Well last night the versions of the SmartSDR removed from the server just simply vanished from the Maestro screen. It was left with only the option to upgrade both the Maestro and the radio to 1.9.13 or downgrade to some older version that I do not remember the specific number.
So how is this any different from what Microsoft is doing with forced updates?
What if I saw some rare DX I needed and return to the Maestro that was working just fine an hour ago to work the station only to find out when I turned it on I needed to perform an update of the Maestro and the Radio instead of working the DX.
What if I had my cell phone trigger an alarm to alert me to the DX spotted on the cluster on 160M and it was the middle of the night when the alarm went off.
What if the radio was not located close buy and required a trip to ensure the update was done properly.
I am sure there are other scenerios in which having a update force to be done immediately without any action on the part of the owner of the equipment can be looked at as inconvenient.
Would it not make more sense to allow the owner to envoke the update when appropriate. Heck what was the urgency anyways. I think the message said that two Maestros had been affected.
Taking it a step further if Flex has that much control over the software on the device which I purchased with no alternative what could happen if someday the server with the software crashed or got erased or the company went out of business. Would I be left with a dumb Maestro?
Personally I'm overjoyed Flex got rid of the updates that could cause a bricked device. I was concerned of accidentally selecting one of them some late night.
FYI: The effected units were more like seven.
No harm - no foul.
The original point is valid. I see a reasonable alternative is to mark the "bad" versions but leave them in the system for a reasonable time (no definition for reasonable).
If I were to see "1.9.9 (not recommended)" on the screen, it becomes my option to change or leave it on for a while.
Version Management Policies have no perfect answer.
Does FRS play roulette with Maestros once they learned a version had serious issues?
Now if you have a version already downloaded, and a serious problem is found, the issues are even more intense and complex.
We've seen the struggle as Amazon with their Kindle and Barnes & Nobel with their Nook worked out issues like this, with the added fun of copyright issues, including regionalization/localization copyright issues.
So in the not yet downloaded update scenario, does FRS simple remove unsafe versions from the server and leave just known safe ones? Seems to make sense.
In the Already Downloaded and Installed scenario the decision tree seems to be a touch more complex, with the short-term & long-term negative impact of using a risky unsafe version the big factor.
At what point of risk does FRS "pull" the danger off Maestros in the Field vs a "push" to update to a safe(r) version?
If the flaw was so dire that your Maestro could brick, would you be happy as an end user to take that risk?
If it was a problem was so severe that could get you an OO Warning or even an FCC action, what should happen then?
At what point is the risk of inconvenience of a forced version changed offset by brick, OO and FCC issues?
Such is the complex decision tree.
A friend who had been working in telemetrics pondered one evening when user action to update or a forced update process was warranted for large scale commercial kitchen equipment?
If a 30% power savings was available my remapping, should it just happen?
If temperature overrun safety was improved by an update, should that one be user action or forced?
If a high risk temperature overrun existing hazard would be eliminated should the update be user action or forced?
Welcome to the Internet of Things and a Software Defined World!
My guess is there is no one-size-fits-all perfect answer.
even tell me if I'm running low on milk, what else can it do? What mischief might be next
when our personal networks can be accessed by someone who is merely able to crack
the refrigerator code? Might the 6000 become incommunicado or the washing machine
Apologies in advance,
This is not something that we enjoy doing (forced updates), nor is it something we plan to do often. But I am glad that we were able to find the problem and fix it without more failures in the field.
As others have pointed out, having our server not be available or just having a network outage will not prevent you from using your Maestro. It will work using any of the versions that are already downloaded on the unit.
Thanks to all of you for your support and happy flexing.
Thanks for your note and bringing up this issue. We have the same concerns you do and we actually talked through some of these scenarios before pulling the trigger on this. The one that was most troublesome for me was the "I got up in the middle of the night to work 160 grayline and had to wait for Maestro" scenario. There were wrinkled noses at this suggestion as everyone thought through it. I believe that removal of a version will rapidly decrease as we move forward, but we had a fairly serious issue that could have resulted in the return of Maestros to the factory and it seemed the lesser of two evils to remove the culprit software.
I don't follow things terribly closely, but my understanding is that Microsoft is embarking on a path to 1) push updates in as close to automatic/mandatory fashion as they can, 2) send telemetry back to Microsoft on what is happening on your computer including the context of your Internet searches, etc. All this is being done in the name of providing you with better service. In fact Microsoft has begun using the terminology "Windows as a Service" in some contexts. I have not done the research to determine the real goal here -- is it ad delivery? Is it to build a recurring revenue model? Microsoft has pages that deny it is for ad delivery, but there is considerable discussion and concern about what is being collected and how it is being used. Here's an example of the discussion.
It's interesting that when compared to Google, there are a lot of similarities: Google Chrome automatically updates. I bet most of you don't even know this, but it downloads updates and mysteriously updates itself in the background. Google Chrome is currently on version 55 and I've seen graphs that show which versions are detected on the net and it is heavily populated with the most recent versions because of this. No one gripes and no one complains because it just works. Google itself is inherently an ad delivery system, yet it is not irritating nor intrusive and is mostly benign and helpful so most people I know have a very favorable opinion of Google. The corporate motto of Google used to be "Don't be Evil" -- seriously -- although it has changed to "Do the Right Thing" now under Alphabet. These mottos recognize the possibility that they could do lots of bad things with the "information power" they possess, but they have stated they want to be a good steward of the data they receive.
Going back to the ham market, some products deliver with rather rudimentary functionality and do not add to this rapidly over time, either because that's not their model or the hardware simply doesn't have the capability of being enhanced much. This is not the way we see Maestro. We see it as a platform that you will be able to use to control your station (hence the name). This is very different from what other manufacturers are currently doing and it requires updates as we move forward and there are risks in those updates. There are plenty of people, we suspect, that are still on older versions of the Maestro software. We do not collect information on the version people are running nor do we collect information on what our customers are doing with their radios or Maestros. Personally, I'd like to have this information to help with product development. Knowing how your customers are using or want to use your product would be very beneficial in prioritizing what you're going to do next. We've discussed whether we would want to have an opt-in program so interested folks could allow their radios to "phone home" and provide this data, but we have not gone beyond discussions. If we did this, it would always be an opt-in program and you would have control over whether you provided the data.
I hope this helps you understand where our heads are on the whole idea of telemetry, automatic updates and the removal of bad software. We want the control to be in your hands except in cases where you would unwittingly be able to cause harm to a product you own. In these situations, we feel the need to act swiftly to prevent this.