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39CentStamp 02-10-2010 12:21 AM

Quote:
Originally Posted by rtbatch View Post

Folks,

BTW, why in the world would anyone buy a very expensive proprietary touchpad interface (wall or table top) when for $299 you can get an iPOD touch (or soon iPAD for double the price) that is 10 times smarter (and more open and flexible) than anything a HA firm can build?

Why a touchpanel instead of an Ipod touch? Screen size & functionality. If you are willing to trade the quirks for a lower price then the touch is a nice option.

Why a touchpanel instead of an iPad? Because it didnt exist until recently. As far as we know.. the iPad may very well replace touchpanel sales for systems that dont need proprietary features like intercom.

Another issue is reliability and apples "dont ask dont repair" policy. My iPhone 3g is still running strong a year later. My girfriend iPhone was purchased the year before mine and it was replaced 3 times under warranty and now shes using it to answer calls with only because the screen wont respond well. It takes a couple minutes to slide & unlock it.

So the gamble will be whether or not these things live beyond warranty and what to do when they fail the day after.

Quote:


Also, other than Kaleidescape (hugely expensive), a home video server seems like an impossibility. I have no interest in cobbling together a "Frankenserver" based on Wintel or LINUX technology. I most certainly understand the associated DRM issues and the concept of fair use.

ADMS is the only thing i would recommend to a client at this point. Other than that, the frankenserver is pretty much your only option and IMO AVS is the place to learn how to cobble it together.

Pvr4Craig 02-10-2010 07:57 AM

Quote:
Originally Posted by rtbatch View Post

...If something can't be done via Cat6, then it needs to be re-engineered. I can accept 2 Cat6 runs for Component as an interim measure until IP home video distribution grows up. Any comments on that technology?

In case you haven't run across it, there are systems like Sage or MythTV built around a backend server storing all your media and connected (via IP) to frontend devices rendering the media on systems throughout the house.

I personally use Myth but Sage seems to fit better with your objectives.

rtbatch 02-18-2010 02:57 PM

You're absolutely right about Apple. My daughter has been through 4 iPods. The only answer that makes sense usually is replace rather than repair. All things considered (versus a proprietary pad) I'll take the Apple. Much more brilliant as a device for the $. At $299 for an iTouch, economies of scale massively favor Apple. Even if I have to replace them more frequently.

rtbatch 02-18-2010 02:58 PM

Quote:
Originally Posted by 39CentStamp View Post

Why a touchpanel instead of an Ipod touch? Screen size & functionality. If you are willing to trade the quirks for a lower price then the touch is a nice option.

Why a touchpanel instead of an iPad? Because it didnt exist until recently. As far as we know.. the iPad may very well replace touchpanel sales for systems that dont need proprietary features like intercom.

Another issue is reliability and apples "dont ask dont repair" policy. My iPhone 3g is still running strong a year later. My girfriend iPhone was purchased the year before mine and it was replaced 3 times under warranty and now shes using it to answer calls with only because the screen wont respond well. It takes a couple minutes to slide & unlock it.

So the gamble will be whether or not these things live beyond warranty and what to do when they fail the day after.



ADMS is the only thing i would recommend to a client at this point. Other than that, the frankenserver is pretty much your only option and IMO AVS is the place to learn how to cobble it together.

ADMS, I will check it out. Muchos Gracias!

rtbatch 02-18-2010 02:59 PM

Quote:
Originally Posted by Pvr4Craig View Post

In case you haven't run across it, there are systems like Sage or MythTV built around a backend server storing all your media and connected (via IP) to frontend devices rendering the media on systems throughout the house.

I personally use Myth but Sage seems to fit better with your objectives.

Another great lead. More homework to do. I'll probably wind up writing a book about this. Many Thanks.

rtbatch 02-18-2010 03:03 PM

Quote:
Originally Posted by Fiasco View Post

The Kohler Media module and digital shower valves most certainly can be networked. They can stream audio from internet radio stations or a uPnP audio server.



I use XP and Eventghost to automate my home. Works like a champ at a fraction of the cost.

