Looking for ideas

Discussions around using and interfacing with the Church MLS program.
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ffrsqpilot
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Looking for ideas

Postby ffrsqpilot » Wed Nov 05, 2008 3:56 pm

Last night I called one of our units to talk about our upcoming stake conference. What I ended up getting was an earful about problems they are having with MLS. Apparently somewhere along the line between MLS 2.9.0 and 2.9.1 their membership records took a detour. All families that have non member spouses ended up having the family records scrambled. They now have records where the member is listed down with the children and in some extreem cases the member married to a child. Along with membership problems they have now had the financial records go missing in action. First they noticed that all of September finance transactions were lost from the system. They reentered all the data and low and behold they promptly lost Octobers finance records. (I wish I was making this up but it really is happening).

They are gradually working on putting the membership records back in order manually, but are only a third of the way through the records after spending about five hours of work. When I asked them if they had contacted Salt Lake, they related that they had and had received some ideas but were told that it was a glitch with MLS 2.9.1. They were told several other units had encountered the same problems. My first response was to ask them if they had thought about doing a "refresh" to see if that would help straighten out the membership records. They said they would try that........(at this point I was talking with the previous ward clerk who is very familiar with MLS and then with the new ward clerk who is learning as he goes along with the help of the old ward clerk but neither was award of the refresh capability).

This morning I got on the horn and called Salt Lake and talked to the MLS Technical Help Section (Option 3 on the menu) and related what I had heard the night before and how I could best help the unit. I mentioned that I had told them to try a refresh but wasn't sure that would solve all the problems. The individual I talked to was very helpful but it appears that the best route is for the unit to talk directly to the technical help section and work through getting everything back into order. I don't believe it was self induced by the new clerk as he has had a watchful eye with the old clerk helping out.


So, has anyone else run into something like this with the recent upgrades? If so what did you do to help out? And having never done a refresh myself, would it solve some of the problems or just induce new ones? Also would a refresh do just membership or would some of the financial actions show back up? At this point I'm at a loss other than ensuring they call the MLS Technical help folks.

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Postby techgy » Wed Nov 05, 2008 10:00 pm

Your report sounds like a real nightmare, but I can't help but wonder if it might have been caused by an interruption in the MLS update from 2.9 to 2.9.1 ?

We have had other reports of error messages and problems with the upgrade and a few related to transmissions this past week. Although CHQ reports that the transmissions went through I have to wonder if a partial transmission of an update to the MLS software itself may have been the cause. Since things got worse the more you worked at it, it's very possible that MLS itself was corrupted.

I don't know where you are at this point in record restoration, but it might be a good idea to un-install the MLS software and do a complete re-install of the 2.9.1 version. Then do a restoration of the data from a good backup. This might require a call to CHQ to release a security lockout following the install and data restore, so I wouldn't do it on a friday.

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Postby russellhltn » Wed Nov 05, 2008 10:23 pm

I'm wondering if someone was playing with the restore function. Short of file corruption, that's the only way I know of for financial transactions to go missing.

In the MLS directory, there's a MLS log file. It might be worth poking around.
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Postby crislapi » Wed Nov 05, 2008 11:19 pm

Pilotfly wrote:Also would a refresh do just membership or would some of the financial actions show back up? At this point I'm at a loss other than ensuring they call the MLS Technical help folks.


A refresh will restore both membership and financial data. However, it will erase anything your clerks have already done to fix the problem, and then everything from the date of the restore file on will have to be re-entered.

Obviously, all your backups since the corruption occurred will also be corrupted. You'll have to go back far enough to ensure you get a clean backup to restore from. My suggestion - create a couple backups of MLS as it is now before you start so that, at worse, you can come back to how it is now.

If you are going to try restoring from a previous backup file, I'd recommend taking Techgy's suggestion of uninstalling MLS and doing a clean install of MLS 2.9.1 using the backup file you are going to restore to as your import file to setup the unit.

Just to clarify in case you have Desktop 5.5, this is a restore using a MLS backup file and the MLS file menu and NOT a system restore using a restore point or anything like that.

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Postby aebrown » Wed Nov 05, 2008 11:29 pm

crislapi wrote:A refresh will restore both membership and financial data.


I think the word you intended to use is "restore" not "refresh"; the "refresh" that was referred to earlier in the thread is a Membership Refresh, and it will only restore the membership record part of the MLS data by sending the membership data from CHQ to the ward. A refresh has nothing to do with financial data, nor organizational or HT/VT data.

But from the rest of your post, it seems clear that you were describing a MLS data restore -- the process of taking a backup file and restoring it so that it now becomes the active MLS data. That process will indeed restore both membership and financial data as it existed at the time that backup was made.

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Postby crislapi » Wed Nov 05, 2008 11:34 pm

Alan_Brown wrote:I think the word you intended to use is "restore" not "refresh"; the "refresh" that was referred to earlier in the thread is a Membership Refresh, and it will only restore the membership record part of the MLS data by sending the membership data from CHQ to the ward. A refresh has nothing to do with financial data, nor organizational or HT/VT data.

But from the rest of your post, it seems clear that you were describing a MLS data restore -- the process of taking a backup file and restoring it so that it now becomes the active MLS data. That process will indeed restore both membership and financial data as it existed at the time that backup was made.


As usual, you are correct. I was referring to the restore function. This leads to a question I have, then. If the membership data is corrupt on MLS and has been transmitted to HQ, won't the refresh just send the corrupt data back to you?

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Postby russellhltn » Thu Nov 06, 2008 1:27 am

crislapi wrote:If the membership data is corrupt on MLS and has been transmitted to HQ, won't the refresh just send the corrupt data back to you?


