On freely available guide data

One of the flaws with Microsoft’s Media Center flavour of Windows XP when it was released in Australia, was that it suffered from the same inherent flaw as every other PVR option in Australia. No guide data. It really says something about Australia’s television networks that they don’t want to help people with even vaguely modern computing setups watch their content — it’s a situation which reminds me a lot of the RIAA’s stand over tactics, and I think it’s equally doomed.

That’s one of the joys of my MythTV setup in the US — the guide data is trivially available in return for doing a simple four or five question survey every three months or so. What could be easier than that?

Well, when I was using a TiVo in Australia the OzTiVo folk had a solution to these problems, and were working with the XMLTV / MythTV people to make it more generic. I hadn’t been paying much attention to it until today when I was randomly surfing on the topic, but it’s interesting to see that they also now provide instructions for how to import their guide data into a Windows Media Center PC. It’s cool to see a community driven project which is so OS agnostic, and seems to be getting the job done. If you have a TiVo, MythTV box, or a Windows Media Center PC you should be thanking the kind folks who enter all this guide data.

Oh, and you should be helping them keep the data up to date. It would seem to be a case of enlightened self interest to work on the shows that you want to be accurate because you want to watch them for instance.

HP iPaq GPS FA256A

I picked up a HP FA256A blue tooth GPS the other day for my iPaq. The idea is that when I move to Mountain View, CA to work for Google then I’m going to need some form of satellite navigation to survive crazy American roads where they drive on the wrong side.

I’m liking the GPS. It was only $145 Australia, it’s got an eight hour lithium-ion battery, and comes with a car charger. I downloaded a free GPS test application for the iPaq (mine still runs Windows Mobile 2003), and it just worked. The only hard part was working out that it was hiding on COM port 8, not the COM port that was labelled as blue tooth in the drop down.

The graph to the left was made with some GPS code I wrote a while ago which I haven’t got around to documenting better than the README in the source code (tarball).

This graph is a dump of the drive from Andrew‘s house to mine last night. The color change indicates speed, with red being faster than blue.

I’m considering getting around to using GPS data more here. One day in my free time…