The DTV2 can be, but it's pretty retro. DTV1 - dumb as a stump. My hunch is there is much better stuff in the Kohler pipeline.

rtbatch 02-18-2010 03:14 PM

Quote:
Originally Posted by Fiasco View Post

You keep saying that reliability is your #1 concern but then contradict yourself.

I would say Lutron is most certainly worth the premium. I have swapped out failed Leviton, Zigbee, and Lightolier systems for Lutron. I have never swapped a Lutron system out for a different manufacturer.

Very interesting dilemma. Gotta go wireline for reliability. Holy Guacamole. I don't mean to contradict myself, but I'm sure you can appreciate the paradox. Who wants to reboot a blue-screened house? If wireless is so iffy, then I run Cat6 (or proprietary wire) to every switch box. That just doesn't pass the sniff test with me.

rtbatch 02-18-2010 04:13 PM

Quote:
Originally Posted by Dean Roddey View Post

Lifeware spent probably a hundred million dollars in personal wealth of a former internet bazzillionaire. They advertised like crazy, they obviously spent a lot of money on the web site. But, ultimately, the product has to work or all that is meaningless. Given that they have basically tanked, I'm assuming that the nice web site didn't really help in the end.

We have gone the other way. We put everything we have into the product and we don't have a sugar daddy to fund us because we are bootstrapping. So, yes, resources are tight and if it comes down between the web site and the product, it has to be the product, because that's what utimately gets installed in the user's home and has to actually work.

But we've been around for a long time, and you can easily do a search and find out that we are well regarded. You can poke around on our support forum and see that generally the only real complaints that our users have is that we don't already do everything that can possibly be done. No one is complaining about the reliability or the power.

Actually, you are the first person I think who has ever expressed any interest in who we are or where we are, that I can remember anyway. And, it's kind of like what company's About page is going to say, BTW, we are probably going out of business next month or we are struggling? I'm sure Lifeware's doesn't say that, but they've clearly almost disappeared, and it seems like it would be a really bad choice for a long term viable solution.

Most folks primarily are concerned with other people's experiences and evaluations of the product. The only real complaints that many folks would have is that it, like any large product, requires a fair amount of spinup to get your head around it. This is inevitable, though we are always working on ways to improve that.

But, basically, there's simple and very limited and there's very flexible and more complex. Most products I think fall pretty near one or the other end of the spectrum. More complexity will exist outside of CQC than within it, if you are going to do all of the hardware stuff yourself as well. If you don't want to put in the time, we can get you in touch with an integrator who will work with you, but of course their time is as valuable to them as yours is to you, so it's either spend your own time or spend your money. There's no short cut. I think that, after you see the pricing for a Savant system, you may consider even Crestron cheap.

BTW, the comment above about our pro product being more expensive than a Crestron controller, that's a little misleading. Maybe more expensive than one of their very small and limited controllers, but certainly not even close to what one of their more capable controllers will cost once you have all the doo-dads required to handle a fairly reasonable sized solution. And of course our product is already media capable out of the box, on top of being a powerful automation controller, and it will grow with you for minimal extra cost.

Dean,

I hope to match the quality of the second half your response with my own. That said, I'm going to be very candid about the first half, as I have been a [marketing] executive in very large technology companies. So, my responses will be conditioned by that experience. That said, it's seldom easy being on the receiving end of tough love.

I have the greatest admiration for bootstrappers. That said, as a CEO you're probably a great engineer (with a little bit of a chip on his shoulder). I can't tell you how many times I've heard a masterful engineer say "My website sucks because I'm putting all my energy into my product." Puhleeze. Sales and marketing are as important as product. You must re-balance your efforts if you're ever going to be more than an aspirant. Your website is a piece of crap, that greatly disserves your firm. A proper description of who you are, what makes you different, and easy to find well produced information that amplifies your unique selling proposition (including genuine testimonials) is not spin. It's sound business practice.

