Sunday, May 17, 2009

First Post

Not just the debut post for this particular blog, but my first blog posting ever! This posting fits into the "trial" category, because not even the Pandora project could escape the grip of the global economic crisis.

On the 30th of September 2008, when the credit crunch began to bite hard, the frantic process of pre-ordering a Pandora began. What seemed like only a few hours, the entire first batch was sold out. Despite the constant media doom and gloom and the fact that my job was recently credit crunched, it was a great sense of relief to finally have the chance to have a Pandora in hand. At this point I believe the estimated delivery date was March or April.

It did not take too long for those who pre ordered to feel anxious. Bizarrely, the bank accounts used to hold the payments for pre orders decided that the sudden large amounts of money being poured in was suspicious. Upon further investigation that the money generated were investments for a small machine that has yet to exist being developed by band of developers and an online community was deemed too risky (particularly payments made by credit card) for the banks involved. As a result the Pandora team was forced to refund everyone who had pre ordered, but also promising to honour the original pre orders. During a period where banks would do anything to get their hands on cash, it seems ironic that the banks involved in this scenario behaved in the way they did.

Predictably the Pandora forums went into melt down with heated discussions raging about what went wrong, why and what was going to happen next. This episode alone was enough for some to give up on Pandora completely. Further more, about a month later it began to emerge that to re-order the pre-order could only be done by direct cash transfers or cheque, and thus leaving no security of the payments what so ever.

This was to prove a stumbling block for me, as at that point I had found a new job overseas. For security, my bank had provided me with a USB device to hook up when making direct payments over the net, thinking that this was optional I left the device in the UK. Cue heavy cursing of said bank. I had no choice but to ask my dad to pay on my behalf. Normally this kind of thing passes over smoothly, except this time my dad decided that this is his investment and that a thorough background check was required. Having consulted his sources usually best suited for investing in shares, he came to the conclusion that the Pandora project "was probably run by spotty teenager who will disappear just as soon as the money arrives". After some gentle reminders that this was my money to lose, the transfer was eventually made. Having followed the Pandora project for nearly a year, I decided that if this was going to be a scam, then this would have to rank as one of the most convincing in a very long time.

However what I did overlook is that scams are not the only way to lose money.
Many projects with the best intentions have failed to become anything more than vapour-ware. The Pandora project itself seemed very close to disappearing for reasons beyond the developers hands as various suppliers were badly hit by the falling economy. Most notably the supplier of the nubs went bankrupt, this would prove quite costly despite the company being bought up. The Pandora team paid the original company the fees for manufacturing, however this was not forwarded to the factories, despite the new company being able to manufacture the exact same nubs, the Pandora team had to pay again the manufacturing fees. There were many additional supplier issues, and these have affected the delivery date of the Pandora pushing it now (optimistically) to July. Trial of patience anyone?

Until then, its this blog, one or two other related projects and the good old GP2X to keep me busy.

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