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Author Topic: New Form Factor Vera with Beta UI Factory Installed  (Read 34309 times)

Offline CMRancho

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Re: New Form Factor Vera with Beta UI Factory Installed
« Reply #30 on: February 12, 2010, 09:42:09 am »
Sorry guys, I'm gonna have to call BS on this one. The fact that you try to dismiss the concerns expressed by your supporters in this forum really disturbs me.

First, this thread wasn't started as you said, "because a user was unable to pair some ZWave light switches and assumed it was because he got beta software". It was because he "received a apparently new model of this unit" (not what was advertised) and he didn't "appreciate getting a unit with beta software installed and scant documentation."

You said "we have already tested UI3 and confirmed that every single function which existed in UI2 does also exist in UI3 and works." You could never make such a claim with any beta software, and I have to tell you, this is just pure crazy talk in light of the explosion of problems you had already heard about in the forum before you made the statement.

You said "There's a 12 week lead time from when we order Vera's in the factory until they are manufactured in Asia, put on a ship, and arrive in our warehouse." Seriously? You've had three months to prepare for this and you (and all your suppliers) are still advertising the old units? Why didn't you put the new unit on your web site alongside your old unit and offer to take pre-orders? You would have had zero backlash. The old one is STILL on your site this morning. Unbelievable.

You said "We didn't catch [the slow UI problem] in our in-house testing because all our computers had video cards with hardware acceleration". In the software development I do, we test on every possible machine. We have to keep a broad range of computers and OS combinations on hand for our testers. Come on, guys, this is Development 101 stuff.

You said "There were also a lot of cosmetic and usability criticisms of UI3..." No kidding. And instead of responding to our concerns, you let the discussion in the forum get really out of hand and now you try to dismiss our concerns by telling us that other people like it, so by implication, we forum members must not know what we're talking about. And seriously guys, your UI3 is the worst UI I've ever seen. Fire your UI team and start over. Oh yeah, and fire your UI testers, too. Seriously.

You said "However, it's our highest priority to be sure our customers are happy and don't feel taken advantage of." This is so disingenuous it makes me sick. Adding that closing line to a way-too-late, and way-too-dismissive post proves nothing. You have a track record of being slow to respond, reluctant to inform your loyal customers. When your servers go down, you don't tell us until we practically beat it out of you. You never share plans that affect us until there is s huge uproar. When you say "remember, that as far as the industry goes we are far more transparent than most," this is pure fiction. You can't compare your little operation to something like Apple. Give me a break. Apple has a huge staff that includes world-class testing and QA departments who are all very well informed about new products in development. You don't have anything like that. But you have us.

We are here every day-- using your products, helping each other, and greatly reducing your support workload. We will be happy to help you in any way we can, because the better you do, the better we do. But please don't dismiss us.
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Offline micasaverde

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Re: New Form Factor Vera with Beta UI Factory Installed
« Reply #31 on: February 12, 2010, 12:55:47 pm »
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The fact that you try to dismiss the concerns expressed by your supporters in this forum really disturbs me....  You have a track record of being slow to respond, reluctant to inform your loyal customers.

CMRancho, we have *not* dismissed concerns.  To the contrary, when we first released UI3 and read the criticisms we immediately began responding to them as quickly as possible.  There were complaints about the color scheme.  We changed it within 24 hours.  There were complaints about the performance.  We re-wrote all the graphics from vector to bitmap and fixed it within a week.  There were complaints the icons, like thermostats, didn't display enough data.  We recreated them all within a week and they're completely new in the firmware we're posting today.

Read the timing of the posts last night.  At 07:34:44pm wseverino reported his thermostat wasn't working.  I immediately ping'd him on Skype, and, as you can see from my follow-up post at 12:18:58am, called one of the developers at home and stayed in the office past midnight to have his problem fixed within 5 hours of being aware of it.

The bottom line is UI3 was released on 3 February, and, today, 9 days later, we've got a new release with dozens improvements and fixes, a new color scheme, new icons, etc., all based on user feedback.  (see: http://download.controlmyhouse.net/betafirmware/ftp/wl500gP_Luup_ui3-1.1.227-2.trx)  So when you say we're slow to respond, I don't know that we can go any faster.  We've got 4 people working on UI3, since the release on the 3rd, all of them have had to come in and work weekends and lots of overtime to push out a new release a week later, and we're going as fast as we can.

