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The Programmer’s Toolkit

Dec 13, 2011 5:28 PM, By Patrick Barron

The must-have adapters, connectors, cables, and other accessories to get the job done.

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When a programmer goes out to a jobsite they are tasked with much more than simply loading the software into the controller. The main task of a programmer is to test the program to make sure everything works. Being able to test different aspects of the program that was written is a key element to finishing a project. At the end of the project, all of the functions in the system have to work properly, but before the final test, the programmer should be able to test the system on his or her own and identify problems in the software before the final test with the project manager or end-user. Many tools and accessories are useful to a programmer out on a jobsite, so let’s take a look inside the laptop bag of a typical programmer to see what we might find.

Testing Media

Testing a control system involves verifying the operation of the equipment being controlled. Since many pieces of equipment handle audio and video routing, having an assortment of test media available is essential in this process. Opening up my laptop bag, you can find a DVD, a Blu-Ray, an audio CD, and a VHS tape in addition to having a stereo 1/8in. audio cable that can be connected to an MP3 player to use as an audio source. Not only is having the media available important, but the content of the media is important as well. There are many different type of jobsites with different types of end-users, and it is important to pick a wholesome title for each type of test media in order to avoid offending anyone that might be at the site. The site might be a church, a conservative corporate office, or even a place like a doctor’s office where children might be able to view the media being tested. While movies with action sequences, graphic violence, and explosions might make good test media to showcase the audio and video systems, this type of media might be offensive to some people and should be avoided. I have The Lion King Blu-ray, a Norah Jones Live concert DVD, The Wizard of Oz VHS tape, and a Sarah McLachlan audio CD in my bag. This type of material would be hard to offend just about anyone yet it does the job of allowing the programmer to find out if the control is working for the various types of media players such as the Blu-ray, DVD, CD, and VHS.

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