Author Topic: Letter to the Community: LinuxMCE 0810 - The Cold Honest Reality  (Read 38031 times)

Techstyle

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Re: Letter to the Community: LinuxMCE 0810 - The Cold Honest Reality
« Reply #30 on: June 25, 2009, 05:07:36 am »
It seems to me having read this thread that there a gap between developers and aspiring/newbie 'developers'.  This gap is in knowledge of the system and direction.  We risk duplicating efforts at the aspiring/newbie 'developers' level and not helping the developers move the whole project forward.

Perhaps we (as in one of the non-developers) could generate a Wiki page that includes a matrix with the following (non-exhaustive) headings:

Username,
Relevant expertise/experience,
Other Experience/Expertise,
Time available for the project,
Time zone or location,
Particular Interest Area (If any),
 
People interested in helping can then populate the table and then extra fields in the table could detail assigned project team or stand alone project.

It would give the developers ability to assign some of the tasks out to someone with relevant skill sets or some of the easier tasks out to someone trying to get their feet wet or even someone with no experience/expertise could help with something like wiki work - organisation of the wiki/reformatting/generating templates etc.

each area helping the community but in a structured manner, all pulling in the same direction.

If this idea sounds interesting let me know and I will start setting up the page tomorrow night (US Central).  If there are any other columns you think need adding let us know

tmoore

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Re: Letter to the Community: LinuxMCE 0810 - The Cold Honest Reality
« Reply #31 on: June 25, 2009, 05:58:02 am »
Techstyle,

I think that would be a great start.

Tim

fastie81

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Re: Letter to the Community: LinuxMCE 0810 - The Cold Honest Reality
« Reply #32 on: June 25, 2009, 06:03:20 am »
Let me know when you got that page up..
That would be great..


Schmich

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Re: Letter to the Community: LinuxMCE 0810 - The Cold Honest Reality
« Reply #33 on: June 25, 2009, 07:14:04 am »
Hello, I wasn't sure to post or not but I did in the end...I just want to add a word or two. I currently don't have a system as my family's house isn't finished yet but I've been reading the forum for almost a year now.

As I see it there are two problems atm: short-term and long-term. Short-term would be getting people to work to finish 810 as soon as possible. This is something that's being dicussed well here so I just want to add a word or two on the long-term.

What I don't understand, which is something I think Thom posted in a thread a few weeks ago, is how LinuxMCE is pretty much _THE_ geek software yet you guys are pretty much just 5 people on it? It's not only the developers though. I don't understand how unpopular LinuxMCE is. People either don't know about it or read a few things about it that only included the negative points. An example of lack of popularity would be Tom's Hardware that had an article a few days ago about Home Automation stating how all the standards are different and could use some type of connectivity between each other. Was LinuxMCE mentioned? Nope, and that just beats me.

As I said, people might read the negative things and decide to forget about it or say "if it will get better I'll most likely hear about it, so until then I won't try it". I learned about LinuxMCE through Digg when that old 704 video was posted. I was of course stunned but I also remember people's no.1. critic about it: the UI. The average mindless user couldn't see all this functionality through/past that UI... Anyways, then when I came here I understood that the best thing is to only buy hardware that is stated to work PnP (or with a few tricks), however there is very little information on modern hardware that does work flawlessly. Someone new coming to LinuxMCE is first of all lost. The person will begin reading everywhere and will end up seeing all these problems instead of a guide-line that shows what the system can do and, if followed, things actually work.

Work has been done in these sectors, I'm not trying to criticize anybody at all. I just want to make the point that there are a few major steps that turn people (both users and devs) away from LinuxMCE. I've never worked on a project like this, nor am I developer...but I'll assume devs go where the people are. I think if you manage to get LinuxMCE popular the devs will come just like that, especially considering the share amount of awesomeness this system has. Just imagine how many people you could attract with a finished 810 (better functionality, hardware compability etc.) that has a new UI (btw I love the work Krys started to do).
This sounds like a catch22: lets get the devs to finish 810 in order to get more people to use LinuxMCE so that we can attract more devs etc. But as said, I just wanted to mentione something long-term and if you guys want to stay on the short-term, getting 810 finished, then sorry for going a little off-topic. This ended up getting longer than planned...just wanted to write a small post >_<
« Last Edit: June 26, 2009, 04:48:03 am by Schmich »

pcbastard

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Re: Letter to the Community: LinuxMCE 0810 - The Cold Honest Reality
« Reply #34 on: June 25, 2009, 08:53:37 am »
Thom, thanks for bringing this up. 

