Expensive Paper Weight

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  • Updated 6 years ago
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Since receiving my 6700, no preview updates have been provided. I've had the 6700 for a month and was expecting more. At least with PWSDR, updates were frequent. Is it you are understaffed or just don't care?. In any case, at this point, it sure is a disappointment. You've got our money now provide us with SW to enable it!
Kirk, K6KAR
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Kirk, K6KAR

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Posted 6 years ago

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Gerald - K5SDR, Employee

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Official Response
Kirk,

You may have missed last week's Flex Insider where Tim explained the process of how updates go from designer's keyboards to your radio. I am posting the text of the article below for your reference.

Kirk, I can see the frustration in your post. We wish you had another build too. We are moving as quickly as our quality standards will allow. We don't intend to release software that has not passed our standard QA process. We are currently testing a new build and we will release it as soon as it is ready.

Since this community is new, I would encourage you to read the GetSatisfaction Company-Customer Pact. I expect all of our employees to follow this pact and I would hope that all of our users do as well.

https://getsatisfaction.com/corp/cust...

I look forward to your feedback on our next release.

73,
Gerald, K5SDR

FLEX-6000 SmartSDR Preview Release Cycle Timing

by Tim Ellison, W4TME

Since it has been 4 weeks since the last distribution of a SmartSDR for Windows Preview release, I wanted to provide an update to what has been happening in regards to the release cycle. One paramount requirement of the SmartSDR release cycle is that any software product we distribute to the Preview group must be functionally better and meets or exceeds the operational quality of currently available software. To guarantee this, there is an established quality assurance process that is applied to every potential software release.

Steve Hicks, N5AC the VP of Engineering, stated several weeks ago we were developing on rolling two week release cycles and we have been achieving that goal. After completing a two week development iteration we package a release for internal Gray-box testing which is performed by non-development FlexRadio employees. The intent of Gray-box testing is to search for the defects, if any, due to improper structure or improper usage of applications. If defects are found, we determine their severity level and decide if they are serious enough to prevent the distribution of the software release to the beta team. If they are, we do not distribute the software to the beta team, the defects are placed in the current development iteration and the development cycle continues with a skipped release.

If the release passes Gray-box testing, then it is classified as a "beta" release and distributed to our internal beta team of Flex users for Black-box testing and "real world" operational testing. Black-box testing is a quality assurance technique where the user examines the functionality of the application without knowing its internal structures or workings. This activity takes anywhere from 4-7 days to complete. Again, we collect the defect reports, log them into the database and evaluate their criticality. This allows us to make the "go/no go" distribution decision based on our key requirement; that we never release to the Preview group software that is not functionally better and meets or exceed the operational quality of the currently available software.

Unfortunately we had one beta release in mid-July that did not make the grade. This happens at times when you are trying to improve the performance and capabilities of the radio at the foundational levels of the software. The positive takeaway is that our quality assurance processes worked as intended. So, as procedure dictates, we rolled in the discovered defects into the mid-July two week development iteration which was completed last Friday. Since then we have been very busy Gray-box testing the new release, and so far it is looking very promising with the possibility of Black-box testing by the beta team starting today or Saturday. Therefore as the schedule indicates, if beta testing is successful, we are planning on a Preview release of SmartSDR for Windows and SmartCAT sometime next week.

73,

Tim
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Kirk, K6KAR

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Gerald,

I take umbrage at the suggestion that I didn’t follow the “Get Satisfaction – Customer Pact. Something is severely missing if you aren’t able to take criticism. This forum isn’t worth a hoot if an individual can’t responsibly speak his mind.

Regards,

Kirk, K6KAR
Niceville, FL
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Kirk, K6KAR

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Gerald,

As a further comment: Recently Tim Ellison in a posting that he recently made at the inception of the Flex Radio Community said, “Customers can comment, rant, rave, ask and answer questions, suggest ideas and even have conversations with employees of Flex Radio Systems, from programmers to the CEO himself. ” Based upon this, are you saying this isn't so? Yes, I'm on a rant but it appears that Flex Radio Systems is dragging their feet.

73,

Kirk, K6KAR
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Steve K9ZW, Elmer

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FlexRadio System is being very clear with us that the next Preview Edition software is still in testing.

