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All I want is lighting control and central music and HT guy says = $40 K min ! - Page 3  

post #61 of 116
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My criticisms of Dean and the software:
*You need screen shots on your web site. I haven't spent much time on it, but by now I should have seen something
I keep going back and forth. The problem is that there isn't really 'an interface'. There are administrative and development tools interfaces, but they are just plain old programs. The hot looking stuff is all done via the user drawn interface system. I used to have a few slick looking screen caps of the interfaces I've done for my system. But, everyone kept thinking that they *were* the program, i.e. that those drawn images were the whole program interface and that it has those fixed sets of control features. But they are just interfaces that I drew to suit my own needs, as each user would do.

So I got rid of them, and moved them to the section that actually discussed user drawn interfaces, and now people complain that I don't have any up front views of what it does. So I can't seem to win either way :-)

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*You should offer a sample package. Pick XYZ hardware and offer it as a supported bundle. Obviously, I think your market is low cost. If not a bundle, then link to where they can be purchased and have your software preconfigured for those modules.
There are some talks in the works that should lead to this type of thing, but I can't say anything about it yet.

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*I suggest redesigning the site so that it never scrolls beyond what an 8.5 x 11 page would hold (smaller if possible). Just have next buttons or something.
As soon as I can, I'm going to have it redone by someone with some actual creative skills and web site design skills. For now, along with doing the software and the business and the janitorial services and everything else, I'm also doing the web site. And I'm just too much of an engineering geek to really create a super-slick one.
post #62 of 116
Well, since we are adding 2 cents, here's mine.

First of all, the "attacks" on DR were less about his product relevance than his shameless promotion of same. It got old and was clearly inappropriate to use this forum (with or without permission) as his personal free billboard. That being said, I admire his ingenuity and aggressiveness to do it.

As far as Plasmic's unabashed declaration that HE has seen the future and it is thus, really needs a huge grain of salt. I don't pretend to be at all literate in this field, but anyone with such a ****-sure grasp on the future (especially in the technology arena), invites as much skepticism as Deano's product. You both maybe right, I dunno, but I doubt it.

Is like me saying, "lets just say I'm a stock broker for a large company working beyond the current edge of mainstream stocks, and I know which stocks will be huge this year, its not ABC, but XYZ."
post #63 of 116
Well, he was pretty adamant about it maybe, and of course nothing is a given. But, if the recent past is any indication of the near future, the trend is towards using software and general purpose computing tools (with a little specialized hardware where necessary) to apply to more and more previously specialized applications. Many formerly specialized hardware based applications have already fallen, such as music production, graphical arts, desktop publishing, presentation graphics, accounting, film and video editing, and so forth.

It seems pretty likely that the same trends that allowed the general purpose PC, augmented by domain specific software and some specialized hardware assistance, to do the same thing to the automation world. Software is just so much more flexible, and general purpose, commodity hardware has so many economies of scale, that it's a hard combination to compete against.

There will be growing pains I'm sure, and I'm sure that there were in those previously invaded areas. I remember having a primitive MIDI studio back in the late 80s, where now my DJ/Producer friend does all his work at home on his high end PC with a nice digital audio card. He mixes on Cool Edit. The HTPC is still quite primitive, but it will likely progress quickly, and hardware vendors are finding that correct mix of hardware assistance to allow flexible software apps to create lots of added value.

The real power of distributed object technologies is the huge flexibility of locality and the ability to mix and match optional features in a pluggable architcture. He mentioned provided services, and I agree it will increase though I'm not quit as sanguine as he is. In a good distributed system, if you want to 'outsource' some component of the system to someone else, it makes little difference from an architectural point of view. My system doesn't care if this bit or that bit runs on this computer or that computer. It's just a network of distributed objects that register themselves as available services, and the other objects or apps that need to use those services find them via a name server. There are no fixed locations for any of the components except for that name server, which acts as the 'pickup joint' for the system.

So if some company wanted to provide outsourcing of the data storage provided by my system (which centrally stores images, drawn interfaces, macros, X-10 config, etc...) so that the user just has simple, diskless display units in the home, I really wouldn't have to change anything architecturally to accomodate that. It would just be a packaging issue. So there is a lot of flexibility in modern distributed object technologies.

Of course software systems will have to provide at least close to the same level of robustness as traditional systems, to sell to those people who consider that robustness the defining requirement for the purchase. But it can also work just fine on less expensive and lest robust hardware just fine as well. It can support a far larger swath of applicability by only providing the brains and letting the customer pick from a wide variety of 'bodies' to put that brain in, whereas someone like Crestron would have to build and support a very large number of configurations, many of which would be too low margin to be justified for their way of doing business I would imagine.

Folks like Crestron will definitely end up having to get out of the 'keep it all secret' business. Systems like mine are completely open in terms of how to use it, and I go out of my way to document how to use all of it, and there is a lot of benefit to customers of that. I'm sure some people will see this as a 'race to the bottom', but it's just the way that the software world tends to work. You make your money off of selling the product, not off of creating a priesthood, and you sell more product by lowering the bar as much as possible for people who want to use it.

Anyway, I've probably started rambling at this point. But there is just a completely different way of looking at this problem when you come at it from the software world I guess. Maybe it won't work, but I think that it will do quite well, and that it will, perhaps after some period of struggle, provide to the customer the same benefits as have accrued to the many other areas of endeavor to which these same tools have been applied in the past.
post #64 of 116
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Originally posted by mwcatlga

As far as Plasmic's unabashed declaration that HE has seen the future and it is thus, really needs a huge grain of salt. I don't pretend to be at all literate in this field, but anyone with such a ****-sure grasp on the future (especially in the technology arena), invites as much skepticism as Deano's product. You both maybe right, I dunno, but I doubt it.

