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Thread: The CarPC - How Far Have We Come?

  1. #11
    Variable Bitrate Jebus's Avatar
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    This thread needs some cheese...


    Seriously, the software solution is you...meaning everyone
    I picked up VB6 10 years ago, I am not a programmer.
    I'm a 51 year old dumb mechanic, that happens to have an electronics hobby.
    I figured out VB on my own.
    I dloaded .Net 1.0 when it first came out and dove in.
    I figured it out on my own.
    .Net is free to download.
    There is plenty of help out there to get you started.
    The solution is you. If you want or need a feature you just create the solution.
    I have only been with this community for a couple of years and I was able to learn the software solution I wanted, even providing a couple of solutions myself.
    There isn't any reason that you can't find or provide a software solution.
    Most of it is free! The only thing that isn't free is your time.
    All those diminishing programmers out there have to spend the time to create the solutions. Why can't you? Meaning anyone...
    There are no special skills required. You just have to be able to read and think...
    There are a lot of very talented programmers contributing to this hobby, and saying these things about their efforts and time invested providing you with a solution is a disservice to these people who have spent the time to learn. IMHO
    They have lives just like you, but they spend the time to create.
    To say that the CarPC hobby is dying is giving up on yourself.

    To say that the existing CarPC solutions are less than adequate is silly.
    Every CarPC hobbiest has a different need and desire. The drawbacks of the OEM solutions only center around personal preferences. That is where WE come in, the electronics hobbiest, the part time programmer, and MP3Car.com. One persons new neat feature is anothers bane. Thats why there are so many choices here. These choices fullfill the needs of everyones personal desires. You don't have to use the latest and greatest music database software, if you think it's too slow parsing through your 20,000 songs. There are very good front ends, skins, VR, Nav, Music control, ect... solutions here. You just have to take the time to learn.

    The issue lies with the user who wants instant gratification of thier needs.
    That is the younger generation in a nutshell. Thats why there are not many younger programmers out there. They don't want to spend the time to learn the sport. Society has taught that all you have to do is wave a dollar and your gadget, software, or need is fulfilled.

    This community depends on you, providing the solutions, not sitting there waiting for someone else to provide.

    Look around and learn, cause this CarPC community is alive and well!

    I guess I'm just old school, If you want something done, you do it yourself, or you pitch in and help get it done...
    ...JJG

  2. #12
    Variable Bitrate Wayne613's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Jebus View Post
    To say that the CarPC hobby is dying is giving up on yourself.

    To say that the existing CarPC solutions are less than adequate is silly.
    Every CarPC hobbiest has a different need and desire. The drawbacks of the OEM solutions only center around personal preferences. That is where WE come in, the electronics hobbiest, the part time programmer, and MP3Car.com.
    Yes, and no. I think the main point was that it's loosing momentum due to OEM solutions that center around proprietary units rather than an OEM installed PC. The other being that less are drawn to this as a solution since it is so much simpler to just add the 1 or 2 things that might now be missing from an OEM solution with some add-on device since this really requires research, planning, and at least a certain degree of technical and computer knowledge. There is no way for instance, even completely installed for them, would I suggest my parents (late 50's) should have one in their vehicle. The nightmare scenarios that could play out are practically limitless.

    I wouldn't personally say it's "dying" myself, I think anyone who truly thought this would be the way cars would be in the future was deluding themselves, as manufacturers goal is to do what the majority of consumers want for peripheral/integration/automation/audio purposes with as minimal an impact on the sticker price as possible. I was still hoping so the idea of getting anything you wanted with a standardized pc interface would at least catch on enough to be sell-able as an after-market product that even made it to the local audio shop for installs, but as stated, with smart-phones and the like I just don't see how even that could happen now. While these far easier and cheaper tack-on devices exist this will stay a niche.

    I would still say that if OEM pc installs become the standard we will have won so to speak, as that would make actual installation and integration that much easier, with the probable outcome of making this more mainstream as a solution. But as stated in another thread it seems more likely they will come up with the same old half-crapola factory radio that just has bluetooth integration with your droid or iphone; as that would be a far more cost effective means to give the masses what they want.
    2008 Ford Mustang GT/CS CARPC(99%)
    Software: Ride/Road-Runner, Digital FX skin 5.x, iGuidance 2011, GPSgate on Win7 64bit

  3. #13
    Variable Bitrate Jebus's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Wayne613 View Post
    Yes, and no. I think the main point was that it's loosing momentum due to OEM solutions that center around proprietary units rather than an OEM installed PC. The other being that less are drawn to this as a solution since it is so much simpler to just add the 1 or 2 things that might now be missing from an OEM solution with some add-on device since this really requires research, planning, and at least a certain degree of technical and computer knowledge. There is no way for instance even completely installed for them would I suggest my parents (late 50's) should have one in their vehicle should I or someone else who has worked with computers isn't around to help them when something doesn't work right, or something in that vein.

