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Total Remote Questions and Comments
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Post 1 made on Saturday October 9, 2004 at 19:44
flipper2000
Lurking Member
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Posts:
October 2004
6
I just got the trial of total remote and pretty positive I will be buying it. Very cool. I have a few questions (some to Don others general).

1. Do you ever plan on making an editor for the skins and or offering more skins in the future?
2. Have you considered making skins via xsl or something instead of a single graphics file so that you could create customized elements and then put them together differently instead of a single big file regardless of the change?
3. Does anybody have any idea where I might find a ccf or total remote configuration file for use with a sony STR-DE825 or at least one that would contain the basic functions required to operate that reciever? I think the "remote commander" that it used was used with other models. I don't have the remote with me and requires a trip across the state to get it so....
4. Can ccf files be incorprated into the macros within the standard skins (I am guessing no here) or is there any potential of that happening in the future?
5. Is there anywhere that people share their custom skins for total remote?
6. Is it possible and how to have a press and hold for a button? It gets a bit annoying to hit volume up 10 times or more etc...

Thanks in advance,

Jason
Post 2 made on Monday October 11, 2004 at 18:09
Don Stratton
Long Time Member
Joined:
Posts:
December 2002
190
On 10/09/04 23:44 ET, flipper2000 said...
I just got the trial of total remote and pretty
positive I will be buying it. Very cool. I have
a few questions (some to Don others general).

1. Do you ever plan on making an editor for the
skins and or offering more skins in the future?

I had plans for it before we ever released v1.0. Unfortunately, we simply could not justify spending development time on it. Griffin makes lots of stuff that works under Windows, but we are first and foremost a "Mac company" so we have far fewer resources for Windows programming than we do Mac programming, and those Windows programmers spend all their time working on updates to older products or writing software for products still in development. Anyone who is familiar with our current skin format knows it is non-trivial (read: hella hard) to work with, and trying to make a desktop app that can handle irregular buttons shapes while stamping them all down in the right spot relative to each other proved tricky.

I will be happy to shower any programmer who wants to make a skin editor with all the Griffin swag they want!

2. Have you considered making skins via xsl or
something instead of a single graphics file so
that you could create customized elements and
then put them together differently instead of
a single big file regardless of the change?

Not when development started in 2001. In time this kind of approach became more obvious, but it does add a TREMENDOUS level of complexity for our humble PPC programmers. I don't see this happening anytime soon.

3. Does anybody have any idea where I might find
a ccf or total remote configuration file for use
with a sony STR-DE825

Have you checked to see if any of your hardware remotes offers "universal remote" capability that may include Sony codes that would work for you? Then you could learn what you need.

4. Can ccf files be incorprated into the macros
within the standard skins (I am guessing no here)
or is there any potential of that happening in
the future?

No, and it never even occured to me. Why would this be beneficial? I find that most users of CCFs are happy to stay in CCF mode, and would like to see me quit wasting time on native mode. The people who use native mode have no use or patience for CCFs, so they encourage me to quit wasting time on CCF mode. I have never heard of a user who wanted BOTH.

5. Is there anywhere that people share their custom
skins for total remote?

As with the half-a-million great ideas I had for Total Remote before it came out, this was defacto killed by the lack of cooperation from the marketing department (who rule the web site), and the people above them in the company are far more concerned about the products that make us millions of dollars a month. Not to give away my sales figures, but Total Remote does not make a million dollars in a month. Not even CLOSE. While I would like to see more support in our organization for Total Remote, I do not in any way disagree with the decision to prioritize a million dollar product with a substantially-less-than million dollar product. It is just harsh economic reality.

Please, feel free to complain to the higher-ups at Griffin and tell them you want a place to exchange skins and device files. This should take all of a DAY to implement, but I cannot get it done. I am sure that if enough users complain about this it will finally get done.

6. Is it possible and how to have a press and
hold for a button? It gets a bit annoying to hit
volume up 10 times or more etc...

