Rocket Languages Blog An apology and details regarding the 2016 Edition

An apology and details regarding the 2016 Edition

jason-oxenham-ceo

Hi all

Your feedback has resonated with us loud and clear. While for the majority of people the 2016 Edition works fine, for a significant few the experience hasn't been great and for that I apologize. Some people have asked how it got to this stage when the old system worked well for them, for those people in particular I owe you an explanation.

Here's what we should have told you

Rocket Languages started over 10 years ago. A LOT has changed since the birth of Rocket Languages, there were no smartphones, tablets or apps, in fact even Youtube and Facebook didn't exist until after the first Rocket Languages courses were online.

This means that the code-base that all of our courses were built on originated over a decade ago and over that time we went from audio files and pdfs to all of the functionality that was present in the old version of Rocket Languages. "Spaghetti junction" is what some of our developers liked to call it!

The truth is that our mission has always been to strive to produce the best online language learning courses in the world. This has meant prioritizing the way the courses function from an e-learning perspective, sometimes at the expense of the long term health of the code structure.

What pushed us to fast-track a solution?

You may not be aware that the old Rocket Record was based on Adobe Flash technology (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Adobe_Flash). Up to the early 2000's Adobe Flash was used in around 50% of sites, mainly for any web based interactivity (like Rocket Record). Unfortunately, as time went on, it became more obvious that Flash had/has a lot of security vulnerabilities, so much so that Firefox and Google Chrome actually blocked Flash from working for a few days in July 2015.

Of course this meant that none of our courses worked while that block was in place.

While we were already working on the 2016 Edition at that stage, it made us realize that we had to fast-track the process as there was no way of knowing whether (or when) the browser companies would do the same thing in the future.

We probably reacted a little too quickly to the perceived threat, and even though we had a couple of months of Alpha and Beta testing it now transpires that it wasn't enough to catch everything that could go wrong.

The best alternative

The best alternative to Flash is HTML5, which is becoming the web standard for rich media applications like Rocket Languages. The great thing about HTML5 is the ability to use speech to text technology, which means that you get real feedback on your pronunciation.

While currently this is only available in the Chrome browser, I know from personal experience that it really helps pronunciation. It’s worth noting that a native speaker would get 100% on Rocket Record if their microphone is set up properly.

Most other browsers are actively working towards incorporating this technology.
   
We need your input to move forward

So, from here we need to look forward and work through all of the issues that are facing members. As we have been receiving feedback from a few quarters and I would like to take this opportunity to establish one portal for all feedback. This way we can systematically go through the issues and come up with a coherent plan to fix them.

If you are still facing issues with any aspect of your course then please detail the following if it is applicable;
  • The browser(s) you are using, eg Chrome, Internet Explorer, Firefox etc
  • Your operating system, eg Windows 7, Linux etc
  • Your microphone set up, eg headset vs built in mic
  • Any useful screenshots
  • Any other useful and specific information to help us get it sorted
And email all of that to   2016@rocketlanguages.com or Click here to send us an email

We will collate the issues and see what similarities there are so we can best prioritize the fixes/changes.

Please be patient as this process may take a few days, even though we are working around the clock to improve things!

Above all, please remember this!

The last thing we want to do is annoy and frustrate our members. Why? Because that goes directly against our company philosophy of providing the best online language learning courses in the world, and of course it makes no business sense.

Our sole purpose is to provide our members with courses that truly help them speak and understand a new language faster than other comparable means.

We have always known that we can't do this without consulting with our members so please, if you are still having issues let us know.

Sincerely,

Jason Oxenham
CEO
Rocket Languages

KelllaurBailar

I definitely appreciate everything that Rocket Languages has been doing since the get-go concerning the repairs of the 2016 edition. Most everything is operating fine for me today function-wise. Gracias por todos!

Karen-B1

Sadly, very little is operating well for me though I do appreciate the effort of the team in trying to rectify the numerous problems.  Of note I am on Chrome which worked perfectly before the Update.  Now it does not work.

Donald-O

Since I changed my browser from Safari to Google Chrome all my problems have gone away.  I have an iMac and OS X El Capitan.  Thank you Rocket and to you Jason.