You have to be the busiest and most energetic LMCE guy EVER and it's been a pleasure watching your short videos. 

If only there could be short videos on how to start developing, or codeing/design tutorials, by example, on all the steps to add control for new hardware, I would dive right in.  I have some unix and linux experience, but have never developed any code for linux.  I am not a programmer by trade, but have messed around programming various "simple" serial networking protocols in C and C++.  Understanding how data is passed back and forth in a text tutorial or short video example, would be enough to fire me up to delve into LMCE development.

I know, this means more work from devs and others in-the-know, and I don't know any solution to this.
All I know is that this is a great project that deserves to continue and I want to help.

Leo

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Re: Letter to the Community: LinuxMCE 0810 - The Cold Honest Reality
« Reply #35 on: June 25, 2009, 10:41:50 am »
Sorry to pitch in again but I have read and re-read this thread several times now. Some great ideas and suggestions from various viewpoints, but there are one or two themes that seem to be appearing. Distil them down and you have, basically, two.

1) Documentation. I'm sorry to those of you who have worked hard at it, but frankly it sucks. There, I've been blunt and said it. No, perhaps I'm being unfair, so let me re-phrase that. The organisation of the documentation sucks. There are gaps, but what is there is so hard to find, it might as well not exist for most of us. We need, as I've said alrteady, two VERY SIMPLE guides. The first for total newbies that says "if you buy this and then do this with it, it WILL work". The second for new devs that gives a hold-your-hand walk through of development. Perhaps one example in each area. I know there are videos already there on things like HA Designer, but where's the overall picture? Schmich and pcbastard are saying this, as have others (myself included).

2) Management. If the project is to move forward much further, the base of developers will need to expand. This will need a much more transparent and clearly defined management plan otherwise there is a risk of huge duplication and omission. Again, others have said this.

Devs, yes you have our thanks BUT, if you want help, if you want involvement you must LET US IN!!!!

Thom, as the previous poster said, your videos are excellent. (Although as an aside, you showed a screen capture device at one point, but continue to use a hand-held camera pointed at the screen a lot. May I suggest captures may well be easier to follow?) New functionality and cool gadgets are great to see, but please please please can we have a "development 101" series?

Right, I'm off back to building my Virtualized development environment! (And YES, if / when I get it working, I'll wikify it ;) )
Paul
If you have the time to help, please see where I have got to at: http://wiki.linuxmce.org/index.php/User:Wierdbeard65

geekyhawkes

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Re: Letter to the Community: LinuxMCE 0810 - The Cold Honest Reality
« Reply #36 on: June 25, 2009, 12:19:07 pm »
I am more than willing to write a "user guide" once 810 stabilises and is released.  I was intending to this anyway.  I was thinking of producing a newbie, buy this and type this here and it will work.  Once that is done hopefully it will be in a format that can be used for the rest of the guides we are trying to produce. 

tmoore

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Re: Letter to the Community: LinuxMCE 0810 - The Cold Honest Reality
« Reply #37 on: June 25, 2009, 05:42:54 pm »
WB is right. Although, you might blame the documentation issues on the management issues.  Note that I'm not criticizing anyone's management style or ability.  The Devs have done a magnificent job getting the project to where it is.  The project is a victim of its own success, which is a natural result of growth (the Devs can only be stretched so far), and there are commonly practiced techniques to solve these issues.  There is a widely accepted Harvard model of small business growth phases (see http://www.enotes.com/small-business-encyclopedia/organizational-life-cycle).  This project is facing issues described in Phase 1 ("crisis of leadership") and Phase 2 ("crisis of autonomy").  In order to grow, these issues must be addressed or the project will stagnate, and there is no room for stagnated products in the IT industry.  A stagnated IT project will die through competition.

