Topic: Let's get this widget party started!

OK.... so here's my story....

I'm in technology.  My company makes a cloud based work process management solution (WebDocs for anyone who cares) that we sell nationally.  I remember reading about the Chumby maybe 2006, 2007...???  At the time, I didn't quite get it.  How much for an alarm clock!!??  Maybe Chumby marketing needed some help.  Maybe I'm just slow (I always say I am not a fast thinker...)  Then I forgot about Chumby.

Fast forward to 2017.  Somehow, I don't even remember how, Chumby comes across my desk again.  "Oh yeah, I remember that weird little leather wrapped thing!"  Well, a lot has happened in 10 years.  Chumby has come and gone.  And come again.  Sony (and apparently several others) licensed the Chumby OS / ecosystem.  The servers are back online and Chumby's are alive once again.

Apparently the Sony marketing machine sold a TON of these things.  So, loving technology and being a little bit of a tinkerer, I bought a few of the Dash units which Duane has very smartly made active again.  When I say a few, I mean a dozen.  Seriously.  At $20 - $30, including shipping, why not!!??  Now, what to do with these things....???

So apparently Facebook doesn't work anymore.  Eh... FaceBook is so 2013...  Can I check my EMAIL or see my day's calendar on it instead of grabbing my phone?  Nope.  No Outlook or Office 365 integration that I can see.  How about a scroll of my Fitbit stats?  Nope.   Anything to do with Google - photos, maps??   Not that I can tell.   Pandora?  Apparently I can see the most recent songs I've bookmarked.  Useful?  Not really.  YouTube videos?  Maybe - haven't tried yet but doesn't look good.  Netflix or Vudu?  Am I asking to much from this little piece of hardware??

So I guess my point is, what a cool device and platform - especially for $20 or $30!!  But without apps that actually relate to stuff people do in 2017, I'm going to be hard pressed to pay $36 a year for a glorified alarm clock (see paragraph 1).  I wish I were a developer - I'm not - but it seems like some of these things would be relatively simple to write.  Maybe I am oversimplifying it but an app that logs into my Fitbit account and gets my steps for the day and shows to me in a bar graph seems not that hard.

Is there any ongoing app development?  What can we do to get some people with real talent (unlike me) to write some cool apps for this thing that are useful and worth paying for.  I've looked through most of the apps and frankly, there is not much there I am excited about.  Let's make Chumby the new MUST HAVE accessory again by bringing apps up to date!  Can I get a "hell yeah"!!??

OK, thanks for reading....  I'll let the smart people chime in now.   :-)

Re: Let's get this widget party started!

I'm going to be hard pressed to pay $36 a year for a glorified alarm clock

FYI...the glorified alarm clock does not require a subscription, so you won't have to press at all.

Re: Let's get this widget party started!

The issue is that most of these companies, over the last couple of years, have closed their APIs to any third party development.   RSS syndication has almost disappeared, in favor of the closed Twitter and Facebook environments.

For instance, Netflix used to publish a custom RSS feed that would have your personal DVD queue.  About a month ago, they removed that and didn't replace it with anything.  The chumby App used that RSS feed. The only way you can view your queue now is by logging into their website, period.

Most companies are now requiring you to use their own branded iOS and Android apps to view their content.  It's not just chumby -  this also freezes out other companies, most notably Microsoft - and simply reinforces the hegemony of these two platforms and, in my opinion, slows innovation.

The list of companies that have closed their APIs is astonishing - Google, Youtube, Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Netflix - many of these companies became large because they once freely allowed third parties to access their data, but closed it all down when they got big enough not to need it any more.

The web is becoming proprietary.

I'd love to support more of the services you've listed, and I have the source code for most of these widgets and would be happy to update them to work with them.  Unfortunately, these services have made it impossible to do so.

Re: Let's get this widget party started!

riblet2000 wrote:

I'm going to be hard pressed to pay $36 a year for a glorified alarm clock

FYI...the glorified alarm clock does not require a subscription, so you won't have to press at all.


Re: Let's get this widget party started!

Anybody know how hard would it be to go through all the existing widgets and delete the ones that are no longer working instead of letting us find out by installing them and not being able to get anything useful from them?  Just trying to try and eliminate some frustration getting the most out of the device.

Re: Let's get this widget party started!

swezey wrote:

Anybody know how hard

The time and effort to try them all...

Start making a list?

Cleaning up any loose bits and bytes.

7 (edited by drexful 2017-12-04 21:51:53)

Re: Let's get this widget party started!

I hear some good points on both sides of the table.. Duane summed up his points remarkably about the closed APIs and "the web is becoming proprietary". Swezey had some good points about the relevance of the current Chumby platform in 2017...

And now I interject my comments...

I have a love/hate relationship with the Chumby platform.. Yes I said it.. But I've accepted the fact that the device is useful in certain aspects of my life and is not meant to replace my "smarter" devices. The simple reason that the Chumby platform is now low-tech in today's world.

The hate (actually frustration) comes from my lack of flash programming knowledge and time to make the 10 year old technology do smarter things than it was designed for. I can't stand flash lite limitations and I don't like being tied to an online server (there are other options if you know how to manipulate files and/or network traffic)

The love is a relatively open design and ability to make certain things work on it. I listen to music, news, see the temp and radar, set alarms, stream photos, etc. I have one at my bedside, one in the kitchen, and one at work. It is easy to look over and get info at a glance or listen to music without pulling out my phone or tablet.

The future of Chumby is uncertain, but it still has a purpose to me. I would like to see it ported to a Raspberry PI like platform so we can entice a new audience into our Chumby-fied world to enhance development. The makersphere is going strong.

Owner of three C1's, Infocast 3.5, Sony Dash C10, and Infocast 8. A tinkerer at heart and IT director by trade.