Q. What is Early Access
A. I've been thinking about ways to reward those who contribute (more on this later). While it's not much, I came up with "Early Access" (insert trademark symbol here ;)).
The biggest benefit is that it grants you access to features in between releases, a head start on new versions when they come out, and occasionally exclusive access to applications. You also get to bask in the knowledge that you've done something to say thanks or to add value so that others can benefit from your experience (i.e. they don't have to go through the same pain that you did figuring something out).
It also enables adding attachments in the forum.
I used "contribute" deliberately before because there are two ways to contribute, the easy way and the hard way.
Easy way: make a donation; Like most things it is possible to buy your way in. The donation is meant as a small token, something tangible but completely affordable to everyone. It's an easy way to demonstrate that you appreciate the utilities and support that is provided here.
way: adding value to the community; examples would be answering
questions in the forum, writing documentation, extending one of the tools, blogging about HTPC, even posting on another forum can count. Note that this is
an arbitrary metric measured by quality not quantity (i.e. I will know
it when I see it). That said, the bar isn't that high the point is mainly to demonstrate that you are giving something to the larger community. Many have received EA this way; it's a great way to help everyone get a more rewarding experience.
IMPORTANT: The utilities on this site (DTB being one) should be considered beta (i.e. not finished) software. Early Access binaries are even more beta, they may do bad things to your computer.
Q. How hard is it to contribute?
A. It doesn't take much, I read every forum post on the site; try to help, make suggestions, provide insight to others chances are I'll notice. If you have a blog or a site where you've published information or utlities that make the HTPC experience better, that can count too. If you feel that someone should be recognized (including yourself) let me know and I take a look.
Q. Why do you accept "donations"
A. There are lots of reasons, but the biggest one is that many people like to say "thanks" and this is a quick, easy way to enable that.
Q. Why $5? Why not more?
A. The donation is meant as a cheap way to contribute, something that anyone can afford. As noted earlier, the point is to demonstrate effort or value and $5 is what a pint costs where I live :)
Q. I made a donation, when will I be added to the Early Access group?
A. I usually process the requests within a few hours, but give me a day before reminding me. This is just a hobby, so sometime things like work and family get in the way ;)
Q. I just want access to the software, do I have to donate?
A. If your goal is just to get the bits, I'd rather you kept your money. Most everything that is in the EA section will become public at some point, usually it's there because I don't want to support it for everyone yet. EA is intended as a reward for those who contribute, you aren't buying software.
Q. What is the $$$ used for?
A. It's used for a lot of things, keeping the site running and toys for my kids mostly. Some contributors have earmarked their donation for a pint, and I'm only to happy to oblige the request:)
Q. I can't find the donation button
A. (if your paypal email address is not the email address you signed up on the site, include your user name on the site, I need one of these to associate your donation with you. Don't worry, if you forget I will send you an email asking for your user name)
Q. What about source code?
A. Early Access only applies to binary files. For the most part the source for EA binaries is available on my Source Forge repository. Some projects are dependent on the Windows SDK (aka Platform SDK) so if an unmanaged project won't compile that's probably why.