Keeping Things Fast

Everybody’s computer is different.  This can lead to sometimes radically different speeds using the same data on different systems.  Intellect is designed to be fast.  Within shared databases here internally, we can search through about fifty thousand messages in a matter of seconds using systems a couple of years old and searching across an average network.

If you are seeing performance issues within Intellect or Time & Chaos, there are a number of optimization steps you can take that may increase the speed considerably.

My first recommendation would be to not keep the data in an online folder such as a Dropbox directory or a folder that syncs the data with another location such as a Sugersync directory.  Though backup files can be kept in one of these online or sync folders, the data files themselves should not be kept in one of these locations and should instead be stored on your local drive or a system immediately on your local network.

For Intellect users, keep your Inbox as lean as possible.  We recommend keeping less than 1500 messages in the Inbox in general but the less messages the better.  Messages that exceed this number can be dragged to a folder under Saved Messages where you can keep as many messages as you like and create several folders and subfolders.  The speed of opening Intellect can be negatively affected by too many folders under Saved Messages.  Go crazy but not too crazy.

If you’ve been using our software for a while or recently made a large number of changes to your data, a reindex may be helpful.  First make a current backup of your data and make sure no one else has this data open.  Then click on Help and DB Tools and repair the Mail Cache.  Step through the rebuild, reindex, and compact processes one by one.  When those complete, repeat these steps with the Appointments, Contacts, and other data.

Keep the number of records in each database reasonable.  Typically under 10,000 records per database.  Mileage may vary depending on your computer hardware performance and network speeds.  This is not a hard set limit but a round number to use as a guideline.

Don’t try to network shared data across a network using wifi.  Wifi is great for web-browsing or streaming audio and video but not that great for databases.

Keep windows up to date.  Yes we know updates install automatically, often there are optional updates that should be considered.  Hardware driver updates are usually in this category as are browser updates.  Intellect uses Internet Explorer to view and create HTML message.  IE does not need to be your default browser of course but does need to be kept up to date along with your other drivers and Windows itself.

Finally, make sure our software is up to date as well.  We do periodically release new versions and these updates will normally add functionality and address previously found issues as well.  Current versions can usually be downloaded by simply clicking on Help and checking for a newer version but can also be found directly on our site.

Moving Back and Forth… and Back

We do have a small number of users who try Intellect 4 for a period of time and then move back to the old Intellect 3 only to again install Intellect 4 at a later date.  What these users encounter is data that existed when they first tried Intellect 4, not the up to date data when they installed Intellect 4 for a second time.

Basically, the data exists as it did when you first converted the information from Intellect 3 to Intellect 4. When you first upgraded, the data was converted up to the newer format. What you are seeing is still that same old converted data.

To address the issue, we need to delete the files that store the newer format data so the old data is reconverted up to the newer format. First create a current backup of all your version 3 data. I would then recommend uninstalling Intellect 3 so it is no longer used in the future.

Then browse to your data directory or, if you are not familiar with this location, within Intellect 4, click on Help, choose Information About My Data, and then simply double click on the path by “Data Home”. Just be sure to close Intellect after doing so.

In the data folders, delete the files beginning with Contacts, the files beginning with Calendar, and also Tasks and Project files as well. Do not delete any file beginning with a ~. The ~ files are your Intellect 3 data and the files we are deleting are your Intellect 4 data. There should be at least three Calendar, Contacts, Tasks, and Projects files each.

Then double click on the Mail folder to enter the mail directory. There, delete the “Mail Cache” and “Mail Address Cache” files. There should be at least three of each of these files as well.

Once all files have been removed, restart Intellect 4. It will take longer to start as the old data is converted up to the new format. Let that process complete without trying to run Intellect 4 again or stop the process midway. It may take some time. Once it finished, all of your current Intellect 3 data should be converted up to Intellect 4.

The Opposite of “Nobody Home”

Heading up our technical support department, I’ve heard almost every question there is about our software and a lot of other programs as well.  I always find it interesting when someone asks why we still answer our phones or why we give away updates for free.  Those are funny questions when you think about it and perhaps odd questions to be asking technical support.  But we do get all kinds here.

I believe the answer would be different for each of us here at Chaos Software.  Personally, I believe this shows a simple respect for our customers but I also believe this is what I would expect from any other software company.  Perhaps expect is the wrong word.  We use a lot of different software here and I almost never expect a software company to answer their phones or provide free upgrades.  So instead, I will say this is what I wish we would get from every other software company.  And if this is a level of service we wish from other companies then the least we can do is provide it ourselves.

I think for me, the most frustrating part of using a product, especially a new piece of software, is an overwhelming feeling that “no one is home”.  This trepidation can be slight if you have a simple usability question and can be devastating if you actually run into a problem.  I hope that, for my small part in technical support, we provide the antithesis to that “nobody home” feeling.  Hopefully we give you the feeling that despite what happens with the software, even if something can’t be fixed, at least there is someone on the other end of the download that cares about what happened.

How Atomic Clocks Work

This is something I found fascinating and thought some of our users may find this interesting as well.  Most of the clocks in my life are somehow synced with an atomic clock somewhere.  Granted, this consists of my phone and computer but who needs a clock outside of these devices?  This includes our own web site: www.worldtimeserver.com .

Atomic IconagraphyAtomic Clocks work by measuring what is essentially the vibration of excited atoms.  Caesium is used in most cases but there are alternatives.  Microwaves are used to excite the atoms to a specific frequency or level of vibration.  The Atomic Clock checks the various caesium atoms for this vibration and when it finds them it knows things are vibrating at the right level and uses that frequency to increase time forward.

This is essentially the same thing as a pendulum clock.  But microwaves are used to send the atomic pendulum moving and the pendulum is constantly checked for moving the exact right distance.  Yes, the process is of course a lot more technical than this but I always find things a little easier to understand if I can picture a common equivalent.

Thoughts on Creating a New Version

I thought it might be interesting to give you a small amount of detail into what goes into a creating a new version of Intellect or Time & Chaos.  Unlike other software companies, we do not release a new version of our software based on the year or simply because it feel like it’s time our users paid for the program again.  Rather we have a list of changes we would like to make in any certain release.  If those changes can’t be made to the current version, they become long term changes that we would like to add if we completely rewrite the program in the future.  If that long term list gets long enough, it starts to feel like a completely new release is the best course of action.

What we implement is based first on how we use the software on a daily basis and second based on how we hear the software being used.  There are no favorites when recreating software from the ground up.  Every feature or function is evaluated.  Is this feature used by most people?  Is this feature intuitive?  Does a change make the program more confusing or less confusing, more functional or less?

Skip ahead through the months of development and testing and we will usually have a version that is almost ready for public consumption.  This is a bit like the “not ready for prime time players” of old Saturday Night Live.  Finally releasing this to your eager hands is a bit like crossing a minefield to move into a new house.  Yes, we are going to run into snags along the way but with time and patience, all snags can be traversed and the destination can be welcoming.

Of course, once you move in, it’s time to start redecorating.  The same is true with our software.  We almost never see a release as a finished product.  There is always room for growth and change.