Is like me saying, "lets just say I'm a stock broker for a large company working beyond the current edge of mainstream stocks, and I know which stocks will be huge this year, its not ABC, but XYZ."
No, I don't think so. I don't think there are any future models of computing beyond utility. Period. Does it mean that it will end up that way? Certainly not. But that is the future as it exists now. (assuming time is linear) Take a look at what EGenera and VMWare are delivering today, look at the IBM aquisition of ThinkDynamics and the EMC of VMWare - and look at Sun's recent moves ... well - I think you get the point. If you know of ANY models beyond utility, please let me know. (I understand the self healing, adaptive paths that will come beforehand...)

EMC, IBM, HP, Sun, etc etc all agree on this. Please don't think *I* came up with it. I never meant to claim such a thing. I merely do some research engineering in this field. There's no stock to buy or anything. It just the way the field is going. I could have told you two years ago Blade computing was going to be the big thing now.

It isn't like a guessing game about stocks, it where $ is being put into R&D and what standards are trying to be set. The guessing game is in who profits from it. What I would have said about blade computing 2 years ago is that HP/Compaq will be the market leaders - and DAMN would I have been wrong! IBM had a 95% increase in blade sales this year and it looks like HP has dropped the ball.

Anyways... sorry to make a post which does nothing but defend myself. Dean, please don't take the crit. too seriously, what you're doing is right on in my book.

Mike
post #65 of 116
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Dean, please don't take the crit. too seriously, what you're doing is right on in my book.
No, I don't mind at all. I'm always open to well intentioned criticism. It's the only way to know what people are thinking. The problem is usually more the other way, that people never tell you why they have a problem with your product, they just go away without ever giving you a chance to address their concerns. It's really difficult to get meaningful evaluations of a product of the complexity of mine.
post #66 of 116
Plasmic, Hewlett's stock is up 10% over the past 24 months. IBM's is down 10%. So, your instinct about HP was probably right, for the wrong reasons?! Go figure!
post #67 of 116
The argument could be made that EMC, IBM, HP, and Sun invest in the utility software area because it's the only avenue open for them to compete with MS in the home market. I don't know that that's true, but it's an easy assessment to make, and hard to refute. They have to believe that it will happen, because if it doesn't, they are permently locked out of the home. Sun has made some early attempts, which crashed and burned before getting out of the demonstration stage.

I think that there is clearly a potential market there. There will always be large numbers of people who are scared of the PC but who want basic functionality in a zero maintenance sort of way. I guess the question though is can these companies, who have proven pretty sad at getting into the consciousness of the home user, really prove their case to that market? And, if the case is proven, what's to stop MS from just whipping up a big back end server market with all the standard Windows apps, and letting you access it from an existing remote destkop type client?

So even if they wine, they might lose.
post #68 of 116
I’m back to continue the debate :).

Dean,

My opinions:

1. The reason for my strong posts earlier is that like others here, I object to your *constant* promotion of CQC in threads. Which I suspect you have been warned to stop based on the post by David Bott earlier in the thread. I have NO problem with your threads announcing new CQC releases nor would I have ANY problem with a thread dedicated to CQC. I DO have a problem with the promotional posts, which are against forum rules – and for good reason – so the forum doesn’t devolve into a promotional venue for dealers and manufacturers.

2. Point # 1 might be minor but you don’t leave it at that. Thread after thread then turns into a debate about the merits of your architecture versus other systems. Not that there isn’t a place for such debates here but it is not in the context they are occurring.

3. Worst of all, you don’t confine your promotions to statements about your own product, but continue to make misstatements about competitors products you know little about. I will address that further in the post.

4. A few posters seem to think that Dean deserves some special slack for developing CQC without pay or because he’s struggling to make a product he created successful. That argument is bogus. Dean is no different than hundreds of other people that participate here that have poured their lifeblood into their businesses but follow the rules and don’t use the forum for promotion.

5. A few posters also seem to think that Dean deserves some special credit for creating a product that is affordable to “the man in the streetâ€. He’s developing the product to make money and it doesn’t matter whether he’s charging $100 or $100,000 for it.

6. Dean attempted to defend his promotion of CQC earlier in the thread by suggesting that dealers here are “pushing Crestron and AMX all the time as the ultimate solution, making money from installing such systems, and therefore have a vested interest in suppressing information about other optionsâ€. The argument is paranoid and baseless. One could just as well suggest that any positive comment about another product is an attempt to suppress information about his. And there is no comparison unless the dealer says “I think Crestron is the best and please call me to buy it from meâ€.

