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View Full Version : Who's going to fill Sean's shoes - technically?



cliveb
2009-05-26, 06:09
Now that Sean has decided to move on (and I wish him every success), the question springs to mind: has anyone been groomed to take his place on the engineering side?

I may be wrong, but I always got the impression that Sean was the one guy with a comprehensive understanding of the hardware design. And I also got the impression that he was the person who best knew some areas of the firmware.

So I very much hope that Sean has been mentoring a successor who wholeheartedly shares his vision.

Sike
2009-05-26, 06:11
Dean Blackletter seems to be 'da man'. Sean can't have done all of the work (Although some say he has magic powers..) I hope he doesn't leave too.

Phil Leigh
2009-05-26, 10:50
Don't forget Caleb!

pfarrell
2009-05-26, 11:15
cliveb wrote:
> I may be wrong, but I always got the impression that Sean was the one
> guy with a comprehensive understanding of the hardware design. And I
> also got the impression that he was the person who best knew some areas
> of the firmware.

You are correct back in the early days. I never quite understood how
Dean and Sean worked, but they were the heart and soul of SlimDevices.

They sold to Logitech to grow the business. There is only so much that
the founders can do, no matter how smart and hard working they are. So
in addition to pocketing some cash, they got the backing of a giant
company to do marketing, product research, etc.

Its been clear that more recent products were done by other engineers or
teams of engineers. The Boom has a lot of Caleb's fingerprints on it. So
its a good guess that recently, Sean has been the Big Boss who directs
the team.

The normal evolution of a company is for the founders to sell (merge,
IPO, etc.) and stay for a while, then the corporate suits come in. Sean
has stayed much longer than typical, so I bet that Logitech treated him
will. Still its a tradition.

What I don't know is who among the founders had the single-minded
vision. We all know that Apple without Steve Jobs is not Apple. We'll
soon see if SlimDevices without Sean follows that model. HP made great
products once Hewlett and Packard retired. Chevy and Ford as well.

All IMHO, of course


--
Pat Farrell
http://www.pfarrell.com/

erland
2009-05-26, 11:59
I may be wrong, but I always got the impression that Sean was the one guy with a comprehensive understanding of the hardware design. And I also got the impression that he was the person who best knew some areas of the firmware.

I'm not that worried regarding hardware, firmware and software, there are always good engineers available that can handle that part. During the development of the latest products, I've got the feeling that other people have been more involved than Sean, at least they have been more visible in the discussions.

I do worry a bit more regarding the vision for future products. I really hope someone with Slim Devices (or similar) background is taking over and not someone from the Logitech side with a background of low priced mass market consumer products. There is a risk the mass market route is actually better economically for Logitech but it will probably lead to very different products compared to what we have seen so far, products where price is more important than sound quality.

However, until we have seen who is taking over, there is no need to fear anything.

pippin
2009-05-26, 12:24
There is a risk the mass market route is actually better economically for Logitech but it will probably lead to very different products compared to what we have seen so far, products where price is more important than sound quality.


I pledge to disagree on this.
I believe that upcoming SD products need MORE not less mass market appeal. For two reasons:

1. They need to come out of the "techie" corner. The whole architecture needs a better integration UI wise or it will never be possible to sell this to people who do not WANT to get involved. I have good hopes here since from the discussions I'm seeing a lot of work is currently being put into this

2. If you don't get out of the techie corner and create volume, I'm afraid this will be pushed out of the market, after all this is too much of a "systems" business to work in the niche alone

I don't think you have to become as cheap as to offer bad quality, though. Actually, the Logitech mice I own do have a much better quality appeal than some others, more expensive ones I accidentally came to own.

pfarrell
2009-05-26, 12:53
pippin wrote:
> 2. If you don't get out of the techie corner and create volume, I'm
> afraid this will be pushed out of the market, after all this is too much
> of a "systems" business to work in the niche alone

This is one of the key reasons that Dalmer-Benz bought Chrysler. Other
than the obvious easy access to Trucks/SUV and the Jeep line.

MB cars have a ton of advanced engineering, and they needed volume to
spread the engineering cost (NRE in the buzz). If they could have pushed
down their technology, such as yaw control, into the Chrysler cars, the
cost would become a trivial cost of the car, with the tiny volume that
MB has, the engineering cost is tens of thousands of dollars per car.

Sony did this well for decades, altho they have lost their edge in
recent years, IMHO.

--
Pat Farrell
http://www.pfarrell.com/

pippin
2009-05-26, 13:11
This is one of the key reasons that Dalmer-Benz bought Chrysler. Other
than the obvious easy access to Trucks/SUV and the Jeep line.

MB cars have a ton of advanced engineering, and they needed volume to
spread the engineering cost (NRE in the buzz). If they could have pushed
down their technology, such as yaw control, into the Chrysler cars, the
cost would become a trivial cost of the car, with the tiny volume that
MB has, the engineering cost is tens of thousands of dollars per car.


VERY bad example.
You are right about the rationale yet they never even tried. ON PURPOSE!!!
BTW, right now the volume is not that tiny anymore, they had a little more than 1/3 of Chryslers sales (#, not $) upon the merger and are at around 50% now.

But for SD this is even more important: They have to attract partners like streaming services (which they are very good at right now) and 3rd party accessory companies. And they will have to stand up against an upcoming army of products supporting the rotten but simple and cheap DLNA standard (actually it's not the standard that is rotten but the support implementations, most of them).

You need volume for THAT.

