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:
Click View Update History:
Click Installed Updates:
Uninstall KB4480960 (reboot) then uninstall KB4480970 (reboot):
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:
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:
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 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.” 🙂
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.
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.
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…
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!
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.
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.
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.
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.
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. 🙂
Consignment software users who are also utilizing integrated credit card processing, typically utilize one of a few PIN Pads. Ingenico is one of the more-common PIN Pads in-use. From time to time, you might need to reboot your Ingenico iSC Touch 250 PIN Pad — e.g. to change the comm mode, to recalibrate the touch screen, etc.
You don’t have to pull the power cable or track down the power plug. Instead, just press and hold the Clear and – buttons until it reboots:
If you utilize ConsignPro software, you’ve probably been told to ‘do an end of year backup’. Brian @ ConsignPro will email ConsignPro users and tell them they should do an end-of-year backup of the ConsignPro software’s database.
We wrote our own automatic backup software just for our customers that are using ConsignPro in their consignment store.
Peeps’ ConsignPro Automatic Backup automatically backs-up your database on the end-of-year date specified:
Backups are automatically encrypted, zipped, stored on your external backup drive and securely uploaded to The Computer Peeps. Peeps’ ConsignPro Automatic Backup software also emails our customers so they know their nightly backup + end-of-year backup has completed successfully:
If you’re not utilizing Peeps’ Support & System Monitoring services, you can manually copy your consign.mdb file to your backup drive or to a USB flash drive. We recommend renaming the file consign_END_OF_YEAR_2017.mdb (or the current year) so the file isn’t accidentally overwritten next year.
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:
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.
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:
Does that cp.ini file exist.
Can I restore a backup.
Can I be alerted when that file doesn’t exist.
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:
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.
These are known issues with the ConsignPro consignment software system.
Brian @ ConsignPro, if any of these issues are fixed in an update, please post a comment below with the version that fixes said issue and I will update this post. Thank you!
ConsignPro update does not utilize “if older, overwrite“, thus, installing the update will not change your CP.exe version. The update installer has to be ran a second time, choosing ‘Repair’, to force the update to replace CP.exe with the newer one. This is reproducible through v9.17.
ConsignPro does not appear to utilize implicit SSL when sending emails and instead, appears to utilize explicit. The result is, many ISPs will block email attempts, which is why some stores can send emails and some cannot.
ConsignPro does not support TLS (Port 587).
ConsignPro will lock-up for 30 seconds or more at launch, while it attempts to send the owner emails. This only happens if ConsignPro is unable to send emails, either based on its lack of support for explicit SSL, lack of support for TLS, or invalid email settings.
Security Vulnerability — ConsignPro utilizes standard FTP to upload nightly backups, for clients utilizing the MyResaleweb backup service. The username and password are transmitted in plain text. All stores’ backups are stored with full read/write/execute access, in an unencrypted file and thus, are susceptible to data theft. Utilizing a secure upload process, changing the file-level permissions, and removing the backups from the VPS once uploaded, could all help alleviate this issue. This has been reported to Brian @ ConsignPro multiple times.
If CP.exe crashes during shutdown, it can write bad values to the Employee table — specifically, the fields which control employee access. The result is the logged-in employee, will no longer be able to access ConsignPro upon the next login and will only be able to view the Make Sale screen.
We’re proud to announce our Consignment Hardware Summer Sale!!! Have you been putting off replacing an old Point of Sale or Inventory Intake PC? Now’s the time to act!
We recently announced our new MiniPeep systems, which are faster, stronger, and more affordable than the alternative.
We currently have 10 of these units available and at this price, they won’t last long!
*Sale ends Friday, June 26, 2015.
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[heading type=”h3″ no_top_padding=”true” underlined=”true”]Summer Special #1 | Budget POS/Inventory PC[/heading]
[highlight]$885 $685[/highlight] – Peeps’ POS w/ 19″ Monitor and a 1 Year Peeps’ Overnight Replacement Warranty. Our Peeps’ Point of Sale systems are fully tailored to suit your consignment software. Peeps’ systems are blazing fast with Solid State Drives (SSDs), as well as compact in design.
System includes a minimum 60 GB SSD, 4 GB RAM and a 4th Gen Intel Celeron CPU
Includes Windows 7 Pro 64-bit + Peeps’ Rescue Discs
Includes a 1 Year Peeps’ Overnight Replacement Warranty – what’s this?
10 USB ports
Suitable as a Point of Sale workstation or item-entry workstation
Includes a clean Windows installation + Peeps’ Configuration Protocol
Includes professional installation & configuration of any consignment software (licenses not included)
Fully configured, from off-site backups, automated consignment backups and system backups, to antivirus, anti-malware software, and enhanced Web protection (licenses not included)
OpenOffice suite with word processing and spreadsheets
Configured as per the PCI DSS
Want touchscreen? Add $300 for a 22″ LCD touchscreen!
You could buy two of our POS systems WITH touchscreen, for the same price as one touchscreen POS system from other vendors!
What is this system best-suited for?
Our Budget POS/Inventory PC is not only perfect for, but compatible with the following configurations:
As a Liberty Point of Sale or Inventory Intake computer.
As a ConsignPro Point of Sale or Inventory Intake computer.
As a ConsignmentTill Point of Sale or Inventory Intake computer.
As a SimpleConsign Point of Sale or Inventory Intake computer.
What this system should not be utilized for:
As a Liberty database server computer.
As a ConsignPro database server computer.
As a ConsignmentTill database server computer.
And don’t let anyone tell you, “Oh, it’s a Celeron.” 🙂 With a 4th gen Intel Celeron, combined with a Solid State Drive (SSD), this system is plenty-capable of running any of the major consignment programs for Point of Sale or Inventory Intake.
If you have any questions or would like to place an order, please call (888) 374-5422.