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Within 30 minutes, I changed a production piece of software

November 23, 2015

Here is my change:

Screen Shot 2015-11-23 at 11.39.15 AM.png

I implemented a change on a production piece of code that I had never ever seen before. The piece of code actually got accepted by the developers and went live within 30 minutes.  The change came randomly – I didn’t set out to do this. It came because it was open source. This is how open source works – those who bump into issues, have the option to expediently and accurately fix stuff. Especially when it is documentation or formatting oriented, like the fix above.

How did this come about randomly? Let me backup:

I was doing research around using Openshift for hosting my current project. For those who dont know – Openshift is an open source PaaS solution that you can freely host applications and code frameworks on top of. Similar to Engineyard or Heroku or Google App Engine. But its open, and it kicks butt.

I was reading about how OpenShift Quickstart projects are created. These are where devs have taken a popular open source project and allowed openshift users easy access to “one-click install” these apps onto openshift.

While reading through I wanted to understand a little bit about what made these ‘quickstarts’ different than installing it all manually on top of openshift. Is one better than the other? What do they each give you?

I had remembered that content under the “.openshift/action_hooks/“ directory were special files that ran a script upon something git-related occurring. So say, you push your code for the first time ever. The “build” script is run.

When I was looking through the shell code of the “build” script, so that I could understand what it was installing and touching etc, I saw that an error case was tested for and even given a small echo output of what the error was. However, the error had zero context. If a user saw it, even a decently technical one who knows what MD5 hashes are, they would have no idea what it meant. It lacked context and action that a user might take. So, I quickly took it upon myself to add more to the error message.

Github made it stupid simple, by me clicking on the ‘Fork this project and edit the file’ button in the upper right while viewing the source for the file in the browser. This allowed me to instantly start editing and adding in the additional error context. The change was non-code based, and therefore no testing or fear of the change stopping stuff from working took place.

Low and behold, within 30 minutes, a dev accept the change and says “Thanks”! Quick and easy changes get accepted fast. Documentation is always appreciated.

To go back to my original questions, is that Quickstarts in Openshift allow for the install and/or reboot process to be automated. Usually, when installing wordpress, you will have to first setup php and mysql and then download the latest wordpress code, and then wordpress might have its own set of installation instructions and security advise etc. Welp, these quoickstarts avoid all of that – at the cost of learning what the install process does and how it can be modified or used to enhance security etc. So it eases install at the cost of knowing your options.

The quickstarts are setting up wordpress to do as much on it as you could manually – you can add plugins and themes. It is now just that when you push code changes via git, it is restarted automatically.

Q: Why Open Source? A: Cloud

December 31, 2012


Cloud and Open Source. They enable each other. How do you make money from Open Source Software? Charge for services. What is cloud? Automated, ubiquitous services… often based off of Open Source!

Apparently, the below article on Bill Gates, claims that Microsoft understood this back in 2008ish and is why its been enabling OSS to run on its Azure platform and in other places, and why MS commits to node.js and Hadoop. Whether MS is a OSS accelerator, the article did make me come to the “staring me in the face” realization that

One way to sell open source: cloud services

Plex Desktop Client – UX Analysis

March 29, 2012

About Plex

I use Plex as my Home Theatre PC system. It first started as a way to play videos through my 55″ Plasma at home. Its turned into a 5 year project and video collection.

Why I wrote this

I talked to Elan, the creator of Plex and who now runs a company developing and monetizing it. He said that they were already ( or soon?) going to be revamping the default Plex desktop client. I told him that I had some feedback that I would send. It got too long for an email, so I have turned it into this.

What I want to touch-on is the User eXperience of the Desktop client. I have my mac-mini hooked up to my Plasma and use the Plex Desktop client on it. I have subsequently installed a Apple TV elsewhere. The Apple TV is NICE.  You can hack the Apple TV and put a Plex client on it! A REALLY good one. After doing this, I began using the Apple TV Plex client more often, because it was easier, ready-to-go, and its UX is pretty good.

Below, I review the desktop client UX while keeping in mind the Apple TV client and other skins that are available for the desktop UI.

