And I feel sad.
Of the many, many tech gadgets I have bought, my Chumby takes its place among the most used and useful. It soldiers away on a shelf in my closet, and has shown me weather, news, the Onion and some awesome webcams for years. I use it literally every day, if only for a minute or so as I am getting dressed.
But that’s about to end.
The company that made Chumbys and operated the servers that run them went out of business last year. Since then, an awesome group of volunteers have kept the platform operational. But according to a blog post in the Chumby community forum:
As most of you know, Chumby Industries went out of business just about a year ago. The current service has been maintained by a handful of volunteers, including myself, and the service itself has been paid for by various entities – the Chumby estate, then the assignee for the assets, and finally a company that does not wish to be identified.
Unfortunately, that will be coming to a halt soon. As of the end of this coming February, the current service will no longer be paid for.
So – what does this mean? Well, if nothing happens, all of the devices go dark, and all of the various services, including this forum the wiki, the widgets, the Control Panel, source code, development tools, etc., all disappears
There is a plan to keep at least some functionality operational, as outlined later in that same post. People are working hard to keep Chumbys operational, but it will depend on a lot of volunteer work and, likely, some donations. It costs around $4500 a month to keep the platform operational.
There is also offline firmware that will allow Chumbys to retain some functionality, independent of the platform. Unless this last gasp effort succeeds, I will go that route. It’s not as feature-rich as the original Chumby platform, but any functionality is better than a brick.
It seems to me that saving Chumby would be a good Kickstarter project. Maybe if the people involved can get the intellectual property rights from the original Chumby developers, someone will look into this. Update: between my first draft of this post and now, people seem to have started looking into this.
I hope someone saves Chumby. Because Chumbys are still very useful. Unlike a lot of things I have bought.