Now that I’ve addressed those points I will respond to several of Dean’s statements.
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Originally posted by Dean Roddey
I DO know how they work.
See my comments further below.
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As I mentioned, much of my career was involved in the process control world, in which far more stringent and more ambitious control scenarios were involved and on which lives, not home theaters, depend. So I know perfectly well how automation systems work, and ones that involve multi-million dollar factories, not just home theaters.
I’m not convinced. Each industry is unique and one of the most common causes of failure in business is assuming that expertise in one area translates into expertise in another. This mistake is often based on ego, the same weakness that probably makes you think you don’t need to be familiar with your competitors products.
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As posted above, it's exactly what I would have expected, and I'm not at all surprised that I'm not surprised.
I’m not surprised that I’m not surprised that you're not surprised that you're not surprised.
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And it's not that it means nothing to me, it's that it wouldn't have affected my design.
Anyone that designs a product and doesn't feel that it's necessary to look at other successful AND unsuccessful products on the market, in order to better understand how to create theirs has very little chance of success in business.
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I already know how to design an automation system, because I worked with them in the past, and understood well the requirements from the point of a custom installer who needs a flexible toolkit that can create as much reusable functionality as possible to minimize effort on each new job. I hardly had to go take a Crestron class to know that their basic design is the same as everyone else's.
The same as everyone else? Do you also think Linux and Windows are “just the same� After all they’re both software, but I think there’s a little more to it then that.
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As I said, the primary issue with my product is that it doesn't have enough devices supported at this time, which is not a lacking in capabilities, it is just a lack of ability to get access to the devices I need in order to write drivers for them.
That’s a false excuse. You do not need to get access to a device to write a driver for it (of course it is preferable if you can). There are thousands of readily available published protocols for devices you could write drivers for. You could also release two groups of drivers, “tested†drivers and “untested†drivers (tested drivers would be for components you were able to obtain and do hands on testing with).

And since your users can write their own drivers, what’s the big issue? And of course the average user isn’t going to use RS-232 in the first place. They are going to use IR. Which should be very easy for someone to integrate with your program. Is it?
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The other major issue is that home automation is a backwater market at this time, unfortunately. Though many people, and I, believe that it will break out soon, at this point it is primarily driven by custom installers doing fairly small numbers of installations for big money, and those custom installers, as has been shown many times in conversations here, have vested interests in the systems that they already know, and they aren't much interested in trying new ones.
There is actually *some* truth in that, though not as much as you would suggest. There are always those that resist change. But as soon as the market offers REAL cost effective ALTERNATIVES (not just products that claim they are alternatives) to Crestron, rest assured they will succeed. The fact that you think you are offering an alternative does not make it so.
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There is a DIY market, and I'm mostly addressing them at this time, for those practical reasons.
I have looked at your product and my opinion is that it is far too complex for the vast majority of the DIY market. While working with a few DIY is a good way to get some feedback from the field, you need to be focusing all your efforts on custom installers. But even there, the problem is that it will be too complex for your average Joe 6Pack installer. And most Crestron dealers serve high-end markets and your products will not meet their needs. So the question is, what is the market for your product?

If I were you I would focus all my efforts on trying to establish pricing packages where you package your software with a PC and a serial card and an IR card etc. You’ve GOT to offer some packaged solutions and packaged recommendations for the product to succeed! I would then try to focus on dealers that are sophisticated enough to sell your product but aren’t big enough or in a wealthy enough area to sell Crestron or AMX.
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So I've had a fairly hard time convincing custom installers to even try it out.
Of course you have, see above. And you are an unestablished company which always makes things difficult.

If I were you, after creating the packages I mentioned, I would try to establish a relationship with a national A/V distributor. They will set up national training and do all of your marketing for you if they think they can make money selling your product to custom installers and will promote it as an alternative to Crestron and AMX.
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I know my system is the next step forward because I know that they have a centralized system, based on proprietary hardware, and try their best to keep information about how to use it proprietary, so that they can charge for access to it.
Remember that statement you made in the first sentence when you said
“I DO know how they workâ€. Well you are again making a statement that indicates you don’t.

Crestron is more than capable of operating in distributed fashion. It’s done ALL the time and has been for years. I just got done walking through a project that had 20+ separate Crestron processors all talking over Ethernet with multiple other systems.

And BTW, I explained this to you about a year ago: http://archive.avsforum.com/avs-vb/s...postid=1636274
So STOP making the false claim!
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The reason Crestron is dominant right now has nothing to do with the superiority of their systems. I've heard enough Cestron people talk about it to know that it's not going to be winning any Nobel prizes. I'm sure it's competent enough, but that's all. They are winning, because they've won in the past, and they are the status quo at this point.
That might be a valid argument for Microsoft Windows. It isn’t for Crestron. The reason Crestron is dominant right now has EVERYTHING to do with the superiority of their systems (I’m not saying that AMX isn’t doing well too). And I would suggest again that if you had a little bit more respect for Crestron and AMX and spent some time studying them and gaining some understanding of why they are superior, you might have a better chance at succeeding with your product.

None of this is meant to suggest that there are not opportunities for Crestron to be overtaken.
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When I can download a Crestron system for free for 30 days, I'll be glad to check their system out.
You can download it for free, which a brief visit to the web site of the dominant player in the market would quickly reveal.

From a following post:
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Actually, for legal reasons, I'd not want to attend any of their training classes nor download any of their software.
So if you don’t want to try it after all just say so! PLEASE don’t claim it’s for legal reasons. You wouldn’t be looking at illegally obtained source code, you’d be looking at a competitors product. Something you should want to do.
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But it can also work just fine on less expensive and lest robust hardware just fine as well. It can support a far larger swath of applicability by only providing the brains and letting the customer pick from a wide variety of 'bodies' to put that brain in, whereas someone like Crestron would have to build and support a very large number of configurations, many of which would be too low margin to be justified for their way of doing business I would imagine.
Perhaps, but one of the big questions is what does your system REALLY cost after you add all the necessary hardware.

A COMPLETE Crestron processor sells for $1400 full retail that includes all the all the necessary serial, IR, relay and input output ports. AND a radio frequency gateway.

