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Technology

Please Ticket Software Problems

Why don’t computing folk submit support requests? Today we try to find the answer from The Duck or the Gnome of Google rather than asking the folk who make it. Why don’t we check the knowledge base? Why don’t we check the deployment guides? Why don’t we report malfunctions and documentation errors?

These questions are too deep to answer here. I think two things are at play.

  1. Google or the Duck can provide instant gratification
  2. Too many products are unsupported so Google and the Duck are the only game in town.

I think the young folk who entered the trade in the microcomputer age are resigned to dealing with unsupported and community supported products. It wasn’t always that way and some products come with robust support even in 2021.

Today, I dropped by church to update the campus WAN network settings in preparation for Cox retiring the address segment our house network was on. Being an old codger, I asked myself if I was satisfied with my backup. I wasn’t so I tried to cut a new one. It didn’t save. I tried to change my WAN address to the new values provided by Cox. They didn’t take.

Backups worked when I last did maintenance in early July, so I return home, tail between legs, to see what the buzz was.

What The Duck Said

On the backup saving issue, I found many reports of this issue on Reddit and other popular kvetching watering holes. Same with the unable to set WAN address problem. Each had been around for some months.

Apparently, Controller is auto-saving to the SD card correctly if you have auto-save on. We have auto-update on too while we’re not meeting regularly. But the bug would catch us if we were manually updating also. It don’t care. Apparently controller will reload from the card OK if current firmware versions and save-set versions match.

Why Backups Matter

Backup save and Restore is at the heart of most UniFi casualty restoration procedures. Make a backup, make configuration changes, and test. If it goes bad, restore the good backup you just made. I like to download a backup to squirrel away on iCloud where it is in the local file system, iCloud drive, Time Machine, and Backblaze. Should the Cloud Key scramble its backup archive, I still have a reasonably safe copy in one of those places.

Ubiquity has a coming service to save backups with your management portal at unifi.ui.com.

If your Cloud Key is off in the clouds or your Dream Machine is having nightmares, you can factory reset it and restore from the last good save set on the card.

If you are migrating from a Cloud Key to a Dream Machine, you restore a save of the Cloud Key configuration to the Dream Machine rather than rebuilding your network from scratch.

What I Found in the Community

Both issues had been reported informally in the Ubiquity Unifi user community forums. There was even a workaround for setting the WAN address at the router. Apparently, one set in the router, the controller UI can be updated to match. Anyway, we have until September 26 to find out.

What Shocked Me

Growing up in mini-computer land, I was taught to always, always make a backup, and to always, always ticket an issue. If you don’t tell them its broke, they won’t know to fix it. That it is present in the field means that QA testing and Regression Testing did not catch it pre-release. So it shipped. It happens. But both problems had been around several months.

The Unifi folk, no matter how crazy, cannot anticipate every creative deployment of UniFi equipment or test every possible combination of Ubiquity kit. So they need you to report what you encountered.

Ticketing at Ubiquity

Ubiquity Unifi products have life of the product support. If you have Ubiquity equipment, you’re good to go. Your community and support account are associated with you and is separate from your off-site management portal account. So register again. No support service subscription is required.

Your Ubiquity purchases also include software update service for the service life of the product. No separate subscription is needed. To use the management features, no separate subscription is needed. UniFi kit is prix fixe. The initial purchase covers it all. That means that Ubiquity is putting some money from each purchase in escrow to operate the management portal, distribute updates, and fix bugs.

You actually can submit a problem request for follow up. If it is urgent, you can chat to an Elbonian who will try to help you. If there is some time, you can pitch it in the queue for a more leisurely resolution via Email. Either happens after you finish playing 20 questions so they can route the issue to the correct group of Elbonians. You start at this support page.

Ubiquity Unifi Support Submittal starts with this question.

The current minimalist web page fad somewhat obscures the fact that this is indeed a drop down and that you’re supposed to start here. The UI elements are too light. Both Safari and Firefox are afflicted. Anyway, the page will ask about 5 questions with the most recent answer determining the next question to be presented. So triage starts here with the questions. Once through them, you can describe what you attempted and the symptoms that resulted. The items will be queued based on the picks and a ticket serial number returned to you in the portal. you can see these at My Account.

If you need some coaching, chat is the way to go. Explain what you have. Explain what your are attempting to do. Explain what you’ve run into and they can coach you to the right procedure. Or to the right place in the controller UI. Access to the coaches had been built into the network controller UI. Currently, it is on the support requests page.