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'[EE] Firmware flaws and faceless corporations'
2007\06\24@190831 by Bob Blick

face picon face
How can one(informed engineer type of person) talk to a major appliance
manufacturer about a serious firmware flaw in one of their products?

I just bought a new Samsung refrigerator, and its programming has a
major defect. If it's making ice, the compressor is always on and all
cooling is diverted to the freezer. But since the icemaker is tiny, if
you use even a quart or two of ice per day, it's always making ice.
Consequently, day after day, the freezer temperature hovers around -15
degrees F and the thermostat settings are completely ignored.

I'm sure a lot of you are familiar with what happens when I call the
Samsung help line. It's very much like most big corporations. Polite
people are on the phone, and all they can do is interpret the owner's
manual to you or schedule a service call. Speak to level 2 support and
they'll email you a wiring diagram, but basically they can't do much
more than level 1 support.

The last thing I want is to get in a cycle of service calls, the result
being my refrigerator is worked over and non-broken parts are swapped
out, and screws get stripped and shrouds and guards get bent, torn, and
left off. Problem never gets resolved but I get tired of the hassle and
give up, or ask for my money back under the lemon law.

I want it fixed. I want to talk to someone who can actually make it
happen, send an email to the right person and get a bug report filed and
new firmware issued and a corrected PC board installed in my fridge.

Good luck, eh?

I'd do better to make a piggyback board(perhaps with a PIC in it) that
runs the icemaker but fools the fridge into thinking no ice needs to be
made. But I really don't have the time for it.

Have you tried to eat(or scoop) ice cream at -15 F?

-Bob

2007\06\24@193929 by Jinx

face picon face
> get a bug report filed and new firmware issued and a
> corrected PC board installed in my fridge.
>
> Good luck, eh?

Reckon. If you keep the fridge I think you'll have to DIY.
By that time Samsung will have moved on to a new model.
If this current model is going to be in production for some
time then maybe they'd consider a fix, but only if they get
enough complaints/feedback to take it seriously. And how
many is enough ?

Got a local consumer affairs watchdog or TV show ? I'm
guessing you'd have to do some legwork yourself and get
nowhere before they too would take it seriously or deem
it 'significant' enough for consideration

2007\06\24@195055 by Robert Rolf

picon face
Bob Blick wrote:

> How can one(informed engineer type of person) talk to a major appliance
> manufacturer about a serious firmware flaw in one of their products?

You aren't the only one with this sort of issue.

I have a Gateway wide screen monitor that has a FW bug that causes it to
lock up totally and completely when I press the mode select buttons too quickly
(PIP source select). I have to unplug it to get it to reset.

I have a Sears H4t washer that will lock up if one opens and closes the door too
quickly a few seconds after the 'add clothes' light turns on. Again, an unplug
is required to unlock the frozen panel.
I tried very hard to get up the Sears 'customer service' chain to convince
someone that this was a 'bug' that needed to be reported and fixed,
but since it was't a 'safety' issue, no one was interested in doing ANYTHING
to help me, let alone reporting it to manufacturing.

{Quote hidden}

Just DEMAND your money back.  The unit fails the basic tenant of contract
law. "Unfit for it's intended purpose". You bought a fridge with temperature
controls. The controls are clearly defective since you cannot get it to
NOT go to -15, and they cannot fix it because it's a firmware issue.

Surely you have a small claims court option in your jurisdiction.
Sue them for the cost of replacing the fridge if they won't give you
your money back.

Take your story to the local TV news show. They usually have some sort of
'troubleshooter' reporter who gets results by airing embarrassing stories of
corporate screw ups.


> I want it fixed. I want to talk to someone who can actually make it
> happen, send an email to the right person and get a bug report filed and
> new firmware issued and a corrected PC board installed in my fridge.

Good luck with that.
You'd have better luck getting a personal reply from the president of the USA.

> Have you tried to eat(or scoop) ice cream at -15 F?

