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Update News for July 2016
Here is a quick run-down on what you will find in this bulletin:
These topics will be dealt with in more detail throughout this bulletin.
On July 10th there will be a midmonth update for Canadian subscribers that will upgrade their July monthly update to the version 7 data format from version 6. We did the version 6 to 7 upgrade in the U.S. a couple of months ago, and that upgrade requires upgrading the internet engines at the same time. We decided to let our American customers go through that process, because it was problems with piracy of our software in the U.S. which required the change. Further, we wanted the upgrade to be quiet, as the pirate is current running our software from then end of February 2016, and we wanted to make sure that all newer versions of 6 were replaced by 7 before speaking about it publicly.
The switch to version 7 from 6 in the data files, requires a version 7 engine which is incompatible with version 6 data and visa versa. The pirate cannot get newer version 7 data without getting a version 7 engine, and that version 7 engine adds further safeguards to protect our software from piracy.
All of which is to say that the new software offers no new capabilities, except as discuss next, and that has limited benefits to Canadian subscribers and is more applicable to the U.S. market. Even so, we want both markets running the same programs so that we are not doing double duty updating two different streams of software (from the programming standpoint).
For virtually all Canadian users, the upgrade will not require them to do anything and you should detect no change in operation. For the dozen or so internet engine users, they will need to upgrade to the new version of the engine that has already been shipped to them.
If you are an internet engine user (paying $960 per year) and you did not get the email discussing these changes, please contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org. You must be ready to go with the new engine after July 10th, but not before.
If you are curious about the piracy, there is a web page that I have developed, that sets out many of the facts related to what has been going on: www.davidrutstein.com
During June we introduced a number of updates to the Windows program, in connection with the infrastructure changes that we are making to the software. For the most part those changes should have been invisible, with the exception of two things.
First, we added the Vitality products for John Hancock. Normally when a new product is introduced it is a simple matter of configuring and adding the product to the database, no programming changes needed. However, John Hancock's Vitality product is one of those exceptions that required special routines in our software to correctly quote the product.
The Vitality product has special guaranteed renewal premiums that start in year 2, and go to the end of the initial level period which is not guaranteed for the initial premium. That's why the products are in the "other" term category. However, the conditions under which the premiums can go up are different from other products, in that the insured must participate in a regimen of healthy lifestyle in order to keep the premiums from going up. We'll stop right there and suggest that if you have questions about what that means that you contact the company for more information. Needless to say, the quotes for the products show the guaranteed maximum that those premiums can go up to, assuming that the insured does not participate in the regimen after buying the insurance product.
Second, with all the other changes that we made an odd bug has slipped into the system which seems to produce an error message on closing of the program. Unfortunately our programmer cannot replicate the bug and it only infrequently occurs on my own computer. We need a computer that produces the bug, reliably, every time the program is closed. If you are having that problem and are somewhat confident with manipulating files on your computer, please give Bob a call at (888) 798-3488. We have a special "debug" version of our software that we would like you to install. When you exit that version of the program it will give us better information about what point in the program this error occurs. We normally do this sort of work ourselves all the time, before you ever see our software, but we can't fix what we can't see. Apart from that particular annoyance we have encountered no problems with quoting errors related to the new software.
Those of you old enough will remember the good old days with black and white, tube based televisions. As those got older, problems would occur where the picture would roll or peculiar lines would appear on the screen. You would call your TV repairman and sure enough, the minute he arrived, the problem would go away. He would then take the back off the set, check a few things, tell you he couldn't find it and to call him again if it re-occurred. Of course as his truck was going up the street the problem would be back like squirrels in the attic. Eventually you could get him and the problem in the room at the same time, and 15 minutes later he'd pull a tube out of a large box full of tubes, change it and the TV was fixed. This problem reminds me of that.
Our new data structure for the storage of renewal premiums is now completed, at least from the programming aspect. We have tested it against every complicated rate storage scenario that we have, and we believe that we have all the bugs worked out. The software makes no difference for existing products that are currently in the software, and are in our July monthly update. The reason is that the new renewal structure is not yet activated for any products in that general release.
During July and August we will begin systematically flipping products over to the new renewal structure and we will identify which companies that we have done this for as it happens. If we encounter a bug that we were not previously aware of, we will fix it immediately or revert back to the previous rendition of the product data. Needless to say, you might want to actually read the midmonth bulletins to keep up on those changes.
Because this has NO impact on our web quoting software, which does not quote renewals, there will be no need to update the engine. The only exception will be if your site visitors are using the spreadsheet quotes (not many do). If that is the case, you will need to ask for a new version of the engine or incorrect renewals will appear for those products updated to the new renewal storage system.
To summarize, the current general release for July has not implemented the new renewal streams for any products, and so it will be in July that we begin the process of converting products to the new system. We will let you know by midmonth bulletin which companies are affected, as they are changed.
This leaves us with the last step in the conversion process, which is to move all the base products into a new improved data format, and to roll out the first version of CQS.EXE which will replace GOWIN.EXE. This is a major change and will require the balance of 2016 to complete. With the exception of changes to the software to deal with things such as bug repairs, the current version of our windows software (GOWIN.EXE) will be unchanged from this point forward.
When we do introduce the new CQS.EXE program we will be delivering both the OLD gowin.exe program and data, together with the NEW cqs.exe program and data, for a period of several months. We will rely upon the old program as a fall back position should customers encounter any problems with the new software. Only after we are certain that everyone has adapted to the new software, and that it is working reliably, will we abandon the old software in favor of the new.
Future changes, enhancements and improvements to the software will be in the new CQS.EXE program.
While the home page of www.term4sale.ca is fully responsive, the quote template that we are using for the site is NOT responsive and we will be working on that during July. It shouldn't take too long but we have to change BOTH the U.S. and Canadian versions.
We have enabled google analytics at the site and we notice that increasing numbers of visitors are those using phones and tablets and so it is important that their entire experience on the site be as positive as possible. We think more people will be inclined to use the site if it works well on their phone.
In the scheme of priorities we did the home page of www.term4sale.ca first because having a responsive page was a requirement and an asset for search engine placement and results. We then stopped the responsive work there, in order to focus out attention on our web quoting option for customer websites, and for the Compulife Basic (formerly mobile edition) so that our customers could get those features as soon as possible. Now it's time to bring the same changes to the quote template at www.term4sale.ca.
The release of the new quote template should occur about the same time as our website counter hits 4,000,000, and so we will roll out a press release discussing both milestones and explaining to consumers, yet again, why www.term4sale.ca is the best website for consumers to go and find instant and real-time quotes for the lowest price term life insurance products available in the market. We will also emphasize that it is one of the few places consumers can get lists of independent agents, who market for multiple companies, with an eye on providing competitive prices to their customers. In other words, we will try to make our subscribers look good and we hope those of you selling insurance as a result of www.term4sale.ca contacts won't let us down.
With Jeremiah needing to focus on changes to www.term4sale.ca in July, we are again setting back our price change schedule one more month. We are offering subscribers the opportunity to take advantage of the price reductions where available, we just have not yet published them on our sites or integrated them into our billing system. If you receive an invoice and need to discuss it with us, give Bob Barney a call at (888) 798-3488. If I can save you money on your renewal, I will.
A number of product price changes were discussed in February's bulletin. If you missed it, you can read it here:
We have decided to delay the product and price changes to October 1st. Once the above referenced website work is complete, we will need to upgrade our customer database and the websites to accommodate the product and price changes, and with the delays to this point, we are going to add a month to the transition.