Stealth Player Development

My MicroISV. Where software development and pornography collide...

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Tuesday, May 10, 2005

Upcoming Release for Stealth Player

I’ve been making changes to Stealth Player for the duration of the beta testing. A couple recent thoughts have really caused a break through in navigation. Here are the changes going in for Release Candidate 1:

- Removed mouse shortcuts for media playback navigation. They weren’t working correctly in some cases, most users didn’t get it, and I even started to find it confusing!

- Added keyboard shortcuts to replace mouse shortcuts. Keyboard shortcuts are duplicated on each side of the keyboard for right and left handed people.

- ESC (“Panic button”) doesn’t shut down the application anymore. Instead it hides it and adds an icon to the system tray. From that point a context menu from the system tray icon will allow you to login to where you left off or simply exit.

- Added icons to Navigation tree and buttons

- Gallery navigation and management has been simplified, yet is much more powerful. Before galleries were available by category then by media type and sorted by date added. Now you can filter on category, domain, media type and rating. You can sort those results by date added, category, domain, type and rank.

- The concept of deleted galleries is gone and has been replaced by something better. I liked how keeps track of RSS feeds for me. I don’t ever delete articles; I just check them as being reviewed. Actually, I have the auto review setting so that when I view the page with the links, after I navigate away, it marks all the links on the page as reviewed. The new “work” flow basically goes like this: When a user views a set of galleries, they can open the galleries they want then click the “Mark All Galleries as Reviewed” button. This will reload the page with the next page of galleries that haven’t been reviewed. With thousands of galleries, I needed a way for users to be able to keep track of what they’ve seen.

- The galleries pane will no longer have Open, Archive, Favorite, and Delete buttons. Instead these options will available through a context menu as they aren’t used often. Of course double clicking a gallery will still open the gallery, but no one was using the buttons.

- Changes to home page. I’ve removed the navigation link to the home page. There will be a button at the top of the application next to the back and forward buttons to go home. This is more like a browser’s menu.

- Home page was RTF based file that was downloaded when the application started. I thought this would allow me to create dynamic content for the application. I turned out to be just a big annoyance. Now the home page will host a browser control and connect to a special section of my web site dedicated to the application. This opens up a lot of options for dynamic content, though I have to make sure this meets Stealth Player’s high standards i.e. (no history, nothing written to the hard drive unencrypted, no security implications, etc…)

- The media player pane will no feature a collapsible panel across the top for displaying the thumbnails for all the items in the gallery. Users will be allowed to remove items they don’t like from the gallery. When the gallery is archived, only they items that haven’t been removed will be archived.

- Media player pane’s menu will change. Not sure how it will end up, but with the addition of the thumbnail view mentioned above, things need to change.
- The Open Galleries Pane will get context menus and shortcut keys…Delete and backspace will close the gallery.

- Tool tips are/will be everywhere.

- Still working on the best way to keep Stealth Player hidden, but not so hidden that the intended user forgets how to start the application. The current system seems to have that problem. I may have an option on installation that users can opt out of hidden mode.

- In the future, all galleries will be hand sorted. I’m building an application that allows me to sort through galleries quickly and will plan on delivering about 500 galleries a day…since my crawler app can find about 40,000 galleries a day, I’ll have to put it on a short leash.

- I’m in the process of adding support to bypass checks on some galleries that attempt to prevent my app and others from downloading content….Not that hard to do, but I just haven’t gotten around to it.

- Want to add support to my crawler to recognize non-conforming galleries. Basically it recognizes a gallery as a page with links directly to media. Non conforming galleries have links to a page that frames the media file. This is just matter of writing a little logic, but it not a top priority. With the crawler finding more porn than anyone can handle, I’m not sure if an enhancement to make it find more is prudent.

- Data recycling will be implemented because until Stealth Player makes some money, I really can’t afford the DB space to store information on more than 200,000 galleries. So when a limit is reached, the oldest, lowest ranked galleries will be deleted. Even if I the money was there to keep all records, taking out the trash is a good habit.

- Speaking of trash, I’ve added automatic support for getting rid of galleries that have been removed from the Internet. Basically, when a gallery fails to download for a user, it’s marked. If enough users have the same problem, the gallery is removed and marked for review.

- Oh, support for Win 2000, ME, and 98

I’m not sure if this is the complete list. I believe this will all be done by the end of this month, but because of a coming vacation I don’t plan to release it until late June.


Sunday, May 08, 2005

Beta Testing Going Well

Beta testing has been slow, but going well. I didn’t want to attract a lot of attention at this point and just leaving beta testing to a limited set of people. Feedback has been adequate, but less than desired. On the plus side, there has been no negative feedback (i.e. “This application sucks”). On the negative side, there hasn’t been a lot of critical feedback.

The critical feedback is what reassures me that I can shape Stealth player into something people want and can use easily. Positive feedback is what keeps me going. Many users have been delighted with the application and that of course motivates me to do more.

One issue that keeps popping up in my head…Revenue Model. I intended to make Stealth Player free, supported by revenue of premium content delivered from within the application. I’m starting to get the feeling that it’s not going to work that way. You see, it’s starting to look like Stealth Player may not be for everyone. For those who do use it, the value it provides is worth a small fee. Everyone else that doesn’t see the value in the privacy, safety, and viewing experience that Stealth Player provides, won’t ever download and use it, even if it were free.

So all this leads me to believe that I need to focus on providing a service to those that do see the value in the features of Stealth Player. This means users will have to pay a license fee to use the system. I’m still on the fence about this though.

Please note, that whatever I decide, beta testers will be given a free license for a year.