Hofstadter’s Law

Hi Everybody,

Hope all’s well out there.  Ever hear of Hofstadter’s Law?  It predicts that your next project will take longer than expected, even after taking into account Hofstadter’s law.  Hofstadter was clearly onto something, but his self-referential law doesn’t get nearly enough attention, especially in the realm of software development, because let’s face it — software is the worst!  So feel free to credit him when your next software project is late.  (Or super late…)

In the spirit of H’s Law, the 2nd release of the Birdfeeder application is finally ready.  We added recording capability to the Birdfeeder application.  You can now take videos, which will be uploaded to Google Photos, and if you like, Vizy will automatically take videos when it defends your birdfeeder.  You know, so you can make sure that the food that you’ve so generously provided makes it to the intended recipients.

We also added some more camera modes (see video example) and fixed/improved various issues/things.

Go ahead and update.   Full documentation will land later this week, but the new controls/features are fairly self-explanatory.  Nerdy note:  while Vizy is recording video within the Birdfeeder application, it’s also encoding a video stream for your browser to display, encoding the recorded video stream at full framerate/1080p, and running a Tensorflow network!

If you have any questions/issues, meet us over at the forum.

The Vizy Team

With or without foam?

Hi Everybody,

The Zim Alabama is docked in Yantian Harbor, Shenzhen.  There’s a Starbucks less than a mile away from the dock.  I’m picturing the captain walking down the gangplank thing, strolling over to Starbucks and ordering a Venti Soy Latte (with or without foam, I’m not sure.) He gets a 20% discount because of his maritime attire (he’s wearing his captain’s hat of course.)  He then sits and enjoys his tasty beverage while our enclosures are loaded on his boat…

Confirmation that the enclosures are onboard and headed to the US should come next week.

It’s been a quiet week, just the hushed sounds of software development.  If you haven’t done so already, go ahead and update your Vizy software and check out the Birdfeeder application.  The docs were posted on Monday.  We’ll be releasing another update next week with some bug fixes and video recording functionality added.  Have a fantastic week!

The Vizy Team

Manufacturing(ish) update (week 8)

Hi Everybody,

Hope all’s well out there, just a quickie update this week.  If you’re just tuning in, we’ve been waiting on the 2nd shipment of enclosures, which are waiting for a boat to come along to take them to the US.  And we’ve secured booking on a worthy vessel, but it won’t sail until later this month with an expected arrival on November 20th.  (And why do they call it “sailing”?)

In the meantime, we’ve been putting together Vizy subassemblies so that we can kick things into a higher gear when we do get the parts.   And we’ve also made good progress in the software department — in particular, the Birdfeeder app.  Well… as of yesterday, it’s up!  You can update and give it a try if you like, but we’re a bit behind schedule and don’t have documentation ready yet, but who needs documentation?   (The documentation will be ready Monday 10/18.  Using the Birdfeeder app is fairly straightforward, but getting the Google Cloud configured might be challenging without some guidance.   Still, several of you have given the app a try and initial reviews are positive.)

We’ll keep on rolling with the software development (and documentation) next week.  Please share your initial Birdfeeder impressions with us and the community over at the forum, but maybe wait a few days for the documentation.  See you soon!


The Vizy Team

Manufacturing(ish) update (week 7)

Hi Everybody,

Not much manufacturing took place this week because we’re waiting for parts, but along those lines, we were able to get more information on our boat.  We’re booked on the Zim Alabama, a handsome vessel with a carrying capacity of 71112 long tons, which should be plenty of capacity for our enclosures.

As you can see I spent some time geeking out over this — you can actually track its journeys online (You have to pay to get the most recent information — maybe there’s a tier where you can goose it to go faster?  We’re investigating…)

This week we made significant progress with the software, checking off several tasks required for the Birdfeeder application.   And we did some fleshing-out of the documentation (check out the new “Digging deeper” section.)  Some have asked about the Power Board API, you can check out the docs here.

That’s all for now… next week will continue our focus on software and documentation.   Many thanks for your patience.

Share your thoughts, concerns, and questions below, or let’s meet over in the forum and discuss.


The Vizy Team

Manufacturing update (week 6)

Hi Everybody,

For those just tuning in, we’ve shipped backer rewards up to backer number 275, with some fulfillment hiccups (see below).  But we’ve run out of enclosures, so we’re waiting for the 2nd shipment of enclosures, which requires a boat, and boats are hard to come by these days.