Pro’s / Likes

  • Foundations & Meta Data

    • I think that many many people stay with Plex and suggest it to others, because of the great job Plex has done on architecting the foundation, and the great job it does identifying and interacting with a variety of media and associated meta-data. Keep making meta-data acquisition and mgmt easier and more automated, in addition-to making it more manageable at the client sides. You notice errors in meta-data when you are using the system, not admining it. In the end – No one wants to deal with meta data mgmt – everyone wants it pristine.
  • Armchair HD’ness

    • Its what many of us AV geekers loved from the beginning – a true HD experience from front to back, yet still arm-chair readable. ATV2 seems to lack in making this stand out as well as the desktop – but maybe that is just my 55 incher speaking for itself on the desktop app 🙂
  • Organization

    • It can be done in many ways. You create your own organization to a degree. This is good and bad. Good for the AV geeks that Plex has been traditionally popular with – complex for the users that just want it to work ‘out of the box’.
    • Maybe a solution is to create, by-default on new installs, a few categories on the Media Manager. If a default empty category is chosen in the desktop client, some simple message (in the client) could let new users know that they should use the Media Manager to find and fill in media. I am thinking of new users who come in through the iphone or android app and dont have servers already. Maybe this is smooth already? I dunno
  • Channels

    • Simplification of plug-ins to channels was a great idea – much easier for understanding. Keep going with it. Bring the separate types of plug-ins all into one eventually. I think maybe this is done on the atv2 or iPhone?? not sure. The “Simplex Energized” skin does a good job of putting all the different channel types into one main menu item (see below). Even then, most people will mostly use only one or two kinds of these ‘Channels’. I use Video 98% of the time.
  • myPlex

    • Single best idea and implementation in the last year. It is not a UX piece of the desktop client so much, but I wanted mention it.
    • myPlex is so nice for stupid-easy configuration, and for queuing videos I don’t want to watch at work or that I get via email. Its very needed and used by the oncoming onslaught of virgin users that Plex likely wants to encourage.
  • Content backgrounds

    • The HD background for content, like once I am inside “Roger Rabbit”, or “Stargate Atlantis”. Those work AMAZINGLY well, and that experience has improved a lot. Keep it as is. However, see “Changing backgrounds” below.
  • Lots of Preferences

    • I love the large amount of preferences. Keep ’em coming. If nested smartly and UNIFORMLY, even new users can treat them right. The navigation of said preferences needs improvement – up, down, left, right, sub menus, sub sub menus, etc. Seems like there is inconsistency in which buttons are used to do what during the prefs navigation. See ‘Preference Navigation Confusion’ below.
  • Skins

    • Love how they seem to be pretty wide open as to what they can implement and change. However, skins are not easily browsable and changeable out of the box. See ‘Skin Confusion’ below.
  • Plays nice with all (most) content

    • The Plex desktop client is nice because it plays nice (very nice) with pirated content as well as your own burned and personal content.
    • Just get rid of the known audio bug 😉

Con’s / Pet peeves

  • Viewing Options Menu

    • One initial confusion of the UI for me, is how to use and change the different viewing modes. Cool feature, that often gets in the way and provides initial confusion.
    • Sometimes, when you click the right arrow enough, a right hand side pop-up comes up and lets you choose from different viewing styles.
    • This right click or arrow is constantly hit by myself because I think that it will play the media or go into the menu. All of a sudden, some other pop-up menu appears. I do not know what it does by the text in it. Confused. I fumble around and see huge changes in the way that the media is shown. I eventually get back to browsing my content.
    • Make it harder to find / enable. Fresh users should never run into it so easily.
    • I think this section should be accessed in some other way – though still within each individual section. Dont stick it off in the Prefs menu – its useful to play with the viewing in each section. Maybe do it similar to how the Alaska skin does it:
  • Section Preview Art work

    • When you hover over a root menu item such as “movies” or “tv shows”, it shows to the right, a listing of the recently added, or recently watched – and their cover art. Bad choice I think. It is confusing to new users who expect to initially see, for example, their listing of 5 separate TV series that they have. Instead, it often shows me the same album cover art of 3 NCIS shows, and 2 album covers of the same art of The Mentalist. Both shows that are my wifes, that I don’t care about, and leaving me initially confused as to where my other 10 tv series might be navigable at.
    • It is an excellent feature for seasoned users, who are part way into seasons and just want to get the next episode. It is not a good default feature to have on.
    • Its not much of a leap to learn that you hit enter and go into that section, but it is an initial confusion that should be an option at the least. Many users will think that click right here and browsing these ondeck previews, is the only way to browse their media.
    • I like how the ATV2 client does it. I have the settings setup to show my ‘on deck’ ‘TV shows’ in the apple tv’s top rack. I think it defaulted to ‘latest’ ‘movies’. Here is how it looks:
  • Filtering options

