I now have a working PVR that does what I desire. I may have a couple of minor changes to make yet, just tweeks to improve audio, etc, but my platform is working.
Hardware wise I have upgraded the motherboard since my last note on building a pvr. I am now using a Athlon XP 1800 processor, with 512 Meg of ram, an nVidia FX 400 video card, two model 401 Hauppauge! capture cards, and a SB Live sound card. I was able to pick up a 120 Gig Segate 7200 rpm drive. All of this is in a stock beige box, with a 19" lcd flat panel as my display. I do have a tvatior scan converter to pump it to my TV if I would like, but the resolution takes a noticable hit.
The software is from the knoppmyth location, www.mysettopbox.tv, and is the R4 distribution of the disk. There is an R5 in the works. On the forum there I have added the primary changes I had to make to get my system up and running, as well as a more detailed hardware listing.
Along the way I have picked up an extra sound card, (I suspect I will find a use for that) Capture card, (again, I think I can find a use for it) and have decided to unload my 27" TV, as it is the least desirable output, compared with a 19" flat panel lcd monitor. If the flat pannel dies on me a couple of years from now, I can use another monitor until I pick up a larger flat panel.
Myth TV does an acceptable job of identifying comercial breaks on recorded material, and has a functioning pause for live TV, with a decent Skip feature set.
I am seriously impressed with the On Screen Displays for the channel, time and information fields, they appear very professional, and are readable from across my room. The interactive guide is functional, though it could use a bit more information on the contents of shows. I suspect that this will be one of the areas worked on by the xmltv team, though I do not know.
My only real complaint when compared to TiVo is that MythTV does not have some of the nicer search features, such as actors, directors, etc. and it does not have a "recomendations" feature based upon other user's likes and dislikes. I doubt that the latter will be a feature in the future, as it would involve MythTV being able to interact with some server doing the appropriate user preference agrigating and searching. As the feature set of MythTV improves (they are on version 0.13 after all, more to come) I would suspect that the actor and director searches will be added, and more information on programs will become available. It is possible to do some recomendations based upon genra, without using an agrigation server, but I suspect that will be even longer before it gets implemented.
Over all, I like the implementation of MythTV that comes on the KnoppMyth R4 distribution, and consider it likely that I will enjoy future implementations. As I understand it, it should be possible for me to "update" from the R5 disk when that is available.
I updated the os on my Z this week. I like the fact that it goes to a "screensaver" when idle and plugged in, rather than powering off. It was a bit disconcerting the first couple of times I noticed it.
I did like the fact that my Socket Wifi card was recognized right off. I don't know however if I am going to be able to get kismet running again any time soon. Note that with Kismet I have been using my SMC wifi card (true implementation of the intersil prism2 interface). The problem is that the new rom seems to tie the drivers closer to the network interface. Can't seem to get Kismet to talk to the SMC card for some reason.
Having two dogs, and being interested in attending a convention for three/four days, it occured to me that I need to find a place to board them for the weekend. Using "Angie's List" http://www.angieslist.com/ I was able to find one less than a week before the convention. Next year I have to get my plans in order to reserve space at my prefered boarding place.
Have to figure out how to get pictures from my camera into my laptop. I don't think it will be a problem, however the first couple of attempts were unsuccessful. I should be able to attach the cammera directly however.
Ok, we have all read it, seen it, and some people even profess to believe it. It being the phrase "Information yearns to be free!"
I am pretty sure that when you think about it, you will decide for yourself that there are two major flaws with this phrase. The first flaw is anthropormophising information. Information has no emotion, or desire. It really juse is, or is not. It want's for nothing, needs only data, and could care less whether or not your name is John Doe.
The other major flaw is that it is a missapropriate use of the word Information. Information is not "data". Information is the result of analyzing data and creating something of value from that data.
The fact that some city in western Montana may have 5600 citizens is on it's own, purely data. However that data along with the population and location of other cities all across the state, and across the country, can be used to determine where the population center is for the state and country. While you may consider that piece of information to have little value, it actually is used to determine a large number of decisions that affect you. It can affect voting areas, costs of transportation, and so on.