Also, based on the criticisms we got last week of UI3, we already hired yesterday a new person, Alex, to head up a new team to develop a new UI, UI4, based entirely on user feedback and dialog with the community, and the UI4 team will be working in parallel while the UI3 team continues to make fixes and improvements.

And, keep in mind the only people who post on the forums are those who have trouble or don't like something.  There have been others with UI3 that we've followed up who say they're satisfied with it, and many said it was a lot better than UI2.  For example, with UI2, when you added devices, you had to first setup rooms, do a few steps to add the devices, then assign them to rooms before they were usable.  With UI3 you just click 'Add, Device', the devices appear on the screen fully functional right away without any setup or assigning to rooms, and, if for users that have few devices, say less than 10, they like not having to create rooms because with UI3, if you don't create rooms, that's ok, you just have a devices pane in the middle of the screen that shows your devices.  So, the intention with UI3 is that most users will never bother with creating rooms, laying them out, zooming, etc.; that's only there for people with big installations and lots of devices who want to organize them by room and lay them out in a floorplan.  Anyway, the point is that the feedback hasn't been all bad as you suggest.  A big retail chain is doing their own trials of home automation gateways to pick one to roll out in their stores and, last week, the person heading up their trials said our UI3 was "a good step in the right direction".

Quote
First, this thread wasn't started as you said, "because a user was unable to pair some ZWave light switches and assumed it was because he got beta software". It was because he "received a apparently new model of this unit" (not what was advertised) and he didn't "appreciate getting a unit with beta software installed and scant documentation."

CMRancho, I spoke to the customer.  That's not true, and it's clear from his post. Read again the post that started this thread: "I ordered Vera last week and just received a apparently new model of this unit, no dongle (built-in) and using the flash-based UI. Can't get any devices to be recognized even though I had no issues with ThinkEssentials (yes this has been shutdown). So far very unimpressed, I really don't appreciate getting a unit with beta software installed and scant documentation."

The customer's problem was clearly stated: "Can't get any devices to be recognized even though I had no issues with ThinkEssentials".  That was his problem, and the cause was that the devices were still paired with ThinkEssentials.  The customer assumed he got beta software, and that this was the cause.  He only mentioned getting the new hardware design because he thought that was the cause of the problem.  The new model has the same specs, only with some minor improvements, like the built-in antenna, the battery pack so you don't need an extension cord, etc.  If that was his concern he would have taken me up on my offer to swap out his hardware with Vera 1.  As far as the "scant documentation", as I mentioned, there's a 93 page user's manual, and, yes, the pairing/unpairing process is documented there.

Quote
instead of responding to our concerns, you let the discussion in the forum get really out of hand and now you try to dismiss our concerns by telling us that other people like it

Huh?  In 9 days we've worked around the clock to have a new release that addresses nearly all the criticisms of UI3.  The speed, the colors, the icons, and more have all been redone in 9 days based purely on user feedback.  How can you say we don't respond to customer concerns?

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When your servers go down, you don't tell us until we practically beat it out of you. You never share plans that affect us until there is s huge uproar.

Can you be specific?  I'm not aware of the servers going down for a very long time.  We did have an outage a long time ago, like in Spring or Summer 2009 I think, and we made immediate changes to the server architecture to prevent future outages.  Do you have a trouble ticket or support request for a server outage so I can see what the issue was?  I honestly don't know what outages you're referring to.

As far as not sharing plans...  The major changes were the new Luup engine and UI3.  Regarding Luup, we announced it long before it was released and offered beta/preview versions.  We posted an open API for everybody to review.  We created a new forum to discuss it.  And we recently hired a dedicated person just to address the Luup community.  Regarding UI3, it was offered to some beta testers (the Square Connect guys) back in December, before it was even ready for beta.  We showed it publicly at CES.  And, posted it online for review and discussion.  Can you be specific and say what more you would have liked us to do?

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"However, it's our highest priority to be sure our customers are happy and don't feel taken advantage of." This is so disingenuous it makes me sick.

