Friday, July 15, 2005

My MCE Agenda

I think we can all agree that in business everyone has an agenda of some sort. When I started this blog my agenda was to introduce the MCE into the SI industry so we could sell software for this new platform. Now that our plans have changed I no longer have any agenda or ulterior motive to promote. I am free to speak my mind about how I think MCE will impact the SI industry without worrying about how it will affect D-Tools MCE product sales.

More to come.....

Thursday, July 14, 2005

The Dark Side of DRM

I mentioned in this post my delight with the Yahoo Music Unlimited service and how it changed the way I consume music. Well after about 30 days of living with it I can say that change is not always good. The service still works, it just does not work well and is far from a seamless iPod/iTunes experience.

To start with I bought my daughter Emily an orange Creative Zen Micro for her 6th grade graduation. She was very happy. After the initial frustration of upgrading the firmware and software packages to make it work with the Yahoo Music service MS DRM I could not get the actual Yahoo Music Engine to install. I am pretty good with this stuff, I tried everything short of a reformat on her MCE PC.

I punted and just had her rip her CD's to MP3 use the WMP interface. That worked well for a while until she got tired of her music collection and wanted more music. Since I didn't feel like F#$&ing with her PC anymore I installed the Yahoo Music engine on the FR MCE PC. That worked OK but when I tried to download the music I got a "more than three PC" subscription error and had to deactivate a machine. That was the third PC but I tried to deactivate the others and got the unable to deactivate error.

I punted again and just had her use my personal PC to DL the songs she wanted. Of course now my personal music library is now polluted with Diana Degarmo, Simple Plan and the A-Teens.

Next I tried to get my Zen to sync with my PC and I would get an I/O error. I messed with this for about two hours the other night and I finally gave up and reformatted my Zen Micro and installed new firmware. Kind of reminded me of the old Win 98 days, if it does not work then reformat and start all over. That fixed the problem and I can now DL new songs but now about 25% of the songs that I DL say there is a problem with the DRM when I try and load into my Zen. These were the same songs that I previously had no problem with. Maybe I should reformat my PC?

So what is the impact of DRM for the SI industry? The way I see it you should avoid like the plague if you have to install for a third party. You will never finish the project. The end users who pay for our expertise will not tolerate these kinds of caveats the way a teenager would. I am a power user of this type of tech and I can not get it to work as promised. I do not see how a normal consumer could expect to get this to work satisfactory. For the time being I would stick to iPods and non DRM MP3 and CD's.

Speaking of iPods, I regret selling mine. It was easy to use and it always worked. The promise of a Zen Micro, DRM and Yahoo Music Unlimited does not meet with reality.

Monday, July 11, 2005

D-Tools exiting the MCE software space

Due to circumstances pretty much beyond my control D-Tools is not going to be creating any software for the Microsoft Media Center platform. We had some great products and services in process but unfortunately I had to shut down the MCE division and had to lay off the developers. This has nothing to do with the health of D-Tools or our products. It was made very clear to me by a company with much greater marketing and development resources that some of our planned MCE products would not be financially viable in the near future.

If evenly matched, fight, if outnumbered, retreat.
Sun-Tzu - The Art of War and Charlie Sheen as Bud in Wall Street

This kind of sucks because we had some great people and some great ideas. Oh well, another life lesson learned.

Friday, July 08, 2005

Back from Emerald Bay

What a great time! The weather was PERFECT, the kids were great, kayaking was awesome, we had about 20 friends and family visiting and staying with us. Everyone had a blast. Check out some of the pics.

Emily and the view of Emerald bay from the teahouse on Fanette Island

Alexis (Hollywood) and Ryan (future rock god) at sunset on the lake


Aaron (red boat) leading the Kayak tour

Emily, XR and view from 8500'