Goodsounds
2009-05-26, 14:03
....MB cars have a ton of advanced engineering, and they needed volume to
spread the engineering cost (NRE in the buzz). If they could have pushed
down their technology, such as yaw control, into the Chrysler cars, the
cost would become a trivial cost of the car, with the tiny volume that
MB has, the engineering cost is tens of thousands of dollars per car....

This explanation is a bit mangled. The cost of developing the advanced technology is called R+D. NRE (non recurring engineering) is more typically used to described situations where technology is adapted to a new home (like porting), a new use, or to a specific project or customer's requirement. Adapting MB technology to work in a Chrysler electronic environment would have been NRE. The cost to develop it was R+D, which is a sunk cost before anything is sold.

Adding volume doesn't make it cheaper. It changes the percentages and stats, but so too does any means of increasing the volume, whether it is because of tech sharing or simply by raising prices. Or by charging more for spare parts!

I agree with most of the comments of Erland and Pippin. And don't be surprised if Dean and others move on before too long.

pfarrell
2009-05-26, 14:25
Goodsounds wrote:
> pfarrell;426794 Wrote:
>> spread the engineering cost (NRE in the buzz). If they could have

> This explanation is a bit mangled. R+D.... NRE

The difference between NRE and R&D is more of an accounting terminology
ontology/theology argument. Which term you want to use is cultural. And
irrelevant to the point that I was trying to make.

> Adding volume doesn't make it cheaper.

Correct. But a for-profit company has to pay for it, no matter what you
label it. And its expensive. So when you have more sales/revenues using
the technology, the per-unit cost is lower.

Which is what I was trying to say.

The SB1 was a great geek device. One or two people can do it all. As you
get fancier, it takes more people in marketing, engineering, design, etc.

I'm more of a small company guy, don't fit well in mega corporations.

This is a natural evolution of companies....

--
Pat Farrell
http://www.pfarrell.com/

m1abrams
2009-05-26, 14:27
I pledge to disagree on this.
I believe that upcoming SD products need MORE not less mass market appeal. For two reasons:

1. They need to come out of the "techie" corner. The whole architecture needs a better integration UI wise or it will never be possible to sell this to people who do not WANT to get involved. I have good hopes here since from the discussions I'm seeing a lot of work is currently being put into this

2. If you don't get out of the techie corner and create volume, I'm afraid this will be pushed out of the market, after all this is too much of a "systems" business to work in the niche alone

I don't think you have to become as cheap as to offer bad quality, though. Actually, the Logitech mice I own do have a much better quality appeal than some others, more expensive ones I accidentally came to own.

While I agree with your reasoning, I am afraid in order to get out of the "techie" corner would be to abandon the central server aspect of the Squeezebox. And as I am sure you know the central server aspect allows you to do some neat tricks that can not be done with a UPnP setup.

Many people seem to not undestand about the Squeezebox is that it is a client/server model and that just confuses non-techies. I can not see how you can eliminate that source of confusion without eliminating the server.

jo-wie
2009-05-26, 14:37
... I can not see how you can eliminate that source of confusion without eliminating the server.

Give them a unit with a SC server included. Let them attache their USB drives and many are happy. I see how often people in the German forum do ask to use their music files on USB drives connected to the AVM Fritz Box routers.

dsdreamer
2009-05-26, 14:44
Does Logitech's streaming media business unit make a positive IFO contribution? Are year-on-year sales volumes increasing? Is there a killer product in the development pipe-line?

These are more likely to determine the future of the SD eco-system, than the entirely predictable departure of the founders, IMO.

--dsdreamer

pippin
2009-05-26, 15:37
While I agree with your reasoning, I am afraid in order to get out of the "techie" corner would be to abandon the central server aspect of the Squeezebox. And as I am sure you know the central server aspect allows you to do some neat tricks that can not be done with a UPnP setup.

Many people seem to not undestand about the Squeezebox is that it is a client/server model and that just confuses non-techies. I can not see how you can eliminate that source of confusion without eliminating the server.

Don't agree. People can understand client/server models, hey, they even use mobile phones and twitter.

Also, DLNA is moving into that direction, too. UPnP always supported it, just the devices don't.

The only problems with SC I see are:
1. It's ressource usage (80%)
2. The UI is not well integrates (20%. Wait a moment, didn't I say this before...)

#1 may go away with time
#2 is hopefully being worked

jacobdp
2009-05-26, 18:19
As far as I know, the last product where most of the design was done by Sean was the Transporter. I wonder if there will ever be a successor to that...

Andy8421
2009-05-26, 21:07
I can't imagaine we will see a transporter #2, the market for 1000 streaming network players is very small. While Meridian, Naim and others can charge premium prices for streamers, it doesn't seem to fit the Logitech biz model, and I am not sure the Logitech brand name would support that level of pricing ex the loyal Slim following. The transporter does give the rest of the Slim range audiophile credibility, and there is value in that, but why design a new model?

The world has moved on in the 9 or so years that Slim have been around. I do think the real challenge for logitech streaming media will be video, and with products like the HDX1080 being given away (I don't know how they make the box for the price they charge, let alone put anything in it) it is going to be a tough battle.

Having said that, the Boom is clearly a quality product at a reasonable price so perhaps there remains a growing market for audio only streaming media.