    • I have zero need to define, each and every time that I come into a section, that I want to see “All items”. This is my #1 pet peeve – but I think that new users do not get confused by this – so its not too high on the UX food chain. I would venture to bet that the vast majority of users pick the “All…” option 90% of the time – or that they stick to one of the filters, most of the time. Axe ’em by default. My opinion would be to keep the filtering options, but not have it on by default / initial install. Give the preference option to set this or to turn it back on, for those users who like it.
  • Changing backgrounds

    • Its a nice idea, the use of HD art from your titles and music as backgrounds during the root menu items – but its confusing to new users. Keyword here is, ROOT menu. First menu I see as a new user. I liked it more before, when it was some really nice, but easy to associate HD pictures like the movie theatre, the old tv, and Elans dog (nice photography he and his wife do btw ). I know there are options for this in the prefs – but by default, KISS. Keep It Simple. Let advanced users hack away at their root menu backgrounds.
    • The changing background works better in skins that mute the background images – allowing the menus to stick out and not be associated with the image:
  • Subtitle selection

    • On the desktop client, I did not see any easy way to select, before watching, which subtitle is available (to find out if there is any subtitles available at all, or if 5 are available), which ones is chosen, and if subtitles are on or off.
    • There is an in-play option for much of this, but I think it makes the in-play experience cleaner if its accessible outside in the menus.
    • ATV2 has a button selection before watching the movie:
  • Subtitle acquisition

    • Attaining and managing subtitle meta-data for media needs major work and architecture expansion. In my experience, it can work (sometimes), and its there, but you don’t get much feedback, there is not much interaction if things go wrong.
    • Management of subtitles should be available IN the client. There is so much room for error on subtitle-matching, that it is inevitable that user interaction (while browsing the media) will be needed.
    • I like that subtitle offset is available in-play. This way you can match up subtitles that are off. However, the offset that you set does not seem to save when you play the episode again later, or on another client. Wish subtitle offset was saved somewhere.
  • Buttons in In-play Interface

    • There should be no buttons to select. Do not allow the user to navigate left, right to buttons while media is playing. Its unintuitive. DVD players and VCRs never did this.
    • I do however like the extended in-play menus on the right. They are handy when you need them. If they stay out of the way of beginner users (arent easily accessible), then they should stay.
    • See next item for suggestions.
  • In-play ATV2-like UI

    • While playing content, I now find myself expecting the desktop plex to act like my apple tv. You hit something on the remote or keyboard, and it causes something to happen or show. Apple really hit the in-play UI on the nail. Simple, intuitive, easy, and guessable. There are not on-screen buttons that you can navigate to like the desktop app. If you git the “Down” button you get #2 only. If you hit the “Up” button, you get #3, if you hit “Up” again, you get #3 and #1. Below are the extent of Apples in-play components:
    • You can still introduce complexity (menus for a/v options like subtitle details, and screen brightness) via something like the double up key and then right arrow. See below mock-up. Keep any detailed menus away from the default / beginner user, so that they are not confused and to them it “just works”.
  • Skin confusion

    • I spent 15 mins in the plex desktop interface trying to figure out how to browse, download and enable a new skin. I thought I recalled doing this in the past. I failed. I wanted to try another skin only because of the pet peaves and annoyances listed here. I was hoping that maybe skins also allow slightly different UX operations…. Someone at work a year ago told me to get Alaska.
    • I am seeing now after some research that you have to d/l and place these manually or with preen. This eventually should be productized and available skins selectable in the options.
  • Media Manager abilities not available from client

    • If given the ability to enact 60% of the Media Manager content-org features, IN the client – Id pay for it after having seen it in action. Plex could upsell this. It would have to be done right and not rear its head for begining users or other family users. I know that this would be a complete rehaul in architecture, and everyone would start expecting the features on all clients. It would require a lot of resources, but damn it’d be friggin sweet to select an alternate background while browsing to my favorite series, or to correct a match while in bed with my apple tv 2 remote.
  • Meta-data upstream feedback

