How about finally fixing the Maestro to work as advertised.

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The Maestro has been release and sold for over two years.  How about finally delivering on the promise of it being used remotely.  Today I checked into a very large Florida resort that has the internet managed by Brighthouse.  I thought great they have internet connections in each individual unit so no sharing of bandwidth.  I brought the Maestro along.  What a waste.  The internet signon requires a web page to accept the terms and conditions.  The the Maestro does not support this capability.  So as I have done before I called the facility internet support only to be told that it is the policy of Brighthouse to not add individual Mac addresses to their network.  They can only support web page sign-in at all their locations.

So to summarize the issues I have personally experienced in order to effectively use our Maestros remotely away from our LAN without the need to bring along other gear to handle all contingencies.

1) Provide VPN logon support.
2) Provide web page sign-in support
3) Fix the jumbo packet waterfall display issue.

Until these get fixed IMHO the Maestro is really a poorly implemented half backed product that represents a failure in operation compared to its marketing hype.  Having been released for over two years the longer these issues that any other tablet can easily handle get fixed it will continue to show that Flex does not quickly fix issues with their equipment in a timely manner post retail payment.  It is unknown if this is because Flex does not care about the users issues, does not have the technical expertise to fix them, does not have the resources to fix them in a timely manner or simply did not do enough prework to identify the issues before releasing the product.

And this does not take into account some of the other Maestro miss steps such as the none internally chargeable battery on initial release.

None the less where do these specific issues stand on the priority list to be fixed?
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John - K3MA

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Posted 2 years ago

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WW1SS - Steve

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Probably nothing on the list. Too busy with the new radios and getting the AMP out.
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Michael Walker, Employee

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My 2 cents on the Maestro (not employee related - related to 12 years of remote operating)

  1. Not sure why VPN support is required, but I am sure you have a very good need.  While I use one, today, I really do not require one.
  2. I'm not sure about the Florida resort, but what I have done many times is called the IT phone number that is usually associated with the Internet in your hotel and asked them to authorize the MAC address of the Maestro.  It only takes a few seconds and I have never been denied.   What also works VERY well is to have your Maestro cabled to the LAN port on your Laptop and then do Internet Connection Sharing (ICS) so that the Maestro can get online via your Laptop.  ICS is a Windows Feature.  This also works well.  
I also don't want my Maestro to be the be all and end all for all things remote.   With Laptop in hand and Maestro, I can do as much as I wish online including contesting.   However, my thought process is different, and I don't see these as limitations, but technical challenges that I enjoy working through.  The Maestro is just part of foundation.  Again, my personal perspective.

I keep a remote PC at the radio end so that it makes it so much easier to control external devices from a single point.  I then do a Remote Desktop (or some other well know method) to connect to this remote PC.  I can do that from any Laptop whether PC or MAC and I have full control.  By having a single PC for all the systems IO (command and control) it is also very easy for me to share my station with anyone I chose once I give them the credentials.  It also makes it easy for me to change them.

My remote is remote enough that I don't actually physically see it from October to April as it sits in Central Ontario out in the cold unheated building.

John, all problems are tracked/logged and calling the staff names won't help your cause much.  I have worked with the Flex staff (not as an employee) since the day the 3000 came out.  These guys are some of the best in the industry and they work some very long and hard hours to deliver affordable equipment.  Your requests are known and logged.

Don't get me wrong, I hear your frustration but I thought I would share my personal preferences, and some internal thoughts.

Mike 
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Jay - AJ6AZ

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If the MAC address is the barrier and you have a windows computer, I have an idea you might try. It involves downloading some MAC spoofing software to the PC. https://technitium.com/tmac/ You then spoof the MAC address of the Maestro via this software on the computer and then answer the terms and conditions. Then return the PC to normal and try the Maestro. Hopefully that may work. By the way I’ve never tried this so I don’t know that it would actually work but might be worth a try.

I’m sure there’s probably MAC spoofing software for Mac OS as well.