We are working on this for v3.0. The only workaround I know of is to make a macro that increments the volume several steps at a time (Volume +10, Volume -10 for example). This is far from satisfactory, and as I said we are working on something functional for v3.0.


--Don
OP | Post 3 made on Monday October 11, 2004 at 23:48
flipper2000
Lurking Member
Joined:
Posts:
October 2004
6
Don,

I guess my thinking on one and two are somewhat interelated. My thinking was using xml/xsl to define the screens in native mode. People could use whatever editor they wanted to create transparent gifs since there are a slew of editors and people tend to like what they are used to using. Also there could be a library of buttons provided by you or whoever.

They then could use some sort of wyswyg editor provided by you to assemble the gifs and assign functions to them. The editor could be written with xml/xsl/dhtml and be web based. This would allow a couple of things. First more then two states could be assigned to a button for instance I was going to mention something like the mute button when pressed simply remains the same image when it may be more user friendly to change the image from say a speaker to a speaker with an x through it. Or say a sound field is selected it could state which sound field is currently selected. Users could also assign event handlers to button pressing. So the multiple press issue could be address by executing the command onKeyDown and stop onKeyUp say. You could probably implement stuff like sliders too.

Since xml/xsl is supported on pretty much any OS you're app (at least the GUI) would be portable automatically to most any platform.

I would also guess that this would extend some other potential markets (them pesky business men expecting profits for work sssseesssh) and possibilities like accessing your home interface like x-10 via the web. Also I thought that using something like xml to define the data would allow updates directly via the web. Additionally you could build in a tv listing feature that would combine a tv listing / search / notification type application that could jump to a program from the interface.

I was also thinking given your company seems to do more hardware stuff (granted mostly mac related) that some custom ir or wi fi emiters from set top boxes like sci atl and various dtv / dvr boxes (I seem to think most linux based systems) would allow a two way interface to your application which would allow some very cool stuff like looking up in the imdb information about the movie I am currently watching. I can't tell you the number of times I have gotten up in a movie to look something up there because I my girlfriend or I said "Is'nt that so and so" or "What other movies was he/she in". Now if my set top told me the station I was watching and/or movie title etc the ppc could connect to imdb and return all that without me getting up and going to the pc etc... You can imagine the possibilities here.

Clearly I don't know your application and it's ability to interface with xml but thought I remember you mentioning something about not currently supporting palm os but planning on supporting it in future (I'm guessing the big issue here is the IR interface not the GUI) but assume that your real forte is IR technology (of which I have zero experience so may be way off base here). Given that assumption I was guessing that a move to xml/xsl would more or less eliminate any gui changes based on platform and isolate the changes to the IR interface only. I do remember someone showing a diagram of the singals that are sent and thought that this could probably be easily described in xml.

-------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

Wow can't believe I had that much to say about it. Reflects my admiration for your application I guess. Did I mention that I thought it was pretty dang cool? I would also like to mention that part of the reason I even downloaded your application to try out is due to your posts on this site. You are clearly very user concious and available to them in a way I haven't seen any other developer. Based on that and the very limited but exceptional use of your program thus far I have mentioned it to a number of other people I thought may have interest in your product. My suggestions are not knocks on your application in any way. They are just due to my mind racing with ideas about it.

--------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

My questions regarding the ccf files were due to my lack of a remote for my reciever. The remote is rather complicated (and one of the big reasons to use an application like yours) and I didn't have it to learn the codes from. My thinking (perhaps flawed) was that I wanted to use someone elses ccf file containing codes for my reciever and then blend that into native mode where I would have created my own macros etc given I have all other remotes needed. I realize that I could get Tonto or probaly convince someone to give me pronto edit and use straight ccf mode but was more engaged in your native mode. Additionaly my thinking was that if someone had created a good macro in ccf I wouldn't have to reinvent the wheel if I simply assigned that to a function in native mode. Finally I haven't found anywhere that anyone shares the learned functions for your application. I would have expected a section on this site dedicated to that.

