Topic: Are we close?

Is the new service days, weeks or months away?

Just curious...thanks.

Re: Are we close?

I don't know for sure, but my (worst case scenario)estimate for the recreated service is by the end of August, if a payment/subscription service is introduced and by the end of July if not. We have most of the major bugs in the beta test of the service fixed, and we just need to get the nonessential features back up and some APIs fixed before we launch. (Please delete/edit this post if I've said too much, Duane)

Re: Are we close?

Is there a ballpark figure (right expression? I'm Aussie) for the amount needed via subscriptions? I bought 1 thing on CafePress and felt all warm and fuzzy for a while but I have no idea whether that contribution is useful?

Re: Are we close?

In general, it's best to consider any donations as covering expenses that Blue Octy has already incurred.

At this point, the total revenue generated from the two stores for products and donations covers the accrued expense of Blue Octy through about September of last year, so we're not yet at break even.

One issue with the store is that it has a limited amount of inventory to sell, and even if all sold, it's a one time revenue source, while the costs of running the service are recurring.  To keep this going, and indeed expand to include the full server, we'd either need a one-time windfall, or a recurring revenue stream to cover the recurring costs.

Products sold through CafePress get us a 16% royalty of the price before shipping and taxes.  Products sold through the main chumbystore.com get us about 90% before shipping costs.  Both, of course, are also subject to state and federal taxes.

Re: Are we close?

I've said before I'm happy to pay and have a bunch of charms and stickers now and hope others agree. Do you feel you understand what price structure you would need to sustain this? I'm sure the calculations are tricky (# total customers, # who had permanently given up, # unwilling to pay anything, # willing to pay more than you are likely to reasonably charge). Anyway  I hope you find a simple path to solvency because I like my devices running as they are today (in the closed beta)!

6 (edited by philhu 2014-04-28 05:26:07)

Re: Are we close?

Are you still looking for a beta tester?  My big work project just ended, so I have time now to help

I have a C1, 2- C8, chumby classic, I8

Re: Are we close?

we've got enough people for this phase of testing, but if you're interested in the next phase, send me a pm and I'll put you on the list.

Cleaning up any loose bits and bytes.

Re: Are we close?

I know there a many who want the service to be at least close to what is was before the stub service. I can appreciate that BUT I am very happy with the stub service. If there is a choice with low to no expense for my part, I would prefer that. I like the clock, internet radio, and maybe slideshow type usage. It would be great to have all units with very similar capabilities so that the support for the server would be simpler and all units would have uniformity. I know free is not probably an option but cost is a factor when dealing with priorities of devices. IMO the choice for the future should be made to try to keep as many chumby units working as possible which is in many ways can be tied to the cost of the service. Some die-hard chumbyites will pay whatever. There is a point where casual users will drop off if price for service becomes prohibitive. There is an optimum price range that will keep the greatest number of chums active and pay for the services rendered. I see eBay action with Chumby-type units with mixed results. You can get some bargains now but some units have some very high prices (don't know if anyone is paying it though). If a sustainable service is maintained, I can see the price of the units rising some. There may actually be a point where NEW units may be needed in the market. Don't think that may be possible under the circumstances. I like Duane being in charge of this because if it was in the hands of say SONY, chumby  would be toast eventually as their service seems to be already. Hope good things will be ahead for Blue Octy.

Owner of 7 Chumby type units. 3 Sony Dash, 2 Info 8, 2 Info 3.5, and 1 C1.

Re: Are we close?

Getting back into the business of creating new Chumby units would require quite a bit of capital - somewhere north of $150K or so.  Just tooling for a case is $25K for each round.  I don't have access to the tooling for the C8, but I *might* be able to locate the C1 tooling in China, though it may no longer be in any condition to be used - or it may have been sold off for scrap/recycling.

Many of the parts to make the types of chumbys we all have today aren't made any more, so one would be more likely to make something contemporary.  Perhaps something a bit better than Raspberry Pi-level in performance/memory/etc, but with the rest of the hardware a chumby has - touchscreen/display, speakers, network adaptors, case, etc., perhaps running some standard Linux distribution or maybe even some version of Android.

The tragedy is that there really is a gap in the market that this class of device fills, as many Chumby users will attest.  While smartphones can do some of the things a chumby can do, in my opinion they don't do it as well.

Re: Are we close?

Honestly, selling SD cards with the software to connect to the Chumby servers for the Raspberry Pi would be the best option, in my opinion. You wouldn't have to deal with hardware manufacturing and would get a subscriber base, and the Adafruit 320x240 Raspberry Pi touchscreens could be useful for a user-created case or something.

Re: Are we close?

Can't do that for legal/licensing reasons - unless we completely abandon Flash, and start from scratch on apps.

Gnash won't play most of the apps, so that isn't an option.

Re: Are we close?

