Forum members: you count + increased presence in our support system

Ken GraceyKen Gracey Posts: 6,420
edited 2018-02-08 - 00:49:48 in General Discussion
Hello Forumistas,

Two points in this post: (1) Our focus on education includes you; and (2) Parallax forums have expanded support presence on

Parallax and our customers have long-standing roots in hobby, commercial and industrial uses. With the recent focus of Parallax on education and the launch of a new web site that focuses on these particular customers, you may feel overlooked as members of our team, customers, and tribe. I've read those thoughts a few times and you might feel we don't give the Propeller the attention it deserves. Some of you have felt that we quietly ignored Spin, in favor of C (which we used for Blockly).

We must continue to focus on a business segment we can effectively develop. What we do, we must do very well. But we can't do everything sorta well. You also know it's a changing marketplace. For example, free shipping on low-cost Chinese products plus many domestic outlets affect the hobby business. The Propeller is the core processor in our educational business and Propeller 2 will fit right in when it is finished. It takes educational customers to get this project achieved (Chip is in Colorado this week, supervising the layout progress). If we try to appear purely as a semiconductor company our educational customers will also not know how to communicate with us, so you see an obvious lean towards education.

We've reduced our support team to two people, but one of them (Miguel) is now traveling and running some of our courses with Matt.

Therefore we need your help. The support provided by these forums is exceptional and the reason we have many customers.

We are now increasing the visibility of the forums on our web site in an attempt to have more educational customers access your knowledge. I also hope that any of you who have felt neglected by the educational focus start to feel more included by Parallax.

To help our customers find their way over here, Bump added a visual control to the Parallax web site that connects visitors to our five main web sites (Parallax, OBEX, Learn, BlocklyProp and Forums! On the right side you'll see an "offsite links" image:


When you click on it, it expands:


And, you'll also see a prominent Forum link under the Support button. This addition is probably easier to find than the pop-out menu. Together, these two features should drive more customers to the forums.

We are in the beginning of a serious mission right now to train 500 teachers. This kind of commitment has never been made by a company of our size. We are traveling to their locations, running the Professional Development, and giving them each an ActivityBot 360. This costs us several hundred dollars per teacher - and comes with a fairly well-known return to Parallax but not without significant risk.

Therefore, I ask for your support! I welcome your replies below, of all colors, shapes and sizes!


Ken Gracey

P.S. See the link to the Educator Hotline? We're getting a lot of inquiries this way right now (and I answer it with Kate and Matt, in case you ever want to call us)


  • Ken,
    Parallax is really going out there to help educators. Nice to see!

    For the Forums link, with the others, why call them "Offsite Links"? To me, this means a site other than Parallax, which is not what you are meaning. Perhaps there is better title for this? Even "More Info" would be more meaningful.
    My Prop boards: P8XBlade2, RamBlade, CpuBlade, TriBlade
    Prop OS (also see Sphinx, PropDos, PropCmd, Spinix)
    Prop Tools (Index) , Emulators (Index) , ZiCog (Z80)
  • I really like the education focus that Parallax is emphasizing lately. I've always wanted to get involved in education and at least I can watch from the sidelines while Parallax shows how it's done!
  • Yeah, "offsite links" could've been phrased better. Stated that way, they seem to decry Parallax's total embrace and ownership when, in fact, those sites are hosted by Parallax. Ken, sorry man, but you really need to come up with something better than that.

    “Perfection is achieved not when there is nothing more to add, but when there is nothing left to take away. -Antoine de Saint-Exupery
  • Have you guys had your dinner yet? The term "offsite links" is merely a text field which can be changed to something more suitable - encompassing the warmer concept of "embracing ownership". Seriously, the intent is more like you described. This is really an internal phrase that relates to search engine optimization and intentionally bouncing people off our main site to somewhere else, so it's sorta couched in the negatory like you pointed out. It's not intended to diminish the role of our other sites.

    What phrase do you think is most appropriate for that little expand-a-tab thing?

    Parallax Sites
    More Parallax
    Parallax Resource Sites
    Parallax Web Domains

    Can you suggest something better? Help me help us :)

    Ken Gracey
  • ElectrodudeElectrodude Posts: 1,280
    edited 2018-02-08 - 04:15:37
    I don't have a better name for "Offsite Links", but could it be made bigger or moved towards the top or something to make it a little more visible? It took me a while to find it at first.

    Also, it only opens or closes if you click the '+' or '-' character. Clicking anywhere on the gray box should toggle it.
  • So, this is a net downgrade in forum link visibility compared to Nov 28 2017:


    Of course, the site overall looks much better than before.