Raw data is available in abundance, and may or may not have value to the person it is relevant to. Examples of data that is changing in a linear fasion, includes how old you are in seconds. Every second the data changes, and generally makes no difference to the person it applies to. You do not celebrate 10, 100, 1000, 10000, etc. seconds of age. Did you celebrate your sibling or child passing 1,000,000 seconds, 11 days, 13 hours, 46 min and 40 seconds after he or she was born? How about your 1 trilionth second of age, some 31 2/3 years after you were born. I didn't and don't really expect anyone else to either.
If I have the opportunity I will be happy to celebrate my 1,000,000,000,000 second. I don't really expect to however. I expect my navigation center to have failed by then.
Some data has much more specific value to you. The amount of money in your savings and checking accounts. Your birth date, credit card and taxpayer id numbers, as well as your drivers licence, and even your home address are examples. Some of this data has more value to you than it does to anyone else. Especially when that data is used to identify you. You are not generally keen to give that collection of data to complete strangers. Once collected, that batch of data becomes useable information. In some places a good portion of that information may be used to provide services you may find valuable. In other places, or with some people, that information can be (and all to often is) used to impersonate you.
At the same time, some data (missrepresented as information) is more valuable the less it costs. As an example, if a manufacture of a printer makes the signaling specifications for that printer available to people in the open source community, those people can create drivers for platforms that the printer manufacturer did not even consider when they created the printer. This opens up new avenues for sales, making the printer even more valuable.
Likewise for other interface devices, be they video cards, hard drive interface chipsets, or sound cards.
This does not mean that making that information freely available is always a good idea. In some cases the potential advantage due to more sales may be offset by another company certifying the drivers, and defraying the cost of the relevent tests with a contract stipulating that the specifications for the card will not be made public.
Again, this collection of data will have value to the manufacturer. It then becomes an economics question. At what point does the certification value exceed the potential for additional sales. The value of certifications is variable as well. I do not know how many people check a printer to see if it's drivers are certified by the system's manufacturer. Will knowing the drivers are certified affect a consumer's decision more than the dot density, or the number of pages per minute the printer will handle. I suspect that it is more relevant to a Linux user to know if some printer is compatible with the OS, than it would be to a Windows user. Unfortunately this is because the Windows user Expects the printer to work, right out of the box, which means that the driver needs to be one that Windows will come with, or that Windows will accept. With DRM comming down the line, printer manufacturers may very well be more concerned about their drivers being acceptable to Microsoft.
Why is so much of this about printers? Because (while I may be wrong) the open source or free software movements have their roots in a programmer being unable to modify a print driver that he recognized had a bug in it.
What I am stating is that there is value in the information that programers and hardware manufacturers work with. The actual development cost of a protocol is not always the only cost a manufacturer may wish to pass on to a developer if by doing so they have to break a contract with another business.
Granted, most of the development costs for a protocol will be defrayed by sales of the printer. However if you breke the agreement that Microsoft will test your drivers if you do not disclose the proprietary information, that means that to keep the drivers "good" the manufacturer will have to spend additional time, money and effort on their own to test the drivers on all of Microsoft's platforms. At the moment that would probably include Win98SE, Win2k, WinME, WinXP, Win2k3 and the two or three betas in the system. You may not think that is a lot, but add in application testing, and multi-application interaction, and it starts getting time and cost intensive.
That said, I love the idea of information being free. Go ahead and tell me your home address, age, gender, (include links to photos) age, birth date, and credit card numbers....
As a starting point, I heard from my sister recently about a problem that my niece encountered with something a bit more vital than what would be considered "consumer electronics".
My niece is diabetic. Type 1, taking insulin. This last year she went onto an insulin pump in an attempt to stabalize her blood sugar levels. She is now on her second pump as the first one was not working as expected. In fact she ended up in ICU as a result of it. With the pump she is on now, her blood sugar levels are significantly improved.
She has run into a problem with this pump however that should never have come up. It is a problem that people have encountered with just about every form of portable consumer electronics however, from watches through walkman's, remote controls through flashlights. The problem is Battery polarity.
A week or so ago at about three in the morning, the alarm on her pump went off telling her that she needed to replace the battery. If you carry a pager, you have probably gotten a similar alert. However you were probably comfortable waiting till 8 in the morning, or some later time to replace the battery. Life is a bit different with an insulin pump. You pretty much do not want to let the battery die, else you encounter problems of your own. So a very groggy niece of mine, at 3 in the morning, replaced the battery in her pump.
