More tea please.

BBC On-demand: Big stupid sheep.

I’m glad to see that the BBC’s “on-demand” service has been approved by the BBC Trust. However, I’m not so happy that they’ve decided to DRM it. On the other hand, quoting from the “BBC on-demand proposals: Public Value Test final conclusions” published by the BBC Trust:

In response to a submission from the BBC Executive, we are dropping our two-year deadline for achieving platform neutrality on seven-day catch-up TV and will instead audit the Executive’s progress every six months.

Hopefully this means that we won’t have to wait very long until they release the DRM shackles.

A good part to read is page 9. This describes why they chose a DRM system. I think their argument’s a bit pants really. It mainly boils down to agreements with the rights holders of the stuff the BBC broadcasts, and how their content must only be available for download for a limited period after broadcast. The Trust seems to have immediately jumped to the conclusion that this means that they must use DRM. This is absolutely absurd! Currently, I can go and record digital TV broadcasts (note: with no loss in quality between transmitter & receiver) and they’re not DRMed. They’re in a file too, so one could go and pirate those in exactly the same way as a downloaded non-DRMed file. Why has the Trust decided that downloading from the internet any different? The methods of piracy prevention that are currently in place (i.e. the Police) for digital broadcasts seem to be working alright don’t they?

It seems to me that the BBC Trust is like a massive sheep. In its report, it states that it’s not sure about the business models for open content. Firstly, this is a load of diabolical rubbish (CDs!). It’s just following the flock of other content vendors.

Posted at 4:05 pm on Monday 30th April 2007

Circular Buffering

I just changed the buffer that the Gumsense firmware uses to store data to be circular. This means that it can continue sampling whilst data is being read out of it. So, no “lost” data.

When the Gumstix requests that the Gumsense clears all the current readings, it now clears only the ones that the Gumstix has read out.

I know I said that I’d finished. I found a bug in the code for reading data out of the Gumsense. I’ve fixed that now. I thought whilst I was at it I’d scratch this itch.

Posted at 8:14 pm on Wednesday 25th April 2007


Spent a fair chunk of today sorting out Phil’s hard disk. Mac OS X had impolitely destroyed his partition table for him. I used TestDisk to recover it. There were a couple of issues, which meant that it took a little longer than it was “supposed” to.

It located a couple of adjacent ext3 partitions (Phil’s Fedora and Ubuntu roots) and generated some overlapping numbers for them. I had to manually edit the partition table using sfdisk to get it right. I particularly enjoyed the rollback-like features that sfdisk has (using -O and -I). I had to tell sfdisk to use sector units because it defaults to cylinders.

Then Phil gave me food. Excellent. Technical support for food.

Got a couple of management textbooks out from the library earlier. They’re really boring. Seem to be stating the obvious. Joy.

Posted at 11:06 pm on Tuesday 17th April 2007

Farnell “improvement”

What is it with internet vendors and not understanding how to sell things through websites? Farnell’s website went through an “upgrade” a couple of weeks ago. I’ve just attempted to use it. They seem to have removed the ability for one to remove the individual search criteria that one has applied. They don’t even let you see them!

The Farnell website must be continuously trawled by electronic engineers looking for things. It’s as if they’ve never ever talked to any of them nor read the torrent of annoyed feedback that must pump into their website all day long!

So, a plan. I fair to believe that there aren’t thousands of people who are irritated by Farnell’s website. So I’ve started a petition. Sign it!

Posted at 2:06 pm on Sunday 15th April 2007

Powering Down: Part 1

I wrote most of this blog entry about a week ago.

When something on the Gumstix starts the sequence of events that should eventually lead to the gumstix being turned off, the Gumstix needs to send a message to the Gumsense telling it to terminate its power. Investigation follows…


Posted at 7:21 pm on Saturday 14th April 2007

Future Work

I’ve reached a point where I’m reasonably happy with the current Gumsense situation. However, there are still improvements I’d like to make…


Posted at 6:25 pm on Saturday 14th April 2007

Tcl Library Done!

I’ve finished writing and debugging the Tcl library for the gumsense! w00t.

I had to tweak the Tcl buildroot scripts so that it got installed correctly (now in git repository), and now one can type package require gumsense and it works (if you modify the load path correctly).

Posted at 6:24 pm on Saturday 14th April 2007

Tcl stuff

I spent the first half of today learning Tcl. Then I started writing a gumsense extension for it:

load ./libgumsense.so

puts "The time is [gumsense::read_time]"

gumsense::set_time 3
puts "The time is [gumsense::read_time]"

(NB: I’m experiencing problems with making it a package at the moment because the gumstix buildroot doesn’t install everything (I think) it should – wasn’t a priority.)


# ./test.tcl 
The time is 1176423144
The time is 3

So now I just have to spend a few hours wrapping Tcl around the C library, and I’ll have got somewhere…

Posted at 12:14 am on Friday 13th April 2007


From Google maps:

Posted at 2:44 pm on Wednesday 11th April 2007

Gumsense Photos

Some photos of the Gumsense:

Bottom of the Gumsense:Bottom of the Gumsense

Top of the Gumsense:Top of the Gumsense

The Gumsense with Gumstix and wifi card:Gumsense with Gumstix and wifi card

The Gumsense with Gumstix:Gumsense with Gumstix

Posted at 10:31 pm on Tuesday 10th April 2007

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