Regardless this falls under the brain fart category because while I don't have that remote I have a sony reciever remote that has the basic functionality that I require to operate my system and completely forgot it since I moved it to another room that I rarely go in.

------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

I have no complaints and certainly understand the priority of the money makers. I might be willing to build such a thing (a sharing site) but not willing to host it etc. I have already started making a new skin and as you can see by this post (the day I downloaded the trial) I haven't had this app long.

-------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

The several steps at a time (alternative to hold and repeat) is not really what I had in mind for sure. I thought of that too but thought it was not a real good solution and had hoped for something else.

Again thanks for your input Don and I really appreciate it.
Post 4 made on Tuesday October 12, 2004 at 16:02
Don Stratton
Long Time Member
Joined:
Posts:
December 2002
190
On 10/12/04 03:48 ET, flipper2000 said...
Don,



WOW! Let me say it again... WOW! Thanks for all the feedback!

Clearly I don't know your application and it's
ability to interface with xml but thought I remember
you mentioning something about not currently supporting
palm os but planning on supporting it in future

The market for PDA-based remote control seems to be quite a bit smaller than we had thought when we began development over 2 years ago. We spoke to one individual about buying his PPC remote control app outright, so we could then incorporate our audio transmitter trick. That individual declined to sell, indicating he was adequately content with his weekly sales, a number he shared with us. After 2+ years Total Remote has never reached that mark, and based on conversations with other software vendors for Pocket PC I believe his numbers were likely inflated (quite a bit). One of the software guys I know told me his numbers on his top products, and these numbers seem to indicate to me I am reaching about as many users as I could hope to, at this time, under the circumstances. Our development costs and overhead on Total Remote are far higher than most PPC developers, many of which either work from home as a one-man-show or have a staff smaller than our marketing department.

Long story short: I just can't see competing in the Palm space right now. I am not satisfied with our efforts on the PPC yet, so I am hesitant to port Total Remote to any other platform. Some time after the release of v3.0/v3.1 I will take a very hard look at the market and decide what our Total Remote future might be. Of course, I may be overly critical of Total Remote; bear in mind I know EVERY SINGLE THING WRONG WITH IT, and you don't. It kind of colors my view and makes it hard for me to appreciate all the work we have done to date. ;)

I do remember someone showing a diagram of the
singals that are sent and thought that this could
probably be easily described in xml.

I'm pretty sure there is no way a text-based markup language could possibly handle the IR, but I have always wanted a GUI-less "engine" that could be called by other programs, and that would work extremely well with ANY programming language.

I would also like to mention that part
of the reason I even downloaded your application
to try out is due to your posts on this site.
You are clearly very user concious and available
to them in a way I haven't seen any other developer.

Tell it to my "superiors". "They" think I'm a time-wasting idiot for doing this. I come from a "information only helps" perspective, and some of "them" live by a policy of never telling the customer anything beyond what comes in the product manual. Classic case of engineers versus suit dweebs.

My suggestions are not
knocks on your application in any way. They are
just due to my mind racing with ideas about it.

I did not perceive any insult, and I am grateful that you are so interested that you would take the time to articulate your thoughts. The more vocal users like you make it better for the hundreds who read all this but don't take the time to post. It's like a letter to your Congressman; I consider one Total Remote user who posts comments likely represents 100 that didn't post any comments. Your words carry weigh with me!

I have no complaints and certainly understand
the priority of the money makers. I might be willing
to build such a thing (a sharing site) but not
willing to host it etc.

While I have yet to be notified officially, I have been advised that Griffin has no intention of creating our own, due to some ill-defined bugaboo the suit dweebs perceive. Hijacking the PDA forum here is about the best I could do. :/ It is just unfortunate that there does not seem to be a way for users to share skins and device files, since that had originally been a core part of our master plan.


