Life with Chumby

November 1, 2007

This morning I walked into the office of our VP of Operations. His chumby was on his desk, right next to his computer, and he had his iPod plugged into it. His chumby, through its speakers, was playing soft background music from his iPod and, simultaneously, streaming to him pictures of his family from his flickr photo feed widget. That’s it. That’s how he had configured his chumby and, because he couldn’t/wouldn’t really do that combination of things with his PC (he was doing email on that) or his cellphone (tucked in his backpack), it was a perfect example of what the chumby’s really good for. Just a pleasant and very personal value-add to his existing work environment.

I walked down the hall and our VP of Business Development was playing a new game on his chumby where, holding the chumby’s screen upright and using the embedded motion sensor, you try to roll a virtual ball along a virtual track without it plunging into deep space (and I’m thinking that he really needs to get back to work). I’m sure there are much better games on a handheld game machine, though not sure there are better games on a cellphone. He’s not the type who’s going to whip out a Nintendo DS at work — so, for him, his office chumby is a little “time out” device, just for a break.

I have my chumby in my kitchen (okay, I have one on my bedside table and one next to my PC too, but I’m probably not “normal” and chumbys are essentially free for me as CEO — I won’t rub it in, it’s a job perk and I deserve it.) This morning, when I got up and was making coffee, just hanging around, waiting for the drips to start, of course I started looking at the chumby on the windowsill over the kitchen sink. Read a few hilarious Chuck Norris “facts,” that he sleeps not with a gun under his pillow, but rather with a pillow under his gun, got the weather (okay, duh, it’s San Diego, and it’s going to be nice — but at least it’s nice to see that the forecast isn’t for “smoke” any more), received a “chow down” flashcan ecard that my daughter sent me (I love hearing the pig burp), and saw the panda in the zoo (from the PandaCam widget) chewing on bamboo. All was good in the world. And now I had a funny Chuck Norris line to make my son laugh when he walked into the kitchen for breakfast. This would not have happened with a PC or an iPhone or a digital picture frame or anything else. It could only happen, for now anyway, on a chumby.

Our Insider’s Release is going well: many of you who have sent us your email addresses (http://www.chumby.com/store/index) are hearing from us letting you know that you can now purchase a chumby out of limited early release. The list is getting pretty long, but we’re doing our best to get back to everyone as quickly as we can.

For those of you who have a chumby, let us know how you’re using it. If you’re a blogger, blog about it too (many of you already are). Where did you put it, how is it integrating into your life, what do you enjoy watching on it or doing with it, what would you like chumby to do that it currently doesn’t do?…yet. Remember, the chumby’s open for further improvement and we’ll be pushing significant new functionality to everyone’s chumby over-the-air as we go — so let us know what you want chumby to do and that will help us make it even better for you over time.

45 Responses to “Life with Chumby”


  1. Apparently, I’m the only VP at Chumby that does any actual work :)

  2. chumby Says:

    No, I just didn’t happen to look in your office. :^)


  3. [...] G Anson “All truly great thoughts are conceived while walking.” « I caught a Leopard!! And a quick note from the CEO of Chumby Industries… November 2nd, 2007 [Read here] [...]

  4. Michael Freeman Says:

    I just got my Chumby today and am feeling a little indifferent about it. I wanted to have some sort of program or routine so that when I woke up to the alarm, after shutting it off it would start to show me the weather, ESPN, traffic updates, news, etc. Much to my surprise I am not able to do this sort of thing yet so it is not as useful as I hoped it would be. I am sure that as this thing takes off a little bit and more and more of these devices end up in the hands of people more talented than myself, I will eventually be able to use this as an effective tool to help me in the morning, and briefly entertain me before I go to sleep. All in all, I am greatful to have it and even more greatful that this thing is as open as it is and I wanted to say thanks for a nice, cute, paper weight^H^H^H^H^H^H^H^H alarm clock/gadget.

  5. chumby Says:

    Michael,

    Not sure what your specific problem is because what you want it to do is *exactly* what the chumby does. When the alarm is turned off, the chumby starts playing whatever widget channel it was previously set on. Have you gone to http://www.chumby.com, registered your chumby, and set up a channel, or multiple channels, of widgets? If any detailed issues, please contact our Customer Service group — they’ll be happy to walk you through any problems you may be encountering. Also, lots of good discussion on our Forum, http://forum.chumby.com/ , of all the things you can do with your chumby.

  6. Tarrant Says:

    I am in Chumby love. My kids covet my chumby. My mother in law covets my chumby.

    I need one for my kitchen and bedside tables, both places I have considered for him, but he is just too darn entertaining not to live on the desk. I think I need bulk chumby pricing.

