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Old 09-30-2012, 03:22 PM
mikeg mikeg is online now
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Why I Upgraded to UR 5.0

I'll try to keep this short. There's at least one other thread on this topic, but it's closed and I have a different take from many of those posted (with some notable exceptions).
  • Ultra Recall Pro has remained my repository of choice for storing and organizing all kinds of information.
  • I've yet to find a similar product I like better (and I've tried many).
  • For software I depend on every day, ~$16/year ($50 roughly once every 3 years) is very reasonable.
  • The generous licensing that allows installation on multiple computers used by the same person makes the above cost even more reasonable and especially paltry compared to what I spend on stuff I use only once or rarely.
  • There's also no extra charge for support after nn days like many vendors nowadays.

My sense is that UR has a relatively small community of discerning enthusiasts fortunate to have a talented developer keeping the product going--even if it's not bringing in the profits it truly deserves. For all we know, it may not even provide a full-time income for one person or a small team--or just barely enough. These are not things any consummate professional or proud developer would discuss publicly. This speculation could even be way off base, but it's something to contemplate. I remember at one time new development for UR was suspended indefinitely. We were all relieved to see it start up again.

From this perspective, one might understand making Windows 8 compatibility a priority as one of the best potential lifelines for expanding the UR user base. It's an entry into the rapidly growing world of tablets and other mobile devices.

Sure, we didn't get everything we wanted in in 4.x and some items have been on the road-map longer than we'd like. Yet I was happy to see the new readonly flag and some other enhancements. With the readonly flag, I can safely access and sync home, work and mobile (laptop for now) databases. Someday I believe we'll be able to search across them all, but I suspect this is not as easy to implement as it might seem. Sure cross-database links/joins are common, but how to make it infinitely flexible as well as robust?

OK, since I completely overstepped the promise to make this short, I'll summarize my feelings with a single, brief statement: GO 5.0!
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Old 10-01-2012, 05:40 PM
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quant quant is online now
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I haven't upgraded, yet, almost feel bad about it

The most disappointing thing for me is that Kinook doesn't say anything about the updates/upgrades, no reply to customers, closing threads where this is discussed etc. I wouldn't be surprised if this post/thread is deleted as well
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Old 10-02-2012, 11:59 PM
mikeg mikeg is online now
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quant, I don't think anyone--especially long time UR supporters and advocates should feel bad or obligated one way or the other. If the fate of UR comes down to whether a handful of the faithful purchase 5.0 it's already too late.

The imaginary scenarios above are based partly on taking the view of someone running a software business. While non-profits have more leeway to reveal their financial condition and make emotional appeals for support, it could be counterproductive for a business to do so. Can you imagine XYZ Enterprises announcing, "friends, unless we get 50000 new customers in the next 60 days, you can forget about the fancy new widgets we promised--it's curtains for our business!"

I would also contrast times when inquiries hit a stone wall to the more frequent occasions when Kinook jumps in with quick, concise answers--again at no additional cost and no time-limit regardless of what version you purchased. We can all think of companies that charge for support after xx days or only offer it to premium license holders, etc. Customers often get upset when new fees are introduced later in a product's life cycle. But many times it's strictly a matter of survival in the face of rising costs and decreasing revenues. There's a reason more companies are going the paid support and/or annual subscription route...

From this perspective, one can also be a little more understanding about shutting down a few threads when they start turning negative. Can you imagine digging deep into your own pockets (possibly even working a job somewhere else) to keep a business afloat and keep a forum running--only to see forum chatter turn negative against you?

Again this is imaginative speculation on my part, but I'm just sayin'... there are different ways to look at any situation and some are more worthy of the benefit of the doubt.

Last edited by mikeg; 10-03-2012 at 12:20 AM.
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Old 10-10-2012, 12:07 PM
schferk schferk is online now
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Some years ago, we all craved for (real, "major") updates. Then came the MS "ribbon", and many of us were less eager to update our sw's since we realized a new digit before the dot did not necessarily mean new (useful) features, but in many cases, cosmetic changes only (and often in a way few people were fond of), but, of course, fresh money for the developer(s).

