Insiders are getting their chumbys

October 4, 2007

So as many of you already know, chumbys are shipping … to “Insiders.” Insiders are those of you who have submitted their email address to us on the Chumby web site, who we then respond to via email (it is taking us some time, there are a lot of you!), who pay $179.95 (that includes shipping and handling, but not California sales tax) for a chumby in their choice of colors, and who then wait what I believe is 3 to 5 days (chumbys are air-shipped directly from China — “The World is Flat”) before it arrives at their door. Those who have gone through this process and received their chumbys seem pretty happy — and many are blogging and commenting about their positive experiences. We’re delighted to hear that. Many more of you are patiently, and some not so patiently, waiting to hear back from us — we appreciate your interest and we’re going as fast as we can to get you your chumbys.

As stated previously, this “Insider’s Launch” will last through October and probably a bit into November. It’s important for us to manage production against demand in this way, and we also want to make sure that we can provide each chumby buyer with a high quality of customer service. This is important to us and we seem to be getting good marks on this so far — great job, guys! :^)

A couple of big things will occur in November. We plan to open wide the Chumby Store so anyone can buy a chumby right away, without having to wait. [UPDATE, 11/1/07: based upon below, i.e., the series of functional OTA software updates, we may actually extend the Insider’s Release through December before making chumbys available to the general public — stay tuned, and make sure you get on the Contact Me List to become an Insider.]  When this happens, it will obviously be a big day for us and we’re getting the coffee brewed in preparation. The paced launch now is an effort to make sure the hatches are fully battened-down for this moment.

I’m even more excited about another event. Sometime in November (code, lads, code!), we’re going to push automatically and over-the-air to each chumby a big functional update [UPDATE, 11/1/07: we’ll now probably be doing this in a series of smaller updates through November and December rather than in something more monolithic in November]. The chumby you bought will automatically become even better, much better, in terms of cool new features and functionality. You will have bought a chumby that did “A,” only to discover that it now does “A,” “B,” and “C” — sorry, we’re not saying yet what “B” and “C” are, we have to leave a few surprises. You won’t have to do anything to make this happen and it won’t cost you a dime. Your chumby will just magically be even better. And this is going to continue to happen. You buy a chumby now and we labor our butts off to keep making it better for you, automatically. And this is just us, Chumby Industries. I’m really looking forward to the day when an enormous community of innovators takes matters into their own hands and also starts creating enhancements to chumbys. For example, there’s a little microphone in the front bezel of each chumby. We don’t currently do anything with that. But we will :^) Others will too :^) :^)

I have a huge box full of now-obsolete electronic devices. It pains me to throw them away, so I haven’t (yet), but they’re just pretty useless now. Our goal is to make sure that your chumby is better next year than it is this year. And better still the year after that. Certainly there are limits to what software upgrades can accomplish, even in the hands of a community of innovators, but we’re excited to push on this as far as we can and see where it goes.

But the future of your chumby doesn’t stop there. We are already working on a number of plug-in hardware enhancements. Each chumby has 2 USB ports in the back. These can already be used as “attached storage” for a variety of purposes, e.g., plug in your iPod (we sure hope that Apple doesn’t disable this somehow) to hear your music and charge your player.

Here’s my current favorite chumby self-enhancement (AKA, a beginner “hack.”) You can take any mp3-formatted audio file, name that file “alarm1.mp3” (or “alarm2.mp3” for the secondary alarm), save it to a USB thumbdrive/memory stick, plug that USB thumbdrive into one of the USB ports on the back of your chumby, and set your chumby’s alarm to go off at a certain time. When it does, you hear your own custom “alarm tone” of that mp3 file you created (mine is presently a driving loop of The Ramones singing, “Hey, Ho, Let’s Go…Hey, Ho, Let’s Go” from Blitzkreig Bop but that’s starting to get old, so I’m going to change it to James Brown singing a loop of “Get up, get on up…Get up, get on up!”) Okay, hardly world-changing, but still fun and so easy even I can do it.

More USB-enabled hardware add-ons are coming from us, both real products that add capability to your chumby and other cool little hacks — so stay-tuned.