  7. chumby Says:

    You ain’t seen nothing yet. It’s about to go from love to infatuation :^)

  8. linuxlibrarian Says:

    I honestly have thought to myself, boy, I could use another chumby. I don’t *think* it’ll happen (and I suppose I don’t want my current chumby to get jealous)… But it is a cool little device.

    Being someone with a chronic illness that causes really nasty debilitating fatigue, it’s nice to be able to crash in bed when I need to and do more than stare at the alarm clock…

    Thanks again, guys, for making life a little brighter. :)

  9. Sadhu Says:

    Boy, how excited I was, when I got my e-mail. I thought that the wait is finally over. I was just about to give my credit card information. And then it hit me. US only!! Next time put info into an e-mail that the third world will have to wait longer in the line to avoid disappointment.

  10. chumby Says:

    Sorry we can’t ship to international addresses. Honestly, it’s not chauvinism, it’s the challenges for a small company like ours to comply with all of the legal requirements for shipment into specific countries. Each nation naturally has its own laws for imported products and, because the chumby is a “radio device” (transmitting and receiving across radio spectrum in each country), there tend to be very specific regulations and approvals required. Would be nice if every just accepted the US FCC’s say-so, but that *would* be chauvinistic. Anyway, just too hard for us to be able to clear all these individual sovereign nation regulations right now, especially because we’re still not in our truly public launch phase yet. But we’re trying to get our head around all the requirements and plan to start shipping internationally next year. And. because we only have email addresses submitted to us, we can’t always tell where someone’s shipping address is located — so we don’t mean to tease future international chumbians, just working with what we have. Anyway, hopefully this explains things better and you won’t ascribe anything other than practicality to our present shipping approach. We *do* appreciate your interest!

  11. Gunther Says:

    I must admit I’m wary about the “Chumbooty” — does this mean that sponsors would be able to push (I’ll be unkind and call it) spam onto my Chumby? And how easily would someone be able to sniff out the way the push works and then send *actual* spam, malware, porn, whatever? Or do I have full control over everything I see and get?

  12. Jeff Says:

    I expect a (small) fee to be free of spam

  13. yannick Says:

    I’m with Sadhu on this one- pretty disappointing not to be able to order from outside the US.

    I understand the reasons you cite, but this investment is totally worth it as early as possible. There are a LOT more of us outside the USA than inside :)

  14. chumby Says:

    Again, not out of lack of desire to go international, just has been a matter of grinding through a set of country-by-country regulations by, first, understanding, and, then, complying — sometimes this involves additional product requirements, testing and approvals. We’re dealing with a large set of international bureaucracies. So we’re on it, just an issue of a relatively small team trying to accomplish a lot all at the same time. If you know of some short cut that would allow a start-up to accomplish a legal simultaneous global launch, please let me know. Even Apple, with all of their resources, didn’t do a simultaneous global launch. Don’t get me wrong, we really appreciate all of the international interest and absolutely are spending time trying to figure out how to launch in each country asap — trust me, we’re dying to legally sell chumbys in all countries of the world.

  15. Andrew Says:

    I got my Email.
    I think I will wait until relace

  16. Peter Says:

    Wait… Andrew… Don’t do that! I’ll take YOURS!!!

    plyons AT gmail.com!!!! PULEEZ!

  17. Vineus Says:

    Got my chumby 5 days ago, and I don’t have words to say how much I love it. I didn’t found a mail on the site to send thanks so I do it there :-)

    The 2 only anoying things for the moment are: the fact that I have to ssh to it to launch btplay on a stream/my plugged mp3 player and the lack of caching in btplay (but I know that for btplayer its not your fault)

    I was amazed by the quality of the oh-so-little speakers, they are very good indeed.

  18. collin Says:

    I got an invite and now it is only valid for the US :-(

    So I will just keep using my self build chumby emulator.

  19. Jericho Jack Says:

    I got Chumbied last night. After a short set up, it became my alarm clock, weather updater, news headlines and ipod connection. All in one evening. Great work guys… just don’t start schpamming… find other ways to offset the cost. perhaps sponsored widgets.

  20. koovus Says:

    I got a new chumby this week, last one was a bad bad chumby. I’ll be honest, I’m not sure what all I’ll do with the Chumby, I mainly go on the board to get one because of what I think it represents, as the next step in wifi like toys, or ambient like devices.

    Now i did have a half-cocked idea about hooking up the Chumby with the Phidgets RFID kit and making a RFID reading chumby wonder, and maybe… just maybe that could be possible.

    Overall its pretty cool and appears limitless, and best of all inspires me and my co-workers.

    dan

  21. ian Says:

    well anoher Canadian with credit card in hand, denied! Oh well :-)

    Please don’t wait to achieve approval in, say, Belgium before selling to the Great White North.
    Meanwhile, any plans to go to any trade shows? I am going to Macworld and would buy one there if you were there! :-)

  22. Bujo Says:

    Hi, i’ve just received an mail invitation to the chumby shop…but i cannot make an order because i’m outside U.S. (Italy)…i hope this kind of limitation will be removed soon.
    Thank you

  23. Andrew Says:

    I do not understand the legal argument about international shipping. Chumby has no legal corporate presence or shops in other countries, so why do you need to comply.