    It doesn't matter that much to me personally, because I go directly to the forums, and then get to the main site from the links at the top of the forums when needed.
    When I open chrome, the forums are one of the tabs I have open by default.
    1603 x 1005 - 254K
  • Ken
    I like "Parallax Sites" or "Other Parallax Sites"
  • edited 2018-02-08 - 04:42:14
    Ken Gracey wrote: »
    What phrase do you think is most appropriate for that little expand-a-tab thing?
    Can you suggest something better? Help me help us :)

    Additional Resources

    Sounds like more.

    Infantryman's Axiom; Always cheat, always win.
  • JRetSapDoogJRetSapDoog Posts: 790
    edited 2018-02-08 - 06:52:31
    Disclaimer: I've had my lunch, so perhaps the blood is all down in the "engine room" helping to digest it, leaving precious little blood for clear thought. I will say that it took me the better part of a minute to even find that rather dim (grayish) tag on the lower-right of my screen. I just wasn't expecting it there based on the other sites I surf, and it looks a bit like a decorative element. Then, when I tried to click on it in IE11, FF and Chrome (didn't try MS Edge), it wouldn't activate unless I carefully clicked the little plus sign. Hopefully the whole tab/image can be made clickable. Anyway, while I appreciate the programming behind that tab and the nice selection menu that appears once it is activated, it seems a bit too clever or gimmicky and poorly positioned. I hope that when the P2 comes out, there will be more prominence given to the chip and related products in terms of navigation than just the store tab and this kind of odd tab with rotated text located off in the lower-right corner. As for the name of the link (wherever it is and however it appears and works), it certainly can't be called "offsite links" (unless the Propeller assets are to be sold or two separate Parallax websites will be hosted, one for education and one for chips/circuits or something similar), but others have mentioned that. I would guess that having a P2 to complement the P1 would only enhance the credibility of Parallax's educational efforts (and focus) if utilized right. Anyway, the members that regularly visit this forum and the Parallax site at large will generally support Parallax's decisions even if we'd sometimes like to see things laid out differently or whatever. So, we are on your side. Keep up the good work.
  • Ken

    While I respect Parallax and their educational endeavors, I have often wondered what is really being taught to these kids. Is it just electronics, robotics, and programming, or does it actually include creativity, the inventive process, problem solving, and what is really possible if these children examine real world problems seeking solutions with micro-controllers.

    As an adult student, many things fascinate me, but real world applications and solutions have always caught my interest, as well as the ability to strike it rich with a brilliant idea, that can be achieved with a micro-controller (Propeller). :)

    Patents will always exist... Mechanical engineering will always exist.. Electrical engineering will always exist. Perhaps teaching all three of these will lead to better sales.

    Novel Solutions - - Machinery Design • - • Product Development
    "Necessity is the mother of invention." - Author unknown.

  • Why not just "Resources" ?

    “Perfection is achieved not when there is nothing more to add, but when there is nothing left to take away. -Antoine de Saint-Exupery
  • Cluso99Cluso99 Posts: 15,083
    edited 2018-02-08 - 10:14:38
    Yes "Resources" sounds good.

    I rarely visit the Parallax main site as I go directly to the forum. But these "Resources" need a very visible click button. It's no help for others if it's not prominent.

    Not all good looking websites are functional.
    My Prop boards: P8XBlade2, RamBlade, CpuBlade, TriBlade
    Prop OS (also see Sphinx, PropDos, PropCmd, Spinix)
    Prop Tools (Index) , Emulators (Index) , ZiCog (Z80)
  • I've had Breakfast, Lunch, and Dinner.

    I may be a little biased but I love the education push, it's a great direction for Parallax to go. Ken and Parallax have my full support and anything I can do to further Parallax's agenda I will do.

  • T ChapT Chap Posts: 3,990
    edited 2018-02-08 - 16:58:05
    Forum & Resources

    It should not require effort to find the forum.
  • It took me a while to find it. I was looking at the top of the window. I also had to click several times before I stumbled on the little + sign. I interpreted "Off site" to mean non-Parallax.

    John Abshier

  • Thanks for the feedback - expect a revision from us shortly!

    Ken Gracey
  • SeairthSeairth Posts: 2,372
    edited 2018-02-08 - 18:21:40
    How long has that tab thingy been there??? I've never noticed it before! A few suggestions:

    * Move it where it will actually be noticed! Seriously, for english-reading (left-to-right, top-to-bottom) people, the tab is in the absolute worst place to be noticed (look up the F-Pattern).
    * Make the entire tab clickable, not just the "+" symbol.
    * Change the label (everyone else already seems to be working on that one).

