Thursday, 15 May 2008

The Chicken and the Egg

Working in the software industry it is very easy to think that software is king. Electronics courses are declining while the software discipline is becoming more defined creating excellent graduate computer scientists. I wouldn’t however describe the average computer graduate as a scientist as most are building on existing technologies and forget they can create their own. Apple’s success is that they created their own platform and luckily for them it became fashionable to own something different from the norm. Of course it isn’t always wise to stray away from the norm and even Apple had rocky periods where the company was struggling. My point though is one of software versus hardware. We forget as software engineers that the hardware we use contributes lots to our success and maybe we should focus our efforts on developing hardware too. While I don’t expect everyone to suddenly switch their approach to development I whish it was stressed the importance of hardware so that the hardware industry doesn’t swell up. I have never liked demonstrating software as it always feels so silly; lots of people staring at a small computer screen just doesn’t have the wow factor. Compare this with pulling out of your pocket a shiny new iphone. It has the wow factor because it is something you can touch and as a Software Engineer your software can make something move and light up. The fact is that development in hardware drives the technology industry along and software simply fills the gap. I do hope that it is not only the big boys that shape the future of hardware development as this in turn drives the progress of software development.

Monday, 14 April 2008

And I'm done

I finally submitted my major project at the end of March. I have been working on it for over a year and I am very happy with the outcome. It is detailed over at Grahamsoft Labs under the Waddon project name. It has taught me a great deal about microcontrollers and embedded software design, and more importantly it has given me a good idea of what I am interested in. Exams start in May so my next job is to begin revision; well I have already started just not very successfully. During my breaks I will be tidying up the BridTEC site as well as catching up with TV via the iPlayer. Little update regarding that; a separate kservice-clean application fixed my problems with the iPlayer, if you need more information about that contact me. So Summer is in the air, Spring is a pointless season, and it starts making me think about my future options as I am coming to the end of my degree. I definitely need more industry experience for a few more years but after that who knows. It will depend on where I physically am and how far I have climbed the corporate ladder, My dream has always been to run my own company. On the Job front interviews have been great however I let myself down with the aptitude tests. Most have not even been related to Software Engineering and often time is an issue. As I am dyslexic, something I never use as an excuse, I often run out of time with exams which is something unfortunately I can't practice to overcome. Hey, ho, someone will eventually accept me, lucky the jobs I have previously applied for haven't been my dream job. So I guess its back to revision.

Tuesday, 15 January 2008

Making the unmissable, unmissable

Last year I blogged about the BBC integrated Media Player, a IPTV application developed so UK residence could catch up on TV programmes they have missed. Well now renamed the BBC iPlayer, this application has been launched and I have been using it for some time now. It's been a bit of a boom for IPTV in the UK with Channel 4, ITV and Sky also launching their own versions of their catch up TV service. All apart from ITVs version use the Kontiki peer-to-peer software and the now famous kservice. ITV simply provide a streamed catch up service from their website instead of a standalone application. As I said I have been using the services for a long time and have continually used them through their beta periods. On the whole I had no problem. The quality is brilliant, downloads where fairly fast even with less popular programming and the range of programme choice is fantastic. A big however follows; after a software update, I think, of the BBC iPlayer the kservice started to use up to 100% of the processor like it was locked in a loop. This obviously reduced the performance of my computer and I had to shut it down. After many reinstalls and even tinkering with the registry I haven't come to a solution. As I said because the BBC, Channel 4 and Sky all use the same technology this means all applications are broken. So until I see a fix I am resulted to the streamed version of the iPlayer which was originally intended as a stop gap for Mac users as the Kontiki software isn't available for the Mac. So on the whole IPTV is shaping up good in the UK . The above described are the computer application versions but we are also seeing standalone set top boxes being launch like BT Vision and also BT Vision for the XBOX 360. There is an interesting time ahead and I look follow to future developments.