If anyone tries it and it works let us know.
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Bill -VA3WTB

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Was wondering, What is Flex to fix? I thought the Maestro does work remote?
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John - K3MA

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@Mike - Thanks for you detailed reply.  Firstly, please point out where I called the Staff names?  I never mention anyone specifically or the staff in general.  So I am confused why you even mention it.  Secondly, I am glad these issues are on the list but my question is specific in that I have been waiting for 2 years.  Other items have come along that have received attention.  It would be nice to know if these are going to be addressed in 3 months, 6 months, a year or never.  I also believe anyone looking at buying a Maestro might find the information important to their decision.  Thirdly, I am aware of all the options you outline.  I also run my station remotely nearly 100% of the time.  The Maestro was not advertised and sold as LAN only device and should be useable on the WAN without having to utilize work arounds.  None the less understanding it takes time for things to get fixed waiting two years with no firm date for fix would be considered patient in most situations.

In closing I would say that often we hear on this forum the explanation that we need to be patient and wait.  That Flex wants to do it right with no issue when they release a product and that is the explanation for the missed dates.  In this case it has not be done right upon release and it should be fixed in a reasonable time.  Given two years has passed I think it is reasonable for Flex to address these my question of how they fit on the priority list.

@Bill - please go back and read my message I clearly lay out three specific issues in which the Maestro does not work correctly.  Other uses may have more but these are the ones I have personally experienced.  If you do not have those issue with your Maestro then I guess you would not understand but that does not mean that other are not having these issues.
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Steve - N5AC, VP Engineering / CTO

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Official Response
John, just FYI we've been working on #2&3 recently which I consider to be significant implementation issues that affect a large number of customers at least some of the time.  #2 we knew at launch was an issue, but set it aside in the interest of getting to market.  #3 was a surprise that was not revealed during our beta testing. #1 is, for me, an edge case that I don't feel compelled to address at this time.  I hope to be able to update the current implementation with #2 and #3 fixed soon.
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Pat N6PAT

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Did you just say that you knew about " significant implementation issues that affect a large number of customers at least some of the time" at launch time but went forward anyway in order to get to market?

Did you tell any of the potential customers of these known significant implementation issues before they made a purchase? I certainly would hope so.

I own a 6700 and am very happy with it but I would be very upset if it had significant issues that were known but not disclosed at time of purchase. This is the exact reason why I dumped my FT450D and bought Flex. Yaesu knew about a serious VFO problem for years yet kept selling faulty units,  one of which I was unlucky enough to purchase.
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Bill -VA3WTB

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Pat, from reading Steve's reply I don't think your wording was his intent, Flex has never ever had a reputation of rushing products to market till they are ready, never.

#1&2 were never a secret and customers knew they were not implemented at the time of purchase. And as time went on people using the Meastro at some hotels and resorts have had problems working through some of the networks in these places. But for the most part it does work remote very well.
(Edited)
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Pat N6PAT

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I'm reading what he said:

"John, just FYI we've been working on #2&3 recently which I consider to be significant implementation issues that affect a large number of customers at least some of the time.  #2 we knew at launch was an issue, but set it aside in the interest of getting to market."

That sounds like they knew of these issues but went forward to market.

If customers knew about this beforehand then why are they complaining now?
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Bill -VA3WTB

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Good question, why were they not complaining at the time of purchase?
2) Provide web page sign-in support
3) Fix the jumbo packet waterfall display issue.

People had ample time to use it and return it if it did not work as intended. Or at least ask about them shortly after.

But for you to suggest Flex withheld information to rush to market is way over the top.
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Pat N6PAT

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I did not say they withheld information. I said if they knew of these issues that I would hope they informed customers prior to purchase.  I also said if I had issues with my 6700 that were known but I was not informed then I would be upset.

Steve said that they knew of these issues but went forward to market. His words.
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Pat N6PAT

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Bill,

Regarding your comment:

"People had ample time to use it and return it if it did not work as intended. Or at least ask about them shortly after."

Some folks may not have needed remote capabilities when they purchased but circumstances have changed causing them to now require the included feature.

I have not yet used Smartlink and may not ever use it but something may prompt me to need to use it in a year or two. Not everyone uses every single feature right away and given the enormous number of features in a Flex radio I'm sure that happens a lot.
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Bill -VA3WTB

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I know Pat, I think my main point is this. Hiding info from customers for sales has never been in Flex Radios business practices. 