If I understand MLS correctly, it only sends membership transactions to HQ. It doesn't send the whole file.

This leaves open the possibility that MLS and HQ will get out of sync if some transactions are lost for any reason. So a refresh forces MLS's membership data to match HQ's. It's not uncommon for a MLS version upgrade to automatically request a refresh. In fact, there's been a few cases where the data is a bit funny after the upgrade until the refresh comes back (second Send/Receive after the upgrade was installed.)

Now, I suppose one way to look at it, if HQ's data is corrupt, it's officially corrupt. :D And the only way to fix it is to perform the transactions needed to put it back into shape. The HQ data is just a portion of the world-wide membership data. There's no restore just because one unit got messed up. It's the clerk's ongoing job to work with the ward to make sure the data in MLS and HQ matches reality.

Bottom line, I think the smart thing is to do a refresh, wait for it to come back and then see how bad things are. Only then would I try to untangle things.
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ffrsqpilot
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The problem is real

Postby ffrsqpilot » Sun Nov 09, 2008 6:19 am

Last night at our Saturday Evening portion of stake conference I had the chance to talk directly with the clerks of the unit having the problem with their MLS. Since we were at the stake center we tried one of the unit computers in the building and low and behold - their unit is not the only one with the problem I addressed in my original post. The issue of non member spouse families having their records scrambled is also showing up in another ward in the stake. My guess is if I checked each unit within the stake we all have the same problem.

And my guess is that if any of the rest of you look at your membership records you very well may have the same issue. What has happened with the change between MLS 2.9.0 and 2.9.1 is that families with a non member spouse has scrambled the family showing the non member (or in some cases the member) as the head of the family with no spouse and then shows the spouse as a child in the family. Easiest way to find out if you have the problem is find a family that you know are part member families and look at the membership directory in MLS.....you will find the family not showing up correctly.

If you have only a few families in that category it is not a problem to change the records to reflect correctly. However, the ward that caught this has multiple non member families and it has become a nightmare. At the same time one of their financial transmissions on the weekend when the church was having transmission problems has also caused problems with their financial records as well. Thus they are dealing with two seemingly unrelated problems but then perhaps not?

Long story short - they called SLC and taked with the finance section so they are getting help on that issue but I again asked them to call the MLS tech help section to work through them also. They did however receive some instructions from SLC via fax and they will be sending them on to me so I can get it out to all our clerks here in the stake. If it isn't lengthy I will try and post the instructions here as well.

So for you fellow clerkers - check your system, you may be having problems also and may have not yet recognized it.

BTW, another means of telling if you have the same issue is look at what you would use for a mailing list for sending Christmas cards out to unit families. You can see some part member families where the member is left off the mailing list and only the non member spouse is listed.

Hopefully SLC will figure this out and get back with us. I will be calling them Monday and inform them of what I observed. I will sit down at one of our wards computers in the stake center as the stake computer I don't think shows this problem - will have to check today before conference starts.

Jim

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Postby znauga » Sun Nov 09, 2008 9:01 am

Pilotfly wrote:Last night at our Saturday Evening portion of stake conference I had the chance to talk directly with the clerks of the unit having the problem with their MLS. Since we were at the stake center we tried one of the unit computers in the building and low and behold - their unit is not the only one with the problem I addressed in my original post. The issue of non member spouse families having their records scrambled is also showing up in another ward in the stake. My guess is if I checked each unit within the stake we all have the same problem.

And my guess is that if any of the rest of you look at your membership records you very well may have the same issue. What has happened with the change between MLS 2.9.0 and 2.9.1 is that families with a non member spouse has scrambled the family showing the non member (or in some cases the member) as the head of the family with no spouse and then shows the spouse as a child in the family. Easiest way to find out if you have the problem is find a family that you know are part member families and look at the membership directory in MLS.....you will find the family not showing up correctly.

If you have only a few families in that category it is not a problem to change the records to reflect correctly. However, the ward that caught this has multiple non member families and it has become a nightmare. At the same time one of their financial transmissions on the weekend when the church was having transmission problems has also caused problems with their financial records as well. Thus they are dealing with two seemingly unrelated problems but then perhaps not?

Long story short - they called SLC and taked with the finance section so they are getting help on that issue but I again asked them to call the MLS tech help section to work through them also. They did however receive some instructions from SLC via fax and they will be sending them on to me so I can get it out to all our clerks here in the stake. If it isn't lengthy I will try and post the instructions here as well.

So for you fellow clerkers - check your system, you may be having problems also and may have not yet recognized it.

BTW, another means of telling if you have the same issue is look at what you would use for a mailing list for sending Christmas cards out to unit families. You can see some part member families where the member is left off the mailing list and only the non member spouse is listed.

Hopefully SLC will figure this out and get back with us. I will be calling them Monday and inform them of what I observed. I will sit down at one of our wards computers in the stake center as the stake computer I don't think shows this problem - will have to check today before conference starts.

Jim


The :scrambling of non member records in families is a bug that has existed for several years. CHQ acknowledges it but has not created a solution.

The process of fixing at the ward level is tedious. One way to make it a little easier is to create a custom list of non member heads of families, and perhaps a list of all non members. Using these lists for reference may speed the reconstruction of families with non members.

znauga

russellhltn
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Postby russellhltn » Sun Nov 09, 2008 11:55 am

Would I be correct in guessing that this is only a problem if you choose to create a "non-member record" so as to show the non-member in the directory?

I'm wondering if this is a problem in the refresh. Some version updates will automatically do a refresh, so that may be the connection to the upgrade.
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