Your patent application for a "Flat Volume Control" seems to be of questionable novelty. Hardware digitial mixers have been doing this for years. E.g. Roland's VM series does Fader Groups which may manage an arbitrary number of channels, including mute
and volume. So your approach seems like a specialization of a general technique which is widely used.
Also, it seems some of your worry on UI has to do with not so with it users forgetting to turn up the volume on their external speakers. You (Steve) showed an example of your laptop which has a "potentiometer". Problem with a potentiometer is their physical
manifestation is stateful. Why not mandate stateless volume control devices like a V-Pot so that your software has complete control. For the masses that don't know what a V-pot is (virtual potentiometer) you can see an example here:
Mackie V-Pot (note V-Pots have been around a long time, so Mackie did not invent them - though they seem to suggest so on this web page)
Yes I realize that you would have to create a new remote interface between audio cards and remote amplifier/speakers but I think that would be of added value and something that *is* patentable. <ducking> If you all were worth your salaries </ducking> you
could even try masking this information in a wide-band low volume signal on top of the audio channel so that existing audio connectors wouldn't have to be redesigned and the signals would be imperceptible by any human. Caveat, I would actually be surprised
if this technology hasn't been invented yet.
Lastly, quick question, what's going on with DirectX DirectSound/DirectMusic? Are they going to be intergrated into WAVE? <edit> and how soon? </edit>