Put Yourself in the Other Guy's Shoes - And it Should Never Be Personal

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Put
Yourself in the Other Guy's Shoes - And it Should Never Be Personal 

Have noticed a couple problem threads again where needlessly distant end users are unsupportive of the volunteers (Alpha testers mostly) and needlessly critical of others (usually FRS.)

If a person steps back and thinks about this it is obvious there is no intent, no advantage, and no commercial benefit in either volunteers or in FRS purposely causing problems.  Ditto in releasing flawed software or in any way skipping Quality Assurance steps.

It has been actually pretty impressive what their system has done.  And I am super impressed with the efforts these folks make when something needs to be made right.

I'm kind of thinking that some of the issues are cross-cultural, as so often there is an overseas call involved.  And I have to admit I don't have a good feel for the cultural norms in the technology world, so some may how that profession holds itself accountable.

Putting good people on the defensive is seldom helpful.  Without digging too deep I think a lot of know that forum/community members "going negative" ended FRS ability to share the SmartSDR Road Map and has led to information being shared a bit less.

The only SmartSDR updates than have been mandatory are the need to update (or need to revert to a prior version) when a rare big bad problem made it all the way through Alpha testing and the QC process.  I think all but one or so of those were in Pre-Release software, so a pretty good track record.

In the odd case where something was broke - like a Maestro that had the not-bootable lock-up problem - FRS has been exceptional in taking care of the issue.

Is there instances with room for improvement - yes, and that is why the Community exists.  You have to take you hat off to a firm brave enough let a Community like this run with only the lightest touch of moderation. 

After all these words I am asking my fellow hams to join me in reflecting for a moment what the question, statement, claim/allegation is actually about.  To reflect what it will look like to the Alphas and FRS.  To consider what the goal is (to fix/improve/expand capabilities one would hope!!) and how my statement facilitates getting to that goal.

Put on the  Other Guy's Shoes and reflect a moment if your intended post would seem fair and get the right response from you if roles were reversed.

And don't forget that our Community is drawn from a wide range of cultures, technical skills levels, ages and temperaments. 

It seems really certain we are all pushing for the same utility and enjoyment in our hobby pursuit.  So let's do our best to get there!

73

Steve
K9ZW

 

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Steve K9ZW, Elmer

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  • terriffic and glad to be here!

Posted 2 years ago

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Steve W6SDM

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Very well stated!
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Mark - WS7M

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Well said Steve!

Having been a beta-tester for Microsoft and many others over the years it can be a thankless job.  It is impossible to catch every bug and the really important thing is what is done when a bug is found and it seems to me that FRS is pretty good about taking care of its users.

If you find a bug in Icom firmware... Just see how much support you get from Icom.  In fact the only forums I can find on Icom and Kenwook are completely user driven and I don't think any employees of the company frequent those sites.

Here we have the ears of FRS.  They may not always listen, they may not do what you want but at least the ear is there.

Mark - WS7M
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Walt - KZ1F

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Is that comment based upon experience or because it is a popular talking point propagated by non-icom users. Being a member on some icom forums they (Icom) get very high marks for responsiveness with turnaround measured in days not months.

If you don't want or expect people to bash your favorite product or vendor, it's probably wise to not bash theirs either.

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Craig Williams

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A Beta tester for Microsoft? You must not have any hair left. That has to be worse than water boarding.
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EA4GLI - 8P9EH - Salvador

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I feel I have to also chime in into this post.

Alpha Tester feelings -- Noted
FRS Employees feelings -- Noted
Flex buyers/users feelings -- not even a single reference in the post....

Putting yourself in Other Guy's Shoes should apply for final users of the product as well, shouldn't it?

None of these groups would exist without the others. A great Alpha team and a Wonderful FRS team will not exist without wonderful buyers of the products.

Furthermore, it is through criticism (hopefully constructive) that you push the envelope, that you create new things, that you step away from your comfort zone.