    I wouldn't personally say it's "dying" myself, I think anyone who truly thought this would be the way cars would be in the future was deluding themselves, as they're goal is to do what the majority of consumers want for peripheral/integration/automation/audio purposes with as minimal an impact on the sticker price as possible. I was still hoping so the idea of getting anything you wanted with a standardized pc interface would at least catch on enough to be sell-able as an after-market product that even made it to the local audio shop for installs, but as stated, with smart-phones and the like I just don't see how even that could happen now. While these far easier and cheaper tack-on devices exist this will stay a niche.

    I would still say that if OEM pc installs become the standard we will have won so to speak, as that would make actual installation and integration that much easier.

    Would your parents even want a CarPC? Thats why they make simple Navi units, for people who don't want, or need a CarPC. That is the majority of people. Thats why this hobby won't grow into mass market.

    One word eliminates all this that you wish for from the OEM's: Liability
    The OEM will never give you the features you desire, sure economics is a major factor, but the Liability factor eliminates even the thought of the OEM's providing the solutions you seek.

    Personal freedom is why this hobby niche will never go away and continue to live. The OEM void will always be filled with this hobby.
    The only thing that I believe will cause any harm to this hobby is Big Brother. Outright banning CarPC installs is something I could see happening. Of course to protect us from ourselves...
    ...JJG

  4. #14
    Variable Bitrate Wayne613's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Jebus View Post
    Would your parents even want a CarPC? Thats why they make simple Navi units, for people who don't want, or need a CarPC. That is the majority of people. Thats why this hobby won't grow into mass market.

    One word eliminates all this that you wish for from the OEM's: Liability
    The OEM will never give you the features you desire, sure economics is a major factor, but the Liability factor eliminates even the thought of the OEM's providing the solutions you seek.

    Personal freedom is why this hobby niche will never go away and continue to live. The OEM void will always be filled with this hobby.
    The only thing that I believe will cause any harm to this hobby is Big Brother. Outright banning CarPC installs is something I could see happening. Of course to protect us from ourselves...
    ...JJG
    I think many including my parents would if they were shown they could play every cd they own without having to dig around, could speak what to play, then call so-and-so at the same time, then push a button for turn-by-turn directions that pauses the playing music. But then again, this can be "generally" achieved cheaply with a gps device and a car with bluetooth for the phone as stated.

    I don't think it will die, but you can't deny the downtrend with so many easier options now to get close to the usual base reasons functionality wise of installing a carPC.

    As for the government stepping in for actual harm, I'm right there with you. I can't stand the modern mentality of saving you from yourself laws whether it's cigarettes or seatbelts. I don't know that carPC's would guarder enough attention to be outright banned, but since many head-units now have dvd/tv capability I can see them being considered the same thing.
    2008 Ford Mustang GT/CS CARPC(99%)
    Software: Ride/Road-Runner, Digital FX skin 5.x, iGuidance 2011, GPSgate on Win7 64bit

  5. #15
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    Quote Originally Posted by Jebus View Post
    Seriously, the software solution is you...meaning everyone
    ...
    I guess I'm just old school, If you want something done, you do it yourself, or you pitch in and help get it done...
    ...JJG
    Your post captures the essence of this CarPC hobby way back when it got started. In theory, this is what the whole CarPC community is about. But I think it's changing though due to people attitudes toward the hobby, OEM solutions, and the general market. I dont think anyone could have predicted back then what it would be like now.

    I suppose you could say that maybe this newer generation could be lazy, and I see it as a valid point. But the primary reason for the lack of development I think is due to increasing complexity of hardware and software. In general, you didnt have to learn as much back then to accomplish a goal than you do now. All the primary important features have been developed. Sure you could write a basic plugin or whatnot to do something neat, but all the newer, high tech features that would be required of software to be able to compete with future OEM solutions takes ALOT of specialization and require a much steeper learning curve than before. It was much easier for the community to compete with a standard black box OEM car radio of the 90's then it is to compete with something like Microsoft SYNC which integrates a whole lot more features into the vehicle.