And then of course there’s the content, the “widgets” that chumbys play. There are a bunch of widgets for you now: some are really well done, fun and interesting; others aren’t very good or just not my cup of tea. That’s “user-generated content” for you. But nowhere near enough. We need more! We have our own Chumby widget creation group (Flash artists and programmers — let us know if you think you’re good enough to join us and become one) creating more cool widgets all the time, and a number of big well-known, and some great but lesser-known, content partners are working on some awesome Chumby widgets too. So the content is only going to get better, deeper and more varied. Because the chumby is the first available device that runs Adobe’s latest version of embedded Flash (called “Flash Lite 3”), the worldwide Flash development creative community is excited and trying their hands at creating Chumby widgets, including those that run video and streaming audio.

But you are widget creators too! You can go to the Chumby web site and create cool Flashcan e-greeting cards and share them with your Chumby “chums” (I am loving “munkey-gogo” and “kung fu.”) All different styles, and some of them burp, jam and squeal — it ain’t Hallmark. We’re working with a bunch of partners to make even more widget creation utilities available so you can craft and share your own cool widgets with your Chumby friends: photo and video “mash-ups,” slideshows, games, e-invites, you name it. The chumby was designed to be always-on and, unlike your PC or cellphone, just for fun — mix, mash, hack, share and amuse.

The journey is just starting and the bus keeps getting better. Hop on.

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58 Responses to “Insiders are getting their chumbys”

  1. Mark Says:

    The suspense is killing me. It’s like waiting for a return call after your first date. ;-)

    I do have a technical question for anyone to answer. My home is networked wired and I would love to connect right into that. Has anyone connected via the usb to a network instead of thru wifi??

  2. Mark Says:

    {repeating from the previous thread}

    Got it!

    wow… VERY nice guys. VERY nice. Kudos to all at Chumby. This is QUITE the cool little box.

  3. Binks Says:

    I think that this is the post that everyone wanted the last one to be – specific numbers, dates and prices; as well as some hints for the future :)

    Well done!

    Alas, I’m going to be picking up breadcrumbs from this blog for a while, waiting on international information – but, it’s nice to know that there’ll be information AND teasers on the blog :)

    Again, congrats on getting the product out and moving (and at a price point pretty close to the original target too, if memory serves – if only the $100 laptop could do half as well :P )

  4. linuxlibrarian Says:

    Mine just shipped this morning. :D I got one of the last lattes right before they went on backorder. I’ve actually contacted customer support a couple times with ?s about the ordering/shipping process, and everyone has been great, responses have been timely and informative.

    Excited and looking forward to seeing how existing widgets and those features to come play out on a non-virtual chumby!

  5. Jeff Says:

    Hoping I’m in the next wave of golden tickets. Anyone else care to share their stories of Chumbyness while us waiters wait :)?

  6. linuxlibrarian Says:

    @Jeff –Still waiting for UPS, but it looks like my Chumby goodness should be here some time tomorrow. I’m contemplating driving to Windsor Locks CT to meet it, if it isn’t! The wait for the golden ticket was bad, the wait for the UPS man is EXCRUCIATING.

    I will most definitely post pics on my blog and most likely on flickr.

  7. Jeff Says:

    @linuxlibrarian thanks, you’ll be giving me my temporary fix :)

  8. linuxlibrarian Says:

    Jeff… Check out my blog at linuxlibrarian dot org…. I have my unboxing pics up (more in the flickr stream)… They didn’t come out too great, as it was a bit dark…

    BUT CHUMBY INDUSTRIES!!! THANK YOU!!!

    Wow, that is a COOL little device.

  9. Jeff Says:

    Thanks for taking the time to share the happiness. Looks great!

    Givers of the Chumby, can you give us an update on when the next round of golden tickets might go out?

  10. Matthew Says:

    Haven’t gotten my golden ticket yet…

    can’t wait to get it!

  11. Matthew Says:

    Haven’t gotten my golden ticket yet…

    can’t wait to get it!

  12. steven Batista Says:

    The chumby is most likely a replacement for your alarm clock, however is not having the am/fm radio a major drawback? I couldnt imagine not listening to Bill Handel or Adam Carolla in the morning, but maybe thats just me.