Scott Adams noted in one of his books, the title elludes me at the moment, that one day his pager stopped functioning. He took it to the local pager support tech, who took the pager, and all with one hand, poped the battery compartment open, dropped out the battery into his palm, flipped the battery around, slipped it back into the pager, closed the pager door, and handed the now functioning pager back to Scott. Scott is not stupid by any means. I will personally attest that I have had the same problem with other electronic devices myself. Fourtunatly for me, my very life does not rely upon these devices functioning, and I can usually figure out what has happened, as I am often awake enough to remember to check these things shortly after I have swapped batteries in them.
My brother-in-law was made aware of the fact that there was a problem later the same morning. I suspect that what happened is that her blood sugar levels did not go down, and the pump appeared to be out of order. He was on the phone with tech support for the pump for quite some time, and they eventually realized that the problem was the battery was installed backwards.
There is a very small, very simple, very effective, user proof solution to this type of a problem. Actually two such solutions, one of which can would give the user feedback that the battery was backwards, the other would not care if the battery was backwards or not.
The solution that would provide feedback that the battery was backwards would simply add a circuit in parallel to the electronics that ran on the same voltage, reversed as the primary circuit. It could be simply an LED and a resistor set up to light if the batteries are backwards.
The solution that would be battery polarity agnostic would put a bridge rectifier across the battery compartment and so long as all the batteries were connected positive to negative, would provide the correct polarity to the primary electronics.
It would even be possible to bridge rectify every battery so it would not matter if one battery was installed backwards.
Yes there would be added drain on the batteries as a result of these additional components. In fact it would cost extra money to add these components which would drive the cost up by a couple of pennies per device. In the cut-throat consumer electronics industry, it probably would not fly. I can not think of one good argument against this in the medical and military markets however.
The last thing I want a soldier to have to do is try to figure out what orientation his night sight batteries are and should be. Likewise medics in ambulances, or other people in life threatening situations.
Agrivating this situation is the fact there are a number of AAA batteries on the market these days where you have to search for the (+) indicator to know which end is which.
I honestly think that there are a large number of people who would be a lot happier with their electronics if they knew that all they had to do was swap the batteries, and it did not matter how they were installed. I personally think that a lot of parents of type 1 diabetics, with pumps would sleep a lot better if they did not have to worry about their kid putting the batteries in backwards at some time during the night.
Then again, that's just my opinion. Anyone with a better idea?
Got to work recently and received some e-mail from a co-worker on a trouble ticket I was involved in. I am not sure I am awake enough to understand the sentence that begins "Like when...": I need to put some more information into the ticket. Like when does he did this done and how many the NRS number something. Please update with this information.
Then again, I don't know if anyone is awake enough to understand that. I can puzzle out his intended questions, but I thought it was funny just reading it the first time. Even the acronym is a misspelling of one of our internal acronyms.
In defense of this tech, he is new to this job, but I don't think anyone would consider this to be 133t speak, or even IM speak. Allowing comments, as I am currious about other people getting "strange" e-mail from peers.
With the RIAA negotiating with congress to be able to attack people they believe are violating their copyright, rather than take them to court, and elements of the RIAA, or sympathetic P2P users, distributing files that are full of garbage rather than the content expected, perhaps it is time to add a couple of features to applications and file sharing tools to give users a better experience.
One of the concerns that I have is the prospect of a document being made available that contains trojan horses, or destructive worms. Additionally Viri could end up being distributed this way as well, compromising other documents or applications.
A scenario that makes use of these would be if the RIAA got approval to hack into p2p users computers, and distributed a file with a trojan horse that opened a port back to the RIAA to allow them to review your compilation of music files for copyright infringement. The trojan horse also looks for a shared music file large enough to hide itself in, replacing the content of that file. To continue to be operational it modifies your startup files to re-start itself after a power failure or reboot.
The Idea I am proposing is to add two features to file sharing and content creation tools. One feature is already in exestance in e-mail, and available though not as widely used as it should for other applications, potentially including p2p. The other is also widely available, though also underutilized. There is also one feature that I would like to recomend, though I am not sure how well it could be implemented.
The first feature is to do pgp/gpg signing of files being shared. The pgp/gpg signature does not have to be part of the file, but I would recommend it being an attribute of the file that gets transfered when a p2p client pulls the file from a p2p server. This signature would be ammended by other users as they review the file and confirm it's integrity.
