Archive for September 13th, 2006

Free chumbys available (soon). “Widgetoons” wanted!

September 13, 2006

If you go to the main page of the Chumby Industries website here you’ll see the following offer:


If you’re a serious alpha-geek

hacker, a clever crafter or an

accomplished Flash animator,

tell us what you’d like to do

with a chumby and maybe we’ll

part with one of our precious

few prototypes.


Then we ask you to enter a convincing argument for why we should send you one of these “limited edition” prototypes for free. Many people have sent us “convincing arguments” (though some more convincing than others.) More people than we imagined in our wildest dreams have done this. I am personally looking through every one of these submissions (okay, not true, I asked my fellow chumbian, Steve Adler, to take half of them because there are so many.) Some of these proposals attempt to be funny, and some sort of succeed at that — but, as funny as you may be, we’re probably not going to send you a chumby. As might be expected, some are borderline offensive, and some over the border :^O — nope, no chumby for you! But the majority are really thoughtful and interesting.


Some people who have heard about the chumby have wondered out loud to the blogosphere, “What would I do with a chumby when I already have a [fill in the blank]?” Well, we now have thousands of great answers to that question. Indeed, many of you know exactly what you want to do with a chumby, or at least you think you know, because some of these ideas will take some serious hacking and experimentation. We’re really excited here at Chumby Industries that so many of you truly “get it” and recognize that the chumby is absolutely a “platform,” and an open one at that, and, as anyone knows who has heard the “Tim O’Reilly Alarm” widget haranguing them over and over through their prototype chumby, “A Platform beats an Application every time!” :)


We really are going to give away some more prototype chumbys, probably about 50 of them — but please be patient because we gave away pretty much the entire first batch at FOO Camp, so this won’t be until we get our next set of prototypes completed in a few weeks. As I said, we’re scanning through the submissions now and it’s going to take some time — there are literally thousands and we really are reviewing every one — and I’m sorry that I won’t be able to personally respond to everyone who shared their pet idea with us.


I’ll also reveal a bias as I consider the submissions. We’re extremely eager to get chumbys into the hands of great widget creators, i.e., Flash artists who can make clever or elegant or amusing or just plain useful Flash Lite animations that will run well and make sense on a chumby. We’re especially convinced by Flashers who can point us to examples of their work. I am dying to have some really cool serialized anime “widgetoons” that will come out in new installments every week, or every few days?, and will draw people in. This could be a really compelling art form for our audience, and the chumby is the ideal platform for these because a chumby widgetoon can be easily virally spread from chumby-to-chumby (or at least will do this as soon as we complete our chumby-to-chumby “send” function). I’d also love to see some clever chumby “advertoons” — fake animated Flash advertisements for imaginary products. My favorite of this genre has to be “Fruity Oaty Bar” (but Flash animations please, not video — our current processor in the chumby can’t take the pounding of real video.)


Soon we’ll have ready the new “virtual chumby” on our site — so stay tuned to thINK tank. This will give everyone the ability to get a better sense of what a real chumby will be like. You’ll be able to load in widgets and see them run, see how the control panel works, and even embed your virtual chumby in a variety of places on the Web where you might like to see it and share it with your friends. And Flash animators can think of it as a “chumby emulator,” a place to test out their widgets before submitting them to Chumby Industries for everyone to share (by the way, this widget upload feature also is “coming soon.”)


Of course we’ll still be delighted to receive submissions from you hardware hackers and crafters out there, so I don’t mean to give you short-shrift, but we recognize that the chumby will get pretty stale pretty quickly if there isn’t a steady diet of new and clever widgets (maybe I should have titled this post, “It’s the widgets, stupid!”)


So hang in there, some free chumbys will be coming. And in the meantime, please get cracking on those widgetoons and advertoons!