I’d like some fail, with a little fail, and a side of fail.

Rothman was out in Phoenix this week for some internal meetings and to record some video segments that we will be putting out fairly soon. I have a slightly weird video recording and production setup, designed to make it super-fast and dirt easy for us to put segments together. I’ve tested most of it before, although I did add a new time saver right before Mike showed up.

Yeah, you know where this is headed.

First, the new thing didn’t work. It was so frustrating that we almost ran out and bought a new camera so we wouldn’t need the extra box. Actually, we did run out, but it turns out almost no consumer cameras with high def have FireWire anymore. I dropped back into troubleshooting and debugging mode once I realized we were stuck. My personal process is first to eliminate as many variables as possible, and then slowly add one function or component at a time until I can identify where the failure is. Rip it back to the frame, then build and test piece by piece.

That didn’t work.

So I moved on to option 2, which has helped me more in my IT career than I care to admit (in my tech days I was the one they pulled in when no one else could get something to work). It’s no big secret – I just screw with it until the problem goes away. I try all sorts of illogical stuff that shouldn’t work, and usually does. I call this “sacrificing a chicken” mode. I toss out all assumptions as to how a computer system should work, and just start mashing the keys in some barely-logical way. I figure there are so many layers of abstraction and so many interconnections in modern software, that it is nearly impossible to completely model and predict how things will really work.

It totally worked.

With that up and running, the next bit failed. The software we use to live mix the video couldn’t handle our feeds, even though our setup is well within the performance expectations and recommendations. We use BoinxTV, but it was effectively useless on a tricked out MacBook Pro. That one I couldn’t fix.

No prob – I had a backup plan. Record the video, then edit/mix on my honking Mac Pro with 12gb of RAM and 8 core.

You really know where this is headed.

Despite the fact I’ve done this before with test footage, using the exact same process, it didn’t work. Something about the latest version of Boinx. So I restored the old version using Time Machine, and it still wouldn’t work. Oh, and then there’s the part where my Mac suddenly informed me it was missing memory (fixed with a re-seating, but still annoying). I’ve sent 2 tech support requests in, but no responses yet. Had this happened pre-Macworld Expo, I could have cornered them on the show floor. Ugh.

My wife came up with one last option that I haven’t tried yet. Our best guess is that something in one of Apple’s Mac OS X updates caused the problem. She suggested I restore Leopard onto her MacBook and test on that. Better yet – I have spare drives in the Mac Pro to test new versions of operating systems, and there’s no reason I can’t install the old version. I’m also going to upgrade my video card.

I don’t expect any of this to work, but I really need to produce these videos, and am not looking forward to the more time consuming traditional process.

But for those of you who troubleshoot, my methodology almost always works. Back out to nothing and build/test build/test, or randomly screw with stuff that shouldn’t help, but usually does.

On to the Summary:

Webcasts, Podcasts, Outside Writing, and Conferences

Favorite Securosis Posts

Other Securosis Posts

Favorite Outside Posts

  • Adrian Lane: The List of Top 25 Most Dangerous Programming Errors. When I first read the post I was thinking it could be re-titled “Why Web Programmers Suck”, but when you get past the first half dozen or so poor coding practices, it could be pretty much any application. And let’s face it, web apps are freaking hard because you cannot trust the user or the user environment. Regardless, print this out and post on the break room wall for the rest of the development team to read every time they get a cup of coffee.
  • Pepper: Urine Sample Hacked?
  • Mike Rothman: No one knows what the F*** they are doing. Awesome post to understand and remind you that you don’t have all the answers. But you had better know what you don’t know.
  • Rich: Rafal reminds people to know who you are giving your data to. He can be a bit reactionary at times, but he nails it with this one. How do you think Facebook and Google make their money? They aren’t evil, but they are what they are.

Project Quant Posts

Research Reports and Presentations

Top News and Posts

Blog Comment of the Week

Remember, for every comment selected, Securosis makes a $25 donation to Hackers for Charity. This week’s best comment goes to Erin (Secbarbie), in response to What is Your Plan B?.

Thank you for saying this. As a whole, we all need to ensure that we have put all the necessary pieces in place to ensure that we can stand our ground when it is necessary for the sake of security and our personal integrity.
Too many people let themselves end up in situations where they don’t have the “Plan B” to ensure confidence in giving the correct answer to executives, not just what they want to hear.