Monday, March 17, 2008

Monroi, if you want to talk, email me

Remember the Monroi blogosphere fiasco? It came back to me today.

Sitting at work today, minding my own business, I got a call from Monroi complaining about my "nasty post" about their company. I am not sure it wasn't a joke, but the caller ID was from the same area code in Montreal as the company.

It was sort of strange to be called in the middle of work about my chess blog. For one, I was at fricking work. Second, they obviously did a little homework on me, getting my work number, and she actually made positive comments about my science blog at first. Then she started to talk about my Monroi post. Shucks, and I thought she was going to be a reporter (the 1980s called, it wants its ego back). She said she was from Monroi. At that point I told her that I didn't have time to talk about my blog while at work, that email is the best way to reach me. If you are reading this, Monroi (if that was really you), please email me at bluedevil ~dot~
knight ~at~ yahoo -dot- com.

For the record, the woman was very nice, and I'd be happy to discuss my anti-Monroi post via email with the company. I wonder how much money it would take for me to sell out and remove a post from my blog. I'm not even gonna pretend I don't have a price. If you were offered a million bucks to remove a post from your blog, wouldn't you do it?

Luckily, I didn't take any of the pictures at that post from the Monroi web site, but from my own personal stock of pictures. Plus, since the post is just clearly a parody, I think legally they won't have any way to make me take it down. That leaves two options:
1. Rational discussion in which they convince me I was a bit over the top and that it would be the Right Thing to do to take it down (on the other hand, I would try to convince them that parodies, even if a bit extreme, of companies serve the greater good more than the little guy bowing to corporate pressure--we'll see...I like a good argument).
2. The big bucks.

Obviously, neither 1 nor 2 are likely.

To Monroi, I'd say, "My blog is a tiny blip, if you google 'Monroi' my post doesn't show up for like five-thousand pages. It was months ago, and everyone has forgotten about it. Do you really want to stir this pot again? And aren't there better ways for you to spend your money to ensure the success of your product?"


Anonymous Anonymous said...

To avoid such issues:

1. Post first
2. Post anonymously.

I did both here.

3/17/2008 09:58:00 PM  
Blogger transformation said...

i truly understand. thank you. indicates the importance of your blog rather than a threat to them, although not a major one, a back handed compliment.

quick story. five years ago, i put out a newsletter, The K _ _ _ Report.

morgan stanley was finally notified of what i was saying, two years after leaving there. their lawyer sent me an overnight envelope.

as everyone knows, i now have a much more humble job now, and work at some big mainline retail hardware store, like Home Depot or Joes Zone or such, but somehow my statement that my results there were "Unprecidented nationwide" really irritated them.

their lawyer demanded that i retract the fine print at the bottom of each newsletter, which, believe me had the UFO's, pictures of Martha Stewart gone off to jail, and serious predictions about the collapse of the stock market and financial system. i was right, just way too early.

in the end, in a different capacity than you here, with already concrete and specific events with them, i retracted it.

their lawyer said my statments were "gross mistatement" which they were not, but decided to just change some words and be done. they have more time and money than me. again, very different than you.

they couldnt get money from me, for by then had none, but here i was working at Home Depot in a silly vest or at Joes Zone and they want me to stop???? again, a compliment. little old me.

you are to be envied, and this is now your highest badge or honor. they indeed probably cannot touch you, but were testing the waters. total bravo man.

we love you man. keep at it, please!

warmest, dk

BTW, now they might get an opposite result, and in the spiritual level bring energy to where they didnt want energy, in a poor risk/reward ratio, as you say, previously deep far into your blog and now front page for each of us. :)

3/17/2008 11:11:00 PM  
Blogger Blue Devil Knight said...

DK: wow, SM went after you? Holy cow! That's pretty intense. Dude you really need to write a book--more than a few people in the Wall Street stratosphere would be rattled. Your predictions seem to be pretty solid. I wish I had invested in gold about five years ago!

