johnvisiomvp

Life with Visio and other Microsoft Toys!

@DirectEnergy Pirates

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I have been a long time Enbridge/Direct Energy customer going back to the Consumer Gas days. I have fended off a number of companies that pretended to represent Enbridge. It looks like my loyalty was misplaced.
It all started with the annual inspection in August of 2014.

The Inspector

The technician tried to indicate that the furnace was leaking CO. Considering he had the flame up high, I would be surprised he did not detect CO.
He used a Gauss meter to indicate the leakage. Normally a Gauss meter is used to detect magnetic fields and as such, indicates that there is electricity flowing in a wire.
He indicated that the exhaust pipes were leaky, but what I saw was condensation and it was only a few drops.
At the end, he indicated that if I did not immediately set up a sales appointment to replaced the furnace he would have to red tag furnace.
This was a bit surprising considering that Enbridge replaced the gas meter and fully checked that the furnace was working properly just a few weeks earlier. Even though the equipment was old that technician indicated that it was still in working order and did not need replacing.

Then the sales guy…

He provided no option for just buying the equipment. He only provided two options that dealt with the length of the support. I rarely buy extended warranties because they are usually to the benefit of the seller. Any appreciation in the price of the house will more than cover the replacement cost. He never suggested I get second opinions, it was just pure high pressure sales. If the deal was good, then getting a competitive offer should have been recommended. There was a lot of pressure to sign before the end of the week. I also given no idea what, if any rebates to expect. Both options supposedly came with a service plan.

40 gallon tank

When they arrived to install the new equipment, they had a 50 gallon hot water tank rather than a replacement 40 gallons. They said they would check in to it. Later they said that all the 40 gallon heaters had been recalled. So, if I agreed, they would install the 50 gallon water heater and not charge for the water heater for six months. Of course, nothing was put in writing. The next bill reflected the change in status, but there was an increase rather than a free month. There are only two of us, so a 40 gallon would have been more than adequate.

Result

Replacing the furnace was never on my mind, so, this whole situation came out of the blue and I was far from prepared for the sales tactics. Since then I have been bombarded with notices from Direct Energy with offers of rebates or buy backs.

I still do not understand why he had to pick up the paperwork rather than I just stuff it in an envelope and send it myself. Within 24 hours I got the notification that I had a service plan. I was told by the technician that did the service, that the service plan would be cancelled and the sales guy also agreed. I never indicated that I wanted a service plan. The whole indication that the limited options I had included a maintenance plan, why would I want another?

Reverse billing

After the installation I was called saying that as a new customer I was to be given a service plan for four months for free. If I did not cancel, it would be automatically renewed. I cancelled immediately, but they ignored that request and billed. They also added a service plan for the air conditioner, which I also did not ask for.

Conclusion

So, from purchasing a furnace and air conditioner for $4,500 in 2001 I find that only thirteen years later that I have to replace it for almost two and a half times the price, $11,500, with no idea of what the equipment really cost.

From Oct 2014 till Christmas, I was laid up with knee problems. I could not do much but I was able to think about how I had been taken by Direct Energy. Not being mobile and tired of the lies, I wrote an email so that I would have something in writing. I did get two phone calls, but not being mobile and thanks to the pain, not able to answer the phone, I could not do anything until later. When I did call back on the number given, I got an answering machine. Rather than the typical, leave a message, it wanted me to set up voice mail. I had slightly more success with the Twitter account, but nothing more than acknowledgment of the complaint. The last was three weeks ago when they asked which email address I used. I told them then heard nothing,

It has been almost two years and I have yet to get a request to schedule a maintenance call on the equipment I bought or the service plan I did not ask for. I did receive a letter from Direct Energy last week, but it was more snake oil as they tried to con me into a service plan for plumbing.

