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Thread: So what has changed?

  1. #1
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    VegasGuy's Avatar
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    So what has changed?

    I started feeling like a bit like a troll when I commented on the "Unified Car Control" thread. I think (in general) any project is a good idea. This hobby is all about taking an idea and making it reality. That's certainly why I still enjoy it. But I am also worried that we tend to make the same mistakes over and over again because we don't recognize (or can't agree) on what this hobby is all about.

    Stop for a moment and go take a look at the "Front Ends" forum. Why so many? I don't know my carPC history all that well, but once foobar hit the streets, shouldn't that have been the end of it? I mean, it probably did most of what was needed at the time, so why did anyone bother to create all these other front ends? In fundamental terms, they all do more or less the exact same thing.

    In the last 5 years, how many "all-in-one", "complete", "ultimate" carPC hardware solutions have been discussed, designed or even offered for pre-order/sale on this site? A dozen or more, I'd bet. Why didn't they succeed? Why isn't there a successful, dominate vendor of complete carPC solutions in this market? Something you plug into your dash a go.

    So in all these years, if no one has been able to come up with a "universal" piece of front end software (not even Centrafuse ), and nobody has been able to create an economically viable hardware solution, what has changed now?

    What is it that Android, Arduino, Raspberry PI (ARM in general) bring to the table that isn't already there? From what I've seen described, a big part of the effort is going to be devoted to lowering the "technical knowledge needed" bar by standardizing hardware, drivers, components etc, etc. In point of fact, making it more like a typical Windows environment, because that's what the "average" Joe is used to. Okay, that's great, but as you reduce the number of things that differentiate the environments, the things that will broaden its appeal and make it accessible to a larger audience, don't you also dilute the argument for the change in the first place?

    I would suggest this: Do a poll. Find out what features people care about. What's most important to them. Allow for write-ins if possible since it will be hard to get ALL the possible feature categories. Run it for a few months. Then take a look at the things people really care about and see how (or if) the current solutions, and those being proposed actually handle those things. Maybe what people REALLY need is a smarter, more flexible and reliable power supply. Maybe a concerted, well-funded effort to solve the Bluetooth problem once and for all would be what really helps the community more than anything else.

    I'm just saying that this community is littered with the burned out husks of "ultimate" hardware and software solutions. To paraphrase someone else's very astute comment, "A great meal is made one bite at a time." I know its not as "sexy" as a great big project, but it's far more likely to succeed in the long term, and more importantly, add REAL value to the community.
    Last edited by VegasGuy; 08-15-2013 at 01:11 PM.

  2. #2
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  3. #3
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    Sonicxtacy02's Avatar
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    What as changed here? Not much of anything. That's the problem, is it not? We have segmented hardware, segmented software, and a dwindling number of developers to support it.

    What's changed outside the confines of mp3car forums? Well lets see:

    -OEMs have leapfrogged the community in innovation
    -A greater set of viable alternatives exist
    -The power demands have been dramatically altered
    -Mobile broadband is by far more prevalent

    So, what should we as a community do, ignore the trend and stick to Windows based on the notion that its better than attempting to start all over?

    I don't understand the question quite honestly. In doing nothing, we're not serving the community, or ourselves are we? Windows has proven itself not to be a sustainable platform in the car, has it not? Windows hasn't worked all that well for us, and the OEMs are smart enough to realize it too. Why cant we try to move beyond it? The technology and know-how to move beyond Windows is more available than ever!

    The biggest difference between now and 5 years ago is the "average joe" knows something other than Windows. Why not harness this fact, break the walls down around here and catch the momentum to spark some level of integration?
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    Maximum Bitrate rray's Avatar
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    I guess I am guilty too. I posted because the topic is about something I do want. I want to be included in such a fun project. But the rub is I just don't have the time it takes to get proficient at coding Android, Arduino, Raspberry PI, or even learning to code Windows! I cannot bring anything to the table for such a project.

    I went to Windows after my first Android carputer soured, when I realized I could do nothing to improve it. With Windows I could make improvements to my carputer, because PC's are inherently upgradable by nature, and I could get away with being an "Average Joe" yet still enjoy the constant improvement program part of the hobby.

    Although I am new to this hobby, and this website, I really want to contribute and feel part of the community, but with Android, Arduino, and Raspberry PI, I feel I can contribute no more than make LED's flash to the music, and not even that if it was not part of the host computer's onboard capability.

