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Feeling Brave?

Hindsight is 20/20…

“The perfect understanding of an event after it has happened, often when you realize too late what you could have done to avoid it.” We had one of those moments shortly after our last Firestorm release when we discovered that quite a few users were experiencing a bug that made their screens pink. This bug had slipped past our Quality Assurance team and went out in the official release. The hindsight is that we could have offered a pre-release to a larger number of users than what we have in our beta group. Chances are they would have discovered the bug, we would have fixed it and it would not have been released with that bug.

Re-opening of the Firestorm Preview Group for Pre-Release testing.

We have re-opened our Phoenix-Firestorm Preview Group inworld for use as a pre-release test bed. If you are brave enough to live on the cutting edge of unreleased software, you are welcome to join this group and receive a pre-release version of Firestorm a few days before it officially goes live. Group is here…Phoenix-Firestorm Preview Group secondlife:///app/group/7ba4569c-9dd9-fed2-aaa7-36065d18a13c/about

There will be some rules however!

1/ We need your feedback. Please do not just grab the pre-release and run away. That would defeat the purpose of what we are doing, and we will not do it again. Remain in the group and report issues you’ve found. It’s especially important that you report them to our JIRA. Not familiar with or comfortable using the JIRA? We have a wiki page and a Reporting Bugs class to get you acquainted with it.
2/ Do not give the viewer download link out to anyone outside the group. That kind of thing goes viral very quickly, and if we discover during the pre-release test phase that there are some major bugs or worse — exploits — we will have already lost control of the build. If your friends want to use the viewer, the preview group is open to them, as well. The rules apply to them, too.
3/ Re-read rules #1 and #2. 

If you’re brave, we’ll see you in the preview group!

Jessica Lyon
Project Manager
The Phoenix Firestorm Project, Inc

  • This all sounds silly. For years Linden Lab has publicly offered beta and alpha builds of their viewers, even project viewers, to anyone that wants them with no restrictions and no paranoid speak. But here on the Firestorm TPV page there are words like “major bugs” and “exploits” and “lost control of the build” and “do not give the viewer download link to anyone outside the group”. But the people who actually make Second Life and the viewer that Firestorm is a modified version of have no such restrictions and shady speak. Crazy.

    Mark McCallow

    March 23, 2013

  • Let me tell you a little story Mark, a true story. Quite some time ago a certain popular viewer project put out a release (it wasn’t Phoenix), it had passed QA and as far as anyone could tell all was fine. Until a few days later when we were contacted by a senior linden screaming “WHAT HAVE YOU DONE!, UNDO IT! Fix it! Right away!”. Well…. we didn’t know, but as it turned out one of the new features that were released had a bug in the code which caused the viewer to spam the server in the background with tens of thousands of lines of useless data / second. Purely an honest mistake it was by the dev who coded it, an oversight. But when you compound that bug with thousands of users suddenly LL was scrambling, finding themselves having to re adjust server load balancing, and in fact if I recall correctly they had to purchase additional servers to compensate for the issue. This did not put that viewer project in the good books at LL. The viewer project in question had to quickly fix the bug and follow up with an additional release, but these things take time and by the time the next release was out the damage had already been done, money had already been spent.

    Your words of “paranoid”, “shady speak”, and “crazy” are that of someone who has obviously not experienced and ‘learned’ from those mistakes. I make a point to learn from my mistakes, these kind of things happen and I don’t want them to happen on my watch. LL has access to their servers, they can tell if their beta’s are spamming their servers.. we cannot. LL does not have nearly as many users as we do, and far fewer who actually use their pre-release viewers, we cannot be compared to LL when you take into account our usership.

    It is my responsibility to be cautious and above all, responsible. If Firestorm went out with the same type of bug, to even 1/4 of it’s current user base we could potentially take SL offline. Paranoid? Shady? no… wise.. yes.

    Jess.

    Jessica Lyon

    March 23, 2013

  • I’ve been tempted to do exactly what Jessica asked us not to: join the group, grab the pre-release and then run away; I only care about one thing, just one: the HR pics tiling bug, which I know they’ve long since fixed. So why don’t I do it? Because I know I wouldn’t provide feedback, I don’t feel up to it.

    The team already gives releases, they’ve probably got one more coming soon… and in fact they *are* giving this pre-release, just asking for some help in return; they’re not even asking it for the final release, just for this pre-release, and only in order to ensure the former is in optimal shape for all of us when it does come out.

    You call that silly and shady. I call it reasonable, and am gonna respect it and just wait.