What does your system cost after you add your software, a computer and all the necessary serial cards etc. AND you HAVE to make it so the distributor AND the installer can mark them up, or neither will sell it. Then the REAL price isn’t so low, is it?
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Folks like Crestron will definitely end up having to get out of the 'keep it all secret' business. Systems like mine are completely open in terms of how to use it, and I go out of my way to document how to use all of it, and there is a lot of benefit to customers of that.
Sigh. Crestron software is free to anyone that wants to download it. They offer some of the most comprehensive documentation in the industry and it’s available on every product they make and it’s ALL available for download on their web site. Along with programming examples, programming design kits and on and on. For God sakes, take a look at their web site.

But yes, it’s NOT a DIY product. And yes, it’s proprietary in the sense that it doesn’t run on Windows.
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I'm sure some people will see this as a 'race to the bottom', but it's just the way that the software world tends to work. You make your money off of selling the product, not off of creating a priesthood, and you sell more product by lowering the bar as much as possible for people who want to use it.
Sigh again. Well, if you are suggesting that we're going to see automation software in Best Buy any time soon (other than whatever MS builds into Windows) I think that will take a while.

Otherwise, the software industry is multi-faceted and if there’s one thing it does, it creates a “priesthood†(at least in the sense you are using the term). All software companies set up armies of authorized consultants, just as Crestron sets up authorized dealers. And software companies don't just make money off of selling the product; they makes huge amounts of money off of implementing them. The software companies themselves also often have huge armies of internal IT people that implement their software for direct sales. And the implementation fees often far surpass the prices of the actual software. Nor is the goal with software *necessarily* to “lower the bar as much as possible for people who want to use itâ€. That might be the goal for Intuit QuickBooks but that doesn't measn its the goal for everything.

And there are billions made selling high end software (let’s take enterprise CRM for example) where there is an even more tightly controlled priesthood with individual seats often selling for thousands or tens of thousands of dollars. That would be the closer analogy to Crestron.

And it's not like Crestron isn't continually changing and adapting to the market. You will see more and more plug and play type things coming out from them in the future.

One final question. What type of registration program have you put into use to make sure an installer doesn’t use your software again and again.
post #69 of 116
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Anyone that designs a product and doesn't feel that it's necessary to look at other successful AND unsuccessful products on the market, in order to better understand how to create theirs has very little chance of success in business
If you stopped for a minute to think, you'd realize that I'm writing a software system, which is targeting a FIXED hardware architecture. The fact that Crestron has a hard drive or a flash type storage is irrelevant to me from an architectural point of view because I'm writing for an architecture that DOES have a hard drive. That was the original point that sent you off on this rant.

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A COMPLETE Crestron processor sells for $1400 full retail that includes all the all the necessary serial, IR, relay and input output ports. AND a radio frequency gateway.
It's not an apples and oranges comparison to begin with, because the Crestron is a fixed purpose issue and you'd only buy it if you wanted to do an automation system. In many, if not the bulk, of the scenarios my users represent, the computer is already there. So, all they have to add is only those additional bits that they require. For some, that can be no more than a $100, and for some it can be as much as $1000, but it depends on what they want and even much of that hardware is multi-function because it enables other things besides CQC. So this is not a simple A = B type of comparison.

Many of my users will be HTPC users and will explicitly want a software based system because they already have the computer hardware and very much want to use it for the automation platform. So, to them, my system is really just the cost of the software (very low), and what new control ports that they don't currently have.

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That’s a false excuse. You do not need to get access to a device to write a driver for it (of course it is preferable if you can). There are thousands of readily available published protocols for devices you could write drivers for
You've obviously not written many drivers. The likelihood of writing a driver that works by just going by the protocol document is only very slightly above zero percent. Believe me, I know more about this than you ever likely will. And if it doesn't work in the field, the likelihood that a non-technical user can diagnose it is even smaller. It's a waste of time to ever try it other than for the most utterly trivial device, and even then it might not work because they have many undocumented quirks.

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The same as everyone else? Do you also think Linux and Windows are “just the same� After all they’re both software, but I think there’s a little more to it then that.
Of course there are, but if you knew as much as you like to think, you'd know that architecturally, they are VERY similar. They do very much exactly the same things. If you looked at an architectural diagram of them, you'd find that they have mostly the same layers, and provide mostly the same functionality. For the most part, it's only the names that have changed, the terminology.

A Crestron system, like any automation system, at it's core, has the same features as CQC does, they are only implemented differently because mine is targeting a different hardware platform. You can choose not to accept it if you want, but you are wrong.

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What does your system cost after you add your software, a computer and all the necessary serial cards etc. AND you HAVE to make it so the distributor AND the installer can mark them up, or neither will sell it. Then the REAL price isn’t so low, is it?
The deal I make to distributers (and I am working with a number of them) is probably very similar to anyone else's deals. If you buy the software from me, the current maximum price would be $250 if you bought the one current optional feature. If you buy it from a reseller once they start selling it, they will have enough play to undersell me, so use your imagination. It's hardly a great expense.

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Sigh. Crestron software is free to anyone that wants to download it. They offer some of the most comprehensive documentation in the industry and it’s available on every product they make and it’s ALL available for download on their web site. Along with programming examples, programming design kits and on and on. For God sakes, take a look at their web site.
Well then I'm stunned that whenever someone asks about getting into Crestron programming, that they are told that they have to take the training classes because the details are NOT available publically. Are these people lying or just confused? Every publically accessible feature of CQC is documented on the web site.