We just put ours at the top of the fridge, nearest the door, so that it
isn't as well cooled as the area at the bottom where the cold air blows in.
All fridges have a temperature gradient. Just figure out where your cold and
 hot spots are, and use them accordingly.

There was a company that had a defective capacitor on the compressor board (LG)
One that caught fire and cause NUMEROUS house fires in the Toronto area.
It took an investigative report, and Canada wide embarrassment by the CBC (Marketplace)
to get them to FINALLY issue a recall.
www.cbc.ca/consumers/market/files/home/recalls/lg.html
But they still drag their feet:
"Today: More than 4,000 of the defective fridges remain in consumer's homes."

If Samsung doesn't want to fix your fridge properly, vote with your dollar by
returning the "DEFECTIVE" product and getting a different brand. But expect the
new one to have problems too...

Robert



2007\06\24@205436 by Dr Skip

picon face
I feel for you. I've done that a lot. My best success was to email
customer support for a high end pro-sumer digital camera with poorly
programmed firmware. I described their state machine as I observed it
(for credibility), then made specific recommendations, even showing why
my approach would have a minimal programming impact vs other ways to do
the same thing. I then said I would be forwarding my recommendations to
the Chairman by letter with whatever reply they made. A nice senior
manager replied, rather than the usual, and its contents led me to
believe it hit home, some of which said development would try to
implement what they could. There were about 8 flaws I had found, and
some of the fixes even addressed problems that were 'publicly known'
about that model.

3 weeks after my note, they announced that model would be discontinued
as of then...  I didn't even get a chance to write the Chairman.

I'd use that approach again, but your case may be different.
Refrigerators have one compressor, and its use is prioritized by
plumbing. There's one cooling system, and it responds to need. The top,
bottom, or ice maker can turn it on. There may not even be firmware
involved for the thermostatic control. In most, the fridge gets a
portion of the cooling and the freezer gets the most. The fridge
controls the temp, with the design being that if it's cold enough there,
the freezer will be fine. Yours just has the ice maker at the top of the
list it seems.

If it needs the compressor on to make ice, and you're using the ice,
it's gonna keep cooling. Personally, I'd love -15 in my freezer.
Depending on physical arrangement, the freezer probably has a heating
element for the auto defrost, but it's kept physically away from the ice
area. Hook it to a generic freezer thermostat and a NC relay so it comes
on to keep the freezer part at your best temp. Put it in parallel with
the timer motor or control that turns on it on for defrost so your still
keep that function. It will raise the air in the box to 45F for a short
time every so often to defrost, but not long enough to thaw the solid stuff.

-Skip

Bob Blick wrote:
{Quote hidden}

2007\06\24@233316 by John Chung
picon face
There are plenty of problems with firmwares..... It is
just whether it is bearable...... If there was a
product with open firmware it would be a better option
to go for it. Yet again it is possible that the hacker
run the equipment out of specs......

John


--- Bob Blick <spam_OUTbbblickTakeThisOuTspamsbcglobal.net> wrote:

{Quote hidden}

> --

2007\06\25@023042 by Jesse Lackey

flavicon
face
consumerist.com makes for fun reading.  Maybe write up a description of
all this?  (this goes to others who have posted here)

As far as I can tell the only thing that could have an impact is a
well-written online description of the problem with maker and model #
(and maybe model line), so that anyone googling for the model will
(hopefully) find it.

I really wish there was a website for exactly these kind of issues.  It
is only through lost sales due to publicity of poor design that anything
changes.  Oh, and lawsuits.  Too bad LG (in someone else's post) wasn't
sued.  Seriously.

J


Bob Blick wrote:
{Quote hidden}

2007\06\25@032710 by Philip Pemberton

face
flavicon
face
Robert Rolf wrote:
> I have a Gateway wide screen monitor that has a FW bug that causes it to
> lock up totally and completely when I press the mode select buttons too quickly
> (PIP source select). I have to unplug it to get it to reset.

I've got a Viewsonic VX922 that does basically the same thing - if the analog
input is connected to a different machine than the digital input, then you can
switch from digital to analog, but as soon as you switch back the whole thing
locks solid.