IMHO.

pablolie
2009-05-26, 21:18
I can't imagaine we will see a transporter #2, the market for 1000 streaming network players is very small. .

as you say, establishing brand is important in this emerging market. the engineering excellence of a product like the Transporter trickles down into customer perception of entry models. i also don't think the entire product needs to be re-engineered for a while, it is a great product as is and probably just needs marginal updates to take advantage of new technology and design out elements that part suppliers have EOL'd.

this is an interesting topic, the whole roadmap and vision and future product direction thing. without market share numbers it is hard to tell whether the current product portfolio needs any updating or changing.

erland
2009-05-26, 22:15
without market share numbers it is hard to tell whether the current product portfolio needs any updating or changing.

If they like to move into the mass market route they need to change because all the products are way too geeky and technical today to fit in this market section.

Moving into the mass market might be the only way for the product suite to survive but it might also completely change what's important. Making it more user friendly for non technical users is a win for everyone but the mass market might also mean focusing on cheaper versions of the product instead of focusing on versions with higher sound quality. After all, most mass market users listen to MP3 (not lossless formats) and doesn't care that much about sound quality as long as it's good enough.

However, Logitech hasn't "destroyed" other companies they have purchased, look at the Harmony remote section which as far as I know still creates new high end remote controls.

It will also be interesting to see how all this will affect this community, moving into mass market means getting more commercial which might result in that there isn't time to listen and work together with the community as much as we have seen earlier. I've personally seen some changes in this direction already during the last three years I've been around. This might not be a bad thing for the products but the development process will probably be pretty different from what we have seen earlier.

tamanaco
2009-05-28, 05:36
I agree with a lot of the things that are being said here. I own a Harmony remote, a couple of Logitech Mice, UE Super.fi IEMs and, of course, a Squeezebox. Most of these, except for the Mice, were made by companies that Logitech eventually acquired. As Erland mentioned, so far, Logitech has not disappointed and I hope the trend continues. (Not a Logitech fan, per se, just a "victim" of its acquisitions)

Like other early SB adopters, I fear that by making the SB line appeal to the masses it'd loose its edge. But... so far, I have not seen any "major" change in a direction that would lead me to suspect that the quality of the SB line is being jeopardized by the Logitech acquisition. I feel that in order to get more commercial Logitech does not need to compromise the sound quality, the open software model, the plugins API (modularity) or the plethora of user interfaces. But... it needs to come up with a simple "basic" (out the box plug n play) setup that any user can put together without the need of an engineering degree. The task is not easy, because the SB interfaces with SC (Local client server setup), with SN (Remote Service Agregator setup) and a mix of these setups when you use SN via SC. To me installing and configuring the connections (SB-SC-SN)->Stereo are the stumbling blocks to the mass market... not the existing hardware/software technology behind SD/Logitech.

I bought a Vudu box a few month ago and recently gave my sister one for Mother's day. She was able to install her Vudu box without my help. I can not say the same for the SB3 I gave her last year. The Vudu box has a LAN interface, a stereo interface, a video interface and a RF remote. I have not been able to visit her since Mother's day and so she decided to install the Vudu box herself. She plugged the thing in the wall and to the TV via the HDMI cable (included) and the box walked her through the setup with audio and video from the TV. Setting up and using a Vudu box is a no-brainer. If no video connection exist, the box using audio "tells you" to check the video connections, if you get video, but not sound, the box displays video instructions to troubleshoot the audio connection. Audio-visual instructions are also given if the box can not connect to the Internet via the LAN. The video and sound streaming technology behind this box is "somewhat" similar to that of the SB. It even has built-in Pandora, Picasa and Flcker clients, but my sister did not need my help to set up any of these services either. What makes it easy is that the box "discovers" (detects) the video, sound and network components it needs to connect for the box to be functional.

I understand that the SB "might not" have sufficient resources (intelligence) to build such model and that what I'm suggesting can not be put together overnight, but "maybe" some of this discovery intelligence can be implemented in the SC or SN. So that after connecting the SB to the AC power and Ethernet...(assuming that DHCP services are available) the SB should be able to somehow connect to the SC (if available) or SN without "much" fanfare. Once either of these connections is established, the SB box should display messages on its screen to complete the setup. I know, I know... I'm dreaming again.

m1abrams
2009-05-28, 05:58
Don't agree. People can understand client/server models, hey, they even use mobile phones and twitter.



Not sure how the twitter example works with people understanding client/server models. People that use twitter are not running a twitter server they just are using it. What I have seen is many non-techies just do not understand the relationship between the Squeezebox and SqueezeCenter. They do not understand that the Squeezeboxes are just thin clients. Your wonderful iPeng app works with every Squeezebox made because of this thin client arch, your app does not talk directly to the clients it just talks to the server which commands the clients. So iPeng does not care how to talk to the clients, it only cares about how to talk to the server. This concept which seems obvious to us, is very foreign to non-techies.

pippin
2009-05-28, 06:10
Not sure how the twitter example works with people understanding client/server models. People that use twitter are not running a twitter server they just are using it. What I have seen is many non-techies just do not understand the relationship between the Squeezebox and SqueezeCenter. They do not understand that the Squeezeboxes are just thin clients. Your wonderful iPeng app works with every Squeezebox made because of this thin client arch, your app does not talk directly to the clients it just talks to the server which commands the clients. So iPeng does not care how to talk to the clients, it only cares about how to talk to the server. This concept which seems obvious to us, is very foreign to non-techies.

Yes, but at the same time this concept is the biggest asset of the architecture.
Only because of this concept is it so easy to have 3rd party contributions and all the flexibility the system has.

My example was that Internet services and the phone service work in a similar way: most of the intelligence is in the server.

