Are real programmers a dying species?

I am setting up a new TV-set, a Philips 32pfl3807h .

I had never seen a commercial product programmed in such a moronic way. The programmer must have been outright illiterate.

Can you imagine the only way to set the timezone of the clock is upon installation by specifying the country - and no way to change that afterwards. Including a half an hour+ channel scan. Then once you specify "Bulgaria" - where I am - it will not find the digital channels of the cable TV. If you specify "Germany" it will but the clock is wrong. If you specify "Finland" the clock is correct but it will not find the analog channels (you can search and store them afterwards _only_ one by one and you have to specify for each explicitly under which number it has to be stored....).

I am not going to go into how it has to be repowered every once in a while if you play some video etc., how it won't do even primitive multi-task stuff like showing the program guide without stopping the current channel reception etc....

What I find amazing is that such a product, very nice display, hardware working OK etc., had to be made nearly useless just because they (Philips) did not have a programmer to do a simple job.

If I deliver a device which is 1/10th that not working I am sure I'll never get away with it. How do they manage that is beyond me.

I am sure there are enough people even only in this newsgroup who could do this OK and would be affordable to any company having a mass product like this. Why are they not contracting someone if they don't want to hire one? Because they wanted to pay $200 to someone over freelance.com and be done with it? The software looks that appaling, I must say that.

Or are we a dying species here? Just folks capable of drag and drop "programming" nowadays on the market?

Dimiter

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dp
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They "drag and drop" frpom several previous models, recompile the tasks to run on their embedded Linux as it is just like a desktop.

So users know they have to reboot (three fingered salute) as nothing works that good

Development time is spent on the icons and, 'menuing' and background images, the code already 'works' because it was in a different model. Of course the styling of the plastic moulding and making sure it did not break any 'rounded corner patents'.

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Paul Carpenter          | paul@pcserviceselectronics.co.uk 
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Reply to
Paul

Well it certainly looks like this. But even so having no menu option to change the timezone offset is amazing to me, even at todays programming mess standards.

Then the basic software is not at all that stable, it does crash so one has to repower the thing (don't these people use watchdogs? Not on the drag & drop menu perhaps?).

And there _was_ a way I eventually discovered to make the TV scan both the digital and analog channels if you specify "Bulgaria" at the beginning. The only way to get to it was to start the scan which was doing the analog channels only, abort it and _then_ an "options" button appeared next to the "start scan"...

Dimiter

Reply to
dp

Obviously done by Windows 'programmer' amazed you did not have a dialog box up with a Cancel button that did not respond until iot had finished.

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Paul Carpenter          | paul@pcserviceselectronics.co.uk 
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Reply to
Paul

I suppose it's easy to blame the programmer but remember that (usually) the programmer is one small part of the product design progression. I would venture a guess that this particular TV was outsourced every step of the way and then when the mass production deadline finally arrived, they had to settle for just about anything with no time for design review.

JJS

Reply to
John Speth

.

Well yes, the code looks outsourced via freelancer.com all right. The question is, why should it be made _that_ cheap. There have been competent programmers somewhere in the loop, e.g. the video codecs have likely been written by some real programmer - and incorporated by someone with a lot less skill so the thing crashes way too often when it plays videos.

But it is not just the few missing vital buttons on the menu, the whole software is clearly a mess. One can tell by the impredictable latencies when you press buttons (so you sometimes think the key got missed, press again and the effect is of pressing the button twice) etc. etc., most if not all of us here will recognize a mess when we see one. My point is they did not really have to make a mess out of such a product, it is neither that cheap nor is it made in too small quantities.

Dimiter

Reply to
dp

because they were two different "teams" and they didn't talk to each other.

rim

Reply to
tim.....

I think it's more about management than actual programming. If you have to do something really fast, because new TV set has to be on market before christmas, you don't have time to do it correctly.

Sometimes deadlines destroy everything.

AW

Reply to
Adam Wysocki

Hello dp,

I've got a bit older(?) one, a 32PFL8605h, and are also amazed about how awkward some of it is.

Like switching between TV and PC-monitor mode: Only done over a big menu with big tiles by use of both the horizontal & vertical cursor keys (no item-numbering, meaning no way to automate it with, for instance, a bit smarter remote).

But my biggest problem is that Philips refuses to provide me, the user, with information about and how to communicate with the build-in computer (like for altering preferences, but also for (possibly) switching channels and other stuf), but sees no problem in me connecting it to my home network, letting it call out (call home ?) to wherever it wants. Morons.

The end-result is that I can only use it as an expensive dumb TV, and only seldom switch to PC-monitor mode (due to its awkward "other device" selection-process).

In short: As others I also don't think its fully the programmers fault. The "screw the customer" attitude seems to be present thru-out the company.

Regards, Rudy Wieser

P.s. If someone has info (a service-manual? Something beter?) about my TV I would sure like to hear from them. :-)

-- Origional message dp schreef in berichtnieuws snipped-for-privacy@h6g2000vbp.googlegroups.com...

Reply to
R.Wieser

Products like this continue because there isn't economic incentive to do better. If everybody who bought one of these immediately returned it, the company would get the message.