An alternative would be for users to encrypt their shared files with their private key to be decrypted with their public key.
In either case, some form of trust prioritization should be done by the file sharing application. Meaning that if you are looking for a copy of the Declaration of Independence, as a high resolution image, so you can clarely read all the signatures, the application will provide you with a prioritized list, giving those people you trust most the highest likelyhood of being the source for that document.
Trust should also be Mime or File Type specific. Just because I trust the RIAA to provide an accurate copy of the DMCA, does not mean that I expect that a copy of Al Jolson's Mammy will be trustowrthy.
So far as I know, the Trust relationship built into PGP/GPG is content independent. Meaning if you trust someone completely for e-mail, that trust also applies to any technical drawings they may provide. While I will not claim that that trust would be specifically misplaced, if the trusted user is a political activist, but not an engineer, then I don't know that the trust is properly placed in the drawings.
The second major feature that I would like to suggest is the use of an editorial or comment attribute in a meaningful way. An example being the ability to do comparative recomendation searches. Lets say you are a fan of a specific composer, Mozart for example. It would be handy if a modern composer, providing new music, could be compared to Mozart. Likewise as you rate the music you have, it would provide you with the results of what other people with similar collections liked, so you could find new music that you would enjoy.
The above, in combination with a trust based system would also provide a method of rating music based upon other peoples trust and approval levels. So if you are Abe, and you trust Bob and Carol, but not Deb, or Ernie, and you have never delt with Fred before, you can look at trust relationships that Bob and Carol have, and base your decision on whether to trust Fred on relationships they may have.
Why might you want such a setup? Because you very well may want to access a p2p system through some anonymization facility, and not use the same public/private key set for p2p that you use for e-mail. This may be because you don't want the same level of encryption, perhaps you want 1024 for signatures on music files you are sharing, but 4096 for your e-mail encryption and signing. Or you may be using different id's depending on what you are doing, being "firstname.lastname@example.org" for music sharing, "email@example.com" for your poetry, and "firstname.lastname@example.org" for your e-mail.
Some people would even note that it may be a good idea to hide your username when it comes to sharing music. If for no other reason than to make it more difficult for the RIAA to attack you.
Are there flaws in this system? Sure. At it's core it is an honor based system. If you decide to write your own trojans, worms, or viruses, and distribute them via a p2p system, because you happen to have a high level of trust with several people, you can cause trouble.
Additionally, while I am not impressed with the RIAA or it's supporting members interest in making music available to potential customers on a shared basis, they should be the most trustworthy as they actually hold the copyright to the music. Unfortunately their actions speak louder than their trustworthieness.
The other downside is that there isn't much that you can do about someone else's file that is being shared. As an example, if Fred from above, is going to build a honeypot with files about the right size for top 40 hits, but containing nulls rather than data, there isn't a lot Bob or Carol can do to warn Abe that those files are junk. The only thing they can do is downgrade Fred's trust level, and hope that Abe will subsequently avoid him.
That's about it for now. For the most part this idea is to build PGP/GPG into a file sharing program. The program would then be able to help users determine if a file is actually desireable.
This is not a story about Linux, BeOS, Windows, Yahoo, Slashdot, or for that matter any specific Tecnology. This is just me re-capping a measure of my own success at losing weight.
When I returned from Saudi Arabia after Desert Storm, I weighed in at a decent 180#. As I had been activated for DS/S, I was actually in a lot better shape than before I had been activated. Active duty for combat is a study in contrasts between absolute excitement/action and absolute boredom. I can credit my loss in weight, and improvement in shape to the boredom part. When there is nothing to do, you find things to do. It doesn't cost as much money to walk and jog around the compound as it does to go shopping, or on tours of the city.
My active duty time can be broken down into four blocks. Active/pre-deployment, deployment-action, post-action in-country, and post-action return. Of these, the smallest block was deployment-action. Active/pre-deployment and post-action return amount to less than two months in the US. About two months were spent in Saudi Arabia at the in/famous Kobar Towers.
My workout there was to jog around the coumpound in the morning and the evening. The perimiter was approximately a mile, and I would jog anywhere from 1 to 5 times around.