Gerald has been asked a few times how they decide when a product is ready for market and one thing he mentioned is that they discuss if there is anything missing that has to hold the release back, mostly talking about a feature or something not implemented yet, is it a deal breaker? and can that be implemented later? If there is something that causes the unit not to work properly then yes it is held back till fixed.

I don't work for Flex but I know how they do things based on the past and things they say, to my original point about what Steve said here, when the Maestro came out they released it with some things not implemented yet based on peoples needs. The idea is to add it later, so as more people take the Maestro abroad into hotels and such the needs are more relevant. So as he mentioned they have been working on these things already.
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Pat N6PAT

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Bill,

This is the last time I'll mention this but Steve states that there were " significant implementation issues that affect a large number of customers at least some of the time." that were known at launch but set aside to get to market. 

Why would you ever release a product that still had "significant implementation issues that affect a large number of customers"? That's not good policy in my book.

Like I said, I really like my 6700 and have not had any issues but when I read that statement I just had to toss my two cents in because it really surprised me that a VP would make a comment like that.
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Varistor

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Saying we knew about #2, but didn’t think it was a big deal is the same as saying it’s not a big deal to be able to use the Maestro in most public spaces. I don’t remember ever being at a place without a captive portal. It’s not just hotels, it’s everywhere, from airports to parks to Starbucks.

I don’t own a Maestro, but can fully understand and appreciate how Maestro owners feel.
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Bob - W7KWS -

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Steve,

For No. 1, is there a reason you can't simply add back in or enable the native Windows VPN client? This would solve No. 3 while you look for a permanent solution. It's very frustrating to travel not knowing where & when my Maestro will work.

You could remove the client once you have a solution.

By the way, regarding the comments from others above, I bought my Maestro a year "before" WAN remote was advertised as an included feature.

It's SmartLink for $199 that suffers problems 2 & 3. Problem 1 was never advertised by Flex that I remember.

I suspect the two year time reference should be much shorter to be fair to Flex.
(Edited)
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K1UO - Larry

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How does the Jumbo packet waterfall display manifest itself?   Guess i missed that one or may have seen it and didnt know what I was seeing.
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K1UO - Larry

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Nevermind....   Guess I missed the first big "Jumbo packet frame" debate :)
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Michael Walker, Employee

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It isn't jumbo frames, but UDP packet re-assembly.  You will know you have it when your radio works fine, but you have no panadapter or waterfall.

I confirmed that in my case it was my inbound firewall that caused the problem, aka, at the user end.

It was a hardware setting on the NIC card on my firewall (not at the radio end).   That solved my Waterfall/Panadapter issue.

Mike
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Bob - W7KWS -

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Look here for a discussion on Jumbo Frame.

https://community.flexradio.com/flexr...
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Ria - N2RJ, Elmer

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When I first saw it (in the employee cafeteria at work) I would hear audio and see S meter moving but no waterfall or panadapter. That’s basically what you will see. Most times you can use the radio blindly without a waterfall since radio commands are TCP and the audio packets often aren’t fragmented and thus not dropped by the firewall do not fragment policy.
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Bob - W7KWS -

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Ria,
It doesn't seem to me that my inbound firewall at the radio site is at issue as others have speculated since I can get full Maestro access from some locations and not others.

A recent post, I think by Tim, said the problem is in the Internet. That some networks in the path summarily throw out packets marked as fragmented as a simplistic security measure.

Do you have insight into this. It would be great if I could determine if this is one, the other or something else? It would be nice if I had some ability to improve this with a simple LAN firewall adjustment here at home.
(Edited)
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Ria - N2RJ, Elmer

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It doesn't seem to me that my inbound firewall at the radio site is at issue 
It isn't. It's corporate networks and their firewalls. It isn't the Internet in general as the areas I have experienced it in are specific types of environments - certain public wifi and corporate networks. In fact I have confirmed with my IT security department that they are dropping fragmented packets for security reasons. It's framed as DDoS protection. 
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NX6D Dave

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Ria has pointed out the reason this problem got past testing, "specific types of environments".   Any small testing group runs a real risk of failing to test the device in enough environments to rule out surprises after launch.  We were all surprised when the dropped fragmented packet problem appeared, after all of the time we had in SmartLink testing.
(Edited)
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David Livingston

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I wish they would or could fix the USB D-Star dongle.  That has been over two years also.
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John - K3MA

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@Steve TU for your response it is exactly what I wanted to receive and appreciate it.  I can agree #1 is not the most important NOW and if you do not do it but complete #2 and #3 then I as a user will be satisfied.  For me if #1 was working then I could continue to operate thru the VPN connection with no issue while the other items were fixed.  I also understand it is not good use of resources to work on it when those same resource could be working on #2 and #3.  I also agree with your comment about #3 not showing up in testing.  You did say those exact words to me in person at the Orlando hamfest when I presented you with a picture of the screen showing the problem.

