09 July 2011

MechCAD / AceMoney developer Alex Simanov dies with family in Russian plane crash

Yesterday I saw the sad news that Alex Simanov and his family were all killed in a plane crash, as reported by the Miami Herald and elsewhere.

In parallel with this, users of the AceMoney Yahoo group have been unable to post, although for some reason that I don't understand, I seem to be the only person who still can. I have to assume that as a long-standing group member, Alex had either forgotten to set my profile to require approval, or did not feel it necessary. Whatever the reason, we have no way to control it, and I don't know of anybody else who has been able to post without awaiting approval, which is, of course, unlikely ever to be forthcoming.

Some group users have contacted me offline with some suggestions, so I thought I'd post here to give people a way to discuss options in the comments.  Primarily, Linda K has suggested that:

  1. "We" (i.e. the users - any volunteers?) should set up a new user group that doesn't require posts to be approved by moderators*. The user group need not necessarily be a Yahoo Group, of course.
  2. Any AceMoney user should take the opportunity to download and save the current version of AceMoney, in case Alex's website ceases to exist.  

* Unfortunately, experience with other forums that I'm involved with suggest that that's likely to be a recipe for spamming and porn-peddling disaster, so does anybody want to volunteer to set up a group somewhere and/or to be on a team of moderators?

On behalf of all AceMoney users, I hope that Alex had the foresight to make provision for what should happen to MechCAD in the event of his death, and/or that somebody will take over the company and continue to develop the product.  From a purely selfish point of view, I was looking forward to the imminent release of an AceMoney Android app.

If you have any ideas for how/where to host/set up a new user-only AceMoney group, please add them to the comments.  It's not something that I feel able to take on, but I wanted to at least offer a place here for others to discuss this and offer their ideas and/or services.

Please can we keep the discussion relevant and suitably respectful.  Thank you.

Julie

34 comments:

jimmy42 said...

Thank You for being so Kind. You are a wonderment to me and all those from South Texas.
Jimmy Alexander

Armand Girard said...

Julie,

Thank you for allowing AceMoney users to comment via your blog.

I have been a moderator of a few different groups (non computer related) and still am the administrator of one group. All of them have been on Google (www.googlegroups.com)

If no one wants to take the lead, I would be willing to set up a group on Google. It would have to be unmoderated since I don't have a lot of free time to manage it, but I'll give it everything I have.

Armand Girard

GavinGord said...

Thanks for this Julie. This is terrible news. I've used AceMoney for years, since pre-release I think and I feel like I've lost a personal friend in Alex passing. Does anyone know if he had any other partners? I vaguely remember another name years ago, but it may ave disappeared. Perhaps that person will keep the program going. I feel for his relatives, the rest of it is really unimportant.

Maiya Harrington said...

Thank you so much, Julie! I was devastated by the news, even though I never knew Alex personally. It still felt like losing a friend. I agree with those who think it's important to have a moderated group. This is what I suggest.

1. Accept Armand’s offer to set up a Google Group, assuming he is able to adjust rights at will for members of the group.

2. Set up a second group for a team of volunteer moderators (I will volunteer to be one, but I think the team needs about three members or so). Moderators need to have rights to enable them to change the rights of other subscribers. Volunteer moderators should also be members who already have a solid history with the current group.

3. Set up the group so all new members are moderated. Open the group for subscriptions.

4. Moderators monitor and approve postings and, once any member has a solid history of acceptable postings, remove moderation for that member. The moderators can decide how they will handle that.

Based on past experiences, I think it is very important that the group be moderated.

Cool Lady said...

I wrote the company that hosts the AM website to see if they know of another contact. With the yahoo forum silent for a while, and given publicity of the crash, it seems unlikely there is another technical partner. I suspect the website will disappear when the bills go unpaid, so it may be a good idea to download the file for safe keeping in case you get a new PC or otherwise need to install AM.

Linda Kilcrease (LindaWebbie)

Dangthrimble said...

Julie,

I echo the previous thanks for allowing us to use your blog. And I guess it goes without saying that our thanks go to Alex for all he has done for us and our condolences go to his relatives.

I too have moderated a couple of groups and been a member of a couple of Google groups. Like Armand I don’t have a lot of free time, but if a number of moderators could be found then I would be willing to share the load with them and possibly share any administrative burden.