I'd say it's different from my situation: Monroi is small fries, a tiny interesting little company, with a very strange approach to PR. I guess I could see their assumption: the smaller a company is, the more subject to the vicissitudes of the market (but tell that to Bear Stearns).

3/18/2008 12:02:00 AM  
Blogger Pawned! said...

Let sleeping dogs lay, Monroi. That's what we say in Kentucky.

3/18/2008 03:33:00 AM  
Blogger Temposchlucker said...

Interesting development.

3/18/2008 07:19:00 AM  
Blogger Blue Devil Knight said...

Pawned: Exactly. They didn't realize my blog is essentially dead except for my 'Chess Book Review' videos? For some reason, that Monroi post wasn't on my 'Blog Highlites' page. I think it deserves a spot there, especially now.

Incidentally, looking over my comments at the post, I overreacted in my response to the pro-Monroi person. That is worse, IMO, than my original post, which I stand by as simply awesome.

Tempo: Weird, huh? Calling me at work: WTF?!

I'd love to see J'adoube's response if something like this happened to him. I miss that guy.

3/18/2008 08:19:00 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

As an electrical engineer and a happy owner of a Palm PDA, I have no idea why Monroi needs to charge so much for their one-trick pony. My PDA costs $200 and does a hundred different things, including run Palm HIARCS, Palm ChessGenius, Chess Tiger, all which record games and analyze. I am sure some industrious software engineering type could spend a week developing Palm-based Wi-Fi compatible client/server software for a cheap $99 Palm Zire, which does exactly the same thing as the Monroi.

After asking her some questions, the Monroi president lady once emailed me to explain that there were some power restrictions to the device, and that's what cost so much. She says it took a lot of power to have the Wi-Fi be continuously "on," transmitting moves. I suggested transmitting moves only when a move was made. maybe it's the nature of Wi-Fi that a "sleep mode" is not possible, but I doubt it.

I have not seen anyone in the Boston area using a Monroi. How do they stay in business? BDK, I don't think you have to worry. Based on their PR and apparent lack of sales, Monroi will not be around long.

Howard Goldowsky

3/18/2008 08:24:00 AM  
Blogger Blue Devil Knight said...

Howard: Thanks for the note. It is indeed just strange that such a simple device is so expensive. I know nothing about the technology involved, but it does sound strange that it always has to be in an active mode.

Their strange business practices aren't the signs of a thriving company, so I do feel sort of bad for them. On the other hand, how could someone think a company with such a narrow focus, with so little demand, would flourish?

3/18/2008 08:50:00 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I sometimes wonder about the way PR people think. If they want to have more positive publicity, why not simply sending you a device for free? That would have likely not cost much more than paying somebody to talk to you on the phone. The positive thing is that they did not threaten anything, so may be they want to repair the negative impact of their previous actions.

Anyway, like so many others here I also don't understand their price point. If I add just a little more (relatively speaking), I can get a beautifully made chess board with built-in electronic sensors that keep score for me while moving pieces. That seems to be a much better deal to me.

3/18/2008 10:47:00 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I don't understand Monroi's business model either. You gotta pay big bucks for the device. On top of that, you gotta pay big bucks for the "Monroi receiver," the thing that plugs into to your laptop or computer in order to receive the moves from the device to the computer. And(!), you need to pay a subscription fee to broadcast the games in the internet.

All in all, the DGT project boards may be a better deal. For about $600, you get a package including wooden board, set, carrying case and digital clock. A bit pricey, but a one time purchase. The pieces have RFID chips inside which allow the board to know where they are at all times. A USB cord connects the wooden board to the your PC. Configure your software to your server and you are all set. Nice!


3/18/2008 11:58:00 AM  
Blogger takchess said...

I had the very same thought about J'adoube and Monroi.

I recall him insulting the King's Gambit in 2005. I better give him a call at work.

3/18/2008 02:01:00 PM  
Blogger Temposchlucker said...

If employees surf the web and search for telephonenumbers of bloggers during work then I can understand the pricing of the device.

3/18/2008 06:31:00 PM  
Blogger Blue Devil Knight said...