I made two calls to Viewsonic about it - the first one culminated in a "we'll
call you back later today" - three days later they hadn't called back.

The second call culminated in them basically saying "tough sh*t" -- IIRC their
tech's words were "your graphics card isn't sending an EDID when the monitor
switches" - but it still shouldn't have frozen the OSD...

> Good luck with that.
> You'd have better luck getting a personal reply from the president of the USA.

No, you'd have better luck getting an intelligent conversation from a concrete
breezeblock.

> www.cbc.ca/consumers/market/files/home/recalls/lg.html
> But they still drag their feet:
> "Today: More than 4,000 of the defective fridges remain in consumer's homes."

LG being slow.. why does that not surprise me.

> If Samsung doesn't want to fix your fridge properly, vote with your dollar by
> returning the "DEFECTIVE" product and getting a different brand. But expect the
> new one to have problems too...

And avoid anything with a Hoover badge on it... Mass market built-to-a-price
crap, especially their vacuum cleaners. The power cables they're using are
dire (tend to break internally after ~2years), the catch that locks the hinge
tends to break or stick, slipping drive belts, and the list goes on and on.

That and their fridge/freezers tend to suffer from severe ice build-up - ice
builds up in the bottom and within a week it's thick enough to hold the bottom
drawer in place. The only way to get said drawer out is to force a spatula or
similar tool underneath and crack the ice, which usually damages the drawer as
well.

Oh, and here's a good one - the Sony SLV-SE720 (and its brothers the
SLV-SE727, SLV-SE820, SLV-SX720 and SLV-SX727) has a Service Bulletin out on
it. Seems a few parts on the main control board were mounted... backwards. The
end result is that the EEPROM data gets scrambled once you turn the VCR off
after it's been switched on for a couple of months. That is to say, the keypad
function map (which maps the panel switches to functions), function enable
flags (which enable things like SmartLink).. and the head calibration data.

Without a calibration tape, the VCR becomes a brick. Did I mention that the
SE720 series are based on a Samsung Scorpio chassis? Oh yeah, Samsung junk at
its very best. Now you know why Samsung are on my 'avoid' list. Too many
failed hard drives and instances of piss-poor quality control.

By Samsung standards my old V200 mobile phone wasn't too bad - the PC Link
software was intolerably bad though - that said, the Sony-Ericsson PC link
software isn't much better - the stupid 'connection monitor' thing crashes if
you hibernate or suspend the PC and then resume it later...

AAARGH!

--
Phil.                         |  (\_/)  This is Bunny. Copy and paste Bunny
.....piclistKILLspamspam@spam@philpem.me.uk         | (='.'=) into your signature to help him gain
http://www.philpem.me.uk/     | (")_(") world domination.

2007\06\25@050846 by John Chung

picon face
Does anyone have any issues which Panasonic's
firmware? I do recall their motivation on quality....

John


--- Jesse Lackey <jsl-mlspamKILLspamcelestialaudio.com> wrote:

{Quote hidden}

> --

2007\06\25@062120 by Stephen R Phillips

picon face

--- Bob Blick <.....bbblickKILLspamspam.....sbcglobal.net> wrote:

> How can one(informed engineer type of person) talk to a major
> appliance
> manufacturer about a serious firmware flaw in one of their products?
>
> I just bought a new Samsung refrigerator, and its programming has a
> major defect. If it's making ice, the compressor is always on and all
> cooling is diverted to the freezer. But since the icemaker is tiny,
> if
> you use even a quart or two of ice per day, it's always making ice.
> Consequently, day after day, the freezer temperature hovers around
> -15
> degrees F and the thermostat settings are completely ignored.
>
Report it to Consumer's Report make model etc.  That will get more
prompt action from Samsung. Consumer's Report will report it as a flaw
in the refrigerator's design. It will get there attention.  Sometimes
when giants are too big you have to use something bigger to get there
attention even if you are trying to help them.