    For instance, I bought several Nabaztags from US online shops and shipped them overseas, without any problem.

    I can understand warranty issues would be more problematic, but I would voluntarily waive those rights just to get my hands on a Chumby.

  24. Marc Says:

    Chumby’s here…a welcome addition to my home. I’d like to program a channel by ‘daypart’ with the channel contents in the morning different than the afternoon, evening…without changing the channel.

  25. chumby Says:

    That’s coming, i.e., better “event handling/alarm setting” tied to content/actions/times.

  26. Angry foreign mob Says:

    Dearest Mr. Chumby-boss-person

    Kindly delve into the intricacies of the “legal matters” preventing you to ship this superb little thing to places other than the US.

    Regards
    Every-second-person-on-Earth


  27. @Angry – In the US, we had to go through FCC certification, for Canada we have to go through DoC certification, for Australia, we have to go through ACA, etc. etc. for each country ad nauseum.

    Fortunately, for most countries, passing US FCC pretty much assures compliance for each country, however, one still has to go through the process.

    On top of that, we have get the device classified for import from China for each country, and find a shipper that will ship from China to each country. Some countries have strict language, privacy, and data retention requirements that we need to make sure we comply with.

    So – I’ll say it yet again. We *want* to sell chumbys to everyone in every country, but we must comply with each country’s regulatory environment.

  28. June Says:

    Question.
    Will the Chumby EVER be portable? You know how many people would snatch one if it could be? I’ve told my friends about it and they are all “It’s cool, but just not portable. So I don’t want to waste my money on one.” =/
    It’s cool and all, but is there ANY way it could be portable?
    And if you do make a way for it to be portable what about the people that spent their money buying the UN-portable version of the product? I bet we won’t get a rebate >.<


  29. @June – Does *any* hardware company give rebates when a new model comes out?

    We’re selling chumbys at our cost to manufacture and ship, and there’s no margin – any rebate to you means we’re losing simply losing money. Unlike software, where rebates are common for upgrades, there are actual *costs* in manufacturing the chumby.

    There are several threads in the forum discussing the issue of batteries and portability.

  30. June Says:

    Ok. I guess that seems fair.
    But there IS a portable version coming out? And I’ll be left $180 short with a Chumby I can’t take with me. *sigh*

  31. chumby Says:

    The current chumby is portable, i.e., it is easy to pick up and put wherever you want it — but I know what you mean, you want one that’s battery-powered rather than requiring it to be plugged into a power outlet. We do hear this a lot and, believe me, we are thinking about how to handle the request in the future. That said, there are no plans at the current time for a battery-powered chumby. As Duane says, there is a very long discussion of this topic on our Forum.

    Most people seem to be using their chumby as a clock radio/bedside device or as a “fun-stuff screen” next to their PC in their office/cubicle/dorm room — and, apparently though perhaps after awhile, it doesn’t get moved around that much given these uses (I recognize that this may be circular reasoning). While we know of several hacker/developers working on after-market battery packs for the current chumby, and we certainly encourage them, your current chumby is not in any immediate danger of obsolescence. In fact, from a software standpoint, the whole beauty of chumby is that it will get updated and improved over time, just like any newer one we sell. What you *may* see in the future is Chumby porting the Chumby Network to other untethered devices that run Flash — however it is most likely that the functionality of these devices running the Chumby Network would be a small subset of what you get on a “real” chumby, i.e., might lose the fun of widgets that take advantage of the accelerometer, the microphone, or, gasp, the touch screen or speakers. So enjoy your chumby in peace — we won’t make you feel foolish in a couple of months, hopefully just continually delighted with your purchase and cleverly ahead of the pack :^)

  32. coolant Says:

    Hey. Any bright ideas to get one in India.
    I got the email today, and well… a bit later realized, that it only ships to places in US.

    :(
    damn.

  33. Jimbob Says:

    I’m in Australia and have a US to ship to, I thought great – I can get one sent via my US forwarding service! My elation soon turned to dismay…the credit card you use must have a US shipping address. I don’t know why I wasted my time trying to get a free one when they were giving them away, they wouldn’t of sent it to me anyway! Nice one.

  34. Todd Says:

    I don’t know if this is a workable solution to open up the Chumby to customers abroad, but here’s an idea: ship a bring-your-own-WiFi Chumby. There are already WiFi USB adapters licensed around the world, and I’m sure at least some of them have Linux drivers. That might solve the problem of licensing, but of course doesn’t solve the problem of distribution.

