2008-02 newsletter

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2008-02 newsletter

Post by rmeden »

February 29, 2008

Hello Members!

It's been a while since you've heard any news, so here ya go. Judging by the forums and various mailing lists, it seems the service "just works" for almost all of you. Most of the problems are on the application side.

1. Schedules Direct Health:
Simply put, it couldn't be better... more than double our expected count, and people keep signing up! We expected that new user signups would slow to a trickle after an initial surge, but it's a steady stream.

The data service and our web application have been very reliable, and mostly self-managing. When major issues have occurred, they have been detected automatically and quickly resolved, even after normal business hours.

The most annoying problems have been lineup issues, which are out of our control... at least for now (see below).

2. Management Changes:
There have been a few changes to the way SD is run since we've started.

* Chris Petersen has resigned from the board to take on a Chief Operating Officer staff position. This allows us some flexibility in compensating Chris for his time in the day-day business operations of Schedules Direct.
* R. Geoffrey (Geoff) Newbury has joined the board keeping it at 5.
* While all the initial SD rollout work was done for free, a few people are now being paid for SD work, though at well below market rates. Paying a little helps prevent burnout and keeps customer service quality high.

The Current SD board and staff are:

* Isaac Richards, Chairman
* Robert Eden, Treasurer (and developer)
* Daniel Kristjansson, Secretary
* R. Geoffrey (Geoff) Newbury
* Kevin Odorczyk

* Chris Petersen, COO (and developer)
* Robert Kulagoswki, Support Manager

3. Free SD accounts for Approved Applications:
The SD board have approved a new program to grant a limited number of free memberships to Approved Application contributors (about 150 initially). We are still in the process of implementing the tools to manage the program; Approved Application contacts will be notified when they are available. Approved Applications will be able to use the free memberships for whatever purpose they choose, though we encourage them to look for recipients beyond their core development teams to promote participation.

The number of free memberships will roughly be based on the number of active SD members reporting their use of that application. Be sure to keep your application list current so your favorite projects get credit! You can edit your application list via the "Edit Account Details" link on your account page (http://schedulesdirect.org/account).

4. Financial Support for Open Source Applications:
One of SD's purposes is to promote and assist open source projects. If your project could use a grant to further our shared objective to promote Free and Open Source Software, please contact a board member with a proposal.

For example, SD will be sponsoring a booth and intends to give away CDs with Approved Applications at an upcoming Linux conference (http://linuxfestnorthwest.org). Approved Applications will be contacted for inclusion of course.

5. Top Applications:

* 78% MythTV (all variants)
* 13% GB-PVR
* 3% MediaPortal

Note: percentages total more than 100 as people often use more than one application. There are now 36 Applications are on the "Approved Applications" list.

6. Self-hosting:
The Schedules Direct board is looking into self-hosting the data instead of using Tribune Media's Data Direct service. While it is a significant amount of work (more than the initial SD startup), it will offer three major benefits to SD users.

First, it will allow prompt corrections to lineup and program data without waiting for Tribune to change things on their end. Tribune requires an extensive (and time consuming) verification process for any changes. We can be a more flexible; changes can be implemented in hours instead of weeks.

Second, we can augment the Tribune data with custom lineups and supplemental data feeds (faster short-notice updates).

Lastly, we can also provide native XMLTV and simple (CSV anyone?) data formats. We'll still support the Tribune SOAP interface for compatibility with existing applications.

SD believes that it has the resources required to make this change if we decide that such a major structural change is worth the expense.

Ideas and suggestions are always welcome. Feel free to discuss in our forum.

7. Conclusion:
Sorry again for the long news delay; we'll try and do better in the future.

The Schedules Direct Board.
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