And why do I care who you are, and if you'll be in business tomorrow? Because I'm going to put your stuff into my house - a house that I built largely with my own hands, and that is very much a reflection of what I value. The commercial term is "vendor risk," a perception you (and every small company) must dedicate yourself to overcoming. As such, do I sound like a guy who can be spun by a pretty web site? You can bet your bottom dollar I'm going to investigate the viability of small companies with whom I do business, even ones with fancy websites. That said, please take a look at this Web site http://www.savantav.com/ for an example of what I mean. For better or worse, this is your competition. Point taken on Savant price - they may very well be in the Crestron category. That said, I am seeking to ascertain whether their products are as good as their web site, and whether they represent a good value. Regardless, at least I know who's running the company, and have some insight the leadership credentials of the management team. But that's no guarantee either...

Lastly, leaders do not trash their competition - they captivate their intended audience - which unfortunately you have not done in this instance. Although you may be inclined to respond to my post with invective, I urge you to resist the impulse - because, bottom line, I am the customer. A customer that may still be persuadable.

I very much appreciate the tone / information value of the second half of your post. That said, as a "large" system (your words), I would only offer one final piece of advice. What I am looking for in a supplier is someone who is passionate about making complexity yield to simplicity - with elegant, reliable, affordable solutions. If you can convince me of that, you'll earn my business.

Respectfully,

rtbatch

PS. To clarify the record, I made no comment about your price levels. That statement originated elsewhere.

rtbatch 02-18-2010 08:21 PM

Quote:
Originally Posted by rtbatch View Post

Another great lead. More homework to do. I'll probably wind up writing a book about this. Many Thanks.

I like the looks of Sage, as a distribution box. What about the server? I have 500 dvds to rip. Thanks.

rtbatch 02-18-2010 08:26 PM

Quote:
Originally Posted by rtbatch View Post

ADMS, I will check it out. Muchos Gracias!

ADMS - $11K retail, and I can't rip my dvds. Did I miss something?

David Haddad 02-18-2010 08:58 PM

Quote:
Originally Posted by rtbatch View Post

ADMS - $11K retail, and I can't rip my dvds. Did I miss something?

You can rip content via any PC and integrate such content with the ADMS. You cannot rip DVD content on the ADMS itself for the obligatory reasons - Crestron wants their solution to be legal and does not want to be sued by Hollywood.

weddellkw 02-18-2010 09:22 PM

Quote:
Originally Posted by rtbatch View Post

ADMS - $11K retail, and I can't rip my dvds. Did I miss something?

Ripping DVD's, in regards to 'established' manufacturers and out-of-the-box functionality, is probably a thing of the past. Or it will be soon.

The ADMS is A) the future (at least in functionality) of home media servers, B) is 9K, not 11, C) probably the most exciting piece of home-theater equipment to come on the market in the last year or two. [All of the above, less the 9k part, are opinions by the way ]

Access to Netflix, Hulu, videos/music/pictures stored on your local computers/servers, iTunes store, etc etc etc all in one box. Built in BluRay player. Video/surround-sound out + 2 independent, simultaneous stereo outputs for music.

-------------------Fanboyism over-------------------

IVB 02-18-2010 10:38 PM

Quote:
Originally Posted by rtbatch View Post

I like the looks of Sage, as a distribution box. What about the server? I have 500 dvds to rip. Thanks.

An inexpensive box will do. DVDs need to be ripped 1 at a time, but if you get AnyDVD-HD you can also stream BluRay's to the HD200 extenders.

rtbatch 02-19-2010 06:59 AM

$9K, no way. What does Kaliedescape have that Crestron doesn't? Bigger you-know-whats and better engineers. What they don't have is scale.

I agree, physical media is moribund. Still, I'm not gonna toss 500 SD DVDs.

Better plan: Buy a 1 TB NAS drive, ship it and the DVDs in chunks to a commercial ripping (transfer) service. Put the results on a home 4TB NAS. Batch run AnyDVD-HD against the files. Front-end with Hauppauge HD-PVR. 1080i is fine for SD. Sling the bits over a 1 GB LAN.

Wait for the 1080P Hauppague, which will come soon enough. Judiciously buy Blu-rays and rip to NAS. Locate NAS within reasonable distance of primary 1080P endpoints and dish out component, unless the Honeywell stuff is credible.