    I hope the guy's project succeeds.

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    If I may chime in here as a Windows guy and programmer (not Android/java or iOS though)...

    The one thing I always thought about tablets are they are a one stop solution. Get a tablet, maybe an obd reader/radio and your set. It "just works". The one thing I would want though is the low power -> high specs ratio. Sure, the tablet OS's are nice, but I don't think they could be sufficient as a final solution of automobiles.

    Now, I'm not saying that because I'm a Windows guy. If I ultimately had a choice, I think I would've rather learned c++ in my earlier days and went the Linux route. Think of all the low power boards that can run full Linux! The problem with Linux though is the fragmentation and hardware drivers... Plus, even on this forum there is a lack of Linux support (front end, even Lilliput touchscreens, etc).

    That leaves me with a logical choice of Windows (just my opinion). I know that the hardware will be compatible, even if there is some driver frustration. I know I have a choice of front end, and different skins for it.

    Now, after my opinions/reasonings of my choices above, I know longer know where I was going with this ... Drats, because I felt like I had something good to contribute...
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  6. #6
    Variable Bitrate UnusuallyGenius's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Sonicxtacy02 View Post
    What as changed here? Not much of anything. That's the problem, is it not? We have segmented hardware, segmented software, and a dwindling number of developers to support it.

    The biggest difference between now and 5 years ago is the "average joe" knows something other than Windows. Why not harness this fact, break the walls down around here and catch the momentum to spark some level of integration?
    I second that. My passion for this died a few years back because I wasn't happy with where it was going. My android in a dock on my dash did way more than struggling for hours with a pc ever did.

    I am back and very excited with where things can go if take the time and the effort to make them happen.
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  7. #7
    Variable Bitrate camo.b's Avatar
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    Ive been out for 9 months.good parts now sourced. Getting scared about setting it back up tho as time is getting harder to find.... Bluetooth!!! Separate hardware needed mabee? That way its controllable by just about anything....hd radio as a example

  8. #8
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    Time for me to add my 2 cents.
    It's funny as I have seen this problem go on for years first with dos and the "front ends" companies made for them, along came os2 vs windows war, next its was windows vs mac war, iphone vs android vs winmo, vcr vs beta, you get my drift. I had a computer in my vehicles long before I found this place and signed up. I have learned alot from the forum some good some bad. I tried RR for about 6 months but found it was always missing something I needed or wanted to use, on to streetdeck looked good for the time and had most of what I was looking for in my carputer vision but lacked support from the developer (I mean total non existent).

    Then came the extra's I wanted, TPMS, analog/digital i/o's, parking sensors, camera's and on and on it went. On to CF, 3.1 was great did what I wanted but always something missing or needed fixing and the updates and bugfixes were few and far between let alone the lack of forum communication. I understand big business got in the way of the grass roots development. (sidenote I can never understand why big companies don't take advantage of these types of forums/user base as a side version of free R and D). I tried to hang on to CF through the upgrade's to 3.5/3.6/4.0 which I gladly paid for but when 4.0 came out and was a disaster of a release and the scrambling behind the scenes with managment shuffling/takeovering then I saw the writing on the wall, invester's want to get paid employee's want to get paid and if no R and D money the progress stops. I admire the hard work Mark and a few other's that have tried to keep that dream alive but unfortunately their hands are tied and I see it ending up like streetdeck just a sideline sales item.

    My next move was to Driveline as I saw lots of potential there, a lone guy constantly updating his baby for years before I found it. I tried it and my first thoughts were that is was very primitive but it works and was very fast on the atom, almost instant bootup. But saw very little forum chatter about this FE which surprised me. I talked to Clockwork and asked if I could help in any way and I thought I would send him down some stuff for development and has paid off in spades, HD/XM radio/TPMS/parking distance support all within a year or so. For me it pretty well does everything I need, it may not be the prettiest but I will take solid coding over gradient widgets any day. And the look of it really does grow on you after a short tme of using it. Again because it just works.