You ARE going to return it, right ? Otherwise you're just affirming that they are building it just right: good enough to get your $$ and not bad enough to have it returned.

Why are there no working USB-RS232 adapters ? Because everyone just throws junk out and tries a different brand until one sorta works..

Sad but true, no ? Best Regards, Dave

Reply to
Dave Nadler

No, I am not going to return it and yes, you are correct, of course.

Then the TV is OK, it does the job although being somewhat cumbersome to use (and very, probably unacceptably, cumbersome to setup - I might not have bought it if I had known this then).

The screen - 32" 1920x1080 pixels - is pretty good, which is where most of the value is anyway. It works OK even as an analog monitor through the D-15 VGA connector. I may get one to use as a monitor to work on (won't need my 1.5 dioptre glasses :D ).

But the software is appalling, and while the market tolerates that there is no reason it should. How difficult would it be to sell it with Android like all the smartphones for example, if anything the user interface would be good enough for just about anyone. Mind you, the TV has even an RJ-45 at the rear, 10/100 (I think, I won't be surprised if it is 10/100/1000). And all that neat hardware wasted by a poor user interface (the complex code may well be the same GPL stuff running under linux and android anyway).

But as it is now, just give the RJ-45 a network cable and its yellow LED will stay constantly on, God only knows what they are broadcasting or whatever all the time (did not bother to snoop/investigate, just unplugged it).

Well, yes. I'll accept it as it is, all I will do is the moaning, I guess.

Not sure about these, I have never used one (the PC is just another TV-set for me, I do my work on a DPS machine), but basically this is a problem we face on a daily basis. Moving forward a bit too fast for what we are? :-)

Dimiter

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Reply to
dp

It is difficult to make sensible interface for feature rich device while having crippled means of input and output. Why could not they make a USB connection and provide PC service software instead of all that mess. That would be simpler to develop; probably less expensive; and much more convenient.

Vladimir Vassilevsky DSP and Mixed Signal Consultant

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Vladimir Vassilevsky

A very-far-from-optimal solution is to learn the IR codes sent from the remote control, and simulate them to do what you want.

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Roberto Waltman 

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Reply to
Roberto Waltman

That is a can of worms all its own. I remember buying an ARM evaluation kit that used its own proprietary programming interface over USB, connecting to Windows systems. I don't know that they ever got the Windows drivers right. I eventually gave it up as a $100 brick after a few weeks of nothing working.

Mel.

Reply to
Mel Wilson

Probably written by a hardware engineer who thinks that dabbling in Forth (in reality, the assembler of the KDF-9) makes him a programmer.

"Real Programmers don't write Pascal"?

Reply to
gareth

Let alone having to reissue drivers for every new Windows version, which a TV manufacturer will not do as they build one model for a month or so then build next model, forget old model. Laptops are have got like that as well.

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Paul Carpenter          | paul@pcserviceselectronics.co.uk 
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Paul

This is not just Philips. I have a Samsung TV and it takes almost a minute form pressing the "power" button to receiving a digital channel. It shows me stuping dialogs along the way that disappeard after a few seconds or immediately when I press OK. The response time of ANY button is 1 second or more, switching channels takes 6 seconds on digital. Yuk!

But this is not something of today. Over 10 years ago, I had a philips car radio that occasionally locked up. No response to buttons or removing the front panel. I had to turn off the igintion and restart to get the thing going again.

Meindert

Reply to
Meindert Sprang

Here, on my SHARP you can choose Belgium and it gets the time from the TNT I.e. RTBF...

The broadcasted time is GMT :-( ! DST or not !!

So you have to add 1 or 2 hours yourself when seeing time and when looking at the EPG.

Philippe

Reply to
Philippe Lemaire

Are you sure Philips actually design and write software any more for any of their domestic products?

My impression is you tend to pay a premium for a name that is generally unjustified.

In your case I's take the offending item back!!

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Reply to
Mike Perkins

Hello Roberto,

You mean the Philips RC5 code ? Thats not a problem. But as you said, its far-from-optimal, as the input-device -selection I was talking about is a "use your eyes and the cursor-keys to move the selection-rectangle to its destination". In other words: thats pretty-much impossible to automate I'm afraid ...

But no, I was referring to the ethernet connection he TV has. If I connect it to my 'puter I *should* be able to communicate as with any other PC. The "only thing" I need to know is which services run on my TV, and which protocols (as in: request and answer structures) those services use.

For instance: The manual tells me the TV can connect to a share on my 'puter, but have no idea if it itself has a share I can connect to -- and what files I could get/put there (read/writable configuration-files, like the currently set channels perhaps ?)

Other services could incoorporate a kind of remote-control, but than for computers instead of humans. Than I could use my PC as a timer to switch to certain channels.

Maybe the TV has some kind of service running with which I could, on the background, select and retrieve teletext-pages. Would be fun to be able to use them.

Heck, that TV runs on a *computer*, and I can't interface with it .. :-\

Regards, Rudy Wieser

-- Origi> >I've got a bit older(?) one, a 32PFL8605h, and are also amazed about how

with

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R.Wieser

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