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Updated: 47 min 36 sec ago

Craige McWhirter: Craige McWhirter: How To Configure Debian to Use The Tiny Programmer ISP Board

Sun, 2015-07-19 17:29

So, you've gone and bought yourself a Tiny Programmer ISP, you've plugged into your Debian system, excitedly run avrdude only to be greeted with this:

% avrdude -c usbtiny -p m8 avrdude: error: usbtiny_transmit: error sending control message: Operation not permitted avrdude: initialization failed, rc=-1 Double check connections and try again, or use -F to override this check. avrdude: error: usbtiny_transmit: error sending control message: Operation not permitted avrdude done. Thank you.

I resolved this permissions error by adding the following line to /etc/udev/rules.d/10-usbtinyisp.rules:

SUBSYSTEM=="usb", ATTR{idVendor}=="1781", ATTR{idProduct}=="0c9f", GROUP="plugdev", MODE="0666"

Then restarting udev:

% sudo systemctl restart udev

Plugged the Tiny Programmer ISP back in the laptop and ran avrdude again:

% sudo avrdude -c usbtiny -p m8 avrdude: AVR device initialized and ready to accept instructions Reading | ################################################## | 100% 0.00s avrdude: Device signature = 0x1e9587 avrdude: Expected signature for ATmega8 is 1E 93 07 Double check chip, or use -F to override this check. avrdude done. Thank you.

You should now have avrdude love.

Enjoy :-)

Michael Still: Casuarina Sands to Kambah Pool

Sun, 2015-07-19 09:29
I did a walk with the Canberra Bushwalking Club from Casuarina Sands (in the Cotter) to Kambah Pool (just near my house) yesterday. It was very enjoyable. I'm not going to pretend to be excellent at write ups for walks, but will note that the walk leader John Evans has a very detailed blog post about the walk up already. We found a bunch of geocaches along the way, with John doing most of the work and ChifleyGrrrl and I providing encouragement and scrambling skills. A very enjoyable day.



                                       



See more thumbnails



Interactive map for this route.



Tags for this post: blog pictures 20150718-casurina_sands_to_kambah_pool photo canberra bushwalk

Related posts: Goodwin trig; Big Monks; Geocaching; Confessions of a middle aged orienteering marker; A quick walk through Curtin; Narrabundah trig and 16 geocaches



Comment

Ben Martin: OSX Bundling Soprano and other joys

Fri, 2015-07-17 23:01
Libferris has been moving to use more Qt/KDE technologies over the years. Ferris is also a fairly substantial software project in it's own right, with many plugins and support for multiple libraries. Years back I moved from using raw redland to using soprano for RDF handling in libferris.



Over recent months, from time to time, I've been working on an OSX bundle for libferris. The idea is to make installation as simple as copying Ferris.app to /Applications. I've done some OSX packaging before, so I've been exposed to the whole library paths inside dylib stuff, and also the freedesktop specs expecting things in /etc or whatever and you really want it to look into /Applications/YouApp/Contents/Resources/.../etc/whatever.



The silver test for packaging is to rename the area that is used to build the source to something unexpected and see if you can still run the tools. The Gold test is obviously to install from the app.dmz onto a fresh machine and see that it runs.



I discovered a few gotchas during silver testing and soprano usage. If you get things half right then you can get to a state that allows the application to run but that does not allow a redland RDF model to ever be created. If your application assumes that it can always create an in memory RDF store, a fairly secure bet really, then bad things will befall the app bundle on osx.



Plugins are found by searching for the desktop files first and then loading the shared libary plugin as needed. The desktop files can be found with the first line below, while the second line allows the plugin shared libraries to be found and loaded.



export SOPRANO_DIRS=/Applications/Ferris.app/Contents/Resources/usr/share

export LD_LIBRARY_PATH=/Applications/Ferris.app/Contents/Resources/usr/local/lib/soprano/



You have to jump through a few more hoops. You'll find that the plugin ./lib/soprano/libsoprano_redlandbackend.so links to lib/librdf.0.dylib and librdf will link to other redland libraries which themselves link to things like libxml2 which you might not have bundled yet.



There are also many cases of things linking to QtCore and other Qt libraries. These links are normally to nested paths like Library/Frameworks/QtCore.framework/Versions/4/QtCore which will not pass the silver test. Actually, links inside dylibs like that tend to cause the show to segv and you are left to work out where and why that happened. My roll by hand solution is to create softlinks to these libraries like QtCore in the .../lib directory and then resolve the dylib links to these softlinks.



In the end I'd also like to make an app bundle for specific KDE apps. Just being able to install okular by drag and drop would be very handy. It is my preferred reader for PDF files and having a binary that doesn't depend on a build environment (homebrew or macports) makes it simpler to ensure I can always have okular even when using an osx machine.





Binh Nguyen: Selling Software Online, Installer, Packaging, and Packing Software, Desktop Automation, and More

Fri, 2015-07-17 20:08
Selling software online is deceptively simple. Actually making money out of it can be much more difficult.

http://www.cio.com/article/2388308/enterprise-software/14-tips-for-selling-software-and-services-online.html

http://www.quora.com/What-is-best-way-to-sell-software-online

http://www.softwarecasa.com/sell-software-i-4.html?ModPagespeed=noscript

http://www.forbes.com/sites/kathycaprino/2013/05/21/why-your-online-program-just-wont-sell/

http://www.fastspring.com/selling-software-online



Heaps of packaging/installer programs out there. Some cross platform solutions out there as well. Interestingly, just like a lot of businesses out there (even a restaurant that I frequent will offer you a free drink if you 'Like' them via Facebook) now they make use of guerilla style marketing techniques. Write a blog article for them and they may provide you with a free license.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_installation_software http://www.techrepublic.com/blog/five-apps/five-apps-for-creating-installation-packages/

http://www.advancedinstaller.com/free-license.html

http://www.jrsoftware.org/isinfo.php

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_software_package_management_systems

http://www.flexerasoftware.com/producer/products/software-installation/installshield-software-installer/

http://www.flexerasoftware.com/producer/resources/free-trials/#installshield



I've always wondered how much money software manufacturers make from bloatware and other advertising... It can vary drastically. Something that to watch for are silent/delayed installs though. Namely, installation of software even though it doesn't show up the Window's 'Control Panel'.

http://www.lifehacker.com.au/2015/05/crapware-is-a-horrible-problem-and-its-all-our-fault/

http://www.howtogeek.com/168691/how-to-avoid-installing-junk-programs-when-downloading-free-software/?PageSpeed=noscript

http://www.lifehacker.com.au/2013/11/unchecky-ensures-you-never-accidentally-install-bundleware-again/

http://unchecky.com/

http://www.makeuseof.com/tag/fight-toolbar-installer-bloatware-opinion/

https://www.google.com/admob/monetize.html

http://www.mobyaffiliates.com/blog/how-to-make-more-money-from-your-app-monetization-tips-from-appflood/

http://www.codefuel.com/developers

http://www.incomediary.com/7-best-plugins-for-monetization

http://www.amonetize.com/

http://installmonetizer.com/

http://www.sterkly.com/installer-monetization/https://unityads.unity3d.com/help/Frequently%20Asked%20Questions/faq

http://www.revenyou.com/

http://www.buzinga.com.au/buzz/how-to-make-money-from-apps/



Even though product activation/DRM can be simple to implement (depending on the solution), cost can vary drastically depending on the company and solution that is involved.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Product_activation

http://stackoverflow.com/questions/3481594/how-to-program-a-super-simple-software-activation-system

https://activatar.codeplex.com/

https://www.fingoo.net/lib/asp/packages.asp

http://stackoverflow.com/questions/822468/is-there-an-open-source-drm-solution

http://www.fatbit.com/fab/launch-best-gaana-clone-script-features-website-details-confirm/

http://www.fileopen.com/

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Digital_rights_management

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Copy_protection



Sometimes you just want to know what packers and obfuscation a company may have used to protect/compress their program. It's been a while since I looked at this and it looks like things were just like last time. A highly specialised tool with few genuinely good, quality candidates...

https://en.wikibooks.org/wiki/Reverse_Engineering/File_Formats

http://stackoverflow.com/questions/1271550/how-to-detect-what-was-the-pe-packer-used-on-the-given-exe

http://www.woodmann.com/collaborative/tools/index.php/Category:Packer_Identifiers

http://reverseengineering.stackexchange.com/questions/3184/packers-protectors-for-linux

http://ntinfo.biz/

https://www.digitalocean.com/community/tutorials/how-to-install-and-get-started-with-packer-on-an-ubuntu-12-04-vps