Scirius and Bill: Yes, the DGT board seems beautiful, and they plan on having a wireless option in the future!

Tak: How dare someone insult the KG? I had forgotten about that. I think everyone agrees, below a rating of 2800, the KG is fine.

Tempo: LOL. Yes, it is a bit excessive.

3/18/2008 06:36:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

When are you gonna show the next clip? Iwant to see some Chernev .
Someone mentioned ufos.Are you guys interested in them? I am fascinated by some of the stories.
I listen to Coast to Coast with
George Nouri . I recommend it to anyone , especially if you like science and science fiction.

3/18/2008 07:20:00 PM  
Blogger Blue Devil Knight said...

Anon: there will be blood got its butt kicked by no country.

Coast to coast ruled when it was Art Bell.

3/18/2008 10:26:00 PM  
Blogger Polly said...

I'm surprised that this has resurfaced after such a long time. I'm disappointed that this is coming up again after almost a year. I thought your post was very funny, and took no offense from it.

I happen to love my Mon Roi. All the time I've saved not having to input my games into Chess Base has made it worth the $$. But then again I played and recorded over 400 games last year.

To anon Bill, you don't need to buy the receiver to use the product to put your games on your computer. An SD card and reader does does just fine. The receiver is for TDs or organizers who want their tournaments broadcast on the net. You don't have to pay to get access to games from tournaments.

I would love it to be more affordable. I know they could make it cheaper if they had it manufactured in China or Taiwan, but they are concerned about it being counterfeited if it's done in the Far East. That's why they continue to only use US and Canadian made components.

The DGT board is a nice product though I wish it was more portable. I can keep score very late into a time scramble with the Mon Roi, but often I have to stop when both players are moving immediately. I wish someone would develop a roll up version of the DGT board. I'd buy that in a heart beat so that I could have all my moves recorded to the very end.

It would be great if a Palm or Pocket PC would be legal for score keeping purposes, however there have been concerns about people using pocket Fritz or some other engine on it. FIDE and USCF have not felt that other devices were safe. I've heard rumors that people have hacked the Mon Roi device to allow for outside engine help.

PS. I am not evil, and I'm not a Mon Roi shill. I'm just a satisfied user of their product.

3/18/2008 10:43:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...


I'm not sure that a hacked Monroi could host such a great engine. My guess is that the Monroi uses a very low-speed processor, which would take its strength away (although it would probably still be a good blunder check tool). I'm also not sure that Canadian manufacturing is that much more expensive than Chinese -- at least not for low volume stuff like chess supplies :). Shipping costs are a big factor.

It would be great if I could use my Palm running Chess Genius, Chess Tiger, or HIARCS, to help me keep score. It's a shame people can't be trusted. During games I still keep score with pen and paper. Then I play over the games on my Palm later. HIARCS running on my Palm TX is about 2500 USCF. It's not as strong as Fritz on a PC, but it's good enough. When I sync up, the games get transfered to my PC. I can also store a database of my games on my Palm.

I also use my Palm as an analysis board when I go over games from books. Instead of having to reset the pieces by hand, I just tap a button. It's also portable.


3/19/2008 08:51:00 AM  
Blogger Polly said...

Howard: You said "It would be great if I could use my Palm running Chess Genius, Chess Tiger, or HIARCS, to help me keep score. It's a shame people can't be trusted." Unfortunately in big money tournament like the World Open or Foxwoods, people can't be trusted. There have been too many high tech cheats.

A number of years ago one of my opponents in a tournament at our club asked me if I minded if he kept score on his Palm. I told him to go right ahead. He was using a little program called Chess Pad. It simply recorded moves and had no engine with it. However he could save his game in pgn format to use later with Fritz.

What impressed me was the time saving aspect of tapping out the move on the PDA instead of writing. He ended out getting a decent edge on the clock on the notation aspect alone.

In a small tournament I probably would have no issue with my opponent using his PDA to notate. However until there is some type of anti-cheating safeguards built into PDA chess software I'd be concerned if I was playing somebody I didn't know in a large money tournament.