    Full disclosure: I’m in the U.S., my programming experience is limited to a beginner’s understanding of PHP, JavaScript and Flash, and I’m just about the opposite of an electronics engineer. I really like my Chumby, and I really want others to be able to enjoy having one.

  35. steve Says:

    I really want to get a Chumby, but im on the border becuase of the fact that they are not actually out yet. I’m probably going to order one online, but I first wanted to know if there was any chance that when Chumbys are in store if they will (a) be cheaper or (b) if they will be better

    I’m burning to get a Chumby, but if im going to get a better product later then I will certainly wait

  36. Dissapointed potential internation customer Says:

    It is dissapointing that such a fantastic company is ready to just turn down money from international customers. As someone else rightfully said, there are much more of us outside the US than in.

    Start a shady export company, or flog some on eBay. Maybe actually try and comply with international regulations, rather than saying you’re going to (when you blatantly aren’t).

    Severely dissapointing, guys.

    If anyone is willing to ship me one to the UK, I can slip you the Chumby cost, postage cost and a little thank you via Paypal. Alternatively stick one on eBay – I will buy it. Please put the orange and white one on. Name your price; I’ll pay $200 USD excluding postage, hope that that is enough incentive.

    You’ll be making me one happy guy :) thechumbyappeal@googlemail.com

    Cheers!

  37. @Dissapointed potential internation customer Says:

    see ebay object ID 190180398636 ….
    not related to the seller…

  38. Gunther Says:

    Greetings from Belgium, same story as above. bit disappointed, but I understand the reason more or less.
    However, in these day’s it’s fairly common to get stuff from abroad. However (it’s not a “world” solution but for the EU – rather big chuck of the global market) if you want to play “by the book” let’s see: 180 USD is now about 122 Euro, I’m sure if you ship let’s say a 500 chumby’s at once (no idea how many you flog actually) to the EU you save some shipping. Under Belgian (and most EU) legislation you have 2 year product defect warranty so that might upper the price to calculate some returns. So I gather if you’ll sell them for let’s say 150 euro (=205 usd) it will cover import duties (if any) / warranty provision and free re-shipping for the EU. If they are already boxed and just need a label to be send out it might even be cheaper…

  39. Algis Says:

    Received my Chumby for Christmas (from the greatest wife in the world). It looks like Chumby will be part of my life from now on. I am looking forward to hacking it with my own widgets and add ons. In the mean time just two observations: 1. Volume control is difficult to get to. Could you add a volume control wheel or knob to the back. I had to take a lot of steps to get to the volume control page just to lower the volume before I woke everyone up in the house. The second observation is for a possible upgrade to set a time schedule to change channels during the day. I would like to wake to one channel, work to another, another during the evening and another yet before going to bed.

    I am very excited about the growth of my Chumby. Perhaps it will have siblings soon in my house ;-)

    Thanks

  40. K12 Says:

    :) Hey there. I read about this chumby gadget on DailyCandy – and I was impressed. I’m going to get mine next week… I’m super excited. I totally “get it” – like the idea of how it works and how it’s meant to be used and think it’s great. Also, don’t be bummed by some of the negative toned posted about selling it international etc – some people don’t understand how complicated things in the business world can be. The endless paperwork, phone call, red tape, negotiating, learning… it’s a whole thing… Anyhow, I will be ordering mine and as soon as it is available globally I will be telling all my family and friends about it. Thanks. :)

  41. Chumby happy dane! Says:

    Hey there Chumby folks greetings from Denmark (yea you know the little country that grabbed itself some somewhat unwanted attention with the Mohammed drawings) I ‘m only here to remind you of our small country… I would really hate to have to wait for say 2 years to be able to order a Chumby, so therefore please don’t neglect our country because of its size! Other than that good work!

  42. Jürgen Says:

    And I’m from Belgium, not famous for cartoons, but rightfully famous for beer, cheese and chocolates :-). When will the chumbies come to us?


  43. Hi All,

    We are very happy to be able to accommodate international customers with the purchase of the Chumby in the US.

    We would like to offer free adapters to the customers of wordpress with their purchase of the Chumby. Just mention “wordpress” in the comment box at checkout and we will ensure you receive your free adapter. Delivery is 4 days to us from Chumby.com and 2 days to you via Fed Ex priority.

    We wish you well and look forward to assisting you,

    thank you to the Chumby team for a fantastic product and great customer service and delivery,

    Kindest regards

    Cece
    & the I.O Team


  44. [...] is not a one-trick pony. We expect that everyone’s chumby will be different and will be used differently. Some people want to wake up to their chumby, other people are completely happy with their current [...]


  45. I enjoyed this very much! Just gratifying! Your composing manner is charming and the way you addressed the subject with grace is notable. I am intrigued, I make bold you are an master on this issue. I am signing up for your upcoming updates from now on.


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