Update from Time Matters consultant: okay, okay, Time Matters 6 through 8 were pretty bad, but it’s better now, I promise!

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In a comment on the ever-popular “Speeding up Time Matters” post, Tom Rowe, who is apparently a Time Matters consultant, wrote the following:

As a long time CIC and Time Matters users, I have to say that many of the posts here are fair. I am sure that many of the posters who are/were using TM 6-8 had many of the issues described.

The problem, according to Rowe, was that Time Matters was (and still is) written with included outdated code that could not handle a modern computer. According to my research, the code included in the current version of Time Matters is still outdated.

In fact, the programming language–Clarion–used 16-bit components until very recently, according to Wikipedia. (For those of you who do not understand the significance, I think the last 16-bit Windows operating system was the ten-year-old Windows 98, and even that was a hybrid 16-bit/32-bit OS.) Rowe suggests that “dropping back to a circa 2003 computer” might have solved most of the problems. In other words, Time Matters is ancient tech. It is slow and crashes because it was designed to run on the computer and operating system you had ten years ago.

With Time Matters 9, Rowe claims many of the problems were solved:

In any event, in TM8, SR2 (and then carried over into TM9) the dlls were updated and performance dramatically improved. I know … I am responsible for several thousand TM seats, and while there are still problems, TM8SR2 and TM9 are dramatically more fault tolerant and stable.

If that makes you feel better, note that while Time Matters may have finally upgraded to 32-bit, computers and operating systems coming out today are moving to 64-bit. Keep using that circa 2007 computer if you want basic functionality. It will be another decade before Time Matters catches up.

(On the other hand, if you are stuck using Time Matters, Tom Rowe seems to know the software inside and out, with all its faults. Maybe he can help you keep TM chugging along.)

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  • Sam, I hope you aren’t as sloppy with the facts when you represent your clients. A good lawyer shouldn’t be.

    I posted a non-defensive, realistic explanation of exactly what happened in Time Matters 6-8, and you have misrepresented much of my post, attributing and projecting on me your bias and analysis.

    Let me clarify your misrepresentations:

    “The problem, according to Rowe, was that Time Matters was (and still is) written with outdated code that could not handle a modern computer.”

    That isn’t according to me, that is your spin on what I said. What I said was that “some” of the supporting libraries in the code became outdated over time, causing some of the problems. And that the problems were resolved when the dlls were updated. In fact, much of the TM code is written in C+, and Clarion is still a viable and much-used development tool today. http://www.softvelocity.com/.

    While these dlls caused problems with some firms – certainly the ones who have posted here – that all of us wish wouldn’t have happened, I would estimate at least 90% of Time Matters firms did not have these problems because the environment in which they worked were not adversely effected by the dlls. I know there is no comfort in that statement for the firms that experienced the problems, but it is the truth. I know because my universe of Time Matters sites is at least 40 times the number of firms who have posted here, and I know the percentages of those who had problems and those who didn’t (and I’m talking many firms of over 50 users). I also experienced it first hand in my own office where all computers but one worked just fine through 6,7, and 8. Again, for that one computer it was not fun, but it would be inaccurate to condemn the use of the program for everyone else in my office because of the one computer.

    “Rowe suggests that “dropping back to a circa 2003 computer” might have solved most of the problems.”

    To put this in context, what I said was that because the problems some people had were due to the older dlls not working with new hardware, it was ironic that the first step some firms took – updating hardware – was probably counter-productive. I never suggested that anyone drop back to older computers.

    “If that makes you feel better, note that while Time Matters may have finally upgraded to 32-bit, computers and operating systems coming out today are moving to 64-bit. Keep using that circa 2007 computer if you want basic functionality. It will be another decade before Time Matters catches up.”

    What an incredibly ignorant statement on a number of fronts. First, while there are 64-bit computers now available, the applications that can or do use that power are few and far between. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/64-bit and http://news.cnet.com/64-bit-PCs-Drivers-wanted/2100-1003_3-6200517.html. Clearly, all computer software developers are struggling with the switch to 64 bit, as it isn’t a trivial migration, and their is questionable driver support.