Agreed: You don't have to operate these and this is exactly what I wanted to make a point about: It's important to make it SIMPLE for people to operate this server, then you will be able to explain the concept to them.

m1abrams
2009-05-28, 06:23
Yes, but at the same time this concept is the biggest asset of the architecture.
Only because of this concept is it so easy to have 3rd party contributions and all the flexibility the system has.

My example was that Internet services and the phone service work in a similar way: most of the intelligence is in the server.

Agreed: You don't have to operate these and this is exactly what I wanted to make a point about: It's important to make it SIMPLE for people to operate this server, then you will be able to explain the concept to them.

pippin - I think we both agree. I do not want them to compromise the architecture to make it easy for people to use because the arch. is the key reason I like the Squeezebox. Making it simple for a non-techie to run is important but is very difficult. I know Windows Home Server has an API for adding services, that could be a nice path to go down. Might do it via an interface layer on top of the core service so that you can maintain the cross-platform while adding the hooks for WHS.

MrSinatra
2009-06-01, 03:07
interesting discussion.

my view hasn't changed from when i first got my SB.

essentially, i love the hardware and the audio quality, and i think the SBC concept, or pippins apps, are great as well.

but the software, despite its many strengths and bells and whistles, is just fatally flawed. it is complex, it is not user friendly, it is a resource hog, it isn't fast, it isn't fun, it isn't intuitive, it isn't well documented... i could go on.

i look at a product like tivo, and i see a product designed for the masses that can still do very complex things. i only see the second half of that when i look at SC.

i still don't understand why there isn't an "all in the one box" solution available for example, or why optionally including video (on some new product) is so taboo, (meaning on screen HUD as well as video streaming).

why can't winamp power the hardware via a plugin? why can't itunes treat a SB as if it were an airport express? just giving customers funner software like winamp to power the device would really deliver it to the masses!

how about OS drivers that can handle the TCP/IP bit?

i'm not saying all or any of these ideas is the right idea, but i am saying that IF the idea is to deliver slim stuff to the masses, something has to give.

mherger
2009-06-01, 06:13
> why can't winamp power the hardware via a plugin?

Ah, that's an easy one to answer: because nobody has written that plugin.
The same applies to the iTunes question.

--

Michael

m1abrams
2009-06-01, 06:25
Well going down the video route while it seems like a great natural progression, in practice it seems to water down and degrade the product. Too many apps try to be the end all be all and end up doing nothing well. You say SqueezeCenter is too complex now, add video to that mix and you make it 10x worse.

I agree with you that SC is too much for a non-techie, I do NOT agree with your resource hog statements. The only resource intense part of SC is when it does a media scan and you really can not make that much nicer, any media app that actually scans and updates will have this (iTunes does not and is one of my many complaints with it).

Squeezebox can not act as an Airport Express for iTunes because APPLE will not allow it.

Winamp plugin while I personally would not want to use it could be decent idea. Nothing stopping you from making one :). The heart of SC is that it is open source, and the players API is well documented so anyone could make a plugin for Winamp.

Not really sure what your question "how about OS drivers that can handle the TCP/IP bit?" means? TCP/IP is already handled by every modern OS.

pippin
2009-06-01, 07:05
Well going down the video route while it seems like a great natural progression, in practice it seems to water down and degrade the product. Too many apps try to be the end all be all and end up doing nothing well. You say SqueezeCenter is too complex now, add video to that mix and you make it 10x worse.

Full ack. I disagree with all the obsession of doing video and audio together, the use cases are simply VERY different


I agree with you that SC is too much for a non-techie, I do NOT agree with your resource hog statements. The only resource intense part of SC is when it does a media scan and you really can not make that much nicer, any media app that actually scans and updates will have this (iTunes does not and is one of my many complaints with it).

I disagree. Especially the web server IS a resource hog. Plus it's slow as hell, I believe SC would be better off if that got removed and replaced by a standalone web server like lighttpd. Also the use of MySQL is not really efficient.

That said: All of these issues are being worked, AFAIK, there's a "noweb" option for SC 7.4 plus SQLite support.

For some issues, claiming SC to be a resource hog is NOT fair. For example when it's transcoding and things like that. Requiring more ressources than other servers when using features those other servers don't even have is BS. A lot of the resource requirements of SC stem from stuff like that.


Squeezebox can not act as an Airport Express for iTunes because APPLE will not allow it.

Apple allowed it for others.I suspect those became poor over the agreement, though...

funkstar
2009-06-01, 08:29
Not really sure what your question "how about OS drivers that can handle the TCP/IP bit?" means? TCP/IP is already handled by every modern OS.
I assume that Mr Sinatra was refering to driver that let Squeeze players act as wirless sound cards.

Again this is just because someone hasn't written one. The fact that the core developers haven't done it shows that isn't the direction they want the product to go in. And thats fair rneough, nothing stopping someone else from doing it. All the protocals are documented and open.

MrSinatra
2009-06-01, 12:05
i think my one response here basically will address everyone who commented since me, and that is to say that IF slim wants to reach a more mass audience, i think they need to look at other paradigms.

its somewhat obvious and goes without saying that the reason some or most of the things i suggested don't exist are b/c no one has written them. the point i was trying to make is that maybe slim should try one. afterall if the point is an "easy" product, then people capable of writing such code would not be a the target consumer, so they'd have no incentive to, (they'd be happy with SC), thus it falls on logitech/slim to do it, if they want to reach the masses.

consider that "the masses" want simple and familiar. well, itunes is that, and winamp is basically that, just not as much so. (i think u can do a plugin for WMP, but i don't know how capable it is)

consider that "the masses" don't want or need almost ALL of what SC can do, nor do they want to learn it, nor do they want to adjust their tags, data, etc, to get it to work right, nor do they want to wait an hour for a scan to finish, or figure out which scan they need to use.

your average user just wants to power the hardware with something fun and easy to use, that they are familar with.

so a two pronged approach then, SC for the tech geeks, of which i am one, and SOMETHING, like a plugin for winamp, to make slim hardware available to the masses.

i think it then falls to logitech to provide some kind of solution along these lines, and see if it does help to reach the masses. personally, i know many people who are audiophiles but computers passed them by. give them a simple way to power a SB, and they buy. give them SC, and they pass.