If we just take everything that FRS does as gospel FRS will never improve, it will never push itself to do better things, bold things. If there is a feeling of discontent and more negativity than positivity lately in the forum, maybe FRS and all of us need to look at why is that the case!  

You referenced Icom, so let me throw them into my post as well. Icom went thru a series of radios that were ill received by hams. The 7100 is a clear example. And if you analyze the rig it is not a bad deal... it is probably a very nice radio, with a solid tuner, touch screen, DStar, multi mode, multi band, detachable front.... but it just didn't work. 

They (ICOM's equivalent to Alpha team and devs) could have decided to sit down and throw wonderful compliments at each other ... and pretty much tell the hams of the world that they are all wrong and do not understand how many hours went into its creation and how wonderful the 7100 is, and how mean we are for not buying in by the thousands. How dare we question Icom!!!

The market spoke, and a wonderful radio by all technical measurement (for a heterodine no computer needed type of radio) just flopped. Icom can survive a few flops, until they got it right with the 7300.

For an almost boutique-like vendor like Flex, flops are not an option.... there is less room for mistakes. Of course, this is just my opinion based on external biased information, but i am sure I am not that far off.

We, as buyers and users of the product, welcome the forum, the openness, but, don't be fooled FRS needs to have the forum as well, and have the openness to keep hams engaged, hams willing to spend their money on their product. If FRS stops engaging the hams it will eventually fade into the background, so that is not an option. This forum, even with all the negativity around, does a lot more for FRS than you think. The 6000 series is a weird approach to radio tethered to Windows and iOS that is a tough pill to swallow without the incentive of the users and our praises.

So today, Eric and I had a go at it... and after some back and forth we actually got somewhere... to a small bug that was missed by all, and that back and forth, even if it got heated at times will get everyone that owns one of these radios, a better product.

That back and forth took a bunch of my time, it got me upset today and on the verge on giving up completely... but we powered thru it. I am sure it affected Eric as well.

We all have feelings Steve.

So maybe, next time, also think of the Users. When problems get posted and get no answer. When windows updates break Smartsdr and the only resource to a solution is in this place, when something is not understood and requires a helping hand from a fellow ham. Put yourself on the shoes of the guy that just spent a bunch of money to get a radio that today decided to stop working and the minute he/she posts about it he gets a dose of "it is your fault, FRS cannot do wrong". Those users also have feelings.
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Steve K9ZW, Elmer

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First, in clarity, I. am a fellow owner/user.

Second, point well taken, but I haven't noticed FRS treating any owner with less than utmost respect.

Third, finding bugs is awesome - well done! You achieved a good thing benefiting many with the cooperative teamwork with Eric.

Please dwell on that "cooperative" part of the solution. Never was any need to personalize the bug, only a greater need to find & fix it.

Be absolutely clear that I have never said FRS is always right or any of the things you may have read into my post.

I happen to very much like FRS's style, including some of the business things that happen behind the scenes. I also really like my FRS radios.

I especially like the friendly side of the community, the interaction with FRS and the ever improving nature of an SDR. I'm also appreciative of both forum and direct contact with hams all over the world who are also interested in FRS.

All said I owe you a beer or drink, as I should have made it clear that the cross-cultural was generalized, as we've had some very crossed wires between those UK based and those stateside. But that kind of has been happening a few hundred years...

All best and 73

Steve
K9ZW
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Mark - WS7M

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Hi Salvador,

First I echo Steve's comments to you for the most part.

I think you point out something interesting.  You state FRS needs the forum and community and pretty much I agree but in my experience, not specifically in ham radio, not always do companies follow that logic.

In my experience I used to use Borland compilers.  I was a beta team member and a Team B member.  Team B members were elected to help others learn and use the tools.  All we got in return was free copies of a compiler.  No pay, no expenses covered for our online time or effort.  