    • It would be boss if, when you fix meta-data issues, that they are fed back to a writeable DB or API. I think I read that freebase is open writeable. Public DBs should learn from mistakes that users find and fix in the Media Manager or even in the client. I know you can’t fix this stuff in the client now, but I sure have found myself wanting to – and wishing that the change would have the possibility to be fixed for everyone.
  • ATV2-like Content Options

    • I especially like ATV2s options-layout once you are on a specific content title. I do not see anything like this in the desktop Plex. It gives 3 or 4 big buttons for “Play”, “Audio/Subs” (which a/v streams to play, which sub titles to play), and “More” (watched, unwatched… this section could handle so much more). I like the very limited options at first, that then branch out as I dive into those various buttons.
    • I would cream my pants if the “More…” button was worked to have a “changed media meta-data” option where you then could fix its background art, matching, soft-delete it, etc.
  • Preference Navigation Confusion

    • Many confusions with this…
    • An initial submenu is off of the main root menu on the left hand side. All good. If you go into one of these – say “Videos”, there is now some other menu on the RIGHT side, and im not even sure where I am in the hierarchy. Did I go into the Videos section? I dont know, because the first submenu disappeared. 
    • Unified UX rules on menus is needed. Sometimes only the enter key takes action (changing a menu item), sometimes just moving the cursor takes action (the sub sub menu shown above, on the right)
    • Escape brings you out of the entire preference experience. Not even the root pref menu choice is displayed. I would have thought it would take you back one level. The rest of the UX acts in this former way.
    • There is an awkward “Change Preferences For…” title at the top, and the title under it (the section you are in) can be changed. Only allow this context change back at the root level, not in two places. Confused me. I never know where I am located – there is no clear, visual “breadcrumb” of where I am in the hierarchy of menus.
    • Needs to be simple and consistent like ATV2 menus are. No more “buttons”. Currently, you can hit left and right to focus on various “buttons” (up, down arrows for multibox selection). None of that. It confuses people I think. Instead, all menu items should act like this: you hit enter / play on them to change their value. THEN maybe you can do up and down.
    • Other skins do the pref menu well. But because MediaStream is the default and other skins are not easily available, its confusing out of the box to noobs.
    • Retroplex has done the grouping and visual appeal of the root pref pane nicely. Icons representing each category. Uses screen real estate nicely. Gives textual examples of what is within each category.

Final Words

Maybe some of the above cons are user-error (me), or I have not spent enough time with using the system . Either way, difficulty was met on the above points, and ‘program-error’ VS ‘user-error’ doesn’t exist in UX design.

I had fun delving into all my loves and hates and I hope that these can be seriously used by some of the Plex devs. If I get the time, I know that the ATV plex client is open source and on github. I might give it a go to add some mods to the subtitle stuff 🙂

App virtualization: New hotness?

March 8, 2012

application virtualization server software running on android phoneVirtualization of applications is becoming more reasonable. For example, they showed a smartphone being allowed to run as a server (yes, not normally done, but displays the low server requirements) that serves out the entire Photoshop app to a laptop. The laptop loads photoshop, albeit slowly at first, from the smartphone in under 20MB of streamed application byte-code content. I think that the streamed data then runs in a special virtualization agent (client) on the platform where you are wanting to run the application.

Is this amazing? I dont quite grasp how it could revolutionize anything. If anything, its another tool for enterprise to reduce costs via cloud use-cases.



Pair programming – should you do it?

March 8, 2012

Pears programmingPairs programming – is development best done with someone assisting you over your back 100% of the time? Are open floor plans in offices beneficial, or does private space allow privacy and therefore creativity? I like the conclusion of this authors reasoning: It depends. Pair programming research has shown it to be very useful IN THE RIGHT SITUATIUONS, but not all. Use it where it makes sense, and pair different kinds of people to get a diversity of view points.


How to record live or previously recorded TV from a Motorola QIP6416-2 set-top box

February 16, 2012

I recently have been messing around with my media setup (now that I have spare time – open source job leads anyone?). I wanted to get a couple of important sciency-type shows off of my Verizon FIOS DVR that have been trapped on it for years. So I sucessfully used a formula from a site that was formerly located at .

It worked! But the site was taken down.

