Teletext returns from the dead. Again… Again.

May 26, 2012

See that? That’s my TNXT server in action. Yes, finally, two years since my last post here, TNXT is actually live online, right now, for all to see.

To check it out, telnet to tt.channelem.net on port 5500. You’ll need a telnet client, PuTTY will do nicely if you’re on Windows, and regular telnet on other platforms, you’ll want to switch to codepage 437 so all the graphicky bits show up properly, and if you have the option to set the colour scheme on your particular terminal or telnet client, XTerm is the one to choose.

Hopefully in time we’ll be adding ChannelEM-specific pages to this server, show info, schedules, etc, just like real Teletext used to have. We’re the first IPTV channel, to my knowledge, to have teletext or a close approximation to it. 😀



More TNXT Updates

May 14, 2010

Woot, TNXT now has the ability to read Twitter (and, as a side effect, RSS feeds in general), meaning current, non-static content! Here’s some screenies, PuTTY on Windows and Gnome Terminal on Ubuntu respectively:

To make it look right in Gnome Terminal, you must set the colour scheme to XTerm and the codepage to something like CP437, CP850, CP853 or some other codepage capable of box drawing. The latter also applies to PuTTY, or any other terminal you wish to connect to TNXT with, if you don’t do those things, it will not work correctly, it will look awful. Setting the terminal width to 40 is now optional and purely aesthetic, having  80 columns shouldn’t affect the layout any more.


Teletext returns from the dead. Again.

May 11, 2010

So! I figured it was about time I fired up the compiler and the ANSI editor again and resurrected my TelNEXT project, the one that simulates a teletext-like system but via telnet (since I don’t have any teletext inserters or, you know, a TV network). I did a little work on both sides, bugfixing and tidying on the code side and being almost artistic on the content side. I’ll let the screenshots do the talking:

I plan to add a lot more pages over the coming days/weeks/months, maybe even throw in some kind of content bridge to pull in comments from Twitter for a “letters” page or something, I don’t know yet, I’ll just see what happens.

I’ve figured out that, while it has less features than PabloDraw, TundraDraw sucks a whole lot less at actually keeping page designs to 40 characters wide, so if your terminal isn’t set up for 40 characters wide, it won’t make the pages look totally garbled any more. What will still make pages look totally garbled on the other hand is having an incorrect codepage. Use DOS/CP437, it makes the pages look how they’re supposed to. In fact, if you use Putty for Windows, here‘s a registry file that’ll set up a Putty profile called “Teletext” which is set up absolutely perfectly for using TelNEXT on the same machine as Putty. If you want to run the server on another machine or connect to someone else’s server, just switch up the IP address in Putty. That reminds me, it’s not called TelNEXT any more, it’s TNXT now, because… well, because.

Anyway, that about it for now, I’ll try and come back more often now, my ever rotating todo list has swung back around to trying to be productive, so we shall see. In the meantime, you can grab the latest version of TNXT (contains a few test pages) right here, and if you want to make pages for it, go check out TundraDraw for Windows or your favourite ANSI editor elsewhere – remember, 40×22, anything bigger will look like crap!


I Love Windows Mobile

February 14, 2010
Left to right: Windows Mobile 6, Android 2.1, Blackberry OS 4.5
Running on a Windows Mobile powered HTC Kaiser. Booyah.

That is all.


Video Diary

February 13, 2010

Ahh, this old place, neglected and crumbling… could use a lick of paint and a post or two, I reckon, so thanks to Famicoman’s article on video hording, I’d like to propose if I may a little an ambitious idea I had recently…

You may or may not be aware of Archive.org‘s Wayback Machine. If not, allow me to enlighten you. As the internet ages, sites come, evolve and then, unfortunately, often drop off the face of the internet with no trace or clues to be found. The Wayback Machine exists to preserve the internet as if it were frozen in time at various intervals throughout the web’s history and provides a way of searching and recovering old versions of long forgotten resources which may never have otherwise ever been seen again. A worthy cause, for anyone interested in the evolution of this big wide world we call the internet. Myself, I’m such a person, but I also have a lot of memories tied up in the depths of television history, so I considered the possibility of such a service for broadcast media.

