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winter games

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SylviaInCanada Report 5 Mar 2012 20:42

Hi Phil

thanks for the update.

Joy Kentish Maid

Joy Kentish Maid Report 5 Mar 2012 08:57

"we identify you being logged in" - so you could see that it took me several attempts to log in just now, Phil?


RolloTheRed Report 5 Mar 2012 08:37

This was posted on a Bright Solid developer blog. No doubt Phil has it nailed to his office wall.

"Empowering our development team to figure out a sensible way of achieving our vision, not specifying it to the nth level of detail
Keeping everything focused on how we add value to one of our end users, not how we can impress ourselves.
Planning to shatter our own illusions before the real world does - sharing real products with real people as quickly as we can, and being ready to hear what they tell us, however unpalatable."

Glad to see u get in early, lots to do.



philmoir Advisor Report 5 Mar 2012 07:53

Hi Rollo and everyone else who has posted on this thread. Performance is still and always has been one of my major concerns. In the last release, we implement some advanced performance metric tracking, and in the next release we will be implementing some changes behind the scenes to improve certain pages. We're not rolling them out across the site yet, as we need to monitor performance improvement, but this is another step to resolving these issues. We also have changes to the way we identify you being logged in, and the aim of this is to stop the "unexpected log outs". The boards and the tree data has grown so big, that to ensure they continue to work at all means we have to upgrade the way we store the data. I wish this wasn't a necessity, but alas things unfortunately cannot stand still. We will continue to deliver change in an attempt to make this site reliable, performant, secure and useful for genealogists and family historians, both on the boards, in records use and in creating their trees. This is the aim. But performance is top of my list. I will continue to provide updates as we release further developments on the site.
Best regards


SylviaInCanada Report 4 Mar 2012 22:38



doubt it will last past 8 am Monday morning though. You're not allowed to criticise the site you know :-D

I've said for a long time that the value of this site was the ease of building your tree, for free, and for the Community Boards, where for a small sum you could get the most incredible help.

The numbers of people asking for help and advice began dropping slowly about 2 years ago, but have really dropped drastically beginning last fall.

I notice it particularly in the overnight hours ........ sometimes the number of new posts can be counted on one hand :-0

I just looked on my Home page ................

Current member activity
126 new posts in the last hour
1069 messages sent in the last hour
2251 names added to trees in the last hour

so a lot of people are sending messages :-)



RolloTheRed Report 4 Mar 2012 16:22

I rather agree with IGP that the record collections for census etc. have little bearing on the performance issues.

They are certainly important to BS as the business case for the takeover essentially rested on Gru members u/g their sub to get access to these databases with Gold etc.

However unlike Ay linking these records to yr tree is a royal pain.

It is difficult to see how Gru can encourage members to u/g to Gold, Silver etc when even basic functionality is not working. As to what may happen should Gru decide to integrate the tree with census records Ay style the mind boggles given the state of the current "New view".

If the principal reference tree is off line or an another site it is very difficult to use it to update Gru. This is because if you do a GED import all the current extra data, related contacts etc get wiped. Changing the structure of the tree is also very tedious.

Nevertheless the standard product is fair value and if it is going to take a minute or so to start up you can always do something useful, play AngryBirds for instance.
( Who can finish a level before Gru starts? )

The value of the product is ( or was ) in the user community. BS though seems to see the value in selling data subscriptions. The beta US product is solely concerned with selling UK census etc access to the North Americans more cheaply / pay-as-you-go thereby undercutting Ay. In order to promote this they sponsored Roots Tech this year.

Way back when I had a Jaguar sports coupe. It was terrific fun to drive. The trouble was too often I ended up on some wet windy motorway waiting for the AA, cold and hungry and missing appointments. You would not believe just how many ways a Jaguar can break down but all of them are expensive. When I started working in Denver I found my biz partner had the same car ... but only for fun he drove a Honda for real. I still cannot see myself risking a Jag v other makes.

FH is a hobby and can be great fun. Software that runs like my old Jag is not fun and once lost customers are very resistant to coming back.

I really hope that next week they will find out what is putting on the brakes and fix it. Next fix the bugs. Then fix the "new free". Then add the missing bits. And then LEAVE IT ALONE for at least 6 months. And no more testing on the live product - recruit beta testers from the members and run the beta in parallel like anybody else does with an ounce of sense.

The sun is out, thank god for dogs.



