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Author Topic: Is the link dead? A fan questions the life and future of the link.  (Read 7805 times)
ThOr101
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« on: July 04, 2010, 12:35:38 am »

This box was great.  I didn't have cable, but I had a big Internet pipe.  I had a new HDTV, so I knew I wanted HD content delivered to it.  The Neuros box seemed like the perfect solution.  A box that had all the hardware tested, they had their own repositories so I knew I wouldn't one day accidentally update to something that didn't work.  Awesome.

I got my box, plugged it in, and it just worked..... This was over a year ago.

Since then, I've diligently pushed the upgrade button whenever there was an upgrade.  That worked pretty well.  Awesome.

Then I guess there was an update.  But I'm not too sure.  Maybe I updated to 1.2 or something.  OK, life was grand.

Oh, then there was another update, or was there?  Looks like all the restore instructions are for 1.2.2.  I guess if I poke around the download directories, oh there it is.  1.3, that wasn't too easy to find.  Upgrade to 1.3, but I can't use the thumbdrive that I got from Neuros because it isn't big enough.  Ehh, no problem, I guess I'll just.  Hmm, I have to download an image, and dd it to a new thumbdrive.  OK, not a simple upgrade path.

Ok, so I finally get around to doing the upgrade.  Look, XBMC by default.  Interesting.  Well let's start a video, wow it's loud.  Press the volume down key on the keyboard, hmm, that doesn't work.  Do I have to remap the volume buttons?  I thought I got this image from Neuros.

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So what does my lengthy narrative mean?  This was supposed to be plug and play plus hackable.  Updates don't seem to be coming all that frequently.  What updates there are are somewhat difficult to find.  There isn't one standard place to find all the "Here's the digest of what you need to know about the Link".

You say the neurostechnology.com/helpdesk has a FAQ about "how do I upgrade the software".  Sure it does, but for which version?  At some point you have to re-image the thumb drive.  So to which version does this apply?  Press the upgrade button?  Sure, but I'm still at ubuntu 8 (wasn't that like 2 years ago?).  Press the upgrade button twice?  Really? 

I mean look at the Fedora upgrade pages.  A pretty simple "If you have version X, then do Y to get to Z".

Hey, I know you guys are trying to do your best, but just be frank.  Is this product dead?  Last update as October of 09, there are all sorts of forks (drivers ATI vs. NVidia).  There really isn't a "here's the facts" page to let you know where on this path you are and what the options are to get somewhere.

The wiki still talks about restoring version 1.2.2.

So really, should I build my own box?  Go to Apple TV?  Or am I going to start seeing amazing things from my Neuros box again?  Updated software, easy upgrades to new versions?  Easy upgrades to flash 10?  What about an incredibly simple "system status" page letting me know if I need to upgrade something with links to "how to".  Think about it, you'd have all the Neuros people going to your page to check their status.  You'd get instant stats on who is running which version.  You could also provide people info on "oh, you should really do _____ to upgrade your system"

Good luck, and I'll stick with you for as long as I can, but at some point, I can't be scrolling through the forums every month to find out if a new "SOMETHING" has come out and what incantations need to be done to get it.

Cheers.
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ChadV
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« Reply #1 on: July 08, 2010, 04:19:19 pm »

It's agreed that the unit is a bit too fractured...  There are v1.4 and v1.5 images available, but they've yet to be back-ported to the ATi hardware, so we're not being too loud about it until that can be done.  And now nVidia is changing the way they do integrated video in a way that may force a major revision to the LINK again.

As for your issue with the USB key and v1.3 not fitting, that really doesn't sound right...  The flash-based units have always been on a 4GB key, and I used the v1.3 image off the site myself.  Can you detail what happened?

I'll re-point the link on the wiki to v1.3 shortly...
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ThOr101
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« Reply #2 on: July 10, 2010, 03:24:22 pm »

Yeah, that's a bummer about all the ATI issues.  However, I'm getting old, and as a customer, I just want something that works, and isn't running old software.

