Archive for January 2008
As of a few minutes ago – I flicked the ‘proverbial off switch’ on mobilewares.net – and started redirecting traffic to the new brand + website – http://bigscreenglobal.com .
Along with this new site – comes the official "final" / public releases of Big Screen Photos v2 and Big Screen Weather v2 (previously made available to some brave souls/testers earlier this month) – which everyone can now download and try without requiring any special ‘Invitation’ codes. (or requiring me to do any ‘manual’ activations etc from my end… in fact I’ll be lying on a beach in Tahiti till further notice… – just kidding…).
In order to download the new products – users are required to first create an account on bigscreenglobal.com (and provide a valid email address so the site can send you a default password) – which only takes a couple of moments. Once you’re registered – accessing/downloading the full products is really quick – and serial numbers / download links are issued on the fly. There’s also a bunch of ‘smarts’ on the site – so you can do things like retrieve lost passwords, and have product registration links/downloads sent to your email address. (if you so desire).
In some of the initial testing performed over past month – there’s been the odd email server that decided to reject emails from my new domain (hence the initial email verification as part of signup) – so if you’re having any problems signing up (and you don’t receive your initial welcome/password email within a few moments/minutes) – try to use a different email address and see if that solves the problem.
How do I buy the full versions of Big Screen ……?
Although the online payment/activation system is now functioning/working (using Paypal’s Merchant Services) – I’m yet to enable this for the general public – as I’m still making 1000% sure that there isn’t any glitches with some of the non-standard payment methods supported by Paypal (that could be complex to undo – depending on how/where payment was made). Note that it’s not actually required that you have a Paypal account (and you will be able to do credit card payments without signing up to PayPal) – however having one may allow you to better manage your invoices/transactions with bigscreenglobal and other purchases you may make with other providors.
Note however – due to the funky – ‘reverify registration’ features built into the v2 products – if you do decide to take the splash and purchase the full products – you won’t need to reinstall anything at all (and you can unlock/upsize your ‘trial’ product from inside the Media Center UI – using your remote control – once payment has been completed/confirmed online…)
Where’s Big Screen ……?
- Big Screen Headlines v2 isn’t quite ready for public consumption (due to some behind the scenes requirements/deals being finalized – which currently impacts what the final installer will look like) – so please be patient – and I hope to have this available online shortly as well.
- Big Screen Contacts (v2) - Coming Soon! I’m not going to shoot myself in the foot and provide any dates on this – but promise it will be soon..
- Big Screen Movies / TV Series - as before – please don’t ask where these are (and are still *not* anywhere near the top of the to-do list). Once you see the new products/website and amount of work gone into these new v2 products – I hope you’ll understand and appreciate where the effort has gone over the past few months – and understand that in order to make the Big Screen range fly – the ‘specialist/enthusiast’ products (which require lots of behind the scenes licensing to be sorted out) – are not the current priority. (and it’s the broader/family + legal friendly products which are the focus).
Still a "Work In Progress" . . . .
Please note that there’s still some work to be done on the new site – and some of content you see is ‘temporary’ (ie. full online support/documentation is still being finalized) – and as such – users may experience a few ‘server resource is unavailable‘ messages if I’m right in the middle of uploading a page. (and if you see this – please wait a couple of moments and refresh the page).
The current banner ads are also very temporary (and I think even contain some horrid spelling + grammatical mistakes designed to make any English professor walk off in disgust) – so expect to see these being recycled/changed over the coming weeks.
Similarly – some of the multi-lingual translations offered in the v2 products will be a continuous – "work in progress" (and are definitely not considered 100%) – and the main aim of providing these translations is to enable non English / non Technical members of the family to enjoy/use these products as well (once installed by someone in the family that can cope with some English/Technical information – which would be ‘you’…).
Anyhow – I hope you enjoy the new sites and products – and those of you who are seeing/using these for the first time (and were patiently waiting) – appreciate all the hard work that’s gone into these… (and maybe even decide to buy one of them..)..
As before – stay tuned for more information + product announcements on here – or on http://bigscreenglobal.com …
I’ve been neglecting this blog again – so thought I’d post some brief news bits about some of the action going on here at the moment ..
- Big Screen Weather 2 + Photos 2 have both been locked down for commercial release – and are now considered ‘final releases’. Big Screen Headlines 2 will follow shortly. These will be the first 3 titles launched under the new ‘v2′ range of Big Screen titles.
- A new website + brand combined with online membership system, registration/license management, and online purchasing have been deployed. About 100 brave (site) beta testers have already been giving this system (and final releases) a workout since Tuesday – and so far so good and there’s been no problems at all. It was important for me to stagger the influx of users in this manner – rather then having to fix something when the users register en masse. This was due to me completely writing the entire online system from scratch with .NET and SQL Server (and I didn’t use any of the portal kits like DNN, Community Server etc as none met my requirements and most perform appallingly under heavy load).