    Also, how is the mp3 and divx playback? Is it choppy? Is there any sd memory slot or usb slot or must everything come in streaming?

    Sorry, one last question that Im reminded of.. the Chumby network, is this optional in order to use the Chumby? Can I connect soley to my own encrypted wireless network to stream files/widgets off of or do I have to have internet Chumby access?

  13. linuxlibrarian Says:

    Steven… I have found I’m hopelessly addicted to satellite and internet radio, and not having am/fm doesn’t bother me. But your mileage may vary there…

    I haven’t gotten streaming to work due to a firewall issue with my router, but when I play mp3s using btplay off my flash drive, the sound is great considering the speakers and processing power involved. There are two USB ports in the back, and you could easily shove a hub back there, or a usb card reader.

    Mp3 playback is wonderful. I’ve had some issues with buffering on long Youtube vids (which of course are all flash based…) but it’s probably more a problem with network congestion than a chumby issue. Haven’t tried divx playback. Don’t know as it’s possible? It could be.

    You can stream widgets, I believe, off a USB drive… Chumby also acts as a small webserver, so you can put your own cgi scripts in there should you choose. You may want to check out the Chumby wiki for more information on features and Easter Eggs.

  14. Jeremy Says:

    I got mine on Thursday after much excited tracking and I’m disappointed, Maybe it was the build up, spending months reading about these wunder-devices, only to find some glaring flaws.

    1. Did not work with either iPod (3g and new Nano) Locked both up to the point which they required a hard reset.
    2. Alarm function weak. I want to have different alarms for weekdays and weekends, along with the choice to play my own music, without going through renaming schemes.
    3. No way to manually change the widgets. I know this is designed to more or less sit places will little interaction, but I’d love to be able to change widgets.

    Yes, many of these features could be tweaked in the promised update, but I want a device that doesn ABC when I spend money on it.

    So I placed my Chumby on eBay. Starting price is what I paid, Buy It Now is much higher, in case someone is impulsive and has deep pockets. Search for it if you’re interested.

    I’m going to keep checking back and hopefully the new features will convince to to buy another later.

  15. Steve Tomlin Says:

    Wow, Jeffrey, selling your chumby for $1,000 on eBay! Sorry you’re disappointed with it, especially when the few issues you say you’re unhappy with are getting addressed in the next update, out in a few days, or are in development and will be available in a few weeks. I’m puzzled why someone would pay $1,000 for your chumby when they can buy a brand new one from us for only $179.95 including shipping — and, contrary to your eBay item posting, everyone who sends us their email address is going to be hearing from us shortly and will be able to buy one, so they really won’t be as rare as you claim. But maybe you’ll get lucky :^)

    Not sure about what you mean in your last issue with not being able to change widgets manually. All you have to do is squeeze the top of your chumby to bring up the control panel and then it’s as simple as pressing the forward or back arrows to navigate through your widgets.

  16. linuxlibrarian Says:

    @Jeremy… I am just pondering the iPod problem. I’m not an iPod person (have a Zen Touch.) I know with that, when I accidently try to play anything with DRM through my ‘nix box (not my Chumby) it will freeze the Touch.

    Were you, by any chance, trying to play stuff you’d purchased in iTunes? I am wondering if the DRM was locking everything.

    One can only play things that are DRM free or have been ripped from CD through ‘nix…Not a problem of the Chumby or ‘nix, just a problem of crappy crippleware on the music. (Shakes fist at DRM)


  17. When is the next set of insider stuff coming up??? I was looking to see if I could directly buy it off once I register on your website… Doesnt seem so…

    So, pleeeez get the next batch out and put mine there…

  18. Jeremy Says:

    I did figure out how to change widgets, so that’s one off the list. There are other little issues, some which have more to do with the widgets, Like in Flickr, even using the setting to view everyone’s pictures, there still seems to be a limited set available.