    5 years ago, nearly every week someone would think of a unique solution for something. Now, it's almost as if most of the primary issues with the CarPC already have solutions to them and the community is merely redistributing that information. It's evident if you see, compared to 5 years ago, how many replies today are "just search, the issue has been discussed here before".

    If you think about it, the CarPC hobby is always going to be something obscure that 99% of the population has never heard about. I dont think the goal of the CarPC community was ever to "win" by having a PC as standard OEM equipment. It was a more innovative way to accomplish something (aka. music, GPS, phone). But now, the manufacturers are able to come up with more innovative, user friendly solutions than what this community can provide. The general public wants answers to solutions quickly and that can be solved by throwing money at it. This is something that OEMs can provide and the CarPC community cannot.

  6. #16
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    Thanks ioi8 for your post. After running mp3Car for 3 years now and recently speaking a lot with OEMs, here are my thoughts. By the way, I am leaving mp3Car in about two weeks, so now is as good a time as any for me to get my thoughts out.

    This community is stagnating bc it is not growing and it is not effectively collaborating to produce universal platforms. Not growing bc people are satisfied by using other devices- this hobby is overly complicated. AND, collaboration is difficult. I have found that not everyone wants to work together towards a common goal either bc of strategic reasons or limited resources.

    I have been working on the auto app mart for almost a year now bc i thought it would bring the community together, by showing how much work you have done, showing that some people are happy to give a few bucks to a developers for their hard work, and also point out that there is still a lot of work to do.

    While OEMs can solve many of these problems described above, i have serious doubts about how innovative the solutions will be, and many of you may still opt for this hobby. I do think as carpcs become more common, or 'telematics devices', that there is an opportunity for this community to attract more people to this hobby if we can make it 1) more accessible by standardizing stuff and thinking in a modular way about software and hardware.


    For brainstorming purposes I would like to suggest a few solutions, please comment or correct as I am neither a hardware or software person, I am just the person here who tries to make sure that mp3Car stays in business by supporting innovators.

    I would like to suggest we divide up into hardware and software teams, create a new forum to focus this work and collaborate on coming up an effective car pc solution.

    Hardware: identify an existing (or create) an open source hardware solution that is modular like the arduino that is not overly complicated to use and install and also offers a good deal of customization for those who want it. Ideally come up with a more inclusive pricier solution and a DIY kit that is super affordable. Chunkyks, tripzero and others have already been doing.

    Software: create a clearer team that wants to take the lead on software. It would be great to have one really talented person focus on how we can all leverage OS Dash. Another person to think about how we can standardize somewhat so that we are not so siloed in terms of front end. Think about how the pre-existing development teams for the front ends, commercial and non, could be leverage to deliver a result faster.

    I know that the mp3Car team would like to help make this happen. But i think we have effectively proven that we cannot be the source of innovation for this hobby. Rather it is our job to empower the innovators to create the solutions by putting in capital, lending organization, and bringing the community together.

  7. #17
    Mod - iPad Forums RipplingHurst's Avatar
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    Well, you sure will be missed, Heather. Wish you the best of luck.


    I agree with your points, my FX setup is simply working. Not as used as I'd liked, because the wife can't sync her latest songs as easy, she rather just plug her mobile instead, while I'm busy thinking if an install in another car is worth it...


    We can't forget were in a recession now. Prospects are not good, and time for hobbies costs more in times like these. What I do sense is that people do not work together much, and by that I mean in the same roof. Somehow I think that would help things going, faster, or better.

  8. #18
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    Quote Originally Posted by RipplingHurst View Post
    Well, you sure will be missed, Heather. Wish you the best of luck.


    I agree with your points, my FX setup is simply working. Not as used as I'd liked, because the wife can't sync her latest songs as easy, she rather just plug her mobile instead, while I'm busy thinking if an install in another car is worth it...


    We can't forget were in a recession now. Prospects are not good, and time for hobbies costs more in times like these. What I do sense is that people do not work together much, and by that I mean in the same roof. Somehow I think that would help things going, faster, or better.

    Thanks I am going to miss this forum for sure!


    In response to your comment though. I don't think we need to be under the same roof to produce products as a community.

    Fusion Brain, all of the front ends, even Car Bytes podcast are all examples of how different people have been working together. I just think there needs to be a clearly defined objective - like lets all make an open source modular car pc that anyone can develop for easily - and let's figure out how to design auto apps so they are cross platform, and easily accessible.