Look, we offered, [bold]at our expense[/bold], to replace any Vera 2's with Vera 1's to be sure everybody is kept happy.  We brought on extra staff to do a new UI4, and we had everybody put in overtime to get Ui2 working on the Vera 2 hardware.  So how are customer's being taken advantage of?  Every customer has a choice of Vera 1 or Vera 2, and of either UI.  And since we've agreed to foot the bill to do the swap for anybody that wants it, I don't think it's fair to say it's disingenuous.  We honestly didn't think the change from Vera 1 to Vera 2 was a big deal since it has the same specs and same functions, and, only what we considered minor improvements.  Other companies do this type of thing all the time.  For example, BMW got a lot of complaints with their iDrive navigation UI when it came out.  So, midstream they pushed out new firmware improvements and other improvements.  Even though the screenshots in the actual car didn't at that point match the screenshots in the brochures and website, they didn't reprint the user's manuals, change the web site, or announce a new model, because the changes were considered minor.  The changes from Vera 1 to Vera 2 were simply minor improvements.  This thread makes it sound otherwise because it's full of misinformation.  It says that Vera 2 doesn't have wi-fi, and it no longer has a network router/switch, that we stripped out features, etc.  All that is simply wrong information.

Our original plan was to have our graphics designer redo the web site this past week with Vera2 pictures, and coordinate a change with all our dealers.  But, based on the criticisms of UI3, we instead had him redo the graphics, colors and icons in UI3, figuring that was a higher priority.

In any event, you say that our comments were disingenuous.  So, please, tell me what *specifically* would you like to see us do differently?

Offline SmartHomeUSA.com

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Re: New Form Factor Vera with Beta UI Factory Installed
« Reply #32 on: February 12, 2010, 01:33:29 pm »
I see there is still a lot of discussion going on here .. dont mind me .. I just wanted to pop in and say:

Thank you to Aaron from MiCasaVerde for following up with us and clearing up any misinformation we had.

- Wifi router still on board!

- These changes were made in response to customer feedback. Can't argue with that logic!

- Only difference we still see are the three switched ports that are missing. That is very minor in our eyes and do not think it will affect Vera's sales and our future customers.

Thanks again!


"It is not necessary to change.  Survival is not mandatory.  ~W. Edwards Deming "

Offline brsipaq

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Re: New Form Factor Vera with Beta UI Factory Installed
« Reply #33 on: February 12, 2010, 02:21:10 pm »
"So, please, tell me what *specifically* would you like to see us do differently?"

Please communicate and focus on the fundamentals.

We are here to help provide support for a product that is very much needed, because we want it.  And we obviously were willing to pay you up front for it.

But please focus on the fundamentals: z-wave and  'ease of use'.  In your "LUUP Plugins by Hand" wiki page that I've been glaring at since the LUUP Beta was first released last summer, the statement "Because the web generator is not yet operational ...." sticks out as a great big sore on my rear end.  I want to do so much but can't without delving very deep into LUUP that I honestly don't have time with.  When will we get this web generator?

All this other stuff and support for new forms of devices (Insteon, x10, IR, etc.) and Interfaces (Apple, UI3, etc.) are nice, but its like building a house without the foundation laid first.

Thanks,
Brian
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Offline michaelk

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Re: New Form Factor Vera with Beta UI Factory Installed
« Reply #34 on: February 12, 2010, 02:59:01 pm »
"So, please, tell me what *specifically* would you like to see us do differently?"

Please communicate and focus on the fundamentals.

We are here to help provide support for a product that is very much needed, because we want it.  And we obviously were willing to pay you up front for it.

But please focus on the fundamentals: z-wave and  'ease of use'.  In your "LUUP Plugins by Hand" wiki page that I've been glaring at since the LUUP Beta was first released last summer, the statement "Because the web generator is not yet operational ...." sticks out as a great big sore on my rear end.  I want to do so much but can't without delving very deep into LUUP that I honestly don't have time with.  When will we get this web generator?

All this other stuff and support for new forms of devices (Insteon, x10, IR, etc.) and Interfaces (Apple, UI3, etc.) are nice, but its like building a house without the foundation laid first.

