Campaign for Release Notes?

Discussion in 'TiVo Series3 HDTV DVRs' started by marshmello, Oct 17, 2007.

  1. davidlachnicht

    davidlachnicht New Member

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    I believe that that the majority of changes in release involve tweaking information gathering, and thus would cause more 'trouble' than not saying anything.
     
  2. richsadams

    richsadams Well-Known Member

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    Don't you hate it when she insists that you cross your eyes and dot your teas? But it’s good to know that she’s keeping up with the times. :D
     
  3. marshmello

    marshmello New Member

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    You cost argument is a good one, but $200 is a bit high, in my opinion. There will be an initial cost associated with training their people to keep track of release notes, and ongoing costs associated with tracking the release notes, proofing the release notes, and distributing the notes. But I'm not sure this cost should be per box -- these costs shouldn't change based on the number of subscribers they have. I will somehow work the cost question into the poll.

    If they are properly using version control/change request software, then I don't feel these costs should be that high, nor should the "tweaking of information gathering" be that much trouble. At my company, our tools allow us to mark which changes should be included in the auto-generated release notes, and this allows us to hide embarrassing things from the public. Of course, if Tivo isn't using version control or crm software, then, yes, release notes would be too much work for them.

    I feel that if the developers know they are responsible for release notes, then this will make them better developers. If they know they will be announcing what was "broken" and "fixed", they might think more carefully about changes they are implementing, and create fewer bugs in the future.

    Anyway, I'll go write up my poll request.

    Thanks to everyone for your input!
     
  4. bicker

    bicker bUU

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    Yes, you're correct. However, do keep in mind that TiVo is quite small, so any amount of extra work is much more significant for TiVo than for a project that is substantially larger. Let's say $150 per year maybe? I could even say $125 -- so 25% more.
     
  5. gwar9999

    gwar9999 New Member

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    Although release notes would certainly be nice I doubt they'd be all that useful considering every release contains unexpected bugs. I think it would be more useful if TiVo provided a list of known issues as they are reported, versions affected, possible workarounds and perhaps even information about the fix status (priority, severity, is anybody working on it?, is a fix in place?, estimated target version/date, etc...).

    In this way, if you experience an issue perhaps you'd get a better idea whether you might be waiting around for eternity or if it's on TiVo's radar.

    Of course, then TiVo would have to admit that there are actual bugs in their software.
     
  6. wmcbrine

    wmcbrine Well-Known Mumbler

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    I'm gonna question TivoPony's implication that the "average" Tivo user doesn't care about release notes. Yeah, I'm "technical"... my mother, not so much. But when I mentioned to her that there was a new Tivo software version, she asked what was changed. I told her they didn't do release notes, and she said "That's outrageous!" Damn straight.
     
  7. jlib

    jlib Lean Forward

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    Carmel...
    Yes, there are testers for new functionality but Tivo of late has become notorious for releasing software that would not even qualify as release candidate status software as far as conventional industry standards go. This is their "test the waters" technique of software distribution. Now, that isn't so bad in and of itself but it is foisted on unsuspecting users some of whom are not willing to be testers, they simply want a stable system.

    Now, if they were to use the so called priority sign-up web page as a method to gather volunteers who might be willing to do their final testing phase in exchange for bleeding edge access and bragging rights (no NDA formalities at that point) for 2-3 weeks then nobody could really complain. Those kind of users are also generally able to articulate the subtle points of any problems. Instead, the release is inflicted on the user base willy-nilly and users become outraged at being taken for chumps (kind of like when Microsoft releases a typical service pack).
     
  8. bicker

    bicker bUU

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    I figure that he's got his market research and customer support call log data to rely on to back up his assertion.... what have you got? :D

    And when the System Update message is sent out, it lists precisely the changes that TiVo wants customers to know about.
     
  9. bicker

    bicker bUU

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    NDA must always apply to any beta testing. The whole point of testing is to find problems, and it is idiocy to find problems and allow anyone to release that information to the public other than your own internal public relations personnel.
     
  10. ah30k

    ah30k Well-Known Member

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    I wouldn't call a quality spill or two as 'notorious for releasing code that is not even beta ready'. I'm not trying to deny there were problems, but you are being a little strong in your indictment.
     
  11. jlib

    jlib Lean Forward

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    Carmel...
    They allowed that idiocy by releasing an unstable 9.1 and since there are all the independent public threads here pointing out the myriad problems it must not have beeen that great of a concern letting the user base discover and publicly report the bugs for them. I'm just saying that the "testing of the waters" phase should be voluntary.
     
  12. bicker

    bicker bUU

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    (jlib said something about TiVo allowing folks to post their problems with 9.1 here on this forum...)

    What are you talking about? Who allowed what?

    Are you under the mistaken assumption that TiVo owns this site???? THEY DON'T.
     
  13. GoHokies!

    GoHokies! O2->CO2 Converter

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    Really? Beta testers only test new functionality and aren't supposed to report on bugs that crop up? Do you have anything at all to back up that ridiculous notion?

    Your linked post includes this from TivoPony:
    Where does this imply that testers are only testing new functionality.

    That's an awful lot of judgment based on not a lot of information.
     
  14. jlib

    jlib Lean Forward

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    Carmel...
    I'll let this veer back to Release Notes topicality since I nudged it off-topic towards TiVo's lack of any meaningful beta testing.
     