You are right about the image fitting on the current key (I guess).  I thought I read somewhere that I had to buy a new key.  Luckily I did, because upgrading / restoring to the 1.3 image is not plug and play.   Have you tried it recently?

I restored, I plugged in, I applied the updates.

Adobe flash doesn't work.  I went to the synaptic package manager, and re-installed it.  Turns out it comes up with some kind of sha5sum error.  Looks like there were a few other people having this problem, but they all talked about removing all the repositories or something and re-installing.  Knowing that Neuros has their own repositories (which protect us from software gone crazy... or at least I thought) I didn't want to do that.

So I uninstalled the non-free adobe, and checked the one above it.  Adobe-plugin or something.

Yeah, that installed just fine, but after restarting the browser, still no flash video.

Oh, and the volume up and down buttons don't work anymore either.  I push them, but nothing happens.

DUUUUUUDDDEE!!!!

I bought this box because I didn't WANT to HAVE to mess with the box to get it to work, but I COULD mess with the box if I wanted to.  In other words, it worked right out of the box so I wouldn't have to mess with it, but this 1.3 image is just awful.

I now recall why I bought a new thumbdrive, because now I can flip back to the 1.2 version and not be dead in the water.

Am I the only person having these troubles with the 1.3 image?  I find that hard to believe.  Maybe I just don't want to have to hack away at the box to get it to work?  I dunno.

Please help, and if you need more technical feed back, screen shots, and exact error messages, heck, I can give you root on the box if you want.  Just let me know.

It doesn't work, I bought it so I wouldn't have to dork with it to make it work, so please, help make it work again on the 1.3 image.

Cheers
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ChadV
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« Reply #3 on: July 11, 2010, 12:41:32 am »

I used the 1.3 image for a while without changing anything and flash worked fine.

Unfortunately, I no longer have v1.0/ATi hardware to test with.
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ThOr101
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« Reply #4 on: July 11, 2010, 03:21:30 pm »

I guess that kind of answers the question, "will you be supporting this?".

So if you need a version 1.0, you can have mine.  http://cgi.ebay.com/ws/eBayISAPI.dll?ViewItem&item=300445538899

This was a great product, too bad it got left in the dust along with all the early adopters.

Good luck.
« Last Edit: July 11, 2010, 04:09:00 pm by ThOr101 » Logged
ChadV
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« Reply #5 on: July 12, 2010, 02:24:10 pm »

The unit is still supported, but I'm not at the main office, so I don't have access to all the fun toys.  Tongue

And the early adopters really haven't been left in the dust.  v1.5 is in the process of being ported to the ATi hardware, and you had an upgrade option available for a long while to the nVidia version.
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ThOr101
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« Reply #6 on: July 12, 2010, 09:38:50 pm »

Ok, an upgrade program.  Let's dive into that.  I'm really not trying to harp on this, but I at least hope you can see it from my perspective to hopefully help in the future.

You have my mailing address because you shipped me a box.  Nope, never got a piece of mail there asking if I wanted to upgrade.

I signed up for an account on the neuros tv website (the thing that first loads when my box comes up, or at least it used to).  Did I get an e-mail to that account letting me know an upgrade was available?  Nope.

So the page that used to first load had an "announcements" page on it.  Did that mention an upgrade?  Nope. 

Let's check the WIKI.  Neuros Link page.  Mention anything about an upgrade?  No, but it does mention it is being upgraded to Karmic Koala.  No place to check for news on that or where to get more info though.  We continue!

Gamma user's manual.  Hey, I was part of the gamma program, let's check that.  Oh.  Nope, no upgrade info here.

Ok, let's hit our back button a few times, and check out the forums.  I wouldn't think that an officially created upgrade program would only be listed on the forums.  I thought something like a formal upgrade page would be made, but let's check anyway.