Schmich raises some further symptoms of these growth challenges that are not purely technical in nature.  Marketing is vital.  We need to get the word out to the public that LMCE is here.  That means talking to the press, doing press releases, interviews, demos etc.  The web site must look professional, the logo and name should be good, and ideally there should be a spokesperson.

It is also vital that the UI is improved.  I know that it's only the icing on the cake.  But most people buy the cake because the icing looks good!  OK, so LMCE is free, but people still weigh it up against commercial products to meet their needs.  If the UI looks and feels clunky (and, sorry, it does), it will put off all but the most geeky people who are used to clunky database forms.  We need an easy to use interface that looks great (think Apple iPhone).

Finally, I want to impress the importance of time.  I once developed a commercial software product that, when I started, was an industry first.  It had the best features and a great interface.  It took 2 years to complete.  It flopped.  Why?  Shortly into the process, someone else independently thought up a similar idea.  They got funding, and because they had more resources, they completed their product months before mine.  It was technically inferior, but they got first-to-market advantage.  They worked with the press and got plenty of press coverage.  My product didnt stand a chance.  We tried to sell it for a year, but it could not compete.  I learned my lesson, and for our next product, we had more funding, more people, and we gave the UI a higher priority than new features.  It because a market leading success.

The moral of the story here is that we have limited time.  If the project continues to grow organically, the competition will catch up (even, come out of nowhere with a few million in VC funding).  Before we know what happened, there'll be a better, more supported product out there and LMCE will be dead.  Sorry to have to put it that way, but its survival of the fittest.  Fundamental changes must be made to how this project is run, and it has to be done now.

I think we need to hear all of the (6?) key Devs acknowledge that this is where we are and that they are willing to work with the community to restructure and formalize the management (that doesn't mean step down).  Without their backing, I don't think we can achieve what must be done.

Tim


Pnuts

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Re: Letter to the Community: LinuxMCE 0810 - The Cold Honest Reality
« Reply #38 on: June 25, 2009, 06:44:18 pm »
LMCE is simply an amazing application. I agree with everyone in this thread before me in congratulating all of the hard work the dev’s and put into this!

Prior ot LMCE, I was a complete Linux novice, not having looked at it at all, in the last 6 months, this has changed greatly, all because of LMCE. I have been answering what I could in the forums and created/added to a few wiki pages, but mostly, all of my free/available time has been learning and working with Linux in general. I do not even have an install of LMCE up right now. If it wasn't for this project, I would not know the wonders of Linux and still be living under a Windows rock.

I'm just about ready to dive head first back into LMCE like I did initially before I got a general feel of Linux and I would like to give back in any way I can. Reading through this thread, there are lots of great idea's. Documentation and proper organization of it seem to be the main issues preventing several people from jumping on board, or even trying to help. I would agree dedicating some time to this would create the means for a boost of novices to come on board.

Another suggestion which is equally important that was mentioned would be creating groups or team leads for specific sections or development. A go to person for specific things is needed. As people with specific talents are put to use, someone needs to guide them. The example of designing a new skin is great, it provides someone wanting to do something with direction on what to do. It also helps prevent duplicating work.

...

Perhaps we (as in one of the non-developers) could generate a Wiki page that includes a matrix with the following (non-exhaustive) headings:

...

A wiki listing peoples skills and talents is a great idea. If this could go up today, it would be great to start getting an idea of what there is to work with. I’m tempted to just stick something up there now, but it would be very basic and lack any special wiki coding, basically needing to be redone correctly which would suck after people contribute to it...

-Pnuts

tschak909

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Re: Letter to the Community: LinuxMCE 0810 - The Cold Honest Reality
« Reply #39 on: June 25, 2009, 07:07:27 pm »
Here we go with someone thinking that the iPhone is the end all be all of UI design.

Yes, the Basic UI is just that.. Basic. It was intended to simply be able to tie together the individual pieces of the system.

However, what many of you fail to realize, is that Orbiter is _HIGHLY_ retargetable. It was designed to run EVERYWHERE at once, with all the different display surfaces in the house in sync. In order to do this, a number of things had to be omitted.