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Sigh again. The software industry is multi-faceted but if there’s one thing it does, it creates a “priesthood†(at least in the sense you are using the term). And it doesn’t just make money off of selling the product; it makes huge amounts of money off of implementing it. Most software companies have a group of authorized consultants that make all their money off of implementing the software companies’ products.
Well, that may be true, but it's utterly irrelevant in this case. I'll be happy if custom installers start using my software to do their thing, but it will never be necessary to do so, since I publically document everything. Do you doubt in any way that more DIY users are going to install software based systems? Why? Because they can't learn how to program the Crestron unless they take the time and pay the costs to take the training classes, or can talk someone else into teaching them.

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Crestron is more than capable of operating in distributed fashion. It’s done ALL the time and has been for years. I just got done walking through a project that had 20+ separate Crestron processors all talking over Ethernet with multiple other systems.
You just don't understand the terminology we are using. Network distributed doesn't mean that you can hook up multiple entire systems on a network, though CQC can work that way also. It means that the system itself is divided into pieces that can be distributed around the system, asymmetrically. CQC is composed of distributed objects which can be placed on multiple systems around the network as required. And even parts which are currently installed as a single entity, like the master server, is really about 5 such objects which I could easily split out if someone wanted to host a particular piece of that functionality on a specialized piece of hardware (such as use a SQL server for storage instead of my own file system.)

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I’m not convinced. Each industry is unique and one of the most common causes of failure in business is assuming that expertise in one area translates into expertise in another. This mistake is often based on ego, the same weakness that probably makes you think you don’t need to be familiar with your competitors products.
From a *business* perspective, it's not so translatable of course. But I was specifically talking about architecture, which is what you challenged me on. I guarantee you that they all basically have to do the same things and that I know perfectly well how mine needed to be designed in order to target the particular hardware platform I'm targeting.

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One final question. What type of registration program have you put into use to make sure an installer doesn’t use your software again and again.
It has a licensing system. If you really wanted to work hard to get around, I guess you could, but it would be a PITA, particularly from teh point of view of a custom installer. And, it would be dangerous for them, because they would be putting their customers in a bad legal position, and if their customers don't know this, then they might well contact me about something and it would become obvious to me that they don't have a licensed system. So I don't worry too much about custom installers trying to rip me off. The more likely scenario is that end users do.
post #70 of 116
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Originally posted by Dean Roddey
If you stopped for a minute to think, you'd realize that I'm writing a software system, which is targeting a FIXED hardware architecture. The fact that Crestron has a hard drive or a flash type storage is irrelevant to me from an architectural point of view because I'm writing for an architecture that DOES have a hard drive.
Irrelevant to the points I made. I was simply suggesting that looking at the products created by the market leaders (BOTH their software and their hardware) might actually give you insight into creating a better product as well as meeting market expectations. It has NOTHING to do with whether you write great code or how knowledgeable you are. It’s the same reason that every time Crestron comes out with a new product with a cool new feature that within a year AMX has a product with the same feature and visa versa. Because they keep track of each other. Take a look at Crestron’s web site. They have a huge announcement about new touchscreens coming out in June. Why? Because AMX has brought out some new touchscreens in the last year that have put pressure on Crestron and Crestron wants everyone to know now they are addressing it.
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It's not an apples and oranges comparison to begin with, because the Crestron is a fixed purpose issue and you'd only buy it if you wanted to do an automation system. In many, if not the bulk, of the scenarios my users represent, the computer is already there. So, all they have to add is only those additional bits that they require. For some, that can be no more than a $100, and for some it can be as much as $1000, but it depends on what they want and even much of that hardware is multi-function because it enables other things besides CQC. So this is not a simple A = B type of comparison.
I never attempted to make an A/B comparison other than to point out it’s not as simple and clear cut as you would make out. Your continued and endless claims about how much cheaper your product is only reinforces my belief that you don’t understand the market. All your efforts should be focused on creating a REAL package that can marketed as a complete solution, probably for a few thousand dollars and to hell with the “it costs $200†claims.
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Many of my users will be HTPC users…
I guess I keep misinterpreting you. One minute you sound like you want to develop a product to make you rich (NOT a bad thing). The next minute you’re talking about how many of your users will be HTPC users – a section of the market so small I would think it would be of little consequence to you.
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You've obviously not written many drivers. The likelihood of writing a driver that works by just going by the protocol document is only very slightly above zero percent.
Maybe I just write them better than you. But as I pointed out, I would provide tested and untested drivers. But if you don’t want to release a driver without testing it I can respect that. Or perhaps you have a section on the web site where people trade drivers. And every driver doesn’t have to be perfect and provide feedback. It could just provide control of the device.
Quote:
Believe me, I know more about this than you ever likely will.
Why wouldn’t I believe you? You know so much you don’t even have to bother to look at the market leaders. You’re a fricken genius. I bow to you.
Quote:
A Crestron system, like any automation system, at it's core, has the same features as CQC does, they are only implemented differently because mine is targeting a different hardware platform. You can choose not to accept it if you want, but you are wrong.
Sigh. I’ve never suggested they’re not similar though that’s an entirely relative judgment anyhow. I simply suggested that looking at/knowing about your competitor’s products would help you to better design yours. I addressed this issue in my first paragraph of this post.
Quote:
Well then I'm stunned that whenever someone asks about getting into Crestron programming, that they are told that they have to take the training classes because the details are NOT available publicly. Are these people lying or just confused?
Crestron is not a DIY product and as such tech support is supposed to be for trained programmers. And ANYONE can be a trained programmer. All you have to do is pay to attend their classes. Anyone that thinks they won’t provide documentation on their systems is mistaken. But again, you don’t have to take my word for it. All you have to do is click here: www.crestron.com
Quote:
Well, that may be true, but it's utterly irrelevant in this case. I'll be happy if custom installers start using my software to do their thing, but it will never be necessary to do so…
??? Again, I thought you actually wanted to sell the product, in which case custom installers would be an extremely important target for your product. The DIY market for your product is currently small and the product is far too complex for most DIY and even custom installers.
Quote:
Do you doubt in any way that more DIY users are going to install software based systems? Why? Because they can't learn how to program the Crestron unless they take the time and pay the costs to take the training classes, or can talk someone else into teaching them.
Any you think your software is easy to use for a DIY type?
Quote:
You just don't understand the terminology we are using. Network distributed doesn't mean that you can hook up multiple entire systems on a network, though CQC can work that way also. It means that the system itself is divided into pieces that can be distributed around the system, asymmetrically. CQC is composed of distributed objects which can be placed on multiple systems around the network as required. And even parts which are currently installed as a single entity, like the master server, is really about 5 such objects which I could easily split out if someone wanted to host a particular piece of that functionality on a specialized piece of hardware (such as use a SQL server for storage instead of my own file system.)
I understand the terminology and I also understand the context under which my response was made.

