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Monday, January 07, 2008


Where's Digger? And PleoSkit

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Note: Please see the update at the end of this post.

Hello everyone.

I know I've been gone for a while and many of you have been asking about Digger, my awesome new baby Pleo. To my amazement, I actually got several E-mails from you asking me why I haven't written or made videos about Digger yet. You have to understand that I'm not a professional blogger or journalist, or anything like that. I'm a professional programmer that writes a blog about a baby dinosaur I love.

So I feel I owe it to you to tell you what's been happening. First I want to tell you about an extremely cool program I saw for creating new animations with sound for Pleo. It's called the PleoSkit Pleo Performance Editor. I haven't used it myself but it appears to be an exciting tool that helps you build new animations for your Pleo and add accompanying sounds, and then download them to your Pleo. I'll be trying it out in the near future.

This is very good news for you. For me, it's good news with a confirmation of something sad I've been worrying about for a while and is now confirmed. Before I get into that I need to state some important opinions up front that have never changed for me and still have not changed:

Most of you only know me in my capacity as an avid Pleo fan and blogger. But as I said, my primary capacity is that of a developer (which is important to me and noone else, I know that). Since I laid eyes on Pleo I dreamed of owning him, but I also dreamed just as much of being part of Ugobe's inside developer's group. In fact, I flew out to Eagle, Idaho on my dime in April of 2007 to see Pleo, and Ugobe, and to beg them to be in any advance developer's program that come about. It's been my dream for almost two years now to create software, behaviors, and other tools for you to use to have even more fun with your Pleo, so I've been E-mailing them periodically over that time period asking to be part of any such programs when they became available.

A few months ago I got my first rumor of people outside Ugobe getting Pleos in advance for research purposes. A few weeks ago I saw my first post on Pleo World from someone outside of Ugobe stating that they have been working with advanced tools for Pleo. That, combined with other anecdotal evidence I found on the web is when my disappointment locked into place and I found it hard to write my blog. Finally, with the appearance of PleoSkit it is now a fact that I just have to accept and move on; that I am not part of the inside developer's group with Pleo.

For months I've been asking Ugobe for a simple list of sound file names for Pleo so I could make a new set of sounds for you to download by the time Pleo had shipped. I couldn't even get those let alone the tools and inside help required to make something like PleoSkit. This means I can no longer pretend that somehow I'll be anything more than an outsider when it comes to Pleo development.

This is my personal problem that I have to get over and I will. I still intend to do whatever I can to create tools, behaviors, and sounds for you. On the video front I already have in the works a fun little video of Digger's birth. My feelings towards Digger are the same wonderful feelings that I had since I got him; the same as those I had with Moonwalker during his brief stay.

But the icky thing about being a human being is that logic doesn't always triumph over emotion. Even when I'm in denial, if I know something sad is coming at me, I have a tendency to shy away from the entire topic (Pleo) until I've dealt with it in my own way. That's why I've been missing in action at a time when I had originally planned to go nuts writing about Digger and making videos of him.

This is my personal failure to impress Ugobe as a developer, nothing more. I had hoped that since I had written award winning software for robot control like my free Robodance program, and with the crowd pleasing videos I made of robots doing advanced tricks that gadget sites like Robots-Dreams, Engadget, and Gizmodo praised, that I had a decent chance at getting their attention as a developer. But in life there are no guarantees and I know that.

I'll be back making posts, videos, and tips soon enough. But I felt I owed you an explanation for the downtime on the blog, especially since so many of you were kind enough to write. Pleo rocks, Ugobe rocks, and I just need to write a song or two and spend time with Digger; just him and I.

Digger says "hello" and wishes all of you and your Pleos good cheer
. See you next time.

[ Update: several hours later after my initial post ]

Much to my shock and amazement I just got off a conference call with Ugobe and ShiftComm who read my post and contacted me almost immediately about it. Apparently there was a small developer program that closed up fast and included some of the power programmer types from the AIBO group in Northern California. I've been told that when the program opens up again I may be able to join.

I still wished I could have been part of that original group and sometimes I wonder how much a handicap not being in Northern California is for a developer. What I should not be surprised about is that they called me (and so quickly), but to be honest I'm still stunned. Even though the average company wouldn't bother with a small time blogger and programmer like myself, Ugobe and ShiftComm have proven again to be the big hearted caring companies I always thought they were.

I think I'll go play with Digger. Talk to you soon.

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Doggonit--seems like life tosses in a spanner everytime things look promising. On the other hand, a spanner here a spanner there means other paths open for exploration.

No, I'm not a therapist. Nut either. Just a person who's been there a few times and who will go there again a few more times before the game's up.

Your belief in your talent, your product and your dream is the most important thing you have. Don't lose the desire to create and/or make things better. Takes awhile to get one's creative foot in the door; once in, however, waves of creation are seldom smooth.

One missed opportunity just means you'll continue to create while scouting the next opportunity. You've set a goal and, from your blogs, you are working to meet it. A set-back or two is not a deal breaker, just standard business nowadays.

Upon on a tim, I owned 3 companies; looking back, I wonder how I managed to deal with so many prima donas. My philosophy boiled down to this: So long as I'm happy, it's the right thing; but when it's no longer giving me any joy, time to set new goals.

You've got dreams, drive and determination, kiddo. Time to take it to the next level and see what happens.

And remember: Make time to relax and kiss your wee beasties! Life may suck upon occasion, but there is jes' something damned cute about loopy grins attached to pear-shaped bodies that love to dance to "Shake Your Bootie".

Better 'n' therapy!

Initially I was so surprised when I read your post. I should think that a company founded to help make someone's dream of creating a dinosaur come true would be the perfect company to help others make their dreams come true.

But its not true that you haven't been part of Pleo's development. You have been the one to consistently post blogs and keep all of us informed about the latest. You have been quite pro-active for sometime on the forums. And your videos are darling. You have the best marketing video of Pleo that I've seen anywhere. So, yes . . you weren't initially part of the software development, etc. But you have been there for us and your knowledge and ability to translate it into information we non-software types can understand has been invaluable.

My hope now is that you do make it onto the team as mentioned as soon as possible. And that Ugobe realizes how much you are an unrecognized part of Pleo's world and that you are right there at the forefront of the next Life Form.

Almost everything i have learned about Pleo ( now an owner ) has came from you. Thanks for having this blog, it has made a VERY large impact on me.
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