Stephen



     
____________________________________________________________________________________
Yahoo! oneSearch: Finally, mobile search
that gives answers, not web links.
mobile.yahoo.com/mobileweb/onesearch?refer=1ONXIC

2007\06\25@074033 by Alan B. Pearce

face picon face
>I just bought a new Samsung refrigerator, and its programming
>has a major defect. If it's making ice, the compressor is always
>on and all cooling is diverted to the freezer. But since the
>icemaker is tiny, if you use even a quart or two of ice per day,
>it's always making ice. Consequently, day after day, the freezer
>temperature hovers around -15 degrees F and the thermostat
>settings are completely ignored.

You are probably going to make more headway talking to a consumer TV
watchdog type show, as the manufacturer probably regards the item as being
"within spec", but the TV show will treat it as "not being green or energy
saving" and the resultant potential bad publicity will make the manufacturer
sit up and take notice, which they won't when you contact them direct.

>Have you tried to eat(or scoop) ice cream at -15 F?

I guess it is living up to its name then ... ;)))

2007\06\25@103658 by Hector Martin

flavicon
face
Philip Pemberton wrote:
> The second call culminated in them basically saying "tough sh*t" -- IIRC their
> tech's words were "your graphics card isn't sending an EDID when the monitor
> switches" - but it still shouldn't have frozen the OSD...

EDID = I2C request from the host. It's optional, and is used to request
information FROM the monitor. If NOT issuing a request locks up the OSD,
it's a big bad stupid firmware bug. EDID is optional - you ought to be
able to snip those two wires in the VGA cable and still have it work
(your OS won't autodetect monitor capabilities and model, but that
doesn't really matter).

I've never had that sort of a showstopper problem, but I do own a
ViewSonic that has an interesting (if mostly harmless) glitch: if you
power it up while holding th select button (which is easy, since the
buttons are near each other - carelessly hitting select while powering
it up is common), then the power LED is locked up in standby / DPMS mode
(yellow color), even though the monitor otherwise works fine. You need
to turn it off and back on to get it to turn green again.

> Oh, and here's a good one - the Sony SLV-SE720 (and its brothers the
> SLV-SE727, SLV-SE820, SLV-SX720 and SLV-SX727) has a Service Bulletin out on
> it. Seems a few parts on the main control board were mounted... backwards. The
> end result is that the EEPROM data gets scrambled once you turn the VCR off
> after it's been switched on for a couple of months. That is to say, the keypad
> function map (which maps the panel switches to functions), function enable
> flags (which enable things like SmartLink).. and the head calibration data.

Ouch.

--
Hector Martin (EraseMEhectorspam_OUTspamTakeThisOuTmarcansoft.com)
Public Key: http://www.marcansoft.com/marcan.asc

2007\06\25@103838 by Cristóvão Dalla Costa

picon face
On 6/24/07, Bob Blick <bbblickspamspam_OUTsbcglobal.net> wrote:
>
>
> I want it fixed. I want to talk to someone who can actually make it
> happen, send an email to the right person and get a bug report filed and
> new firmware issued and a corrected PC board installed in my fridge.
>
> Good luck, eh?



You should probably have the refrigerator returned to the store that sold it
to you and then exchange it for a functioning model from other brand. I
don't know what laws are like in your neck of the woods but I assume you
have the right to return non-functioning or defective products. Where I am
consumers can return products for any reason at all - even if they don't
like how they look in their kitchen - for a full refund.

Don't waste your time. I'm betting Samsung knew about that issue before
shipping the refrigerator and didn't care to get it fixed.

2007\06\25@113235 by alan smith

picon face
You know I hate to admit this....but since I do have ties to a company that does build semi-pro and higher end consumer "stuff".  When a bug is reported....management reviews it and determines its classifications....is it creating a safety issue or non-working functions....how many are reporting it...does it affect sales...
 
 and if it doesnt fit certain criteria,  its put in the list of fixing when we can...
 