@Bill With all due respect and you can go back and check dates.  People buying the Maestro originally did not know that #1 would not be provided.  In fact I along with others specifically asked if the Meastro would be released with VPN log on capability.  I asked a Flex employee directly at a hamfest.   I was told directly YES it would be.  It was only after shipment had begun that it became apparent it was not included and then it took sometime for the issue to be raised on the forum and for Steve to provide a reply explaining why it was not included and that it might be added in the future (might may not be his exact words but as no guarantee was given but rather implied.).  At least this is how I remember it.
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Bill -VA3WTB

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This 2 years ago before Maestro was released

 Steve - N5AC, VP Engineering

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Official Response





As it stands now, we have decided to produce the first release without VPN.  This is simply a reduction in effort to get Maestros in everyone hands as quickly as possible.  This could change if we get through everything we need to do quickly, but as it stands now w will not have VPN on release day.
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Steve K9ZW, Elmer

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Put in a “full effort “ rather than blaming FRS for a really stupid rant where you neither did your homework, created your own backup plans, and ignored the present fact that your list is not available in the here and now.

To head off, hit the wall, and then piss & moan publicly that you were unprepared and someone else should make it right simply peeves at lest me as a community member.

I’m not going to even lay out how I take my Maestros traveling, as a few minutes reading on the community you can plenty of “plan B” methods. I do take the remote part of a Raspberry Pi based VPN and have called the hotel’s sort with some success. And sometimes for reasons well laid out it just doesn’t work.

I’ve had a pair of Maestros from right when they can out, and more often than not I’ve been able remote them.

I’ve found hotels where an iPad was the way to go, and cases where either the Maestro or iOS remote didn’t work or worked poorly.

I’ve not dragged around a cellular hotspot (miFi?) because so many places I go have rubbishy cell data coverage as well.

One your feature requests:

1) Provide VPN logon support.
2) Provide web page sign-in support
3) Fix the jumbo packet waterfall display issue.

All are known current limitations.

So you headed out absolutely knowing you couldn’t do this stuff, so sorry - nobody rained on your parade.

Be prepared and have your work around as ready.

But nobody is joining you pity party when you aren’t prepared. Sorry.

73

Steve K9ZW
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Bob - W7KWS -

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:-(
(Edited)
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Pat N6PAT

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You're an Elmer with that attitude? Insulting a poster is certainly not what I would call offering a helping hand and it certainly doesn't help the situation.
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Steve K9ZW, Elmer

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Be clear I am not a FRS employee.

An Elmer offers solutions, encouragement and if in their capabilities technical support.

There’s no obligation that do not have to suffer nonsense in the process.

I’ve been involved with what became the Maestro from before if had anything other than a project name. Like since fall of 2013.

While I’d also appreciate the added flexibility (pun intended BTW) of the three “demands” they did exist when I paid full price for my Maestros nor did I have some unattributed personal recollection of a promise to create any solutions just for me get in the way of my purchase.

And if I set off to remote I’ll equiped, it was my own fault, and not someone else’s.

If your cup is only always half full you really are missing truly how full our cups are.

Only a rare few could do remote only a few years ago.

Almost none could do it without a fairly complex home and remote set up, and perhaps none in the amateur world could remote the panadapter and waterfall.

Any Maestro-like device was likely hand built and fragile.

Even now, do we have all that many Maestro-like dedicated hardware options? And what there are offer subset of the Maestro features.

Is the Maestro and SmartSDR “complete?”

Not only is that “no” but BY DESIGN they won’t be.

As always reflect on what features you HAVE to have, before buying into an ecosystem and be prepared to be flexible (another pun) along the way.