So… do we have a boat?  Short answer: yes, and the shipment is booked on a boat with an October 18 departure and a November 20(ish) arrival.   (Yay?  Not exactly great news…)

Longer answer: do you ever call the help line of a large company, and the person on the other end says they can’t answer your question or solve your problem, so they transfer you to another department?  And that new department can’t answer your question either, so they transfer you to yet another department?  This can go on and on…  Sometimes you wind up being batted back and forth between two departments, each of which assures you that the other department has the information you so desperately need or can solve the problem you so desperately need to solve.  Is there a word for this?  I call it frustrating as heck.  It’s what we’ve been facing — the enclosure vendor says that they can’t pay freight until they get a booking on a ship.  And the freight forwarder says they can’t get a booking until freight is paid.  Freight costs have increased substantially since we paid freight back in November 2020 (about 200%), which might be part of the rub.  At any rate, we’ve been able to straighten out the freight charges and we’ve been told that the enclosures are booked on an October 18 shipment.  October 18 is not quite good news, but maybe it’s the best possible news under the circumstances.   So with the Thanksgiving season, pumpkin spice, and hope in the air, we may finally get our enclosures — a full year after we ordered them.  Maddening…  and this assumes there won’t be additional delays.  It’s frustrating for you, the backer/customer, and it’s expensive for us.  Here’s really hoping we get past these supply chain issues soon.

Software and scheduling

In the meantime, we’ll be pushing software and documentation.  We’ve revised the live schedule to reflect both fulfillment and software efforts.  Much of the application development will entail bringing over older code, cleaning it up, and getting it to run with the latest code and libraries.   Since much of the code is already written, it will help speed things along, but software schedules can be tricky.  Any changes in the estimates will be reflected in the schedule and future updates.

The application poll is still gathering votes — please weigh in if you haven’t already.  The initial results aren’t too surprising — Birdfeeder,  Motionscope, Astronomy, and Pet Companion (in that order).  And feel free to suggest other applications either by replying to the thread or creating your own topic.  This will inform our efforts after we develop these initial applications.  Here at Charmed Labs, one of our favorite ideas is an application that estimates where your golf ball will go based on its trajectory immediately after being hit — you know, for a Vizy-based golf simulator.  Another favorite is an application that will estimate the speed of passing cars and take a picture of any speeding car’s license plates and upload the pictures to the cloud for others in the neighborhood to see (and possibly shame) — an automated neighborhood speeding vigilante if you will.  Let’s meet over at the forum and discuss more.

Fulfillment hiccups

After much back and forth with Amazon, we got almost all of the fulfillment orders unstuck, except for a few, which we resubmitted.  This gave us the confidence to upload the rest of the batch.  So if you’re a US-based backer with backer number 136 through 275, you should be receiving an email soon from Amazon.  Thanks for your patience.

That’s all for now… see y’all next week!


The Vizy Team

Manufacturing update (week 5)

Hi Everybody,

Hope all’s well out there.  When we left off last time, we had uncovered a delay in the enclosure shipment. (We brought in the first 250 enclosures via air and had them send the rest via boat — it’s the shipment via boat that’s delayed.)  We’ve been pushing the vendor and the freight forwarder this week, but the enclosures are still in China waiting to get on a boat.  There’s a long line of container ships waiting to unload in Los Angeles, which means that there are fewer container ships in China to take products to the US.   It’s a conveyer belt of sorts.  We’ll continue to push and be the squeaky wheel, so to speak…

Amazon fulfillment stall

OK, more shipment delays — Amazon seems to be having issues shipping several of the rewards.  About 15 rewards have been flagged and have stopped advancing in the system.  We’ve submitted a case to find out what the problem could be.  We’re reluctant to upload more orders until we find out what the problem could be…   but we expect this to be resolved next week.   Amazon is shipping all rewards to US backers.  Many US backers have received their rewards (roughly 90% of backers with backer numbers less than 275).  Our international fulfillment partner has reported no problems with shipping/fulfillment, so if you’re a backer outside the US and your backer number is less than 275, you should receive your reward soon, if you haven’t already.

Forum and docs

Please go to vizycam.com and check out our forum where we have an application poll that we would like you to weigh in on.  The discussion forum is open, so feel free to register and start a discussion topic.

The docs that describe how to get started with your Vizy and accessories are online.  We’ll be adding to it over the coming weeks.  A wise person once said that you’re never done with documentation…   The coming weeks, in particular, will be a busy time for us with documentation.

That’s all for now — we’ll be back next week with another update.


The Vizy Team

Manufacturing update (week 4)

Hi Everybody,

Hope all’s well out there!  Here’s where we are:

If your backer number is 275 or less, your reward is on its way to you, and you should receive an email soon (hopefully within the next week) with tracking information.

There have been some significant delays from our fulfillment partners.   If you’re outside the US, your reward hasn’t shipped yet because there is a company-wide delay and backlog.   We’re digging into them trying to get them to ship these packages to you as soon as possible.