 Just the way it is in the corperate world...and yes it sucks when you could fix it pretty quick but its not a critical bug.

     
---------------------------------
Building a website is a piece of cake.
Yahoo! Small Business gives you all the tools to get online.

2007\06\25@144343 by James Newtons Massmind

face picon face
"As long as people will accept crap, it will be financially profitable to
dispense it." Points for knowing the name of the person being quoted. He is
a brilliant man who happened to be the only talk show host to have a guest
die on his show.

Amazon.com has consumer reviews and I read them before purchasing anything.
I write them when I'm impressed or depressed by a product. They do have
listings for at least one Samsung refridge...

I'm curious to know which model it was.

---
James.



> {Original Message removed}

2007\06\25@145440 by Goflo

picon face

---- James Newtons Massmind <@spam@jamesnewtonKILLspamspammassmind.org> wrote:
> "As long as people will accept crap, it will be financially profitable to
> dispense it." Points for knowing the name of the person being quoted. He is
> a brilliant man who happened to be the only talk show host to have a guest
> die on his show.

Don't know, but Jack Paar, Steve Allen, & Dick Cavett were the good
ones, so I'd guess one of them.

Jack

2007\06\25@150630 by Matthew Mucker

flavicon
face
My first thought was Johnny Carson, but an interview with Ed McMahon says
it's not true:

whipper_will asks: If memory serves me right, you had a guest really die on
the show. Is this true?

Ed McMahon: That is not true. The closest to that is the case where Peter
O'Toole, who had flown into New York from a movie location in the Fiji
Islands, and was totally exhausted as he left the set. He collapsed out of
sight of the audience, but word got out, and people got to know that fact.



(source: http://www.time.com/time/community/transcripts/chattr101998.html)

----- Original Message -----
From: "James Newtons Massmind" <KILLspamjamesnewtonKILLspamspammassmind.org>
To: "'Microcontroller discussion list - Public.'" <RemoveMEpiclistTakeThisOuTspammit.edu>
Sent: Monday, June 25, 2007 1:43 PM
Subject: RE: [EE] Firmware flaws and faceless corporations


{Quote hidden}

>> {Original Message removed}

2007\06\25@154714 by Bob Blick

face picon face
--- James Newtons Massmind <spamBeGonejamesnewtonspamBeGonespammassmind.org>
wrote:

> Amazon.com has consumer reviews and I read them
> before purchasing anything.
> I write them when I'm impressed or depressed by a
> product. They do have
> listings for at least one Samsung refridge...
>
> I'm curious to know which model it was.

RB195BSBB. It's the shallow-depth sister to the
RB215BSBB. Unfortunately it took me a while to get the
water connection to it, and then to figure out what
was going wrong, so I'm past the 30 day return period.
Not that I would return it. The hassle factor would be
huge, and besides, do you know why we bought this
fridge? Because "we" liked the styling :)

I just have to wonder at what the software
specification/design/test procedures must be like at
Samsung. I'd say "pretty bad" to "nonexistent".

I've written code for refrigerator thermostats, and
although there are a few things that can override
temperature settings temporarily, basically it's
supposed to regulate temperature!

For now, I have the icemaker switched off on the front
panel(did I mention it has blue LEDs), making ice in
trays I fill myself, the compressor turns on and off,
and the freezer temperature stays where I set it.

In a few weeks if I can't stand it anymore, I'll
either try warranty service once or else find the time
to make a piggyback to the cpu board in the fridge.

Basically if I control the icemaker myself all I need
to do is interface to a 110v water valve, a DC motor
to eject, a thermistor(detects when the water has
frozen), a motor limit switch, and a bin-full switch.
I could either use as much of their power supply and
I/O as I wanted, basically splicing a PIC into their
board, or make it as separate as possible with my own
power supply and valve control relay. Who knows what
I'll do. Perhaps I should add a network interface so I
can poll it remotely. Not.