Steven-W15

Thanks for the explanations, Jason. It was definitely high time for a total remake: a tough situation with such a large installed base. As I mentioned before, I'm amazed that the code held up for so long in such a dynamic environment. Technical issues aside, one thing that Rocket really could have improved on is better setting user expectations prior to going into this.
 

James-E73

I have moved to Safari and the experience is definitely better on my Mac. But it is still super slow to the extent that doing the excercises is not practical. I've been using my iPhone as a backuo for doing these exercises. However, the results do not sync up with the results I see when I log-on to my account online. It's very frustrating.

Update: I give up. I have wasted so much time this morning. I'm so angry. A week after buying this course they role out this awful update. What a scam. I'm surprised this blog works.

dhsf

Thanks for your reply. Unfortunately the improvements you mentioned in the speed of loading the page are not noticeable - it is still becoming unresponsive ie the screen freezes and the page unresponsive box appears when I go into my current lesson.I ask it to wait and after about a minute it responds.

There is also a 10 second delay between hearing a phrase and then being able to enter it in the text box in the write it exercise.

I am using chrome on a mac with OS X Yosemite 10.10.5.  I have also tried on a windows computer with chrome (os Windows 7 enterprise) and the experience has been similar.

I am also using different internet connections to test it which makes no difference to the performance.

jason-oxenham-ceo

Hi Steven - Yes, lesson learned!

Hi James/DHSF - I understand your frustrations. We are working on the speed issues as the number one priority. If you haven't already, please submit any other issues as per the blog post.

 

yan722

I do not need best online language course in the world, for me its enough language course that works and I think this is not the case at mom. Unresponsive internet site and not syncing mobile apps (iPad, Android) with computer are a little bit frustrating. I hope that instead of writing about best course in the world you are going to work hard that it at least works. I hope it will be fixed within short period as otherwise, despite I like the course, with these technical issues is unusable for me. Thanks 

KelllaurBailar

I used to have the problem with the "Page Unresponsive" issue, but I'm pretty sure it's a PC problem...I loaded the same things on another computer simultaneously and it was fine. And thanks for keeping up with the speed problem! It's much better today than it was a while back:).

dhsf

My page unresponsive issue is not a computer problem. I get it whether I use a mac or a windows computer and whether I log on at work or at home.

It is getting worse not better and is causing a lot of frustration and wasted time. How long do I wait  before I give up and ask for my money back (fortunately I can as I am still within the 60 days guarantee period)?

yan722

I have tried this on my laptop (MacBook) and desktop (iMac) and the issue still persist so I am pretty sure its not computer problem. Strange that on Tuesday when I took first lesson I have not experienced problems with speed or unresponsive site and it was already after 2016 Edition launch. The problems started on Thursday for me.

KelllaurBailar

I hate that my experience isn't paralleled with yours--that's definitely frustrating! I think if we wait a little longer with RL things will get better. These people have a lot to work on and redo, yes, but that's exactly why we need to have patience with them. My Spanish has improved so much because I joined RS. I hope it works out for you!

Karen-B1

I have been with Rocket Spanish for 3 years and absolutely loved it...until October 12. Unfortunately now the "upgrade" is a complete bust for me.  A real set-back (grinding halt) in my Spanish progress.  

Yet I will continue to wait...

Not sure why part of my comments come up in blue font when posted.  Likely another glitch.  

Bob-D

I did lesson 13.1 in Rocket French today.  Really, everything is very, very slow, and I used both Chrome and Firefox, Windows 7.  The "play it" feature is basically worthless at the present time (freezes constantly), and "write it" is pretty bad as well.  This is all pretty frustrating, considering how well all worked before the changeover.  I am just going to have to wait to hear from the people in charge that everything is up to par before trying again, because the experience right now is very poor.  I just hope it is not weeks or months.