Thanks,
Brian


+1

can we get the web generator to help us write simplier scripts.

OR-

just add in the ability to also have "AND" rather than just OR for triggers of a scene.

my humble opinion is- I would rather you take some development time to do that before you get much farther along in UI3 and/or UI4.


Offline micasaverde

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Re: New Form Factor Vera with Beta UI Factory Installed
« Reply #35 on: February 12, 2010, 03:21:04 pm »
We just posted a new official announcement for discussion for UI4 where this can be discussed, and brought in a new UI team leader, Alex, to head up the project.  But, based on these few comments, the challenge is clear with condensing all the opinions.

The suggestion is "focus on the fundamentals", but the recommended solution is to first work on a web generator for creating the UPNP/XML files for Luup plugins, and to support conditional and/or expressions in event triggers.  But, out of the thousands of Vera users out there, it's less than 1% that does XML and Lua or even knows what a conditional expression is.  So, many users would argue that putting the development effort here is not focusing on the fundamentals.  In fact, in the discussions we've had in the past few days over UI3, many users have said get rid of plugins altogether, strip out event triggers for scenes because that's all too complicated for a mainstream product, and, for them, focusing on the fundamentals means just working on making the UI wizard style, rather than free form as it is now, so the range of tasks is limited to a simple a-b-c: add a device step 1, step 2; add a scene step 1, step 2; check off your notifications; that's it (similar to the Schlage UI).

Alex will do his best to sort out the various requests and wish lists and try to come come up with a UI that meets the needs of the novice user while not limiting the advanced user.  I recommend this discussion continue in the new UI4 forum.

Offline CMRancho

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Re: New Form Factor Vera with Beta UI Factory Installed
« Reply #36 on: February 12, 2010, 03:41:28 pm »
What could possibly be more "fundamental" than having a motion sensor turn on a light, but only when it's dark outside?
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Offline micasaverde

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Re: New Form Factor Vera with Beta UI Factory Installed
« Reply #37 on: February 12, 2010, 04:13:27 pm »
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What could possibly be more "fundamental" than having a motion sensor turn on a light, but only when it's dark outside?

CMRancho, I'm going to step out and let Alex handle this in the UI4 discussion.  It seems emotions are flamed right now, and I certainly don't want to stoke the fire higher.  But I want to point out that our 3 biggest competitors are the Schlage LiNK, Leviton's ThinkEssentials/ControlThink, and the Hawking gateway.  Schlage even has 5,000 retailers selling the LiNK.  Not one of our competitors offers that feature of and/or conditional expressions.  And from what I've seen the new gateways coming on the market don't support it either.  Ours is the only gateway that even support conditional expressions at all (albeit with lua script for now).  If you read the blogs and reviews of our competitors products, like the Schlage LiNK, there are criticisms, for sure, but I've never seen anybody criticize them for not support and/or conditional expressions.  So, just remember that what is considered a fundamental feature for one user, isn't necessarily a fundamental feature for another user.  But let's move on and discuss what is the best UI that everybody will like in the UI4 forum.  I think Alex is going to be posting some concepts to get the ball rolling.

Offline zmistro

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Re: New Form Factor Vera with Beta UI Factory Installed
« Reply #38 on: February 12, 2010, 07:00:28 pm »
Well stated MCV

Thanks again!

 I wonder can you email you entire database to provide input on the new GUI.
I'd hate that only a few active people establish the criteria for all of us.

Thanks again

Offline denix

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Re: New Form Factor Vera with Beta UI Factory Installed
« Reply #39 on: February 12, 2010, 11:55:50 pm »
No need for extreme emotions! I just wanted to refer MCV and everybody else to the following "soothing", but insightful post by a new user:

http://forum.micasaverde.com/index.php?topic=3127.msg13698#msg13698
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Offline far182

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Re: New Form Factor Vera with Beta UI Factory Installed
« Reply #40 on: February 13, 2010, 12:04:17 am »
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What could possibly be more "fundamental" than having a motion sensor turn on a light, but only when it's dark outside?

Why even have Vera if it can't do this?  Why even have a whole house controller?  Who really wants to interact with their house via the web, besides changing door lock codes and configuring?

