Thursday, 29 December 2016

Corel back in the Sin Bin

You'd think I'd know better after my career in computing and IT infrastructure stretching back to the 1970s. Back in the 1990s I burnt my IT Manager fingers by installing Wordperfect as a standard word processing software for our company. It left scars. But no, I recently gave into temptation and purchased a Corel Software product for my new PC. I've been left disappointed, wishing I'd spent the money on better products.

My trusty 10 year old PC cannot provide enough memory to sensibly run the modern bloatware software need to run safely in today's Internet environment. I've been finding I've had to stop background programs to ensure others could run. So I've paid a specialist to build me a workstation with far greater memory capacity and processing power, using Windows 10/64 Bit.  I've gone from a a maximum of 6 GB to a current 32 GB and the potential to install at least double that amount. As part of the upgrade I've purchased new copies of software applications as I want to keep the old box available in the background. I'm pretty scrupulous about using only legally licensed software.

On the old box I have an old copy of CorelDraw Graphics Suite X4 which provides CorelDraw and PhotoPaint. It is perfectly adequate for office graphics, some photo handling/editing. On the new box I decided to purchase a full copy of CorelDRAW Graphics Suite X8 and loaded the 64 Bit version to be able to take advantage of the larger memory on the PC. 

Then I decided to transfer my computer peripherals from the old machine to the new PC. Most were just plug and play, starting to work as soon as I plugged them in. Amongst those there is a Panasonic  KV-S1025C document scanner. It is a professional quality device which is fast, reliable and rarely jams. I took the precaution of downloading and installing the latest 64 bit drivers from the manufacturers Panasonic site. The scanner now works fine with all of my new software except the CorelDraw X8 software. It will start the scanning process but as the scanned document is loading from the scanner the CorelDraw software collapses. The Corel X4 software worked on my old PC including the scanner, but I'd had to downgrade to the 32 Bit version of Corel some years back.

After doing some research on the Internet I discovered I'd have to use the same work-around for the new Corel software. Corel have known about this problem for years but haven't put the investment in to fixing their software to work reliably on both 32 Bit and 64 Bit scanner interface software. Anyway I decided to persevere and made contact with Corel support. I mentioned in my query I'd updated the driver software to the latest 64 bit version. Their response was I should visit a third party website who provide alternate scanner driver software for $80. 

When I protested I'd already installed the latest Panasonic drivers the Corel Support team asked me to perform an audit scan of my PC configuration, they helpfully provided a link to a freeware software product (winaudit).  Unfortunately the URL link is reported as a malicious link by Google Chrome browser. I don't fancy loading malware on to my new PC so I replied to Corel asking if they had an alternate scanning tool to allow them to investigate the problem in their software,

Nope, apparently they can only use winaudit. So I guess that is the end of their support efforts! I already have problems with Corel about UK price gouging but this failure to provide a reliable scanner interface for graphics software in a 64 Bit environment is the last straw. I'm off to Adobe and the Corel product can languish unused on my PC. I just wish I'd read this wikipedia entry before making the decision to purchase a new copy of Corel.

Edit: The Corel Helpdesk saga continues

The Corel people are now trying to clear this from their stats:...

27th Dec: The first request by Corel that I download and run malicious freeware software
28th Dec: I respond that I don't like loading malware on my PC. Do they have an alternative?
29th Dec: Corel respond it is the only tool they can use.
2nd Jan (00:35) Corel ask me if the issue is resolved
2nd Jan (06:55) I reply no it isn't resolved, as I don't run malicious software
2nd Jan (07:33) Corel sends me a blank email; subsequently I discover it is a repeated request to download and use the malicious freeware.
4th Jan (02:58) Corel sends me another blank email. Subsequently I discover it is a Corel reminder to say they are waiting for information.
4th Jan (19:24) I log into their help desk system and record a message repeating that the scanner works fine with other software, but not the Corel software and no I don't want to load malware on my PC. I asked the Helpdesk to escalate the matter if they don't know how to fix it.
5th Jan (07:51) The Corel Support Tech now tries repeating the earlier advice of using third party Vuescan software ($80) to solve the problem of Corel software not properly interfacing with my Panasonic Scanner. 
5th Jan (13:21) Pointing out they were now going in circles, I rejected spending on third party software to possibly fix the Corel problem. I repeated the request for them to escalate my query.
6th Jan (07:30) The Corel Support tech, comes back saying the VueScan software download is free. I respond with a link showing the prices charged for the third party software. It's fairly obvious this poor chap has no solution in his arsenal and is hoping I'll give up rather than him having to escalate the issue to his management. I've noted on the response if he doesn't escalate the matter I will, which I think is fair warning.