Here I am replicating it for use by others. I only hope that it can retake the #1 spot for google search with “qip-6416-2 firewire” :-p



I have two needs: one, to record an episode of a certain TV show next week in high quality that is well-suited to burning to a DVD, and two, to keep my mind occupied to avoid dwelling on my current personal problems. In pursuit of satisfying those needs, I started reading up on how easy it would be to just pull the video from my DVR, which is a Motorola QIP6416-2 from Verizon FiOS. It has a ton of USB and FireWire ports, so I thought it wouldn’t be very difficult.

Unfortunately, as is often the case, the internet is full of bogus blog entries, misinformation, forum threads that are hundreds of pages long and impossible to parse in a single sitting, and the few bits of relevant info you may find hasn’t been updated in years. I was finally able to get rid of the cruft and put together a simple process for recording HD video over FireWire that’s straightforward and doesn’t require any extra hardware or software.

For this to work, you need:

  • A compatible STB. Listing compatible STBs here is beyond the scope of this entry. If in doubt, go up to step 3 and make sure your STB shows up in the list.
  • A 6-circuit FireWire cable. Hint: it’s the bigger kind of FireWire cable.
  • Something running OS X. From what I’ve read, anything newer than 10.2 will do. I did this on 10.5.7.
  • The Apple FireWire SDK. I used v26 for this. You can download it here. You’ll have to register first, but it’s free, so…

Once you’ve got all that set up and ready to go, proceed with the following steps:

  1. Connect the firewire cable from one of the ports on the back of the STB to your computer.
  2. Just to double check, go to the Apple Menu, then About this Mac, then More Info, then look under Hardware -> FireWire, and make sure your STB is in the list.
  3. Open AVCBrowser. It’s part of the FireWire SDK, and is easily found via Spotlight.
  4. Click Motorola QIP-6416-2 in the AVC Browser window.
  5. Click Open Device Control Panel.
  6. Click Open Device.
  7. Click the Panel tab, then click Show Viewer, which will open VLC.
  8. Use your STB remote to either select a channel, or browse and play your DVR contents.
  9. Make note of the udp address in the title bar of the VLC stream that opens.
  10. In VLC, go to File -> Open Network.
  11. Type the udp address you noted earlier into the Media Resource Locator field. This whole process might not be the best way to do this. I’m not sure. Either way, this works.
  12. Check the Streaming/Saving box, then click Settings.
  13. Check “Display stream locally” and select a destination with the “Browse” button next to File. Note: pick a drive that has quite a bit of storage space available. I’ve read that this video can take up around 9 gigs per hour.
  14. You can transcode here if you wish. I didn’t bother.
  15. Click OK, then OK again. It should reopen the stream from your STB and begin recording.

That should do it. You can change the video file name from the default “vlc-output.ts” if you like. Use the .mpg file extension. As far as I can tell, this technique will record the video at whatever resolution the channel is broadcasting in, so some will be 720p and some will be 1080i. And yes, it works with the movie channels. I didn’t try it with any On Demand content.

I’d also like to mention that I tried a few other oft-recommended apps, namely VirtualDVHS and FireRecord, and neither worked worth a damn. VirtualDVHS picked up the STB fine, but I couldn’t get it to actually record anything. FireRecord 0.5h picked up the STB and pretended to record, and I liked the scheduling aspects quite a bit, but the video format was either corrupt or I screwed up while recording. I couldn’t get it to play in VLC or Quicktime, even after renaming to .mpg. I also couldn’t get MPEG Streamclip to open it for conversion. I just assume I screwed up somehow while recording.

I hope someone finds this useful. I read in a lot of places that it wasn’t possible to pull video from these things. It seems to be true that you can’t just download a file from the STB’s hard drive, but this method is almost as good.


14 Responses to How to record live or previously recorded TV from a Motorola QIP6416-2 set-top box

  1. Elliot says:

    While I appreciate the good news and your amazing efforts, is there something that a Windows PC can do the same thing as your Apple?
    I recorded four movies that are laying dormant on the hard drive and I want to extract them onto my PC for burning to a DVD using Nero.
    Unfortunately, I was told by Verizon there are no output jacks from this Motorola unit that would allow me to do this.
    Other than the five jacks (three color and two audio) that plug into the TV, I do not even know how to reconfigure them to plug into my DVD recorder that only has one video jack and two audios.
    Any suggestions would be appreciated.