Which is to say, there has been a point in time where users's eagerness (!) to pay for updates, and developers' wish for update money, spread apart, and that was precisely that point in time where developers realized that in delivering good stuff in their majors updates did not bring them the money they expected and hence did not continue to deliver real good new stuff in their updates anymore, and so we've had a sort of a wage-price spiral, downwards, in sw quality, in sw prices (60 p.c. off on bitsdujour twice a year, with 50 p.c. of the remaining 40 p.c. going to bits), and, yes, in our willigness to pay "decent" prices for sw, when - I said it - before, we had been really EAGER to pay, in order to get all those new things and goodies and sweets:

From children (with lots of pocket money that today goes elsewhere) eager to spend our dimes on sw (updates) that were able to enchant us, we've become cynics who coldly look at so-so sw, judging that yes, it's worth 20 p.c. of the regular price going to the developer, especially in view that we pay double that price.

Just have a look at the demise of a once interesting sw, InfoSelect (versions 8 good, 9 nothing new, 10 catastrophical and a real affront to the users - search for IS in the donationcoder forum to learn the details).

Here, with UR, there have been offerings from enchanted users to help with a comprehensive help file, but from enchanted users who wanted some "consideration" in return, that meaning the developer starting development on real enhancements that would have made "worthwile" the engaging of such users into the marketing AND development process. Such offers were received with cold silence (and once there was a further affront by the developer, proposing 100 bucks for the winner of a "contest" for a better help file).

I came rather late to this, and I quickly discovered that splendid ideas (e.g. alternative views in the tree, Bonsai - development brought to a halt - being the only outliner of my knowledge to this day offering such alternative views) had been discussed within this forum many years ago, to no reaction whatsoever from the developer who obviously considered his work done, i.e. his offering good enough.

Today, I'm deeply frustrated: I've got so many good sw's on which development came to a (real or virtual) standstill years ago; I'm EAGER to spend my money for sweet new functions I'd crave for... and then I hold my money back since, yeah, I could buy updates, but I'd get the same sw for my money I already own!

So, in some instances, I updated, in pure frustration, by wishful thinking, by magical thinking, i.e. I somewhere hoped, in vain of course, that by my spending bucks, the sw in question would somehow become more "valuable" to me. Since these experiences of unnecessary spending only enhanced my frustration, I quickly gave up on such foolishness, and today, I'm spending new money for new (useful) features that enhance my sw experience; if there are none, I hold my money. As you can imagine, I'm spending almost nothing on sw nowadays, given my new criteria.

I've explained it elsewhere in this forum: UR must first do its "homework", and I mentioned four problems that deeply affect the usability of this otherwise heavyweight program:

- do away with that awful response times anytime you've edited an item, i.e. have the updating of the index delayed (by option at least) when you switch forth and back between some items, in order to do editing work; cf. MyInfo where there is an index (or multiple indexes, or, I think, one big index but also intermediate indexes in order to alleviate the charge), but no such response problem

- have a better editor to begin with, i.e. the absence of functioning of the mouse wheel within the editor is absolutely unforgivable; any cheap crap program does this right, while UR, one of those "heavyweights", just can't do it, after all those years; problem is, you scroll with the mouse wheel everywhere, so you "try" it in UR as well, only to "discover", again and again and again, that here, it's not possible; this detail works as a crippling interference to your workflow, it's not only non-intuitive, it constantly gets you off from what you're working on; as said, there are better editor components like this that a developer can buy for 500 to 800 bucks, one-time payment

- allow for formatting of tree entries. I lost all these formattings (bold, underline, italics) when importing my stuff into UR; I've been so happy ever since after re-exporting my stuff into that minor contender: anytime I need to look again into an item, have it as a temporary reference or whatever, I do a quick control-b, and it's extremely helpful and "natural" for me to have such "natural" immediate-access items, within their normal context, where creating a clone in some special "category" would be totally over the top, most of the time. It goes without saying that most of the contenders except for the most basic ones offer such formatting within the tree as a matter of course; these three details deeply affect the usefulness for new users, as does the fourth one:

- a better help file (but if UR's developer did fulfill some of our wishes, there would be more than just one benevolent contributor to a better help file, we all know this)

- whilst a real pm functionality would be preferable, as a first step it would be extremely helpful to have the very first tab in the row contain (by option in order to not constitute an offence to any legit user, but what user would not be happy to use that option from day 1 on it would be made available?) left unchanged in its expansion / collapsing state you have brought it into, by your manipulations there, unchanged by any manipulation you do to trees / subtrees / hoisted trees in any other tab (= by this making available a "super tree" for pm, not in a (preferable) special pane, but as an alternative view of your normal, big tree (users could then open this tree in tab 1, open an equally big = complete (but "living") tree in tab 2, and do their work in tabs 3...n); this missing functionality is not similar to the others mentioned above, i.e. most newbies to UR will not miss it instantly from trial day 1, but as soon as you'll have put "all your stuff" into UR, such an "unchaotic tree one" would quickly become the most important detail in UR for every current (and future) user, more important than user attributes, more important than tagging/keywords, more important than cloning, more important than everything else; the current, unavoidable synchronicity between the complete tree and any sub-trees displayed in alternative tabs, is catastrophical to UR's claim as an info manager for big data and renders that use impossible