73

Steve
K9ZW
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WW1SS - Steve

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I guess if you don't like what someone else says maybe you should just delete it instead of belittling them. You have done it to others too including myself. I myself am getting quite tired of listening to your rants so I will just hit the delete button. Nuf Said
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Ria - N2RJ, Elmer

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I doubt that Flex wants unhappy customers, but at the same time they do have to balance between a lot of things here. With all things flex, a heavy helping of patience is needed but the rewards are immense.  As an alpha tester and elmer I help them the best as I can. I did encounter issue #3 in my testing of SmartLink and since they positively now know what is causing it, they can work on a suitable solution. 

Steve says he and the team will make it right. I trust them. 

If you want some other VPN based solutions in the interim, I can help. I have a blueprint and PoC for raspberry pi VPN based solutions for Maestro. I have documented bits and pieces of it here on the forum but it is not too hard. You can also use a Windows PC and route through that as well. Both seem to work. I've never turned down requests for help here and I don't plan to... so please, feel free to reach out. :)

Ria
(Edited)
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John - K3MA

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Wow sorry to provoke such anger especially when the VP of Engineering answered my specific question satisfactory.  You would think I had shot someone's dog.
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John-KC2QMA

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I was going to buy a Maestro when I ordered my new radio last May but the Maestro is just not ready For remote operation in one of the more obvious locations, Hotels and that’s where I would be using it most of the time.

For me a PC laptop & Flexcontrol is the way to go right now for remote operation.
(Edited)
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John - K3MA

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@Steve K9ZW I read you post in detail and you to jump to conclusions.  You say I should not blame Flex for not being prepared to operate remote.  Please take the time to read what I had done below to prepare to operate remote this trip (and most others) and then my comparison to operating remotely with another option I have and do use.  Once you have done that then try to put yourself in mine and others shoes and ask the question why all this extra stuff should be needed two years after the product was released.  Once you have done that and taken you own biases out of the equation my hope is that you will begin to understand why I asked the questions.

For this particular trip I have with me the following equipment and a large plastic tote to carry it.
Two Laptops
One Maestro
Six LAN cables of various lengths
One Network expansion over electrical line box
One Flex control
One 8 Port LAN Switch
One Cellular hot spot
One iPad with Flex iOS installed (I do not use if for anything else)

This is only the gear for being able to connect and operate the Flex and there is additional gear for audio connections.

As I said in my past post I operate remote almost 100% of the time.  Even when at home I operate remotely for consistency of setup and work flow.  I bring this much equipment because I have found I need to bring it to cover every issue that I have encountered so far that has prevented or gotten in the way of me being able to operate the Flex remotely.

Two Laptops for redundancy and also to allow the other controls and monitoring software to be viewable.  Often when the Maestro will not or cannot connect I need to run SmartSDR on one Laptop while running the monitoring software on the other.

Six LAN cables of various lengths.  8 port switch.  LAN expansion over electrical line box.  Are all brought along because a wired connection often works better than a wireless connection.  Many time I have seen the Maestro wireless connection have issues that are corrected if I can establish a wired connection.

In fact in this particular location I am staying at I mentioned they have a policy against entering the MAC address into the network and bypassing the terms and conditions web page.  Well I managed to find the internet modem in the room and was able to wire into the system directly using the LAN cables and switch I brought along so now I am able to use the Maestro with a wired connection in this resort and bypass the terms and conditions login page.  However, the waterfall does not work and there is a black square box in the middle of the area as a result of jumbo packet size issue.

The iPad provides another options should all others fail or if I need to use the wifi connection and login via the terms and conditions web page.

Finally, I have the cellular hotspot because many of the Hotel wireless connection that I can use have such low bandwidth that the Maestro audio breaks up on receive and transmit.  And yes I know how to adjust the display parameter to try to lower the bandwidth requirements.

Now I ask the question does this amount of gear and reasoning for it sound like I am not prepared?  If you still insist that I am not prepared then truly you have no capability to be reasonable.