* No scroll/drag actions (although this could be added)
* it's a 10' UI, less is more, IT IS NOT A #@(%#@( WEB BROWSER!
* No animation/effects, this has to run on low powered devices too.

You people dog orbiter. Yet, I haven't seen very many talented UI people among the bunch? I've had to do almost all of it since we got the project from Pluto, so far.

Do any of you understand the semantics of a 10' UI? or what this entails versus a desktop UI?

-Thom

tmoore

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Re: Letter to the Community: LinuxMCE 0810 - The Cold Honest Reality
« Reply #40 on: June 25, 2009, 07:56:46 pm »
Thom,

I cited the iPhone because everyone's seen one.  I also cited Astaro's UI yesterday, but doubt as many people are familiar.  The iPhone's UI is not the be all and end all.  However, Apple has made a UI that works successfully for over 50,000 different apps at last count, despite its limitation in size.  That's an unmatched feat.  Its success is significant not only because what it has achieved technically, but because it is a trend setter.  People like it, and want their other devices to follow suit (and many manufacturers have done just that).

For any product, you need to think about what the people want - not just what the technical constraints are.  People buy/get what they want, not always what's technically superior (as I have learned the hard way).  If this project is to stay alive, we must build something more appropriate to what the average user wants, even if it means compromising on a few of the technical aspects.  When people want houses, we shouldn't be in the business of building cathedrals.

I don't really care what the UI looks like, other than it must be what the general public wants.  Devices capable of a more slick UI should have one.  There is no reason why the UI should conform to the lowest possible denominator.

Frankly, I'm beginning to think that your attitude is a big part of the problem.  Phrases like "you people" are offensive and derogatory to the hundreds/thousands of very different people with different views and abilities, united in their common desire to make this project a success.  Don't put everyone into one box, or believe that of all these people you are the most knowledgeable or experienced.  Consequently, don't be closed to ideas.  You have made several comments like that, and I believe you owe the community an apology.

Let me put this more bluntly.  If you want people to help, stop getting in the way.  You are valued, and I would certainly like to see the project continue with you.  However, this is a community project.  If you want to make all the rules, then you do that.  You continue telling people to just get on with developing stuff, while complaining at why nothing gets done and how stressed you are, and the rest of us will inevitably leave to pursue other, perhaps competitive, projects.  Or, maybe the project will fork.  One thing's for sure.  LMCE will die unless changes are made to how it is managed, and I for one am not prepared to stay on a sinking ship.

I'm sorry, but it needed saying.

Tim



geekyhawkes

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Re: Letter to the Community: LinuxMCE 0810 - The Cold Honest Reality
« Reply #41 on: June 25, 2009, 08:05:20 pm »
Personnally i really like the orbiter UI and think the Iphone interface leaves a lot to be desired!  That is not saying i wouldnt mind re-skinning my orbiter at some point but for me I am more worried about getting all of my functionality up and running (with the endless help of the guys here!).

If i can be so bold,this thread has raised lots of good ideas, few solutions (mostly due to keen-ness over ability (me included!)).  I think we need to move forward and get some actions.  We also need to recognise that we are mostly a bottom heavy forum / community that is burdening the few with the requirements of the many (at the moment). 

I do honestly think we can move forward, the big 5 know who they are as do most of us here and i think as they do most of the work they should drive what falls out of this thread.  Do you guys want to share the work down in to teams?  As mentioned before I am more than happy to run with Userguide single handed if required and I am sure plenty of other guys are happy to chip in with various sections. 

Even if we end up with teams and some guys do little more than donkey work collecting bits of info or hardware / beta testing code that might relieve some of the burdon on the big 5 and make them feel like the masses (again me included) are giving something back and not just taking.

I am sure MCE will have an up-surge in users over the coming years as peoples needs change, we are at the cutting edge (ish) oh home entertainment yet, and it takes a while to get the word out and have people see past the poor imitations (such as XBMC and Boxee).