If UltraRecall does not address the points mentioned here, it will fall into oblivion. And have a second look at MyInfo: It once was the inferior sw to UR, but with UR having been determined to be left trailing for some years now - or how are we supposed to interpret the non-introduction of features we'd be EAGER to spend our bucks on? -, the day will soon come where for every but very special uses, MI will have to be considered the superior program.

It'd be an offence to the user base to pretend that anyway, users nowadays ain't willing to spend good money. We've long been fed up with spending our good money for programs that don't fascinate us anymore, SO we want it all for cheap. If the whistles were there again - and if we didn't have to live with annoyances like those enumerated above for ten years or more in a row -, we'd happily spend our bucks again. We're EAGER to spend our bucks, but we ask for a little bit of excitement:

We wanna smooth user experience. And then we'll pay. Easy.
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Old 10-11-2012, 10:19 PM
mikeg mikeg is online now
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By now it's obvious that key features/enhancements we'd like to see didn't make it into the last major version upgrade. I just don't think re-posting complaints, lengthy diatribes about the decline of software development, threats to leave UR, predictions of it's demise if expectations aren't met, etc. are tactics that will get us anywhere regardless of how valid or heartfelt they may be.

It's not that I disagree with everything you and others are saying. In fact, I used Info Select years ago, got tired of all my requests being ignored/rejected and dumped it as soon as I discovered Ultra Recall. In my view there were/are important differences with Ultra Recall. First, not just a few, but many of our requests have been implemented over the years. Other suggestions were at least noted and, in some cases, discussed and added to the road map. Last, but not least, there's still nothing better out there that I've found.

That's why I've tried to start a different kind of discussion. Not another invitation to complain, but an effort to reconcile how UR could arrive at another major version with more attention on Windows 8 compatibility than some of the most anticipated enhancements. My assessment is that UR is a great product in search of a sustainable market and expanded user base. From this perspective, kinook may be fighting for all of us by first waging a longer term strategic battle for profitability.

Customers sometimes engage in magical thinking that unseen elves should be working day and night for free or less than a livable income for years on end to satisfy their every wish and demand. With products that are relatively simple to develop and support, the labor of love model actually works sometimes--adding fuel to the fantasy. However, as product complexity and support demands scale up, a steady revenue stream is increasingly essential to keep teams (large and small) going and the electricity on.

We don't want to see UR go the way of Info Select and similar products. But what can any individual do about it? Probably not much, but I do believe strongly that piling on and going negative won't help at all. If nothing else, a little more understanding and patience is helpful and warranted IMO.

BTW, I'm predicting greater success for Windows 8 than some seem to expect. As for the painful desktop paradigm shift, I think there will be compromises/accommodations. In any case, the real show is mobile and Windows 8 will be a bridge for greater app integration across desktop and mobile platforms. Getting on a bridge to the biggest growth sector is a smart move. Maybe someday we'll have some form of UR on all our devices. At least the idea cheers me up. Go 5.0!
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Old 10-13-2012, 10:28 AM
schferk schferk is online now
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Mikeg, I don't have the slightest intention to argue with you, I just want to clarify.

First, we must distinguish between "features" and "homework", "homework" being demands that should go without saying since they are met by almost all contenders, but not by UR. Here, any sustaining need for catching up becomes "unforgivable" in the long run,

which means UR has - as TheBrain has, it seems - extraordinary features like indexing of external (!) pdf's or - as has got MyInfo, too, lately - really good (or in the case of UR, outstanding) cloning / hoisting (whilst cloning or tagging could also be considered traps since you'll never get your material out of such a splendid application once you'll have heavily relied upon these features there) -

and then such "primitive" annoyances (like the one I mentioned) that you won't find in most contenders, even the most minor (and sometimes even free) ones: Such inconsistency in quality within one program - from supreme to ridiculously poor - is laughable to put it mildly... AND puts off many otherwise would-be new (paying) users, too, whilst being a constant means of deception and irritation for the existing customer base.

Thus, from a commercial pov, leaving things as they are, on such "homework to do" field, might be qualified as sheer ignorance (if not arrogance).

