Monday, November 19, 2007

PS, BS, and all manner of S

I'm a touch frustrated at the moment. It seems that most software architects at companies really feel like they have the only valid opinion. Since starting at Sycamore, I've felt exactly how I felt at Airvana: namely, like the corner-stool dunce of the class. No one listens to them; everyone feels as though they are inherently superior. I've found one person here who's taken the time to listen to my thoughts, and routinely comes to the same conclusion. But after seeing the way that architecture responds to his questions / concerns as well, I just get the feeling that he's in the same boat.

We have one consultant here who worked on the wireless technology for one vendor/operator pair. His word is taken as gospel. I've got the same amount of experience with wireless. My word is brushed off to the side. The consultant routinely has the same concerns and thoughts that I have. If I voice them, no response. If he voices, then there's dialog.

Honestly, if this keeps up, I may have a real reason to go to google besides "It's Google." Too much patent seeking (PS) and not enough real work. Too much (BS) from a lot of people that don't understand technology.

Thursday, November 8, 2007


Got my PVR card, and slapped it in. After some fiddling and tweaking, I can now do everything a TiVO can do, and more. For instance, I can plug a camera into my box and view all the pictures, saving them to the HDD or writing them to a DVD. I can schedule recordings based on keywords or time slots (very cool). Pause, rewind, fast forward live tv :) I turned off the commercial detection, because I don't trust it enough yet. Last night I fast forwarded through the commercials during South Park, Sarah Silverman, and the Daily Show. The Colbert Report was a repeat (I think he's campaigning for the presidency).

I'll post some pictures once I get them. I also need to figure out a better internet connection. Probably I'll need a wifi extender to combat the interference in my house, or just an ethernet->wifi converter. I'll tackle that problem this weekend.


Wednesday, November 7, 2007

I'm swamped.

I recently was contacted by Google for an interview. Psyched about that, because Google is one of the few companies that seems like it'd be a fun place to work. I have mixed feelings about whether or not I'd go, since I just started here at Sycamore. I'll see how things pan out if they decide to throw an offer on the table.

In other news, I've been working on a few wildly scattered projects.

My first project is my tv-tuner box. Obviously, that has to wait until I've put a better software package together. I get the feeling that I won't find an all inclusive package, and that I'll have to build the system from scratch (not something to which I'm looking forward).

My second project is a derived object winking system to integrate with version control packages and makefiles. Basically, you'd modify your target generation such that the winker software package can detect if the version of a file you're building (and all its dependancies) are identical to a version that someone else in your wink-realm has built. If so, voila! You'll get their already built binary. Why do this? For software projects which are massive, having to rebuild everything is a pain. Especially when changes that you make aren't very big. Having to recompile everything is time consuming, and useless. This would make a tradeoff. You trade bandwidth for CPU cycles. Since people nowadays have more bandwidth available than CPU cycles, this should be a better tradeoff.

My third project is a tiny compiler. I've got a lexical parser working already, and some minor syntactic analysis going on. The purpose of this compiler is to teach me about compilers by building my own. I also may be able to modify it to support platforms for which no free compilers exist (I'm looking mostly at DSPs).

So that's my set of undertakings at the moment. A lot to digest, but hopefully, it'll all get done before the end of the year.

Monday, November 5, 2007

Broken Down

Got my DVR equipment, and decided to start in on it right away. Since I didn't have the PVR-250 with me, I used an old WinTV GO! that I had in my desktop machine.

Some reviews:

Firstly, putting the system together was a non-issue. It took almost no time and everything just fit. I think the total process there took about 2 hours, and included monkeying with the WinTV GO card to get rid of the faceplate.

Second off, I figured that all the raves about the amazingness of KnoppMyth meant that I would be up and watching TV in a few hours. Wrong. I _still_ can't get TV coming through the system. DVD playback is terrible. Worst of all though, the system took me forever to configure. Why? The good folks at KnoppMyth did not include a correct version of the Via CLE266 driver. As a result X-windows didn't work. Since there's no option to boot the system in non-X mode, I had to go back through the install disc to get a shell, and convert the output driver to vesa. That's not the end of my troubles though. The ethernet setup scripts don't automatically assume DHCP. You have to go through a setup window as the 'mythtv' user. And if you screw up a configuration or want to change something? Forget about it. The system doesn't give you an intuitive command to run to reconfigure.

As far as MythTV goes? It's awful. It doesn't always respond when you make a keystroke, so you have to restart it. The backend and frontend design is good for a distributed terminal approach, but what about the single box approach? Also, the fact that when I stick the card into the box it doesn't automatically just create Inputs and whatnot makes the configuration process confusing and useless. I understand that it allows for more configuration options, but you can have both. You can have the system build up a default input mapping, which the user can then _choose_ to ignore.

I'm rather disappointed with the whole "Build your own DVR using OpenSource Software" experience. I've spent only 1 weekend with it, and already I'm hoping that I can find a cheap copy of Windows XP MCE.