Friday, 16 December 2016

Hotel Blacklist

The Hilton chain of hotels is on my blacklist. 

In my line of business I get to travel a lot on technology project work. It will mean that I get to stay in international city centre hotels for spells of up to three weeks at a time. I don't particularly like staying in hotels, but regard it as a necessary evil. I generally sign up to the hotel loyalty scheme to accumulate points, but infrequently use those points until I'm going on a holiday with my wife. I'd prefer if the hotels just had lower rack rates for regular customers.

The Hilton Hhonors Scheme decided to confiscate my points with them because I'd not used their scheme for a couple of years.  So much for loyalty!  They continue to send me automated emails about all of the "opportunities" I'm missing with their hotel products. This theft needs punishment.

I now boycott their Hilton chain and subsidiary hotels. I'll stay somewhere else when in a city.  I even have an automatic blacklist on their domain name so all their email and web sites are blocked and treat as Spam in our offices

Wednesday, 30 November 2016

Royal Mail deliveries

I've just lost a day of my life waiting for a parcel from Amazon. The parcel was sent as "Special Delivery Guaranteed" and was due today - 30th November. As it is a parcel which has to be signed for I waited in all day. Amazon and the Royal Mail have fancy mail tracking web sites which are about as useful as chocolate teapots.   They just said "It's out for delivery", no specific time for delivery just - it's out for delivery.  By 18:30 I emailed Amazon to find out what has happened to the parcel. Ignoring the management speak the message from Amazon was "Tough, wait until it's delivered."  Shortly afterwards the status on the website was updated to show "Parcel returned to depot." So currently I have no idea when this parcel will be delivered.

The Royal Mail should update it's website to add some new status messages:

  • It's gone out, but is unlikely to arrive on time
  • We can't be bothered to deliver it today, maybe next week
  • We have delivered it to a post office for your collection, take a 4x4 SUV to reach it
  • Collect it from the sorting office between 0530 and 0630 in two days time
  • The driver was late back from the pub, maybe deliver tomorrow
This nonsense will continue until the Government dictates that any failure to deliver a "timed delivery" will be compensated at the rate of 8 hours of the Minimum National Wage unless 12 hour notice of failure is provided in advance.

As for Amazon? I'll not do any Christmas shopping via them.

Wednesday, 23 November 2016

Trouble with WmiPrvSE.exe?

For months now we've noticed a Microsoft process called WmiPrvSE.exe continually running on our PC (Win7 Professional). There was no apparent reason for this but it was consuming a steady 5% of CPU resources on a 4 core cpu. We did a lot of online research but could come up with no reason. 

However, almost by accident, we discovered that if we stop CCleaner running in the background then the problem with WmiPrvSE goes away. I guess there must be some kind of permissioning conflict.

Thursday, 19 May 2016

A major flaw in Corel's Wordperfect Office X8

Corel are sending me emails enjoining my company to use their latest office software. Wordperfect Office X8 Standard.  Unfortunately they still haven't fixed the major flaw in their product. They could do so at the stroke of a pen. I've previously identified the flaw to them, but they've chosen to ignore this flaw.

Their product is priced in the UK at 164% of the USA price. This is unacceptable to me. It is naked and blatant price gouging.

I must remember to tweak my email filters to stop the Corel email.

Tuesday, 3 May 2016

Reward for $2.6 Billion loss?

Executive pay is seriously out of kilter when a CEO stands to make lottery jackpot money ($55 Million) on top of an existing massive salary for presiding over $2.6 Billion loss of annual sales income. She should be fired with no compensation along with the people who supported her original employment.

Wednesday, 27 April 2016

UK and the EU

I was chatting with a 17 year old lad who helps me on jobs occasionally. We were talking about the EU Referendum which is due to take place in June. He said we should vote to stay in because it is safer.  He couldn't understand why I'd be anti-European and want to leave. I remember life in the UK pre-EU membership, in fact I voted in 1975 in support of the UK  joining the Common Market. I've worked in many European countries and have worked for European companies. I'm not anti-Europe.

I was able to to explain my support of an exit vote quite simply. I asked him: "Do you want to be governed by people you have elected? Or, do you want to be governed by people, unelected in this country and who have no direct interest in our welfare?"