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Stuff and Schtuff

It’s been a busy morning in the Haslett household… I’m knackered. Yep, there’s a good Anglicism for all you Yankees reading my blog. For those that read this blog and don’t know (and there are a few judging by the occasional emails I get), I’m British by nationality and still speak with a sort of half-English and half-Irish accent. There’s a little bit of Midwestern mixed in there now, probably inevitable after the 10 years I’ll have spent in this country in just a couple of months. For those who still remember when I came over… yep… 10 years this August. Scary, huh?

I must admit the lethargy and just plain old depression of a few days ago has subsided a little. Spent a good chunk of yesterday taking out my frustrations on the mess in the garage, breaking out my air compressor and sharpening the blades on my lawnmower, then taking out some more frustrations on the lawn. Actually helped a bit, but my God did I feel it afterwards! I had been driving continually forward for a couple of hours, and when I finally stopped moving I almost collapsed where I was standing.

This morning… well it’s Laundry. Woo… fun! Yeah, I have such an EXCITING life don’t I? Between loads I’ve been fixing the dishwasher that has taken a bad habit of containing standing water every time it runs. Finally found a kink in the drain hose so now I’m running it empty a few times to flush it entirely.

So why am I telling you all this? Well, figure I may as well. talk about my life, as boring as it might be.

As far as all the stuff I’ve promised in the past on these pages; well it’s coming when I get a chance. My MythTV box has worked out to be a very successful project. Got a few minor issues with video quality, and a strange error where the backend service keeps shutting down for no apparent reason (only really a problem when the machine is working on transcoding previous recordings… it tends to restart the transcoding process without terminating the previous, still active one). I’ve written a little script that checks running processes every minute and restarts mythbackend if it’s not running. Annoying, but functional until I can figure out WHY it’s crashing. At the moment it’s not consistent enough.

On the positive side, finally tuned my system so I have XvMC running. That’s hardware-level decoding of the MPEG2 stream in my NVIDIA card. Previously it worked but was quirky… now I’ve tuned the system a little so it’s nice and smooth. Shame about the known bug in MythTV that has the OSD in black-and-white only on XvMC displays… but nothing I can’t live with.

For those who’ve read all the really old entries in this blog, I still am very happy with my Motorola MPx220. Now, Motorola has pulled these off the US market for reasons they’re not elaborating on, but they’re already appearing rather successful in Britain and Europe since their recent release. Interesting. Rumors abound on the Internet right now as to WHY they’ve done this. Current favored rumors are that they’re stockpiling the devices to covert to Magneto (the MPx220 has been a test mule for Windows Mobile 5 almost as long as it’s been out), including improved antennae, improved Bluetooth support and WiFi. Should be interesting. Currently the rumor is that the device will be re-released in the US as the MPx230 running Mobile 5, offering an upgrade path to those who already bought the 220.

So why do all this? Well, simply there were too many problems with the MPx220. I can honestly say that I have spoken to internal people in Microsoft and can confirm that the problems weren’t at their end. Rather the problems occurred because Motorola’s integration team (who take the base OS provided by Microsoft and make it hardware-specific) either worked around some perceived problems with the API or just plain ignored the documentation. Either way, Microsoft and Motorola are working VERY close right now to ensure that the next Smartphone out of the gate is a rock-solid device. A bad device reflects badly on both companies, so they’re both motivated to fix the problems. Either way, I know the MPx220 will have a new firmware release sometime in the 3rd quarter of 2005 which will be the “Microsoft Approved” version, and should fix a host of bugs. So will we see an MPx230 or a re-released MPx220 with the new firmware? Don’t really know at this time… but I can report that my experience with the 220 is that if you can live with a few minor bugs then it’s a damned fine device. Now, I only get bitten with bugs in the phone about once every few weeks, so to me that’s acceptable.

To many phone customers this isn’t acceptable… they want their devices to just work. Well, the Smartphone is one hell of a lot more than just a phone… so still being on the (b)leading edge of the technology I am one of those who will accept bugs so long as the workarounds aren’t overly onerous. Most of the bugs I’ve encountered get cleared up by a reboot. Go figure… it’s Windows 🙂

Anyway, gotta run. Got lots more work to do today…

3 Replies to “Stuff and Schtuff”

  1. James says:

    Can you make that script available? I’m having the same problem with mythbackend shutting down for no apparent reason.

    Did you ever solve why this is happening?

  2. Gavin says:

    Why sure thing. The script is REALLY simple and is in /usr/local/bin/checkbackend.sh

    –SNIP–

    #!/bin/bash
    PROG=mythbackend
    PROGFRONT=mythfrontend
    STATUS=`ps -e |grep $PROG |grep -v grep | wc -l | awk ‘{print $1}’`
    if [ $STATUS -eq 0 ]
    then
    ( /sbin/service $PROG start )
    `date >> /var/log/mythtv/restartlog.log`
    fi
    exit 0

    –SNIP–

    Then I’ve got an entry in my CRON table to run this every minute, every day. Quite simple really and gives me a log when something breaks too!

    As for why… well honestly I’m not too sure. The problem seemed to get better when I switched to some faster 7200rpm drives instead of the standard 5400rpm drives I had before. Also, I stopped using Mythweb on the same server and moved the Mythweb system to a different server… that also seemed to help. The problem appears non-existent now with the latest versions (non CVS, apt packages for FC3) and everything else at the latest version.

    Oh, one other thing I did at one point was move the MySQL database to the faster drives as well. That helped a lot of things, but I suspected much of the problem was due to processing delay on my relatively slow system (AMD 800).

    Hope this helps!

  3. James says:

    Gavin,

    First of all, you’re a champion! Thanks for the script – I’ll give that a go and see how I get on.

    Reading your comments, I’m wondering if it is because I’m running MythWeb and other things on the same box? It too is a slow machine (AMD 700!) but I can’t figure it out for the life of me! The backend just shuts down for no reason, leaving no reason in the logs…it’s really weird!

    I’m hunting all over the net for the same problem and for what people are doing to fix it. Yours is the first I’ve come across. So I’ll definitely try that and see if I get any results – or at least any information about the crash!

    Thanks heaps mate!

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