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Author Topic: A few problems and a suggestion  (Read 5323 times)

dave1

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A few problems and a suggestion
« on: February 28, 2006, 02:23:37 PM »
This is a great program.  I don't really need to go into that because it just is.  What I want to talk about are its problems because I want to see the program get better.

The uninstall program does not work.  It hangs and causes a system freeze. 

Install thru just extraction of the files leaves an install program in the directory.  This is apparently for installing shortcuts for startup and on the start menu and also installing the uninstaller which does not work.  This is just plain wierd and very confusing.

There is nothing in the documentation about the file menu option to save the configuration file now.  I am still unsure if this always needs to be done if you want to save your configuration.  Surely this is a major point that needs documentation if the program is going to appeal to a wide audience. 

I have had major problems in two areas.  First, FindAndRunRobotSystemTrayTrigger.exe sometimes launches at startup even though the preferences are set to have it not launch.  They were set to use the tray helper command line option.  This seems to happen if there is a system crash or if FARR has been closed before a reboot.  Second, in under the same circumstances, an error message sometimes generates saying that the ini file is not a proper FARR file (or something to that effect) and it should be deleted if the problem persists.  On looking in the program directory there will be an ini.bak file and an ini.tmp file one of which is the proper ini file.  The error message given is totally cryptic and probably bogus as closing FindAndRunRobotSystemTrayTrigger.exe and opening FARR with the tray helper option seems to cure the problem.  However, the default installation ini file is gone.  This doesn't bother me but the documentation implies that it will always be there for the express purpose of backup.

I have worked thru the above quirks because I think the program is great.  I now know how to keep it together with backups of the ini files.  I would not have posted this unless I liked the program alot.

Back to the subject of ini files.  I think there should be a command line option to load different files.  For my purposes, I would like one for my favorite (bookmark) URL's and a seperate one for the shortcuts I've already configured FARR to look for.  I have found it easiest to put the shortcuts I use most in a seperate folder and have FARR search there and also in the start menu and the quick launch folder.  I have seen some discussion here about this but I'm not sure I would like quick switching of configurations unless it were simple and would not cause the problems I've had with ini file corruption.

mouser

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Re: A few problems and a suggestion
« Reply #1 on: February 28, 2006, 02:35:53 PM »
dave,

thank you for the thoughtfull post - posts like this are always welcome on this site.  let me address the issues:

1) uninstall program hanging - i'm guessing that this must be because the program was still running in the tray while the uninstaller was trying to delete the files (look for blue circle with running man inside it in tray).  the uninstallers need to be made smarter to force programs to close when uninstalling - others have had same confusion as well.

2) if you extract the files you will see an install program yes; that is the setup program used to create the normal install (shortcuts, etc.), and so it's going to be there always.  you can run it if you want the auto install, or ignore it if not.  maybe a little readme.txt would be useful to explain this.

3) good point about "save ini file now" - in fact it's not nescesary to run this, it's just there to force a save in case for example you are afraid your computer will crash before it saves your most recent changes.  i should probably remove that option (or see below).

4) the current version of farr has some legacy stuff that come from there being multiple ways to run the program, and the start-with-windows options have given people trouble before (ie starting with windows even though you said not to) because i was trying to be too clever about it.  version 2 which will be coming in the next month should fix this issue and simplify use of the program when not using the installer.

5) regarding use of different ini files and switching - this has been requested quite a bit, and i expect v2 will in fact support multiple configuration files and make it easier to switch and manage configuration files (see some of the v2 discussion for more info).


mouser

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Re: A few problems and a suggestion
« Reply #2 on: February 28, 2006, 02:40:37 PM »
ps.
make sure you read this if you don't use the installer, about how to run farr in normal tray mode:
http://www.donationc...index.php?topic=75.0

dave1

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Re: A few problems and a suggestion
« Reply #3 on: February 28, 2006, 05:46:40 PM »
Hello Mouser --

I hope you understand the main thing I am trying to get across.  The program is great.  It allows me to run fewer programs at startup and to be more efficient and to use other programs involving command line switches and batch files easily.  Now I am not a coder except for following some examples and modifying scripts and batch files I run across.  I am, though, an experienced computer user who is tenacious and persistent. Because of this, I recognized the exceptionalness of your program after learning how it works.  However, the difficulties I had in the beginning might have made someone less tenacious to have dumped it.  Shortly after I had it configured all to my liking, I got the wierd error message about the corrupt ini file.  I believed it so I went thru the whole configuration process all over again.  Probably it wasn't necessary but I only learned that later. 