--Don
OP | Post 5 made on Wednesday October 13, 2004 at 00:15
flipper2000
Lurking Member
Joined:
Posts:
October 2004
6
On 10/12/04 20:02 ET, Don Stratton said...


WOW! Let me say it again... WOW! Thanks for
all the feedback!

Yea I surprised even myself with that.

The market for PDA-based remote control seems
to be quite a bit smaller than we had thought
when we began development over 2 years ago.

I would think this would grow over time too though. Also I would think that additional features integrated into it would expand the market.

Any thoughts on two way communication (set top boxes etc)

Long story short: I just can't see competing in
the Palm space right now. I am not satisfied
with our efforts on the PPC yet, so I am hesitant
to port Total Remote to any other platform. Some
time after the release of v3.0/v3.1 I will take
a very hard look at the market and decide what
our Total Remote future might be. Of course,
I may be overly critical of Total Remote; bear
in mind I know EVERY SINGLE THING WRONG WITH IT,
and you don't. It kind of colors my view and
makes it hard for me to appreciate all the work
we have done to date. ;)

I would say your being hard on yourself.

I'm pretty sure there is no way a text-based markup
language could possibly handle the IR, but I have
always wanted a GUI-less "engine" that could be
called by other programs, and that would work
extremely well with ANY programming language.

Sure why wouldn't something like below work? remember I don't know much at all about IR. The info below is not real obviously I am also sure it is not formed as it should be by someone like you. But I am fairly confident that it can be described well with xml.


User defined name here
36
300
50
50/
0000000111110000
Pulse
000000000111110100




Remember xml doesn't actually "DO" anything it just describes something. Now any transformation of the data for representation is possible rather easily on pretty much any platform through many applications. Anybody could use any xml enabled platform to present the data (flash, adobe svg, xsl, xhtml, vb etc....)

Your core would I guess be an api that was xml aware and when called execute the function described by the xml and probably return some xml.

This means you just write the api for each platform rather than using another file format, redesigning the interface etc..


Tell it to my "superiors". "They" think I'm a
time-wasting idiot for doing this. I come from
a "information only helps" perspective, and some
of "them" live by a policy of never telling the
customer anything beyond what comes in the product
manual. Classic case of engineers versus suit
dweebs.

I am well familar with this

I did not perceive any insult, and I am grateful
that you are so interested that you would take
the time to articulate your thoughts. The more
vocal users like you make it better for the hundreds
who read all this but don't take the time to post.
It's like a letter to your Congressman; I consider
one Total Remote user who posts comments likely
represents 100 that didn't post any comments.
Your words carry weigh with me!

Glad you think that way.

While I have yet to be notified officially, I
have been advised that Griffin has no intention
of creating our own, due to some ill-defined bugaboo
the suit dweebs perceive. Hijacking the PDA forum
here is about the best I could do. :/ It is
just unfortunate that there does not seem to be
a way for users to share skins and device files,
since that had originally been a core part of
our master plan.

As I said I would be willing to design it but can't justify hosting it. (would need to be asp platform).

Again thanks for your time, responsiveness and patience.

BTW anybody in particular to contact or just something through your site thanking them for having the good sense to hire someone like you.

Jason
OP | Post 6 made on Wednesday October 13, 2004 at 00:22
flipper2000
Lurking Member
Joined:
Posts:
October 2004
6
Well I think this XML might be more what I intended you to see. Dang html mode rendered the buttons and stripped the gt and lt tags LOL. Anyway this should be what was posted not the funky big buttons that rendered above.

