Author Topic: Feature requests: Regular communication, firmware updates and a bug tracker  (Read 2932 times)

zeb

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I'd like to request three things:

  • Communication from the PE team seems very sporadic so I'd like to request regular communication, be it through this forum or a newsletter but please tell us what you're doing otherwise we assume the worst (that you don't care about us - which I'm sure that you don't).
  • Firmware updates don't seem very timely and it appears to have put some new users off when they receive their shiny new device but immediately encounter bugs...  they then look at this forum and nothing appears to be being done about the issues (except for the beta firmware and app which needs to be side loaded).
  • I believe that previously (on the backer forum) I suggested a bug tracker.  I believe that it would help you to manage any bugs/issues that are encountered and also allow us to see which ones you were working on or had fixed (and would be in the next release).  It would mean that all information for a specific bug/issue would be in one place, rather than spread across many forum posts and would prevent multiple reports of the same bug/issue. As a side effect, it would create a change log without you having to.
Apologies if this post seems negative but I believe that good communication and customer service are the key to a good product.  My PE is extremely useful but with some of the bugs I just can't rely on it and revert to the dedicated tools I have as they 'just do the job'.

Many thanks.

vanaalten

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+1

On june 1 2018, developer jboxtel wrote:
Quote
We're almost finished with a software update which includes

- Report: possible to have multiple measurements on the same page, so you can run e.g. 50 wiremap tests and merge them into a single report
- Report: possibility to insert your own logo
- Report: The layout is now more compact so a full report takes only half a page (1 page with photo)
- Report: Long DHCP and CDP/LLDP infos are wrapped inside their box so that the whole text is visible
- Wiremap: We've removed the per-pair detail bars since they often lead to confusion.
- Ping: The status bar will tell you if there are mixed results in a scenario where e.g. 1 succeeds and 1 times out
- VLAN: Fix the VLAN ID setting field, to avoid -1 appearing occasionally
- Info Settings: we've fixed the way the mac address was displayed

What's coming up in 3-6 months
- IPv6
...and for now, there's only an Android-only beta release, we're roughly halfway in the 3-6 months period and developers seems to be absent.

WorcsIT-Ed

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+1

spiderweb1967

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  Zeb I agree with you 100%

Jivo

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+1

vanaalten

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As far as I know, two developers were active here:
Zoltan
... last active today, but last post was July 27th;

jboxtel
... last active June 22, last post June 20th.

This doesn't look positive for PockEthernet project or future support. A pity, as I like the device and hoped that the developers would have more success with it.

zeb

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I dropped an email to one of the contact addresses I have for Pockethernet a week ago but as yet I haven't had a reply!  :(  Sadly things really aren't looking good.

I suggested this before when the project seemed to stall... Maybe it's time to suggest it once again.  Why not open source the firmware and app code, then as a community new features can be implemented and bugs can be fixed.

I am more than happy to assist where I can and I'm sure that there will be many other people here who would also like to help.

WorcsIT-Ed

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I sent a couple of queries in via email 24 hours after receiving my device and got a response to both in a few hours which was good.  I do agree that more public communication would be greatly appreciated though as I think it's a shame to waste so much potential with the device.  I can't help but feel as though they have underpriced when compared to the likes of Fluke etc so maybe a more community led/open source route would be a better option and they can make the on the hardware? Theres a lot of good ideas floating around on here which I'm fairly sure could be implemented fairly easily and could make Pockethernet an invaluable tool.

rubberduck

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Open source the project!

I have been using the Pockethernet for well over a year and a half and even re-bought the tool after having my original one stolen. I love the tool and it is unreplaceable for my day to day work routines, but the project support has been abysmal at best. Updates are far and few between, both software/firmware and messages from the team.

I've been keeping track of this forum for a long time and it seems that the pockethernet team is very small and is being stretched thin to work on other projects. This is fine, but when you are ignoring your userbase to do so it is not good.

Open sourcing the firmware and client side software will not only reduce the load on your team, but would make the product better in many ways:

  • Open sourcing the client side applications will allow users to aid in development allowing faster updates and a more feature rich experience (ie fixed reports, UI tweaks, etc)
  • Users can live on the bleeding edge of the software in which they can get the newest features at the expense of the occasional bug via compiling the project themselves, or have stable releases vetted by the official pockethernet team
  • Having the firmware opensource could allow more features to make it into the project such as multi ID wire maps, and other features we have been asking for
  • More clients can be developed for other platforms such as Windows, Linux, MacOS where bluetooth support exists
  • You reduce your costs a bit by allowing your userbase do some of the work for you allowing you to focus more on the bigger issues or hardware revisions

Either way open sourcing the project would be a good idea for everyone. If you put the project on github, not only can you track issues and bugs better, but you can have the help from users to squash the bugs and improve the platform.

