What should I do next?
With the completion of my second book, I'm looking for another big project. I turn to you, my readers, for inspiration and direction.
I received an interesting suggestion via reader feedback not too long ago. It was in response to my post about funding free (as in GPLed) software work. In that post, I was specifically talking about my software defined radio work. It's built on top of things like GNU Radio which are licensed under the GPL, so anything I release must also be licensed that way.
Unfortunately, this means there's a significant disconnect between the ability to do the work and the ability to be paid for that work. That then reduces the likelihood that I'd ever put in the work required to make it sufficiently generic for widespread use. After all, once it solves my own problem, exactly why should I go beyond that?
I want to give the interested parties of the world a chance to show that this can be changed, and that such projects can be funded. It's time to find out just what the market will bear.
Perhaps you have heard of a little thing called Kickstarter. There's a project called Light Table which is using Kickstarter to fund its development. It's built on top of free software (well, open source, but whatever, unless you're rms), and the core will also be open sourced when it is released.
However, there's another rub for the Light Table project. It apparently will have a "pay what you can" type license for individuals, targeted around the $50 price point. The creator of this project decided to ask for $200K to make this happen.
It wound up gathering over $300,000. I'd say that's a pretty good sign that the market will support that kind of project.
So, I want to know if the market will support any of my projects.
To tempt everyone, I will put forth some of the possibilities for things I could build, whether from scratch or by extending something which already exists but hasn't been released:
Super Trunking Scanner
as it is now: based on GNU Radio, 800 MHz Motorola SmartNet/SmartZone
decoding, and logging to MP3 files, with metadata going into MySQL.
Also, all of the gunk required to make it push calls from the recording
machine to a centrally-situated web server. Then, all of the web
backend and frontend stuff to actually make it work as a cohesive site.
- Super Trunking Scanner, the APCO Project 25 (P25) edition. In my
part of the world, public safety agencies are shutting down their old
SmartNet/SmartZone and EDACS systems and are moving to using P25
trunking. This introduces a whole bunch of new alphabet soup like C4FM,
H-DQPSK, IMBE, TDMA, and more.
This is already a reality in Alameda and Contra Costa counties in the East Bay (EBRCS). It's coming to Santa Clara County later this year in the form of the SVRCS. San Mateo county has their own thing going on, and so does San Francisco, and that's just the Bay Area.
All over the country, things are changing. In those places which have already changed over to the new "phase II", all existing models of scanners but one have been rendered useless, and the only model which could handle it (the GRE PSR-800) apparently is no longer being manufactured. If you want to listen, you're pretty much stuck.
- *Non-trunked* Scanner - direct logging of ordinary channels.
Basically, if you have a bunch of channels in a chunk of bandwidth, this
would turn them into a series of recordings. It's like the Super
Trunking Scanner and still shows up in a nice web interface, but there's
no control channel involved. This could monitor just about anything
your SDR can receive: police, fire, EMS, sure, but also amateur radio,
business bands, and more, and it would do it all in parallel.
- My build tool, but
expanded to handle more situations and scenarios. It would still be
fairly (ahem) opinionated about how it expects your code to be laid out,
but it would be more flexible in other ways. Maybe you want to build C
in addition to C++ code in this way? I could make it do that.
I might even be convinced to make it automatically handle other languages which also currently need awful build languages to compile or otherwise yield a useful package. I bet there's a lot of pain involved with building Java, for instance!
- fred, my answer to
Google Reader. If you like my minimalist interface, maybe you'd like to
run your own instance of it. If you have a dedicated server or even
just a VPS somewhere, you could run your own feed reader. You'd never
have to be at the mercy of someone else to get your Atom/RSS fix ever
If you don't have a dedicated server or VPS, don't fret. It can run on an ordinary Mac laptop thanks to the mostly-Unixy situation underneath.
- publog, which is what makes these /w/ posts happen. It's a "baked"
process, meaning I render the pages on my laptop and then serve static
content. It also means that I can be posted to reddit or Hacker News
and not suffer any ill effects.
The publog stuff also has a way to render posts into a book. That's how both of my books have been created. They were effectively compiled (!) using a glorified config file.
Let's try something different here. Instead of asking for feedback which requires actually writing a note and takes a long time, I'm going to make this really simple.
There are several links below. If something I described seems interesting and should become a Kickstarter project, click on it. Then if you see more links after that and want to click some more, then click on. I'll use the traffic logs from my web server to figure out what it all means.