That however was over ten years ago. Things have picked up a bit since then, including my weight. As of the middle of last year, I was about 70#s heavier than when I returned from DS/S. While my family was aware of the fact that I had gained weight, most of the people I dealt with on a day to day basis did not believe me when I indicated how much I weighed. Even so, I knew that what I weighed was not good for me.
Last September I made a commitment to get my weight down to a healthy level. Most of the online resources can only work with the reference called the Body Mass Index. While I do not have a table in front of me, for my height, the best weight range for me is between 160 and 180 lb. That matches my own experience as well, and I believe is a good range to get in to.
That said, I decided on three sets of goals. The long term goal is to get down to 160, and stay within 10 lb of that. The second goal was a mid term weight of 180. Lastly was a set of short term goals of loosing 10 lb. at a time. I did not set any time constraints on the 10 lb at a time goal, however I did set rewards for them. Every time I crossed a 10 lb mark, (meaning 250, 240, 230,...) I would reward myself with a dinner at one of my favorite resturants.
As I started this in September, I figured a good rate of loss would be the number of lb per year that I had gained, lost per month. That ment that my interim goal of 180 would be 9-10 months later, or the end of May.
As my true long term goal is to get down to 160, and stay there, I realized that I would need to find a way to "soft land" at that weight. Maintenance of weight is not the same as loosing weight. To stay at a specific weight, I will need to have a lifestyle and set of diet habits that will keep me there. I won't gain those habits by dropping directly to that weight, I will need some time to figure out what is working, and what doesn't.
Unfortunately I will not make that interim weight of 180 by the end of May. May ends in two days, and I have 10 lb to go. I am not complaining, there were a couple of mitigating factors involved. Things like the fact that between September and December I did not loose any weight, in fact I gained 5 lb. In short, I have lost 65 lb, but only 60 from my starting weight. Even so, that is a great start.
So, how did I do it? Several things in combination. The most important part was setting the goals in the first place. Next was to take a look at what I had done in the past and what worked vs. what didn't work. I also decided that I would try augmenting diet changes and exercise plans with over the counter diet aids. Specifically I started taking Xenadrine.
Things that I have tried in the past that did not work out, and I ruled out for this plan, include a food diary, walks around my block with my dogs, bicycling to and from work, calorie counting, weight training, etc. I am not saying that these are not effective for other people, just that my temperment and schedules did not work well for me in the past.
My full regime
2 pills first thing in the morning
2 pills mid afternoon
Breakfast - no significant change
Lunch - frozen vegtable meals from Green Giant - canned fruit - prepared and frozen meals from home
Dinner - varies from none on some days, to one or two slices of pizza on others, generally half or less of what I ate before.
desert - didn't really exist before
snacks - pretty much eliminated chips and popcorn
water - lots added, upwards of a gallon of water a day
Exercise - walking four days a week
starting at less than half a mile the first day up to just over a mile the first week
moved up to just over 2 miles the second week steady through the first month
moved up to a little over three miles the next month.
moved up to about four miles, where I stayed through to today.
Technology that has helped
My.Yahoo.com - I tracked my weight progress here
Tivo - gave me the freedom to do my exercises after work, without forcing me to pick what show I wanted to watch, or tempting me to skip an exercise walk to watch some specific show.
While the real start of my weight loss, and added exercise regime co-incided with New Year, it was not a "New Years Resolution". My commitment to the process began back in September.
There are some things that I will be doing as part of my ongoing process, to drop an aditional 10 lb to get to my interim goal, and as part of my final 20 lb, as well as periodically thereafter. Since I will be maintaining my weight, rather than loosing weight, I will drop back to two miles, four days a week from my 4 miles 4 days a week rate. I may add bicycling into the mix on non-walk days, or in substitute of some of the walk days.
Once a month, to once a quarter, I will be maintaining a food diary for one week. The idea being that the disruption of maintaing such a diary for one week out of four, or one week out of 12 is significantly less than continuous tracking. There are people who advocate continuous tracking. There are also people who have their entire lives planned out. I am not one of these people, and some would say that it shows.
The reality is that even with a long term goal of getting down to 160 over a two year period, two years is not a significantly long period of time. The real long term goal is to keep that weight for the tens of years that I have left in this life.