For years I took code that people wrote and debugged it under the guise of a Team B rep.  I got pats on the back, many thanks for solving problems and at times I reported bugs to Borland and many got fixed. 

It was in my opinion what made me choose the Borland product over Microsoft, Watcom, Digital Research and others.   At one point this all changed.  Suddenly Team B was disbanded.  Not formally but we were all basically told we we no longer any different from every other user.  No free compilers.  No direct line to the developers for inside info to fix problems or report bugs.

It killed, in my opinion, the products.  Later they were bought I think and operated under the name of CodeGear and later Embarcadero.  I haven't come back since.

So to FRS I think it is important you keep the forums alive.  I think the community gives you good ideas and in return you give great feedback on issues.

On your bug and having a go... It always is that way.  I develop bio-medical software for Flow Cytometers.  We take data from laser light bounced off cells at very high event rates and there are always problem, issues, bugs and sometimes we have to lower our guard and understand the operator truly has a problem and work to find it.  

Yes we've had the "gee why the hell are you doing that" moment with some operators and as professional we can't say that we have to simply show them a "better" way to do it.

Anyway I still maintain my point that here you get to hear from the President, VP of engineering, there is a customer experience manager.  All active on this forum.   I don't thing you can get that from Icom or Kenwood or Yaesu.   Sure you could buy Anon or some other SDR.  I still doubt you'd get the response.

I understand you are off continent and that makes it harder.  For US hams FRS is right in the center of the country practically and shipping is fast and easy.   As a smaller company I'm sure their European and other marketing outlets can't provide the same response so when you have a hardware issue it is much harder to get fixed.

I had an Icom radio that the display suddenly just went blank after about 4 months.  It was not light bulbs as it was a board with LCD display or something like that.  I spent 2 hours on different phone calls.  In the end my radio had to be shipped to the service center.  It was gone for 2 months.  One day a box arrived from Japan and there inside was a new radio.  My old one gone forever. Cool they replaced it.  Too bad I had no idea what was going on for 2+ months.   

Every FRS product I've bought or sent back I set real time feedback and info on when/where.

Anyway I'm probably getting off topic.  I think there is nothing wrong with should displeasure to FRS over bugs issues, things just not right, but I think the point of Steve's message is to keep the respect in place.

Mark
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Walt - KZ1F

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@Steve, I am glad you appear to have had a change of heart. In your criticism of others please don't forget just how caustic and dismissive you've been in the past.
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Jay / NO5J

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Remember, only "you" can fix "your" opinions.
And you will likely have to volunteer for that job, if you want them fixed. 

Any Volunteers?

 SDRgadgets

73, Jay - NO5J

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Mark - WS7M

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Hi Jay!  Ready to ship me that Spider Beam yet?  :)
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Jay / NO5J

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Mark
Nope, I haven't received it yet, probably because I ordered a HexBeam instead.
And I'm going to try to install that and use it for an indefinite amount of time first.

 SDRgadgets

73, Jay - NO5J

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k3Tim

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Nice post Steve, agree 100%.  I can't see being upset much about a s/w bug especially since the Maestro + 6500 + Win10 are playing well together.

For testing, the Android folks us a "test Monkey" app that triggers random user events. Testing a smartphone is unbelievable task. Developing an automated test system would be great but also likely very expensive. Since we haven't paid for any s/w updates yet....

With Regards,
k3Tim/6
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Steven G1XOW

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Steve,

I 99% agree with you...

However, I also see some elements of contempt for the user base with some of the posts - like "we know best, we are the experts and you are just users". Where in fact the user base almost certainly contains more expertise than FRS could ever afford to employ!

The Alpha tester do a good job overall, but thy are often not able , no knowledgable in a given area, or simply not equipped to test all the scenarios. Take Salvador for one example, has anybody (FRS or Alpha testers) come close to that kind of detailed scrunity of the CW/TX timings? 

