Announcement:  Critical Software Update Required

Companies often utilize other products and services in order for them to function properly or offer unique features.  One of the services we utilize in the software is a server database, which is a database hosted in the cloud that houses various pieces of data for the software, from holding the registration codes when the software is registered to saving various data for instructors to monitor student progress.  I was recently made aware that the server we’ve been using for roughly 10 years is becoming obsolete, and that company is forcing us out of this product and trying to sell us another.  After many emails back and forth with them, I discovered that important details about the server that are hard-coded into the software won’t be able to have the same names as the one we’ve been using.  So I shopped around and found us a new company who offers database servers.  Plus, the new server is more secure, and I’ve been assured that if they make any big changes to the servers in the future, the server details will remain unchanged, meaning we won’t have to go through this again.  Hopefully.

So what does this mean?  Well, it is possible that older versions of the software may cease to function properly after the old server is shut down.  Not-so-fun side note:  The old server company couldn’t tell me when the server will shut down.  Could be within months, or could be a year or two out.

I did some extensive testing trying to recreate what is to come, and after the shutdown, older versions of the software should still work.  (using the word “should” loosely)  However, there is a chance that it may not since there is a lot of dependence on the server.  I don’t want to take that chance.

Update your program soon

We need to get everyone moved over to the latest version, just in case armageddon is the fate of older versions of the software.  Even if your update subscription is expired, you can still update to the latest version (there is no need to purchase an update code for this).  I’ve already manually updated everyone’s update subscription on the back end and added 2 years.  Please note, this free subscription extension is only for customers who purchased the software after March 1, 2017 (when the Sync button was added to the program) and to students who have registered their program prior to January 6, 2020.

To update your subscription, open the Manage Subscriptions panel from your home screen in the Study Suite software, then click the Sync button in the upper-right side of the window (see image below).  After you’ve synced your subscription with the server, the date should read 2022-01-31, and the label below the Sync button will turn from red to green.

Now you can go back to the home screen and click the Update Available button in the toolbar to download the latest update.  Your software will be taken to version 7.34.1 for the RD Exam Study Suite, and 5.34.1 for the DTR Exam Study Suite.  This is a stepping-stone update, which means there could be another update available.  You will see a notification if there is another update.

Other notable changes

This “forcing of the hand” to change database server companies got me thinking of restructuring the software itself and implementing new policies.

  • The term “Update Subscription” is now known as “Support Subscription”.  An active support subscription still allows for updates to be downloaded and installed, but now also means that we will only be providing support to those with active subscriptions.  Support refers to reactivating registration codes in the event of a computer crash or getting a new computer.  This will only be done with an active support subscription.  As another example, Apple recently released a new operating system, Catalina.  When users with an older version of the software updated their Mac computers to Catalina, there were certain parts of the program that were not functioning properly.  We handled these on a case-by-case basis to send a download link for an updated program where the functionality was compatible with Catalina.  In short, those with an expired support subscription will not have their registration codes reactivated, and we won’t be offering support for major operating system changes
  • A new registration now provides an initial 12 months of updates and support instead of 3 months
  • Student Edition only:  The software may still continue to be used after the support subscription date has expired, but you won’t be able to download future updates or receive major software support.  Subscription extensions may be purchased in 3-month or 12-month intervals while the support subscription is active.  In the case of an expired subscription, a 12-month renewal subscription would need to be purchased.  It is less expensive to maintain an active subscription than to purchase a renewal subscription
  • Academic Edition only:  The software may only be accessible by students while the software subscription is active.  During the time when the subscription is active, the school is able to download any available updates and receive support.  With expired subscriptions, the software will be inaccessible, and a renewal will need to be purchased on an annual basis for continued use
  • At the time of writing this article, only the Study Suite programs have been updated.  I will be working on the Practice Exam Monitoring and the standalone RD/DTR Now Flash Cards programs this month to update the server information.  With the Practice Exam Monitoring program in mind, instructors will need to update their programs (this will be free), and there can be some lapse in data collection, meaning if some students are using an older version of Study Suite and others are using the updated program, it is possible that not all of the data will be displayed right away.  I will be manually moving over that student data to the new server on a regular basis, but it may not be daily