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Executable_compression

http://upx.sourceforge.net/

https://malwr.com



A nice way of earning some extra/bonus (and legal) income if you have a history being able to spot software bugs.

https://bugcrowd.com/list-of-bug-bounty-programs

http://www.businessinsider.com.au/twitter-hackerone-bounty-program-2014-9

http://www.siteslike.com/similar/vupen.com

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pwn2Own



If you've never used screen/desktop automation software before there are actually quiet a few options out there. Think of it as 'Macros' for the Windows desktop. The good thing is that a lot of them may use a scripting language for the backend and have other unexpected functionality as well opening up further opportunities for productivity and automation gains.

http://alternativeto.net/software/sikuli/

http://stackoverflow.com/questions/11497613/what-better-tool-than-sikuli-to-use-for-screen-automation-on-windows-7-or-prefe

https://answers.launchpad.net/sikuli/+question/141373

http://stackoverflow.com/questions/6337629/how-to-send-ctrl-c-in-sikuli

https://answers.launchpad.net/sikuli/+question/185777

https://answers.launchpad.net/sikuli/+question/232900



A lot of partition management software claim to be able to basically handle all circumstances. The strange thing is that disk cloning to an external drive doesn't seem to be handled as well. The easiest/simplest way seems to be just using a caddy/internal in combination with whatever software you may be using.

http://forum.easeus.com/viewtopic.php?t=20183

http://kb.easeus.com/art.php?id=10039

http://www.partition-tool.com/easeus-partition-manager/disk-copy.htm



There are some free Australian accounting solutions out there. A bit lacking feature wise though.

http://www.flyingsolo.com.au/forums/index.php?threads/free-accounting-software-australia-recommendations.29338/

http://www.bit.com.au/Review/344651,7-accounting-packages-for-australian-small-businesses-compared-including-myob-quickbooks-online-reckon-xero.aspx

http://bas-i.com.au/

http://l-lists.com/en/lists/rn52ao.html



Every once in a while someone sends you an email in a 'eml' format which can't be decoded by your local mail client. Try using 'ripmime'...

http://superuser.com/questions/187106/extract-save-a-mail-attachment-using-bash

Ben Martin: Terry && EL

Fri, 2015-07-17 16:49
After getting headlights Terry now has a lighted arm. This is using the 3 meter EL wire and a 2xAA battery inverter to drive it. The around $20 entry point to bling is fairly hard to resist. The EL tape looks better IMHO but seems to be a little harder to work with from what I've read about cutting the tape and resoldering / reconnecting.



I have a 1 meter red EL tape which I think I'll try to wrap around the pan/tilt assembly. From an initial test it can make it around the actobotics channel length I'm using around twice. I'll probably print some mounts for it so that the tape doesn't have to try to make right angle turns at the ends of the channel.



Ben Martin: Terry - Lights, EL and solid Panner

Thu, 2015-07-16 12:39
Terry the robot now has headlights! While the Kinect should be happy in low light I found some nice 3 watt LEDs on sale and so headlights had to happen. The lights want a constant current source of 700mA so I grabbed an all in one chip solution do to that and mounted the lights in series. Yes, there are a load of tutorials on building a constant current driver for a few bucks around the net, but sometimes I don't really want to dive in and build every part. I think it will be interesting at some stage to test some of the constant current setups and see the ripple and various metrics of the different designs. That part of he analysis is harder to find around the place.





And just how does this all look when the juice is flowing I hear you ask. I have tilted the lights ever so slightly downwards to save the eyes from the full blast. Needless to say, you will be able to see Terry coming now, and it will surely see you in full colour 1080 glory as you become in the sights. I thought about mounting the lights on the pan and tilt head unit, but I really don't want these to ever get to angles that are looking right into a person's eyes as they are rather bright.





On another note, I now have some EL wire and EL tape for Terry itself. So the robot will be glowing in a sublte way itself. The EL tape is much cooler looking than the wire IMHO but the tape is harder to cut (read I probably won't be doing that). I think the 1m of tape will end up wrapped around the platform on the pan and tilt board.



Behind the LED is quite a heatsink, so they shouldn't pop for quite some time. In the top right you can just see the heatshrink direct connected wires on the LED driver chip and the white wire mounts above it. I have also trimmed down the quad encoder wires and generally cleaned up that area of the robot.





A little while ago I moved the pan mechanism off axle. The new axle is hollow and setup to accomodate a slip ring at the base. I now have said slip ring and am printing a crossover plate for that to mount to channel. Probably by the next post Terry will be able to continuiously rotate the panner without tangling anything up. The torque multiplier of the brass to alloy wheels together with the 6 rpm gearmotor having very high torque means that the panner will tend to stay where it is. Without powering the motor the panner is nearly impossible to move, the grub screws will fail before the motor gives way.





Although the EL tape is tempting, the wise move is to fit the slip ring first.

Michael Still: Wanderings

Thu, 2015-07-16 08:29
I am on vacation this week, so I took this afternoon to do some walking and geocaching...



That included a return visit to Narrabundah trig to clean up some geocaches I missed last visit:



               



Interactive map for this route.



And exploring the Lindsay Pryor arboretum because I am trying to collect the complete set of arboretums in Canberra:



                   



Interactive map for this route.



And then finally the Majura trig, which was a new one for me:



   



See more thumbnails



Interactive map for this route.



I enjoyed the afternoon. I found a fair few geocaches, and walked for about five hours (not including driving between the locations). I would have spent more time geocaching at Majura, except I made it back to the car after sunset as it was.



Tags for this post: blog pictures 20150715-wanderings photo canberra bushwalk trig_point

Related posts: Goodwin trig; Big Monks; Narrabundah trig and 16 geocaches; Cooleman and Arawang Trigs; One Tree and Painter; A walk around Mount Stranger



Comment

David Rowe: 8 Mega Watts in your bare hands

Wed, 2015-07-15 08:30

I recently went on a nice road trip to Gippstech, an interstate Ham radio conference, with Andrew, VK5XFG. On the way, we were chatting about Electric Cars, and how much of infernal combustion technology is really just a nasty hack. Andrew made the point that if petrol cars had been developed now, we would have all sorts of Hazmat rules around using them.

Take refueling. Gasoline contains 42MJ of energy in every litre. On one of our stops we took 3 minutes to refuel 36 litres. That’s 42*36/180 or 8.4MJ/s. Now one watt is 1J/s, so that’s a “power” (the rate energy is moving) of 8.4MW. Would anyone be allowed to hold an electrical cable carrying 8.4MW? That’s like 8000V at 1000A. Based on an average household electricity consumption of 2kW, that’s like hanging onto the HT line supplying 4200 homes.

But it’s OK, as long as your don’t smoke or hold a mobile phone!

The irony is that while I was sitting on 60 litres of high explosive, spraying fumes along the Princes Highway and bitching about petrol cars I was enjoying the use of one. Oh well, bring on the Tesla charge stations and low cost EVs. Infrastructure, the forces of mass production and renewable power will defeat the evils of fossil fuels.

Reading Further

Energy Equivalents of a Krispy Kreme Factory.

Fuel Consumption of a Pedestrian Crossing

Linux Users of Victoria (LUV) Announce: LUV Beginners July Meeting: Ask the experts

Tue, 2015-07-14 22:29
Start: Jul 18 2015 12:30 End: Jul 18 2015 16:30 Start: Jul 18 2015 12:30 End: Jul 18 2015 16:30 Location: 

RMIT Building 91, 110 Victoria Street, Carlton South

Link:  http://luv.asn.au/meetings/map

This month we'll be asking attendees for their pressing Linux and Open Source issues, and our resident Linux experts will then attempt to explain the topics to your satisfaction! If you've got something you always wanted to know more about, or something you'd like to know how to do, come along and ask.

There will also be the usual casual hands-on workshop, Linux installation, configuration and assistance and advice. Bring your laptop if you need help with a particular issue.

LUV would like to acknowledge Red Hat for their help in obtaining the Trinity College venue and VPAC for hosting.

Linux Users of Victoria Inc., is an incorporated association, registration number A0040056C.

