A portion of my current activity consists of custom software design and implementation. I’m often able to provide significant improvements, in minimum time, by drawing on almost 50 years of experience in software development, dating back to mainframe days. More importantly, I strive to show you how to prevent future problems, and how to solve them should they arise despite your efforts.
One of the most interesting assignments I’ve completed in the past several years is the PixCell remote video transmission package for Digital Broadcasting, Inc. This system comprises a number of PCs, all but one of which are located in storm-chaser’s vehicles and equipped with MPEG encoders. The remaining PC stays at a TV station’s studios, and receives video from the vehicular units via cellular-phone modem connections. While it’s not quite real-time, the transmission is rapid enough to meet the demanding requirements of the TV news and weather markets.
The initial installation, at station KWTV (channel 9) in Oklahoma City, provided near-instant coverage when four tornadoes churned across the north end of Oklahoma City just before dusk on June 13, 1998. Footage transmitted by the system arrived at the station several minutes before the storms reached the studio area.
I created all software for this system, using off-the-shelf commercial controls and combining them to achieve maximum performance. I also created a set of display programs to make it easier for studio personnel to schedule a series of received clips for showing on the air.
Btrieve Class Generation
For more than a year, I supported the development staff at Stage One Productions in San Francisco, by creating Visual Basic class modules with which they can provide extended capabilities for their clients’ Btrieve-based order entry and accounting systems. Treating each database table as an object allows the application developer to concentrate on business problems, without becoming distracted by technical details of dealing with the database itself.
In late 1997 and early 1998 I did something similar for Hitech Distribution in Kent Town, South Australia, but it involved creating modules in the NetBasic language to achieve the same purpose for their on-line order entry and tracking system. This entire project was conducted via E-mail, which is my preferred method of working. Because of E-mail, the 16.5-hour time difference between my location and Kent Town posed no problems in communication except for introducing a delay.
If you have a set of DDF files to provide the data dictionary for your Btrieve data, I can create class modules for the defined tables from them so that you can write code in Visual Basic 5 or later without having to concern yourself with the somewhat arcane Btrieve interface, or suffer the performance hit of using ODBC. If you don’t have such files, but can provide record layouts and copies of the files, I can create a DDF set for you anyway. Ask me about it.
Custom Document Imaging
Based on intensive involvement with photo-rendering and document imaging techology since 1989, I also provide custom packages to scan, edit, display, and print such images. Some of this effort serves to provide continuing support for the semi-obsolete Norick Software packages that I designed back in 1991 and 1992. Other assignments include generation of special format conversion systems for imaging formats that aren’t covered by popular graphics editing suites.
I work closely, in this area, with Calvin and Marilyn Aiken at UniSoft Imaging, creators of the most effective imaging tools I’ve ever used (and in the past 10 years I’ve examined most of those being offered). Their products allow my solutions to provide performance that’s the equal of any and superior to most.