Honest Tom S

I tried to adjust to this new system. I wasted 2 hour working with the voive recorder trying to complete the final test. I glad I didn't spend the money for the next program once this one is completed. Nothing reinforcse what you learn in you short term memory to assist what you learn to ensure that it is transfered to long term memory now. When playing the spelling Game I  saw the letters of a word and it would make my subconcious mind remember even if I wasn't concious that I was learning. Now that I know it's not there anymore, my motivation is at it's lowest. Go ahead and pat yourselve on the back, just remember that bad news travel fast and anybody will say this new system works better than anthing that tried if you promise to give them ten bucks. I can do bad on my own. again I say you went from Sugar to S-word in less than a month. I can get a free program that equal what ever you want to call this crap. After my final test which I'probable need about 10 hour because of this so call inproved program. I'm out of here bud.  

jason☺

While you all struggle with this site, I'm earning points over here
https://translate.google.com/community
Next time you use Google Translate, you can thank me. :)

Actually, it works for me on Safari, but it takes a few minutes to load up the lesson. I took the time to load a page with Chrome and I start to see why that version is so nice. The voice recognition is fun. I can imagine that this will  be great if the content delivery (cdn) problems can be worked out. Maybe consider using AWS or Google instead of Rackspace for delivery of all of the mp3 files?

Next time, you can consider doing all the development on AWS and then telling your load balancer to just send people with certain login info, certain browsers, or from certain countries to the new site on AWS. Or give people the option to choose V1 or V2 so they are not impacted while you work out performance problems.

If I open the debugging profiler in Chrome, I get a lot of https/http errors. If I have time, I will look into that a little. The debugging features in Chrome are really good. We can save timelines and let your engineers look at them.

When I load Rocket Languages I get over 46 errors.

When I load Duolingo, I get 4 lines in the console. I love the last one.

SoundManager V2.97a.20150601 (HTML5-only mode)
034d18ea3dec1c08014a-vendor.js:73 SoundManager 2 HTML5 support: mp3 = true, mp4 = true, ogg = true, opus = true, wav = true
034d18ea3dec1c08014a-vendor.js:73 SoundManager 2: Ready. ✓
034d18ea3dec1c08014a-duolingo.js:3 Duolingo is hiring software engineers: https://www.duolingo.com/jobs


Clean code. It's important. There should be zero errors and the page should load super fast.

Keep at it. Now that I took the time to wait and see a bit what you are doing, I like it. Now you just need to keep after those developers and make them clean up the new mess they created.

Threaten to feed them to the Kangaroos or hang them from ropes out over the Great Ocean Road until they get the code cleaned up.

You seem to feel you don't have a problem when you write, "While for the majority of people the 2016 Edition works fine". Well, if there are 46 errors in my browser each time I load, there are 46 errors in every browser for every member every time they load also. How many people are we talking about? How many pages are loaded during a typical user session?

Anyhow, good luck. Hope you get a few hours sleep this weekend, but don't take too much.

 

KelllaurBailar

Karen, I'm sure they'll have a good bit of the problems solved by Mondayish time. It is a setback, yes, but I'm going to give it some time and go for as long as I can. As far as Google Translate, it's fun (basic part, when you look up ____to____ translation)! I might consider the community bit in the future. Thanks for the suggestion!

Robert-B246

 Come on guys!  I just purchased the Platinum Rocket French last week and all of this week I have not finished a single lesson as the quizzes are so slow.  I can spend an hour and not finish a single quiz.  I know you are working at it and seem to think just a few have problems, but I have a new lap top, using google chrome (which you recommend)  I did try Mozilla and Internet Explorer with the same or worse results.  I can't believe I am one of a few having problems.

Each day I hope that it gets better, but I am sadly disappointed as it is the same each day.

Please give me an update an when this will be usable (my preference) or refund my money.

Thank you.

jason-oxenham-ceo

Hi all - I am pleased to be able to tell you that we have gotten to the bottom of the slow load speed that some people were experiencing. The scientific algorithm that we use to determine the re-display rate for words/phrases in the Test sections needed to be optimized for some people.

Those who have been experiencing slow load speeds may need to do a hard refresh. You can check out how to do that for your system here http://wiki.scratch.mit.edu/wiki/Hard_Refresh

Thank you for your patience. Rest assured we are working hard to sort out any remaining issues.

Again, if you have issues please submit them via the email address mentioned in the original blog post so we can build a clear picture of remaining issues.

Hi Jason :) - A couple of things; Those "errors" are in fact warnings. Without wishing to get too technical, the warnings are not an issue in system performance and are a result of having moved to https://. If you wish to follow up on that feel free to email me and/or customer support.