They have been clear to the point of which stage in the process (past grey box and now at Alpha Black Box expecting feedback shortly).

They have been clear that previous candidates didn't pass.

And they have been candid that expectation for/upon successful Black Box is days away.

To quote the August 3rd FlexInsider: "The positive takeaway is that our quality assurance processes worked as intended. So, as procedure dictates, we rolled in the discovered defects into the mid-July two week development iteration which was completed last Friday. Since then we have been very busy Gray-box testing the new release, and so far it is looking very promising with the possibility of Black-box testing by the beta team starting today or Saturday. Therefore as the schedule indicates, if beta testing is successful, we are planning on a Preview release of SmartSDR for Windows and SmartCAT sometime next week."

Both parts of this two-pronged communication system is a great improvement, and the candor that a release candidate failed quality control is refreshing.

Every one of us is eager for the next update, and every one of us could have waited for production software but chose to volunteer for the Preview Edition process.

Understand your feelings and continue to trust that our mutual patience with FlexRadio Systems QC & Communications continues to make this fun (and keep racking up QSOs.)

All best and 73

Steve
K9ZW

NB Would you have time for a 6700-to-6700 Sked?
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Kirk, K6KAR

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Steve,

Thanks for your comments. Although I appreciate your review of the Flex Radio Systems QA process, (as it's been reported), I'm very much aware of this processes (or lack of), they are using. Without question they, are not after an SEI or IEEE qualification. I'm I being impatient? You bet! FRS has reported in another email that they will be releasing version 1.0 in about 4 weeks. How can they really think they will be releasing it, when they haven’t been able to get a preview release out in over a month. I believe they have a LONG way to go before version 1.0 is ready, that is, if they really want people to be impressed with the first production release of the software. If version 1.0 is as weak as the first and only preview release, then why waste our time?

Regards,
Kirk, K6KAR
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Steve K9ZW, Elmer

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Hi Kirk

Let's remember the new process briefings (and this system) are pretty fresh, and largely a response to communication needs - and has been a step by step improvement.

As I'd received my radio a bit earlier, I saw the good work done in the three SmartSDR Preview Edition releases I've used, including the roll out of the new DDUTIL/CAT portions.

Hoping the next Preview Edition passes muster and is out this week.

Whether 1.0 makes early September or takes a bit longer is a different issue, and I'm okay either way.

Not feeling my time is wasted, but seldom do when I am having fun digging out DX.

Is the software ready - not at all, but they told us that when we volunteered.

Very itchy for some of the real potential to be released down the road.

All best and still open for the Sked if we could do it.

73

Steve
K9ZW
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Stu Phillips - K6TU, Elmer

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Kirk,

Software development is like making fine wine - as the saying goes, I shall drink no wine before its time!

I've been involved with the customer input and perspective on the 6000 series since it was a gleam in Gerald's eye and I've used SmartSDR and the radio from the alpha prototype stage - now I have production unit 007.

My background is also in professional software development as I led the software Engineering group at Cisco Systems in its hyper growth days. I'm still an active developer in my spare time (think FlexControl development and the like).

So I thought I'd add my perspective... especially on a radio that is setting the bar for performance that others will have to work hard to meet - let alone beat.

The software team at FlexRadio has to meet the expectations of the Preview customers - that means delivering functionality WITH stability. No matter how loudly the customer screams, shipping software that lacks stability is the #1 cardinal sin for a development group. Simply put, you NEVER, EVER, ship a release that you know is unstable.

Many companies treat their customers like mushrooms... they keep them in the dark and... y'all know the rest!

FlexRadio cares deeply about its customers - they have since the beginning and are being very open communicating status to their customers. It's one of the reasons I purchased my 5000 and why I signed up and paid my money for the 6700 so long ago!

Like you, I'm impatient - in fact, I'm the most impatient Flex6700 user there is because I've had this radio since the alpha testing began! Yes, there have been delays, yes there have been releases before this that were held back and yes, expectations are high.

They should be! This is a world class, kick butt product... and we are all clamoring to exercise its full potential.

But give the guys a break - they are working their butts off and care deeply about what they ship. Think about how good the wine is going to taste when you finally open the bottle!

Stu K6TU
...still impatient but patiently waiting!