Goodsounds
2009-06-01, 12:44
Interesting thoughts, Mr Sinatra.

In thinking about it, perhaps the SB family is not a mass market thing. Look at how many people are happy with ipod docking stations with amps and speakers, whatever those are called. THAT'S a mass market type of product.

The audiophiles I know (who have spent big bucks on equipment) would have nothing to do with digital files coming from a PC. Maybe that's a function of the ones I know.

What's left - geeks looking for a toy, and music enthusiasts looking for convenience and yes, perhaps a toy, but in a different way than the geeks. The geeks, who are WAY overrepresented in these forums, are not numerous enough to support a product line. What's left for outreach is non-technical music fans.

For them, the products need to be easier to use, better explained, less troublesome, and less geeky (it's a turnoff). Simple task ahead for the marketing people to figure out how to do that.

As for filling the departed shoes, I'm sure the company has plenty of talent left to handle things. If not, bigger problems are ahead.

funkstar
2009-06-02, 14:12
For them, the products need to be easier to use, better explained, less troublesome, and less geeky (it's a turnoff). Simple task ahead for the marketing people to figure out how to do that.
I agree on most of this, though the geeky part isn't always a bad thing, geeky is becoming a bit cool you know :)

I also agree that the completely non techy version of a SB is an ipod in a dock. loads of people do this and it works for them. but lets not forget, a Squeeze setup may be more technical and more complicated, but it also a great deal better too.

autopilot
2009-06-02, 14:47
I agree on most of this, though the geeky part isn't always a bad thing, geeky is becoming a bit cool you know :)

I also agree that the completely non techy version of a SB is an ipod in a dock. loads of people do this and it works for them. but lets not forget, a Squeeze setup may be more technical and more complicated, but it also a great deal better too.

Well said.

iPods were consider geeky once too, so was using social networking sites like facebook. So were mobile phones thinking about it. It's often the 'geek-chic' that starts the most popular trends off.

I think the perceived complexity and geekyness of Squeezebox's/Squeezecenter, other than networking issues, often comes from people being overwhelmed by all the various settings and options. I have long thought that SC could possibly benefit from hiding many settings, by having a default 'simple' mode with only the essential setting visible, and an option to switch to 'advanced' user mode for the power users and tweakers. Lots of software does that to good effect these days. I think the new control panel goes some way in addressing this.

funkstar
2009-06-03, 01:58
I think the perceived complexity and geekyness of Squeezebox's/Squeezecenter, other than networking issues, often comes from people being overwhelmed by all the various settings and options. I have long thought that SC could possibly benefit from hiding many settings, by having a default 'simple' mode with only the essential setting visible, and an option to switch to 'advanced' user mode for the power users and tweakers. Lots of software does that to good effect these days. I think the new control panel goes some way in addressing this.
Yup, you are right. dumping SqueezeCenter and the whole way the Squeeze system works is not the answer, it just needs to be made more reliable and easier to use.

Turning the hardware players into wireless sound cards would devalue them in a lot of peoples eyes, you then start to compete against hardware that is far, far cheaper.

peterw
2009-06-03, 05:36
I think the perceived complexity and geekyness of Squeezebox's/Squeezecenter, other than networking issues, often comes from people being overwhelmed by all the various settings and options. I have long thought that SC could possibly benefit from hiding many settings, by having a default 'simple' mode with only the essential setting visible, and an option to switch to 'advanced' user mode for the power users and tweakers.

That should be coming in SC 8.0: http://bugs.slimdevices.com/show_bug.cgi?id=9702

Goodsounds
2009-06-03, 07:59
I agree on most of this, though the geeky part isn't always a bad thing, geeky is becoming a bit cool you know :)

Nah, geeky is geeky. Even not cool here in Silicon Valley. They're needed, but when you move, you hope your neighborhood is not full of introverted engineers.

autopilot
2009-06-03, 08:19
Depends on your exact defination of 'geek'. I would considor myself a geek, the introverted types tend to be 'nerds'. IMO :)

Goodsounds
2009-06-03, 09:15
Roger that, Shirley.

I think of it broadly rather than narrowly. There are also waay too many of the type who want to tell you how they spent the prior weekend setting up a sensor in the bedroom to turn on the coffee maker in the kitchen. Boring is boring.

Mitch Harding
2009-06-03, 09:25
I need a sensor like that!

On Wed, Jun 3, 2009 at 11:15 AM, Goodsounds <
Goodsounds.3t7qm01244046242 (AT) no-mx (DOT) forums.slimdevices.com> wrote:

>
> Roger that, Shirley.
>
> I think of it broadly rather than narrowly. There are also waay too
> many of the type who want to tell you how they spent the prior weekend
> setting up a sensor in the bedroom to turn on the coffee maker in the
> kitchen. Boring is boring.
>
>
> --
> Goodsounds
> ------------------------------------------------------------------------
> Goodsounds's Profile:
> http://forums.slimdevices.com/member.php?userid=14201
> View this thread: http://forums.slimdevices.com/showthread.php?t=63775
>
>

snarlydwarf
2009-06-03, 09:38
Roger that, Shirley.