3/19/2008 03:04:00 PM  
Blogger BlunderProne said...

I agree with howard... and have designed PDAs for industrial, nedical as well as comercial designs ( Think Treo)... The Monroi doesn't use Bluetooth nor does it use 802.11...instead it uses a variant of Zigbee over the airways because they were scared of hackers tapping into the ubiquitous WLAN WLAN-encryption doesn't work enough.

When I was contracting last year, I proposed an opportunity to redesign the Monroi to price it towards the common man ( 100-150) with some design changes.

No word from these folks. No surprises here.

3/19/2008 09:14:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

BDK, Just because they bothered you at work, I am never going to buy a Monroi product, nor am I going to support any Monroi sponsored event. Did these PR geniuses learn nothing from their tussle with Mig?

3/20/2008 08:28:00 PM  
Blogger Blue Devil Knight said...

We learned Polly likes hers. BP could build a better one, and anon has got my back in a big way! :)

3/21/2008 01:38:00 AM  
Blogger Polly said...

BDK: Please don't hold it against me that I like mine. :-)

3/21/2008 01:46:00 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Any publicity is good publicity.

Your site being one of the nexuses of the chess blogging world, those Canadians probably counted on you blogging about your experience. Free advertising.

Duke looked great in their first-round game, by the way.

3/21/2008 10:38:00 AM  
Blogger Blue Devil Knight said...

LEP: Yes, I've considered that I'm doing exactly what they want. I think it is unlikely, but you never know with those crafty corporate types.

I'm in your pool as BD_Knight or something. If Duke had lost...ouch. Duke isn't very good, just like last year. Every year, for that matter, that I have been here they are weak inside on offense and rely too much on very risky 3-point shots to win. It is an idiotic strategy and they won't get far in the Madness until they get some big strong guys that can get under the basket and make the easy shots.

Polly: it was good to see a little about the actual product. I'd rather have a Playstation 3, but we have different priorities. :)

3/21/2008 01:07:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

transformation said:
"collapse of the stock market and financial system. i was right, just way too early."

Too bad this will never happen.

3/23/2008 08:09:00 PM  
Blogger Loomis said...

I am not surprised that Polly likes her Monroi. If I had a Monroi, I'd like it too. Not as much as I'd like $350, but I'd like it. :-)

Seriously, the problem I see is that nothing else in chess costs nearly that much money. You can get a good board and pieces for like $15. Decent clocks are $50-75 and the absolute very best is about $100. $350 for anything is simply sticker shock to a chess player. Maybe they should have created an electronic score sheet for the golfing community where they are used to paying hundreds of dollars for their equipment.

3/24/2008 11:55:00 AM  
Blogger Blue Devil Knight said...

Loomis: the golf crowd sounds perfect, even their digital scorekeepers are only like 50 bucks. The problem with the Monroi is partly one of demand, like when we used to be forced to buy those damned academic books from Elsevier that are 100 pages long but cost 150 bucks because only three people will buy them. The set of people really involved in in-person chess tournaments is miniscule.

I wonder why someone thought the Monroi would be a good business venture? What was in their head? Was someone high up one of the chess governing bodies an influence on the person's thinking? Why didn't he hire someone like Blunderprone?

It's like a reasonably decent idea in search of a real buyer base.

3/24/2008 12:57:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I'm a bit late on this post but wanted to point a few things out. Although inexperienced (I'm only a "Club" TD) there are USCF-approved programs to notate your games using a PDA.

Here is the ruling:

And here is the North American Chess Association description pageto obtaining the eNotate software (requires Bronze registration, $15/year):

And what topic isn't complete without checking out the stupidity chess politics? Here is the USCF discussion forum link for some color commentary, including comments from NACA president Sevan Muradian:

My suggestion is that one contacts the TD before the event and get it cleared beforehand since using a PDA is so rare.

4/09/2008 12:31:00 PM  
Blogger Blue Devil Knight said...

Thanks, Otis, for the useful links.

4/09/2008 01:43:00 PM  

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