    As for the menu option, you all really need to do something about the way that thing works. It is not immediately obvious that you will get a flyout menu. I instinctively clicked on the thing that looked like a link (just as the menu was starting to show) and ended up on the support page. But the support page is organized completely differently than the flyout menu is (and the Forum link is buried at the bottom). I realize this is more of a general usability issue, but trying to find the forum link made the issues painfully obvious. At the very least, consider turning off the anchor underline for the top-level menu.
  • Why not just "Resources" ?

    Agreed. The forum is a major resource. The first question I ever posted on this forum was answered within a matter of minutes. The speed of that reply blew me away. This forum is THE reason I've had success with the Propeller.

    If the grass is greener on the other's time to water your lawn.
  • Personally I don't know why you don't just put "FORUMS" right in between "SUPPORT" and "COMPANY" on that title bar at the top and be done with it. One click and you're in. If you look at other similar type pages that's what they do and it's what I've come to expect. For instance go to and you'll see what I mean. I dislike having to drill down for something that should be obvious. Just my .02
  • I'm with Don M.

    There is an expectation now a days to see the most important things headlined on the home page.

    "Products", "Store", "Forums", "Downloads" and such like.

    Anyone visiting either wants to buy something, get some software to make the thing they bought work, or talk to someone about issues they are having.

  • Phil Pilgrim (PhiPi)Phil Pilgrim (PhiPi) Posts: 22,363
    edited 2018-02-08 - 21:58:25
    Here's the latest:


    I like "Support" as much as I would've liked "Resources." I'm a little confused by the apparent column headings and what comes under them, though. For example, why isn't "Propeller" listed under Microcontrollers? And why is "Authorized Consultants" listed under Forums? Also, why is Shop always highlighted, even when it hasn't been selected?

    899 x 275 - 24K
    “Perfection is achieved not when there is nothing more to add, but when there is nothing left to take away. -Antoine de Saint-Exupery
  • TorTor Posts: 1,977
    I'm with Don M.
    Also, I really really hate web pages with faces of people. And I'm not alone. I consider it unprofessional, but typically pretend-professional.
  • Phil Pilgrim (PhiPi)Phil Pilgrim (PhiPi) Posts: 22,363
    edited 2018-02-08 - 22:25:32
    Also, new people won't know what OBEX stands for. I would just list it spelled out: Object Exchange.

    [Edit] Or, more specifically: Propeller Object Exchange.

    “Perfection is achieved not when there is nothing more to add, but when there is nothing left to take away. -Antoine de Saint-Exupery
  • Heater.Heater. Posts: 21,213
    edited 2018-02-08 - 22:26:59
    Well, it's a fashion now a days. Every company has a home page with big pictures of unrealistically good looking, young, happy smiley customers as the first thing you see. Microsoft, CISCO webex, etc, etc. It's everywhere.

    Very annoying but what can you do?

    I do wonder why all the tools one needs for Propeller development are not under "Downloads" where they should be.

    And why the Propeller is not listed under "Microcontrollers" is totally unfathomable.

    This is a serious case of hiding one's light under a bushel.

  • And whilst we are at it, how come everything Parallax is not HTTPS only today?

  • Ken Gracey
    Heater. wrote: »
    And why the Propeller is not listed under "Microcontrollers" is totally unfathomable.

    It is listed under "Microcontrollers" - not sure what you're looking at.

    Ken Gracey
  • No, it's not, Ken. See my screen grab above.

    “Perfection is achieved not when there is nothing more to add, but when there is nothing left to take away. -Antoine de Saint-Exupery
  • I'm looking at the pop up menu that appears when I mouse over "support".

    It has a column headed "Microcontrollers". Under which is listed a bunch of BASIC Stamp things. No mention of the Propeller.

    Actually, what I describe is in Phil's screenshot above.
  • Ken Gracey wrote: »
    Ken Gracey
    Heater. wrote: »
    And why the Propeller is not listed under "Microcontrollers" is totally unfathomable.

    It is listed under "Microcontrollers" - not sure what you're looking at.

    Ken Gracey

    I just had a look and I see that it is weird. I mean, the BOLD list headings are in themselves links but non-obvious. If there is going to be a list then everything under that heading should be in that list and a heading with a list should only be a heading, not a link.

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  • Quite right Peter.

    In the old days links were in blue text and underlined so that you knew they were links. Or they looked like buttons you could press to make something happen.

    Today there is no way to tell and you have to hover around and clicky on everything in the hope it might lead somewhere.

    But, you know, web designers...

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