    Landaree

    March 24, 2013

  • Anything more to do than join the group to receive the download link? Well, probably I am just too impatient… ;-)

    Suzan

    March 23, 2013

  • I can give another case to show why this is not “crazy talk”.
    An early release of Firestorm had a bug in one of its skins. If a user attempted to restart a region using this skin, the region would not restart. Even worse, the region could not be restarted again by anyone using *any* viewer after a restart request was sent by someone using Firestorm on the bugged skin.
    This bug also slipped past QA and was released.
    Again, it was a Linden who spotted red flags at the server end and alerted the Firestorm team and an emergency hotfix had to be released.
    Linden Lab support team had to deal with the fallout from this one, seeing as the only fix was for them to force a restart of an affected region.
    So as you can see, this is not “crazy talk”. We cannot see red flags at the server end. Linden Lab can. Linden Lab can catch these kinds of bugs in their QA because they can see problems caused at the server end with their test viewers. We cannot.

    Whirly Fizzle

    March 23, 2013

  • Oh ya, I forgot about that one. Thanks Whirls!

    Jessica Lyon

    March 23, 2013

  • 1) I think Jessica’s and Whirly’s stories are the best proof that handing out betas to a big audience makes sense: Imagine what would have happened if those problems would have arisen *after the rollout! People qualifying for betas are usually advanced users and are likely to find problems the developers did not find (not because they are stupid, but because we all use software differently – e.g. not all of us restart Sims…).

    As a beta tester I always have at least two installations on my PC: the last productive build and the beta I test. In case a problem occurs I can switch back in no time. Normal users will not take such efforts when a new release is rolled out and therefor can not switch back quickly.

    2) Releasing a beta too early is contra productive: you generate ton’s of reports that the developers could have solved by themselves. I think this is the real problem behind betas.

    3) Never forget: It is always up to the developer to decide to whom he gives beta’s and how often. If he wants a small beta it is his sole decision and I consider this to be correct!

    Free Bird

    April 12, 2013

  • I would prefer nightly’s, but this will do. Bring on the test viewers! I <3 shiny new viewers!

    Cincia Singh

    March 23, 2013

  • I started firestorm when it was in it’s very first preview, and update to every latest version that gets put out…

    Have joined the preview group, let the fun begin :)

    Thank you Jessica for giving us brave not so wise peeps (Grinz insanely) peeps chance to play with latest builds :)

    Hugggz

    Snookums

    xXsnookumsXx

    March 23, 2013

  • […] announcement, entitled “Feeling Brave?” from Jessica Lyon, reads in […]

  • I started with the pre-release alpha version of Firestorm and used that as my main viewer. I’ve used Firestorm since then. Yeah, I’ll be joining the preview group.

    Oh and one other good reason to limit it to group members is so if a bad bug or issue is discovered, they can let the group members know.

    Crim Mip

    March 23, 2013

  • I say bring it on, you guys do some amazing work so if we as users can help in any way I for one am only to willing.
    Thanks Firestorm team you rock!!

    Doctor Kroll

    March 24, 2013

  • […] Feeling Brave? Jessica Lyon announced that Firestorm is opening its preview group. Pros, you get to see what’s coming before it is released to everyone and can enjoy enhancements as soon as they are worked into the code. Cons, you get to see what’s coming before its kinks have been ironed out. In fact, you agree to help find the kinks and report them. If you are the sort who likes to be leading edge, not trailing edge like me, then think about helping improve the Firestorm viewer. I, on the other hand, will wait for you all to figure it out. I crash enough with the kinds ironed out. […]

  • Would be nice if firestorm had an auto update function, so each time ya logged in would update like lindens viewer does.

    Or maybe have a weekly/ bi weekly build which does it but have it disabled in the release to masses version.

    Reason for me saying that is, if something happens in one of the builds, say there is 500 of us in group, and one of the builds has a bad bug in it, if you released an emergency fix for it, could only be a 100 of us on to get the update quickly, if say after a few days another 200 come on and log in with the bad viewer, major probs for ya.

    I know probably not that many using it but was just giving a for example.

    Plus, if someone did accidentally give the link out to a friend and it went viral, having that auto update feature in would help stop it being used by anyone as it will be forced upgraded..

    As even with the best intentions, it’s as easy as family coming up with the kids, ya say go on comp while we sort dinner out, one upload to a cloud space without ya knowing, then they pass it along to friends, and the person who had it originally may never know the kid done it.

    So it worth thinking about to protect yourselves in long run.

    Just a thought anyway, and most of us who beta test and alpha test are well used to auto updates, specially us firefox nightly build users :)

    xXsnookumsXx

    March 24, 2013

  • Hi,

    As a web application programmer, i understand the importance of quality testing, system testing, User Acceptance Testing and even more testing – never can be enough testing. I look forward to being part of the process to have a quality release .

    Brave enough ? Yes, wanting to find all the issues i can before released to the masses.

    Thank you,

    LeeArdnas

    March 31, 2013

  • I’m glad you didn’t ask for people to read all the rules again for rule three, ’cause then it’d be a continuous cycle of reading. o.o

    Seathre

    April 1, 2013

  • Thank you for updating the blog. I was getting worried about when the next viewer release was coming. :)

    Fitch

    April 1, 2013

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