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Re: Letter to the Community: LinuxMCE 0810 - The Cold Honest Reality
« Reply #42 on: June 25, 2009, 08:50:29 pm »
I must say I had no idea, that there are really only so few people working on this. On the other hand, I should have figured it out, since at present I wouldn't have the time or the proper focus to do what Thom is doing. This guy is dying for Linuxmce.
This said, I would like to comment on the orbiter. While I can understand that there are a lot of people, who aren't satisfied with the UI, I would like to point everyone to Canon.
In the company where I work, we have 8 digital copy-machines by Canon. They are all different models. However their UI is almost identical. The menus are all the same, the look and feel is the same. So everyone knows where to go in order to get their things done, regardless of the model! For Canon this is a huge sellingpoint, since the learning curve is pretty low, even if you get the latest model of their copiers. I feel the same about the orbiter. No matter what device you use, you can feel automatically at home, though it doesn't look the very same on different devices. Of course you can always argue about looks and you should, but you should not underestimate what is already there.

tmoore

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Re: Letter to the Community: LinuxMCE 0810 - The Cold Honest Reality
« Reply #43 on: June 25, 2009, 09:39:57 pm »
Don't confuse my comment about a clunky interface as being purely about aesthetics.  It's more about the simplicity of use.

I don't have anything against the orbiter.  It's fine for what it is (but would still benefit with some attention).  A real issue preventing Joe Public from using the system is the complexity of configuring the system.  The admin interface needs to be more user friendly.  It's not much more than a web interface to a database at present.  Don't misunderstand me, I'm sure that the object oriented nature of the system is needed.  But, the casual user shouldn't have to worry about all those fields, etc.  I know, there's a wizard.  But it (she) can't do enough and it's tiresome to sit through a video. I think a lot of the complexity could be overcome.  I'm not saying it would be easy, but it is important.

I feel we have got a bit off topic on one subject though.  This thread is about people pitching in.  I believe that the consensus is that there's a bunch of people ready to help, but that two things currently stand in the way:  Management and documentation.

I can't help much with the documentation, but I have plenty of product management experience.  I'd be happy to chair a meeting with a group of Devs and any others who believe that they can contribute to the management of the product, with the aim of discussing and defining a vision and management structure.  Then we can set about the work of improving the system in an orderly manner.  I can advise the management team regarding how to run the project more like a business, not necessarily for money, but with a strategy that promotes the rapid development of a high quality product that will delight a lot of users and the press.  I'm not interested in this becoming "my" product, and I certainly don't want to run the show.  Neither do I think that it should belong to, or be run by, any one individual or a select few.  I am interested in it becoming even more successful community project.

If there is enough interest, I could start by organizing a conference call once we have the matrix of those interested in contributing.  Thom, I feel I need your support on this.  Are you interested?

Tim


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Re: Letter to the Community: LinuxMCE 0810 - The Cold Honest Reality
« Reply #44 on: June 25, 2009, 09:42:25 pm »
...
Frankly, I'm beginning to think that your attitude is a big part of the problem.  Phrases like "you people" are offensive and derogatory to the hundreds/thousands of very different people with different views and abilities, united in their common desire to make this project a success.  Don't put everyone into one box, or believe that of all these people you are the most knowledgeable or experienced.  Consequently, don't be closed to ideas.
...

1. I highly doubt he meant "you people" in a derogatory fashion; the negative stigma associated with the phrase is related to race and religion, neither of which are remotely related. (get it? "remote"ly... orbiter... I kill myself :) )

2. Like Thom mentioned in this post (http://forum.linuxmce.org/index.php?topic=8291.msg55156#msg55156), sometimes there needs to be a hardliner that says, we are going to do it THIS way. I think that's kind of the point of having team leads: the experts can make such decisions because they experience has shown them what will and will not work. The only times I've seen Thom closed to ideas is when he has been in that exact situation. Most of the time, he just says go for it.

3. To me, this project is about having fun. I'd like to start having some more. So... do the core devs have anything to say about the ideas that have been tossed around so far? Are any of you interested in becoming team leads? (please) Do we even know what teams should exist? Is someone already working on the wiki page/skillset table idea?

:Matt