    On the hardware side of things, the problem I see with android and its hardware side is that it is in it's infant stage vs windows old relable coding/driver support. The windows hardware has gotten pretty well standardized now with good touchscreens with capacitive-high brightness ect. TPMS has really only one choice for the windows carpc but it works and has support in 3 front ends same as parking sensors. The I/O is a bit of a different story with a few choices out there problem there is lack of FE support. I went with phidgets which has support in2 FE's.
    If you say a tablet is a good solution I would have to agree but a windows tablet. I highly recommend the Ciara Vibe/Bmodo/exopc, very good build quality, 11.6" screen, very thin, 2 gig ram, atom dual core, 3G-wifi-bluetooth-gps for 500 bucks. I installed 55 so far in transports for a client over 2 years ago now and no bad ones, no hardware failures and the drivers love the big screen. I have tried a bunch of android tablets in various sizes as well as 4 different windows tablets before settling in on the vibe's viliv xm70 and the s5 I still actually have them both loaded with the 3g option

    Good luck on your project! I think you can already know what accessory hardware people want in their carpc just from reading this forum when it was just starting out and following the development of the windows carPC to where it is now. I just use my carpc like it was factory installed now and have so for the past few years. I sometimes wonder why other people have such a difficult time settling in on a good solid system that just works. Again this only my observations and opinion, not ment to offend. SNO
    Last edited by SNOtwistR; 08-15-2013 at 10:52 PM.

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    Well sno, with your magic box and an HD radio I think most of the gadgets get covered and covered well...

  10. #10
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    Sonic, thanks for engaging. I think you should proceed full speed on your effort. As should UnusuallyGenius and anyone else. My response here is in NO way intended to try and diminish your enthusiasm or slow efforts to advance the hobby. I am always 100% in favor of innovation, especially if it opens the hobby to a larger community of users. I think everyone can agree on that

    I just want to address some of your bullet points. The following is for discussion’s sake only.

    -OEMs have leapfrogged the community in innovation

    If this is a race, we’ve already lost. There was a brief window a couple of years ago, when we were leading the way, and the vast majority of automakers were ignoring the writing on the wall. That time has passed, and it will never occur again. They get what we were trying to do, they recognize the economics of the “connected car”, and they have unlimited resources with which to execute their market strategy. I realize there is a segment of the community that prizes an “OEM” look and feel. CF has marketed to them fairly successfully. But I’m thinking the majority prefer something different. Preferably more and better features, but also different. Where they get disappointed in when we deliver less. Keeping up with the OEMS? That ship has sailed.

    -A greater set of viable alternatives exist

    Agree fully. But do they actually solve problems? Or do we trade one set of limitations for another?

    -The power demands have been dramatically altered

    I need clarification on this one. Are we talking instant startup/shutdown? I’ve NEVER had any issues with power in my carPC. But instant startup hasn’t ever been a priority. I’ll defer to others on this one.

    -Mobile broadband is by far more prevalent

    But by no means universal, nor necessarily affordable. So any platform that relies on the net for the majority of its functionality is not going to be much fun to use in big sections of the American west, or many other places (Australia) that are not highly urbanized.

    Windows has proven itself not to be a sustainable platform in the car, has it not? Windows hasn't worked all that well for us, and the OEMs are smart enough to realize it too.

    Nonsense. There wouldn’t be a carPC community if Windows didn’t exist, and hadn’t proven itself sustainable. WinCE has powered infotainment and navigation systems for over a decade now and still does. I worked on a project for Ford just this year that was WinCE-based. Licensing cost is the ONLY reason Windows XP or 7 embedded isn’t in your Ford or Chevy.

    Why cant we try to move beyond it? The technology and know-how to move beyond Windows is more available than ever!

    We can, and should. But so far, We haven’t been offered anything “better”. Only something different. A hodgepodge of hardware pieces that have to be “hacked” in order to work together. Software that is not geared to in-car use (regardless of whether or not it’s touchscreen friendly). And this is a large community of users with a significant investment in x86 and Windows. Do they just chuck that and jump on the Android/ARM bandwagon? And purely from a personal perspective, in terms of problem solving, this doesn't address anything I really care about.

    One last point: Centrafuse, RoadRunner, Driveline and maybe OpenMobile represent the most active frontends available today. The two newest, Driveline and OM, have been in development for more than 4 years. CF and RR for FAR longer. One could argue that OM has never even had a release, strictly beta builds. So with the resources currently available to the community, I wonder how long a project of this magnitude will take. An all-new, from the ground up, hardware and software solution. Something to consider.

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