[Coco] Fest Chat Response/SuperBoard Update (WARNING: LONG POST)

Mark Marlette mark at cloud9tech.com
Fri Apr 6 06:33:35 EDT 2007


Thanks Jim. Everyone doing just a little bit helps.

Look at the programs this year. Diego's Asimov Awards programs. 
Sockmaster's newly released work. All killer work! Look at what still 
can be done on this computer.

Still amazes us right? Yep.


At 4/5/2007 11:07 PM, you wrote:

>Mark and Boisy:
>I understand the frustration that you two deal with in regards to 
>running a business - I've been there and done that myself.
>I hope you both understand the frustration that some may feel with 
>regards to the Superboard taking a long time to develop, but I hope 
>it does not dissuade you both from pressing on with the project.
>I have down payments on two boards and I for one will patiently wait 
>for the project to complete.
>I realize my involvement with the CoCo has not been all 
>that   great, but the recent incident with Diego risking everything 
>to go to the Fest as given me new inspiration to get serious with 
>the CoCo and do something creative with it.  I really want to have a 
>CoCo running a Superboard, so I for one will wait until C-9 delivers.
>PS: Boisy - Is there any update for Drivewire and if so how do I get it.
>On Thu, 05 Apr 2007 22:39:09 -0500
>  Mark Marlette <mark at cloud9tech.com> wrote:
>>While away this past weekend in Chicago at the fest, there was a 
>>chat log produced which contained references to the SuperBoard and 
>>Cloud-9. I would like to take this opportunity to address the 
>>contents of that chat log and update the people that were not at 
>>the fest about the status of the SuperBoard.
>>The chat log has been edited here only to show conversations that 
>>pertain to the subject at hand.
>>{1618} Roger Taylor Rodder, the SuperBoard was due 10 years ago. I 
>>truly don't think this will happen. Luckily I didn't make a $100 
>>deposit like so many people did.
>>{1619} curtisboyle Roger - it's a pretty big undertaking (the 
>>Superboard). I have seen partially working prototypes at Mark's 
>>house, but there is a lot of drivers, etc. that have to be done to 
>>get everything fully functional.
>>{1620} Roger Taylor Anytime I was late on delivering, I got hate 
>>e-mails, but I guess since they have delivered work-up-to products 
>>that people think they will eventually deliver, but I dunno fellas.
>>{1623} Sock Joelav - Existing 2M upgrades work just like the 512K 
>>upgrade. The only difference is the MMU bits aren't readable registers.
>>{1622} Roger Taylor One guy reported me to PayPal 3 days after he 
>>ordered something because I didn't reply to his e-mail quick 
>>enough. I retaliated agressively so much that 2 days later he 
>>withdrew the dispute and apologized. How Mark has deals with this is beyond me.
>>{1622} Nick The Superboard sounds great but it does noting for me 
>>that I need for game development. It also doesn't fit a PAL CoCo3.
>>I would first like to say that this past year was a year of 
>>improving processes and making tasks at Cloud-9 more efficient.  For example:
>>1. Boisy and I changed the way our internal sales are handled and 
>>tracked in our accounting process.  This saves us time and allows 
>>us to focus on our respective products.
>>2. Most all of the Cloud-9 products are now tested on an Automated 
>>Test Equipment (ATE) system. There are hundreds of hours of code 
>>written and debugged with hardware that allow me to rapidly test 
>>and find the manufacturing problems. I had seven SuperIDEs that I 
>>were dead, and I couldn't identify the source of the problem.  On 
>>just one of them, I spent over 8 hours of troubleshooting and still 
>>couldn't find the problem. This being a hobby, I can't afford to 
>>throw away almost $800 of product.  Now with the ATE software, it 
>>takes 3 minutes and 45 seconds to run approximately 4000 tests 
>>across the SuperIDE with only 6 nets that I can't test or get 
>>access to. EVERY board has been repaired in under 5 minutes after 
>>it came off this test system. This is true for all of our other 
>>products as well. I had piles of bad boards, and the pile is now empty.
>>These several hundred hours of hardware/software development did 
>>cut into my free time which is spent on SuperBoard development.
>>I also suspended sales so that I could work on the SuperBoard. This 
>>allowed me to do the above. As with any business, sales are what 
>>sustains the life of the business. I had to restart sales after 
>>most all of the stock was replenished. I still can't keep up with 
>>the SuperIDE sales. I have another board run going out soon and 
>>this will then be the final chapter on it's process improvement. 
>>The hand-wired modifications that are added to the board take 
>>longer to incorporate than building the whole board itself!
>>As Curtis stated above, he has seen various prototype while at Lab 
>>North. Don't kid yourself: this project is complex (it ain't no 
>>DVD). We are changing the way the CoCo 3 operates in a fundamental 
>>way (VROM and booting for example) along with many other details 
>>that I don't want to explain at this moment. EVERY product (both 
>>software and hardware) that we have made has paved the way for the SuperBoard.
>>Nick mentioned that the SuperBoard doesn't fit in a PAL form. This 
>>is true, but it reflects the reality that virtually all SuperBoard 
>>customers will have NTSC motherboards.  I have several Australian 
>>customers who have placed a SuperBoard down payment, having made 
>>the switch to NTSC CoCo 3s and realize it for what it is and 
>>why.  I can develop a PAL board but with selling only a handful of 
>>units, everyone would bear the cost of the development and the 
>>SuperBoard has a high enough cost as it stands now. I cannot 
>>justify raising the price of the NTSC version for the few PAL 
>>orders I would get.
>>When you do this as long as we have, you will realize that you 
>>can't please everyone.  That said, our customer base is GREAT and 
>>have shown immense patience.  Now, am I happy that the board is not 
>>done? No, it bothers me greatly; nobody wants it done more than 
>>I.  (Well, there is one other person... Boisy.  Do we feel good 
>>about what changes we have made to make our free time more 
>>Last year at this time I was at the end of my rope, ready return 
>>the down payments and pull the plug on Cloud-9. Boisy basically 
>>told me we needed to either wrap this up or throw in the towel and 
>>do a mass refund.  I was exhausted... but today I feel good about 
>>the company and the state it is in.  Stock is up and orders are 
>>being filled in an efficient manner. The road is CLEAR to develop 
>>the SuperBoard.  Currently, I have 14 orders on the floor, and not 
>>a problem with any of them.
>>I will also admit that the SuperBoard is holding us back from doing 
>>other things with the CoCo. There are so many projects that the 
>>entry level research has been performed on.. items that the 
>>community wants and needs. Don't ask me what they are, just trust 
>>me when I say most of you will fall over to know what they are.
>>Boisy hasn't been sitting on his laurels either. Working with Tim 
>>Lindner, they have added SuperBoard extensions to the MESS emulator 
>>so that he can develop drivers on virtual hardware. This was 
>>discussed at the fest this year as well. Now, this will take you 
>>only so far and Boisy is currently waiting to debug his code on real hardware.
>>So in short, is the SuperBoard not going to happen? I'll let you 
>>guys (sorry Mary) and the CoCo community decide. After being in 
>>business for years and making every fest since our inception, I can 
>>promise you that we aren't leaving, we aren't going anywhere, were 
>>aren't selling our domain name and stock. We are committed to the 
>>CoCo, the machine that made Boisy and I what we are today.
>>As Boisy stated once: Now is truly the best time to own a CoCo.
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