Thursday, May 25, 2017

The Techie versus The Application

You can’t do that!”

I am a self-avowed computer geek. I greatly enjoy finding both Windows and Android applications that make my life and my work easier. ( Though retired, I continue to use my computer for both household paperwork and the job(s) that my volunteering requires. These things constitute ‘my work.’ )  I especially like the applications that are freeware ( no cost ), though I have liked several enough to pay the modest cost they’ve asked. This story involves overcoming a wonderful Windows application that thought I was doing something in violation of the free license agreement. It’s a technical story.

The application is PhraseExpress. It belongs to a class of applications called clipboard managers, because it significantly enhances the Windows clipboard. I bought a license for this before I retired because I used it at work and the freeware license did not allow using it when being paid.

I have upgraded the software often since then, and that license is no longer valid …  and I have been receiving what we techies call ‘nags.’ This particular nag does two things:

  • It types, at the current cursor location, a long sentence asking to please pay for the software;
  • It opens a window which stays open for about 10 seconds, in which there is text saying I’m sharing the data base with my mobile device, which is illegal per the terms of the free license.

This is a techie version of screaming, “You can’t do that!”, which is fine, except I am not sharing it with my mobile device; I don’t even have PhraseExpress installed on my mobile device!

I could, and did, live with the occasional nag, but they started being more than occasional … and most recently they have become quite regular, popping up several times in one work session and, occasionally, popping up six or seven times in the creation of one email … which email, admittedly, was a heavy user of the application. I couldn’t stand it anymore.

I use DropBox as my backup medium, and DropBox can be used to synchronize folders/files with my mobile device. My PhraseExpress data files were in DropBox, PhraseExpress, of course, knew that, and I believe the possibility of using Dropbox to synchronize files between two devices is what caused PhraseExpress to accuse me of performing this illicit behavior. I needed to fix that.

PhraseExpress creates and uses several data files; I moved the main data file from Dropbox to another folder on my computer, made other arrangements to back up the file, and figured I had changed how PhraseExpress was determining I was cheating and was done with the nags. I was pleased with myself and my technical acumen.

Until a few days later: PhraseExpress once nagged, “You can’t do that!” I thought I had resolved this issue; its resurgence annoyed me. A. Lot. More determined that previously, I found all the files PhraseExpress had created and moved all of them from Dropbox to the folder to which I had moved the primary data file. I also “unloaded” from PhraseExpress the files that were still in Dropbox. ( Unloaded these files means I “told” PhraseExpress I am not using them. ) Sure enough, PhraseExpress popped up a window saying, “I found a PhraseExpress file in a folder that is scheduled to be synchronized; do you want to load it?” I said, “No.” This happened twice. And I believed, because it found those files and asked me if I wanted to use them, I had convinced PhraseExpress that I was using it legitimately.

I sat down to write the story about this success and … right! PhraseExpress told me, twice in the first paragraph, “You can’t do that!” Damnation; tarnation.

I inspected all the folders which might be used to synchronize with my mobile device, found all the PhraseExpress files, and changed the file extension to make sure PhraseExpress would neither attempt to open them nor even recognize them as PhraseExpress files, and, therefore, stop the nagging.  I think this last finally took care of it. My techie geekiness is restored and I once again recognize myself when I look in a mirror.
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