If it became clear, subsequently, that there wasn’t enough manpower to successfully moderate the group then we could choose to make it open with all that implies. In the meantime it would be good to keep any group as open and free from abuse as Alex managed to.

Let’s hope that Alex did make provision for MechCAD. If not, there may be some software engineers in the group who could offer time to continue support and, maybe, development if the source code could be made available. I for one would like the opportunity to make a contribution in that way, but lack of free time may prevent me from doing much.

Once again, thanks Julie for the use of this blog and for bringing to our attention the sad loss of Alex and his family.

Jonathan

alamogunr said...

I participated on the board to a very limited extent and only in a very elementary way when I first started using Acemoney. Since then I have used only the Lite version. After hearing of Alex Simanov's death, I bought the full version, just in case I decided to set up more accounts.

I hope that something can be worked out to continue the "forum" and also that the company can continue to function. The Acemoney Yahoo list was unusual in that Mr. Simanov responded to every question and suggestion promptly and in a way that fully answered the poster's request.

If nothing else, I learned a great deal about how others manage their finances and in what detail. My needs are much simpler than most who posted and I suspect that there are many others like me.

My condolences to the family and friends of the Alex Simanov's.

John

Max Wanadoo said...

I would suggest Google+ which has the "Huddle" feature and "Circles" for goups etc. Far superiour to Google or Facebook etc.

Max

Armand Girard said...

Max,

The only problem with Google+ is that it is still available by invitation only and Google has currently stopped issuing invitation for the time being.

Armand

Armand Girard said...

Hello Everyone,

If you received this message twice, please accept my apologies. I received a Service Not Available error message when I posted the first time.

I created a Google Group to allow us to discuss where to go from here. I would have chosen the name AceMoney but that name was already in use. That group was created in September 2008 and has only 1 post. Obviously someone was experimenting and never deleted the group.

The group's web address is http://groups.google.com/group/amug

The group's email address is amug@googlegroups.com

The group is not moderated so please show courtesy and respect to your fellow users.

I will give this group as much attention as my free time allows. If someone else wants to take over the group (or share duties), please email me at armandgirard@gmail.com



Armand

ThomasStraten said...

Hi Julie,

First of all, my condolencies to the family for this horrible tragedy. I hope someone will lead them to us as to have an idea how Alex was appreciated both as a professional but as a very kind and tremendously responsiver person.

I think we have to be patient. It occurs to me that Alex might have a partner but whom might be on holidays... perhaps this would explain the silence. Or, in this case, worse, Alex was the sole designer and maintainer of his baby and we would be left alone.

I do not know how things work in Florida, it they sell the business or whatever, they might be an occasion when perhaps a new designer and programmer could take the follow-up. But this is not simple (believe me, I used to plunge into unknown, undocumented code, undocumented design and sometimes have had to learn a new language on the fly for medium to big companies in trying to fix some software left by economists or ingeneers and was needed). It might be a nightmare (or a dream if everything is standard).

I guess the whole process of succession, inheritage etc. must go through all its steps before someone will be permitted to plunge into AceMoney. Except, of course if we are lucky and there is a partner who, in the worst case, is perhaps unaware of the tragedy!.

In the meantime, everything works fine, I just want to signal that there is a slight bug in the Monthly Payee report IF you select some category. No big deal, but better to be aware of. (I sent a ticket and was hoping for a response when I heard about the tragedy.

A big hug to the whole community, and thanks again Julie!
Thomas

John Russell said...

Personally, I would prefer to stay with Yahoo! Groups. I dislike the way Google Groups is organized. I don't like the way they do not support multiple identities (which I need as I want to separate my business groups from my personal groups). I also do not trust Google to respect my privacy.
Perhaps we should wait and see what provisions have been made for this type of event before creating new groups or forums all over the place.

Jay Smith said...

I am shocked & saddened by the loss of Alex & his family. I have been a AM user for 6-7 years & was always impressed with Alex's professionalism in all that he did for AM & the forum.

I am a retired UK resident & DO have the time to help monitor a group forum - at least in weeding out the bad guys. I am not a financial guru, nor a power user of computers, by any means but would hate to see the forum go under without some effort on our parts, first. Please feel free to contact me if there is something put into place that I could then help monitor.