July 18, 2015 - 12:30

Linux Australia News: Minutes of Council Meeting 17 June 2015

Tue, 2015-07-14 22:26
Wed, 2015-06-17 19:49 - 20:41

1. Meeting overview and key information

Present

Josh Hesketh, Sae Ra Germaine, Christopher Neugebauer, Craige McWhirter, Josh Stewart, James Iseppi

Apologies:

Tony Breeds

Meeting opened by Josh H at 1949hrs and quorum was achieved

Key Stats

Stats not recorded this fortnight

MOTION that the previous minutes of 03 June are correct

Moved: Josh H

Seconded: Chris

Passed Unanimously

2. Log of correspondence

Motions moved on list

Nil

General correspondence

GovHack 2015 as a subcommittee

MOTION by Josh H We accept govhack as an LA Sub-committee with the task of running GovHack at a national level with:

Geoff Mason - lead

Alysha Thomas

Pia Waugh - as the liaison to LA

Sharen Scott

Diana Ferry

Alex Sadleir

Richard Tubb

Jan Bryson

Keith Moss

Under the Sub-committee policy v1 to allow the committee to run with autonomy and to use an external entity for administration.

Seconded Chris

Passed Unanimously

The old Subcommittee policy will need to come into effect

Invoice from LESLIE POOLE - Reminder notice from Donna and Leslie have arrived.

Supporting the Drupal Accelerate fund

UPDATE: In Progress. Tony to process in Xero

Admin Team draft budget from STEVEN WALSH

UPDATE: To be discussed when Tony is available and Council Budget has been revised.

Also includes the requirement of a wildcard cert for *.linux.org.au

MOTION by Josh H accepts the expenditure of $150 per year on a wildcard SSL certificate on linux.org.au

Seconded: James Iseppi

Passed unanimously.

UPDATE: Awaiting for a more firm budget

3. Review of action items from previous meetings

Email from DONNA BENJAMIN regarding website and update to D8 or possible rebuild.

Discussion held about means of finding people willing to assist with both the maintenance of the website platform as well as the content available on this.

JOSH H to speak to Donna regarding this

UPDATE: Ongoing

UPDATE: to be moved to a general action item. To do a call for help to work on the website. Could this be treated as a project.

We need to at least get the website to D8 and automate the updating process.

ACTION: Josh to get a backup of the site to Craig

ACTION: Craige to stage the website to see how easy it is to update.

UPDATE: Craige to log in to the website to elevate permissions.

ACTION with Josh Hesketh to ensure 3 year server support package in progress

Actions are in progress with Admin Team

UPDATE: A budget will be put forward by the admin team. An initial online hackfest has been conducted. Pending item.

UPDATE: Ongoing.

Update: To be removed from the agenda.

ACTION: Josh H and Tony to assess an appropriate amount to transfer funds back from NZ to Australia.

Update: In progress

Update: To be done on friday.

ACTION: Josh H to check with PyconAU to check their budgetary status.

UPDATE: Budget looks fine and trust the treasurer’s accounting abilities.

ACTION: JOSH to seek actuals in budget from PyconAU committee

UPDATE: Completed

Update: to be removed from agenda

ACTION WordCamp Brisbane - JOSH H to contact Brisbane members who may possibly be able to attend conference closing

ACTION: Sae Ra to send through notes on what to say to James.

UPDATE: James delivered a thank you message to WordCamp.

WordCamp was a successful event. Thank you to the organisers.

ACTION: Josh H to get a wrap up/closing report

Potential sponsorship of GovHack.

More information is required on the types of sponsorship that LA can look at.

Clarify with GovHack. LA may not be able to sponsor a prize as you would also need to

UPDATE: Criteria would need to be developed. LA would be able to provide their own judge. Josh S to come with some wording and criteria motion to be held on list.

Value of the prize also to be discussed after budget has been analysed by Josh H and Tony B.

ACTION: Josh H to follow-up on Invoices from WordCamp Sydney

4. Items for discussion

LCA2016 update

Cfp has opened and going very well.

LCA2017 update

Nothing to report

PyCon AU update

Registrations opened. Early birds are looking to sell out very quickly.

Sponsorship is looking good and

ACTION: Sae Ra to approve payment

Drupal South

ACTION: Follow-up on DrupalSouth 2016 enquiry. will need to setup a sub-committee

UPDATE: To work out the sub-committee details with organisers.

WordCamp Brisbane

Seeking a closure report

OSDConf

ACTION: Josh H to follow-up on budget status

5. Items for noting

6. Other business

Backlog of minutes

ACTION: Josh H to help Sae Ra with updating the website and mailing list.

UPDATE: Ongoing.

UPDATE: Completed.

MOTION by Josh H Minutes to be published to planet.linux.org.au

Seconded: Craige

Passed unanimously

Bank account balances need rebalancing

ACTION: Tony to organise transfers to occur including NZ account.

Appropriate treasurers to be notified.

UPDATE: to be discussed on friday

Membership of auDA

Relationship already exists.

LA has the potential to influence the decisions that are made.

ACTION: Council to investigate and look into this further. To be discussed at next fortnight.

UPDATE:

zookeepr

David would like to keep working on ZooKeepr.

We will need to find a solution that does not block volunteers from helping work on ZooKeepr.

ACTION: James to look at ZooKeepr

ACTION: Josh S to catch up with David Bell regarding the documentation.

Grant Request from Kathy Reid for Renai LeMay’s Frustrated State

MOTION by Josh H given the timing the council has missed the opportunity to be involved in the Kickstarter campaign. The council believes this project is still of interest to its members and will reach out to Renai on what might be helpful in an in kind, financial or other way. Therefore the grant request is no longer current and to be closed.

Seconded Sae Ra Germaine

Passed unanimously

ACTION: Josh S to contact Renai

7. In Camera

2 Items were discussed in camera

2041 Close

Stewart Smith: MySQL on NUMA machines just got better!

Tue, 2015-07-14 11:27

A followup to my previous entry , my patch that was part of Bug #72811 Set NUMA mempolicy for optimum mysqld performance has been merged!

I hope it’s enabled by default so that everything “just works”.

I also hope it filters down through MariaDB and Percona Server fairly quickly.

Also, from the release notes on that bug, I think we can expect 5.7.8 any day now.

Michael Still: Quartz trig

Mon, 2015-07-13 17:29
A morning of vacation geocaching, wandering, and walking to quartz trig. Quartz was a disappointment as its just a bolt in the ground, but this was a really nice area I am glad I wandered around in. This terrain would be very good for cubs and inexperienced scouts.



                                       



See more thumbnails



Interactive map for this route.



Tags for this post: blog pictures 20150713-quartz photo canberra bushwalk trig_point

Related posts: Goodwin trig; Big Monks; Narrabundah trig and 16 geocaches; Cooleman and Arawang Trigs; One Tree and Painter; A walk around Mount Stranger



Comment

Sridhar Dhanapalan: Twitter posts: 2015-07-06 to 2015-07-12

Mon, 2015-07-13 00:27

Chris Samuel: Git: Renaming/swapping “master” with a branch on Github

Sun, 2015-07-12 19:26

I was playing around with some code and after having got it working I thought I’d make just one more little quick easy change to finish it off and found that I was descending a spiral of additional complexity due to the environment in which it had to work. As this was going to be “easy” I’d been pushing the commits to master on Github (I’m the only one using this code) and of course a few reworks in I’d realised that this was never going to work out well and needed to be abandoned.

So, how to fix this? The ideal situation would be to just disappear all the commits after the last good one, but that’s not really an option, so what I wanted was to create a branch from the last good point and then swap master and that branch over. Googling pointed me to some possibilities, including this “deprecated feedback” item from “githubtraining” which was a useful guide so I thought I should blog what worked for me in case it helps others.

  1. git checkout -b good $LAST_GOOD_COMMIT # This creates a new branch from the last good commit
  2. git branch -m master development # This renames the "master" branch to "development"
  3. git branch -m good master # This renames the "good" branch to "master".
  4. git push origin development # This pushes the "development" branch to Github
  5. In the Github web interface I went to my repos “Settings” on the right hand side (just above the “clone URL” part) and changed the default branch to “development“.
  6. git push origin :master # This deletes the "master" branch on Github
  7. git push --all # This pushes our new master branch (and everything else) to Github
  8. In the Github web interface I went and changed my default branch back to “master“.

…and that was it, not too bad!

You probably don’t want to do this if anyone else is using this repo though.

David Rowe: Trellis Decoding for Codec 2

Sun, 2015-07-12 11:30

OK, so FreeDV 700 was released a few weeks ago and I’m working on some ideas to improve it. Especially those annoying R2D2 noises due to bit errors at low SNRs.