I think of it broadly rather than narrowly. There are also waay too many of the type who want to tell you how they spent the prior weekend setting up a sensor in the bedroom to turn on the coffee maker in the kitchen. Boring is boring.

And silly, since coffee flavor sucks the longer it is exposed to air, so any real geek would know they would need to have a coffee grinder attached to the contraption (and ideally keep the beans refrigerated to reduce their oxygen uptake until ground).

As for the whole 'mass-market' thing... that is a very hard problem: Apple obviously owns the whole iPod/iTunes world.. yet I don't think Airports really sell all that well, especially not for music. Convincing "normal" people that a network music player of any sort is a good thing is not something even Apple has been really successful with.

I don't know how to break that hurdle: allinone sorts of devices (like Vortexbox) would help. Getting "home theater installation" people on board to install such a thing would also help (though with the current economy.. I don't know how well those businesses are doing).

autopilot
2009-06-03, 11:05
As for the whole 'mass-market' thing... that is a very hard problem: Apple obviously owns the whole iPod/iTunes world.. yet I don't think Airports really sell all that well, especially not for music. Convincing "normal" people that a network music player of any sort is a good thing is not something even Apple has been really successful with.

I don't know how to break that hurdle: allinone sorts of devices (like Vortexbox) would help. Getting "home theater installation" people on board to install such a thing would also help (though with the current economy.. I don't know how well those businesses are doing).

I think it's also partly down to the fact that there is a whole universe of traditional hifi audiophile "experts" out there that are terrified of digital audio, and based on 1,038,814 different false assumptions and bad snake oil science, spend a significant out of time and effort telling people that moving away from CD based systems means you can't achieve the same quality, even decent quality. Thats my perception from browsing various AV forums anyway.

ftlight
2009-06-03, 11:27
On 6/3/2009 2:05 PM, autopilot wrote:

> I think it's also partly down to the fact that there is a whole
> universe of traditional hifi audiophile "experts" out there that are
> terrified of digital audio, and based on 1,038,814 different false
> assumptions and bad snake oil science, spend a significant out of time
> and effort telling people that moving away from CD based systems means
> you can't achieve the same quality, even decent quality. Thats my
> perception from browsing various AV forums anyway.

CDs!!!! As soon as you move away from vinyl you are the devil's spawn.

--
Bill Burns
Boom, Duet, two SB1s.

BlueWombat
2009-06-03, 13:58
...IF slim wants to reach a more mass audience, i think they need to look at other paradigms...consider that "the masses" want simple and familiar. well, itunes is that, and winamp is basically that, just not as much so...your average user just wants to power the hardware with something fun and easy to use, that they are familar with...personally, i know many people who are audiophiles but computers passed them by. give them a simple way to power a SB, and they buy. give them SC, and they pass.

These comments hit right along the lines I have been thinking for a while. I enjoy tinkering with things, adjusting tags, etc. and even I get frustrated at some points where I just want to say "why can't I just plug the damn thing in and have it work???" If I feel that way and I'm a bit geeky, how is anyone non-geeky supposed to embrace the squeezebox family readily?

It's the same issue I'm facing trying to stream vido from my server to my TV (I told you I was a bit geeky). There is no solution that "just works." I have to tinker too much and in frustration decide to leave it for another day. My daughter would rather plug her ipod into a portable dock because it's easy, and doesn't care about my excitement at the ability to pull any and ALL of my music at anytime using the squeezebox.

I think what is needed is a nearly silent install of squeezecenter (it's actually pretty good now), with integration with one or two major music player software packages so people can feel comfortable running a squeezebox from their computer (sorry, the web interface, though improved, still doesn't fully cut it), continued improvements on the controller (my favorite squeezebox hardware, but still sometimes too slow or iffy), and some wizards that help people rip music, manage music, etc. If users could unpack a receiver and controller, plug them in, stick a CD in a computer, and get everything loaded and setup using methods tied into software they are used to (itunes?), things would go a lot further.

autopilot
2009-06-03, 15:06
I think there is a danger of confusing reliability and usability. Most of the problems people complain about are reliability related, dumbing down and making stuff super noob friendly does not guaranty reliability. I agree, many aspects need to become easier to use, but removing functionality wont do it (although i believe much of it should be hidden, as is the plan it seems). It also does not guaranty it will be a run away success with the 'mass market' either, its a big risk - keep a solid and loyal, yet relitivly small customer base, or radically deviate from the currunt ethos and posibily loss all your customers. Companies movivated by greed alone usually fail. I just hope they keep doing what they are doing and keep on improving.

Goodsounds
2009-06-03, 15:37
Greed and success are not synonyms. I'm not sure what the word "greed" means or implies in the context of a publicly traded company (like Logitech) for which all stakeholders (including employees) have expectations of success (ie, profit) and therefore continued existence. Companies that lose money don't produce products, services, or jobs for very long.

And products and companies that have small but loyal customer bases, and which don't try to become more successful by gaining greater market acceptance and share, also don't stay around for very long.

autopilot
2009-06-03, 16:02
Hello mate. Sure i agree, simply i said 'greed alone'. Simply chasing the buck and losing focus on what made people buy your products in the first place can be a petty big mistake too. their is a big difference between greed and a healthy hunger for success and profit. And you dont need to sell out for that. Anyway, im not implying anythings going wrong, im pretty optimistic on the whole. Make great products and they usually sell themselves. Thats whats most important. Making them reliable too.

iPhone
2009-06-03, 19:59
Greed and success are not synonyms. I'm not sure what the word "greed" means or implies in the context of a publicly traded company (like Logitech) for which all stakeholders (including employees) have expectations of success (ie, profit) and therefore continued existence. Companies that lose money don't produce products, services, or jobs for very long.