Conditional expressions is what makes the "smart" in smart home.

Offline michaelk

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Re: New Form Factor Vera with Beta UI Factory Installed
« Reply #41 on: February 13, 2010, 02:08:27 pm »
...
The suggestion is "focus on the fundamentals", but the recommended solution is to first work on a web generator for creating the UPNP/XML files for Luup plugins, and to support conditional and/or expressions in event triggers.  But, out of the thousands of Vera users out there, it's less than 1% that does XML and Lua or even knows what a conditional expression is.  

..

seems you guys are content on poo-pooing any support for AND.

But you do realize that "less than 1%" uses xml or lua is EXACTLY the reason you need to add "AND" to the ui because using XML and LUA isn't what "normal people are going to do?

To say that less than 1% dont even know what "AND" means in a scene is a little over-reaching I think.  Most of us figure out what "AND" means probably  sometime around our second birthday.
« Last Edit: February 13, 2010, 02:10:21 pm by michaelk »

Offline shady

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Re: New Form Factor Vera with Beta UI Factory Installed
« Reply #42 on: February 13, 2010, 02:33:25 pm »
@michaelk  Good point, lol....I learned if/then very early too...if you finish your homework then you can go outside and play   or    if you finish dinner AND clear the table then you can have desert....very simple

I want to point out that our 3 biggest competitors are the Schlage LiNK, Leviton's ThinkEssentials/ControlThink, and the Hawking gateway.  Schlage even has 5,000 retailers selling the LiNK.  Not one of our competitors offers that feature of and/or conditional expressions. 

I know from a market stand point they could be considered competitors, but they are hardly competition in my opinion.  If anything the named competitors are responsible for Vera's success.  Probably a large percentage of people have tried these and come to Vera instead.  ControlThink doesn't have a Gateway and their forums pale in comparison to MCV, and Schlage and Hawking missed the memo about Z-Wave interoperability.  Vera is in a good position and should own it, being near HomeSeer in features but at a much lower price point, and being better than the 3 named competitors in programmability while at a similar price point.  With a simple conditional builder you'd have business coming at you from both sides.

And from what I've seen the new gateways coming on the market don't support it either.
  ...even more of a reason to position yourself above their offerings
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Offline michaelk

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Re: New Form Factor Vera with Beta UI Factory Installed
« Reply #43 on: February 13, 2010, 02:52:11 pm »
...
I want to point out that our 3 biggest competitors are the Schlage LiNK, Leviton's ThinkEssentials/ControlThink, and the Hawking gateway.  Schlage even has 5,000 retailers selling the LiNK.  Not one of our competitors offers that feature of and/or conditional expressions. 

I know from a market stand point they could be considered competitors, but they are hardly competition in my opinion.  If anything the named competitors are responsible for Vera's success.  Probably a large percentage of people have tried these and come to Vera instead.  ControlThink doesn't have a Gateway and their forums pale in comparison to MCV, and Schlage and Hawking missed the memo about Z-Wave interoperability.  Vera is in a good position and should own it, being near HomeSeer in features but at a much lower price point, and being better than the 3 named competitors in programmability while at a similar price point.  With a simple conditional builder you'd have business coming at you from both sides.

And from what I've seen the new gateways coming on the market don't support it either.
  ...even more of a reason to position yourself above their offerings


I was going to come back and post about the "competition"- but you posted very well most of my thoughts.  Basically does MCV want to be compared to the crap at the bottom end sold at the or to the higher quality systems at the top. Even if you want to compare yourself to the low end junk- wouldn't it be best to be head and shoulders better?

Anyway, since MCV apparently wants us to make our opinions known to Alex about including "AND" in UI4- I created a thread here:

http://forum.micasaverde.com/index.php?topic=3185.0

I guess we need to make our thoughts known over there in the new UI4 forum.

Offline CMRancho

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Re: New Form Factor Vera with Beta UI Factory Installed
« Reply #44 on: February 16, 2010, 02:23:09 pm »
... But, out of the thousands of Vera users out there, it's less than 1% that does XML...
The really, really good news is that there are thousands of Vera users. Even as active as this forum is, it's still a pretty small group of posters, so I honestly had no idea.
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