The guys that write the software didn't see a problem even after it was officially reported, and initially denied there was a problem of any kind. Users see the problem from coal face, they use and abuse the software on a daily basis and see the issues first and with repeatably. Therefore the user base is by a long way the only true (and final) QA test point.

Beta release testing is a great idea. Many will not bother until the product is in full release. Those that do bother will be the people that should be encouraged to continue with their obvious enthusiasm for the SSDR apps and diligent effort as a "test tube" style which would then avoid some of the flaming, and hopefully FRS will get better products out quicker.

I run a very busy IT support practice, but would still find time to become a beta tester from today.

The reality is that many F6k users have become frustrated and disillusioned by FRS. The core F6k concept if technically superb, very strong and capable of so much more than is presently available, but users are growing tired of being drip fed software patches with the promise of utopia always some way off.

With F6k, SSDR, Maestro, iPhone apps Flex amp integration and 4O3 integration, not to mention their Military/NASA projects, FRS has overloaded themselves with too many projects going on all at the same time. They have great skills, but not enough of them to handle all these projects with their very limited resources. The result is basically that nothing is happening quickly, other than bug fixes and very minor mods.

Beta testing must be the right way forward...
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Ross - K9COX

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I regret supporting Windows 10 publicly...stuck my neck out on that bold move (sarcasm).
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EA4GLI - 8P9EH - Salvador

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:)
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Bill -VA3WTB

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Being that the radio is always evolving, patches and updates will always happen, I think most buyers of Flex understands that.
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Steven G1XOW

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Hey Bill,

3 years ago I would have taken your tolerant view as well. However, patches and bug fixes are essentially ALL that is happening. The lack of "to be expected" features are the real problem, never mind the kick-ass features we can only dream about.

For example RX filter profiles with memory: in PSDR long ago, SSDR still waiting for this key feature after 2+ years, and still no announcement as to when we might see it. By comparison radios like the Icom 7300 of course did that kind of basic stuff and even WAN connect from v1.0 pre-release (no drip feed necessary there).

I have no problem waiting for the more cutting edge stuff like diversity, pure signal, WAN connect etc. but the basics are...well basic !   SSDR needs to do everything that every old-school radio can already do first, then we can all get excited about the road map.

We all had buy-in to the SSDR "prototype in development" idea to some extent - most of us many years ago, but there has to be measurable milestones of achieve. It cannot just be an infinite development like mañana mañana style hoping that the user base doesn't go sour in the mean time.

As I was told in coding school more than 33 years ago, a software development project without a clearly defined timeline is just a vision.

Most of what FRS needs to be working on right now is not rocket science, so there is no real risk in sharing the plan and timelines with the user base. The cutting edge stuff can be kept more hush hush if they wish - perfectly acceptable then to be drip-fed as and those features become available.
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Bill -VA3WTB

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Nope, it is in development all the time, just the way it is. it took 7 years of development to PSDR were it left off.
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Steve W6SDM

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Bill got it exactly right.  Now, to keep from being "drip fed" patches and improvements, the alternative would be for Flex to adopt the box radio model.  That would be to put out a new model every year and charge for it.  Personally, I would rather see improvements  and corrections provided as soon as they're available.

An alternative to using alpha testers would be for Flex to hire a team of MSEE types with a background in telecommunications and software development.  That should give them the ability to foresee any issues that may come up.  Problem is, not too many of us would be able to afford the radio.

Maybe I don't drive my Flex hard enough, but I have very few problems.  The ones that do come up are relatively minor and are fixed rather quickly.  It's been that way since I took delivery on my 3000 years ago.  Personally, I don't see that much of a problem.
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EA4GLI - 8P9EH - Salvador

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It doesn't need to be that extreme Steve.

I agree with Steve G1XOW's take on the Beta. I find it a good compromise. A lot of users expect, and rightly so, that a stable release is as bug free as possible while many will accept bugs in a beta release.