For what it's worth, my comments have nothing to do with questioning your technical expertise - only your business understanding of what you need to do to penetrate this market. I'm impressed with what you've created and have been looking at it again as we've been debating. I'm especially impressed with the documentation you have created for the product.
post #71 of 116
Quote:
I never attempted to make an A/B comparison other than to point out it’s not as simple and clear cut as you would make out. Your continued and endless claims about how much cheaper your product is only reinforces my belief that you don’t understand the market. All your efforts should be focused on creating a REAL package that can marketed as a complete solution, probably for a few thousand dollars and to hell with the “it costs $200†claims.
There are other people who will be packaging it into a hardware/software combination. I'm working on this now, but it takes a little time.

If you want to get down to real prices, it's pretty straightforward to do.

For a small (say home theater) oriented system:
1. Computer/OS - $550 from Dell, at the one at a time end user retail price, without monitor, and it's more than powerful enough. Compaq has a low end machine (still more than powerful enough), that will be $380 without monitor, and also more than powerful enough.
2. USB-UIRT - $40
3. X-10 1132 - $40
4. 4x serial ports, somewhere around $80 to $120 according to what you get, for PCI based ones.

So for the, in the closet part of it, that's around $720 or so. If you primarily want to control it via IR and or via a standard keyboard/mouse type of interface, then just get a standard CRT monitor, which would add $50 to the Dell system above, so $770.

If you want a touch screen, and I mean a standard desktop sized one that has plenty of real estate to do very nice screens, that will bump the price up a bit. A 17" to 17" LCD touch screen will go for about $500 retail. So say $1270. Add $200 for the software, and you have $1470. Knock more than a hundred off for the Compaq scenario, so more like $1350.

That was from a whole 10 minutes of searching, and buying at retail. And it's a system that's capable of serving a number of other functions as well, with 10 times the CPU if I remember correctly from the previously posted Crestron box specs. It would be more than powerful enough to serve as the a whole house controller if you wanted to expand it.

A reseller who is putting together such systems, and paying wholesale prices, I'm sure could do better than that. But, as I said, many of the homes I sell into will be using existing PC hardware, or already buying a PC for other uses, and that price will not count against the purchase of CQC. You can poo-poo that if you want, but it's going to be the case pretty often.

You didn't indicate whether the $1400 for the Crestron included a touch screen interface, or how large it was. If it didn't, then you'd be comparing it to something in the $650 to $750 range for a PC based system with CQC.

For a more high end sort of system, you could go with a Global Cache for 6 IR zones and 3 contact closures, and an IRMan if you want to invoke operations via IR.

But in the end, it could take a long time to enumerate all the possibilities, since you get to pick the hardware you want, for whatever price you can get it.


Quote:
??? Again, I thought you actually wanted to sell the product, in which case custom installers would be an extremely important target for your product. The DIY market for your product is currently small and the product is far too complex for most DIY and even custom installers.
I said that I would never *require* a custom installer, or any magical information that's not available publically. That doesn't preclude custom installers, who yes I would very much consider an important part of the equation.

Quote:
Any you think your software is easy to use for a DIY type?
The *software* is easy to use. Automation in general is complex, and the software being easy to use isn't going to help that. Most DIY folks are coming to automation green, and therefore they have the usual 'where to start' problem, because it's just a big subject. But, CQC itself is no harder to master than your average serious application. I'm sure it looks complex before you get into it, but since all of my customers are curently DIY folks, clearly it's comprehensible to them.

I'm not against making it easier to use, and will continue to do that. So far I've had to concentrate on getting the features in place that are required to have a product at all. The niceties had to wait, but they will come. There will be more 'wizardy' type tools to talk you through various operations, and more canned functionality out of the box, and more tools to help users share solutions.


I certainly recognize I'm no marketing genius. If I was, I'd find some other poor schmuck to do the hard work and I'd make money off of him. But I am currently addressing this issue and have been making a large number of approaches to resellers and pre-packaged system vendors to get them interested in packaging the product in pre-fab systems that come pre-set up for various core functionality.