I'm not sure if you're right about not needing to save the configuration file.  I had to do it today to reset my toolbar.  I actually tested it by manually reconfiguring it and not saving the MAIN ini file and it didn't stick thru a reboot.  I looked at the toolbar ini file and it had all the buttons I wanted in it but they were not on the toolbar. Then I noticed that the toolbar ini file was configured for a total of one tool.  I thought about doing a manual reconfig again but I decided to just replace it with the backup I had and rebooted whidh brought everything back.

I'm detailing this for you because I like the program and thinks it deserves a wider audience.  I don't think it will get it unless it does not appear to behave erratically.  Once a user knows windows is really all about shortcuts, he's learned enough to understand the value of FARR. 

As to the uninstaller issue, I tried it twice and it was definitely hung.  Perhaps if I waited longer (like 5 minutes), it might have done something, but I didn't have the patience.  At least one of the times I tried it, all programs were shutdown.  Both times, FARR was shutdown.  As far as I understand, the program is basically a no-install program in that it doesn't effect anything but its own directory like a classic exe stand alone that you can put anywhere and just run.  So I am guessing that the installer does nothing more than install shortcuts on the programs menu and in the startup folder.  I know this might make it easier for a newb, but for me, I would rather not have an install package but just some directions to install the shortcuts myself (not that I would need that because I would do it anyways with a stand alone program).  Also, anyone who needs that type of installer I don't think would have the knowledge to even have a clue of how to use FARR.  As it is, I have now backed up my whole FARR directory and deleted the installer and the uninstaller. I plan to backup my ini file when I make significant changes.  As far as I can tell, I can just delete all of FARR and restore just by putting my backup directory in. 

Shortcuts are the heart and soul of windows.  Five years ago I bought my first computer and knew nothing.  Now I know alot.  FARR can make the computing experience much easier for a newb if they first understand the power of shortcuts.  But shortcuts are useless if you can't find them.  This is what FARR does.  It finds them.  The problem with shortuts is finding a place to put them and then to get at them quickly.  The dektop can become mighty cluttered after a bit.  Now with FARR I am able to do things that I knew could be done before but I wouldn't have bothered because I knew the amount of time  spent looking for the link or remembering the hot key just made the configuration not worth the effort.

I got a feeling that with some clear documentaion (particularly on the use of shortcuts and how FARR makes that easier) and more exposure, FARR could becone a household name.   

mouser

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Re: A few problems and a suggestion
« Reply #4 on: February 28, 2006, 05:56:58 PM »
thanks dave - i think you might be right that a reboot and maybe restart may not end up saving the configuration file; actually this has caused problems in some of my other programs in that they tend not to save the options to file until exit by default, so that if the computer crashes they are lost (and it seems there may be a bug that doesn't save on restart).

maybe i misunderstood the uninstall issue - do you mean that you never ran the installer, but then tried to run the uninstaller? that might explain the issue.  you would normally only run the uninstaller if you also installed using the installer.  maybe i can do a test.

i think your approach to making it friendly for new users is a viewpoint id like to make sure we get right with v2 - i hope you'll stick around and stay active while we get v2 out the door and help us to make it both easy to use and powerful.

especially as we add the new features it's going to be important that using the program doesn't get harder.

dave1

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Re: A few problems and a suggestion
« Reply #5 on: February 28, 2006, 07:28:32 PM »
I think you should make sure that the ini file is saved to disk every time a change is made.  I'm pretty sure this is not being done now, at least I'm sure its not being done on my system.  This should be a first.  I notice that you don't have an apply and an OK button for changing prefences.  There are some programs where you can change configs on the fly but they will not take thru a shutdown unless saved.  This is a nice feature but can be complicated if you are not aware of how the program operates.  There are a number of ways of handling config files which I figure you know.  There should be a clear way of saving a config file that once saved will not be lost in under any circumstance short of hard drive failure. 

The uninstaller issue is not a biggie, but it definitely hung.  I was trying to get back to a clean state and then reload my saved ini files.  I tried to do it with the uninstaller.  I had installed usng the installer.  I found out about the installer being put in if you just extracted the files in the installer because I did that in trying to uninstall the right way thru the uninstaller because I thought I'd reinstall to uninstall.  Then I realized that the installer probably didn't do anything but throw in some shortcuts.  So it's odd to have an installer in a program that's just extracted.  I've never seen that before.  So to answer your question, I installed the normal way and let the installer create its shortcuts.