Now let me tell you that all this stuff should not be necessary.  Before there was even a VPN remote operational capability with the Flex I was operating remotely with several different radios by using a Free software package called RCForb or also referred to as Remotehams.com.  Actually, I still use it today with a KX3 connected.  It provides a backup when all else fails with remote operation of the Flex and when I want to listen while driving.  Although, this program can be used on a Laptop or a Android tablet or phone with nothing more than a low bandwidth internet connection and a headset connected.   I get away with using it with my Android cell phone and the ear buds provided.  It always works and it works well.  Also, I can control the rotor and the amplifier from within the native software.  It easily integrates with N1MM by using K3 emulation so I can operate with contest logging capability.  None the less I prefer to have the Flex panadapter available and try to use it remotely when possible.

Hopefully, now you can clearly see that your post saying I am not prepared is just not correct.  And hopefully with this long post explaining what I have used in the past to operate remote  allows you to understand why I feel all this stuff that I have to do to operate the Maestro remotely should not be required.  None the less I do it and continue to wait for Flex to put the required programming resources into fixing the problems so that using my Flex remotely can be closer to a reasonably easy experience.  With Steve VP of Engineerings answer I will continue to wait hoping it does not take another two years to see the fixes implemented.
(Edited)
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WW1SS - Steve

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John . . . That is a lot of stuff needed for remote. You should be able to just pull out the Maestro . . . plug it in . . . connect to a wireless network . . . and go. Hopefully some day it will be that easy??
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John - K3MA

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To quote Steve N5AV "#1 is, for me, an edge case that I don't feel compelled to address at this time.  I hope to be able to update the current implementation with #2 and #3 fixed soon." 

I have no doubt it will be and I do not think he defines "soon" as another two years.
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Ria - N2RJ, Elmer

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You don't know that, and making wild speculation like that isn't going to get it fixed. Like I said - there are workarounds, and I know that the engineering team is looking at the issues reported. 
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John - K3MA

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What wild speculation are you referring too?  Is it thinking that when Steve says "soon" that it means less than two years?

Other than that the rest of my post is a direct copy and paste from what Steve N5AC VP of Engineering posted on this thread.  If defining soon as less than 2 years is as you say "wild speculation" than I would hate to see what you think a reasonable amount of additional time would be.  5 years?  10 years?  Never?
(Edited)
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Ria - N2RJ, Elmer

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Yes, saying it will take them 2 years to fix this issue. You do not know that. Come on, that is ridiculous... 
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John - K3MA

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Ria either my grammar is wrong or you are reading my statement wrong and assuming I am speaking from a negative perspective.  The meaning of my statement in the context it was written was to say it is not likely to take two years to fix but rather a much shorter period of time.
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WW1SS - Steve

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Ria . . . Why is it ridiculous. There are things that have been on the bug tracker now for 2 years. Like the ANF.
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Ria - N2RJ, Elmer

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It is! Steve said that they have been working on in recently. That doesn't mean 2 years out... 
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Bill -VA3WTB

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I believe Ria is right, there are things on the bug list that get pushed back in order to work on other things Flex deems as more important. Steve said that they have been working on many things lately and hopes the release is soon. Just take what he said and not read into it.
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k3Tim

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<deep breath>  The post by John that started this sub thread contained a sentence with a quasi-double negative. Upon reading it the first time my reaction matched Ria's. After further posts I re-read it very (very) closely and see the meaning was diametrically opposite from before. (exhale). 

Be that as it may I do like the 6500 + Maestro combo.  The aforementioned updates would be some  very tasty icing on a delicious cake.

_..--
k3Tim
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John - K3MA

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@K3TIM Double negative...poor grammar.....I guess it must be,  All I know is that when I wrote it my mind set was in a positive comment position thinking "soon" would mean something in the months range and not in the more than two year range.  Then boom...I get slammed for "wild speculation".  

Just in case I am not saying anyone at Flex said it would be months.  That is my words only.  Steve said "soon" and only he can answer what soon means to him.  I also know he will not answer that as it is against Flex company policy to communicate dates

So how about Tim close this thread.  I asked my questions.  Got a direct answer from the VP of Engineering.  Defended myself against various negative judgement/assumptions and now walk away with a good feeling that Flex understands the issues, and it will soon have a fix.
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Bill -VA3WTB

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We know Gerald travels a lot, I am sure he runs into these problems as well so he knows about the problems that can arise. As Steve mentioned they have been working on several items and going through testing, I hope that they get most of this stuff cleared up, or much better.

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