I also recognize that I need more marketing type materials on the web site, and a fancier web site. But those will have to wait until I have some actual money to pay someone to do it. In the meantime, hopefully those resellers will provide some improvements in this area, since they will advertise it on their own web sites.
post #72 of 116
You'll notice that the same defensive person always has to have the last word on "his" threads.
post #73 of 116
Some people just live to argue. Instead of taking QQQ's thoughts into consideration he is compelled to defend every statement. A true example of a failure to communicate. Too bad for CQC and all of its potential customers.
post #74 of 116
You guys are funny. He asked questions, and I assume that he wanted me to answer him, which I did. I understand his points perfectly well, and I agreed with some of them. He asked about prices of real systems, and I gave him some examples, which I think bear out my claims of lower cost for a software based system. I agreed with him about the need for better marketing and packaging, and indicated that this is being worked on. I agree that automation is complex and that I'm very interested in making it easy to the degree that it's possible, though much of it cannot be simplified by me since it's out of my control.

So I fail to see the merit in your comments.
post #75 of 116
We just want something that is easy to set up and easy to use, yet is feature rich. Give us that and we will buy. We dont want complicated graphic designing software for home automation. We want predefined user templates that we can select from. With a simple point and click UI. The first thing people do when they want to buy or try a software package is, look at the screen shots. Right then most of us decide if we like it or not.

Without this, the market is limited to the "highly technical" computer people. The only other option is to hire a pro like QQQ and spend some serious money.
post #76 of 116
I think that the interface designer is actually pretty straightforward, being a WYSIWYG type of app, basically like creating a pressentation using a presentation graphics programs. But, nonetheless, I do understand the need for some kind of canned set of interfaces.

But it's very difficult to do. There are a million system variations out there, and coming up with a small set of simple interfaces that can address them, without you putting in any work to adapt them to your particular circumstances, is pretty tricky. I've been thinking about it for a long time, but it's a touch thing to do. The simpler it is, the less impressive that first look will be, and first impressions are often important, and the less useful they will end up to you, for the amount of work and time for me. But the more slick it is, the harder it is to adapt to a wide variety of systems, with different types and selections of devices.

I have a nice set of home theater control macros, which I'm currently working on genericizing to make them easy to adapt. Now I could create a set of interfaces based on that. But, those macros are designed to control a given set of devices (not a given set of models of device but a given set of types of device, e.g. processor, switcher, scaler, projector, etc...), and if you don't have a system anything like that, that becomes a problem. They are independent of the particular models of devices, since they deal with them through an abstract interface), but if you don't even have some of those types of devices, it can get complicated. But, they will be able to adopt to a fairly wide set of situations, and can be installed via a wizard that looks at what devices you have and auto-matches them by their device type, and gets you to help where necessary to match up devices if it finds more than one candidate for a given device type.

My biggest problem though is non-technical. I can't ship any images that I don't own, and I don't own any. There are lots of images you can get for yourself for free, but in order for me to ship them, I have to license them, and I have to charge you for them, and the amount of stuff you have to download would become a lot larger. I've talked with a few owners of graphics sets, and they were either way more than I could afford right now, or they weren't interested really in licensing them like that. I can't just take their images, I have to process them somewhat, to set transparency colors and such, so I'd have to repackage their images in another format, and a lot of them weren't too hip on that.

Anyway, there are a lot of issues. I clearly understand the need, and I'm going to do what I can as it becomes possible. But it's a tough nut to crack.

But, to get back to the "it's not really that hard" thing... To create a simple interface, knowing what devices you have, really isn't very hard. If you can master the basics of MS Word or Excel, you can create simple interfaces without having to get professional help. It's all drag and drop, with a little typing to indicate what text you want to display at various places. And no matter what I do, if you want interfaces that really address your specific needs, it's going to require some amount of customization probably.
post #77 of 116
BTW, I think it bears discussing that there is probably some theoretical limit below which, at this time, it is not worth the effort to try to simplify an automation system. As previously mentioned, I (and others) can make our software or controllers as easy to operate as they can possibly be. But, that doesn't simplify the issues of getting all of the other hardware, wiring, switches, etc... in place. That's really the hard part, and it won't be made any simpler by having the software being easy to use.

There may come a time, as I mentioned earlier in this thread, where new homes have pre-fab automation hardware packages installed. At that point, then it will be pretty straightforward to write automation packages that add value to those standard hardware packages right out of the box. But, currently, there's no such thing as a remotely standard set of hardware to be controlled or to control the hardware being controlled.

So, though no one wants to just ignore a market, those of us who are control system vendors have to really face the realities that we could put in huge amounts of time making our part of it simpler, and it wouldn't result in much more sales at all, because the rest of the process of automating a home still lies outside our control, and gets not simpler because of our efforts.

And before the whiners start saying I'm just trying to get out of something, I'm not. I certainly want to do what I can to make it easier, because the real ultimate market to crack is still untapped and lies between the high end customer who hires a custom installer and the DIY geek person. Anyone who can tap that market in any substantial amount will have discovered the new country.

But reality is reality, and the facts on the ground these days just indicate that once you get to the level of a Pronto and IR control, you've exceeded the absorption capacity of that huge middle market mostly. Once you move beyond that, even if you created a controller that could read the customers mind, unless the hardware for it to control and the wiring and other setup required to do that has been done, it would be a very intelligent controller with nothing to do. You would have basically put in a huge amount of work that you may never recoup, because you created something for a market that doesn't exist yet.

I do believe that, if anyone is going to crack this market, it will be folks like me who are targeting the PC, since it's an easier and cheaper way into the home, via the existing home network and PC infrastructure. But that's just the first of many steps to get into the homes of the masses. Even if someone came up some highly standardized set of hardware to go into new homes, it would take decades for enough of them to be built to really provide a mass market waiting to be tapped.