Total cost < $5K. Anyone have a better plan?

IVB 02-19-2010 08:08 AM

That's a frankenserver, which is the only current way to do that.

BTW, I don't think there is such a thing as a commercial DVD transfer company - it's currently illegal to do that. Only K-Scape has a license to do that.

AnyDVD-HD is located in Barbados/somewhere like that, and no integrator would dare install it due to it's seriously sketchy legal position.

Neurorad 02-19-2010 11:01 AM

I'm sure you can find a place in South Norwalk that will do the transfers for you.

That's where I bought booze underage.

Wouldn't take that long, using a networked laptop sitting on your coffee table. You could make certain it's done correctly that way.

rtbatch 02-19-2010 12:49 PM

Quote:
Originally Posted by IVB View Post

That's a frankenserver, which is the only current way to do that.

BTW, I don't think there is such a thing as a commercial DVD transfer company - it's currently illegal to do that. Only K-Scape has a license to do that.

AnyDVD-HD is located in Barbados/somewhere like that, and no integrator would dare install it due to it's seriously sketchy legal position.

Just called an audio company. Bit for bit (no cracking of DRM) is in the gray-zone under the DMCA. None of them are big enough to test the waters against the MPAA. Well, worst case, I can hire a teen-ager to do it for me. Not gonna do it myself.

Thanks.

IVB 02-19-2010 02:09 PM

Now lets talk about what OS is the most stable & well proven for this Frankenserver. Ya know, people would save a lot of time if they just listened to me from the get-go

BTW, you better negotiate a flat rate per DVD. It takes perhaps 15ish mins per DVD, or 0.25 hours. 500 DVDs * 0.25 hours/DVD = 125 hours. Todays youth will probably ask for $10/hour min, or >$1K just to rip the DVDs. And that's assuming they don't screw something up, there's a few things to be done.

Also, if they start making copies for their own usage and share all those easy-to-distribute bits among your friends, the fair-usage defense goes out the window if the MPAA ever comes knocking on your door.

MurrayW 02-19-2010 02:27 PM

Quote:
Originally Posted by IVB View Post

Now lets talk about what OS is the most stable & well proven for this Frankenserver. Ya know, people would save a lot of time if they just listened to me from the get-go

BTW, you better negotiate a flat rate per DVD. It takes perhaps 15ish mins per DVD, or 0.25 hours. 500 DVDs * 0.25 hours/DVD = 125 hours. Todays youth will probably ask for $10/hour min, or >$1K just to rip the DVDs. And that's assuming they don't screw something up, there's a few things to be done.

Also, if they start making copies for their own usage and share all those easy-to-distribute bits among your friends, the fair-usage defense goes out the window if the MPAA ever comes knocking on your door.

I wouldn't have any problem paying them $10 an hour for their actual time...about 1 minute per DVD x 500 = ~$60 or a little more than a dime per DVD. I did this with my teenage son several years ago for my CD's but I paid him a quarter per CD. I didn't have a time constraint and we hooked 3 CD roms up to his computer and he did them in between using his computer for other things. It took him about 1 month to get through 400 CD's. I also didn't have to worry about any "fair use" violations because he and his friends would not want to distribute any of my music!

David Haddad 02-19-2010 02:49 PM

Quote:
Originally Posted by MurrayW View Post

I wouldn't have any problem paying them $10 an hour for their actual time...about 1 minute per DVD x 500 = ~$60 or a little more than a dime per DVD.

1 minute???

MurrayW 02-19-2010 02:58 PM

Quote:
Originally Posted by David Haddad View Post

1 minute???

I minute for putting the DVD in the slot and starting the ripping process. The other 14 minutes the computer does all the work and doesn't require any one doing anything. I was being facetious...at least a little bit.

IVB 02-19-2010 08:28 PM

Quote:
Originally Posted by MurrayW View Post

I wouldn't have any problem paying them $10 an hour for their actual time...about 1 minute per DVD x 500 = ~$60 or a little more than a dime per DVD. I did this with my teenage son several years ago for my CD's but I paid him a quarter per CD. I didn't have a time constraint and we hooked 3 CD roms up to his computer and he did them in between using his computer for other things. It took him about 1 month to get through 400 CD's. I also didn't have to worry about any "fair use" violations because he and his friends would not want to distribute any of my music!