I’m trying some ideas to improve the speech quality without the use of Forward Error Correction (FEC).

Speech coding is the art of “what can I throw away”. Speech codecs remove a bunch of redundant information. As much as they can. Hopefully with whats left you can still understand the reconstructed speech.

However there is still a bit of left over redundancy. One sample of a model parameter can look a lot like the previous and next sample. If our codec quantisation was really clever, adjacent samples would look like noise. The previous and next samples would look nothing like the current one. They would be totally uncorrelated, and our codec bit rate would be minimised.

This leads to a couple of different approaches to the problem of sending coded speech over channel with bit errors:

The first, conventional approach is to compress the speech as much as we can. This lowers the bit rate but makes the coded speech very susceptible to bit errors. One bit error might make a lot of speech sound bad. So we insert Forward Error correction (FEC) bits, raising the overall bit rate (not so great), but protecting the delicate coded speech bits.

This is also a common approach for sending data over dodgy channels. For data, we cannot tolerate any bit errors, so we use FEC, which can correct every error (or die trying).

However speech is not like data. If we get a click or a pop in the decoded speech we don’t care much. As long as we can sorta make out what was said. Our “Brain FEC” will then work out what the message was.

Which leads us to another approach. If we leave a little redundancy in the coded speech, we can use that to help correct or at least smooth out the received speech. Remember that for speech, it doesn’t have to be perfect. Near enough is good enough. That can be exploited to get us gain over a system that uses FEC.

Turns out that in the Bit Error Rate (BER) ranges we are playing with (5-10%) it’s hard to get a good FEC code. Many of the short ones break – they introduce more errors than they correct. The really good ones are complex with large block sizes (1000s of bits) that introduce unacceptable delay. For example at 700 bit/s, a 7000 bit FEC codeword is 10 seconds of coded speech. Ooops. Not exactly push to talk. And don’t get me started on the memory, MIPs, implementation complexity, and modem synchronisation issues.

These ideas are not new, and I have been influenced by some guys I know who have worked in this area (Philip and Wade if you’re out there). But not influenced enough to actually look up and read their work yet, lol.

The Model

So the idea is to exploit the fact that each codec model parameter changes fairly slowly. Another way of looking at this is the probability of a big change is low. Take a look at the “trellis” diagram below, drawn for a parameter that is represented by a 2 bit “codeword”:

Lets say we know our current received codeword at time n is 00. We happen to know it’s fairly likely (50%) that the next received bits at time n+1 will be 00. A 11, however, is very unlikely (0%), so if we receive a 11 after a 00 there is very probably an error, which we can correct.

The model I am using works like this:

  1. We examine three received codewords: the previous, current, and next.
  2. Given a received codeword we can work out the probability of each possible transmitted codeword. For example we might BPSK modulate the two bit codeword 00 as -1 -1. However when we add noise the receiver will see -1.5 -0.25. So the receiver can then say, well … it’s most likely -1 -1 was sent, but it also could have been a -1 1, and maybe the noise messed up the last bit.
  3. So we work out the probability of each sequence of three codewords, given the probability of jumping from one codeword to the next. For example here is one possible “path”, 00-11-00:

    total prob =

    (prob a 00 was sent at time n-1) AND

    (prob of a jump from 00 at time n-1 to 11 at time n) AND

    (prob a 11 was sent at time n) AND

    (prob of a jump from 11 at time n to 00 at time n+1) AND

    (prob a 00 was sent at time n+1)

  4. All possible paths of the three received values are examined, and the most likely one chosen.

The transition probabilities are pre-computed using a training database of coded speech. Although it is possible to measure these on the fly, training up to each speaker.

I think this technique is called maximum likelihood decoding.

Demo and Walk through

To test this idea I wrote a GNU Octave simulation called trellis.m

Here is a test run for a single trellis decode. The internal states are dumped for your viewing pleasure. You can see the probability calculations for each received codeword, the transition probabilities for each state, and the exhaustive search of all possible paths through the 3 received codewords. At the end, it get’s the right answer, the middle codeword is decoded as a 00.

For convenience the probability calculations are done in the log domain, so rather than multiplies we can use adds. So a large negative “probability” means really unlikely, a positive one likely.

Here is a plot of 10 seconds of a 4 bit LSP parameter:

You can see a segments where it is relatively stable, and some others where it’s bouncing around. This is a mesh plot of the transition probabilities, generated from a small training database:

It’s pretty close to a “eye” matrix. For example, if you are in state 10, it’s fairly likely the next state will be close by, and less likely you will jump to a remote state like 0 or 15.

Here is test run using data from several seconds of coded speech:



octave:130> trellis

loading training database and generating tp .... done

loading test database .... done

Eb/No: 3.01 dB nerrors 28 29 BER: 0.03 0.03 std dev: 0.69 1.76

We are decoding using trellis based decoding, and simple hard decision decoding. Note how the number of errors and BER is the same? However the std dev (distance) between the transmitted and decoded codewords is much better for trellis based decoding. This plot shows the decoder errors over 10 seconds of a 4 bit parameter:

See how the trellis decoding produces smaller errors?

Not all bit errors are created equal. The trellis based decoding favours small errors that have a smaller perceptual effect (we can’t hear them). Simple hard decision decoding has a random distribution of errors. Sometimes you get the Most Significant Bit (MSB) of the binary codeword flipped which is bad news. You can see this effect above, with a 4 bit codeword, a MSB error means a jump of +/- 8. These large errors are far less likely with trellis decoding.

Listen

Hear are some samples that compare trellis based decoding to simple hard decision decoding, when applied to Codec2 at 700 bit/s on a AWGN channel using PSK. Only the 6 LSP parameters are tested (short term spectrum), no errors or correction are applied to the excitation parameters (voicing, pitch, energy).

Eb/No (dB) BER Trellis Simple (hard dec) big 0.00 Listen Listen 3.0 0.02 Listen Listen 0.0 0.08 Listen Listen

At 3dB, the trellis based decoding removes most of the effects of bit errors, and it sounds similar to the no error reference. Compared to simple decoding, the bloops and washing machine noises have gone away. At 0dB Eb/No, the speech quality is improved, with some exceptions. Fast changes, like the “W” in double-you, and the “B” in Bruce become indistinct. This is because when the channel noise is high, the probability model favours slow changes in the parameters.

Still – getting any sort of speech at 8% bit error rates with no FEC is pretty cool.

Further Work

These techniques could also be applied to FreeDV 1600, improving the speech quality with no additional overhead. Further work is required to extend these ideas to all the codec parameters, such as pitch, energy, and voicing.

I need to train the transition probabilities with a larger database, or make it train in real time using off air data.

We could include other information in the model, like the relationship of adjacent LSPs, or how energy and pitch change slowly in strongly voiced speech.

Now 10% BER is an interesting, rarely explored area. The data guys start to sweat above 1E-6, and assume everyone else does. At 10% BER FEC codes don’t work well, you need a really long block size or a low FEC rate. Modems struggle due to syncronisation issues. However at 10% the Eb/No versus BER curves start to get flat, so a few dB either way doesn’t change the BER much. This suggests small changes in intelligibility (not much of a threshold effect). Like analog.

Summary

For speech, we don’t need to correct all errors; we just need to make it sound like they are corrected. By leaving some residual redundancy in the coded speech parameters we can use probability models to correct errors in the decoded speech with no FEC overhead.

This work is another example of experimental work we can do with an open source codec. It combines knowledge of the channel, the demodulator and the codec parameters to produce a remarkable result – improved performance with no FEC.

This work is in it’s early stages. But the gains all add up. A few more dB here and there.

References

  1. I found this description of Soft Decision Viterbi decoding useful.
  2. Last year I did some related work on natural versus gray coding.

Binh Nguyen: Electronics (TV) Repair, Working at Amazon, and Dealing With a Malfunctioning Apple iDevice

Sat, 2015-07-11 16:38
I obviously do component level electronics repair from time to time (I've been doing electronics repair/modification since I was fairly young on devices ranging from food processers all the way up to advanced electronic component level repair such as laptops). One of recent experiments was with large screen flat panel (Plasma, LCD, LED, etc...) television sets. Some general notes:



- take precautions. If you've ever watched some of those guys on YouTube, you'll realise that they are probably amateur electrcians and have probably never been shocked/electrocuted before. It's one thing to work with small electronic devices. It's an entirely different matter to be working with mains voltage. Be careful...