    I do like the device a lot, and the reserve price is set high enough that unless someone has a lot of money to burn, it will remain on my bedside for a while to come. But maybe this is my time to catch a little lighting in a bottle…

    For my iPod, nothing is DRM’ed. I’m going to fool around with some settings and hope for an updated alarm clock soon

  19. Jeff Says:

    @Steve any update on the next batch(es) of golden tickets? Please feed us :)

  20. steven Batista Says:

    Thanks linuxLibrarian,

    I used to listen to Howard Stern, but other than that Satellite Radio seems to pricey. Perhaps since its open hardware, an FM receiver can be added to the CHumby for the rest of us?

    What kind of server do you have to have running on the PC side inorder to stream mp3/video to the Chumby?

    ALso, I believe it has a microphone, can it be used for voip (skype)?

  21. linuxlibrarian Says:

    @Steven, I am just running my ol’ P4 PC as the server, which runs Ubuntu with Slimserver as a service in the background. I believe you can install it in Windows as well, if that’s your cup of tea. :)

  22. Jeremy Says:

    My 2G Shuffle works with it, so that is nice.

  23. Mark Says:

    steven Batista: Check into streaming radio. You may not be able to find Howard (since his Sirius contract gets in the way of a streamed show) but podcasts are available, and there are many other stations out there.

    fwiw, here’s one streaming site that used to carry Howard, and seems to be trying to get him back: http://www.crystalone.net/

    Past that, I listen to a lot of electronica, so I hang out on http://www.di.fm/

    FM radio wise… I just picked up this for my CarPC install: http://usb.brando.com.hk/prod_detail.php?prod_id=00136

    Someone would need to write a Linux driver for it, and then a plug-in to control it, but it works from the “standard” Silabs command set which is fairly well documented.

  24. Mark Says:

    @Jeremy:

    There’s a side conversation that I started with Duane in this thread that may make you smile:

    http://forum.chumby.com/viewtopic.php?id=611

    The point being that it looks like there’s a new browser coming out which will launch music files. (there’s a browser now, but no launching). That “should” loosen up the media device requirements.


  25. […] few days ago I received an email that it was finally my turn to order a Chumby as part of the insider’s launch, and today I placed my […]

  26. Jeff Says:

    oh the agony of waiting and hearing about others getting their golden ticket.

  27. Jeff Says:

    WAHOOO the agony has be relieved :) Just got my ticket. Nov.2 can’t come soon enough.

  28. taulpaul Says:

    I just recall reading a story about skype signing a deal with myspace for a calling feature in their messenger program. Isn’t that built in flash. It’s been ages since I used it. There’s a starting point for the mic.

  29. BrianL Says:

    Hey, has anyone tried to make a hack so that Chumby can work in some capacity with Outlook?

    Cause that would be cool to get reminders, a calender or even contacts

  30. linuxlibrarian Says:

    Mark… Sirius works with Slimserver if you have a Sirius account. :)

    shoe

  31. Matthew Says:

    I haven’t gotten my golden ticket yet…ahhhh I must’ve put my email in wrong or something because I could’ve swore I put it in so long ago.

  32. Jeff Says:

    @Matthew My advice would be to check your spam filter. I actually found my ticket in my Gmail spam folder.

    As a side note, my Latte Chumby was projected to ship Nov. 2 but I just got an email saying it will be in my hands no later that Oct. 25, awesome.

  33. Seth Says:

    Jeff, can you post the email it comes from so I can make sure it doesn’t hit my spambox? Still waiting on my ticket, I can’t wait to play with this thing. One question for the Chumby techs, the wireless network I am on requires a password similar to an airport hotspot. It isn’t WEP encoded or anything, I just have to type a password every 12 hours. Is the Chumby able to handle this type of network?

  34. Jeff Says:

    noreply (at) chumby (dot) com Good Luck!

  35. kees Says:

    I finally got my golden ticket, put the latte chumby in my cart, only to find out that they won’t be shipped outside the US yet :-(

    Too bad i’ve got a useless ticket now and so many other people are waiting to get contacted. Any word on when the chumby’s are going to take over the world? :-)

  36. Seth Says:

    trade me your ticket, i’ll give mine to you when it comes :)

  37. lu Says:

    1. is that a working 9volt battery connector inside the Chumbster?
    2. why do we need three separate log-ins? one for store, one for Chumby, one for forums – can these be consolidated?