The actual site content (product sites, updated screenshots, faq’s, support docs etc) – are still being finished – however since this the ‘easy’ bit (and no ‘sensitive’ functionality is being carried out) – the main focus of testing has been all the above account related functionality. (like end to end trial registration, purchase and upgrade – which can be done without reinstalling the addin)
The new site address etc will be revealed soon – I’m hoping mid next week for the official launch (keep in mind EVERYTHING has to be deployed/enabled simultaneously – so this makes it a little more challenging)… If you’re adventurous – there’s been some leaks already -(however you need special invite codes to register for anything)
- The above Big Screen products are tested with one of the popular new PIKA 2.0 Extender reference designs (which is similar/same for Linksys, Dlink, Samsung, HP etc) – and ‘automatically configure’ themselves so they are not tripped up by the various ‘documented’ and ‘undocument’ MCPL rendering
bugsissues. This is done both on a ‘high level’ (ie. on/off switches for things like 3d and animations accessible to the end user – so they can override auto detect settings if fw/vmc updates are made in future) – and ‘low level’ (numerous changes made to the MCML to avoid situations where these ‘issues’ would arise). The auto detect/configure features are designed to work silently (user doesn’t need to click through any additional configuration – or even understand these settings) – and it’s been thoroughly tested with multiple extenders at once (and ‘per device’ settings are maintained).
This ‘extender’ compliance/detection excercise threw me sideways for at least 2 weeks (since just before XMas) – and there was little to no accurate information available to help out – so I think the new Big Screen products could quite possibly be one of very few (or only) VMC 3rd party apps which are truely extender friendly/working.
- The ‘MCPL’ online showcase has also been updated to reflect new titles being offered. If your a developer ‘purist’- you’ll appreciate that I’m actually now dynamically generating the MCML online showcase content off the same underlying .NET code/data that drives the new website (which is HTML). A similar experience to the MCPL online showcase is also being made in Silverlight – so when underlying content is changed – all Front ends will change immediately – which will be sortof a .NET tripple-play (same .NET CMS driving the 10 foot and Rich/Static Web experiences offered by Silverlight and HTML). It will of course allow new products to be added into the catalog quickly and easily (without disrupting online users and making deployment a lot easier).
- Big Screen Weather v1 (which was freeware and only useful for Australians) was officially ‘discontinued’ yesterday. The handfull of users that made ‘donations’ to this product have all been awarded full versions (and some are already up and running – and are the first guys in the world to have the full unlocked versions of weather 2).
- OEM Enquiries. I should also mention – that if any OEM Dealers are interested in immediately purchasing licenses (and preinstalling these products on their systems) – these are available right now for bulk purchase / and serial numbers can be issued (if you are comfortable with the new site not being online for a few more days). OEM Discounts/Bundles are currently available in ’10 unit packs’ (minimum purchase per title) – so suit small through to very large companies. (And substantial discount scale is available the larger the volumes). If you want to know more (before new site is launched) – please contact me.
Also in other Media Center news –
- CES 08 is done… There’s some great coverage/opinions/videos (and more) on both Ian Dixon’s and Chris Laniers blogs – so check those out. Unfortunately – there wasn’t a whole lot of news on the Media Center front (mainly MediaRoom news – which is essentially the ‘ip based paytv’ version of MediaCenter offered via set top box) – however a couple of new extenders (not previously shown at digital life last year) – were revealed – one from HP (a standalone version of their TV Extender which has removable storage capabilities) – and another from Samsung.
Samsung’s extender looks really nice (without doubt the nicest form factor out of the lot) – but there’s a problem – "Not Everyone’s Invited" (sorry couldnt resist) – and it only works on Samsung TV’s (as all remote control input is handled by the Samsung TV and then passed back to the extender). If I owned a Samsung TV right now (nope I don’t) – I’d probably be feeling pretty smug right now as it looks to be a nice option.
Like many VMC users – I’m still very keen on the idea of an extender with Blu-Ray or HD-DVD capabilities – so hopefully does one of these soon! (however HDDVD received an almighty blow at CES – so it’s looking really shakey for that standard right now).
- I’ve been very slack in terms of reporting on other 3rd party VMC software releases of late (I can barely keep up with my own news) – so thought I’d mention a couple of products that have appeared over past couple of months :
- Media Center ‘Health Monitor’ from Ian Dixon is a really innovative new addin/website/service combination – which essentially allows you to monitor the status of VMC locally and from remote. (No need to rush home anymore to see if VMC crashed while recording your favorite show). If you want to check it out head here for more info.
- MC Organizer for Vista Media Center (Double B Computers) – which is a hot new front end to playing media/dvd’s/movies – and has the ability to work with external metadata . I’m yet to give this one a workout – but I love the fact (from the screenshots) that the author is trying to do something different with the UI and Layout (looks really nice too!) – and not just basing it on the usual suspect templates ("Z", "MCMLLookalike"/"PivotSample" etc).
Anyhow – back to the grindstone .. keep your eyes peeled for the impending announcements/launch of the Big Screen v2 range.
CES 08 is alive and kicking and there’s sure to be a lot of Media Center related news and announcements over the next few days (some of which have already been leaked..).
I was really hoping to make it this year – but a number of things kept it from happening this year (including health, busy workload and the obscene prices of traveling from AU to Vega in early January) .
It looks like the Media Center action will happen mainly around showing off the new extenders (Linksys, Dlink and HP) – and you can probably expect a large dose of MediaRoom related news (is this where the focus of the Microsoft TV Platform team went in 07?). Bill Gates upcoming keynote will set the pace as always – and will be his last appearance in his current role.
If you want to keep in check of the news as it happens – be sure to keep an eye on – Ian Dixon/Digital Lifestyle Blog. Ian’s just landed in Vegas (all the way from UK) – and will be reporting on the spot from CES08. I’m also looking forward to checking out the Digital Lifestyle Video Show segments (which will feature some of the CES action and MediaCenter related interviews/previews).