I am happy to announce that version 0.8.0 of the Charmed Quark Controller has been released. CQC is a distributed home/home theater control and automation system, based on commodity PC hardware and the Windows W2K/XP operating systems. It is fully distributed, allowing any machine on the network to control devices and any machine to display control and management interfaces. This is the 3rd public beta release, and it is the first in which major new features was not the primary focus, but instead it has focused on responding to user feedback, improving the plumbing, dealing with nagging bugs and nitpicky inconveniences, and just generally dotting the t's and crossing the i's. In actual fact, this kind of work is considerably harder than blasting out major new features, but it was the necessary next step down the path towards the 1.0 release. 0.9.0 will be the first '1.0 release candidate', so from here on out, the emphasis will continue to be on increasing the robustness and usability. Though this was not a major feature release, it didi entail some pretty massive efforts, and provides some nice new stuff. - Service based backend. In previous versions, the CQC server applications ran under an 'application shell' which was just a standard application. So you had to log on and run this program in order for CQC's backend functionality to be available. As of this release, CQC's application shell runs as a Windows Service, so it is available at all times when the computer is running. This is a serious improvement in the usability of the product. - Generic Driver. The generic driver introduced in the previous release has been significantly expanded, and is now capable of handling a much larger number of devices. The generic driver allows you to describe the protocol of your device in a text file, and it will use that file to manage communications with the device. It supports pretty elaborate, two way control, and will improve even more in the next release. - New devices supported. A couple of adventerous users have jumped in and used the new generic driver to provide support for some new devices. These are the Denon 3800 DVD player, Extron Crosspoint matrix switchers, the Sharp XV-Z9000 DLP projector, and the CK1610 contact closure module. A protocol file was done for the Lexicon MC-12, but late changes in the protocol language invalidated it and it has not been updated yet by the user who is doing it. It will probably get into a subsequent 'point' release. This generic driver is very much a key to getting wide device support into CQC, because only the 'flagship' type products need dedicated C++ drivers now (and even they can often be controlled well enough for day to day control via the generic driver.) - Standalone Interface Viewer. This program is a dedicated viewer for user drawn CQC interfaces. It is the only program that 'limited users' can run, so it was important to get it into place. - System admins can now set a default interface for users, which will come up when they first log onto a particular machine. For limited users, this is the only interface they can see, and they cannot open another, so they can only access functionality on this interface, or other interfaces that it links to. For other user the admin can set this default to a 'hello, new user' type of interface, to explain to the user what is available to them and so forth. Admins can also set logon time limits for users now. - Macro improvements. The macro system was much improved. You can now pass in parameters to macros, which massively increase their flexibility, since you can write generic macros which do things based on the parameters that are passed, thus significantly decreasing redundant macro code. - ORB rewrite. Though this is a technical 'plumbing' sort of change, it was a massive, mind-melting effort that very much increases CQC's scalability and the smoothness with which it can carry on many different remote tasks at once. Other than that, all the work was on bug fixes, stability improvements, an usibility improvements. If you have tried CQC in the past, you will find that this version is becoming quite stable, and is well on it's way towards the required 1.0 goal of 'it just works' status. So feel free to drop by the web site and read up on CQC and what it can do for you. The beta is available for free download, with no time limits or protection mechanisms. The web site has also been much updated to reduce the 'geek factor' and to present very simply on the main page just the major features, and all the other verbiage moved out to linked pages. Hopefully this will provide a less daunting initial visit for users, and will get them as quickly as possible to the big picture information that they need. And drop by our recently updated forum and give us your comments. The forum was upgraded from UBB Classic to UBB.threads (the mySQL database based version), so it is now searchable and has much better performance. A link to the forums is at the top of the main page. Thanks in advance for your interest and comments.