Something about updating 1.1 to Phantom.  "There's been talk, but nothing formal."  Ok, uhhh, where should we look for something formal?

Oh, this forum topic posting?
Nvidia npdate path for early adopters with ATI video

What is npdate?  I thought that had to do with time sync.  Seriously, I skipped over it the first time because my time was fine.  Let's open that.

Ok, buried a few posts deep:  "As I said before, the trade-in program is being worked on"

This makes me think that if something was formal, a sticky note on the top would be placed announcing an upgrade path.

Holy carp, a link!  http://wiki.neurostechnology.com/index.php/The_Gamma_Program#Neuros_LINK_Gamma_Upgrade_Program
Let's follow it.  How come this wasn't on the Neuros Link or Gamma user's manual page?  Was it?  Did I miss it?

Oh, linked to from "Gamma Level Product" but never mentioned an upgrade on the main page of the Link.

There is a mailing list for announcements?  That's news to me.

OK, so yes, there is an upgrade path, but DOOOOOD it is hard to find.  I mean, it isn't the jump in your face "HEY YOU HAVE OLD STUFF, GET NEW STUFF" kind of in your face.

Anyway.  I'm really not trying to be a debbie downer here.  But I'm just suggesting that integrating some kind of announcement on the device, or a status page or SOMETHING would be a great idea.

You would get devices automatically checking in.  You could ask if you could collect pkg info (what people are installing on their LINK other than the default software).  You could see if people are really using XBMC or ripping it out for BOXEE.  Then you could make a "look, you have old stuff, get new stuff" and "here is how" link.

You control the hardware and the software on these things, I hope you could take advantage of that to help your users follow you along, find bugs, report them back to you.

Cheers!
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ChadV
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« Reply #7 on: July 12, 2010, 09:56:07 pm »

You make a lot of excellent points, and I'll be sure to point them out to the CEO.

The difficulty of finding the upgrade path to v1.1 is partially my fault.  I had put together formal language and store items for most of the program, and then let someone else who is on leave volunteer to double check my work before posting them.  By the time we realized it slipped through the cracks, the Phantom was available, then the nVidia chipset supply issues, etc. etc.  My apologies.
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JoeBorn
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« Reply #8 on: July 12, 2010, 11:59:53 pm »

I'm sorry to have been away from the forums for so long.  As your post details so articulately, we've made some serious mistakes regarding the upgrades and such.  In some areas we dropped the ball, in others we were naive and in others, things have changed.  Here's what we need to do going forward.

1. Get out an ATI v1.5 release that points directly to the ubuntu repositories.  Things have changed since we first released the LINK and today its my personal view that the small likelihood that ubuntu will break something is not worth delaying all the useful updates that ubuntu puts out.  Instead, in those cases where something breaks (which has been very rare in recent experience), we'll fix it with our own updates.  This is how we've been doing it with the nVidia LINKs with good success.

2. You are right about the upgrade path, we should have done better in communicating there and, in general we should make better use of the mailing list and the website rather than all the broadly distributed community mechanisms.

But to answer your question, the LINK is by no means dead, and our Gamma customers are by no means forgotten, our communication of that has been poor, but I can promise our hearts are in the right place.  Subsidized upgrades have been available and updates will be forthcoming.  Our Gamma users are the heart and soul of our organization and we will continue to do everything we can to take care of you.  If you find that we've failed to communicate well enough, I'd encourage anyone to reach out to any one of us directly and let us know  jborn at neurostechnology.com is my email (and I'll try to be on the forums more often going forward too).

Joe

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jborn (at) neurostechnology.com
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« Reply #9 on: November 22, 2010, 03:46:14 am »

Not to beat a dead horse, but I do not check the forums super often. I use my link daily and was one of the Gamma users. I never received information regarding the switchover to Nvidia architecture or of an opportunity to trade in my ATI link for the newer revision. Can someone point me to information about this?
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ChadV
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« Reply #10 on: November 22, 2010, 11:54:17 pm »

There are trade-up options in the store now.  ATi or nVidia, either one, to the current v1.3 Intel hardware.
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HDRaptor
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« Reply #11 on: December 01, 2010, 07:32:07 pm »

So...I'm very confused, after reading this thread.  Neuros really, _really_ needs to work on their messaging.