- a lot of the time electronic failure will take occur gradually over time (although the amount of time can vary drastically obviously)

- don't just focus on repairing it so that power can flow through the circuit once more. It's possible that it will just fail once more. Home in on the problem area, and make sure everything's working. That way you don't have to keep on dealing with other difficulties down the track

http://electronics.stackexchange.com/questions/25055/slow-blow-vs-fast-acting-fuse

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Fuse_%28electrical%29

- it may only be possible to test components outside of circuit. While testing components with a multimeter will help you may need to purchase more advanced and expensive diagnostic equipment to really figure out what the true cause of the problem is

http://www.eevblog.com/forum/beginners/is-there-any-way-to-test-capacitors-while-on-the-circuit-board/

http://electronics.stackexchange.com/questions/95663/how-to-test-capacitors-of-non-working-circuit-board-using-capacitor-meter

http://en-us.fluke.com/training/training-library/test-tools/digital-multimeters/how-to-measure-capacitance-with-a-digital-multimeter.html

http://www.learningaboutelectronics.com/Articles/How-to-test-a-capacitor

http://www.tpub.com/neets/book7/24l.htm

http://www.ladyada.net/library/metertut/resistance.html?PageSpeed=noscript

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Oscilloscope

- setup a proper test environment. Ideally, one where you have a seperate circuit and where there are safety mechanisms in place to reduce the chances of a total blackout in your house and to increase your personal safety

- any information that you take from this is at your own risk. Please don't think that any of the information here will turn you into a qualified electronics technician or will allow you to solve most problems that you will face

- a lot of the time information on the Internet can be helpful but only applies to particular conditions. Try to understand and work the problem rather than just blindly following what other people do. It may save you a bit of money over the long term

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Failure_modes_of_electronics

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cascading_failure

https://ca.answers.yahoo.com/question/index?qid=20100213153443AAc1xPb

http://electronics.stackexchange.com/questions/8129/how-do-components-fail

http://www.angelfire.com/planet/funwithtransistors/Book_TS_CHAP-3.html

http://www.angelfire.com/electronic/funwithtubes/Restore_cap.html

http://www.avsforum.com/forum/167-plasma-flat-panel-displays/1490867-samsung-pn60e550d1f-no-picture-has-sound-capacitors-look-ok.html

http://www.avsforum.com/forum/167-plasma-flat-panel-displays/1490976-samsung-51d490-sound-but-no-picture-issue.html

http://forum.allaboutcircuits.com/threads/lg-42-lcd-tv-42lg60fr-picture-goes-black-sound-still-on.86475/

http://www.gamersyde.com/forum_lg_lcd_tv_47lg50_blacked_out_-33_34874_1_en.html

http://www.avsforum.com/forum/166-lcd-flat-panel-displays/1337855-tv-turns-there-sound-but-no-picture.html

https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCUfgq9Gn8S041qQFl0C-CEQ

https://www.youtube.com/user/GrantsPassTVRepairs?feature=hovercard

http://www.explainthatstuff.com/plasmatv.html

http://www.badcaps.net/forum/showthread.php?t=18542

http://www.badcaps.net/forum/showthread.php?t=33333

https://www.ifixit.com/Answers/View/136156/color+on+LCD+fades+to+white+after+10+seconds

http://support-us.samsung.com/cyber/popup/iframe/pop_troubleshooting_fr.jsp?idx=28929&modelname=LT-P227W

https://us.en.kb.sony.com/app/answers/detail/a_id/42696/~/the-tv-turns-off-and-on-by-itself,-reboots,-or-the-standby-light-is-blinking

https://answers.yahoo.com/question/index?qid=20080129052848AAdAtpt

http://forums.cnet.com/7723-13973_102-530929/horizontal-black-lines-on-samsung-50-plasma-tv/

http://forums.cnet.com/7723-13973_102-511585/plasma-tv-has-3-thin-black-lines/

http://everydaylife.globalpost.com/causes-horizontal-lines-lcd-panel-37988.html

Philips 32PFL5522D/05 - Completely dead (no power LED or signs of life) - Diagnosis and repair

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=TrphsEw8slw how fix tv site:blogspot.com

- electronics repair is becoming increasingly un-economical. Parts may be impossible to find and replacing the TV rather than fixing it may actually be cheaper (especially when the screen is cracked. It's almost certain that a new replacement is going to cost more than the set itself). The only circumstances where it's likely to be worth it is if you have cheap spare parts on hand or the type of failure involves a relatively small, minor, component. The other thing you should know is that while the device may be physically structured in such a way to appear modularised it may not fail in such a fashion. I've been reading about boards which fail but actually have no mechanism to stop it from bleeding into other modules which means you end up in an infinite, failure loop. Replace one bad component with a good one and the leftover apparently good component fails and takes out the new, good board eventually. The cycle then continues on forever before the technician realises this or news of such design spreads. You may have to replace both boards at the same time which then makes the repair un-economical

http://resistor.cherryjourney.pt/

http://www.eeweb.com/toolbox/4-band-resistor-calculator

http://www.1728.org/resisclr.htm

http://www.camradio.net/resistors.html

- spare parts can be extremely difficult to source or are incredibly expensive. Moreover, the quality of the replacement parts can vary drastically in quality. If at all possible work with a source of known quality. Else, ask for demo parts particularly with Asian suppliers who may provide them for free and as a means of establishing a longer term business relationship

http://www.aliexpress.com/store/product/37PFL7422-93-37TA2800-Power-Supply-715T2484-5-Original-parts/715046_32223080629.html

http://www.aliexpress.com/store/product/Non-Replacement-37PFL7422-Power-Board-715T2484-5/1395137_32228251009.html

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mains_electricity_by_country

http://www.worldstandards.eu/electricity/plug-voltage-by-country/

https://answers.yahoo.com/question/index?qid=20060619172834AADo9qt

http://electronics.stackexchange.com/questions/120983/what-happens-if-a-240v-appliance-is-connected-in-a-120v-ac-power-supply

http://electronics.stackexchange.com/questions/29259/charging-devices-voltage-and-amperage

https://answers.yahoo.com/question/index?qid=20060619172834AADo9qt

- be careful when replacing parts. Try to do your bet to replace like for like. Certain systems will operate in a degraded state if/when using sub-par replacements but will ultimately fail down the line

http://electronics.stackexchange.com/questions/86530/substituting-capacitors

http://www.antiqueradio.org/recap.htm

- use all your senses (and head) to track down a failure more quickly (sight and smell in particular for burnt out components). Sometimes, it may not be obvious where the actual failure is as opposed to where it may appear to be coming from. For instance, one set I looked at had a chirping power supply. It had actually suffered from failures of multiple components which made it appear/sound as though the transformer had failed. Replacement of all relevant components (not the transformer) resulted in a functional power supply unit and stopping of the chirping sound

http://www.cnet.com/au/news/samsung-power-defect-causes-some-tvs-to-fail-and-a-class-action-suit-follows/

http://techreport.com/forums/viewtopic.php?f=37&t=62360&start=960

http://www.tomshardware.com/forum/363126-28-making-clicking-chirping-noises

https://answers.yahoo.com/question/index?qid=20111006212112AAbUauu

http://www.badcaps.net/forum/showthread.php?t=24657

http://www.badcaps.net/forum/showthread.php?t=18603

http://www.badcaps.net/forum/showthread.php?t=17379

http://superuser.com/questions/487729/motherboard-makes-high-pitched-chirping-noise-will-it-stop-by-itself-or-what-d

http://sound.westhost.com/troubleshooting.htm

http://www.instructables.com/id/Repair-your-electronics-by-replacing-blown-capacit/

http://www.justanswer.com/tv-repair/62e22-philips-42-inch-lcd-no-picture-just-chirping-sound-when-turned.html

http://www.fixya.com/tags/chirping/flat_panel_televisions/philips

http://www.ehow.com/how_7387574_philips-turn-making-chirping-noise.html

http://www.capacitorlab.com/visible-failures/

http://www.badcaps.net/pages.php?vid=5

http://www.angelfire.com/electronic/funwithtubes/Testing_caps.html

http://conradhoffman.com/capchecktut.htm

http://www.justanswer.com/tv-repair/71602-fix-vertical-lines-samsung-plasma-tv.html

http://www.digikey.com.au/product-detail/en/ECE-A1AKA470/P806-ND/6913

- as with musical instruments, teardowns may be the best that you can get with regards to details of how a device should work. This is nothing like school/University where you are given a rough idea of how it should work. You may be completely blind here...