If it were my teenage son doing it for me, i'd make him do it for free and be happy about it.

If it were my teenage son doing it for someone else, i'd slap him silly if he accepted a deal where he only did it for actual time invested. He'd know about value-based billing, where it's not how much time he spends typing, but rather how much time he'd save the requestor. Maybe splitting the difference, but if he's bound near the computer to constantly swap DVDs, and is going to be harshed on if there's a mistake, fingers-on-keyboards is not the right metric for compensation.

Neurorad 02-20-2010 12:50 AM

Quote:
Originally Posted by IVB View Post

value-based billing, where it's not how much time he spends typing, but rather how much time he'd save the requestor.

(just had an a-ha moment, for billing rates, for HA/RC programming, or any other kind of programming for that matter thanks, IVB)

IVB 02-20-2010 08:20 AM

Quote:
Originally Posted by Neurorad View Post

(just had an a-ha moment, for billing rates, for HA/RC programming, or any other kind of programming for that matter thanks, IVB)

doesn't just have to be programming either. If the requestor doesn't like that billing paradigm, they're welcome to find someone who'll be the low bidder.

Someone has the following tagline on another forum. After a few years here, i've found the hard way that this is painfully true.

Quote:


The bitterness of poor quality lingers long after the sweetness of cheap price is forgotten.

And for those who think there's no such thing as poor quality when ripping DVDs, go ahead, take the cheap route, wait a month (or more) for the results, try and play through 10-20 of the results. I await your 'help wanted, dude screwed up my rips, how to fix without re-ripping' AVSForum thread. I know because I'VE screwed up more than 1 rip, and I typically pay attention while i'm ripping.

David Haddad 02-21-2010 12:05 AM

Quote:
Originally Posted by rtbatch View Post

I hope to match the quality of the second half your response with my own. That said, I'm going to be very candid about the first half, as I have been a [marketing] executive in very large technology companies. So, my responses will be conditioned by that experience. That said, it's seldom easy being on the receiving end of tough love.

I have the greatest admiration for bootstrappers. That said, as a CEO you're probably a great engineer (with a little bit of a chip on his shoulder). I can't tell you how many times I've heard a masterful engineer say "My website sucks because I'm putting all my energy into my product." Puhleeze. Sales and marketing are as important as product. You must re-balance your efforts if you're ever going to be more than an aspirant. Your website is a piece of crap, that greatly disserves your firm. A proper description of who you are, what makes you different, and easy to find well produced information that amplifies your unique selling proposition (including genuine testimonials) is not spin. It's sound business practice.

And why do I care who you are, and if you'll be in business tomorrow? Because I'm going to put your stuff into my house - a house that I built largely with my own hands, and that is very much a reflection of what I value. The commercial term is "vendor risk," a perception you (and every small company) must dedicate yourself to overcoming. As such, do I sound like a guy who can be spun by a pretty web site? You can bet your bottom dollar I'm going to investigate the viability of small companies with whom I do business, even ones with fancy websites. That said, please take a look at this Web site http://www.savantav.com/ for an example of what I mean. For better or worse, this is your competition. Point taken on Savant price - they may very well be in the Crestron category. That said, I am seeking to ascertain whether their products are as good as their web site, and whether they represent a good value. Regardless, at least I know who's running the company, and have some insight the leadership credentials of the management team. But that's no guarantee either...

Lastly, leaders do not trash their competition - they captivate their intended audience - which unfortunately you have not done in this instance. Although you may be inclined to respond to my post with invective, I urge you to resist the impulse - because, bottom line, I am the customer. A customer that may still be persuadable.

I very much appreciate the tone / information value of the second half of your post. That said, as a "large" system (your words), I would only offer one final piece of advice. What I am looking for in a supplier is someone who is passionate about making complexity yield to simplicity - with elegant, reliable, affordable solutions. If you can convince me of that, you'll earn my business.

