Troubleshooting 101

Whenever we run into any issue, there are a number of basic steps we will almost always take.  The majority of problems we see can be corrected using one of the following procedures.

1. Reset Program Options.  Within Intellect or Time & Chaos, click on Help and Reset and choose Program Options.  Close and restart the program and see if the issue still exists.

2. Reset Dock Panels.  Similar to number 1, click on Help and Reset and choose Dock Panels.  This will reset the various areas within Intellect or Time & Chaos back to their defaults.

3. Reset Columns.  If you right click on any current column header such as the word Name at the top of the Contact area or Description are the top of the Appointment area, you can then choose Reset Columns from the context menu that appears.  Many display issues can be solved by resetting columns in a given area.

4. Repair Data.  As with any database program, it is possible data can become corrupted.  Our software contains powerful tools for attempting a repair process.  First make sure all of your data is safely backed up and that no one else has this database open across a network.  Then click on Help and DB Tools and repair the database in which you are seeing a problem.  Step through the rebuild, reindex, and compact processes one by one until each completes.

5. 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.

6. Here in technical support, we will often use the Report screen to quickly find “odd” data.  If you click on the View menu and select Reports, you can then (at the top left of the Reports screen) choose the database in which you are having an issue.  If you then simply click the Go button on the left hand side, the Reports screen will find all existing records in that database.

You can then click any of the visible column headers to sort by that column.  A useful check is to sort by a given field such as Date in the Appointment area or Name in the Contact area and look for any oddities at the top or bottom of the list.  A date field filled in with something that is not a date or odd characters in a name field can be easily spotted using this technique.

Lessons Learned!

What is most important to you when using software like ours?

This isn’t a trick question. The answer is YOUR DATA, right?

Your data is your life line. It keeps you up-to-date on Birthdays, Anniversaries (better remember), contacts and your business meetings and appointments. If something happens to that computer, the hard drive fails, or the computer just quits (and at some point it this happens to all of us!), without a backup, our tech support department will be very sympathetic, but unable to offer any assistance.

Backups are easy and quick to make. With a backup, your data is SAFE! It’s a basic insurance policy against all the things that can and will go wrong and it costs you nothing but a little effort.

All of our software programs provide a back up option posted under the FILE ORB or File menu at the top left of the screen. Use this option and your data is safe either on your hard drive or an external drive since you can use a flash drive or memory stick you can store separate from the computer so you know the removable drive will not be affected if the pc goes south. Losing thousands of entries in your software is a punch in the gut and you never want to be in a position where you would have to retype all of that data manually.

It is worth mentioning that our Chaos Data Hosting is a great add-on option in addition to backing up, because, a copy of your data will reside off-site from your, on our servers. ChaosHost.com also gives you an online version of our software to use if you are without a computer for a while due to repairs or replacements.

Please take advantage of the backup options we have in our software and protect your life line, so you don’t have learn this the hard way and have a no-good, horrible, bad day!

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.

NBA Schedule 2012-2013 Posted

The new NBA pro basketball team schedules for 2012-2013 are now available on our web site

These schedules work with Time & Chaos or Chaos Intellect and can be found at http://www.chaossoftware.com/products.aspx . Just scroll down until you find the Transportable Records section to get NBA 2012 schedules.

By the way, comments are welcome on posts, but you need to create an account on our blog so we know who to respond to if there is a problem or question.

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.