Anyway, that seems to be a fairly obvious assessment of the realities of automation at this time. I wish it were different, since it would be beneficial to me, but it's not as best I can tell. I'm sure someone will disagree, so feel free to give your version for balance.
post #78 of 116
Quote:
Originally posted by cmcjo
We just want something that is easy to set up and easy to use, yet is feature rich. Give us that and we will buy. We dont want complicated graphic designing software for home automation. We want predefined user templates that we can select from. With a simple point and click UI. The first thing people do when they want to buy or try a software package is, look at the screen shots. Right then most of us decide if we like it or not.

Without this, the market is limited to the "highly technical" computer people. The only other option is to hire a pro like QQQ and spend some serious money.
Just in case you and others aren't aware of it, there are a fair number of home automation software packages. Unfortunately, most of them are primarily X-10 based but some of them do branch out into more complete control. One package that I have passing familiarity with is ECS, which is used by quite a few DIY. It has some neat capabilites built in such as support (requires certain modems) for announcement of caller ID name and number using text to speech software.

http://www.homeautomationforum.com/links/Software/
http://www.hometoys.com/htishare.htm
ESC: http://www.omnipotencesoftware.com/
post #79 of 116
Completely off topic, but if you haven't clicked on the "happy customer" links in QQQ's sig block, it's a must hear experience...LOL.
post #80 of 116
Although shameless self promotoing (not sure if it was really shameless) is poor netequite, I think the work Dean has done really good and more importantly (to me anyway) is the debate it has started. Although the emotional responses posted by some seem similar to the emotional responses one gets in interconnect/speaker wire/power cord debates, I have learned a lot from reading this thread as well as other comments by Dean.

Personally, I like the idea of a web based control system. Aside from it apealing to my EE/NE side, web based touch screens are so cheap now, putting 15-20 of them around the house isn't crazy...
post #81 of 116
All you have to do is look at the number of reads of this thread vs. other here to know what's missing from the automation world, which is a vigorous debate about what's what and what should be what else and so forth, and what the future should be about. It seems to be completely lacking all around the net. There are some places that have an automation bent, but they are usually dead as a doornail. Given that AVS is probably the most active place on the net for geeks like us, the lack of traffic here means it is a fairly dead topic.

I hope that newer approaches like mine, even if they don't make me the ruler of the known world, will help stimulate some debate at least.
post #82 of 116
While I'm sure you WISH all the traffic on this thread was based on your home auto debate, I think it is more like slowing down to get a good look at the crash on the side of the road - might see some blood or a body part...which we did.
post #83 of 116
LOL!
post #84 of 116
Gosh, that was witty. I'll let the readers of this thread decide who here is contributing more to moving the world of home automation forward into the future.
post #85 of 116
Quote:
I'll let the readers of this thread decide who here is contributing more to moving the world of home automation forward into the future.
Ever hear of illusions of grandeur? You admitted earlier in this thread you haven't sold a copy of your software yet. The answer is that everyone in this thread including me (EXCEPT you of course) are just small cogs in the wheel.

Once you sell a copy maybe you could post a picture for all of us with yourself pasted next to a picture of Bill Gates in celebration of your dominance of the home automation world.
post #86 of 116
Quote:
You admitted earlier in this thread you haven't sold a copy of your software yet. Ever hear of illusions of grandeur? The answer is that everyone in this thread including me (EXCEPT you of course) are just small cogs in the wheel.
For reasons already explained. The people who are using it 'paid' far more than the price, they wrote drivers themselves because they really wanted to use it. If they'd gotten paid for that time, it would have probably been worth thousands each.

And, I was comparing myself to the other people in this thread, not in the world. Compared to you guys, I'm doing infinitely more. But hey, keep laughing. It will only make my "I told you so" moment that much sweeter when it comes.
post #87 of 116
http://www.hooah4health.com/body/fit..._on_stick2.jpg

Quote:
Originally posted by Dean Roddey
And, I was comparing myself to the other people in this thread, not in the world. Compared to you guys, I'm doing infinitely more. It will only make my "I told you so" moment that much sweeter when it comes.
Will that be before or after you run out of money in three months (http://www.avsforum.com/avs-vb/showt...80#post3332380):
Quote:
Originally posted by Dean Roddey
I'm the one who has about 3 months of money left in the bank. So on the truly f$#ked scale, I think I've got you beat :-)
Of course if worse comes to worse, you can always sell part of it to those people you referred to earlier that are willing to pay you a few hundred thousand for it ;). Don't forget to negotiate extra for your customer base.
Quote:
But hey, keep laughing.
I am :D :D :D. Just look at my avatar if you don't believe me.
post #88 of 116
QQQ,

If you knew your butt from business, you'd know that there are alot of people out there, who drop more money on the ground than you'll ever make, who were a lot worse off than I am now before they finally got their thing off the ground. And it's because they had the balls to ignore those who have sat on the sidelines since the beginning and laughed at the efforts of others who risked everything to create something new. But how many of the hecklers do you remember? Nada. The only ones you know about are the ones who took the risk. Not all of them made it, but none of the ones who sat on the sidelines and heckled ever made any difference at all.

So if you want to make fun of me, just knock yourself out. It makes absolutely no difference to me.
post #89 of 116
http://www.hooah4health.com/body/fit..._on_stick2.jpg

Quote:
Originally posted by Dean Roddey
So if you want to make fun of me, just knock yourself out. It makes absolutely no difference to me.
Of course it makes a difference. That's why you just had to write another post telling me off.

It's easy to be a legend in your own mind. But money talks and ******** walks.
post #90 of 116
Whatever. I leave it to others to judge.
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