DazedConfused Report 4 Mar 2012 14:55

Oh and I too like Rollo have noticed the drop off of new people to all the thread boards in recent months. I first noticed it on here about 1 year ago and commented on it, but the boards have really got quiet recently, even the very long threads on here are slowing down.

But, there seems to also have been a drop off on Rootschat too.

Maybe people are learning for themselves via magazines etc. or have just lost interest not only in Family History but the converations on the boards as well? :-(


DazedConfused Report 4 Mar 2012 14:51

IGP I agree with you, but it does make you wonder though..........

As Rollo has said though, as soon as anyone criticises this site on the message boards (albeit positive critiscism in the main to get them to get their fingers out!) these messages will disappear into the ether.

No company or person likes to be criticised but this site just leaves itself open.

They seem to have forgotten the basic rules of programming

KISS - Keep it Simple, Stupid
WISYWIG - What you see is what you get

I worked for Royal Mail for many years and they would constantly bring in new 'working practces' which rarely worked (designed by those who had never delivered a letter or worked in a Post Office in their lives). And when a new practice did not work, they would introduce a new one, which was invariably the one they rejected but would not admit they were wrong! :-S


Lindsey* Report 4 Mar 2012 14:49

I have one little niggle. How come that during the live show the site was almost running well, then went into decline again this week ?


InspectorGreenPen Report 4 Mar 2012 14:25

Unfortunately there is no hard evidence that the historical records are the cause of the site's performance issues. so removing them to another location might not solve anything.


KathleenBell Report 4 Mar 2012 14:19

I agree that a dual membership with Findmypast (perhaps at a slightly reduced rate!!) would be a good idea if they removed the historical records from Genes IF that would make the site more usable.

Kath. x


wisechild Report 4 Mar 2012 13:48

CouldnĀ“t agree more.

Rambling Rose

Rambling Rose Report 4 Mar 2012 13:45

Surprisingly perhaps Rollo, I agree with you lol.

I haven't been here as long as some but certainly the problems seem to have been increasing in direct relation to the number of historical records added. As it has been said by the owner of Bright Solid, that GR is an entry level genealogy site, perhaps it is time to remove all census etc and operate this site as a meeting place, help centre and place to construct a tree and receive hot matches etc. Those wishing to could perhaps be given the option of purchasing a dual subscription to GR and FMP I'm sure that wouldn't be impossible to arrange.

( I don't have a problem with the tree changes but do think by now all glitches with them should have been fixed).

Joy Kentish Maid

Joy Kentish Maid Report 4 Mar 2012 13:28

The site seemed to function more satisfactorily before historical records were added, when it was used more for connecting. I should like the historical records removed from genes reunited, perhaps the site's servers could cope better after that.

NB I do not have a problem with the tree: during massive instability a while ago, I removed my tree from genes reunited.


Lindsey* Report 4 Mar 2012 13:15

agree agree, reading this fast in anticipation of it being wooshed :-D


GlitterBaby Report 4 Mar 2012 12:31

I would like to see all the records removed as most of GR members have subs to other sites anyway.

Hot matches have never been a good idea and never really worked so that could be got rid of as well.

A good basic site that works is far better than one with all the add ons that does not work


KathleenBell Report 4 Mar 2012 12:19


Your posts are always full of common sense and articulate wonderfully what most of us feel.

I would love to see this site go back to how it was in 2004. I know it would be considered "old fashioned and out of date" - but at least it worked well. Anyone who was not used to computers at all (myself at that time as GR was the first and only website I had ever used) could use the site with very little guidance and the message boards were teeming with people both asking and answering questions.

Now I realize that as more and more family history information is put online then people will perhaps have the information they want and therefore not need to be on here as much as they once were so traffic may slow down but this site seems to have almost come to a grinding halt.

The problems getting onto the site and moving from page to page just make it even more likely that members will leave for good.

Kath. x


RolloTheRed Report 4 Mar 2012 11:45


Genealogy, like stamp collecting, is one of those hobbies which are more popular during the long dark evenings of the winter than in summer time. The sharp decrease in activity on Gru, Ay et al from Easter time is quite noticeable. In the land of Oz one may be hiding from the burning sun or the latest flooding I guess.

Yesterday though was a typical winter weekend in the UK and now it is pouring down with rain. Great time to ask some questions on the threads then ... not.

Saturday (yesterday) shows about 8 postings on Genealogy, about 34 on Ancestors. Even a year ago the numbers would have been very much higher. Several stalwart helpers are very much noticed by their absence.

