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Retrospect 13.5 out

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Retrospect Inc. must have been in a hurry to get the Dropbox enhancement out, probably because there have been several recent threads on these forums implicitly complaining about the cost of AWS-compatible cloud services.

 

In fact they were so anxious to trumpet the Dropbox enhancement that, in the latest What's New in Retrospect web page, the first row of icons under the "Cloud Storage" heading now has the phrase "Google Cloud Storage" appearing underneath twice—the leftmost appearance underneath the icon for Amazon Web Services.  Either Retrospect Inc. has intentionally soured on AWS, or they messed up while hurriedly altering a copy of the Mac 13.0 announcement.

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>Retrospect Inc. must have been in a hurry to get the Dropbox enhancement out, probably because there have been several recent threads on these forums implicitly complaining about the cost of AWS-compatible cloud services.

 

Nothing was done in a "hurry". We are offering Dropbox support because it is a very popular cloud storage platform and support was requested by a very large number of customers. Dropbox is a great solution for the consumer market.

 

> Either Retrospect Inc. has intentionally soured on AWS, or they messed up while hurriedly altering a copy of the Mac 13.0 announcement.

 

Thanks for catching that. We all make mistakes. It happens and we will make the website change. The sarcasm isn't necessary.

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....

Nothing was done in a "hurry". We are offering Dropbox support because it is a very popular cloud storage platform and support was requested by a very large number of customers. Dropbox is a great solution for the consumer market.

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First, I congratulate the Retrospect Inc. engineers on integrating Dropbox so seamlessly into the preceding release's Cloud enhancement—which interfaced only to AWS-S3-compatible cloud providers.  Considering that Dropbox doesn't even support WebDAV without third-party add-ons, IMHO they did an exceptional job in getting Retrospect Mac 13.5 and Retrospect Windows 11.5 out in less than six months.  However I take the preceding sentence back; Dropbox is apparently S3-compatible even though it isn't WebDAV-compatible.

 

I wish I could say equally good things about Retrospect Support—which I assume is responsible for documentation.  Mayoff, my grandmother taught me when I was 3 years old "You're not done until you've finished the paperwork."  The new releases have been out for a full week, but the User's Guides have not been updated.  Moreover, the "What's New" documents under http://www.retrospect.com/en/support/documentation only announce that the new releases can do Cloud backup to Dropbox; they don't tell a user how to do it.  Yes, you've got an article in the Knowledge Base that does that, but how likely is someone in the "consumer market" to find it?  The only link to that article (which I have intentionally not provided here so that readers can experience the effort) is in a "see details" in the "Release Notes" documents for Mac and Windows—and that's where I finally found out how to do Cloud backup to Dropbox!

 

When you get around to updating the User's Guides, are you going to have the "What's New" chapter contain links to your various articles on Cloud backup to various providers?  That might not be such a bad idea, except that any user who might have downloaded a User's Guide as a .PDF to his/her "backup server" would have to have a web browser open while working from it.  Alternatively, you could copy the contents of the 13.0/11.0 "What's New" chapter to appropriate chapters in the main part of the User's Guide, and then copy the contents of the Knowledge Base article on Dropbox to the new "What's New" chapter.  Considering that part of the article repeats Cloud procedures that are already in the 13.0/11.0 User's Guide, you could replace a good part of the article contents with in-document links when copying it.

 

In particular, for Retrospect Mac 13.5 the seamless integration of Dropbox apparently is done by adding a third—Dropbox—choice to the dropdown at the top of the new Member Type dialog that was added to Mac 13.0 for the Cloud Media Set Type.  Retrospect Inc. totally omitted an explanation of that Member Type dialog in the "Cloud Backup" section of 13.0's "Chapter 1 • What's New" (the dialog is simply pictured on page 9), which is why I had to provide an explanation of the use of that dialog for "seeding" and "restore to door" in the next-to-last sentence of the second paragraph in this 4 March 2016 post—in a thread that probably became wildly popular because of that one-sentence explanation (and my expansion of it into a step-by-step procedure in a subsequent post in the same thread).  You can add that explanation—which I suggested in the second paragraph of that same post could have been as short as three sentences—to the contents of the 13.0/11.0 "What's New" chapter when you move it to appropriate chapters in the 13.5/11.5 User's Guides, and then in-document-link to it in your explanation of the Dropbox variant of that dialog in the forthcoming 13.5/11.5 "Chapter 1 • What's New".  Of course it's possible that there is a separate version of the Member Type dialog that is generated when an unmentioned new "Dropbox" option is chosen in the top dropdown of the Add Media Set dialog, but the Knowledge Base article is so sketchily written that I can't determine whether that possibility is true.