Thanks for all your input, if there are any Samsung
employees out there, feel free to contact me off-list
:)

Cheerful regards,

Bob



2007\06\25@194921 by James Newtons Massmind

face picon face
> > "As long as people will accept crap, it will be financially
> profitable
> > to dispense it." Points for knowing the name of the person being
> > quoted. He is a brilliant man who happened to be the only talk show
> > host to have a guest die on his show.
>
> Don't know, but Jack Paar, Steve Allen, & Dick Cavett were
> the good ones, so I'd guess one of them.


All good guesses, and the correct one is Dick Cavett. People should read
more about him. He was smart and witty and wise beyond his years.  

The guest was the editor of Prevention magazine, and a strong proponent of
organic foods and healthy living. He suffered a massive heart attack and
died during the taping of a show, after his time with the host was finished
and another guest was talking. The current guest said something about "may
God strike me dead if I'm lying" and the poor guy next too him rolled off
the couch and onto the floor. It came off like a joke, and the audience
laughed. Cavett called out "Is there a doctor in the audience", purposely
missing the standard line to convey the urgency of the situation. Sadly, no
one was able to help. The show was cut and never aired.

He put the blame for shoddy products directly on the shoulders of the masses
who purchase from poor manufacturers and don't share or ask for customer
satisfaction information. Having just been through hell with the ONE model
year of Honda Odyssey which has a lousy transmission, and finding out that
had I bothered to look up the consumer report on that year, I would have
known it, I can stand with the accused.

I sent an email to Honda asking that they recall the '98 Odyssey for poor
transmission reliability. I don't expect they will, but I've done my part by
telling them, and everyone else I can think of. Don't buy a '98. Any other
year is great, including '97 and '99, just not the '98.

---
James.


2007\06\26@043037 by Alan B. Pearce

face picon face
>Don't buy a '98. Any other year is great,
>including '97 and '99, just not the '98.

How is it that this can happen to manufacturers? Do they get some young new
graduate with no practical experience in to design something?

I mean, it is just like the Honda F1 team - last year they had a car that
had been steadily improving and was looking good. This year they have a car
that has gone back to point 0 and is having to be debugged again. Any points
they are getting essentially have been obtained because so many people fall
off the track or get disqualified ...

2007\06\26@172423 by Nate Duehr

face
flavicon
face

On Jun 24, 2007, at 5:08 PM, Bob Blick wrote:

> How can one(informed engineer type of person) talk to a major  
> appliance
> manufacturer about a serious firmware flaw in one of their products?

You write a letter and CC the CEO's office stating clearly what you  
feel the problem with the unit is.  Send it registered mail, return  
receipt requested.

You also put a deadline on it.  Something before the last cut-off  
date to return the product for a full refund from the retailer.  
"Contact me before this date ____ or the unit will be returned to the  
retailer for a full refund."

If they don't respond, let them know you're disappointed, and in the  
new letter, detail the problem again and CC a large consumer watchdog  
group like Consumer's Union/Consumer Reports.  Also CC the district  
management office of the retailer so they know why they lost the sale.

--
Nate Duehr
TakeThisOuTnateEraseMEspamspam_OUTnatetech.com


2007\06\26@180020 by alan smith

picon face
hmmm....most CEO's never open the mail...the admin assistance do that.  So doubt it would ever see the desk.  Some companies do have consumer advocates....US West (now Quest) did....I resolved an issue that way.  Maybe they do?  They wont fix your problem...see below...
 
 Local places would be more hurt by registering a complaint with the BBB but big places? Unless you can really get alot of people behind you sending in complaints and such...that might actually make a difference in sales...not a few hundred sales..but thousands....as in real dollars....they just dont care.  Like someone mentioned...that fridge...its control...was done a year ago...the engineers have moved onto other projects, and a new model is in development or even in production.  It does suck that products...consumer products...are shipped out with flaws, and with no method of fixing them really.  Some products can be remotly updated like my Dish DVR and thats nice.  Guess im lucky my appliances are all dumb... :-)  And I bought for functionality not for how it looked...they match in color  :-)

Nate Duehr <RemoveMEnatespamTakeThisOuTnatetech.com> wrote:
 
On Jun 24, 2007, at 5:08 PM, Bob Blick wrote:

> How can one(informed engineer type of person) talk to a major
> appliance
> manufacturer about a serious firmware flaw in one of their products?