Also, so far, we have had a total of 8 people submit that they are having issues. Of course the real number of people having issues is likely to be more than that, however we have had tens of thousands of people login over the last few days. We understand that it is frustrating for those who have been having issues and we will continue to work with those people to resolve their specific cases as we always have.  

Karen-B1

I submitted my issues yesterday to the email address you provided.  The link you provided did not work.  I have not heard back that my email was received or being investigated.  I would love an update re my concerns if possible.  

Nothing has changed today for the better in regards to my issues.

Karen-B1

I tried the hard refresh to no avail.

 

yan722

For me it works now even without hard refresh. 

Fred-C14

Good effort folks! Except for the initial loading the operating speed is now great so I have a functioning Rocket German again. Although I have had to modify how I am learning I actually like some of the new features very much and I will probably quickly get used to the rest.

There is still some sort of a problem with the playback when I am doing tests. After about twenty recordings my recorded effort start to distort when placed back and and it also play over the start of the next phrase generated by the computer without me doing anything. 
The scoring problems you already know about but at least it seems to be adding up correctly towards badges. There are some other minor glitches but these can wait until things settle down again.

 

Samuel--88

The speed is excellent for me now, probably at least twice as fast as before the update even.  Still waiting on the issue I emailed about and the roumaji being hidden, but those are pretty minor.  I quite like the speech-to-text feature; even if it isn't quite perfect, it gives me a good idea of how well I'm pronouncing the words.

Karen-B1

Sadly, no improvement for me on any of my concerns.  
Audio bounces around and requires frequent mixture re-adjustment.
Voice to text only works if there is a female speaker who is only saying 1-3 words/syllables, otherwise the voice recognition is so completely off.
Rocket scheduler is still not fixed at my end.
Vocab not yet working.
Lessons do not stay closed after I repeatedly close them.
I have not re-checked the Play-It but I doubt that works yet either.
Still not sure whether my concerns are being looked at.

And so I continue to wait...

KelllaurBailar

Yan72, I didn't even do the hard refresh either. It's so much faster!
 

Honest Tom S

I found a new company that offers everything you threw out plus more. Hopefully I still can finish testing, I would like to get my certificate so that all the work I put into it won't be a total loss.That's life create a vacuum and someone else will fill it. Good bye.

jason-oxenham-ceo

Hi all - We are working through the remaining issues.

Hi Fred - I would like to find out more about the distortion issue you are having. If you haven't already please email support about it.

Hi T.bone Sheppard - The only things not in the new version that were in the old version are the Master Games. The Master Games can still be accessed if you really want them but we wont be offering technical support as they are not something that can be used across devices, being originally built for desktop use. We have replaced these with FlashCards, which we will add more functionality to and incorporate in the app.

Sandy-B12

I was about to give up in despair, and then I fiddled some more and it started to work.  I still find I spend more time trying to get the damn mike to understand what I'm saying than I do trying to remember the words I'm learning, but it should all get better from here.

Thank you.  This has been a real nightmare for you.
 

jason-oxenham-ceo

Hi Sandy - I am glad you got it working. The idea behind voice recognition is to improve peoples accent. If you feel that it isn't what you want to work on then you could use Firefox, which doesn't currently support voice recognition. In the future we may make voice recognition an on/off toggle.

Karen-B1

Jason, any luck working on the list of issues I submitted several days ago.  You had mentioned that once my audio was working better then maybe the Voice Recognition would work better.  Is anyone working on my specific audio concerns?

As well I saw a post of the French Forum from someone who said he got the Voice recognition to work well even when he put on a fake Texan accent!  How can that be when I am getting nowhere with mine and I am not using a fake accent to try and confuse the Voice Recognition.

Sandy...what exactly did you fiddle with to get your system to work?  I have tried everything to no avail.

jason-oxenham-ceo

Hi Karen - I will send you an email shortly!

Byron-K21

Hi Jason,

I just got on with the new release.  As you know, I was a Beta tester.  My main problem with the Beta was the voice recognition which now seems greatly improved.  I haven't checked out the other issues in any detail, but so far after about 20 minutes of playing with it, I'm not seeing any problems.  Obviously your team fixed many of the earlier ones.  I'm on Chrome.

jason-oxenham-ceo

Hi Byron - Glad to have you back!  Yes, we relaxed the tolerance of the voice recognition since the beta testing, among other things!

em21

Hi, 
Unfortunately, I don't check the Rocket news very often, so the new 2016 format got me by surprise. I have voiced my disconcern, and displeasure with it in another part of the forum, so I will not go into that now. But I do have a question that may be related to the change.