John Marshall

Written by johnvisiomvp

June 20, 2016 at 4:52 am

Posted in Uncategorized

Bell Fibe not as good as Bell Satellite

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Back in December, service from my ISP was less than tolerable, so I switched to Bell. At the time I was convinced to “upgrade” to Fibre from satellite. I had had satellite for a number of years, but despite the doom and gloom from the cable company, I had very few weather related outages. When it did happen, the outage was in minutes, unlike the weather related outages on cable where it lasted days. Cable gets wet and it would take days for the cable to dry out or for them to find the short. Besides, from the beginning, the signal quality was far superior.
So, other than a higher capacity PVR and more lines to record, Fibe falls short of what Bell satellite offered.
– There is no Knowledge TV on Fibe, so I lost a source of British shows. Not Bells fault, but the offering of British shows on BBC Canada is appalling. There appears to be far more “Canadian Content” than on the American channels or other specialty language channels. Thank you CRTC.
– There is no slo mo. On the satellite I was able to slow the action down to see what I missed. Sometimes it was just as simple as trying to read a note that the good guys are reading. The camera may pan on the note, but sometimes it is too fast.
– Certain shows on TV Polonia can record as series on the satellite, but Fibe treats the same series as a non series and individual shows have to be recorded. So, every two weeks, the next crop of episodes have to be recorded.
– For some reason, the CTV News has to be treated as three separate series, noon, 6pm and 11:30pm. Satellite treated them as a single show. There is no indication of any of the “series” on the PVR to indicate that it is the noon, 6pm or 11:30 pm collection. So, if the news is preempted due to some silliness in the US, then it is fun and games trying to find the last news episode. With Satellite, it was simple, it was the last one in the group.
– In the PVR, the series setting will say that there i an episode to be recorded, but no details. On the satellite, there are details about the time and episode.
Even though Fibe is running on Windows CE, Bell has a bias towards Microsoft. Though there is an IOS and Android app for Fibe, there is no app for the company that introduced tablets many years ago. So, the answer for a Windows user is to buy an IOS or android device or rent a set top box if they want a second receiver.
And…
The ads for rewind on Fibe are bogus. Only select channels can rewind and they are not consistent in how or for how long. Some shows are marked and if you catch them before they end, you can go back to the beginning. Other shows you have to go to a different channel (1000) and select shows may be around for a few weeks. These shows do not allow FF to skip commercials. …and yes, the On Demand shows have commercials. If you missed the news, you can not rewind. If you did not record it, you missed it.
Update…
As a dutiful husband I have been manually recording shows while my wife was away. So, on her return I queued up what I thought was the oldest show of her favourite series, it turned out that it was the second newest and in this episode, all the cast was killed. Maybe JR did it? I have no idea why the series continued without the cast, but it was a soap opera. My new issue is that you can select the shows by date or by name, BUT… if you chose by name, there is no secondary sort, so the last one in the list is NOT the oldest show. Even a first year programmer understands that lists may need more than a one sort criteria.

Enjoy.

John Marshall… Visio MVP Visio.MVPs.org

Written by johnvisiomvp

May 14, 2016 at 10:23 am

Posted in Uncategorized

Open Shape Surgery for the Visio Developer

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One of the first gotchas for new Visio developers is the UnGroup command.

Visio shapes are simple, they can have one colour and one line type. To make a traffic light, you need to group a red circle, yellow circle and a green circle. When grouped, Visio will take a collection of shapes and create a new shape with a group section and a shape collection of the shapes selected. To  ungroup, the shapes are released from the collection and the group shape is deleted. The process is reversible, some times. Shape developers learned early on, that this new shape was like any other shape and could have other sections added to it. Shape Data, User Data, Connections, Control Handles etc. Unfortunately, when these shapes are ungrouped, these extra sections are not preserved. So knowing this why would you ever want to ungroup one of these these?  You can always subselect or use the Drawing Explorer to get access to one of the sub shapes. Welcome to one of the other gotchas, the bounding box. Sometimes you have to ungroup, and create a group with a more appropriate bounding box. You can go bigger by adding a temporary shape of the desired size, lock the group from recalculating the bounding box and delete the temporary shape, but you can not go smaller without Ungrouping. You would then create a shape of the correct size, group it and before adding the other shapes to the group, lock the group shape from recalculating. The final cleanup would be to add back the component shapes and delete the temporary shape.

Early on Graham Wideman showed me a way to remove VBA projects from a Visio solution. Deleting the VBA only got you part of the way, there was still a Project stub that made Visio think the file contained a VBA solution. His solution was to edit the XML version of the file and delete the stub.

 

 

 

 

Written by johnvisiomvp

April 17, 2016 at 4:22 pm

Posted in Shapes, VBA, Visio

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UWP Samples generate hundred of errors?

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For the past few months I have had problems trying to run any of the Windows 10 UWP samples. Each attempt resulted in hundreds of errors.  Yesterday, thanks to Colin Melia and a little Google spelunking I may have found the issue and the solution.

The Googling turned up https://github.com/Microsoft/Windows-universal-samples/issues/182 which indicates the same issues and that the problem may be with one of the references, Microsoft.NetCore.UniversalWindowsPlatform. Since I have been having issues, I did a clean install and installed the Windows 10 SDK. The issue appears to be that the samples were created with the 5.0 version of that file, but the clean install used 5.1. So when trying to open the samples, the reference could not resolve.

The solution was to open the project, in the Solution Explorer, right click reference and chose Manage NuGet Packages… Select Microsoft.NetCore.UniversalWindowsPlatform and select Update. I was able to do a Clean Project and Run.

No more errors!

Hopefully this will work for others.

Remember, if your solution contains more than one project, you probably will have to do this for each project.

Enjoy.

John Marshall… Visio MVP       Visio.MVPs.org

Written by johnvisiomvp

April 17, 2016 at 4:21 pm

Taming Geometry Sections in Visio

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Ever create a pair of shapes in Visio, butted them together and do a Union operations and find that the joining line between the shapes does not disappear and find that the new shape has two geometry sections? So, before you start to copy rows from one section to the other, place a rectangle shape over the offending line and union that with the original shape. You will now have one Geometry section. The rectangle does not have to be a precise match, just cover part of the line. You can then easily edit the Geometry section and delete the offending rows. Far easier than copying rows between Geometry Sections.