You write a letter and CC the CEO's office stating clearly what you
feel the problem with the unit is. Send it registered mail, return
receipt requested.

You also put a deadline on it. Something before the last cut-off
date to return the product for a full refund from the retailer.
"Contact me before this date ____ or the unit will be returned to the
retailer for a full refund."

If they don't respond, let them know you're disappointed, and in the
new letter, detail the problem again and CC a large consumer watchdog
group like Consumer's Union/Consumer Reports. Also CC the district
management office of the retailer so they know why they lost the sale.

--
Nate Duehr
nateEraseMEspam.....natetech.com


2007\06\26@184135 by Hector Martin

flavicon
face
I actually have a story where attempting to contact the CEO of a company
did the trick.

A few years back, DSL speeds in Spain were pretty subpar. In an effort
to improve connectivity (and because people were complaining and saying
that we were behind the rest of the world), all customers of this
particular telco and all the ISPs that use their infrastructure had
their connection speeds doubled, keeping the price (this has happened a
few times now).

Originally, I had a 256kbps download line. After the doubling, my router
synced up correctly at 512kbps. However, my download speed was closer to
64kbps. At times, worse than dialup. However, the contract only
guarantees 10% of the dowload capability at any one time. NOTE: this is
NOT like cable where often you share one big fat pipe with your
neighbors. Here you're supposed to be able to get close to maxing out
your connection. The 10% thing is just what they do to cover their
backsides when things go awry.

Anyway, since they were legally covered, no amount of customer support
calls fixed the problem. They either insisted it was a problem on MY
side, that there was no problem, or that they wouldn't do anything about
it. Every call to customer support involved the usual complete
re-configuration of the router and system (nevermind the fact that I run
Linux, and they often don't even know what Linux is). I've since stopped
doing anything - I just follow along while walking around, pretending to
do what they tell me to do. Makes things go faster.

After several months of this, I sent a desperate e-mail CC'd to the CEO
and all other directives whose e-mails I could find. I also played
another card: my father owned an (at the time) very expensive 2mbps line
for his office with the same company, and we threatened to cancel that
too. Guess what, days later a mystery tech called us and got the problem
fixed. A misconfiguration on their side (I'm going to bet the original
tech fat-fingered 52kbps instead of 512kbps into their configuration
interface or something as stupid as that). Unfortunately, he refused to
provide us his telephone number, so we had to resort to customer support
for any further problems (which thankfully weren't nearly as annoying as
this one).

--
Hector Martin (EraseMEhectorspammarcansoft.com)
Public Key: http://www.marcansoft.com/marcan.asc

2007\06\26@200536 by Jinx

face picon face

> hmmm....most CEO's never open the mail...

You could try marking it "Personal And Confidential", perhaps
even registered to be signed for by the CEO. Sometimes you
get desperate when a principle is involved and you think you're
being fobbed off or ignored


2007\06\26@204935 by Dr Skip

picon face
This actually works, and there are many more times it works than
doesn't. CEOs do care about their businesses, and their offices usually
share that view. 2 things will usually cause it to be ignored in my
experience:

- an angry, disrespectful tone, or threats, or anything that doesn't
sound like a professional person with an interest in the company/product
and not trying to burn them.

- a foreign company. Maybe it's language, or culture, but I suspect it
would be the same for any company who's CEO wasn't from or residing in
your country.

Country level presidents are usually sales types, and have no access to
development, so they aren't a good substitute for the CEO.

A genuine, respectful letter, that basically says you're trying to help,
you're a customer, and this particular product isn't right and you
haven't gotten satisfaction will never hurt and most times can help.
Even if it's not a personal response, it might be in the form of some
regional guy calling to see what would make it right.

