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In the news: FCC vs innovation,

There is sometimes a need to provide a governor on things to keep them from going out of control. Protecting trade secrets has a long history that the patent idea was embedded in law to open this up a bit in a controlled way. Regulation is almost always a limiting control and it is another way to keep things from going out of control. There are two examples in the news this morning related to the struggles on this topic.

Amateur Radio exists, in part, to advance the state of the art. With SDR technologies and digital modes, the costs of radio communications experimentation have been reduced so that a larger bunch of hams can get involved. But Amateur Radio is regulated and keeping regulations up to date with the implications of technology is a nontrivial exercise. Current Rules Holding Hams Back from Adopting State-of-the-Art Technology, ARRL Says.

ARRL told the FCC in its comments that the current HF symbol rate “speed limit” reflects 1980s technology and has no place in an experimental radio service in which modern protocols could be efficiently deployed in crowded RTTY/data subbands.

“The symbol rate limit was created in order to maximize the efficient use and reuse of that crowded, shared spectrum, but the assumptions made at the time are no longer valid,” ARRL said, “and the rules now prohibit radio amateurs from utilizing state-of-the-art technology, thus precluding or substantially inhibiting any meaningful contribution to the advancement of the radio art in this area.” ARRL said earlier assumptions are no longer valid mainly because there is no correlation between the data rate and the occupied bandwidth in the rules now.

Another inhibitor is described by Michael Larabel reporting that Raspberry Pi VC4 Graphics Driver Working To Support QPU Shaders.

The latest Raspberry Pi graphics driver hacking by Eric Anholt of Broadcom has been working to support QPU shaders by this open-source driver stack. QPUs are the shader core of the graphics hardware found in the Raspberry Pi SoC, but come up short of supporting OpenCL or OpenGL compute shaders

Eric is looking at supporting QPU shaders now though with this open-source driver stack since it can be used for accelerated video decode.

On this last, that is why I had to re-build VLC and suffer it’s taking over the screen the way it does in order to use it to display videos. The Tutorial: Compile VLC with HW acceleration – Jessie, RPi 2/3 worked well and produced good results. It also provided an insight into the size, scope, and complexity of modern FOSS projects that really puts my 1980’s experience in systems software development in perspective. 

The default media play in Raspbian is OMXplayer and it works but it also takes over the screen and you have to launch it from a terminal window to use keyboard commands to control it. The VLC option appears to respond to keyboard input to the display window. Additional experimentation is needed.