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How to ask for help - PLEASE READ BEFORE POSTING.

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steve
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How to ask for help - PLEASE READ BEFORE POSTING.

Postby steve » Mon Mar 08, 2010 10:41 am

First, look in the FAQ and the WIKI to see if the answer to your question is there. Cumulus does also have a help file, with context-sensitive help. You could also try searching the forum but there are a large number of posts and I accept that it's not always easy to know exactly what search terms to use, so don't spend a lot of time doing that.

For Cumulus 1, read the readme.txt file in the Cumulus folder. You were asked to read this in full when you installed Cumulus, but many people don't. It may explain the problems you are having.

If you don't understand the information in the documentation, don't be afraid to ask for clarification in the forum. Similarly, if you don't understand the answer you are given, ask for clarification. Sometimes, I won't understand your question and I will have to ask you for clarification!

Cumulus creates diagnostic logs in its diags folder; if you look in the files, often error messages will be obvious, and it is sometimes clear what the problem is from the error message.

I only support the current release of Cumulus (either the latest build of Cumulus 1, or the latest build of Cumulus MX). If you're not using the current version, your problem may well be fixed in the current version (even if not mentioned explicitly in the changes), so try upgrading.

If none of that helps, please do post to the forum. When posting, make sure you post to the most relevant section in the forum. Don't add your post as a reply to an existing thread unless you are 100% certain that you have exactly the same problem. Don't edit your post to add more information - I may already have read your original post, and have no way of knowing that you've added more information or asked another question.

Include the Cumulus version and build number in your post (you can get this from Help | About).

Don't be vague when referring to error messages, quote them precisely, or cut&paste or show a screenshot,

If I ask you to 'zip up the diags folder and attach it' and you don't know how to do this: In Windows Explorer, open the Cumulus installation folder (normally C:\Cumulus). Right-click on the 'Diags' folder, and from the pop-up menu, select 'Send to -> Compressed (zipped) Folder'. This will create a file called Diags.zip. Post your message in the forum, and attach the file using the 'Upload attachment' section below the area where you have typed your message (browse for the file, then click 'Add the file').

Make sure your forum profile is up to date with your operating system and weather station details.

When posting a question, be very clear about what you are asking. If some of your data is wrong, say exactly what data it is, and why you think it is wrong - what value(s) should it have? State whether the incorrect data was recorded 'live' i.e. while Cumulus was running, or whether it was downloaded from the station's logger when Cumulus started up.

Be careful with your terminology - "downloading", "installing", and "running" Cumulus are separate actions with precise meanings; use the correct word to avoid confusion.

Add any additional information that would be helpful - if you have only just started running Cumulus today, or yesterday... say so. If you have just installed a new version and have hit a problem, say exactly what version you have installed, and what version you were using previously. mention any relevant configuration settings.

Supply screenshots to help explain what you mean. If the problem is with data on your web site, supply a link to your web site. If the problem is with your graphs or data, attach the relevant data log file(s).

If the problem is something that happened at startup (including reading data from the station logger), the first thing I will ask is for you to zip up your diags folder and attach it, so you may as well do this to begin with.

If you are having a problem with getting data on to your web site, turn on the ftp logging (on the configuration menu) and look at the ftplog.txt and/or realtimeftplog.txt file (in the Cumulus installation folder). If the problem isn't obvious, attach the appropriate file to your post, and say what ftp settings you are using in Cumulus. If you are having problems with Weather Underground or any of the other supported sites, turn on the debug log (on the Configuration menu), and look at the log (a file called debug.log is created in the Cumulus folder) to see what Cumulus is sending and what response is coming back. The debug log also contains information which may be useful in diagnosing other types of problems, but you will probably need to post the log on the forum for interpretation.

I am not trying to discourage people from posting questions! I just want people to get solutions as quickly and efficiently as possible.

Note: if the answer to your question is in the FAQ, help or wiki, I will probably point you in that direction rather than give a full answer. This saves a lot of time, obviously, but some people seem to be offended by this and become rude/abusive/difficult. Please remember that I have a limited time that I can spend on Cumulus, and the quicker I can deal with questions, the more time I have to spend actually developing it.

Please note that I do not do 'private' support; please post your question to the forum. There are lots of knowledgeable people reading the forum regularly, and they may well be able to help. Your question and its answer may well be useful to others, even if you think it's specific to you.

IMPORTANT: Cumulus stores your passwords in the cumulus.ini file. Don't upload your cumulus.ini file to the forum unless you take out all of your passwords first!

[This post to be amended and added to as I think of things or receive suggestions]
Steve
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