Maiya Harrington said...

So many great comments! And thanks to Armand for forging ahead and setting up a group. I think it's premature to consider it a permanent replacement for the AceMoney group, but it could certainly help anyone who needs somewhere to turn right now.

I think Thomas's idea to wait and see what happens with AceMoney before deciding on a permanent solution is wise. It may be the solution will be forthcoming for us.

Max Wanadoo said...

Thanks Armand for setting up this group. It is, at the very least, a start to keeping the AM devotees together until things settle out.

Thanks also to Julie for her blog etc.

Max

Remy Lebeau said...

Has anyone tried contacting Yahoo yet to see if they would be willing to reassign moderator rights in the AceMoney group given the circumstances?

Alex was kind enough to provide me with full documentation of the MMW file format for my upcoming Blackberry app. Worse case, if Alex did not make provisions for AceMoney's continuation, that information can be made available to a developer (or I may just end up using it myself) to engineer a compatible replacement app. The only downside is the doc I have is for the version of AceMoney just prior to the introduction of inline functions. Alex died before he could send me the latest doc.

Unknown said...

I have sent a message to Yahoo informing of Alex's passing and to ask that they either remove the group's moderated setting or appoint some new moderators.

juwlz said...

Just before reading Remy and Unknown's comment, I had the same thought, and contacted Yahoo to see whether the group ownership can be reassigned.

Obviously, that would be the ideal solution, as all existing forum information would continue, and those users who can use it now would be guaranteed still to be able to use it.

Julie

P.S. Quite apart from being
a) in beta and
b) invitation-only at the moment, with the availability of invitations being strictly controlled,
Google+ is IMHO not the right tool for a user forum. (I have managed to get an invitation.) Specifically, Huddle is mobile-only instant messaging, Hangout is video conferencing, and the stream is more like a Facebook feed.

juwlz said...

I have received this comment via email from Elius in China, where access to Google services is blocked:

Julie,

I would love to be able to be part of the "conversation" via your blog. But, my first email to you today, rather expansive, in essence :

- I plead not to move to Google Groups

- presently unable to comment directly as have received indications, that for me in China, access to blogger.com, like Google Groups, is blocked by Chinese government.

The frustration I feel is nothing but immense, especially at this time, concerning accounting software and business continuity. (I am blocked, like so many other expats, because the Government's efforts to contain things that are "sensitive" and likely to disrupt "social harmony").

Elius

yobeone said...

Perhaps we could use something like
http://www.invisionpower.com/products/board/ it is a great forum software.

The news of Alex and his family was somewhat stunning to say the least. I can only hope that thru the spirit of the forum in the past we can continue.

I guess we will all find out in due time if someone will take over the helm of Mechcad.

What ever is decided, I still plan on taking part.

Thanks for opening this blog in the meantime. It will help.

Best of luck.

AlanG said...

This very sad news came as a huge shock to me and I offer my sincere condolences to Alex’s family and friends.

Many thanks to Julie for taking the initiative and offering a place where it may be possible to keep the user group informed about what happens next. It is reassuring to think that efforts are being made to keep the forum going or a replacement put in place, and this period of time would certainly feel very lonely without it. From the numerous posts I have read over the years, it is clear that there are many users with significant expertise.

I don’t know whether I would be able to contribute much to the running of a new forum, but would be willing to devote some time towards a shared moderation responsibility if that helped. For me, the Yahoo group has been good so I think that would be my preference in the longer term.

Alan

Unknown said...

Apparently, the question of what to do when an owner/moderator dies has been asked on Yahoo Answers quite a number of times over the past several years, and the answer is always the same - nothing, without gaining access to the deceased's account.

If everyone wants to stay with Yahoo Groups, I'm willing to create a new group there, perhaps named something like "AceMoney-Users". I'm no stranger to moderating mailing lists and discussion forums. oderator dies has been asked on Yahoo Answers quite a number of times over the past several years, and the answer is always the same - nothing, without gaining access to the deceased's account.

If everyone wants to stay with Yahoo Groups, I'm willing to create a new group there, perhaps named something like "AceMoney-Users". I'm no stranger to moderating mailing lists and discussion forums.