I think in a future release you should get the ini problem fixed perhaps by allowing you to save your own config in under a different file name and allowing the user to revert to a default ini whenever they want.  I think you should also indicate that the program's basically a standalone if indeed it is and the installer just throws in some shortcuts and extracts to some location you can choose.  I think these are real basics for any good windows program.  I think you should also get the system tray trigger / commandline startup option sorted out.  I do notice that the -tray option is faster and its nice to be able  to bring up your most used programs by pressing three keys without having to look at the screen.  That';s not possible with tray trigger. BTW, the start up entry for the -tray opton is called "Find And Run Robot - SystemTray Trigger"???  It doesn't matter to me that  -tray uses more resources than tray trigger because I'm not running some other programs at startup that I used before FARR because FARR replaces them.  So overall I'm using less resources. 

Make it more powerful??  I don't know.  Don't lose sight of the fact that what FARR does best is find shortcuts.  People should learn that the best way to use FARR is thru it's scoring methods and the folders you configure for it to search in.  I've seen the discussion about making it a calc thru aliases.  Might be nice for some like programmers.  But a calc will do a better job and FARR can get to that quick.  Maybe you should throw in a little documentation about setting up a special folder to hold your main shortcuts in and making those score high when being searched for.  Maybe something about naming your shortcuts so that you'll remember them and FARR will find them easily.  Maybe throw in something about a shortcut that can do something real useful by throwing in a script or a batch file or something about using some other freeware programs that if used in conjunction with each other will really save time.  Maybe something about the fact that the number you press for FARR selection is not a number on the number pad or else change it so it is.

Hope this helps.   

mouser

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Re: A few problems and a suggestion
« Reply #6 on: February 28, 2006, 07:35:19 PM »
Quote
I think you should make sure that the ini file is saved to disk every time a change is made.
- agreed, i will put this in v2.

ill have to check out the uninstaller issue - i've never seen that before (but then i dont uninstall dc apps that often :))

regarding ini file, yes i think the plan will be to let people save and load ini files as they wish.

as for the system tray trigger stuff, yeah thats all a remnant of what i was saying about the different ways to use the program that will be simplified in v2, so hopefully that will fix that.

all of my software uses this dual install technique - its basically a self-extracting exe file with a separate installer; that lets me use a good installer engine (inno setup) and still let programs be extracted manually.

i think with v2 we may need to make some walkthroughs/tutorials showing useful ways to get the most out of the program.  one of the nice things about farr has always been (imho) that you can just start using it without having to configure anything.  we will try to keep with that in v2 but also have some extra features that may require some examples.

dave1

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Re: A few problems and a suggestion
« Reply #7 on: February 28, 2006, 08:53:40 PM »
Funny, I just happened to check out what's going on with the ini.  I made a change that I wanted to keep.  I saved the config file thru the file menu.  Then I looked at the ini.  What was changed was the ini.tmp.  Then I exited FARR and the ini file changed.  Then I backed it up due to the problems I've had.  Then I realized what's probably happening.  If I get a windows crash (this is millenium after all - that's my excuse and I'm sticking to it) the ini file is not updated but the ini.tmp is still there so I haven't lost anything.  FARR just has to find it.  So that must cause the funny error messages and tray trigger running at startup instead of -tray.  It's probably usually fixed just by closing tray trigger and bringing up -tray.

The only reason I even tried the uninstaller is because I wanted to get the program back to a clean install type of state with the oriiginal backup ini file being used.  I thought if I could do that the problems I have had would go away.  I didn't continue trying when I realized that it was basically a standalone.  I must try to avoid those windows crashes.

Also, I think FARR loses its timing when its being used at about the same time as an explorer hang.  FARR has never crashed but it seems to lose track of its ini if there's an explorer hangup.  What happens is that something has happened and an explorer slowdown is just starting but before it realy takes hold I bring up FARR which cannot complete its job as the everything sort of just stops. 

Just wondering if I can install another copy of FARR and use a different ini for it if I don't run them both at the same time.   

kfitting

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Re: A few problems and a suggestion
« Reply #8 on: February 28, 2006, 08:54:11 PM »
Speaking of V2... any tentative roadmap?  (Amidst all your busy-ness!)

Kevin

mouser

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Re: A few problems and a suggestion
« Reply #9 on: March 02, 2006, 08:31:47 PM »
ive been working like mad on launchbar commander recently, so let me catch my breath and do a quick minor update for farr this weekend and see where i am with version 2.

kfitting

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Re: A few problems and a suggestion
« Reply #10 on: March 03, 2006, 08:40:48 AM »
No, no breath-catching for you!  If you do that you may get oxygen to your brain... who knows what could happen!

Kevin