DMB News March 2007
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Welcome to the first edition of the Diamond Mind email newsletter for the year 2007. Through these newsletters, we will try to keep you up to date on the latest product and technical information about the Diamond Mind Baseball game, related player disks, and our ongoing baseball research efforts. Back issues are available on our web site, www.diamond-mind.com.
We're Still Here!
There has been a great amount of talk lately about Diamond Mind’s future. In case you missed it on the message boards, Tom Tippett addressed a number of your concerns last week. Following is a reprint of his initial post:
It's been quite a while since I've discussed what we've been working on, and I thought this would be a good time to jump in. I won't try to answer all of your questions with this one post, and I suspect you'll have some questions that I won't be able to answer at all, but I'll be on the forum for a couple of hours tonight and will do my best to answer as many questions as I can.
I've done a couple of chats since the Simnasium/DM deal took place last August, but I thought I'd do this as a forum thread this time so there'd be a permanent record for others who didn't participate in those chats and who don't happen to be here tonight.
Last August, I said that my goal was to get the 9b patch finished by the end of September, before we got buried by our busy season, which extends from early October to early April. Obviously, that didn't happen.
As I've said before, among the many reasons I thought the Simnasium/DM combination would be a win-win was the opportunity to hand off a lot of my management and administrative duties so I could focus a very high percentage of my time on product-related work.
The good news is that 95% of that transition is complete and I've been able to focus almost entirely on technical work for the past few weeks. Unfortunately, it took a lot more time to make that happen than I anticipated six months ago.
And you know what? I should have seen it coming and set my own expectations, and those of the DMB customers I was chatting with, at a more reasonable level.
Although each individual handoff went about as well as one could expect, the number of handoffs was large enough to chew up a lot of the time that I was planning to spend on the 9b patch and other improvements to the game. This should have been obvious to me, but for some reason it wasn't. I guess I'd been running the company for so long -- more than 19 years -- that I forgot how many things had to get done for everything to work.
As a result, we didn't get the 9b patch finished before the 2006 Season Disk took over as priority number one. As soon as the season disk was released, we got to work on two projects, the 9b patch and the 2007 Projection Disk.
I'm happy to report that the 2007 Projection Disk is almost done and will begin shipping on schedule (on March 9th). And I'm also happy to report that we're getting much closer to releasing the 9b patch.
I know that you expected the 9b patch to be done by now. So did I. But last month we chose to increase the scope of the 9b project in three ways. First, we decided to do some work on the computer manager that previously had been scheduled for version 10. Second, we discovered a couple of compatibility issues with the new Microsoft Vista operating system that we wanted to address in the 9b patch if at all possible. (Luke is making good progress on that front.)
Finally, Jack Wood has added a large amount of new text to the play-by-play library. His work was going to be one of the main features of version 10, but we decided to include everything he's done to date in the 9b patch instead. This is a major enhancement -- a 40-50% increase in the size of an already very large library -- that we will make available to version 9 owners at no charge.
Our near-term goals are very simple. Between now and the end of April, we want to get the 2007 Projection Disk out on time, get the 9b patch into field test, release the April update to the Projection Disk, and make the 9b patch available to all version 9 customers as soon as the field test has confirmed that it's ready.
We know there are other things you're interested in hearing about, but I'm going to stop at that for now. We need to deliver these things before we can move on the rest of our agenda, so that's our focus.
Before ending this initial post and waiting for your questions, I'd like to address one issue that has been raised by the Diamond Mind community over the past several months. The folks who run Simnasium have been accused of focusing all of their energy into the Total Baseball online game and ignoring the DMB product line.
As one of the people who is directly involved in these projects, I must disagree. Since early October, virtually all of my time has been spent on things that directly benefit the DMB community -- the 2006 Season Disk, the 2007 Projection Disk, and the bug fixes and enhancements that make up the 9b patch. We haven't done a very good job of communicating those facts in recent months, but that's the truth.
2007 Projection DatabaseThe 2007 Projection Disk is scheduled to begin shipping tomorrow, March 9th. It will include more than 1600 players and will be released in both version 8 and version 9 formats. And, yes, it will include Daisuke Matsuzaka of the Boston Red Sox, already touted in the media as possible Rookie of the Year!
If you purchase the 2007 Projection Disk prior to March 31st, you will receive two editions of the disk: the March 9th edition and a free update in early April that reflects the opening day rosters and events from the remainder of spring training. Orders placed after March 31st will include only the April edition.
After the first disk is issued, we'll create a few new players if some long shots make the opening day rosters, and we'll update the rosters and manager profiles to reflect late player moves. But we don't plan to make any changes that would affect the performance of players included in the March edition.
Place your orders now – order online at www.diamond-mind.com, via phone (800-400-4803) or fax (503-531-4006) or print a copy of the order form from the website and mail to the address on the order form.
We thought this would be a good forum to address some of the more common questions that Dayne has been asked lately as well:
What’s taking so long on the 9b patch?
As Tom described in his recent posts on the DMB Forum, it took a lot more time – especially Tom’s time – to hand off the business matters of Diamond Mind to Simnasium personnel than we anticipated. Once that was accomplished, Tom needed to work on the 2006 Season Disk to get that out on time. Since then, Tom has been working hard on the 2007 Projection Disk and, yes, the 9b patch. The 2007 Projection Disk is just about done and will ship on March 9th (yay!). The work on the 9b patch is continuing, mainly because we chose to increase the scope of that project to include improvements to the computer manager and the play-by-play commentary that were originally planned for version 10.
