As the song goes...
TIME TO ... SAY GOODBYE
It is with some considerable regret that I am announcing that the 2018.1 release will be the last release of Alycat.
I have been doing all this for over 30 years. Changing to the licensing model and more frequent releases really gave me a lift in enthusiasm - the part I have always liked about this has been putting in enhancements and working with users on these tasks. Unfortunately this change to licences did not follow through to an interest by clubs, with the uptake of licences very disappointing. Whilst Alycat is not and never has been about money (who would do 20 plus hours most weeks of the year for what I get) the money I got was some kind of recognition of the work I did. I cannot justify continuing to myself with the poor uptake. Interestingly there are quite a few users still currently using 9.5 but they just haven't upgraded.
So ... support will continue for each user until their user licence expires - currently there are no licences that run past the end of this calendar year. Bugs will be fixed in post release builds of 2018.1 and automatically "pushed" out to users. A few users I have spoken to about this asked a few questions ... Will I miss it?:
of course, I have spent on average more than 20 hours a week for quite a few years, I will have to try and figure out what to do with that time.
I will also miss the comraderie of users, the catching up at meetings, the talk of what they like, what changes they would like.
I will miss the buzz I got from working with users, mostly test sites, when including new features in Alycat.
At this stage I need to post a huge thank you to all Alycat test sites, both past and present, for all the help, ideas and testing that you have done!
What I will not miss:
not being able to take a complete holiday (text messages at 2am in Hawaii, phone call at midnight in Egypt, etc)
three clubs all using the same registration code - nice that you like Alycat but some respect for all the work I do would be even nicer
clubs running old versions and ringing up to complain a feature doesn't work, e.g. "control practice blocking is not working", asked if they had checked transponders, etc. so get log files - some drivers had transponders of 1234567 or 1111111, also drivers in the wrong group ... and saying they want support for an old version because "they will upgrade next week" ...
And another major meeting: had an obscure problem, saving interim race results needed to be in use, more than normal number of drivers in the race, HTML via LAN on, AND individual driver result files on - then on rare occassions a driver could register another lap before the individual files had been written, and a crash occurred ... what changed this from a bug I could probably have fixed in a hour or so, to much worse, was that the exception handler (purchased, external to Alycat Software, otherwise a wonderful tool) was not trapping this error and thus no info was posted to logs, which made it almost impossible to track. It took two solid weeks but I reproduced it, then spent another week cutting down half a million lines of Alycat code to a small sample program to convince the Exception Handler author that he had a problem. Same meeting ... Windows caused Alycat to hang when playing sounds during a race (Windows documentation specifically says it always returns, cannot hang ...) reported twice in 30 years before this and I had a checking background thread to warn users ... but it failed (unchanged 10 year old code). Then reported by two other users the next week ... then went away never to return. Eventually I reproduced this by getting a virtual machine with a copy of Windows from that time, locking it down so it could not update ... it was a Windows update problem, and it seems it was fixed the very next update.
That meeting was the one that broke me ......
So ... as licences expire it will become less viable to maintain the Alycat server. If any users want to keep running Alycat, I will make a special release, 2018.2, which will run on 2018.1 registration (and I guess a patch for all those users who didn't upgrade from 9.5 ...). These will not require server validation, and will also no longer upload log files. If anyone wants it I might change Alycat, OES and OED to support clubs to run the Online Entry system on their club server, otherwise it will be closed.
Closing down Sale:
no support licence):
9.5 to 2017.1:$75US
9.5 to 2018.1:$99US
Online Entries for Drivers