Long defunct shows, be they fondly remembered or barely remembered at all, are often hard to find. Sure, the internet has ways of preserving some of them, via torrents or flash video archives, but some are seemingly lost forever. Not entirely so, perhaps, but they do not exist to the internet, they exist merely in fading VHS tapes in a loft, or on a decaying Betamax in a basement. Many shows saw their end before the internet could provide a method of preserving and sharing them, disk space was at a premium and bandwidth equally so, while some were lucky enough to find their way onto filesharing services or video hosting websites, sadly huge amounts have not.

My idea is this: imagine those tapes were captured in digital form, much as they occasionally are by some kind souls, and archived in some meaningful way. Imagine there were a location on the internet where you could simply visit, look up any TV schedule on and day of any year, and watch whatever was broadcast that day. Like the Wayback Machine, but for TV stations. A place where you could punch in any day, be it the day you were born, the date of a major world event, the time of something special to you and only you… the possibilities are endless.

A mammoth task by any measure, I have to admit, but as Famicoman mentions in his article, when enough people with enough resources come together, sharing what others do not have, a very broad collection can be obtained and preserved. So what if all of those Betamax and VHS tapes, those archived DVR recordings and grainy video files, those DVDRWs were collected up, sorted and archived? Would it be possible to create such a service? To some extent I believe so, I would expect significant gaps, but any start is a good one. One person might contribute a series of one show, another might add a similarly aged series of another and so on, eventually providing a solid catalogue of shows you only ever see in your imagination today. Ideally station idents would be there too, much harder due to those who see fit to trim video to include only the shows in question, but still very interesting. I’m sure a few people would even appreciate era-appropriate adverts, too.

The most saddening part of all of this is not that the shows themselves currently appear lost, or that it would be extremely difficult to collect pristine archives of every TV channel, but that there is no possible way this could ever be done legally. Rights owners across the globe would descend like a pack of rabid vultures to tear any such service to shreds, leaving only a bloodied carcass and a string of takedown notices and lawsuits. Even if some rights could be cleared and by some miracle it would be possible to get some companies on board, international distribution rights, music rights, content used in clips, appearances by certain people, they would all slaughter an arrangement like this in a heartbeat.

Lucky then that the internet doesn’t always abide by archaic, draconian and crippling laws, rules and regulations, isn’t it?


Slow News Day

December 1, 2009

So I’ve been neglecting some of my projects again, what am I doing instead? Well, I’ve been working on some music stuff, you can now find it at http://bgaaudio.org!


RC Car Display

August 18, 2009

A friend of mine’s recently got into RC vehicles, we were running his monster truck the other day after he’d just upgraded its motor and we were trying to estimate the speed of the thing, turns out it’s quite difficult when you’re looking at a scale model screaming around a car park. This set off a chain of thoughts for me, I’d already considered using microprocessors in RC stuff but I hadn’t yet figured out how – then it came to me, why not a bad-ass monitor screen which clips onto your transmitter,  or can hang from your neck, which provides realtime stats wirelessly?

I got to thinking, how could I do this without breaking the bank? What other features could I add? Here’s my thought process, I hope to build this at some point, but I have no vehicles to install it in, and it’d cost too much for something I won’t actually use, so for now it’s a concept. Take it and do with it as you will, I’d like to see what people can come up with.

First off, we need to collect stats. What kind of stats? Well, temperatures would be nice, both battery temps and motor temps, so thermistors are a good start there. Speed would be a definite nicety, perhaps an accelerometer or GPS unit. From there, how about motor speed, or wheel speed? RPMs can be measured with opto-interrupters, much like the kind in computer mice, and that could be installed on an axle or motor spindle. Frequencies are important in RC racing, so maybe it’d be nice to have your current frequency displayed to make it nice and easy to remember in case of conflicts between vehicles. I also considered measuring g-force, but I’m not sure how worthwhile that is in the case of RC cars, but certainly doable. If you have a helicopter or a plane, how about altitude information? A GPS unit could be useful there too. Direction is handy too, and the position of the vehicle in movement, especially for flying vehicles, so a GPS and accelerometers might come in handy.

Next up, how to display all this information. I considered cheap serial text-based LCD displays but that’d require some way of sending the information through the air. How about bluetooth serial for easy display on a phone? Maybe, but does it have enough of a range? I can’t yet program for phones either, so that’s a problem. I considered video, especially having found the TellyMate, wireless video is pretty easy to do.  Then I remembered the video my friend recorded by placing his phone on the car and recording a video of the car zipping around the car park… how about a small camera recording the view from the car and a circuit to overlay the important information as text? That’d be awesome, right? I started looking around, turns out there’s a few ways to do that very thing using AVRs, so if you take a composite signal from a small “spy” camera and feed it through one of these AVR on-screen display projects, you can have the very thing I wanted. Add a small second microprocessor to that for collecting the inputs above, feed that data via serial to the AVR which overlays it on the video, then send it over the air as video. Nice and simple, and not too pricey. How do I receive it? Well, if it’s transmitted using a video sender, it probably has a composite output, where can I find a cheap, decent, relatively large screen with a composite input? …PS1 screen. Got it.