    I have observed so many "What is the ultimate all in one unit" threads by different people here, so many feature requests for certain front ends. This results in everyone trying to do the same thing separately.

  9. #19
    fka - Nextabyte_Matt ioi8's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Heather View Post
    By the way, I am leaving mp3Car in about two weeks, so now is as good a time as any for me to get my thoughts out.
    You will be missed!


    Quote Originally Posted by Heather View Post
    This community is stagnating bc it is not growing and it is not effectively collaborating to produce universal platforms. Not growing bc people are satisfied by using other devices- this hobby is overly complicated. AND, collaboration is difficult. I have found that not everyone wants to work together towards a common goal either bc of strategic reasons or limited resources.
    I found this happening because new people to the hobby found the current software platforms too big and complex to learn. The learning curve for RR or CF apps was too big and the cost of the platforms was also a big issue. All the open-source options were incomplete or didnt work correctly causing many to write their own. Having 2-4 max heavily developed front-ends would have caused more collaboration.

    Quote Originally Posted by Heather View Post
    Hardware: identify an existing (or create) an open source hardware solution that is modular like the arduino that is not overly complicated to use and install and also offers a good deal of customization for those who want it. Ideally come up with a more inclusive pricier solution and a DIY kit that is super affordable. Chunkyks, tripzero and others have already been doing.
    Thing is, it just does not exist. Current all-in-ones are just way too expensive (dashboard devices, guru) or are too closed (cheap chinese units). Making an all-in-one or tablet is difficult for even people who know how to do so. Making one-off systems is very expensive and time consuming to create. Without a proper platform to base software on, software devs have to make sure their software works on *all* hardware, which is time consuming and inefficient.

    Quote Originally Posted by Heather View Post
    Software: create a clearer team that wants to take the lead on software. It would be great to have one really talented person focus on how we can all leverage OS Dash. Another person to think about how we can standardize somewhat so that we are not so siloed in terms of front end. Think about how the pre-existing development teams for the front ends, commercial and non, could be leverage to deliver a result faster.
    We have too many front-ends, too many software systems that are non-interchangable. Because MP3 supported all front-ends (trying to be a jack of all trades), we have effectively become a jack of none. Developers are spread too thin over too many projects. Android has many apps and capabilties because they have thousands of apps for one software platform that works on a limited hardware base.

    To effectively jumpstart this community, we need standardized and limited number of hardware and software platforms to develop upon. But the real question is, will the community ever accept this dictactorship-type control?

  10. #20
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    Quote Originally Posted by Jebus View Post
    The issue lies with the user who wants instant gratification of thier needs.
    Nailed it!

    Standardized Hardware
    Everyone here wants a solution that accomplishes every single goal they desire in an IVI without taking the time or putting in the effort to help it become actualized. I have great confidence we will develop a standardized, off the shelf, open source hardware device in the very near future. Will it be perfect, certainly not but tripzero, malcome2073, bugbyte and myself are working on putting together a hardware and software platform for embedded devices.

    Community Support
    OEMs have huge development budgets, no offence to the members here but this community does very little to financially support the projects. About 1/100 front end users actually make a donation to any of the free front ends or plugins (sometimes quite a few less), which leaves mp3car to support us. While they certainly have been great, they can only do so much.

    I think heather was dead on with where the community needs to go if it wants to survive but I too have my doubts if it will happen. The number of users that come in and start front ends with really no advantage over any of the others cuts back a lot on the number of developers that can help with existing front ends.

    Commercial Viability
    Any product from this community that really will succeed is going to need the support of at least one OEM. Centrafuse is the only successful company mostly due to OEM funding. OpenMobile has only been able to keep up development because of heavy OEM and corporate interest. I can tell you the number one thing they are looking for-low cost per device. Software which runs only on a full windows installation has zero chance of success outside this niche. OEMs want linux or winCE capability before they will even consider taking an interest in a product from this community. That said, i think this community would never abandon any of those front ends and instead would rather let them slowly die out as the software gets more and more outdated.

    Innovation
    Completely disagree here- see here or here or here. Yes innovation has decreased quite a bit around here but its not dead, its just not very well nurtured.

    Quote Originally Posted by ioi8 View Post
    To effectively jumpstart this community, we need standardized and limited number of hardware and software platforms to develop upon. But the real question is, will the community ever accept this dictactorship-type control?
    I couldn't disagree more about limited hardware platforms but I do agree on limited software. Never going to happen though for the above reasons.

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