http://dtbnguyen.blogspot.com.au/2015/06/repairing-musical-instrumentselectrical.html

- components may be shared across different manufacturers. It doesn't mean that they will work if swapped though. They could be using different version of the same base reference board (similar to the way in which graphics, sound, telecommunications, and network cards rely on reference designs in the ICT sector)

https://www.ifixit.com/

715t2484-3-schematic.pdf

Magnavox has a very similar layout to a similar size Phillips LCD TV

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qSS6ycUxS98



Apparently, Amazon are interested in some local talent.

http://aws.amazon.com/careers/aus-nz-event/

There are some bemusing tales of recruitment and the experience of working there though.

http://gawker.com/working-at-amazon-is-a-soul-crushing-experience-1573522379

http://www.theguardian.com/money/2014/nov/28/being-homeless-is-better-than-working-for-amazon

http://www.glassdoor.com.au/Overview/Working-at-Amazon-com-EI_IE6036.11,21.htm

http://www.salon.com/2014/02/23/worse_than_wal_mart_amazons_sick_brutality_and_secret_history_of_ruthlessly_intimidating_workers/



If your iPhone, iPad, or iPod touch doesn't respond or doesn't turn on. If your device is in a lot of trouble I often just run the following command on the storage, 'dd if=/dev/zero of=/dev/[iPod storage node]'. This will create a corrupted filesystem and force restoration of the iOS to factory settings/setup.

https://support.apple.com/en-au/HT201412

https://www.ifixit.com/Wiki/iPod_Classic_Troubleshooting

https://www.ifixit.com/Answers/View/15461/Won%27t+turn+on+or+charge

https://discussions.apple.com/thread/2468023?tstart=0

https://support.apple.com/en-au/HT201263

http://www.howtogeek.com/216839/what-to-do-when-your-iphone-or-ipad-won%E2%80%99t-turn-on/?PageSpeed=noscript



Sometimes digitizers play up. Apparently, a lot of strange behaviour can occur if certain cables are bent improperly or if there isn't enough space/insulation between certain components.

https://www.ifixit.com/Answers/View/137418/Digitizer+freaks+out+when+laid+flat+on+the+frame



Identify your iPad model.

https://support.apple.com/en-au/HT201471



If your device is suffering from device corruption issues you may need to backup your music first...

http://www.wikihow.com/Copy-Music-from-Your-iPod-to-Your-Computer 

http://www.syncios.com/how-to-backup-ipod-music-to-computer.html

http://lifehacker.com/5869827/how-to-copy-music-from-your-iphone-ipad-or-ipod-touch-to-your-computer-for-free

https://discussions.apple.com/thread/5025610

http://geeknizer.com/how-to-fix-corrupted-ipod/



A lot of substances can be used to remove scratches from your electronic device. Some of them not so obvious in the way that they actually work (solvents and abrasives are the most common techniques that are used).

http://www.macworld.com/article/1046291/scratchremove.html

http://www.instructables.com/id/Buffing-Your-Ipod/

Paul Wayper: Labor on refugees

Sat, 2015-07-11 15:26
Sorry, technical folk, this is going to be a political blog post.

I recently got an email from my local member, Andrew Leigh, that raised an issue I feel passionately about; here is my response.

On 09/07/15 14:55, Andrew Leigh wrote:[snip] > > ▪ Some people have asked me *why Labor supported the government’s bill to > continue regional processing*. This is a tough question, on which reasonable > people can disagree, but the best answer to this is to read Bill Shorten’s > speech to the House of Representatives > > on the day the legislation was introduced. Hi Andrew,

I'm sorry, but I cannot agree with the logic Bill Shorten and the Labor party has expressed in that speech.

Firstly, anyone watching the international problems with refugees will realise that Australia's intake is pitiful and stingy compared to some of its key allies and comparable nations and especially when compared to its population size and lifestyle. It is hypocritical to say "we don't want people to risk journeying across the sea from Indonesia, but we're happy for them to remain illegal immigrants there", especially when you look at the life that those people face as refugees there.

As an aside, though, I would say that it is still partly correct - it is more humane for them to remain in Indonesia than to be detained indefinitely in the inhuman, underresourced and tortuous conditions on Manus Island and Nauru. It is shameful to me that the Labor party can ignore this obvious contradiction.

But more importantly, the logic that we're somehow denying "people smugglers a product to sell" by pushing boats back into international waters shows no understanding of people smuggling as a business. Australia is still very much a destination, it's just that people now come with visas on planes and they pay even more for this than they used to. There is still a thriving trade in getting people into Australia, it's just been made more expensive - in the same way that making heroin illegal has not caused it to suddenly vanish from the face of the earth.

All we're doing by punishing people who come by boat to seek refuge in Australia is punishing the very desperate, the worst off, the people who have literally fled with their clothes and nothing else.

Other people with money still arrive, overstay their visas, get jobs as illegal immigrants or on tourism visas. The ABC has exposed some of these ridiculous, unethical companies trading on foreign tourists and grey market labourers. The Labor party, of all parties, should be standing up for these people's rights yet it seems remarkably silent on this issue.

The point that I think Labor needs to learn and the point I ask you to express to your colleagues there is that we don't want Labor to return to its policies in 2010. We thought those were inhuman and unjust then, and we still do now. Invoking them as a justification for supporting the Government now is bad.

Personally, I want Labor to do three things with regard to refugees:

  1. Move back to on-shore detention and processing. The current system is vastly more expensive than it needs to be, and makes it more difficult for UN officials and our own members of parliament and judiciary to be able to examine the conditions of detention. The Coalition keeps telling everyone about how expensive their budget is but seems remarkably silent on why we're paying so much to keep refugees offshore.
  2. Provide better ways of settling refugees, such that one can cut the "people smuggler" middle men out of the deal.

    For example, set up refugee processing in places such as Sri Lanka and Afghanistan where many refugees come from. Set a fixed price per person for transportation and processing in Australia, such that it undercuts the people smugglers - according to figures I read in 2010 this could be $10,000 and still be 50% less than black market figures.

  3. Ensure accountability and transparency of the companies such as Serco that are running these centres. If the government was running them and people were being abused, the government would be held accountable; when private companies do this the government wipes its hands and doesn't do a thing.
And on a more conversational note, I'd be interested in your views on this as an economist. There is obviously an economy of people smuggling - do we understand it? Is there any economic justification for offshore detention? All markets must work with a certain amount of illegal activity - can we work _with_ the black market rather than trying to work against it?

I do appreciate your updates and information and I look forward to more of your podcasts.

All the best,

Paul

Simon Lyall: Gather 2015 – Afternoon Sessions

Sat, 2015-07-11 13:28

Panel: “How we work” featuring Lance Wiggs, Dale Clareburt, Robyn Kamira, Amie Holman – Moderated by Nat Torkington