  38. Ganson Says:

    Just got my Chumby yesterday. I am more than pleased with the device. As is, I am very happy with it, but knowing that firmware updates are on the way, and more and more creative people are hacking together their own widgets, makes me very excited.

    I am looking forward to setting up slimeserver and streaming my Sirius account over the Chumby.

    Anyway, I will be posting pics, reviews, and How-Tos on my web page if anyone is interested. GarrickAnson[dot]com

  39. Dan Says:

    Argh, received my email this morning, but I live in the UK :-(

    Please drop me a mail when you can ship here and I’ll get one!

  40. Derek Says:

    How disappointing! To be told I could go and buy a Chumby, and then have only USA available in the country selection box.

    Even more galling to learn that it is being shipped direct from China, because “The World is Flat”. Flat, but limited to the USA.


  41. @Derek – it’s a regulatory issue. As an electronic device, the chumby needs to be certified in each country. It took us quite a while just in the USA to get through FCC and get the proper import classifications. As a sovereign nation, the UK doesn’t recognize US FCC certifications.

    We’d *love* to sell chumbys to anyone that asks, but it will take us a while to clear the regulatory barriers in each individual country.

  42. Matthew Says:

    my day has been made. got my golden ticket! :)

  43. keith Says:

    *sigh* it’s a day before the end of October, and still no golden ticket….damn.

    Looks like I’ll be waiting for the public release

  44. Jeff Says:

    @keith be sure to check your spam folder….


  45. […] there lays the problem. I think the official Chumby blog says it best: There are a bunch of widgets for you now: some are really well done, fun and […]


  46. @keith – As you may have heard, we had some fires here in San Diego, and our company, which was in an evac zone along with most of our employees, was effectively closed for about three days – we may need a few more days to clear the list.

    We’ve been trying to craft the emails to avoid spam filters with mixed success, so Jeff’s advice is good – if you’re expecting an email from us, please check your spam folders.

  47. keith Says:

    I’m so sorry if I seem unsympathetic. I really hope you all are ok and everything’s going well. I think I signed up rather early and I haven’t gotten my email yet, and I have been checking my spam mail whenever a new message pops up there.

    Thank you for your advice though! Hope to hear from you guys soon.

  48. Michael Says:

    keith, You’re not alone. I registered a “long” time ago. I too have been checking the Inbox and Spam bucket for my “golden ticket” email. Still waiting…

    Glad to hear the Chumby.com crew is OK and back at work.

  49. Mitchell Says:

    Well I got my golden ticket a while ago but did not act upon it so hopefully somebody got one a bit early and I am happy.

  50. Mitchell Says:

    Well I got my golden ticket a while ago but did not act upon it so hopefully somebody got one a Chumby a bit earlier and I am happy.

  51. Stretch Says:

    Oh how you torture me!! I get the invitation email, only to find that apparently the only country in the world, is the US :(
    Those of us living across that little bit of water shall just have to wait in the knolwedge that these fantastic little devices are out there but unobtainable :(
    I understand the reasons, licensing and regulation and such, but wish I had been made aware before getting my hopes up :)
    So much for the “special relationship” that Bush and Blair were always talking about ;)


  52. […] 11th, 2007 · No Comments I ordered my Chumby on Wednesday. Shipping will probably take 3-5 days. While I’m waiting, I’m checking out the […]

  53. witold Says:

    my little buddy arrived yesterday! you guys really did a fantastic job with the packaging. it is pure joy to see chumby come out of the wraps. (and the cloud charm is brilliant, btw.)

    the touchscreen feels a bit liquidy but the device overall has a really good and huggable feeling to it.

  54. Asher Says:

    Please consider moving production away from china. The working conditions there are TERRIBLE

  55. Mark Says:

    I’m with Derek above. I could buy one from Ebay for a huge price with out a problem but can not buy one for the retail price offered through your store. And seeing as we still don’t have the IPhone and have only a small amount of music and no video available on Itunes which is one of the tech items that is available to our small population I do not think you will be paying to get your product here anytime soon.


  56. […] Chumby Industries from the beginning or perhaps you may have already bought a chumby during our Insiders Release program.  But for the rest of the you, this is news — because this is the day we’ve all been […]


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