Then, we must clearly see, "where UR is really great?", and that's undeniably in its robustness in handling real big data, i.e. piles of (not thousands, but) many thousands of items, often with .jpg's or with millions of characters - but then, the absence of a stable (instead of an ever-expanding-recollapsing) main tree makes it almost impossible to safely (let alone smoothly) manage such amounts of data, from a customer / user pov (hence my - necessary - going back to much lesser sw, relying on the Windows file system (incl. clones of whole parts, big or tiny) in order to get such a stable main tree / "super tree" of which I was and am in ABSOLUTE need.

Which is to say, UR, with its technical strength, "lures" us into this theoretically splendid system, but then leaves us alone with the "rising unmanagability" of our phletoric stuff once the number of our items isn't 10k or 30k anymore, but exceeds the 100k (and by far, in my case). Which is to say, there where UR could be, theoretically, outstanding, unparalleled, it literally betrays us in the seamy side of everyday use, for those of us who really depend on the strength of such an extraordinary system (whilst in MyInfo, e.g., I never dared putting all my things in one big database to begin with, as I then indeed did, in UR).

And, if one entity / developer is ABLE to code such a thing

(the difficulty laying in the DISPLAYED super tree being left UN-changed by any other "purely cosmetic" changes in subtrees (= expanding, collapsing, further hoisting), BUT showing technical changes there (= renames, moves, new creations, deletions), and, of course, any "manual" changes within the super tree itself (= cosmetic or technical), AND, at the same time, indeed reflecting all these changes within the underlying REAL super tree - and from a coding difficulty pov, it doesn't make any difference if that "stable super tree" is shown in tab 1 of many, or within an extra pane, of course),

it's Kinook (or perhaps the men behind TheBrain but who employ their sw mastering on other interests), so it's all the more so disappointing that Kinook don't do anything about this where their coding excellence would produce a product that would be unequalled, from a technical pov AND from the user experience - 130,000 items of knowledge or interest, anyone, AND a perfect system to handle that all in one place?

(And of course, I acknowledge that the charm of "all in one place" is big enough in order for me to put back my stuff into such a splendid system, since here, any renamings / dividings-ups / movings / different-re-clusterings of parts of such a system would be incomparably easier than they are in my current system with its cutting up of my data in diffferent physical files then re-combined by file system means.)

Then, we have Kinook's two-pier business, the programming environment for programmers, AND UltraRecall, and yes, of course I think they could do like thpse publishing houses do, cross-subventioning - we speak of 2 to 3 man-weeks (!) here - ok, make it a month, will all the debugging -, for such outstanding programmers as Kinooks' that is = Kyle himself I presume.

And again, the very first such IM sw on the market being able to SUCCESSFULLY handle big data, and for a - low! - 3-digit price, that would be quickly known by LOTSA people who are in need of such a system - but which has never ever been delivered, now that pc's have been around for some 30 years now (which is sheer incredible but has to do with the intellectual demands of such a groundbreaking feature).

(TheBrain is particularly bad with this; they show you monster maps, but try to manager such a map, let alone USE it - no wonder they heavily rely upon their search functionality... which, more than a decennium after the demise of Folio, does NOT offer the underlying semantic assistance system necessary though if you make people rely on searching.)

Just since you mention Win8 and "Winslates", please allow for my briefly re-mentioning the importance of response times on rather weak systems, optimized for long battery run (and minimized for heat), which constitutes another argument for my wanting better index (updating) management; and let me very briefly remind the importance of future stylus support.

It has never been my intention to "draw off" users from this superior but heavily neglected (whilst not abandoned) program, but in the end, financial and utilitarian considerations alone - "will any pampering measure create sufficient return satisfying me?" - decidedly can't be it.

Just have a look at a splendid feature of Treepad. Whilst any other (?) such program, at the very most, offers a static tree for web export, Treepad offers a living one, i.e. one that, in the web, you can freely operate, reading-wise, as you do with outliner trees on your desktop, i.e. you expand, re-collapse... It's a JOY to see, and to operate, such a superior toy that can become an equally superior attraction of your site, just by the joy visitors of your site feel when they manipulate your extraordinary tree - few of them will ever have experienced such a thing anywhere else.

Which means, excellence in programming also is question of honor: Show your programming excellence to the world, have your "products" / "children" splendent, even when for biological reproduction purposes (= here, for maintaining business), it'd be sufficient that they were ugly and dumb.

And as for our "patience" = willingness to pay for future goodies and joys, that would be greatly enhanced by a revised roadmap, with approximative dates within an added-on timeline.
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5.0 , expensive , roadmap , upgrade

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