What is the status of this:  http://wiki.neurostechnology.com/index.php/The_Gamma_Program#Neuros_LINK_Gamma_Upgrade_Program

Is this dead?  Is it still running?  I was also an early gamma adopter of what I'm sure is a 1.0 Link...I remember being told something about subsidized upgrades as well.  It was long enough ago that I'm well past the 4-month return period...heck, just pure (and partly morbid) curiosity brought me back here after not checking in for months.

My email address attached to this account still works and is checked daily...I'm in the same boat, and of the same mind, as ThOr101.  The only reason I haven't ebayed my own unit is I became a bit more of a Linux enthusiast (can't remember whether the household file/other server came before, or was a result of the Link Wink, and have been running "raw" Ubuntu, and now Mint, on an internal HD, both with a few extra repositories for mplayer, gstreamer and some other vital things, on the box for ages, with fairly decent success (although trying to play 1080p video was always a joke until I started using Mint).

I'd like to upgrade to the new hardware, if it's possible.  There are no details as of yet about addresses to send things to, how to get an RMA (or whatever equivalent process there is), etc.  I'm fine with swapping the motherboard and other guts myself - but if I'm shelling out money for it, I want to know what what the exact make & model are.  They're not detailed at the link I gave above.  Can the new board be adequately cooled by the 1.0 case hardware?  What about the power supply, is it enough to run it reliably?  Has anybody tested this?  Also, what's the status on this situation:  http://forums.neurostechnology.com/index.php?topic=11222.msg57224#msg57224

Bottom line:  If this isn't an economical (or forthcoming _soon_!) option at this point I can easily build my own Linux media box with gamer-quality hardware for relatively cheap.  And I'm sure a lot of your users are in the same boat.  Some deep Black Friday/Cyber Monday discounts are still in effect, and things are likely to only get better as the year winds down and retailers get more desperate after a reportedly tepid BlFr. 
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ChadV
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« Reply #12 on: December 01, 2010, 11:12:12 pm »

As I said in the post above you, the trade-up options are in the store.  Once you place an order, you'll get a response with an address to ship stuff to as appropriate.  Wink
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HDRaptor
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« Reply #13 on: December 02, 2010, 12:53:32 am »

Ok, this is embarrassing.  I originally read that as "no trade-up options"...  :]

In all seriousness, though, I have a couple of lingering questions.  Have y'all done any stress-testing with this hardware and the original case and cooling hardware?  Is the wattage of the original power supply enough to comfortably drive it?

Also, I'm assuming that store entry for the upgrade is the _exact_ same motherboard as in the current "Phantom" specs, i.e. the Foxconn board, 2.5Ghz dual-core Celeron, onboard Intel G41 video?  If so, sounds interesting.

Also, possibly stupid question, but do you all ship out the new board first, or wait 'till you get the old one.  I'm asking mainly because I expect the packing material/box you send that one in to be the perfect shipping container.  :]

Last but not least, and this is serious:  I don't see any information about warranty on the upgrade in the store listing.  What warranty is there?

Thanks for the information, Chad.
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ChadV
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« Reply #14 on: December 02, 2010, 07:11:45 pm »

We're still using the original case, PSU, and cooling hardware in the standard LINK.

The upgrade is the parts to get you to the same as the "standard" LINK.  The parts to go from "standard" -> Phantom are all fans, heatsinks, etc.  No functional parts differ between the two.

For the do-it-yourself kit, we send you the board and CPU, you send back the old parts when you're done.

I honestly don't know what the warranty is on the upgrade parts.  I'll have to ask Joe.
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