The only industry where you have no chance would be the automobile
industry... ;)

-Skip


Jinx wrote:
{Quote hidden}

2007\06\26@222704 by James Newtons Massmind

face picon face
> days later a mystery tech called us and got the problem
> fixed. A misconfiguration on their side (I'm going to bet the
> original tech fat-fingered 52kbps instead of 512kbps into
> their configuration interface or something as stupid as
> that). Unfortunately, he refused to provide us his telephone
> number, so we had to resort to customer support for any
> further problems (which thankfully weren't nearly as annoying
> as this one).


Harry Tuttle (not Buttle).

---
James.


2007\06\26@224311 by Jinx

face picon face
> 2 things will usually cause it to be ignored in my experience:
>
> - an angry, disrespectful tone, or threats, or anything that doesn't
> sound like a professional person with an interest in the company/
> product and not trying to burn them.

It certainly pays in some instances to count to 10 before sending
something you may regret or be counter-productive. And that
takes some personal fortitude when you really want to get angry

In that situation I never send a letter the day I write it. Judgement
is not reliable when you're in a mood

2007\06\27@072805 by Robert Ammerman

picon face
Maybe we really do need Internet connected toasters: for firmware updates!

Bob Ammerman
RAm Systems


'[EE] Firmware flaws and faceless corporations'
2007\07\07@083229 by Howard Winter
face
flavicon
picon face
A late reply, but anyway...

On Mon, 25 Jun 2007 02:08:44 -0700 (PDT), John Chung wrote:

> Does anyone have any issues which Panasonic's firmware? I do recall their motivation on quality....

I have 4 Panasonic video recorders, they are all different in various ways:

DVD recorder
DVD + Hard Drive recorder
DVD + Hard Drive recorder + DVB tuner (Digital Video Broadcast, also known as Digital Terestrial, or Freeview in the UK)
Hard Drive recorder with twin DVB tuners (no removeable-disk drive)

The top three are very similar in their firmware, with improvements coming as time went on - the earlier one won't start to record when a timer
event comes up, unless you've set it to "Timer standby" mode, which means if you're watching something on it when the recording should start, the
recording is missed.  This originated with VCRs, where the serial nature of tape meant that you couldn't watch one thing and record another, but with
disks you obviously can.  The later ones will start recording whatever mode they are in - a Good Thing!  Apart from the occasional glitch, often to do
with Programme Delivery Control, they are very reliable (touch wood!).

The fourth one is completely different, and is *terribly* unreliable.  It is slow to respond, takes ages to power up, and on many occasions refuses to
respond to commands with "Hard Drive not ready, please wait" and it needs to be power-cycled (sometimes by pulling out the plug!) to get it to
respond.  It is of "Set Top Box" heritage rather than being descended from a recorder, so its firmware is updateable from transmissions on-air, and it
needs it because from reading the forums' comments about it, the initial releases were almost unusable.  The other three devices are stuck with the
firmware they have.

To sum up my experience: most of Panasonic's firmware is pretty good (and better than other machines I've tried - I'll never buy another JVC because
the user interface of a VCR I used to have was laughably stupid) and they do improve it with new models, but it would be a great idea if earlier
models could be updated as they learn about how the things should work.  But the fourth device I mention seems to be from a different stable, has a
"buggy computer" feel about it rather than being a plug-in-and-use appliance, and I'd get rid of it if only I didn't need its capabilities once in a while!

Cheers,


Howard Winter
St.Albans, England


2007\07\10@162246 by Alan B. Pearce

face picon face
>and I'd get rid of it if only I didn't need its capabilities once in a
>while!

Swap it for a Humax 9200T - dual tuners, and approx 100 hrs recording
storage with 160GB drive, but some folk have put in 500Gb drives apparently.
Also has a USB connector so you can download recorded programs, and a serial
connector to update the firmware, which is good as the firmware available on
the web is somewhat ahead of the on-air update (by about 3 versions now).

It does still have its quirks, but Humax are apparently listening to the
user community.

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