I think your post is excellent and also think it deserves a response. I agree that Dean's justification of his poor website was weak (and PLEASE don't find nor look at mine , but I’ll at least tell you I have no excuses and that it's currently being redone as I write this). I also think Dean will be the first to acknowledge that he is programmer first and a marketer second.

Regarding your comments about Dean trashing the competition, I think I can put myself a little inside of Dean's head there and tell you that he does not see Lifeware as a competitor and was simply using them as an example of a company that has spent millions on marketing, apparently to little affect. I'm not saying his argument was valid, merely that in his mind he was not trashing the competition. For instance, I think you would be hard pressed to find him slam Main Lobby who qualifies as more of a competitor.

So having acknowledged your very valid points, I'd like to present some counterpoints. While Dean may not have the greatest website in the world, he has nevertheless built a loyal community of CQC users, and has a better support structure in place than many large companies. As an example, he has an extremely active user forum, and he as the product designer is exceptionally active there:

http://www.charmedquark.com/vb_forum/index.php

And he also has a section of tutorial videos that put many hundred million dollar (and billion dollar) companies to shame:

http://www.charmedquark.com/Web/Supp...rialVideos.htm

I can also tell you from both reading Dean's posts as well as numerous exchanges with him over the years that you'll be hard pressed to find someone who will give you more honest answers about their product. I don't think Dean knows the meaning of the word hyperbole. Which might be bad from a marketing standpoint, but is damn great if you are one of his (potential) customers and need honest accurate answers regarding system design.

Dean will also be very open with you that he is basically a one-man shop. If that bothers you, you need to look elsewhere. However *in this instance* I don't think it should. Why? Because if you use Dean's product it's not like you are buying 100K of hardware where you are SOL if Dean gets in a car crash. And even if the worst happened and Dean disappeared the odds are good that his software would continue to work with Windows operating systems for many years to come. And even if it didn't, still all your hardware would be just fine. So I think it's quite the different situation versus spending 100K on a hardware platform where you better hope and pray they are around in a year.

One last thing. I am not a customer of Dean's nor a family member , my company is involved primarily in large scale Crestron projects. If I sound like an evangelist for Dean it's simply because I have watched both him and his product evolve over the years and think what he is doing is great, I think he is addressing a genuine market need.

Frankly, and now I am also going to be very candid, I'm not sure what you are looking for as you are a bit all over the place. You don't want to buy "expensive proprietary touchpanels", don't want a backbone that "costs as much as a car", don’t want to work with a company that "is aligned with a brand", but also don't want to do "deep integration" yourself and dismiss using a PC. I'm half waiting with baited breath for you to say you'd also like to have it all for less than $25 . Point being that you state what you want/don’t want and then in the next breath dismiss the things that might help you achieve your goals. It seems to me you need to adjust your requirements to reflect the reality of where the market is at. If I was a DIY with your requirements, CQC would be at the top of my list. It’s a powerful product, DIY's are supported, there's also a robust community, and it's as "open" and "brand agnostic" a product as you will find. And it most definitely can be reliable using Dean's software and running as a dedicated automation machine (and I'm no Wintel fan either). However it's most definitely going to take some effort and time on your part.

If you are not interested in making that effort, then I suspect your other best option, guessing from your various posts, is Control4. That would require less "deep integration" and does not cost as much as a car. On the other hand it's neither as powerful as CQC (in my *opinion*) nor a company that directly supports DIY types who are interested in a high level of involvement, and you'll likely be working with an installation company that is "brand aligned". YMMV.

David Haddad 02-21-2010 02:15 AM

BTW rtbatch, I just happened to be visiting Dean's forum and couldn't help but laugh when I saw this thread where he says:
Quote:


I want to start working on a better web site...