  • Flipside of Startups given by Nat
  • Amie – UX and Services Designer for the Govt, thinks her job is pretty cool. Puts services online.
  • Lance – Works for NZTE better by capital programme. Also runs an early stage fund. Multiple starts and fails
  • Dale – Founded of Weirdly. Worked her way up to top of recruitment company (small to big). Decided to found something for herself.
  • Robyn – Started business 25 years ago. IT consultant, musician, writer.
  • Nat – Look at what you are getting from the new job. Transition to new phase in life. Want ot be positive.
  • Types of jobs: Working for someone else, work for yourself, hire other people, investor. Each has own perks, rewards and downsides.
  • Self employed
    • Big risk around income, peaks and troughs. Robyn always lived at the bottom of the trough level of income. Some people have big fear where next job is coming from.
    • Robyn – Charged Govt as much as possible. Later on charged just below what the really big boys charged. Also has lower rates for community orgs. Sniffed around to find out the rates. Sometimes asked the client. Often RFPs don’t explicityly say so you have to ask.
    • Pricing – You should be embarrassed about how much you charge for services.
    • Robyn – Self promotion is really hard. Found that contracts came out of Wellington. Book meetings in cafes back to back. Chat to people, don’t sell directly.
  • Working for others
    • Amie – Working in a new area of government. But it an area that is growing. Fairly permissive area, lots of gaps that they can fill.
    • Dale – Great experience as an employee. In environment with lot of autonomy in a fast growing company.
    • Lance – Worked from Mobile – Lots of training courses, overseas 6 months after hired. 4 years 4 different cities, steep learning curve, subsidized housing etc. “Learning curve stopped after 4 years and then I left”.
    • Big companies downside: Multiple stakeholders, Lots of rules
    • Big company upside: Can do startup on the side, eg a Family . Secure income. Get to play with big money and big toys.
  • Startup
    • Everything on steroids
    • Really exciting
    • Starting all parts of a company at once
    • Responsibility for business and people in it
    • Crazy ups and downs. Brutal emotional roller-coaster
    • Lance lists 5 businesses off the top of his head that failed that he was at. 3 of which he was the founder
    • Worst that can happen is that you can lose your house
    • Is this life for everyone? – Dale “yes it can be, need to go in with your eyes open”.  “Starting a business can be for everyone. I’m the poorest I’ve ever been now but I’m the happiest I’ve ever been”
    • At a startup you are not working for yourself, you are working for everybody else. Dale says she trys to avoid that.
    • Robyn – “If you life is gone when you are in a business then you are doing it wrong.”
    • If you are working from home you can get isolated, get some peer support and have a drink, coffee with some others.
  • Robyn – Recomends “How to make friends and influence People”
  • Dale
    • Jobhunters – Look for companies 1st and specific job 2nd
    • Startup – Meet everyone that you know and ask their opinion on your pitch
    • Young People going to Uni – You have to get work experience, as a recruiter she looks at experience 1st and pure academic history second.
  • Lance
    • Balance between creating income, creating wealth, learning
    • Know what you are passionate about and good at
    • It is part of our jobs to support everyone around us. Promote other people
  • Amie
    • Find the thing that is your passion
    • When you are deliverying your passion then you are delivering sometime relevant

 Pick and Mix

  • Random Flag generator – @polemic
    • See Wikipedia page for parts of a flag
    • 3 hex numbers are palet
    • 4 numbers represent the pattern
    • Next number will be the location
    • next number which color will be assigned
    • Last number will be a tweak number
    • Up to 8 or 9 of the above
    • Took python pyevolve and run evolution on them.
  • Alex @4lexNZ , @overtime
    • E-sports corporate gaming league
    • untested in NZ
    • Someone suggested cold calling CEOs or writing them letter
  • Simon @slyall (yes me)
    • Low volume site for announcements
  •  Mutate testing
    • Tweak test values of code, to reverse fuzzing
  • Landway learning  – @kiwimrdee
    • Looking for computers to borrow for class
    • They teach lots of stuff
  • Poetry for computers – @kiwimrdee
    • Hire somebody english/arts background who understand language rather than somebody from a CS background who understand machines
  • the.dosprompt.com
    • Lossless image compression for the web
    • Tools vary across the platform
  • Glen – Make computers learn to play Starcraft 1
    • Takes replays of humans playing starcraft
    • Getting computer to learn to play from that DB
    • It is struggling
  • Emergent political structures in tabletops games

Never check in a bag – How to pack

  • 48 hour bag
    • Laptop and power
    • Always – Zip up pouch, tissues , hand sanitizer, universal phone charger, breath mints, the littlest power plug (check will work in multiple voltages), Food bar, chocolate.
    • If more than 48 hours – notebook, miso soup, headphones, pen, laptop charger, apple plugs ( See “world travel kit” on apple site)
    • Get smallest power plug that will charge your laptop
    • Bag 3 – Every video adapter in the world, universal power adapter, airport express.
    • TP-link battery powered wifi adapters
    • If going away just moves laptop etc to this bag
    • Packing Cell
      • Enough clothes to get me through 48 hours
      • 2 * rolled tshirts (ranger rolling)
      • 2 pairs of underwear
      • 2 pairs of socks
      • Toileties. Ziplock back that complies with TSA rules for gels etc.
      • Other toiletries in different bag
      • Rip off stuff from hotels, also Kmart and local stores.
      • Put toiletries ziplock near door to other bag so easy to get out for security.
      • Leave packing cell in Hotel when you go out
    • Learn to Ranger roll socks and shirts etc.
  • 6 weeks worth of stuff
    • In the US you can have huge carry-on
    • Packs 2 weeks worth of clothes
    • Minaal Bag (expensive but cool).
    • Schnozzel bag – Vacuum pack clothing bag
  • Airlines allow 1 carryon bag up to 7 kgs + 1 bag for other items (heavy stuff can go into that)
  • Pick multi-color packing sell so you can color-code them.
  • Elizabeth Holmes and Matilda Kahl and Steve Jobs all wear same stuff every day.
  • Wear Ballet Heals on the plane
  • Woman no more than 2 pairs of shoes every, One of which must be good for walking long distances
  • Always be charging

 Show us your stack

  • I was running this session so didn’t take any notes.
  • We had people from about 5 compnies give a quick overview of some stuff they are running.
  • A bit of chat beforehand
  • Next year if I do this I probably need to do 5 minutes time limits for everyone

Close from Rochelle

  • Thanks to Sponsors
  • Thanks to Panellists
  • Thanks to catering and volunteer teams
  • Will be back in 2016

 

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Simon Lyall: Gather 2015 – Morning Sessions

Sat, 2015-07-11 08:28

Today I’m at the Gather 2015 conference. This was originally “Barcamp Auckland” before they got their own brand and went off to do random stuff. This is about my 5th year or so here (I missed one or two).

Website is gathergather.co.nz . They do random stuff as well as the conference.

Welcome

  • Welcome and intro to conference history from Ludwig
  • Rochelle thanks the sponsors
  • Where to go for dinner, no smoking, watch out for non-lanyard people., fire alarms, etc
  • Quiet room etc

Lessions learnt from growing a small team from 5-15

  • Around 30 people. Run by Ben, works at sitehost, previously worked at Pitch
  • Really hard work. Takes  a lot of time and real effort to build a great team
  • Need dedicate time and resources to growing team, Need someone who is focussed on growing the team and keeping the current team working
  • Cringe when people say “HR” but you need some in the sort of role and early on.
    • At around 16 people and doesn’t have full HR person yet. Before FT have someone with scheduled time to focus on team or company culture. In ideal world that person might not be in a manager role but be a bit senior (so they hear what the lower level employees say.
  • Variety and inclusion are keep to happy team
    • Once you are at 10+ members team will be diverse so “one size fits all” won’t work anymore. Need to vary team activities, need to vary rewards. Even have team lunches at different places.
  • Hire for culture and fit
    • From the first person
    • Easier to teach someone skills than to be a good team member
    • Anecdote: Hired somebody who didn’t fit culture, was abrasive, good worker but lost productivity from others.
    • Give people a short term trial to see if they fit in.
  • You will need to change the way communicate as a team as it grows
    • A passing comment is not enough to keep everybody in the loop
    • Nobody wants to feel alienated
    • Maybe chat software, noticeboard, shared calendar.
  • Balance the team work the members do
    • Everybody needs to enjoy the work.
    • Give people interesting rewarding work, new tech, customer interaction
    • Share the no-fun stuff too. Even roster if you have to. Even if somebody volunteers don’t make them always do it.
  • Appreciate you team members
    • Praise them if they have put a lot of work into something
    • Praise them before you point out the problems
    • Listen to ideas no matter who they come from.
    • 5 Questions/Minutes rule
  • If someone is working not well, wonder if problem is elsewhere in their life. Maybe talk to them. Job of everyone in the team
  • Appreciate your teams work, reward them for it
  • Do what feels right for your team. What works for some teams might not work for all. No “one size fits all”
  • Building great teams isn’t science it is an art. Experiment a bit.
  • Taking the time to listen to 10 people instead of just 5 takes longer. Maybe this can be naturally taken on by others in the team, no just the “boss”.
  • Have a buddy for each new hire. But make sure the buddys don’t get overloaded my constantly doing this with each new hire.
  • Going from 10 to 100 ppl. They same thing doesn’t work at each company size.
  • The point where you can get everybody in a room till when you can’t. At that point you have multiple teams and tribalism.
  • If you have a project across multiple teams then try and put everybody in that project together in a room.
  • Have people go to each others standups
  • Hire people who can handle change
  • Problem if you you buy a small company, they small company may want to keep their culture.
  • Company that does welcome dinners not farewell dinners
  • Make sure people can get working when they arrive, have an email address etc, find out if they have preferences like nice keyboard.
  • Don’t hire when you are extremely busy that you can’t properly get them onboard (or you may pick the wrong person). Never hire impulsively. Hire ahead of time.
  • Don’t expect them to be fully productive straight away. Give them something small to start on, no too complicated, no to crazy dependant on your internal crazy systems. But make sure it is within their skill level in case they struggle.
  • Maybe summer student projects. Find good people without being stuck with someone. Give them a project that isn’t high enough priority for the FT people.
  • Create training material

