Several issues with MLS and Finance

Discussions around using and interfacing with the Church MLS program.
rickk
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Several issues with MLS and Finance

Postby rickk » Wed Jan 09, 2013 3:56 pm

Hello,

I am seeing several issues with MLS and finance, and I am wondering if they are known problems.

The first, and most critical, is that there have been a number of times when I am entering expenses and right after I print the last check, MLS crashes. Completely gone, no warning, just a hard crash. I do not get a chance to print the report (for the stake president to sign) before this happens. When I restart MLS, the expenses are all still there, I can do a send and receive to transmit them to SLC, but the report isn't anywhere (that I can find) so it can be printed. Sometimes when we enter the next donation batch or expense, the old report gets printed and sometimes it doesn't. I end up creating manual documentation by doing an expense report with the items printed and then having the president sign that, but that is a bit of a pain. This has happened at least 5 times in the past year...

The second issue is that something seems to be messing around with the names of my Payees. When I add a new payee, the name is entered as First/Last (e.g. Thomas Jones), just as you would expect. I sometimes change this to a preferred name (like Tom Jones) and save the payee. After some event (not sure what), my payees have all changed to Last, First/Middle (e.g. Jones, Thomas Jack). I then have to go back into my payees each time I write a check and fix them. Why is MLS/CUBS messing with the payees? It doesn't even return them to the default that you get when adding a new payee - it makes them this weird format that isn't really appropriate for writing checks. How do I get CUBS to leave my payees alone?

Thanks,
Rick

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aebrown
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Re: Several issues with MLS and Finance

Postby aebrown » Wed Jan 09, 2013 4:31 pm

rickk wrote:The first, and most critical, is that there have been a number of times when I am entering expenses and right after I print the last check, MLS crashes.

With odd crashes like this, it is sometimes helpful to download the the full MLS installer form the RKATS site. Then do a full install on top of your existing installation.

rickk wrote:The second issue is that something seems to be messing around with the names of my Payees. ... Why is MLS/CUBS messing with the payees? It doesn't even return them to the default that you get when adding a new payee - it makes them this weird format that isn't really appropriate for writing checks. How do I get CUBS to leave my payees alone?

This is what CUBS does for payees that are linked to membership record numbers. The reason you see a delay is that it happens after the payee data is sent to CUBS, then processed by CUBS (I don't know just how long that takes), and then received by MLS on a later Send/Receive.

Once upon a time, MLS used the same default format for new payees, but somewhere along the line that changed to "FirstName LastName". But it's not really worth worrying about. The format of "LastName, FirstName MiddleName" is entirely appropriate for writing checks.

rickk
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Re: Several issues with MLS and Finance

Postby rickk » Wed Jan 09, 2013 4:43 pm

I have done the full install multiple times and it hasn't help the crashing problem.

From your description of the Payee thing, it sounds like it would be a one-time change. This has happened at least 3 times to payees that I have modified back to the preferred format. Therefore, it seems like this is a case of "I know what's better than you do" and CUBS keeps changing them back to the convoluted format. I suppose I could just change all of my payees to be "Not a member/misc" if CUBS can't leave them alone when I link them to a record. I am an engineer by trade and it bugs me when someone writes a program that assumes they know the "right" way to do something... Especially if I have the ability to modify it to work the way I want (like CUBS allows) and then it overwrites my work and wastes my time.

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aebrown
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Re: Several issues with MLS and Finance

Postby aebrown » Wed Jan 09, 2013 4:52 pm

rickk wrote:From your description of the Payee thing, it sounds like it would be a one-time change. This has happened at least 3 times to payees that I have modified back to the preferred format. Therefore, it seems like this is a case of "I know what's better than you do" and CUBS keeps changing them back to the convoluted format.

No, what I described sounds like something that will happen as often as you make the change. When you make a change, the change gets sent to CUBS. That triggers CUBS sending back what it considers to be the corrected information based on the name associated with the linked MRN. It's definitely a case where CUBS wants to win the format battle.

rickk wrote: I suppose I could just change all of my payees to be "Not a member/misc" if CUBS can't leave them alone when I link them to a record.

That would fix this problem, but it would have a negative side-effect: you would not get any address updates (or rarer but possible name updates) that get made to the membership record. So whenever address or name changes for a member who happens to be a payee, chances are that you won't hear about the change and so you'll send a payment to the wrong name or address.

rickk wrote:I am an engineer by trade and it bugs me when someone writes a program that assumes they know the "right" way to do something... Especially if I have the ability to modify it to work the way I want (like CUBS allows) and then it overwrites my work and wastes my time.

I am also an engineer by trade, and I am also annoyed in such situations. But I've learned to pick my battles. Since the format CUBS really insists on is acceptable, even if it isn't my preference, I let CUBS win. I have better things to spend my time on.

rickk
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Re: Several issues with MLS and Finance

Postby rickk » Wed Jan 09, 2013 4:56 pm

Your comment makes sense - but since this is the first time that I am learning that CUBS is forcing a format on us, I get the right to complain at least for a bit, right? :-)

I just hope that there is no one that gets mad about having a middle name on checks. We have several in the stake that are somewhat sensitive about that - our stake president being one of them. :-)

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aebrown
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Re: Several issues with MLS and Finance

Postby aebrown » Wed Jan 09, 2013 4:59 pm

rickk wrote:Your comment makes sense - but since this is the first time that I am learning that CUBS is forcing a format on us, I get the right to complain at least for a bit, right? :-)

Certainly you have that right. I've already worked through my grumpiness over this issue, so it's a little easier for me to respond somewhat calmly.

rickk
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Re: Several issues with MLS and Finance

Postby rickk » Wed Jan 09, 2013 5:05 pm

Any other thoughts on the crashing side? That one is a bigger issue in my mind. I worry that I will write a bunch of check and then end up without having them properly sent to SLC to be authorized. I recently had a situation where MLS said I had unsent transactions and I when I did a send/receive it sent the info about a check that I had written the week before. I checked my transmission reports and it had been sent when it was written, so I don't know what happened there. That one wasn't associated with a crash either. It just makes me wonder how robust things are when I see all of these little issues.

russellhltn
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Re: Several issues with MLS and Finance

Postby russellhltn » Wed Jan 09, 2013 5:11 pm

A couple of thoughts: In case it's a memory issue, you might try download Memtest86 and run a complete test.

The other is that it might be defective data. You could try back up and immediately restore the data to force the indexes to rebuild. But I'd do a OS level backup of the data folders first - just in case.
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rickk
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Re: Several issues with MLS and Finance

Postby rickk » Wed Jan 09, 2013 5:18 pm

I will try the memory test. I just added memory to the system to take it from 1GB to 3GB, but I have seen issues both before and after that. Since nothing else crashes in windows, I am a bit skeptical that it is physical memory given the amount of swapping that was taking place running XP in 1GB.

As for the backup and restore, I tried that recently and ended up with a mess (see thread viewtopic.php?f=21&t=14366). I was finally able to get the restore done with some JVM acrobatics. During this process, I also did a clean install of MLS - removed all of the data and program files - so if the restore was going to fix it, it should have stopped after that.

jdlessley
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Re: Several issues with MLS and Finance

Postby jdlessley » Wed Jan 09, 2013 5:30 pm

From the discussion in this thread and the other thread, I am getting the impression that your database has a problem. Try calling LUS and ask them to have their techs take a look at it.
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