Your post here was on the 18th and his was on the 19th. So as you can see Dean does pay attention to feedback. I'm sure he's been meaning to improve his site for some time but I also suspect your post motivated him.

rtbatch 02-21-2010 08:05 AM

Quote:
Originally Posted by IVB View Post

Now lets talk about what OS is the most stable & well proven for this Frankenserver. Ya know, people would save a lot of time if they just listened to me from the get-go

BTW, you better negotiate a flat rate per DVD. It takes perhaps 15ish mins per DVD, or 0.25 hours. 500 DVDs * 0.25 hours/DVD = 125 hours. Todays youth will probably ask for $10/hour min, or >$1K just to rip the DVDs. And that's assuming they don't screw something up, there's a few things to be done.

Also, if they start making copies for their own usage and share all those easy-to-distribute bits among your friends, the fair-usage defense goes out the window if the MPAA ever comes knocking on your door.


IVB,

You da man / woman: After ripping my 800 audio CDs, I'm never going there again. And bonehead that I am, I didn't rip them lossless (rather 192) Big mistake. Of course you can't buy lossless from itunes, hence my boycott, except for guilty pleasures. I could always go with the Sony jukebox - feels like another bonehead idea. Fact is only 20% of my DVDs are "worthy" of ripping - the rest is cruft. BTW, I'd never allow my content to be shared in violation of copyright law. Content creators deserve their due...

rtbatch 02-21-2010 08:20 AM

Quote:
Originally Posted by David Haddad View Post

BTW rtbatch, I just happened to be visiting Dean's forum and couldn't help but laugh when I saw this thread where he says:

Your post here was on the 18th and his was on the 19th. So as you can see Dean does pay attention to feedback. I'm sure he's been meaning to improve his site for some time but I also suspect your post motivated him.

David,

Having worked with VCs and many entrepreneurs, my heart went out to Dean. If his community hadn't been so effusive, I wouldn't have wasted my breath. CQC seems "worthy" of the tough love. Now my dollars, that's another story. Vendor risk must be a genuine concern of all but the those at the top of the technology food chain, a position I cannot claim. That said, I advise some of the best IT architects in the world (in my field) so I know of what I speak.

Something unfortunate happens to Dean (which I would never wish), and 5 years from now I'm ripping out imbedded infrastructure. That's one of the problems in the HA market. Lots of aspirants, a birds nest of competing / half-baked standards and a mountain of vendor risk to assess and manage.

rtbatch 02-21-2010 08:50 AM

Quote:
Originally Posted by David Haddad View Post

I think your post is excellent and also think it deserves a response. I agree that Dean's justification of his poor website was weak (and PLEASE don't find nor look at mine , but I’ll at least tell you I have no excuses and that it's currently being redone as I write this). I also think Dean will be the first to acknowledge that he is programmer first and a marketer second.

Regarding your comments about Dean trashing the competition, I think I can put myself a little inside of Dean's head there and tell you that he does not see Lifeware as a competitor and was simply using them as an example of a company that has spent millions on marketing, apparently to little affect. I'm not saying his argument was valid, merely that in his mind he was not trashing the competition. For instance, I think you would be hard pressed to find him slam Main Lobby who qualifies as more of a competitor.

So having acknowledged your very valid points, I'd like to present some counterpoints. While Dean may not have the greatest website in the world, he has nevertheless built a loyal community of CQC users, and has a better support structure in place than many large companies. As an example, he has an extremely active user forum, and he as the product designer is exceptionally active there:

http://www.charmedquark.com/vb_forum/index.php

And he also has a section of tutorial videos that put many hundred million dollar (and billion dollar) companies to shame:

http://www.charmedquark.com/Web/Supp...rialVideos.htm

I can also tell you from both reading Dean's posts as well as numerous exchanges with him over the years that you'll be hard pressed to find someone who will give you more honest answers about their product. I don't think Dean knows the meaning of the word hyperbole. Which might be bad from a marketing standpoint, but is damn great if you are one of his (potential) customers and need honest accurate answers regarding system design.

Dean will also be very open with you that he is basically a one-man shop. If that bothers you, you need to look elsewhere. However *in this instance* I don't think it should. Why? Because if you use Dean's product it's not like you are buying 100K of hardware where you are SOL if Dean gets in a car crash. And even if the worst happened and Dean disappeared the odds are good that his software would continue to work with Windows operating systems for many years to come. And even if it didn't, still all your hardware would be just fine. So I think it's quite the different situation versus spending 100K on a hardware platform where you better hope and pray they are around in a year.