Anyways that is my 2 cents for what it's worth.

Thanks
« Last Edit: November 14, 2018, 10:51:14 PM by rubberduck »

oktmighty

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+1

settecplus

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Re: Feature requests: Regular communication, firmware updates and a bug tracker
« Reply #10 on: November 13, 2018, 11:48:11 AM »
+1

Gordon_Keenan

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Re: Feature requests: Regular communication, firmware updates and a bug tracker
« Reply #11 on: November 13, 2018, 05:50:31 PM »
+1 - Still waiting for the IOS update to come... and losing the will to live with no activity happening on here.
If it was a 50.00 device then I could shrug and move on with life... but it wasn't, and while I appreciate the limitations on the number of people working on this project etc, surely they have to know that user frustration can make or break anything out there! C'mon guys, we all know that there is a struggle happening somewhere, so why not keep your believers out here informed in some way so we can be a little bit more relaxed over things.

rubberduck

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Re: Feature requests: Regular communication, firmware updates and a bug tracker
« Reply #12 on: November 19, 2018, 12:21:24 AM »
Update from me on the RE attempt as it appears none of the admins have told me to halt progress as of yet.

Over the past who knows how many weeks I have been REing the client and protocol on and off. It has been a bumpy ride because lets face it, disassembling java is painful. Although I have gotten to the point where a semi decent PoC has been completed.

This PoC has some faults though. One of which I am trying to solve is that disconnecting the blue wire on a Ethernet cable causes invalid packets to be received. I am not sure if this is due to my code or a side effect from the pockethernet hardware. The android app seems to parse the data correctly, so I am leaning towards my packet transport consumer is faulty under highly specific edge cases. Likewise a similar edge case happens with the white-brown wire, but has a different reaction.

Other than those bugs, the PoC is semi functional, but I would not use it in a production environment as this is just an educational project and not to be relied on for actual testing (yet).

The current feature set includes:
  • Linux support
  • CLI user interface
  • Semi functioning wiremapping support
  • Extendable codebase which will allow for other features to be added quickly and easily (once the backend is fixed once and for all... ugh)

Here is a example video of the PoC in action. The video shows a wiremap test with all the pairs connected, and then one of the pairs being disconnected:

https://asciinema.org/a/0KJ3zGsBWmwnKV9Lk8umGB9ce
« Last Edit: November 19, 2018, 12:24:46 AM by rubberduck »

vanaalten

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Re: Feature requests: Regular communication, firmware updates and a bug tracker
« Reply #13 on: November 19, 2018, 07:52:58 AM »
@rubberduck: I *did* send an e-mail to info @ pockethernet.com pointing to however still reads that mailaddress to this thread... but so far no response.

I'm definitely not knowledgeable enough to help out reverse engineering or coding anything more than "hello world" in basic, but I do appreciate your effort on this - whatever the outcome, thanks in advance!

I'm wondering - you're focusing on reverse engineering the smartphone app, then aiming for an improved app? Is reverse engineering the PockEthernet firmware itself also on your to-do-list?

rubberduck

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Re: Feature requests: Regular communication, firmware updates and a bug tracker
« Reply #14 on: November 19, 2018, 03:21:07 PM »
An improved application is not really my goal. I see myself as simply laying out the ground work for the documentation of the protocol so that others may make applications. If my application ends up better than the official then that is just a coincidence. That being said, I do have plans to attempt to implement most of, if not all, existing features of the official application for documentation purposes.

This is just an educational hobbyist project though. I likely put in 3-5 hours a week into this research, so progress is slow and limited. Although once the main framework is finished as stated above it will become easier to implement real features rather than fixing bugs all the time. So the 3-5 hours I do put in will become more productive... Eventually.

As for the PE firmware itself. I have taken a quick peek at it, but unlike the phone application which can be disassembled into fairly readable psudo code, the firmware requires much more time and patience than I probably could muster. First step would be finding the architecture of the cpu on the hardware, because without that thy byte code could mean anything, as each cpu architecture interprets the same byte code differently. Then the fact that everything is in assembly doesn't speed things up. Also, I haven't even extracted the firmware from the device or the update applications, so that would need to be done even before doing anything firmware related.

Anyways if the staff kindly asks me to stop I will do so, but until then I will keep working away at it. Once the framework is bug free, I think I may put the project on GitHub. For others to fork and play with.