In the medium term might it be possible to introduce an alternate API for widgets that the standard control panel could be adapted to run in existing Chumbys, not based on flash but a more modern language? The idea would be to provide a route to transition away from Flash in the future, should that prove necessary. Something like Python might be good, but if size is an issue even Lua might be workable. Just a thought…

Re: Are we close?

The language isn't much of a problem, I've ported several to the chumby - the question is what the app framework would be.

It's hard to match Flash - we have a sandboxed virtual machine with vector and bitmap graphics, with full stereo audio, a widely used video format, and full streaming network stack, all running in less than 2MB.  The movie themselves are completely self contained and highly compressed. For content creation, we had a full commercially supported IDE and open source toolchain, with runtimes for every major browser, hundreds of websites with example content.

Just a Java with the standard libraries is several times larger, and that's without the graphics, audio or video support.

At one point, before we knew we could get Flash going, I did graft together a Javascript/Cairo/ALSA thing from Open Source, but it was nowhere near as fast as Flash, and had only a small fraction of the feature set, and was already larger than Flash.

Re: Are we close?

Yeah, it's real tragedy what's happened to Flash in the market... it is a nice system for this kind of device. I'd be curious to check on the compatibility and speed with Shumway (https://github.com/mozilla/shumway/wiki and http://www.areweflashyet.com/), Mozilla's attempt to build a Flash runtime using JavaScript to run in the browser.  I doubt that would work well on the C3 or C8 hardware, but it might be fast enough on a Firefox OS device or a inexpensive Android tablet to make something useful.

Re: Are we close?

* What would the paid subscription offer? Does the chumby require such a service to function?

Re: Are we close?

chumby008 wrote:

* What would the paid subscription offer?

What it would offer is up to Duane, since he would be the one offering it. However, it can only be assumed that it would be something rather like the previous Chumby service was. In other words, it would be the existing functions as provided by the stub server (Control panel with alarm functions, access to internet radio) plus access to a range of widgets.

chumby008 wrote:

Does the chumby require such a service to function?

Well, yes and no. Clearly, in one sense the service can function without a paid subscription, because it has in the past and does now. However, this is not financially sustainable, so in another sense, no, the service can't function without paid subscriptions or some other means of financial support. Advertising has been considered, but is unlikely to provide a viable revenue stream.
It is also possible to run individual Chumbys off-line, so that no service is required. Therefore, no subscription would be required either. The main drawback of this mode of operation is that it is not as easy to add or customise widgets offline as it is with the online mode where it can be done via a webpage.

17 (edited by chumby008 2014-05-04 10:38:24)

Re: Are we close?

* So if Chumby server's (Ones that Duane currently supports where to go offline> do all chumby's stop working and  no longer connect to the Internet?

* Or do they still function connecting to Shoutcast and other URL's through my own network and ISP.

Re: Are we close?

Unfortunately the chumby music sources (at least some of them) rely on Chumby servers for things like authentication, channel lists, or proxies.  I'm not sure which ones specifically may remain working if the Chumby servers were completely offline, but many would cease to function.

Linux Guy - Occasional Chumby Hacker

19 (edited by chumby008 2014-05-04 19:02:16)

Re: Are we close?

* I assume shoutcast doesn't need authentication like Pandora might.

* Basically I'd like to know, if I add my own station URL's in Chumby's My station List> I can access those stations without any chumby servers running...correct?

Re: Are we close?

you can do whatever you like in the chumby, but, as it sits, without internal modification, it won't do much of anything without the backend servers, which is why Duane spent the money and time for the last year to keep at least a minimal service running so that the tens of thousands of chumbys that are still out there will keep working.

Cleaning up any loose bits and bytes.

Re: Are we close?

* So, if the servers went offline tomorrow I would have a non functioning chumby> no Internet radio etc.

Re: Are we close?

chumby008 wrote:

* I assume shoutcast doesn't need authentication like Pandora might.

Both SHOUTcast and Pandora require authentication with an API key assigned to chumby devices.

Re: Are we close?

What about personal URL's in the My Station Music Menu?

* Do they need an API or just an internet connection?

Re: Are we close?

In the C1 (the other devices typically use a subset):

Requires server support or covered by contractual requirements:

Pandora
iheartradio
SHOUTcast Radio
blue octy radio
Sleep Sounds
CBS Podcasts
NOAA Radio by Wunderground
Internode (AU only)

Do not require server:

My Streams
FM Radio
Squeezebox Server
My Music Files

Some of the server-based music sources have additional regional or brand-based restrictions.

Re: Are we close?

* So is there a plan to keep these services going?

Would locating the parts from China be able to re-continue part sourcing / making the parts again? If this is a long term endevour I would assume it would make sense to re-invest in parts or at least agree on some sort of contract with the Manufacturer of the chmby models etc.