PSA: Pretty Good MahJongg and macOS Sierra

Public Service Announcement

Pretty Good MahJongg Mac EditionIf you are currently using Pretty Good MahJongg Mac Edition, whether purchased from the Mac App Store or downloaded directly from Goodsol Development, we recommend waiting for the next update before upgrading to macOS Sierra (10.12).

Do Not Upgrade (yet)

Apple is scheduled to release macOS Sierra, the next version (10.12) of their operating system (formerly: Mac OS X) today [September 20, 2016].  As of the final beta version, there is a change (as yet unidentified) that breaks Pretty Good MahJongg Mac Edition.  We are actively working on a solution, and we will publish an update as soon as a fix is available, but in the meantime, we suggest keeping El Capitan (Mac OS X 10.11).

Thank you.

New Goodsol Solitaire Forum

Newsbrief: A new web forum is launched.

This week, Goodsol Development launched its new/improved Goodsol Solitaire Forum, now available at (same old address).

After a short transition period, domain name propagation time, and the requisite teething issues, this forum is (again) the primary source for discussion and support of the following titles (of ours):

My profile name is Seelhoff; I hope to see you there.

HNT: Value Existing Customers

How Not To Value your Existing Customers

In business, existing customers are very valuable.  These are people or companies that have found your product and like what you have to offer enough to (importantly) actually purchase.  They are the best source of additional purchases (and only source of software upgrades) and may provide referrals and positive word of mouth.  It is easier to sell to an existing customer than to locate and establish new customers.  However, if you want to take it to the extreme, and simply treat your customers as “cash cows” rather than with the proper respect, here is how you can do it.

First, it helps to be a large, unfeeling conglomerate, such as Corel, with a record of collecting brand name products and adding little (if any) real value; it is much harder to disrespect customers as a small company headed by people whose livelihoods depend on them.

Of course, there need to be cash cows, I mean customers, to exploit, so the quickest way to acquire them is to just buy a well-recognized company that already has loads, such as WinZip.  Pay no attention to the fact that their single (excellent) product that created and defined a market has since become a commodity that has numerous competitors, many of them free, and whose primary functions are built in to all major operating systems.  It is even better if the product was widespread due to there being few incentives to purchase the original product (save abiding by the license) and a promise of free upgrades for those of us who did the right thing.

Now you have a product which is unnecessary for the vast majority of computer users, plus a list of customers who paid for the product back when it was necessary, many (if not most) more than a decade earlier, and who would reasonably expect free upgrades (should any be desired).  What can you do now?  I know: Spam.

Validate all of your contact addresses by sending a whole slew of messages selling products completely unrelated to the original product (except by being owned by the same stockholders).  When that fails to do anything but annoy your customers…  wait…  no not your customers, but the customers of the previous company…  it is then time to do a new build of the product, complete with a new version number and no discernible new features.

With the “new” version, send out emails to all previous customers of the product to indicate, above all else, that the days of free upgrades are over and that they are expected not only to upgrade, but to pay the new masters (for what they already have, and probably no longer need).  When that does not work, either, repeat the messages on a regular basis, all with slightly different messages (and increasing version numbers), but never forget the “give us your money” message:

Your WinZip Software – Upgrade Available

Upgrade your single-user WinZip Standard license to WinZip 14 now…

Your WinZip software is out of date. You are currently running an older version of WinZip, and now is the time to upgrade.

Your WinZip software is out of date. You are currently running WinZip 6.3 Standard, and now is the time to upgrade.”  [No, actually I am running WinZip 9.0 SR-1, the last free update; version 6.3 may be the last version I purchased, back in 1997.]

Exclusively for WinZip customers: Upgrade your single-user WinZip 6.3 Standard license to WinZip 14.5 now, and save 50% or more off the new license list price.

Your WinZip software is out of date. You are currently running WinZip 6.3 Standard, and now is the time to upgrade.”  [OK, let’s be clear: “running” is not really the case; I cannot remember the last time I actually used WinZip for anything.]

So, now you have properly alienated existing customers.  Your product has gone through a number of version numbers (10.0, 11.0, 11.1, 11.2, 12.0, 12.1, 14.0, 14.5) yet the web site lists no significant feature that is not already present in the 9.0 version (from 2004), which still runs just fine, by the way.  I hope it was worth it (moreso than, say, actually creating value).

This sort of thoughtless approach also works nicely in other areas of business, not just software.  For instance, you could be a large chain video rental store, like Blockbuster, and introduce a rent-by-mail service to take on your most significant competitor (Netflix).  Offer a similar service, at a comparable price, with an added benefit than your competition cannot match: the ability to exchange a mailed rental for a store rental when you are finished.  You will get lots of customers who can get titles unavailable in the retail stores by mail, can keep them as long as they want, exchange them at the retail store for a newer release, keep those as long as they want (while a new title is sent by mail), and have a constant supply of rental movies to watch.  Brilliant! [seriously]

Where does one go from there, though.  With a nearly unassailable product offering, and happy customers, you cannot just sit there and leave well enough alone.  No, first you need to raise prices, and then email every current customer to let them know that they are “grandfathered in” to the original price, but be sure to emphasize that they are now locked in, so if they let it lapse, the new price applies.  Next, change the program, so now for the same price, the mailed rentals are not sent until the in-store rentals are returned.  Then, inform customers (like you failed to do last time) that now the number of retail exchanges is limited.  Never, ever, consider reducing the cost to match the reduced services.  (My prediction is that the next move will be to add due dates to these rentals, just to be sure that we switch to the competition.)

Anyway, there are two good examples of how to mistreat your valuable customers.

On the other hand, one could always recognize customer value in simpler ways, like abiding by agreements and promises, and not being so obvious about caring only about their money.  We love our customers; they allow us to stay in business and continue to do what we truly enjoy.

The downside of VOIP

Or, Why you should probably avoid Comcast.

Last Friday, our cable television went out. Not like ‘some services are missing‘ out, but like ‘somebody just sliced a cable‘ out. There was static on all of the analog channels, and just black (no signal) on everything digital. Many months ago we made the decision to ditch their cable modem in favor of our SDSL connection (from, which was both faster and more reliable. We decided that the redundant Internet connectivity was more trouble than it was worth, at the added expense, and also, frankly, were just unhappy with Comcast.

For the last year or so, Comcast has been on an all-out media blitz to get people signed up to their VOIP package, bundling cable television, Internet, and telephone. The timing may have been coincidental, but the mailings seemed to intensify after we downgraded, and when we had to call about (somewhat regular) problems with the only service we kept (cable television), we always had to listen to another pitch before we could tell somebody in another state that our local HD was out… again.

Anyway, when the cable television service went completely dead, we called the customer support number. Instead of the usual sales pitch we got… wait for it… nothing. Yup. Apparently they use their own VOIP service, so when the cable system has a failure, you cannot reach anybody there by telephone. Brilliant! I was not even vaguely intrigued by the offering, but this definitely convinced me that my convictions against this technology (and Comcast) were not unfounded.

Not that I am any fan of AT&T either, but I am a believer in land lines. In the event of an emergency, when one really does need to have a phone, I am glad to have a system that will work even when the power is out. (Yes, we keep a standard handset telephone for just such an occasion.)

Our cable television signals did come back before prime time, but I think that all a satellite television company needs to do is add CBC and we are there. (Perhaps we should just move to the Bahamas where, oddly, Canadian programming is also available. Do they long for snow?)