like letting anyone just come in to your house and start going through your things.  Better is it to take the approach that no website is trusted and only those on your Allowed list can load.

NoScript makes this process very easy, providing you with a quick ‘Allow’ of a website you trust and plan on visiting more than once.  NoScript also does a great job of picking-out the other 3rd party websites that are loading in the background, as well as other types of active content which can harm your computer.

Of all the ways to block things such as Javascript, Flash, and hidden content, we feel NoScript is the best way to control your web browsing experience.  NoScript is one of the most effective tools at stopping *crap* from making is way into your computers in the first place.

[hr]

AdBlock Plus

abp_logoAds are not only a visual annoyance, they are a common source of malware.  Even popular, trusted websites can have compromised ads which can load malware and malicious content on unsuspecting users’ systems.

We love AdBlock Plus.  Combined with NoScript, you can have a safe, controlled, clean web browsing experience and help keep your systems clean long before malware even has a chance to run.

Once installed, be sure to enable AdBlock Plus’ anti-malware features, as well as disable the ‘Allow some un-intrusive ads’ option.

[hr]

Public Fox

PadlockNow that you have your Firefox installation secured and configured to your liking, wouldn’t it be nice if you could protect those settings from being changed?

With Public Fox you can.  Public Fox essentially treats the web browser as though it’s in-use on a ‘public’ computer.  You can password protect your Options and block downloads.

By no means is this alone meant to be a way of protecting a system, but Public Fox can help curb unwanted changes and downloads to your systems.

[hr]

Non-Admin User Accounts

windows-7-user-iconBy default, when you purchase a Windows-based computer, the only user account will have full Administrator access.  If you do not configure at least one user account for yourself and/or the store, you’re granting full control of your computer to your employees and whatever they might stumble upon out there on the web.

It is best-practice to not utilize a full admin account and instead, log in with a Standard User/restricted account.  This can help prevent major changes to your systems, such as installing/uninstalling software.

We also recommend taking this one step further and on Professional versions of Windows, configuring Group Policy to lock-down additional aspects of the system – e.g. prevent printers from being deleted, etc.

[hr]

Patch Management

patch_managementWith many systems using default configurations @ Administrator accounts, Internet Explorer, and no antivirus, computers without Patch Management are just sitting ducks.

Security holes in commonly used programs such as Adobe Reader, Adobe Flash, and Java are frequently and actively exploited.  These programs do not automatically update and regularly require user intervention to make sure they are updated + system rebooted.  With even two computers in a consignment shop, just keeping programs patched and updated can quickly become a challenge.

Emails with fake PDFs or Word Docs are commonly the source of these sort of attacks and with many email providers not filtering-out messages like this, un-patched systems are waiting to be compromised.

[hr]

The the combo of OPenDNS + Firefox + NoScript + AdBlock can benefit users of all platforms.  Most of what you do is online these days and for many, the web browser is all they use their computer for.  Browser infections/hijacks impact users of ALL platforms.

Liberty Requires Additional Software In Order To Send Emails

FacepalmLiberty’s new Send Mail “feature” does not work unless you install and/or configure additional software.  This means when you click the new Send Mail button, you will not be able to send email until you configure additional software – e.g. Outlook Express, Outlook, Thunderbird, Window Live Mail, etc.

For years, Liberty has had the ability to send emails on its own, utilizing its own built-in code and libraries.  In fact, many of you will remember the paid upgrade from Liberty 2002 to Liberty4 Consignment, which introduced email functionality.  So why has the email functionality that has been in Liberty for years, been left out of this new “feature”?

In Liberty’s recent 4.0 update, there is a new button that is supposed to let you email a consignor:

Liberty's Send Mail Button
Liberty’s Send Mail Button | Click to Enlarge

The only problem is, it doesn’t work unless you install and/or configure 3rd party software – e.g. Outlook Express…

Liberty & Outlook Express
Liberty & Outlook Express | | Click to Enlarge

When a program such as Liberty goes to send email, it can do so in one of a few ways.  It can take the “easy” way out (which makes it easy for the software, but difficult for the user) and not add any email functionality at all.  This is done by asking Windows to send email through whichever 3rd party software is currently installed and configured as the Default Email Program.  The other option, is to put in a little more work ahead of time so that your users don’t have to run into issues come time to use said feature.  The latter is what Liberty4 Consignment 4.0b utilizes.  They’ve simply given you a shortcut to launch email software, which you may or may not have on your computer.

Why though?  Liberty already has built-in code which allows it to send emails.  Your SMTP Settings are entered under Tools > eCommerce Options > Email Settings:

Ecommerce Settings > Email Settings
Liberty’s Email Settings | Click to Enlarge

These settings tie-in to other portions of Liberty which can send emails – e.g. the Event Manager, the Word Processor (wordmail), etc.

So why isn’t that functionality being used here?  Why does Liberty now require its users to install + configure 3rd party software just to send an email?  This just makes it difficult on you vs. having the software do the work for you.

Do you know what default email client is on your computer?  Do you even have a default email client on your computer?  Liberty requires you to know the answers to those questions.  Many people do NOT have default email clients on their computer, because they check their email in their web browser – e.g. Gmail, Yahoo!, MSN, AOL, etc.

We actually recommend not using an email client on your computer, because it creates a dependency and a support issue for you, which translates into a cost.  Programs such as Outlook, Outlook Express, Thunderbird, etc. have to be installed and/or configured.  Ok, which settings go where?  What if you move to a different computer?  Are you going to download and install software on that computer now?  What happens when that system crashes?  Are you telling me you can’t use email until you get your computer setup and then get your email software reinstalled?  What about backups?  Have you been backing-up your email files?  See where this is going?

Liberty already has multiple areas where it can send emails and it’s been able to do so since 2004.  Why in this new paid upgrade, does it not utilize the features it already has?  Why put the workload on the person attempting to use the feature?  That’s exactly what this is doing – it’s making the user do the work, not the software.

In ConsignPro, when you click the Send Email Note button in a consignor’s account…

ConsignPro Email Consignor
ConsignPro Email Consignor | Click to Enlarge

It launches its own email screen, so you can send the email right from within ConsignPro, without having to use 3rd party email software on your computer…

ConsignPro Email Form
ConsignPro Email Form | Click to Enlarge

The reason I point this out is because it creates a support issue for Liberty users.  When Anita Johnson @ Upscale Fashions, Inc. asked me to configure Outlook Express so that Liberty could send emails, I was quite surprised.  The button there now is the “quick way” to get that feature in there, but it puts all the work on you, the user.  What do stores do if they want to use this feature?  Do they have to call their tech?  Why can’t Liberty just send the email on its own?

For the benefit of the end users, I really think Liberty should handle sending emails without relying on the Windows default email client.

Feel free to add your comments below!

 

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