As many of you know, we've also encountered a couple of compatibility issues with Microsoft's recently-released Vista operating system. We'd like to be able to address those issues in the 9b patch if at all possible, so we're taking some time to diagnose those problems. Luke has determined some fixes needed and has started testing them.
OK, so when are we getting it?
We understand that you’ve been waiting for the 9b patch and are working to get it out as soon as possible. We have begun internal testing, and our hope is that we can begin field testing by the first week in April and then release it to customers shortly thereafter. The plan is to release the fixes and enhancements that are already in place as quickly as we can. If any additional work is needed after that, we'll release a 9c patch later in the year.
Since you’ve had to wait on the 9b patch, we’d like to show our appreciation for your patience by including the enhancements to the computer manager and the play-by-play library in the 9b patch. Those enhancements were originally planned for version 10, but we have decided to include all of that work in the 9b patch. This is a major enhancement -- a 40-50% increase in the size of an already very large library -- that version 9 owners will receive at no charge.
Is DMB taking a back seat to Simnasium’s Total Baseball?
I can understand why some may have that impression, but that’s not the case. For one thing, we’ve had some limitations due to the fact that no one other than Tom and Luke is capable of working on DMB code at this time. We’re trying to change that. We thought about recruiting a new programmer to work on DMB, but Luke is more familiar than anyone else and fully capable…who would be better? The limitation in the past is simply his time – he is needed on tech support. So, we’re looking to find some help for Luke on tech support. We’d like to find some people in the community willing to volunteer to do “light stuff” and some contractors to help on more difficult things. Luke will be posting job descriptions and leading that search.
You should also know that since the acquisition, practically all the work Tom has done on Simnasium’s game was also applicable for the 9b patch.
Then why does STB get frequent upgrades while we DMB customers wait and wait?
That’s a fair question, due to the frequency of upgrades at STB, but it’s really an apples vs. oranges sort of thing. Just about every STB upgrade over the past 6 months has been something that our web programmers can do on their own, such as web functionality or game adjustments, while DMB requires different programming skills and Tom’s expertise. In fact, most of the recent upgrades to the online game involved implementation of functionality that already exists in DMB but had not yet been implemented on STB.
Further, there are fewer compatibility issues with an internet application, and testing is much easier and faster. Some of that testing is also benefiting DMB. As a result, we can push upgrades and fixes more frequently on the web side. That’s true of software applications in general – web apps can be upgraded on a frequent basis, but PC apps require new versions. So, it’s normal for web upgrades to be smaller but more frequent, while PC software upgrades tend to be less frequent but much more substantial.
What is the situation regarding Vista?
We heard rumors early on about some of the Vista issues, so we made it a priority as soon as some of you reported problems. Since then, one of Luke’s primary tasks has been working on Vista to see what issues arise with DMB. As noted above, he has determined some fixes needed and will be starting the testing soon with the objective of including those in the 9b patch.
If you are having issues with Vista, please contact Luke (email@example.com) describing the behavior. It would really help if you're able to capture a screen image to include. A way to do this is… while holding down the Alt key on your keyboard, press the Print Screen button. If you're unable to paste it into an email, you should be able to paste it into a Word document which you would attach to the email.
What happened to the DMB ad in Sports Weekly? Are you no longer marketing DMB?
Some have noticed that we did not run the usual DMB ad in Sports Weekly recently and have even speculated that this means we are not supporting Diamond Mind. To the contrary, we are exploring how to market DMB (as well as Total Baseball) more effectively. As part of that effort, we wanted to test the effectiveness of those ads, so we stopped them for a couple of months. If you check the most recent edition of Sports Weekly, you will see that we are now trying larger ads and some different ad copy . (And the ads are the same size as the Simnasium ads, so there’s no “backseat” there!) We are also placing additional ads in the Sports Weekly special edition for fantasy baseball and have done some articles with ESPN.com. The net result is, we hope, better marketing for DMB.
What’s in store for the future? When will we see version 10?
Our immediate goals are to release the 2007 Projection Disk, the 9b patch, and the April update to the Projection Disk. After that, we'll get back to work on version 10.
We also want to increase our capacity to develop new features for DMB at a faster pace. One way to do that is to add to our technical support staff so Luke has a lot more time to work with Tom on product development, as mentioned above. If you would be interested in volunteering to help out on simpler issues or a contractor job for technical support, please review the qualifications that Luke will be posting and, if you qualify, send your resume to Luke at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Why have we not heard more from you?
Well, that’s a good question. First, I never saw the communication as lacking, I guess. It’s only been a few months since we did the chat, and Luke’s here daily and keeps me informed of what’s going on. There were also some strong emotions and concerns surrounding the acquisition, so we thought it might be better to let things settle down a little bit and deliver. So, we were determined to make sure the season and projections disks shipped on schedule and to get the 9b patch out as soon as possible. Since you’ve had to wait so long for the 9b patch, it will include play-by-play upgrades free of charge that were intended for version 10, as described above. We didn’t want to announce a schedule until we could feel confident as to when we could get that done.
Also, I sort of felt like I’d be intruding on Tom and Luke’s space. You all have built up a relationship with them over the years, and I felt like an outsider. None of that is an excuse, and I now realize we should have been more communicative here and will be from now on.
I’m looking forward to building a strong relationship with you in my own right!
- Jim Wheeler