Apologies to those who've figured this out, but I thought I'd share my morning-shower insight into the how and why of the Audrey Channels.
So far I've been able to hack in two new channels, one is the Flash Calculator and the other is a redirect to the NPR RealAudio page for a station I can't quite get over the air (finally! WBUR at home!). Using the channel dial is way-cool for quickly pulling up often-visited sites, but its use as a simple "favorites" selector misses the point, and is not all that useful.
I've been struggling with how I would maximize Audrey's leverage of having the web in my kitchen. Anyone who's tried browsing for more than five minutes is all too painfully aware that the 640x480 screen is grossly mismatched to today's web. Nearly every site I visit entails a sequence of going to the site then scrolling down past the border frames and banner ads to see the actual content. This, in a word, sucks. What you really want is to just dial in a page and have the screen immediately display the content within the tight real-estate constraints of VGA.
You can imagine the design process at 3COM... one obvious way to solve this problem is to convince as many sites as possible to provide special pages specifically for Audrey that are matched to her screen. This is similar to what's happening with WAP and the PalmOS browsing. The drawbacks to this are obvious: putting this problem on the backs of the web admins for an unproven market is a huge uphill battle.
So the solution was to insert a proxy that would fetch content from sites then reformat it for the Audrey screen. It still requires some cooperation from the sites, but this constrains it to a data access problem rather than a formatting/presentation problem. Much, much less overhead.
So now you introduce the notion of the Channel Server, who's job is as follows:
poll sites for new content and reformat for Audrey
accept "update" requests from Audrey units and deliver content to the local Channel cache
keep Audrey units up-to-date on the range of channels available
So you have this combination of offloading content formatting and an offline caching mechanism that allows Audrey to display meaningful content without having to dial in each and every time a channel is selected. It's a powerful idea, excepting of course that once the mothership goes away so does all this functionality.
I'd love to play around with setting up some of this infrastructure (boy would I love a VGA optimized Weather Page!), but unfortunately I'm underwater already with time constraints. So keep up the good work guys, I'll contribute as I can.