 Writing for fun and profit

  • Run by Peter Ravlich
  • Scrivener – IDE for writing
  • Writing full time (with support from partner), currently doing 4 projects simitaniously
  • Less community for Fantasy Writers than for literary writers. Bias in NZ against Genre fiction
  • Community – SpecficNZ – For speculative fiction. SciFi con each year and have a stand at Armageddon each year. $30 per year
  • If you write roleplaying games look at selling via rpgnow.com
  • Remember if publishing with Amazon then remember to be non-exclusive
  • For feature writing you need to know editors who like you and like your work.
  • “Just keep writing” , only way you’ll ever get better
  • Writing a weekly column:
    • The Best way: Write articles week ahead of time, edited by his wife, sent to the editor well in advance.
    • Leaving to last minute, not pre-editing quality varies, speakers column got dropped
  • Find the type of writing that you like and are good at.
  • Run everything past a reading group. “Am I on the right track?”
  • Treated writing as a jobs. Scheduled “Write for an hour, edit for 30 minutes, lunch, then repeat”. Make yourself.
  • Lots of sites that that push you to write a set number of words. Give you badges, pictures of kittens or punishment to keep you to a wordcount
  • Join a online writing group and post regular updates and get a bit of feedback
  • Daily Routines Blog or spinoff book for some ideas
  • Developmental editor or Structural editor
    • Developmental editor – Go to early, guidelines of what you should be doing, what direction you should be going. What is missing. Focused at plot level.
    • Structural Editor – Goes though line-by-line
  • Need to find editor who suits your style of writing, knows genre is important. Looks for those who have edited books/authors in your area.
  • Self editing – set aside novel, change font, new device, read though again. Change context so looking at it with new eyes.
  • Get contract with editor reviewed by Lawyer with experience in the industry (and on your side)
  • Most traditional publishers expect to see an edited novel
  • Talk to agents, query those who work with authors in similar areas to you.
  • Society of Authors
    • Have some legal experts, give you a reference
  • Kindle K-boards, a bit romance orientated but very good for technical stuff.
  • Go to poetry or reading/writing group. Get stuff out to other people. Once you have got it out to some, even just a small group then small jump to send it out to billions.
  • Have a stretegy on how to handle reviews, probably don’t engage with them.
  • Anne Friedman – Disapproval Matrix
  • You are your own toughest reviewer
  • Often people who went to journalism school, although not many actual journalists
  • Starling Literary Journal
  • Lists of Competitions and festivals in various places
  • Hackathon ( Step it up 2015 ) coming up, one group they want is for journalists who want to get more money into the job

The World of Vexillology – Flag Design

  • Dan Newman
  • flagdesign.nz + flagtest.nz
  • NZ Flag design cutoff this coming Thursday (the 16th of July)
  • People interesting in how the flag design originates, eg how Navel custom influences designs
  • 6000 odd submissions -> 60 shortlist -> 4 voted in referendum -> 1 vs current
  • 60 people at meeting in Wellington, less in other places.
  • Government Website
  • first time a country changed a flag by referendium not at the time of signifcant event (eg independence)
  • A lot of politicians are openly republican, but less push and thought in rest of population
  • Concern that silver flag looks like corporate logo
  • Easier to pretend you are an Australian and ask them “What would the NZ flag look like?” . Eg “Green Kangaroo on yellow” , “While silver fern or Kiwi on Black background”
  • Also lots of other countries use the Southern Cross
  • most countries the National team colors are close to that of the flag
  • Feeling if even flag changes now, then after “full independence” will change again
  • What will happen if Celebs come out if favour of a specific design
  • Different colours have different associations ( in different places )
  • All sorts of reasons why different colours are on a flag
  • The Silver fan looks like a fish to some
  • Needs to look good scaled down to emoji size

Bootstrapping your way to freedom

  • From Mark Zeman – Speedcurve
  • Previous gather sessions have been orientated toward VC and similar funding
  • There is an alternative where you self-fund
  • Design teacher – all students wanted to work on LOTR cause it was where all the publicity was.
  • Boostrapping – Doing it your way, self funded, self sustaining, usually smaller
  • Might take Capital later down the track
  • 3Bs seen as derogatory
  • Lots of podcasts, conferences and books etc
  • See Jason Cohen, many bits in present taken from him
  • The “ideal” bootstrapped business. Look at it from your own constraints
  • Low money, low time, self funded, try to create a cash machine
  • SAAS business lower end is very low. Very small amount per year
  • Low time if working on the side
  • Trying to get to maybe $10k/month to go fulltime
  • Reoccurring revenue. 150 customers at $66/month. Not many customers, not huge value product but has to be a reasonable amount.
  • Maybe not one-off product
  • Enterprise vs consumer space
  • Hard to get there with $0.99 one-offs in App store
  • Annual plans create cashflow
  • Option Boutique product. Be honest about who you are, how big you really are, don’t pretend to be a big company
  • B2B is a good space to be in. You can call 150 business and engage with them.
  • Not critical, Not real time (unless you want to be up at 3am)
  • Pick something that has “naturally reoccurring pain”. eg “Not a wedding planner” , probably multiple times per month
  • Aftermarkets. eg “Plugins for wordpress. Something small, put 20 hours into it, put it up for $5″. See also Xero, Salesforce.
  • Pick Big Markets, lots of potential customers
  • “Few NZ clients great for GST since I just get refunds”
  • Better By design. Existing apps mean there is already a market. Took an existing Open source product (webpagetest.org) and put a nice wrapper on it
  • Number of companies have published their numbers. Look at the early days of them while it took them to get to $10k/month (eg many took a year or two to get there).
  • Option to do consultancy on the side if you go “full time”. Cover the gap between you new business and your old wage. Had a 1 year contract that let him go half time on new biz but cover old expenses.
  • Don’t have false expectations on how quickly it will happen
  • Hard when it was a second job. Good because it was different from the day-job, but a lot of work.
  • Prototype and then validate. In most cases you should go the other way around.
  • If you want to talk to someone have something to offer. Have a pay it forward.
  • Big enterprises have people too. Connect to one guy inside and they can buy your product out of his monthly credit card bill.
  • Not everybody is doing all the cool techniques. Even if you are a “B” then you are ahead of a lot of the “C”s . eg creating sites with responsive design.
  • 1/3 each – Building Business, Building Audience, Building Product
  • Loves doing his GST etc
  • In his case he did did each in turn. Product , then Audience then Business
  • Have a goal. Do you want to be a CEO? Or just a little company?
  • His Success measures – Fun, time with kids, travel, money, flexability, learning, holidays, adventures, ideas, sharing
  • Resources: Startups for the Rest of us. A Smart Bear Blog, Amy Hoy – Unicorn Free, GrowthHacker TV, Microconf Videos

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Donna Benjamin: Landscape design: a great analogy for the web

Fri, 2015-07-10 17:27
Friday, July 10, 2015 - 17:16

I often find myself describing the digital domain to people who don't live and breathe it like I do. It's an intangible thing, and many of the concepts are coded in jargon. It doesn't help that every technology tool set uses it's own specific language, sometimes using the same words for very different things, or different words for the same things. What's a page? A widget? A layout? A template? A module, plugin or extension? It varies. The answer "depends".

Analogies can be a helpful communication tool to get the message across, and get everyone thinking in parallel.

One of my favourites, is to compare a web development project, to a landscape design project.

One of the first things you need to know, is who is this landscape for and what sort of landscape is it? The design required for a public park is very different to one suitable for the back courtyard of an inner city terrace house.

You also need to know what the maintenance resources will be. Will this be watered and tended daily? What about budget? Can we afford established plants, or should we plan to watch the garden grow from seeds or seedlings?

The key point of comparison, is that a garden, whether big or small, is a living thing. It will change, it will grow. It may die from neglect. It may become an un-manageable jungle without regular pruning and maintenance.

What analogies do you use to talk about digital design and development?

Image: XIIIfromTOKYO - Plan of the gardens of Versailles - Wikipedia - CC-BY-SA 3.0