Just an update on the situation in these cold days of January.

The Alpha testing phase for our controller will terminate as planned at the end of January. Then, in February we are going to start the Beta testing program, widening the circle of beta testers and opening it to the public.

Let me recap what we’ve done in the past months.

We distributed our hydroponic controller to a small group of experts to see how it would work in real life situations. This was an important step because, as usual, everything always works well in your laboratory but when your users start to play with it all the strangest things start to happen… It’s mathematical.

As a development engineer you think all the possible use cases, you write thousands of test case for unit testing, you try to crash every single software module, you smash the box, you throw it into the lake, and at the end you are satisfied. Your software is a tank. It will work forever. Nobody can stop it. Nobody.
Except your Alpha tester. The dreaded Alpha tester.
How is it possible that in half an hour your Alpha tester can cripple the product that you lovely tested for months? Does he have supernatural power? Or is it just (bad) luck?

Jokes aside, this is often due to the fact that you develop and you test your product in determined and stable conditions on your bench. Then you test different setups and it still works. But as hard as you try, it’s very difficult to test all the possible environment. And guess what? Your user has for sure one of those environments that you didn’t test and that causes that extremely rare bug to come to surface.
Moreover your extremely curious user will try to do something that you didn’t tried because you, the engineer, know that it would not work. That’s the power of user.

But I’m not blaming our Alpha testers. Instead, I want to publicly thank them for having helped us on finding those nasty bugs. During the past months we passed some great moments of frustration on both sides and I want to thank them for the patience toward us and the product. With their help we could identify some major bugs and things that didn’t work as expected. Besides, they also gave many interesting advice on how to improve the controller.
So, a big thank to you, dear Alpha testers.

This is just another demonstration of how important is to test your product as soon as possible with your users. Even on a small scale.

Now, we didn’t wait the end of the Alpha stage to implement the improvements. Hot software fixing has been done on-the-fly and automatically uploaded on testers’ machine. In parallel we started working on the improvement of the user interface, that lacked a bit of usability. This will be ready for the beta.
On the hardware side we worked on a new release of the hardware that solves a bunch of other problems. We already have the new version on our table and we are testing it internally to check that everything is fine.We still have to do some major work on the documentation, the website and everything else not technical.

But the machine is working full throttle and everything will be ready for the February Beta test.

Stay tuned on this channel, you will soon get some good news.