    Second, I find it incredibly ironic that you are faulting TM for not being 64-bit when the result of such a move likely would be exactly the problems you complain about in TM 6-8 … incompatibility with drivers which would likely cause problems. True this time it would be because TM would be ahead of the drivers, not behind as before, but it would be a problem nonetheless. You clearly haven’t thought this through and are complaining for the sake of complaining at this point.

    “if you are stuck using Time Matters, Tom Row (sic) seems to know the software inside and out, with all its faults. Maybe he can help you keep TM chugging along.”

    I appreciate the plug, but my clients don’t feel “stuck” using Time Matters. They recognize it as the powerful tool it is, warts and all. 95% of our time is spent working with clients to help them become more productive by improving their business processes. We spend very little time troubleshooting “faults” these days.

    I really don’t want to get into a protracted back and forth on this. I don’t deny that Time Matters has had and has bugs. But I hope that if someone reads this blog who is considering adopting a case management program, and Time Matters in particular, that they will not be discouraged from checking around and finding firms who are having really good experiences with the program. While the pain these firms here have had is regrettable, the fact is that the large majority of Time matters users don’t have these problems and are happily using the program.

    P.S. Your initial post complained of our moderated list. I find it interesting that my posts here are moderated.

  • WPS

    My firm uses TM 9 and I can assure you it’s still pretty difficult to use. I can tolerate the occasional crash and doggy performance. What I can’t tolerate is the user interface: pop-up windows buried under each other; forms cluttered with fields and buttons using an outdated graphics toolkit; confusing and inconsistent menus. These seriously need to be addressed.

    I also think it should consider dumping some of the features which have fallen behind modern standards (calendar, email, time-tracking, etc) and just focus on tighter integration with existing programs.

    Maybe I’ve just been spoiled by modern software design practices. Regardless, I try to use the program as little as possible in its current state.

  • I’m not sure I need to respond to Mr. Rowe’s comments, especially given his resort to ad hominem attacks. What it boils down to is this: Time Matters is based on outdated technology. Before Rowe’s post, I did not know that TM was based on Clarion code, but even Clarion’s website confirms that it is barely keeping up with modern architectures. Wikipedia confirms.

    For the rest, I merely quoted his comments. If Rowe did not say that people might be better off “dropping back to a circa 2003 computer” then I cannot read.

    Unlike the CIC forums, posts here are moderated only to weed out spam, not dissent.

  • Sam …

    If you believe I have attacked you then you should be more careful the next time you project your biases about an issue like this, making it look as if that was what I said when I didn’t. That is what your response did, and I felt it needed to be clarified.

    When you say, “according to Rowe,” you better make sure that everything that follows is what I said, not your opinion of what I said, or not part of what I said with your analysis weaved into it. That is what you have done, and I simply called it what it is – sloppy writing.

    I wish you luck with the programs you have moved to since Time Matters. I truly hope they work for you in your practice.

  • See above for my attempt to clarify what you said vs. what I extrapolated from the information you provided and my own research.

    The fact is that Time Matters did and does include outdated code. You may spin it how you like, but that is the only conclusion one can draw from your original comment.

    Further, the larger problem is that Lexis refuses to acknowledge that its program has flaws, instead blaming poor performance and bugs on users’ systems and networks. The problem is as much with Lexis as it is with Time Matters. You did not address this in any of your comments; this is my observation, based on my own experience and the experiences of the commenters here.

  • Tom Rowe

    Sam:

    Thank you for the edits. We can respectfully agree to disagree on your conclusions as to the current status of TM.

  • Jamelle

    Sam I am adding you to my RSS feed man. Really, from what I’ve seen in the CIC forums Tom Rowe is a very respectable, knowledgeable, and helpful person. That being said, and being a frustrated TM user myself, I can see the need to take what Tom Rowe said and almost turn it into a hit job. (Hell I would have done it too if I was pissed at TM at the time of posting) Also I do agree that there is kinda code of silence the filters out anything that references Time Matters with “CRASHING”, OooooOooo shhhhhhshhhhhhh the CIC moderators might hear…But Hey I’m on ProLaw now, and I must say I crash maybe once a week but, I miss the TM calendar =(