The day  I found the new format, it had been quite awhile since I had worked on my lessons. When I went to use the Record Recorder, a window opened asking if I would give permission to use my computer's Realteck Audio to do my voice recording. I didn't know what to do. I hadn't seen this before while working with Rocket. I just clicked it out, and tried again, but it would not let me continue until I clicked "yes" to the question.

I was wondering if this is something new that everybody has to do, or should I be doing something different to be able to record myself.

I am using Chrome (not by choice) in a Laptop with with Windows 8.1

I will appreciate your response,

Thank you,

Edie

 

jason-oxenham-ceo

Hi Edie - You don't have to use Chrome. It's just that, at this stage, Chrome is the only browser supporting the voice recognition technology. If you don't wish to use Chrome and/or voice recognition then Firefox would be the next recommended choice.

And with the Realtek prompt, yes, you will have to accept that for Chrome to use your mic. It's a security setting within Chrome.

em21

Thanks Jason, and I want to say that from now on, I will try to check the Rocket news more often.

I was using FF OK before, but now when I went there, after the change, all I got was a bunch of gibberich. The  window that opened was just full of letters, signals and numbers that didn't mean anything to me. I tried now again and the classes are there OK, but I am not able to use the Recorder. It tells me that I am sharing my microphone and to click to continue sharing. I don't know what that means, so I have to go back to Chrome. I would prefer to use FF, but these language classes would be useless without being able to use the recorder. 

 I know the aim is to keep up with the new technology demands, though sometimes this makes it more difficult then better for us.Thanks for being there to help us all with our questions and complaints. Must be very stressful for you, and I thank you for all your hard work. 

Thanks,
Edie

 

jason-oxenham-ceo

Hi Edie - That sounds like a specific issue with your mic. If you could email support with details of what's happening and a screenshot if possible then we should be able to get it working in Firefox.

em21

Great. I will try to get that together and post it asap.

Thanks,

Edie

Honest Tom S

Ok so you can teach an old Dog a new trick. 
I didn't like this new setup at all at first and wanted to leave but; in some kind of way i'm getting the hang of it and it's getting into my sometime thick skull. Ok I like It. the voice recorder is working perfect now for me.I also can live with just the flash card game. How about some more games in the future. $

Martin-S35

Hello
I came to do the level 1 test 8 and on test 1
after I have repeated the phrase 
the rate it.. sign lights up  and I press the  score poor to good... and nothing happens
the rate it sign continues to flash
This happens on Firefox so I tried it on Chrome (which I dont use normally)
and while there it sometimes gave me a response back on my pronunciation.
I got no further ... the rate it sign continues to flash
I have a built-in mic at the moment (But then found a mic and headphones and tried that interesting BUT cant do the test ... stuck!
Martin

 

jason-oxenham-ceo

Hi Martin - This has been fixed! Sorry about that!

Martin-S35

hi
Thanks seems to work OK now Martin

Ofer-O

The vocab in the old system was assorted Alphabeticaly which WAS GREAT, just like a private dictionary.
Am I the only one that is so unhappy by the new system that assort them chronologically????
It doesn't make any sense. My spelling in French is very bad (Still) and in  the old system it was very easy to find a word.

Byron-K21

I have to agree with Ofer O.  Some of the search features are nice but I liked the old way where you had a private dictionary that you could review.

jason-oxenham-ceo

Hi Ofer/Byron - My Vocab filtering will be added in next week!

penn65axp

I started Rocket Italian today.  Using Chrome rather than Yosemite on an iMac.  Everything seems to work great!  Thanks, RL.

Karen-B1

Byron and Ofer-I also am looking forward to an Alphabetically arrangement for My Vocab.  It will also be interesting to see what other Vocab Filters there will be.

jason-oxenham-ceo

Hi all - Just a quick update regarding My Vocab for those that are interested! We have just added improved filtering to My Vocab. So, those with large My Vocab lists will be able to search through it much more easily.

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