Eclipse Ecosystem

A blog devoted to promoting the Eclipse ecosystem

Tuesday, April 18, 2006

Community in action - Making up for bad company decisions

As part of a move to a new house recently, my wife and I divied up a splurge budget. She gets new "sitting room" furniture, I get a new HDTV and HD-PVR. I think it's a fair deal.

Having had two Bell ExpressVU (BEV) PVRs on standard def TV for a couple years without any real problems, I rushed out and plunked down my $600 cash on the "9200 BEV HD PVR". I kept it in the box awaiting the arrival of my new TV.

Then something sad happened. While searching for the optimal way to connect and configure the 9200, I came accross this thread on It indicated that not only would my PVR not work, but Bell Canada knew it would not work when they sold it to me - yet took no action to warn me otherwise. As an HD Tuner, the box works fine (it's fantastic in fact), but the PVR capabilities are essentially non functional.

If I had not known about this in advance, I would easily have lost hours trying to troubleshoot the problem as possibly being a dish, wiring or TV problem. Thanks to the community that sprung up around the problem, I knew exactly what would happen and knew exactly how to respond.

[rant]Sorry to rant, but shame, shame, shame on Bell Canada. It's very clear from numerous sources that they knew of this problem since the second week in March. It's also very clear that rather than do the right thing - warn people plunking down $600 that the device has a firmware bug and may be weeks/months to be fixed - they stuck their head in the sand. Even almost six weeks later they are still selling defective units, and pleading ignorance on the phone. When you use the magic words "hey, I know there is a known problem here", they relent that you're right, and start offering compensation offers. Absolutely shameful.[/rant]

Now that that's off my chest, there are a few good points here. First, notice how far the community has come in debugging and fixing this problem - even though it often involves voiding a warranty on a $600 electronic device. The aforementioned thread on links to how to replace the hard drive with a functioning unit on your own! Multiple people have actually ordered old WD hard drives on Ebay and swapped out the Maxtor drive that seems to be causing the problem (likely no fault of Maxtor, it's likely a misconfiguration by BEV).

Moreover, as of last night a group has found a way to connect to the drive and are seeing if they can somehow find the right settings to fix the problem. Theories are that BEV has somehow left on a noise-reduction feature in the drive which is killing the seek times. I am putting even odds as to who finds a "soft" fix first (meaning not having to replace hardware) - Bell or the Community. At least the community is providing us daily progress reports. :)

The bottom line is that if you don't embrace and support your community, one is going to form around it - and likely in a negative way such as this. Many companies are scared to open up and embrace community because competitors can use the information against you.

Eclipse is a great example of that as there are many competitor marketeers who troll our bug reports and blogs daily to jump on us working out issues. The difference is - the community sees right through that, and supports groups willing to have an open conversation about itself.

- Don


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