Unknown said...

Just an FYI, comments from "Unknown" are from Remy Lebeau. This blog keeps having trouble grabbing my identity out of my Google account correctly.

Maiya Harrington said...

Whereas, it would be useful to have a forum, open to all AceMoney users as before, where AceMoney users can discuss how to use the program, and,

Whereas, the original AceMoney Yahoo! Group is moderated with no moderator at present, and,

Whereas, people in China are not able to join us in Google Groups, which is not fair to them,

I hereby make a motion that we set up a temporary Yahoo! Group to address interim issues until such time as a permanent solution is forthcoming regarding the AceMoney program.

Do I hear a second, please?

We need a unified action so that all of us are discussing in one place AND getting the benefit of ALL the discussion. Not everyone will have the time to check here on this blog (although, I am so grateful to Julie for providing this space for us), and in a Google Group (again, I am very grateful to Armand for taking swift action in an hour of need). We need a single temporary solution and we already know Yahoo! Groups works for everyone, so that seems to be the obvious choice.

If we stay here in Julie's blog, we will lose features that are desirable (like threads).

So, do I hear a second?

juwlz said...

To be clear, this was never meant to BE the replacement forum, merely to discuss a way forward.

Julie

juwlz said...

Elius seconds Maiya Harrington's motion.


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juwlz said...

OK. I have created what I hope will be a **temporary** new yahoo group, called AceMoneyUsers at
http://tech.groups.yahoo.com/group/AceMoneyUsers/
(NB: I have received a message from Yahoo that my request re changing ownership of the original forum has been escalated.)

I will also post in the original AceMoney group, and I'll be looking for volunteer moderators! I have set up the group to require authorisation for new members, and for comments to be moderated.

To make it easy to spot genuine members, please join using the same user name and email address as you used in the official AceMoney user group, in the interests of making it easy for the moderators to identify genuine AceMoney users.

To minimise the workload, people with different user names etc. may not be accepted (at least in the short term).

Julie

Maiya Harrington said...

Sorry, Julie, I didn't mean to imply that you intended the blog page to replace the group, but I did want you to know that I appreciated your stepping up right away to provide a platform for us to figure out the next step while we wait to see what happens with AceMoney.

And...I didn't even get to say, "All in favor, say aye!" before a group showed up. I will make haste to subscribe. My hope is that the group will provide a means for us to request help from more experienced users, when we need it.

I am willing to help with moderation, if you wish. I've noticed that Alan, Remy, and Jay might also be willing to help with that. I may have missed someone....

juwlz said...

I have approved a number of users, and added Remy and Armand as moderators (to approve both new users and posts). However, I haven't been able to identify Maiya or Jay's usernames to take them up on their offer.

Once things settle down, I will be more than happy to hand over ownership of the group to somebody else, and the new owner will, of course, be free to make his/her own decisions about other moderators (that's assuming that we are unable to change ownership of the original forum and resurrect that, of course, which would make the new one unnecessary).

There are still a number of members pending, as I have been unable to find any trace of them in the old forum (by searching for previous posts).

Julie

jimmy42 said...

Have you heard any thing from Yahoo? This about the ownership of Ace Money Groups. You are such a kind person to have taken on so much responsibility since Alex and Family Passed.
I am following you on twitter. I am not a Stalker. Just an Older (68 year old)Dock Worker from Texas. May God Bless.
Jimmy Alexander (@jimmy42)

juwlz said...

I have now received a reply from Yahoo. It seems that there may be a way to resurrect the original group. See postings in the original AceMoney and temporary AceMoneyUsers groups for more details.

Unknown said...

I am a new user and have Ace Money on two computers with two licenses-One is windows 7 and the other is XP if that makes a difference.
Trying to back up data on flash drive to restore in secnd computer Can anyone help me?

bob in RI

juwlz said...

You could post in the user group(s). This post and the comments are purely for discussing how to move forward with those, and the changes are going ahead. It's not for posting technical questions.

But in short, your data is in whatever .mmw file (or files if you chose to have more than one) that you created to put them in, so that's all you need to copy.

Sum Sense said...

Extremely sorry to hear this unwelcome news. May God give strength to all surviving family. Is it true the Polish President was on the same plane?