Cutting the Cord in San Francisco

I’ve been wanting to investigate receiving OTA (Over-The-Air) HDTV broadcasts in San Francisco for a while now.  I am not yet committing to “cutting the cord”, but I wanted to run some experiments to see if it is even possible for me.  Along the way I learned some things and discovered some helpful resources.

Learning about my location

The first thing to do (before buying any antenna hardware) was for me to find out what I might receive.  The best online resource I found was this one.

AntennaWeb helps you see which stations you can get from which towers, and also helps you select an antenna type.  My home out near McLaren park sits high on the hill and has a clear view of Sutro Tower.  AntennaWeb suggested that I could get by with a “Small, Multidirectional” antenna for broadcasts from Sutro.

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Live-Streaming, MicroBroadcasting Redux

Live-Streaming apps for smartphones have seen a surge in interest in the last year.  Meerkat and Periscope (now Twitter) leapt onto the scene nearly at the same time and captured the imagination of a new crop of people anxious to share their experiences as they are happening – in real time.

Why the sudden interest?

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Build ffplay and ffmpeg 2.6.2 on Mac OSX 10.10.2

Every few years we need ffmpeg and ffplay for some little job. The ffmpeg suite is my go-to swiss-army knife for whipping video into shape. Unfortunately, the compilation process is challenging. Here is a summary of the recipe I used to build these tools on OSX 10.10.2. It was not exactly straightforward. That’s why I wrote it down.

To jump to the end, the most difficult part was getting SDL-1 to build. ( I tried using SDL-2 with ffplay, but that combination did not compile correctly. ffplay requires SDL-1, and SDL-1 required some manual edits to get it installed.

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Nuitka Compiler for Python

I like developing using Python.  I like its program structure, its performance and the way it supports coroutines.  What I don’t like is distributing Python programs.  Python installations from one computer to the next are notoriously different from one another.  I may have two seemingly similar Linux computers running the same version of Python and a program may run well on one and may not find a dependency on another.

While the language and run-time system are well-defined, the way in which search-paths are set up and resolved does not seem to be. (See Virtualenv aims to help, but the contract between Python and “the system” seems confusing.  The result for me has that it has been difficult to produce shrink-wrapped programs for distribution from Python source.

The types of programs I’ve developed usually have dependencies on locally-developed SWIG-generated shared-libraries (.so), so my case may not be typical.  (However, it is interesting :-)  I’ve looked at using Cython to compile Python modules, and it works well for building an extension module in C, or for extending a C program with Python.  However, if your aim is software construction using Python for the distribution of a complete application, then Cython seems lacking.


Nuitka ( is a “Python Compiler.”   Nuitka can compile just one or a few modules, or it can compile an entire Python program.  It takes a higher-level view of the job of compiling an entire project.
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