I am trying to see the down side....

You are already getting reports of bugs through the website on main releases, but it could be for the beta version. You could even try things that might not work and never release them on a stable version. And bugs on Beta do not tarnish the reputation of FRS for software delivery.

I really fail to see the negative of Beta releases.
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Steven G1XOW

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Steve @W6SDM

No need for expensive MSEE testers. Who better to test this stuff than a willing user base that is well equipped, experienced and eager to test it to death every day?  

Those people are already here and willing to help get the product right. They are just not being included in the loop right now. There are about a dozen people I could name on here that could add a lot of value but can't - maybe for daring to be critical.

They could have my 33 years and MSCE experience for about $175k p/a, or just accept the voluntary help from those good people who have a vested interest in the outcome of the finished product...hopefully before we all kick the bucket.
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Steve K9ZW, Elmer

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Guys - the volunteer Alphas already are high caliber and technically savvy folk just like you.

It is a fantastic bonus that in the active users there are so many more highly skilled folk. 

Makes this a fantastic place to get questions answered and for problems to get shook down into solutions.

Really I've been remiss in not saying Thank You! to the highly skilled motivated early adopters.  So here it is "Thank you!! - Your work makes my experience better!"

I do have one suggestion for FRS based on work I did 30 years ago - we had problems doing technical instructions as the test teams always did well, but when sent out to the plants everything got gummed up.  Our instructions went from working fabulously to being rubbish.

The team, which included lots of really skilled folk and then a few grad students like myself, was perplexed.

It was a bit of an "ah hah" moment when we realized we hadn't done "Regular Joe" testing, by having the involvement of the good folk from the shop floor who were going to follow these procedures. 

Once we did things got better, and we even went to "Spouse Testing" where in rotation we would test instructions on ad hoc groups of spouses & partners/friends.

First time right measurements went way up, as did most other tracking measurements.

Could that help the FRS process - pick a ham or two known to be interested and will to give constructive feedback to do sort of blind test?

Who knows, they might already do this.  But it sure would be fun when a person's chance to help for a round of updates came along.

Anyway, again thank you all!


73

Steve K9ZW


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Johan SE3X

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When I become a member of this very nice "family" the Flexonians ... I decided to read manuals from front to last page. I decided to start all the way back in the forum, reading all written from day one up until today. This is how far I have come. Still many pages to go, to end up at todays June 22. And yes, I was a boyscout once upon a time  ;)

I I have seen so many solutions to problems still being asked today. Had so many of own thoughts and questions answered. Have gotten so much tips and hints on things to look further into.

Have read a lot of pretty heated discussions, like this one, hi. But in some way the forum has managed to hold together. And wov, what a long way we and FRS has come. Still a long way to go, but am I glad I sold of my old stuff and bought my 6700?!

With all that said, if a few others, new to the Flexradio, did read back and/or searched the forum, read the manuals, so much woud be easier and som many fewer questions would have to be asked.

This forum is an amazing source of information! Read, search, learn ... You will be greatly rewarded, as you will find out new ways to utilize our fantastic radios. 

Keep up the good work forum fellows! FRS reps, Elmers, Users, Newbies, all mentioned and none forgotten.

73 de Johan
(Edited)
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W4EG

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Johan,
I must congratulate you for reading the manuals and the forum. 
I just wish that others would attempt to read before they get frustrated and defame the product they spend so much money on.
The manuals and this forum has so much information that most of us should be able to resolve the issues. 
Don't degrade the Flex radio that you purchased and you can not get it to work, That or maybe I should say THIS is NOT a Flex issue. 
There is a learning curve how the radio works: SDR is NOT the same as your knobs radio; where you bring it home from the ham store, plug it in and get on the air.
I am average (old) computer user, that has managed to learn enough to get by. And when there is an issue I can't solve, I write up a Helpdesk request: In the last 18 plus years, I had to ask for Factory help approximately <5 times.