by Steve Lopez

This week's ETN will be a short issue, covering a few basic issues that have recently popped up or questions that have been asked.

E-mail reminder
I've ranted about this one before, but it's time to get back on the soapbox again. When you send an e-mail to someone and expect a reply, you absolutely positively cannot "munge" your return e-mail address! While I understand that some folks don't want to give a valid e-mail address to a business (for fear of getting spammed by said business later), you can't expect a reply to an e-mailed query if your return e-mail address is invalid. ChessBase USA does not collect e-mail addresses for spamming purposes and does not sell or give customer e-mail address lists to other businesses. In fact, I routinely delete old e-mails from my mailbox every four to six weeks; the only reason I keep them that long is because I sometimes get a subsequent e-mail from someone starting with, "Remember that problem we discussed three weeks ago...?".

I mention this because on three occasions in the last month, I've attempted to answer user queries and had the e-mails bounce back because the return e-mail address was invalid. So make sure you have a valid return e-mail address in the header of your e-mail (don't bury it down in your sig somewhere or I'll miss it; I'm basically a lazy guy and like to use the "reply" button in my e-mail client). And if you're one of the three people who didn't receive a reply to your question, a munged e-mail address is the likely culprit.

ChessBase USA Tech Support and Customer Service
Two issues concerning tech support and customer service.

ChessBase USA has two different e-mail addresses displayed on our company's main index page. The tech support e-mail link (my link) is for questions concerning program features/operations or technical problems with a program. I'm also happy to answer product questions, such as "How many games are on the ___________CD?" or "Is this feature included in ChessBase/Fritz/etc.?" However, if you have questions concerning pricing, shipping charges, order status, etc., please send those to the other e-mail address, the one for Customer Service. I'm no longer a full-time ChessBase USA employee and am separated from the shipping office by several hundred miles, so I have no access to order and shipping records. I'm also unable to answer questions such as "Is Shredder 6 in yet? When can we expect it to ship?" -- I have no access to that information either; in fact, I'm just like you -- I check my mailbox every day to see if I have a new package from ChessBase. Our web page is updated whenever a new product is in our inventory, so it's your best bet for information on whether a new product is yet in stock. Otherwise please contact Customer Service via phone or e-mail (the information is on our main page), and Billy, Don, or Cheryl will be happy to provide answers to those questions.

On a related note, since I am a part-time ChessBase employee, I regret that I can't talk to customers on the phone outside of our scheduled tech support hours. So please don't send an e-mail with your phone number and a request that I call you on a specific day and time -- due to my family and full-time job committments, I'm unable to honor such requests -- I'm sorry, but there's just no way I can do it.

ChessBase USA holiday Tech Support hours
Since Christmas Day and New Years Day both fall on Tuesdays this year, ChessBase USA is moving technical support phone hours to Thursday for two weeks only:

Telephone technical support will return to regular Tuesday hours (6 PM to Midnight ET) starting on January 8th.

Fritz7 upgrade service packs
I've received a few e-mails about how to download the Fritz7 service pack. The SP is not on the ChessBase Downloads page; you upgrade the program directly within Fritz7 itself.

Get online and then fire up your Fritz7 program. Instead of clicking "Play Fritz" in the initial dialogue, click on "Playchess.com" instead. You don't need to register to get the service pack; you can simply log on as a guest by using the button provided. When the server window appears, go to the Help menu and click "Query upgrade". Fritz7 will check the Playchess server to see if a new upgrade is available and will download and apply it automatically. If a new service pack isn't available, you'll see a line to that effect in the Messages pane.

The file is fairly large; at 56.6 it takes between ten and fifteen minutes to download and apply the service pack. So don't try downloading it if you're late for work.

What's a Centaur?
I see this question on the chess newsgroups all the time. Obviously, a centaur is a mythological being who is half-man, half-horse. But on the Playchess server, it's a chessplayer who is using computer assistance (i.e. having a chessplaying program generate all or some of the moves of the game). So in this regard, a "centaur" is a player who is half-human, half-computer. The Centaur area on the Playchess server is an area set aside for games played by humans using computer assistance or for computers to play games against other computers.

Upgrading ChessBase 8
I see this question from time to time, and the answer is similar to that for Fritz7 (above). Get online and start ChessBase 8. Go to the Help menu and select "Online upgrade". The whole process is dialogue-driven, so you all you need to do is start the process and then read and follow the prompts. This is another fairly large download, taking about ten minutes at 56.6 bps. Just remember to click "Upgrade now" after the file is downloaded; you don't need to get offline to do this, as the service pack installation doesn't require a computer restart. And have your ChessBase 8 CD handy, as you'll be asked to do a CD check (ETN, January 21, 2001) the next time you start the program. If you perform the upgrade while the CD is in the drive, you won't be asked for a CD check later.

ChessBase/Fritz engine downloads
ChessBase GmbH has many free engines available for download on two different Web pages. They work in a similar manner -- just download a file, unzip its contents into your \Engines folder (using WinZip, Aladdin Expander, or some other extraction utility software), and you have a new engine that you can use in ChessBase or the Fritz family of playing programs. You can find the latest free engines by clicking here. However, there have been dozens of earlier versions of these programs available over the last several years on the ChessBase GmbH Downloads page. If you'd like to go back and get older engines that you may have missed, just click here. I'll confess that I was pretty surprised when I discovered this latter page; I always thought that I'd been pretty diligent in checking for new engines on a regular basis, but I discovered around a dozen engines that I'd missed archived on this page.

Until next week, have a very Merry Christmas and have fun!


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