What does BETA software offer?

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What does BETA software offer?

Postby samiam » Mon Jun 18, 2018 11:35 am

I was having a discussion with our track manager about BETA PC software he received. Usually BETA hardware or software means the upside is more features and the downside is it is not fully released for general use.

Is this the case with BETA software from RaceAmerica? How do I know I am using BETA software?
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Re: What does BETA software offer?

Postby raceamerica » Mon Jun 18, 2018 12:21 pm

BETA PC software allows a customer to test new features as well as test enhancements to existing functionality. BETA software is provided to a very limited number of customers who agree to test the features and provide feedback to RaceAmerica. BETA software is not for general distribution and is not advised for use during live raceday events.

samiam wrote:How do I know I am using BETA software?

Each time the BETA software is run, the revision level of the software displays the BETA rev (i.e. E.09.1beta2, A.0beta3, etc.). A disclaimer also appears onscreen to inform the customer of their commitment to test and provide feedback to RaceAmerica. The disclaimer also informs the customer the nature of BETA software has a possible risk. Ultimately, the customer decides 'the risk versus benefit' of using the BETA software, the effect on their race event, and how & when testing will be performed. The disclaimer is shown below and states not to use the software if the risk is judged unacceptable by the customer.

BETAdisclaimer.jpg
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Re: What does BETA software offer?

Postby samiam » Mon Jun 18, 2018 12:43 pm

Is there a signup list for BETA software?
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Re: What does BETA software offer?

Postby raceamerica » Mon Jun 18, 2018 12:56 pm

samiam wrote:Is there a signup list for BETA software?

No official signup list. The way BETA software comes about is customers request new features or changes to existing features. These requests are usually informal and collected for a future revision. A set of these requests are incorporated into the development of the next software revision. The customers who made the requests are contacted and the new features discussed to evaluate if the soon to be released BETA revision could address their feature request. BETA software is provided to these customers for testing at appropriate times during their race schedule. The BETA software is fully compatible with regular non-BETA software allowing the customer to run BETA software at less important events and switch to their regular software during important events.

RaceAmerica always discourages a customer from running BETA software at important raceday events since the main reason to use BETA software is testing by the customer and feedback to RaceAmerica.
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Re: What does BETA software offer?

Postby BillGorman » Wed Jun 20, 2018 8:39 am

If I test beta software on a test 'n' tune day and it works fine, can I use the software for the weekend race? We tested a beta software about 6 months ago and want to use the new iPad integration.
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Re: What does BETA software offer?

Postby raceamerica » Wed Jun 20, 2018 9:48 am

BillGorman wrote:If I test beta software on a test 'n' tune day and it works fine, can I use the software for the weekend race?

Until the BETA software has been well tested without issues, it is best not to use the BETA software for race events where 'testing' could expose a bug. This can be disruptive to an event and can be a negative for the track and RaceAmerica.

BETA testing often exposes a need to fine tune the enhancement prior to general release. That is the reason behind BETA software. There has been tracks who used BETA software during a race weekend and ran into issues and, of course, blamed the system. One example of this is an enhancement request to automatically accept the race results since 99%+ of the time the results are correct. Seems logical to save time and speed up the throughput at the track by letting the computer accept the results and manually go back and fix any errors afterwards. This feature does require the person operating the PC to know when race results are bad and remember to make the correction. One instance of bad data undetected and uncorrected cause the 'garbage in, garbage out' effect. Uncorrected data used for later rounds of racing can cause all types of issues that look like data corruption. BETA testing feedback resulted in the addition of some error detection by the software to alert the operator and disabled this feature during rounds when the saved results must be correct for further rounds.

Tracks like Caprock in Texas made the decision to use BETA software every weekend eager to use new features. Combined with very little BETA testing, they accepted the risk and ran into all types of issues creating an unstable race environment. For this reason, RaceAmerica has limited even further which customers will receive BETA software for testing.
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Re: What does BETA software offer?

Postby kaiserBoss » Fri Jun 22, 2018 3:03 pm

Why would anybody ever make a decision to run untested stuff?
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Re: What does BETA software offer?

Postby samiam » Sun Jul 15, 2018 6:37 am

I raced at that track several times and sometimes it went smooth and sometimes it did not. Now it makes sense why it varied so much. If they were running beta software, I can understand why any weekend had issues. They kept referring to the timing system as the cause and of course it would be if the timing system was running beta software.
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Re: What does BETA software offer?

Postby kaiserBoss » Sun Jul 15, 2018 6:42 am

Like I said, why would anybody run not fully tested stuff on a business day at their business and expect perfection? Sounds crazy to me.
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