Thursday, November 04, 2004


As I am preparing my resume (Hello! I develop software in the audio field! You can hire me!) I started collecting the things I did in my profesional life.

I am not going to write here about what I am doing currently, as my current employer will get all pissed, if I should dare to write about the stuff we try to sell. So I keep quite about the things that earn my living today (And miss a great opportunity to advertize about them). You can go and buy the stuff I write about, but I won't see a dime from that...

So first thing I will write about: "The PZIZZ"

So, what is the PZIZZ, you may ask? Well, its a so called powernapping device. Its mobile and battery powered. You connect it to a headphone and it plays nice instrumental music specially composed for this thing. And according to an algorithm, certain recorded "phrases" are played along. I don't remember any of them (Hey, I did this over 3 years ago), but it was something like "You feel energized."

I worked at Pontis when we were charged with implementing the PZIZZ around the year 2000. It was basicly a custom made device based on our soon to be released SP600 MP3 player. After our hardware guys trimmed down the hardware, I was charged with almost all technical points for this thing. We got the display these guys wanted and I fitted it together with their backlight to the hardware. The PZIZZ received a better backlight than our SP600... I changed the software to communicate with the display. I improved the MMC card interface. I wrote a new control software and UI. I tested the powersupply. I wrote the battery measurement part, which never worked really good (sorry, I want to blame it on the hardware). I looked into the headphone amp. I choose the audio codec used for the voice files. I changed the UI vs. audio-processing thread handling. I wrote code to adjust the DSP clock to save energy. And all the time, I worked in this combined software/hardware area, I have never worked before or after. I have written software before, and I am writing software today, but all I see from the hardware is what the software does with it...

What was really fun, afterwards, is the fact, that I could do hardware things I have never done before. I was hired as a software engineer, had little to none hardware experience (despite my almost EE degree). I was soldering DSPs in insane packages. I was measuring clocks with nice osziloscopes. I was logging the MMC card interface with logic analyzers. The trust was enourmous. Nobody said: "You can't do that, you're not qualified." It was something that was necessary at that time, because our two hardware guys were heavily involved in rolling out the SP600. I was missing a bit the guidance back then, but in retrospect, I want this climate again: "Just do it. Here are the tools, if you need any datasheets, get them from the manufacturer and by the way, feel free to use the lab downstairs." (To rephrase a line from the Dyson autobiographie)

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