<DEVICE manufacturerid='1'>
<NAME>User defined name here</NAME>
<FREQUENCY units='kHz'>36</FREQUENCY>
<DATARATE units='bps'>300</DATARATE>
<DURATIONINCREMENTON units='ns'>50</DURATIONINCREMENTON>
<DURATIONINCREMENTOFF units='ns'>50/<DURATIONINCREMENTOFF>
<HEADERSEND>0000000111110000</HEADERSEND>
<CODINGTYPE>Pulse</CODINGTYPE>
<STOPSEND>000000000111110100</STOPSEND>>
<BUTTON id='1'>
<NAME>Power On</NAME>
<MESSAGE>0000111000010001</MESSAGE>
</BUTTON>
<BUTTON id='1'>
<NAME>Volume Up</NAME>
<MESSAGE>00001111010001</MESSAGE>
</BUTTON>
</DEVICE>
Post 7 made on Thursday October 14, 2004 at 17:05
Don Stratton
Long Time Member
Joined:
Posts:
December 2002
190
On 10/13/04 04:15 ET, flipper2000 said...
I would think this would grow over time too though.
Also I would think that additional features integrated
into it would expand the market.

We expect the interest in having a remote control with your Pocket PC to expand, but the likelihood of a CIR application being embedded in the ROM, like Nevo, would be what I fully expect to happen. In less than 2 years I predict there will be those who have sold out to a larger company with specific plans for CIR, and those who try to develop a product with more functionality than you might get with the pre-loads. While many people currently buy third-party web browsers and Office file viewers the vast majority of people are satisfied with PIE and Pocket Word/Excel. Expect CIR to follow suit.

Any thoughts on two way communication (set top
boxes etc)

Hmm. Lacking such a set-top box, I have no idea what kind of functionality such a feature would need. :/

I would say your being hard on yourself.

I do that, but it comes from the myopia to working "alone" and hearing nothing but negatives from certain members of this company. Some days I get quite depressed over it. That must have been one of those days. ;)

Sure why wouldn't something like below work? remember
I don't know much at all about IR. The info below
is not real obviously I am also sure it is not
formed as it should be by someone like you. But
I am fairly confident that it can be described
well with xml.

Actually, as a GUI I see no problem with that approach. What I meant to say was that it would be impossible for the IR algorithms and such to run fast enough in a browser to generate sub-millisecond timing. The glory of a hypothetical "command-line" GUI-less Total Remote is it should be accessable by any kind of interface, no matter how relatively slow.

Your core would I guess be an api that was xml
aware and when called execute the function described
by the xml and probably return some xml.

Exactly. That's the idea.

As I said I would be willing to design it but
can't justify hosting it. (would need to be asp
platform).

As a company that still thinks of itself as "Maccentric" there is no chance we will ever use an ASP server, totally for political reasons. We almost switched over to the hosting services run by a very large desktop computer manufacturer, but we backed out when we realized what a bloodbath it would be when our userbase (and Apple) found out. We went with a crappy local ISP that uses Apache on a Linux box for our server. :/

Again thanks for your time, responsiveness and
patience.

BTW anybody in particular to contact or just something
through your site thanking them for having the
good sense to hire someone like you.

Feel free to direct positive feedback to [email protected] and make sure you specify you want it passed on to the Chief Operations Officer and the owner of the company, and it will get forwarded to both of them. If they choose to share it with my R&D manager or myself I'll let you know. ;)


--Don
OP | Post 8 made on Friday October 15, 2004 at 10:23
flipper2000
Lurking Member
Joined:
Posts:
October 2004
6
In less than 2 years I predict there will be
those who have sold out to a larger company with
specific plans for CIR, and those who try to develop
a product with more functionality than you might
get with the pre-loads.
-------------------------------------------------------------
Hmm. Lacking such a set-top box, I have no idea
what kind of functionality such a feature would
need. :/

I was thinking of the two above. Something like integrating programing schedules into the remote. Also having connection to a db containing movie, director, actor info like imdb based on the program or movie currently being watched (ie the set top emiter thing)

I was just generally asking if you knew of a way to get the data from a set top box like a sci atl box and allow a two way interface with an emiter. (ie i would know what channel I am currently on what program was on that channel and what other data about programming was downloaded to it) The idea being an interface through the RJ45, serial port, output composite, output svid or between the cable in and the box so that no hacks to the box would be required and any user could just attach the device. I know that there are apps like XMLTV but this wouldn't help with the "what channel am I on now" issue. I realize this could be captured when a specific channel was punched in but not when scrolling as you would always need to know a starting point (I realize this could be accomplished by starting at a given channel and incrementing decrementing when up down is done etc.)