A few people get on these boards eg Suggestions and voice the unsung complaints of many. Some try much the same through FB or Tr. Some contact tech support. There are several threads about Gru "losing it" on RootsChat. It is very unlikely that all Gru staffers do not have time to read this board.

The very low level of activity, especially on Ancestors and that many members report an extremely low rate of reply to poss tree contacts ( I used to get > 80% ) are straws in the wind.

Gru was never a technically ambitious site for family history in the same way as Ay and I rather doubt that it was most members want.

( I find it worrying that Phil Moire in his posts about RootsTech evinces rather more enthusiasm for advanced genealogical software than basic matters such as performance. )

There are plenty of Ay members who hold a Gru membership too and I doubt that they also wish for Gru to become a Ay clone.

What made Gru a great brand is very well known by members but it may be worth repeating as Team Gru seem to have forgotten.

A really easy to use product that was totally instinctive, did not need any manual or help file for most of its functions. All of the functions worked.
I myself find the whole tree / pedigree / descendants views brilliant and without parallel.
No gimmicks such as the slider which breaks just about every UI design rule that I have ever known. This is a web site not an iPhone or Android touch phone with Swipe.
Low demands on user bandwidth, connection speed and browser software i.e. pretty well anything worked.
Glitches were usually fixed quite quickly.
Above all a site with a great community feeling where you could get brickwalls knocked down, great grand uncles located and get advice on all sorts of specialist software and web sites. CS were never up to much but the community made up for it.
It seems to be me that these great selling points are not exactly what they were.

Facebook, Twitter are for sure important product delivery platforms going forward. However it is a fact of life that FHy is a product which is of most interest to people over 50 - exactly the group least likely to use Fb or Tr.

AFAIK up until (a) the move of the servers to Dundee and (b) the advent of the "New Look" everything worked pretty well. There was no great outcry about performance of for a ui.

Going back now to November Gru has been plagued with performance issues of one sort and another. Far from being fixed it appears that they are going from bad to worse. It is a fact of net life that users will not hang around for up to 90 seconds to log in and endure myriad failures after that. It might have been accepted 10 years ago in the days of V34 modems and ISDN but not now.

It is not possible to validate the performance concerns of members from within the Dundee data centre. As a minimum a QA team need to hook up a computer connected by an ordinary ADSL consumer connection and work from there. They do? Not much sign of it.

I would have thought it an obvious move to recruit say 100 beta testers from among the members. Maybe they have?

Gru seems to be in a state of denial.
Many posts relating to these problems are deleted, RR
I lived in the US a long time. The Fb and Tr sites remind one somewhat of the cheer leaders of a US football team. , Three wise monkeys.

Customer support seems to oscillate between blaming the customers (who have no such problems with other web sites) and shooting the messenger.

Gru cheerleaders on these boards tend also to blame the customer and / or rr posts they don't like. Or even post abusive PMs.

In any case the very old observance by Henry Ford that the customer is always right remains very true. It is also true that most unhappy customers do not complain but make other arrangements. It is in a sense worrying that even the level of complaint has dropped. This is not because performance problems have been fixed but rather that people are giving up on complaining as it does little good, either here or to CS.

Unless these performance problems on a standard installation are sorted in short order there is every danger of this site turning into a zombie as has its sibling, FriendsUnited.

My practical suggestion is that while the site remains in its current state that membership subscriptions be suspended and users continue at whatever grade they are on. New members are charged but until the site is fixed the days do not count. This is no different under consumer law than for any other consumer product or service. In any case I guess some will be reducing their sub to "free" or not-at-all if perf. problems are not fixed.

I suggest that the following should work at least as well as hitherto for the site to be considered as functional ( no particular order) :

tree, no duplicates etc etc
threads and all forum aspects
logon within 20 secs on adsl consumer connection 5-10 pm
Apple ?

If anybody on this board considers this post to be abusive or at variance with T&C then I would be pleased to receive a pm as to why. My experience so far is that posting a few home truths about the current sad state of affairs usually has a short life.

Undirected gnashing of the teeth though is ok. Theres a point. In the US there is a popular children's toy, a set of moving teeth - you may have seen it in a Stephen King movie. Maybe a set of these gnashing teeth should be added to the available icons. Grrrrr says Gnasher (the Beano's fierce dog).

have a nice Sunday, we are having an American day


(*) for those unware the Beano is published by the same company as owns Gru.
Highly recommended for all ages. Also available in video.