Tuesday, December 25, 2007

Blu-Ray vs HD DVD. Grumble.

I'm literally the only person I know with a 20 year old TV. I take that back, Monica's grandma has probably a 30 year old TV. But I'm the only person I know under seventy with a 20 year old TV.

I'm this close to taking the plunge. The plan goes like this. Get a cheap/small HDTV (it will not last more than a couple years anyway). Get the HD TiVo (I like TiVo a lot). Get a new surround sound/DVD combo. Ditch the VCR.

With the HD TiVo and CableCards + the surround sound/DVD combo, I can consolidate a bunch of component real estate in the living room. I plan on the HD TiVo and the DVD/surround sound system to last a while.

But there-in lies the problem. The matter of Blu-ray vs HD DVD is still up in the air. And since even a bargain basement SD DVD/Surround sound system is several hundred dollars, I'd rather not guess wrong about the whole hi-def thing.

This free market had better hurry up and decide on the format. I don't want to be the only guy on the block with "Betamax."

Tuesday, December 18, 2007

Tests included

We got our alpha prototype HD camera in yesterday. HD (1920x1080) never looked so good..

(well, I guess it could look better if it was pointed at a football game or something rather than a soul crushing cubical farm)

This is a fully digital camera from the ground-up. What's nice is the developers have built tests right into every component of its highly modular software design.

Each software component is classically "highly cohesive and loosely coupled." The component model is fine grained (they're small). Each can be built and run stand-alone. Each includes a number of tests--many of which can be run on your local PC or Linux box, some of which must be run on the camera platform itself. Even when ssh'ed into the final product you can peek into the image pipeline, or run specific scripts to test certain functionality.

This kind of design means that the development team does 90% of the test group's work with a single embedded tester. They check off features, fix bugs and validate as they go by releasing components to their tester first, who then runs the component tests and signs off on the component before releasing it to the larger development team for integration.

This workflow was a priority from the outset rather than afterthought, so the integrated configuration has been tested informally by the team itself many many times.

Kicking the camera around for a few hours, I only found a few problems, but none of the obvious crashes or failed functionality that one receives from alpha software with no upstream testing. This is a good sign that we'll see this product for real at next year's trade show.