Anyway..........

Actually, as a GUI I see no problem with that
approach. What I meant to say was that it would
be impossible for the IR algorithms and such to
run fast enough in a browser to generate sub-millisecond
timing. The glory of a hypothetical "command-line"
GUI-less Total Remote is it should be accessable
by any kind of interface, no matter how relatively
slow.

Exactly. That's the idea.

Well this would be overcome with the api which would preload the codes for execution (and only those codes being used for the interface). Then when the id for the specific button was sent it simply fires the code for that id. No matter what method you use there has to be the interface so not sure how that approach is any less effiecient then an image mapped png. I am thinking that an image file that is (3 * n) where n equals number of screens is a lot larger and slower to load than some transformed text and or smaller reused images. Additionally using that approach (png) limits the interface to having only two states for a given button and changing screens is slllooowwww.

An aside is that while a browser may be something to use it certainly isn't the required platform something could be written in vb or java or any other language/platform someone wished to use as long as it is xml capable.

As a company that still thinks of itself as "Maccentric"
there is no chance we will ever use an ASP server,
totally for political reasons. We almost switched
over to the hosting services run by a very large
desktop computer manufacturer, but we backed out
when we realized what a bloodbath it would be
when our userbase (and Apple) found out. We went
with a crappy local ISP that uses Apache on a
Linux box for our server. :/

I understand....


I sent a glowing comment. I did however forget to ask it to be forwarded. Let me know if you hear about it.
OP | Post 9 made on Sunday November 7, 2004 at 10:55
flipper2000
Lurking Member
Joined:
Posts:
October 2004
6
Don,

Ran into this article on line seems I wasn't the only one with that thought. Guess he is only using the dongle though.

[Link: codeproject.com]
Post 10 made on Monday November 15, 2004 at 04:00
tanguy75
Long Time Member
Joined:
Posts:
August 2004
13
Hi there,
I read all your messages carefully -but I might have missed something, my english is not so good-, and i was thinking about an external application to setup the remote (I know this subject has already been talk about on this forum...)

When I read "programming" "multiplatform" "xml" "database" "graphics" "connectivity" and so on, it makes me think to "4th Dimension" witch is a powerfull developpment tool (see www.4d.com).

I know this product quite well, and I "might" "think" about developping such an application. Of course, I'd need some help with contents of files, IR db's and so on (english langage:-), but for the interface, the graphics, the data storage, etc. I could manage this...

Any comments, encouragement, suggestions about programming such a tool with 4D?

Just let me know, here or by email : [email protected]
Post 11 made on Thursday November 18, 2004 at 16:49
Don Stratton
Long Time Member
Joined:
Posts:
December 2002
190
On 11/15/04 09:00 ET, tanguy75 said...
Hi there,
I read all your messages carefully -but I might
have missed something, my english is not so good-,
and i was thinking about an external application
to setup the remote (I know this subject has already
been talk about on this forum...)

When I read "programming" "multiplatform" "xml"
"database" "graphics" "connectivity" and so on,
it makes me think to "4th Dimension" witch is
a powerfull developpment tool (see www.4d.com).

I know this product quite well, and I "might"
"think" about developping such an application.
Of course, I'd need some help with contents of
files, IR db's and so on (english langage:-),
but for the interface, the graphics, the data
storage, etc. I could manage this...

Any comments, encouragement, suggestions about
programming such a tool with 4D?

Just let me know, here or by email : [email protected]

I have sent you an E-mail! I look forward to hearing from you.


--Don


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