    • JR says:

      I’m no expert on this sort of thing, but I’m pretty sure that the only way to get any output from this STB is over Firewire, not through the composite/component/HDMI interfaces. I know there are quite a few equivalent PC apps that will accomplish this, but I don’t use them, so I can’t give you specifics. You should be able to find them with some searching.

  2. Kerry Maxwell says:

    Thanks for these instructions. I haven’t got to actually work yet, but I’m closer than I’ve been! ;) I can get VLC to display what is playing on the STB, but I haven’t been able to get it to record. I’m using a G4 powerbook, OS X 10.4.11, and VLC 0.8.6i. If it’s a leopard or PPC vs Intel issue, I can first try my wife’s intel macbook, and then upgrade to leopard if that doesn’t work.

  3. Kerry Maxwell says:

    OK, was able to record after updating to after updating VLC to 0.9.10. 30 seconds of HD = 102 megs. But my results are are not easily repeatable. I tried recording something from a non-HD program, and couldn’t get it to work again. So basically, I know it’s possible, but it certainly seems a PITA.

    Thanks again for your help in getting me this far!

  4. solo 68 says:


    Thanks for posting this info online. I read on the Motorola site that the QIP6416-2 needs a software upgrade in order to allow the transfer of it’s recorded data to an external hard drive. Yet, you seem to have come up with a method for capturing live media. I noticed the title of your article includes previously recorded TV.

    I have several programs I have recorded and now have very limited space to record any other movies. Is there a difference in the detailed instructions you provided on capturing live media and transferring recorded media to a Mac or external drive?


    • JR says:

      I can only tell you that it seems to be a little finicky. Sometimes, following these steps, I can get it to work the first try. Others it takes a few reboots of the computer and the STB to get things working. It’s pretty frustrating, but better than nothing.

      • solo68 says:

        Ok, thanks. I’ll have to give it a try.

      • solo68 says:

        After trying several times, using my standard and admin accounts, I cannot get this method to work. Restarting my Mac, swapping firewire ports, turning the DVR on & off, and again it does not seem to work. If this is finicky I would hate to see down right stubborn (LOL).

        However, everything works up to step nine, but clearly that is the most crucial step. Maybe there are VLC preferences, you did not mention, that need to be configured. Perhaps, there are certain network ports I do not have enabled. I gave it a fair try. Thanks.

        • JR says:

          I can’t say. It’s been 4 months since I did this, so maybe there have been firmware changes to the STB or something. I haven’t tried it since I posted this.

          • solo68 says:


            I finally got some sample video to work from live TV. I have yet to try recorded video, which is what I really want. However, I paid a price to get these results. One, I stayed up all night working on this; and two, I purchased the QuickTime MPEG-2 Playback Component. Also, I used a different method to get it to work, but it works flawlessly. No restarting my Mac or DVR required. Dollar wise it cost me $21.74 (including tax) and I think it is worth it. Hopefully, I can get the same results working on the recorded shows. I will post my results once I get to it.

            By the way, besides using the QuickTime MPEG-2 Playback Component, I used the AVCVideoCap application (it is also part of the free Apple Firewire SDK) and MPEG Streamclip (freeware). The initial instructions that got me started can be found at the link below.



          • solo68 says:

            Well, I can only capture recorded video from the local programming channels. All basic and premium cable channels are limited to one copy (the copy already on my DVR). In the MPEG Streamclip application GUI the EMI field gives an indication if video can be copied more than once. For example, if it lists “Copy Once” it means the copy already on my DVR is the only copy I can view, and if it lists “Copy Freely” it means the video can be copied and viewed multiple times. Again, thanks for listing this info on your blog and I hope this additional info helps you and others that find your blog.


  5. aahhgeezz says:

    I have followed your guide and everything is working but the actual recording. The output file is created and is zero kilobytes. Am i possibly doing something wrong? I get the display on my macbook/10.6.2. I have a pace dvr and I can record with AVCVideoCap and FireRecord, but sometimes the video is not viewable in any other viewer/program other than VLC on playback. I have to encode with HandBrake before MPEG Streamclip shows the video so I can edit the commercials out.