 

Second, Mayoff, you're going to have to tell even "consumer market" users that they are certainly going to have to purchase a Dropbox Pro upgrade—to a separate Dropbox account whose space can be used exclusively for backup—for $99 per year.  An ordinary free Dropbox account only gives you 2GB of cloud storage; even I—with my peculiar weekly-offsite-rotation backup routine—backup 205GB from my 6 drives each week.  Even the 1TB available with a Dropbox Pro account would be limiting for some "consumer market" users who maintain archival backups.

 

And, on that subject, we get back to the vexing problem of how to cut down an existing disk-based archival backup to below 1TB so a "consumer market" user can slowly Internet-upload it to a Dropbox Pro account.  I don't think a "consumer market" user is going to be willing to buy one or more large-capacity disks just for a single Copy Backup run.  You'll find my suggestions on that problem in this thread.

 

P.S.: Inserted fourth paragraph suggesting a specific strategy for the Dropbox explanation that needs to be added to the User's Guide.

 

P.P.S.: Revised first paragraph to give less kudos to Retrospect Inc. Engineering; Dropbox is Amazon-S3-compatible.

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....

 

.... Yes, you've got an article in the Knowledge Base that does that, but how likely is someone in the "consumer market" to find it?  The only link to that article (which I have intentionally not provided here so that readers can experience the effort) is in a "see details" in the "Release Notes" documents for Mac and Windows—and that's where I finally found out how to do Cloud backup to Dropbox!

 

....

 

In particular, for Retrospect Mac 13.5 the seamless integration of Dropbox apparently is done by adding a third—Dropbox—choice to the dropdown at the top of the new Member Type dialog that was added to Mac 13.0 for the Cloud Media Set Type.  ....  Of course it's possible that there is a separate version of the Member Type dialog that is generated when an unmentioned new "Dropbox" option is chosen in the top dropdown of the Add Media Set dialog, but the Knowledge Base article is so sketchily written that I can't determine whether that possibility is true.

 

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OK, let's look at the Knowledge Base article "Cloud Backup - How to Set Up Dropbox for Cloud Backup" here.  Under the "Mac Interface" sub-section of the "Adding Cloud Storage in Retrospect" section, the text numbered 1 says "Select 'Dropbox' from the dropdown menu and click 'Log into Dropbox'."  Immediately under that text is a screenshot of a Member Type dialog, but that Member Type dialog has additional fields starting with "Authorize Retrospect to use your Dropbox account" that aren't in the screenshot of the Member Type dialog at the equivalent section (near the bottom) in e.g. the Knowledge Base article "Cloud Backup - How to Set Up Amazon S3 for Cloud Backup" here—and vice-versa.  What causes the proper format of Member Type dialog to appear?  Does it change when the dropdown at the top of the Member Type dialog is set to "Dropbox"?  But that would mean that the user would initially see the Amazon-S3-style version of the Member Type dialog, and would have to be told  to first select "Dropbox" in the top dropdown to cause the dialog to switch to the Dropbox version.  Or is it determined when an unmentioned new "Dropbox" option is chosen in the top dropdown of the Add Media Set dialog?

 

Since so far Retrospect Support has not produced Mac and Windows video tutorials on this subject, I can't deduce the answer (and—as before with Retrospect Mac 13.0—I won't have a copy of Retrospect Mac 13.5 to try it out).  That means that, unlike what I did for Retrospect Mac 13.0, I won't be able to contribute to a forum thread on the subject.  That will mean either 1) more phone calls to Retrospect Support or 2) more potential users saying Retrospect Mac 13.5 doesn't really work with Dropbox—and demanding their money back.  I don't think you want either of these outcomes, Mayoff, so it would be in your own interest  to improve the article.

 

IMHO, behind the deficiencies of the Knowledge Base article, and the deficiencies of the equivalent section on Cloud Backup in Chapter 1 of the Retrospect Mac 13.0 User's Guide, is a basic mis-step by Retrospect Support.  That mis-step is trying to combine documentation of new features for Retrospect Mac and Retrospect Windows into a single overall piece of text—even though they are versions of the same features that have different UIs.  Copy/Cut-and-paste was introduced to the general IT world in 1984 with the first Mac, and was quickly adopted in Windows and Linux.  Using it, Retrospect Support should not have to spend much effort in converting those combined texts into separate Mac and Windows versions for their respective User's Guides.  Because that separation will make each of the texts shorter, it will be easier for Retrospect Support to see and correct deficiencies such as the one above.  The shorter OS-specific texts will also be easier to move to appropriate more-detailed chapters further back in the User's Guides.

 

P.S.: Inserted new next-to-last sentence in my first paragraph under the quote, to clarify the shortcomings of the Knowledge Base article on Dropbox.