If you’re within the US, Amazon will be shipping your reward, and they seem to be able to get shipments out without much delay.   We assume that at least some of you have already received emails.  (yes?)


Houston, we have a problem…

Those of you who have been following along may remember that we had a heck of a time getting the plastic enclosures, and we expedited the first 250 via air so we could get manufacturing started.  The remaining enclosures shipped via sea to arrive about 3-4 weeks later, which we reasoned would be around the time that we needed them.  Well… when we checked on their status last week, we found that they hadn’t left the port in China.  (ouch)  It turns out that they are waiting for a boat.  We’ve been told that there is a shipping backlog in China and that there isn’t enough available physical space available to ship products to the US.   So it appears that the supply chain issues these days are wide and varied and nearly impossible to avoid.

What does this mean for you the backer?  Sometime next week, we will run out of enclosures and we will need to stop manufacturing Vizys and wait for enclosures to arrive.   We may get space on a boat tomorrow and they will arrive in 3 weeks for a roughly 3-week delay, but we simply do not know.  So if your backer number is 300(ish) or more, the delay will definitely affect you.  We’ll keep you posted.

On the positive side, the extra time will result in more software and documentation being available when your Vizy arrives.   Thanks for your continued patience.

Back next week…


The Vizy Team

Manufacturing update (week 3)

Hi Everybody,

Hope all’s well out there!  Here’s where we are:

If you’re a backer with a US shipping address, and your backer number is 128 or less,


if you’re a backer with a non-US shipping address, and your backer number is 169 or less,

your reward is on its way to you, and you should receive an email soon (within the next week) with tracking information.

Our goal for next week is to send all rewards for backers up to and including 270.

Sappy thought of the day:  just think, if you will, about all of the steps between an initial spark of an idea and then that idea turning into a product, and then that product shipping to the very first customers. That’s a lot of steps!  Thanks for being a part of the journey, and we’re so excited to be shipping the first Vizys to you!

Back next week!


The Vizy Team

PS: We have several backers who haven’t given us their shipping address.  If you didn’t receive an email asking for your email address, please send your shipping address info to Kelly ([email protected]).  Specifically, if you are backer number 18, 23, 45, 52, 69, 75, 108, 119, 130, 154, 182, 197, 232, 235, 242, 259, 307, 318, 327, 336, 338, 343, 359, 364, 398, 399, 417, 420, 457, 462, 463, 469, 477, 479, 498, 508, 510, 517, 525, 528, 534, 537, 539, 543, 549, 551, 558, 566, 579, or 580, we don’t have your shipping address!  If you’ve already sent to Kelly, please disregard — thanks!

Manufacturing update (week 2)

Hi Everybody,

Has it been a week already?

We’ve spent the last 10 days smoothing out any wrinkles in manufacturing and modifying/improving our processes.  A very wise person once said that birthing new products is often painful and sometimes messy…

At this point, we have enough experience with manufacturing Vizy and its accessories to say with confidence that we’re the world’s most qualified Vizy manufacturers!   And Vizys are indeed moving off the manufacturing line here at Charmed Labs with increasing frequency.

We are close to having all Vizy products in sufficient quantities for our first shipment to Amazon, but we won’t get the shipment out this week — that will happen next week.   This means that the first backers will start receiving their Vizy’s the week of September 13.   We’ve updated our schedule to include the additional week.

Last chance quickie reminder: If your shipping address has changed since the Kickstarter, or since you placed your pre-order, please email your new info to [email protected] and we’ll take care of it, but please do so within the next few days!

The Vizy Team

PS: Also, last chance — if you want to add to your reward and still get free shipping go to vizycam.com/shop — here you’ll find all Vizy packages and accessories.  Use the same shipping address that you gave us in the rewards survey and use the coupon code KSFREE — this way we’ll automatically add the items to your reward when it ships.

If you have any questions, please email us at [email protected]

Manufacturing update (week 1)

Hi Everybody,


Manufacturing has begun!

There is an extra step that wasn’t reflected in the schedule — namely, we need to send the products in sufficient quantities to our fulfillment partners (Amazon and Amplifier) and they will be shipping the rewards to you.   That extra step will add a week, which has been reflected in the schedule.


We are going to start giving weekly updates to give y’all a better estimate as to when you will receive your reward.  The first backers will start to see their rewards the week of September 6.


Back next week!


The Vizy Team


PS: If you want to add to your reward, go to vizycam.com/shop — here you’ll find all Vizy packages and accessories.  Use the same shipping address that you gave us in the rewards survey and use the coupon code KSFREE — this way we’ll automatically add the items to your reward when it ships.


If you have any questions, please email us at [email protected]