Recently I was creating shapes that basically looked like a stack of trapezoids. Rather than create the trapezoids, I created a stack of rectangles. Each rectangle was the width of the various cross sections and the height was the distance between transitions.  Once Unioned, I edited the shapesheet and deleted the extra rows that the rectangles created.

Next time I will talk about open shape surgery, a lesson learned from an old master.

Enjoy.

John Marshall… Visio MVP       Visio.MVPs.org

Written by johnvisiomvp

November 22, 2015 at 2:29 am

Posted in Shapes, Uncategorized, Visio

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Shape Developers need Love too!

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It has been a while since the demise of ShapeStudio. It was not the greatest, but it did help developers create series of shapes. Using the Shapesheet is not for the faint of heart. The shapesheet is a powerful tool for creating shapes and adding functionality, but, but it is labour intensive. What is needed is some enhancements.

Sorting? Not necessarily sorting, but the developer should be able to change the order of the rows in the shape data, user data and connection sections. Rather than using a menu item, an up/down toggle button would be preferred. Using a menu item, is not a big deal, but do it a hundred times and it becomes tedious.

In addition to rows, Geometry sections should also be able to be reordered.

If the order of the Geometry sections can be changed, joining adjacent Geometry sections should be relatively easy. Each Geometry section has a start and end point, so joining would mean there would be an end and start row in the middle of the section.

Of course, not all Geometry sections have a convenient start and end point. So it would be useful to reverse a Geometry Section so the one section ends here the adjacent section starts.

A few versions back, Visio added relative positioning in the Geometry section. Another useful feature would be a toggle bottom to switch between absolute to relative
A toggle button to switch a Geometry row from absolute to relative. Sometimes it is easier to enter absolute positions, other times it is easier to use relative. Currently you can use a menu item, but that involves selecting the Change Item type and remembering the appropriate alternate type.

When you are working on a Geometry section, the row you are working on is highlighted in the drawing to let the designer where that point is. Also for reference, if the PinX or PinY cells are selected, a cross should be placed over that point so the designer can see where the point is.

One of the first things that bites first time shape developers is the ungroup command. For some applications Group and Ungroup are complements and you can ungroup and then group to get back to where you were. In most cases this is true, but with Visio, grouping creates a new shape to control the other shapes and ungroup deletes that shape. This group shape, like any other shape can be enhanced, but ungrouping will also remove these enhancements. So, if you add user data, shape data, actions or connection points, these will be lost. Another nicety for shape developers would be the ability to copy these sections from other shapes. So, never ungroup should be the rule? No, during shape development, grouping and ungrouping is a very useful tool. You can align a set of shapes on their centers, group them and then align or distribute this group with other shapes/groups without destroying the group on center the shapes have in the original group.

Outside the Shapsheet
Of course, before even getting into the shapesheet, the ability to sort the shapes in the stencil would be very useful. Yes, this can be done with VBA, but this should be a standard feature.

An alternate to the bounding box is needed. Rather than a box, the shape involved should change color. The bounding box just shows that something in that area was selected. A bonus would be to use gradient colors that show the direction of lines.

If the shapesheet is like a spreadsheet, why can we not copy and paste cells, rows and sections between shapesheets like Excel? What about copying from a shapesheet to Excel and back.

Enjoy.

John Marshall… Visio MVP       Visio.MVPs.org

Written by johnvisiomvp

October 17, 2015 at 4:00 am

Posted in Uncategorized

Dual Outlets

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The VBA code to stack shapes was used to create a series of shapes that represented inserts into the cap of a bottle that allowed hoses to be connected. For the single connections, the shapes making up the stack were horizontally symmetrical, so after stacking the shapes it was a simple matter of aligning all the shapes around their centers. The dual connections were only slightly more complex. All the shapes were aligned around the same center, but the shape through the cap was offset from the rest. So, it was just a matter of adding a horizontal guide to align to the edge of the bottom shape above the cap and then horizontally move the part within the cap to align to the guide. The next step was to use the Size & Position window to add the horizontal offset to that shape.

So, now I had a single outlet shape with the proper offset. The next step was to group the shape, duplicate the group and align the two grouped shapes horizontally and vertically. The result is a dual version of the shape. Cleanup involved deleting the duplicated section through the cap, ungrouping and doing a Join operation to simplify the shape. Since I had to do a number of shapes of various cap sizes, outlet sizes and offsets, I kept a master of the single outlet version (the one with the offset), so I could earebuild the shapes.

Enjoy.

John Marshall… Visio MVP       Visio.MVPs.org

Written by johnvisiomvp

August 21, 2015 at 7:49 am

Posted in Shapes, Visio

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