And products and companies that have small but loyal customer bases, and which don't try to become more successful by gaining greater market acceptance and share, also don't stay around for very long.

If your having trouble with this, then watch the two movies Wall Street and Boiler Room. Greed at its utmost.

MrSinatra
2009-06-03, 21:49
"greed, for lack of a better word, is good."

when you listen to that speech in the movie, frankly, it rings true.

greed isn't a prblem, its what motivates sean and dean to start a company and sell it and make money and i say good for them!

but in any good legal/business model greed is tempered by ethics and good ole fashioned pragmatism.

anyway...


I think there is a danger of confusing reliability and usability. Most of the problems people complain about are reliability related, ...

who? here in the forum? i'm just wondering where you get that conclusion?

imo, usability is a much bigger issue with SC than reliability. (and especially so where "mass markets" are concerned)

autopilot
2009-06-04, 00:42
I think you are reading too much into what I was saying, the reliablity issues people post are usually down to inherent networking issues, what audio format they use etc. I think usability is not a huge problem with the players themselves, the often very confusing array of option in SC's web interface are. As i said before, most people dont ever need to now about or use these half settings.

Anyway, regarding the whole "mass market" thing, I was just speaking generally, and I obviously have not put my point across very well. I don’t think Sean has ever come across as a greedy businessman (clearly we have different idea of what that means). Sean always came across as a guy very passionate about what he did and produced the product he wanted to and showed a great deal of pride in his work and a hunger for success. He brought onboard capable people who shared his vision. Success naturally followed and he (I hope) has done well for himself financially. Good on him.

I think all I was trying to say making something very easy to use, by itself, does not always equal success although its part. Look at the Philips Streamium stuff, very simple to use as its just plain unpnp, with no plugins, limited format support etc. But they are very uninspiring products and don’t generate a fraction of the buz that Squeezebox products create in online forums. Frankly they are just dull. I don’t know the sales stats, but I have never met anyone who owns one.

Squeezebox are truely great products, that have really enhanced my music life. Maybe when people are talking about mass market and making it easier, while i agree, a part of me always worries it will take away some of what made them so specially to me.

MrSinatra
2009-06-04, 11:19
i didn't think you were implying sean/dean were rapaciously greedy, i was just talking in general.

however, try an experiment... lend a SB to someone who isn't "into" computers, but uses them for email and www. don't help them at all, and see how far they get, how long it takes, and/or gauge their reactions.

here's a perfect example... my dad, who is fairly old but loves computers and music on them and the stereo, does not understand things like "closing the web browser does NOT turn off SC."

therefore, the playlist could just keep going, computer would never sleep, and he'd never know or figure it out, and thats just ONE aspect.

now, clearly, he should learn, and aiming this at old people isn't the wave of the future, BUT there are lots of people my age (mid 30s) who simply would not grasp many concepts of SC or enjoy the exp of the webui. in a recent thread elsewhere, jjzolx summed it up perfectly, that the webui simply doesn't cut it, and i couldn't agree more.

winamp however, is something he does understand, and if a plugin could power the SBR, he'd be much happier, and i think find it all more appealing. true, winamp+plugin wouldn't do everything SC does, but he would never use most of that stuff anyway.

Goodsounds
2009-06-04, 12:23
i didn't think you were implying sean/dean were rapaciously greedy, i was just talking in general.

however, try an experiment... lend a SB to someone who isn't "into" computers, but uses them for email and www. don't help them at all, and see how far they get, how long it takes, and/or gauge their reactions.

here's a perfect example... my dad, who is fairly old but loves computers and music on them and the stereo, does not understand things like "closing the web browser does NOT turn off SC."

therefore, the playlist could just keep going, computer would never sleep, and he'd never know or figure it out, and thats just ONE aspect.

now, clearly, he should learn, and aiming this at old people isn't the wave of the future, BUT there are lots of people my age (mid 30s) who simply would not grasp many concepts of SC or enjoy the exp of the webui. in a recent thread elsewhere, jjzolx summed it up perfectly, that the webui simply doesn't cut it, and i couldn't agree more.

winamp however, is something he does understand, and if a plugin could power the SBR, he'd be much happier, and i think find it all more appealing. true, winamp+plugin wouldn't do everything SC does, but he would never use most of that stuff anyway.

I'm going to offer a different view. My perspective - I am older than you, and likely younger than your father. I consider myself to be capable as a PC user. I do not have a technical orientation or interest.

I always use the web UI, and almost never the remotes (other than for on/off). I find the current UI perfectly satisfactory. Using the SB3 display is like looking at a panoramic view through binoculars, where you can only see a small part at any one time. I find doing even simple tasks with the remove and the SB3 screen to be unnecessarily awkward. Sometimes impossible.

Winamp - I can use it to play tracks or albums while at a PC, but I don't like it. Too hard, too many hidden/poorly explained things. It's probably like my use (and everyone else's) of apps like MS Word or Excel. I can use 3% of it comfortably, and the other 97 % is for others to worry about. I have no knowledge or interest in it.

Doing the work to permit winamp to drive SB devices would be a waste of time, in my view.