I walk at one of my local shopping malls. This mall is two stories, four corner stores, and perhaps a hundred smaller shops. Two and a half times around the perimiter of the inner courts is approximately a mile, so someone could provide complete 802.11b coverage with about 15 APs. (one for each floor of the corner stores, one at each corner of each floor of the central court, then one near the middle of the central court.)
So, I was thinking, Ok, Is this something I could convince the mall management to buy into? Besides the cost of the Access Points, I would have to include wiring, as well as supporting infrastructure. Something like four five port hubs and an eight port hub someplace to home run this to a set of servers, and the requisite Internet access. On top of that, ongoing maintenance costs, equipment will fail, someone will have to deal with delinquents trying to break into the servers. Plus the marketing costs involved. What would be worth providing this type of service?
About the only thing that I could come up with was a shopping pim. This would be a device variable in size, between the size of a pager, and a palm or jornada. It would come with the standard contact and time management tools, as well as a few social tools and games such as instant messaging and perhaps a group oriented varient of nethack. This would also depend upon the form of the device. However all of them would have two apps one is basically a shopping list management app, the other (which can interact with the former) is a store mapping program.
Ok, so far so good. Unfortunately we still haven't given the mall or the stores any major incentive to support this. That will take a bit more work. My initial thought was to have either the shopping app, or the store mapping app (or both) interact with a server to help shoppers figure out where what they were looking for would be located. In addition, the stores could update the devices with any specials that the shopper has indicated an interest in. The devices could be set up so that they would replace the pagers that some mall resturants use when they have too many people waiting for a table. "Why Mr. Smith, I see you are one of the malls premier customers, do you have your Shopim with you? Wondeful! We will send you an IM-Page when we have a table for you. Would you like a copy of the menu on your Shopim to look over at your convienence? Yes it will have the specials for the day. Thank you. You can even give us advance notice of what looks good to you, and it can be ready when your table is."
Ok, perhaps a bit beyond what a resturant would like to do, but you get the picture.
Unfortunately there is a problem. This really only helps the corner stores, and possibly the resturants. There is not much of an incentive for the center court stores to be involved. Why not? Because they are target market stores, and they know that their ads would be at or near the bottom when compared to the corner store ads.
Let's say that one of the corner stores is Sears. They are in just about every shopping mall anyway, and you can find just about anything you want there as well. What incentive does Perl Vision have to use this network if their ads for $99 glasses second pair free, are going to be hidden by the ad for whatever optomitrist is working in the Sears store?
A worse problem is that on a busy day, there may be a couple of hundred devices vieing for bandwidth.
That's where 802.15 comes in. This is the bluetooth spec as interpreted by IEEE. The range of bluetooth is about 10 meters. which nicely matches the width of th halls, and the width of a storefront in the center court. Let's say that every store gets an 802.11 to 802.15 converting access point. If they store has more than 20 meters of storefront, they get a second, or third, or whatever additional range is needed. They will be billed a nominal charge for these repeters, but it will be small in comparison to the rest of the rent. If they are really small, and their storefront is covered by their neighbors, they can even opt out.
Now to make it something that will start to earn money from the product. It is well known that 80% of a stores profit comes from 20% of it's customers. This may not be true for a drug store, but is an understatement for several well respected department stores. If you know that how much one of your major customers spends depends upon how they are treated, how much would it be worth to be aware that they are aproaching? Giving you time to have your best sales leads where they need to be.
For the remainder of the customers, how much is it worth to you if they agree to give you their shopping list so you can perhaps help them discover that you have some of the things they didn't expect you to have? Likewise is it of value to be able to put an ad on a potential customer's shopim because they are near your store? Especially if you are a new store to the mall, and perhaps you know the customer is interested in some of your products but isn't aware that you carry them at a steep discount.
In the mall I walk (and shop) at, there is a large center court. Normally this might be of concern to such a plan, but I have a couple of ideas for dealing with this. First is that asside from someone sitting chatting with someone else, people don't spend all that much time sitting in the center court. Anything like an IM-Page can be queued for the couple of minutes someone might be walking through the court. Also if there are people sitting in the court, some of the seating is going to be in range of one of the APs, and this could be the boundry of an ad-hoc network that would provide necessary coverage.
Then again, this is all just speculation....
I can envision a similar setup for grocery stores, DIY stores like Lowes, Home Depot, Menards, and so on.