One last thing. I am not a customer of Dean's nor a family member , my company is involved primarily in large scale Crestron projects. If I sound like an evangelist for Dean it's simply because I have watched both him and his product evolve over the years and think what he is doing is great, I think he is addressing a genuine market need.

Frankly, and now I am also going to be very candid, I'm not sure what you are looking for as you are a bit all over the place. You don't want to buy "expensive proprietary touchpanels", don't want a backbone that "costs as much as a car", don’t want to work with a company that "is aligned with a brand", but also don't want to do "deep integration" yourself and dismiss using a PC. I'm half waiting with baited breath for you to say you'd also like to have it all for less than $25 . Point being that you state what you want/don’t want and then in the next breath dismiss the things that might help you achieve your goals. It seems to me you need to adjust your requirements to reflect the reality of where the market is at. If I was a DIY with your requirements, CQC would be at the top of my list. It’s a powerful product, DIY's are supported, there's also a robust community, and it's as "open" and "brand agnostic" a product as you will find. And it most definitely can be reliable using Dean's software and running as a dedicated automation machine (and I'm no Wintel fan either). However it's most definitely going to take some effort and time on your part.

If you are not interested in making that effort, then I suspect your other best option, guessing from your various posts, is Control4. That would require less "deep integration" and does not cost as much as a car. On the other hand it's neither as powerful as CQC (in my *opinion*) nor a company that directly supports DIY types who are interested in a high level of involvement, and you'll likely be working with an installation company that is "brand aligned". YMMV.

David,

Thank you for the very thoughtful post. Your perspective is so valuable because you are a knowledgeable Crestron guy. So you have a very informed perspective of those two diametrically opposed worlds. I'm not sure I'm so much "all over the place" but a guy who is spiraling toward the bullseye - wobbling a bit along that path. I too seem to be homing in toward Control4 (who seems to have spooked the incumbents).

That said, I remain persuadable on CQC. The tough challenge is deciding whether I fall closer to the CQC or Control4 end of the spectrum. Clearly I'm not a Crestron candidate. No apologies there ;-)

Fear not. My HA budget is $10 - $15K, a very respectable amount of money (except for investment bankers). Of course, I'm excluding, AV servers / equipment. But for the HA controllers, lighting controls and communication backbone (and a few itouches) that should be more than sufficient. The rest is sweat equity.

BTW on the subject of recognizing cost vs quality, the last five cars I bought were Lexuses. IMHO, the Crestrons and AMXs represent Lamborghinis, which means you'd better work for a hedge fund or have a mechanic in the family. If there is a Lexus in the HA market I'd like to know. For now, I'd be very satisfied with an Accord or Camry equivalent.

If I go toward Control4 my expectation is I would employ a dealer for design coaching, occasional questions, and affordable technology sourcing. Although not a Linux hacker, I've been around enough electrical systems (line and low-voltage) and PCs / servers not to be a "support nightmare" for anyone. It will be very interesting to see what I find once I start making sourcing inquiries...

rtbatch 02-21-2010 08:57 AM

Quote:
Originally Posted by IVB View Post

doesn't just have to be programming either. If the requestor doesn't like that billing paradigm, they're welcome to find someone who'll be the low bidder.

Someone has the following tagline on another forum. After a few years here, i've found the hard way that this is painfully true.



And for those who think there's no such thing as poor quality when ripping DVDs, go ahead, take the cheap route, wait a month (or more) for the results, try and play through 10-20 of the results. I await your 'help wanted, dude screwed up my rips, how to fix without re-ripping' AVSForum thread. I know because I'VE screwed up more than 1 rip, and I typically pay attention while i'm ripping.

Seems like there are 2 issues, bit for bit transfer to NAS, then post processing with ANY... The problem is physical handing and wait times. How long should it take from plastic to NAS? Unless you have an automated handler, someone has to babysit the drive. zzzzzz. Feels like a death march to me, but a perfect job for someone in China or India. Lots of IP protection there :-(


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