  15. CosmoGeek

    CosmoGeek Member

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    As a software development engineer, I came to the same conclusion years ago. What surprises me is that situation has not improved. Twice, I have gone through the process of getting a company up to ISO9000 certification. In both cases, I started from a very loose development process so I have seen the entire spectrum of development processes. Tivo has some real deficiencies. Because of this, they release software with too many bugs, the CSR's say they "haven't heard of this problem before", there are no release notes, old bugs get reintroduced in new software, etc.

    Competition is the key. Things like no release notes make some people frustrated enough to stay open to switching over to the competition. Also, having a "seat of the pants" development process like TiVo seems to have is very risky. Someday they may let serious bugs get so far downstream that they will be seriously hurt financially. I'm not sure this hasn't already happened. The number of returned/exchanged S3 and THD's may have cost them plenty. And at least a few have given up on TiVo already. I personally haven't seen anything better than TiVo yet but I certainly would welcome a worthy competitor.
     
  16. bicker

    bicker bUU

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    That's a really good point. However, it isn't always just about bugs... sometimes it is more insidious than that. If folks recall, right after the S3 was released, I made the point that, based on my experience then along with that of many others, I felt that the box itself was not adequately designed for robustness. It took a year, but some of the folks who objected to me saying that back then are saying it themselves now, acknowledging that the S3 (and the HD) require much more consistent and cleaner input signal quality than any other DVRs out there. The lack of robustness is even worse, in many ways, than bugs, because it is harder to validate, harder to diagnose, and harder to fix.
     
  17. marshmello

    marshmello New Member

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    wmcbrine just said that he was going to question TivoPony's assumption. He has a right to question it. I am trying to work a question into my survey that addresses the "non-tech people don't care", but dang it, it's getting long and I'm not sure the vBulletin software can display it the way I want it displayed.

    Nothing TivoPony has said implies he did any market research on who wants release notes. I doubt Tivo would allocate the resources to such a study, especially since, regardless of the study results, they (probably) wouldn't distribute the release notes. Also, there are several threads on Tivo's site that basically are "no release notes for you!</soupnazi>". It seems to me that if they had done such a study, then their brusque "no release note" responses should mention the study (to soften their response).

    Which is why I'm trying to take my complaints to another place where they might get heard and receive more attention. No one replying to this thread has said whether or not they've complained elsewhere. I realize a bunch of people think I'm nuts, but honestly, I'm incredulous at some of the responses here.

    I don't agree with this. The percentage of increased work per person should be the same regardless of company size. If there's 100 developers who now need to document their work, let's pretend that increases their workload 25% (using the 25% you gave). Why should this change if there are fewer developers?

    In a worst-case scenario (for example, if they aren't tracking changes at all now), then I think the documentation would increase the developers workload by 50%. However, the consumers shouldn't have to absorb this entire cost - if Tivo has a shoddy or non-existent tracking system, they should have to shoulder some of the costs; having a good system in place will provide additional benefits (from a software engineering perspective) to them. But, I do not believe they aren't tracking changes now, so this whole paragraph is kind of pointless.

    I might be the only person who's willing to trade features for release notes-- and in this case, I'm not willing to pay more. It's not like Tivo would omit features entirely; they'd just push them back to a later release. And in my experience (I'm a software developer/engineer/specialist, depending on the title they give me that day), companies/development teams that focus on adding extra features are usually the same groups that don't handle testing properly. I would be more than happy to have fewer features and a better tested product (with release notes).

    If I ever finish the survey question(s), I have no doubt it will prove that most people don't care about release notes. I don't care that this will give people more ammo to tell me to drop it, and benefit Tivo's current stand more than myself :) I'm still going to make a fuss (not here, somewhere that may actually get results). And I am interested in seeing the survey results.

    I guess for me, it's not just entirely about release notes. The lack of release notes and Tivo's defense of their positiion, signifies (to me - YMMV) more serious problems in their software development process, which is backed up by the beta testing complaints.

    As I mentioned in the above paragraph, the beta testing issues + the lack of release notes both signify (to me) problems in Tivo's software development process. So it's totally OK to bring it up here; I don't consider it a thread hijack.

    @CosmoGeek Big, fat WORD to everything you just said.

    Edited to combine consecutive posts. And to remove an extra 'the'.
     
  18. yunlin12

    yunlin12 Tivonation Citizen

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    Maybe Tivo is delaying 9.2 roll out so they can finish writing the release notes ;)

    Wouldn't be so funny if it were true though.
     
  19. bicker

    bicker bUU

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    No question. Did you see any specific reason to believe it? That was really what I was curious about?

    Why do you think that market research needs to be so specific. We do market research specifically to find what our customers want. We don't bias that research by limiting the input we derive to "Do you want this? Do you want that?" If you bias your questions in your poll in a specific manner (which, quite frankly and with respect, is what it sounds like you're trying to do), you can get to poll to indicate whatever conclusion best supports your personal perspective. Market research isn't intended for that.

    I'm sorry but you're just plain mistaken about that. Until you've worked in a 5000 person software company and a 5 person software company, as I have, please believe me when I say this.

    If there is value provided to customers from doing as you suggest, then customers should pay 100% of the value. If there is more cost than value, then TiVo rightfully should NOT do as you suggest.
     
  20. flatcurve

    flatcurve New Member

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    ha! nice...
     

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