    If anyone has any information for me in regards to getting VLC to actually record for myself. Like I said, I can get it working with other programs, I just have a feeling that recording with VLC may give me better options for when I want to edit the video.

  6. Colin McNaught says:

    Thanks for the hint. All steps seem to work except at step 15 VLC is not capturing even though it appears to be in ‘Play’ mode.
    I’ve had success before with a different STB using AVCVideoCap
    My current one is a Motorola QIP6416 (FIOS)
    Using AVCVideoCap a m2t file is captured (105MB for 1 minute) but it is not readable by my usual apps, MPEGSclip, Handbrake, VLC
    Also, AVCVideoCap reports “Other/Unknown” Stream format.
    Any ideas?

  7. Al C Jr. says:

    Cannot thank you enough! I am pretty new to Mac and have been pulling my hair out trying to capture video from TV, I knew there had to be a way without buying expensive software. Pulled some more out after buying Firewire 9 pin to 6 pin cable today at Best Buy, thinking all I had to do was hook the cables up, no luck…all packed up and ready to take return – until I read your step by steps… It works! THANK YOU very much!

Selling to those who don’t yet know they need it

February 24, 2011

When trying to sell something that someone doesn’t know they need, explain to them specifically some functionality that they will gain. It has to be a functionality that is useful, different, and that most of the audience will get excited about. Don’t only explain what the product is or does – example a use-case or scenario where it would be useful, in addition to explaining in detail what the doodad is.

I thought this up when seeing a Growl pop-up notifying me to upgrade. It said:

GrowlUpdateYes its free, yes its available, but why do I need it? The current version suites me quite well and works quite well. Maybe it added a cool new feature that allows you to variably set how long popups stay showing, dependent on the content in the popup. You could use this to tell popups containing your “name” to stay up for forever, and all other popups to disappear after 5 seconds. I would then rush to download the new version.

Pursuing Business Idea: Consumer media syncrhonization

February 8, 2011

I am going forward with looking into a business idea and also doubling the effort as my Masters Thesis for my final 6 credits in my IS Masters degree.

I envision it to be initially aimed at business feasibility of the following idea:
Synchronizing large consumer media collections and files amongst many user devices.

More in-depth about the idea

If you know of, think of that app, but for considerably larger collections of data such as music, photos, movies, etc. I am also considering open source and hybrid open-source distribution and business models. Monetization may be very different, and I will need to focus on this.

The thesis is initially more oriented at the business and product side of things. In the real world, this is what I feel is needed. I have done a technical feasibility in my basement lab for years – I know it can be done – but the real question for me is if it is a feasible business for me to spend my resources and time on.


I have discussed at length about this with Dr Tony Norcio, and he is on board for being my thesis advisor. I am also hoping to recruit Dr Roy Rada, and another professor for the required thesis committee. I took class last semester on Technology Innovation and Entrepreneurship that spurred some of these ideas. The teacher from that course is a business and entrepreneurship guru and I hope that she will also be able to provide me feedback.

I think that I will also try to bounce the idea off of many of my professional network contacts that are CEOs and have run companies and know what to look for. Likely also, I will need to talk to users and what their needs are, to understand at a deeper level what people need, and what audience I might go after.

If you have any advise, I invite anyone to contact me. Wish me luck!

Cloud startup story: coming to brink of being acquired

December 8, 2010

Amazing story on how a bootstrapped successful cloud-storage startup went through 6 months of due diligence to be acquired, and then having the deal fall through at the last moment. The main factor was trust. The buying companies board did not trust that the team would stay given the amount of immediate payout money they were forking over. This threw redflags to the cloud-storage company and trust was broken.

He says that these kinds of things need in-person meetings from the start, with all important people attending. Additionally he said to not let it go on for too long and to do your due diligence.

Lesser known iOS 4.2 features

November 24, 2010
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You can read about the well-published 4.2 features at apple.

There are however, other iOS 4.2 lesser known features:

  • Reply to calendar invitations
  • Calendar font size and new .ics importing
  • Find text on web pages
  • Tones to text messages – know who is txting
  • Change fonts in notes app
  • Youtube voting
  • Wireless app distribution for businesses
  • Microsoft exchange support on ipad (already on iphone)
  • Remote device mangement so businesses can deploy fleets of devices
  • Quick controls with easy to change brightness control (ipad)
  • ipadtaskbar