Tuesday, 27 October 2009

Non-dynamic update

One of my research interests is dynamic software updating: the ability to update code whilst it is still running. (Finally, an end to those "please shut down this application whilst update is applied" messages!) Clearly desirable, but it's hard to support (although IMHO our UpgradeJ proposal is wonderfully elegant :-))

Anyhow, we have a nice Panasonic LCD TV at home - it won lots of awards at the time. On September 30, the freeview service in the UK (digital TV over the air) was upgraded. Actually what happened was that some of the channels were moved around in preparation for Freeview HD. Unfortunately, after retuning my TV, we could no longer receive a couple of channels. Even worse, one of these was CBeebies - the BBC's digital channel for some children. You can imagine how happy the girls were.

After much digging around on the interweb, I found a number of grumpy Panasonic TV owners. It turned out that the retune had revealed a bug in the TV's software. So we needed an update. Unfortunately, to get this update you needed to email customer services, who would put you on a waiting list. Eventually a PCMCIA card arrived in the post:

You then plug the card into a recessed port at the back of the telly.

Oops - quite a lot of dust there :-) Then you switch on the TV and get a wonderfully 80s-like screen:

At the end you wonder at the new-found Cbeebies channel, before putting the card into another jiffy bag and sending it back to Panasonic so they can post it to the next person on the list.

Another phrase used for DSU is "hot swapping". I guess this process could be called "cold swapping".

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