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Friday, April 5, 2019

Hang on to those installers

Early on in my career, I learned to hang on to the installer files for the programs that I encountered. At the time of the retrieval, I thought (wrongly) that I had the correct installer file already and didn't need to hang on to the file that came out of the evidence DVR. That decision came back to haunt me later when doing the analysis as the DVR's owner replaced the DVR before we could go back to retrieve the program's installer from the machine. This was a long time ago, but the lesson stuck. Assume nothing. Keep everything together.

Fast forward a decade and a half.

Amped SRL made a big deal about their incorporation of the Genetec SDK in FIVE, and FIVE's support of the .g64 and .g64x file types in 2017 (Build 10039). Indeed it was a big deal. Genetec is a popular company and agencies around the western world face these file types quite often. Genetec makes a player for their files, but to export individual camera views from their player takes a lot of time to accomplish - especially in major cases with many relevant camera views.

Fast forward to yesterday.

As you may have heard, I'm no longer part of the Amped team. Amped support is now handled through their support web site. There's no more phone support for North American customers (announced via a change to their EULA that customers likely accepted without reading). But, with an unpronounceable Scandinavian last name, I'm easy to find. I've been getting many calls per day about various analysis-related / software things. Although I can't support software directly, I can still answer UX (how-to) type questions. I also still conduct training sessions around Amped's software (click here for the calendar of offerings).

Yesterday, an old friend called me in a panic. He had a major case, the files were .g64x, and FIVE wasn't working with them anymore. Yes, he knew that I'm no longer with Amped Software. But, he was running out of options and time.

What he didn't know, what most of Amped's customers don't know, is that in March of 2018, Amped SRL quietly removed the Genetec functionality from it's product line (Build 10717). It's normally verbose change log notes only that this build was an interim update - nothing about what was changed. The functionality was not only removed from 10717, but also 10039. Any mention of the Genetec functionality was stricken from the logs. If you search for Genetec on the Amped blog, you will not find anything. It's as if the Genetec integration never happened.

A few weeks ago, another old customer called with a similar story. In his case, he had performed the original work with the .g64 files in Build 10039. The case is moving to trial and he's updated FIVE faithfully. He's been asked to do some additional work on the case. But, the project file doesn't work. Usually, it's quick to duplicate your work and recreate a corrupted project file. But in this case, he can't. He no longer has the ability to work with these files in the same way. It's caused a huge issue with his case - a huge issue he didn't know was coming.

That brings me back to that initial lesson in dealing with the first generation of DVRs - save everything together. Yes, Amped's support portal gives users under support contracts the ability to download previous versions. But, what several have discovered, Amped has changed functionality to at least one of those installer builds (preserving the old build number in rolling out the updated version doesn't help). What else has changed in what's hosted there? How would you know?

All hope was not lost. An older computer of mine was still configured for support of Axon's sales team. I still had the original Axon FIVE Build 10039 on that laptop for a demo done quite some time ago in support of Axon's sales team.  I was able to help the users solve their problems with the Genetec files. I was happy to do so. If you need some help as well, let me know.

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