MrSinatra
2009-06-04, 12:30
seems like a big turnaround from this post...


Interesting thoughts, Mr Sinatra.

In thinking about it, perhaps the SB family is not a mass market thing. Look at how many people are happy with ipod docking stations with amps and speakers, whatever those are called. THAT'S a mass market type of product.

The audiophiles I know (who have spent big bucks on equipment) would have nothing to do with digital files coming from a PC. Maybe that's a function of the ones I know.

What's left - geeks looking for a toy, and music enthusiasts looking for convenience and yes, perhaps a toy, but in a different way than the geeks. The geeks, who are WAY overrepresented in these forums, are not numerous enough to support a product line. What's left for outreach is non-technical music fans.

For them, the products need to be easier to use, better explained, less troublesome, and less geeky (it's a turnoff). Simple task ahead for the marketing people to figure out how to do that.

As for filling the departed shoes, I'm sure the company has plenty of talent left to handle things. If not, bigger problems are ahead.

...but thats fine. imo, the webui sucks. its slow, it isn't intuitive, and it isn't flexible.

but developing a plugin for winamp a waste of time? i hardly think so. same for itunes or other apps... why? b/c there are millions of those users out there already, and they know how to use those apps, and they act the way they expect them to.

remember, if such a path existed, someone wouldn't need to figure out how to make the SC scanner work the way they want, they'd already have an app working to their liking. (and they are FAR faster to boot, scanningwise and responsively, and in some cases, some better/other features)

autopilot
2009-06-04, 12:41
winamp however, is something he does understand, and if a plugin could power the SBR, he'd be much happier, and i think find it all more appealing. true, winamp+plugin wouldn't do everything SC does, but he would never use most of that stuff anyway.

Although i do agree with your general sentiment, i'm not sure i get you on this. I can't see how using a third parties software, with a plugin, would make life easier than just having the Squeezebox software on your PC. You would need to open and run WinAMP all the time to use the SB. But then people with macs, linux and NAS's would also need something too. You could end up with a whole array of different solutions, and that would get pretty confusing too. I dont thin that logitech want to rely on other firm software either.

I dont think SC is the problem per-say. My [not very technical] 60+ year old mother got to grips with the fact she would need iTunes on her PC to use her iPod, but she learnt. She had to learn how to use a mobile and VCR once too. All the best things needs some learning, we are not talking about toasters here. The concept for Sb users should not be that different, it's just that SC baffles many people (including me sometimes). Settings should be presented in a way that does not confuse people. And at the end of the day, even if they designed Sc to be so easy a kitten could use it, people will still get baffled and frustated with ripping CD's (what software, bitrate, format etc) and networking.

autopilot
2009-06-04, 12:59
...but thats fine. imo, the webui sucks. its slow, it isn't intuitive, and it isn't flexible.

Slow - give you that, it can be. but then i rarely use it to browse music. Worse on a poor/cheap NAS.

Isn't intuitive - I agree for many it's not, trying to explain to a friend what the different compliation related settings mean and what setting he needed to worry about/ignore, almost resulted in a trip to the local psychiatric ward. That can be improved - vote for this - http://bugs.slimdevices.com/show_bug.cgi?id=9702 (cheers peter). But at the end of the day - he actually got it working and playing music fine without my help, it was when he started fishing around SC settings he called me.

Isn't flexible - We must have a very differnet idea of what "flexible" means here. We can access it from any web enabled device and it can be skinned for such devices, i always thought it was pretty flexible personally! Way for flexible than a WinAMP plugin could ever be.

MrSinatra
2009-06-04, 15:04
the proposed plugin to winamp would be transparent to the user, just to power the hardware, at least at first.

as to voting for that bug, i am the ONLY person to have voted for it, which i did some time ago. :)

as to flexible, i mean in how it presents information to you. consider that it only uses ONE master list at any one time, and has differing ways to navigate which make no sense to me. i don't want only one master list at a time and in addition it isn't clear what your master list will look like until AFTER you clear and rescan experimenting with many settings.

Nonreality
2009-06-04, 18:23
Roger that, Shirley.

I think of it broadly rather than narrowly. There are also waay too many of the type who want to tell you how they spent the prior weekend setting up a sensor in the bedroom to turn on the coffee maker in the kitchen. Boring is boring.

And your point? : )

funkstar
2009-06-05, 01:53
however, try an experiment... lend a SB to someone who isn't "into" computers, but uses them for email and www. don't help them at all, and see how far they get, how long it takes, and/or gauge their reactions.
Lend a setup to someone that isn't interested and it won't get used. Lend it to someone that wants to learn and wants what it has to offer and it will happen.


here's a perfect example... my dad, who is fairly old but loves computers and music on them and the stereo, does not understand things like "closing the web browser does NOT turn off SC."
.....
winamp however, is something he does understand, and if a plugin could power the SBR, he'd be much happier, and i think find it all more appealing. true, winamp+plugin wouldn't do everything SC does, but he would never use most of that stuff anyway.
So he can't get his head around closing an interface tool, but he can get his head around closing an actual software player? Sorry, but thats just weird :)

MrSinatra
2009-06-05, 11:55
call it whatever you want...

the point isn't these antedotes, its that SC is not suitable for mass market, like say tivo is. if something could provide more mainstream apps to power the hardware, that would help move product imo.

Goodsounds
2009-06-05, 13:57
call it whatever you want...

the point isn't these antedotes, ....

Maybe anecdote? Unless you're suggesting the conversation is getting toxic.

MrSinatra
2009-06-05, 14:09
two shay

;)