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OK, let's look at the Knowledge Base article "Cloud Backup - How to Set Up Dropbox for Cloud Backup" here.  Under the "Mac Interface" sub-section of the "Adding Cloud Storage in Retrospect" section, the text numbered 1 says "Select 'Dropbox' from the dropdown menu and click 'Log into Dropbox'."  Immediately under that text is a screenshot of a Member Type dialog, but that Member Type dialog has additional fields starting with "Authorize Retrospect to use your Dropbox account" that aren't in the screenshot of the Member Type dialog at the equivalent section (near the bottom) in e.g. the Knowledge Base article "Cloud Backup - How to Set Up Amazon S3 for Cloud Backup" here—and vice-versa.  What causes the proper format of Member Type dialog to appear?  Does it change when the dropdown at the top of the Member Type dialog is set to "Dropbox"?  But that would mean that the user would initially see the Amazon-S3-style version of the Member Type dialog, and would have to be told  to first select "Dropbox" in the top dropdown to cause the dialog to switch to the Dropbox version.  Or is it determined when an unmentioned new "Dropbox" option is chosen in the top dropdown of the Add Media Set dialog?

 

Since so far Retrospect Support has not produced Mac and Windows video tutorials on this subject, I can't deduce the answer (and—as before with Retrospect Mac 13.0—I won't have a copy of Retrospect Mac 13.5 to try it out).  That means that, unlike what I did for Retrospect Mac 13.0, I won't be able to contribute to a forum thread on the subject.  That will mean either 1) more phone calls to Retrospect Support or 2) more potential users saying Retrospect Mac 13.5 doesn't really work with Dropbox—and demanding their money back.  I don't think you want either of these outcomes, Mayoff, so it would be in your own interest  to improve the article.

 

IMHO, behind the deficiencies of the Knowledge Base article, and the deficiencies of the equivalent section on Cloud Backup in Chapter 1 of the Retrospect Mac 13.0 User's Guide, is a basic mis-step by Retrospect Support.  That mis-step is trying to combine documentation of new features for Retrospect Mac and Retrospect Windows into a single overall piece of text—even though they are versions of the same features that have different UIs.  Copy/Cut-and-paste was introduced to the general IT world in 1984 with the first Mac, and was quickly adopted in Windows and Linux.  Using it, Retrospect Support should not have to spend much effort in converting those combined texts into separate Mac and Windows versions for their respective User's Guides.  Because that separation will make each of the texts shorter, it will be easier for Retrospect Support to see and correct deficiencies such as the one above.  The shorter OS-specific texts will also be easier to move to appropriate more-detailed chapters further back in the User's Guides.

 

P.S.: Inserted new next-to-last sentence in my first paragraph under the quote, to clarify the shortcomings of the Knowledge Base article on Dropbox.

Just one point of clarification, and I'm not taking sides in the main part of this post.

 

In almost all software companies, the support organization does not write User Guides and similar materials. That should be done as part of the new product development process by a group that might be called "technical documentation" or "documentation" or something similar. 

 

x509

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Just one point of clarification, and I'm not taking sides in the main part of this post.

 

In almost all software companies, the support organization does not write User Guides and similar materials. That should be done as part of the new product development process by a group that might be called "technical documentation" or "documentation" or something similar. 

 

x509

 

 

Please, I'm well aware of the way it is done in most software companies, so before writing my preceding post in this thread I phoned Retrospect Support yesterday to double-check—briefly—on who writes the User's Guides at Retrospect Inc..  The man I spoke to, who was probably A. since he didn't sound like Mayoff, told me Retrospect Support writes the Guides.  When I explained that I was asking in order to write a post on the Retrospect Forums, he—obviously knowing once I told him my name who I am—told me "Have fun".

 

I could speculate why Retrospect Support does the technical documentation, but to avoid making Mayoff justifiably unhappy with this post I won't do that.  Use your imagination, x509, but let's not talk about it on these forums.  All I will say is that IME being overworked doesn't necessarily make one do things the most intelligent way, and that's the underlying point of all three of my preceding posts in this thread.

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Technical Support does not write the Retrospect User's Guide. This is handled by a different team of people in the company which includes Product Management and Engineering. That same team currently writes most of the KB articles.

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Technical Support does not write the Retrospect User's Guide. This is handled by a different team of people in the company which includes Product Management and Engineering. That same team currently writes most of the KB articles.

 

 

I was informed that Technical Support does write the Retrospect User's Guide by whoever picked up the phone at the Retrospect Inc. Tech Support extension on 22 September.  You'd better straighten him out, Mayoff.

 

Whatever other team writes the User's Guide, and most of the KB articles, had better get busy.  My criticisms and suggestion in previous posts in this thread are as valid as ever.

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