27 April 2015

What Ticks Off Engine Users? (Part II)

In our first epsiode, Ticks Off (Part I), we saw a cordial, if awkward, discussion between MacUser and Komodo Help. In fact, I cut the dialog at the point where the conversation became more pointed.

MacUser titled his next message, 'Don't sell Komodo for Macs'. Then he repeated some of the objections he had already made in Part I. Let's listen to the rest of the conversation.

MacUser: I am a very unhappy customer. Your web site leaves out some very important customer information. We pay you our money and then you tell us that Komodo does not include an interface. I would have never bought it if I knew in advance that some assembly was required. We pay for a package and you only sell us one part. The free interfaces you would have the customers use apparently do not exist, or at least the links don’t take us there. I’m not so good with computers and you guys can’t even tell me what the correct settings are. I think you guys are frauds. Especially now that I’ve had Komodo on for an hour and it finally got to 30 ply. Stockfish reaches 35 ply in two minutes. So I know you guys haven’t sold me the real thing.

MacUser ended his message with exactly the sentence that customer support never wants to hear: 'I’m going to tell all the chess players I know. At least you won’t be able to cheat them.'

Komodo Help: I have done my best to try and help you, providing you links and instructions on configuring the software. I am not sure what else I can do. We do tell customers that "Komodo just calculates moves and relies on other programs to display the chessboard." Look here: komodochess.com/installation. You are right, we sell just one part, the engine. And thousands of people are satisfied with that, along with may of the strongest Grandmasters in the world. We concentrate our efforts to make the strongest chess engine that we can, since a lot of other people already supply chess GUIs.

As for strength, you show not a single game Komodo has lost. You judge it weak but offer no proof. Komodo won the past TCEC against Stockfish since Komodo was stronger: tcec.chessdom.com/live. If you go to the Archive there, you can see Komodo and Stockfish have different reported "depths", but still Komodo won. Depth does not mean strength. You can search deeply by pruning important moves, and lose Elo. Hundreds of thousands of games by the rating sites confirm Komodo's strength,

I am sorry if outside sites have changed links. We have no control of other sites, but by using google it is pretty easy to see where things have moved. For example here is a SCID version for MAC link: download.cnet.com/Scid.

You can request a refund if you want. You will have to verify you have deleted all copies of Komodo 8, and we will have to delete your account if you choose this option.


M: I never belittled Komodo’s ability. I believe the reports are true. I’m disappointed it wouldn’t work for me. On the other hand, I do a fairly good job of representing the not-particularly-swift-with-silicon group, if I can’t figure it out, a lot of my friends aren’t going to solve it. I’m the one who complains that HIARCS isn't user friendly, I can only use half the stuff on that one. So I tried this new Scid link you just sent me and it has a pane to enter engines, but you’re going to have to help me fill it in: Name, Command, Parameters, Directory, URL, ELO. Meanwhile I lost Komodo and redownloaded so I could start from scratch..

A bit later...

M: As I read more about Scid, I see it has no editing function, so exactly how can I use Komodo with Scid? It also has it’s own data base format which then must be converted into pgns. So I guess it’s time to ask for a refund. It still looks like you guys were just pretending to sell me something.
K: I just had a friend install Scid for Mac. To install a new engine, click Tool - Analysis Engine. Then again click Tools - Analysis Engine a second time (strange, huh!). Type the path to the unzipped engine directories in the Command section. Use the OSX subdirectory and select the komodo-8-64-osx. SCID for Mac does let you setup positions under Edit - Setup Start Board (or Ctrl-Shift-S). I thought you were using Hiarcs Chess Explorer, which seems like a much more full featured product.
M: I’m happy that you seem to have come up with something that works. In the future I suggest that the actual information about how your product can be really installed be included on your web site so the consumer can see it before he pays for the product.
K: We do have actual information on our engine on our web site, including the need for a GUI. I sent you the link. Scid vs Mac is a fine choice, as is ChessX: chessx.sourceforge.net. Both are free. I personally tend to use the HIARCS Chess Explorer interface on OSX. All three programs provide configuration for loaded chess engines, allowing you to adjust threads, etc. Instructions for doing so are provided with the software, but if you are having trouble, just tell us which program you are using and we'll do our best to walk you through the process. In any case, I can assure you that Komodo works perfectly on OSX. Let us know how we can help you to get it up and running.
M: I deleted, as requested, all copies of Komodo from my computers. As of last night, my Komodo account was closed. So I am unable at this time to give Komodo another try. I did notice that your web site remains unchanged, you still take our money first before you tell us a separate GUI is required.
K: I told you we do say that on our web site, right in the instructions: komodochess.com/installation And on the top of the ordering page for Komodo 8 is say "Komodo chess engine", not "Komodo chess engine and GUI". I do not think you are reading what I send you. Also, I still see your account on the web site, so it appears the account is not closed yet.
M: I see the account is open again. When I checked last night, I didn’t get access. I’m not very good with computers, or maybe you just reopened it again, I don’t know.

The protagonists circled around each other for a few more messages. Komodo Help finally signed off.

K: Thousands of people have bought Komodo and are very happy with it. We delivered a working product and offered to help you install it giving specific instructions. You have been very unpleasant this whole time, unwilling to try what I suggested to fix your problems. You seem to dislike me.

Even though I sympathize with him, I told MacUser,

If this is a parody of the chess-engine-customer-from-hell, then it is very good. If not, then you owe Komodo an apology. Whatever the case, I'll use it as the basis of a blog post because the discussion contains useful information that is not widely known.

I'll recap that useful information in Part III. • P.S. (Under Windows) I use Arena, SCID, & Komodo, and I like them all!

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