I think it’s possible to do this in less than £100/$160. Sure, it’s not super cheap, but for what you get at the end of it and the process of building it, I think that’s a worthwhile price. Will I make it? Who knows. I’d really like to, but again, I have no vehicle to mount it on, and £100 is not something I want to spend on a project that I won’t personally use, but I’ve spewed my ideas here because I know that someone, somewhere, will be interested.



August 3, 2009

I enjoy old and alternative OSs and I love emulation, so I had to mix and mash ’em up with my little old eee 701. Who doesn’t want an Amiga laptop? An Acorn netbook? An Atari notebook? Exactly, so I decided to see how many classic or unusual OSs I could fit, and reasonably configure to be comfortable and functional, on my eee.

Come on over and see how it happens at http://alternateeev.wordpress.com/. All screenshots are full screen 800×480 images from an actual eee running each OS in as close as I can get to the eee’s native resolution, they’re exactly how they look on the machine in person.

If you have anything specific you’d like me to add to posts (for example what application availability is like, or how to configure a certain emulator) then drop ideas in the comments and I’ll see if I can’t cover things in a little more detail.

Edit: On indefinate hiatus. 😦


Bonus Post

July 20, 2009

Now, I don’t usually drop a post this scant, but I had to post this picture:

Looks so much cooler than the screenshots, right? I think so. As you were…

Edit: Tweaked my eee’s XP install so it automatically logs in to a new account which has IcyEwe as the default shell instead of Explorer, now the machine boots right to the tracking app when you turn it on. Awesome!


GPS Tracking via SMS

July 19, 2009

I planned this way back when I was messing with GPS and SMS stuff before, but now I’ve actually done it. Kinda showed myself up a little, though, I wrote it (mostly) from scratch and it took me a matter of hours. Last time I tried to base it on other GPS/GSM modem code I’d written and it failed miserably – all hail threads.

Basically what this app does is tracks a laptop (currently, I *may* port it to a phone or two, if I learn how) and sends the co-ordinates to you via SMS upon request. Simple, really. The code is almost release-worthy, actually, so this time I just might drop a RAR for people to mess with. Needs a little tidying up and some better commenting, but it seems like something which might be useful, I dunno.

I did have an idea, though, while writing this. I thought about how to interpret the latitude and longitude and how to turn that into a street name or local landmark, but there doesn’t appear to be an easy way to do that. Next I considered I’d need some kind of database or map… or map, that was it, why not somehow pump the co-ordinates into TomTom or some other GPS app for realtime tracking? I already know how to simulate a GPS unit, right? There are several issues/points to this, but I’ll try to run through them quickly…

1) Handheld realtime tracking would be like, totally excellent, dude. Phone, perhaps?
How to get the data in, though? Via SMS is too slow and expensive so a data connection would be preferable. I think a GPS simulator with the ability to feed data in through TCP would be a good start, though I don’t do any Windows Mobile stuff (the only platform I have a real device for) yet. More than possible, though, if you throw in a virtual serial cable too.

2) How to get the data from the tracker?
Well, at present the app only spits out data via SMS, but again I think mobile data would work (for low resolution tracking, it doesn’t have to be super fast/low latency).
Maybe costly, though, and signal issues may crop up depending on where the tracker ends up.

3) This is a Windows app.
Right now, it’s a Windows app. Yes, desktop Windows. The kind which usually runs on a laptop which has a battery life of about 3 hours and is about as inconspicuous as an elephant shaped tank firing luminous paintballs from its metallic trunk. Could be crammed into a portable device, though, as long as it has a GSM modem (or HSDPA modem, better for data) and GPS of some description. Would need retooling for Windows Mobile (and certainly for any Linux platform – I may or may not ever get around to learning Python, we shall see).

4) I lost my train of thought, but I think I covered everything.

That’s about that for now, hopefully I can clean up the code and dump it somewhere for folks to play with. My track record here is not spectacular, so don’t get your hopes up, but we shall see.