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Comments

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Who should have the most input into software redesigns?

blackcoot Re:Users are morons (262 comments)

It's funny that you describe the situation that you do. I've worked hard with my teams to create a culture that emphasizes that everyone is responsible for every part of making great deliveries on time. The result is that we accrue technical debt like everyone else, but we've been in a pretty good position to choose where that technical debt comes from, and so we keep it as far away from unit tests and core design / infrastructure code as we can, knowing full well that it's seeped into the implementations of individual components. But because we got the design right, continuously improving those component implementations is straight forward.

about a year ago
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Who should have the most input into software redesigns?

blackcoot Re:Users are morons (262 comments)

You're asking the wrong question, as I've learned the hard way. The question you ask your users is not "what do you want", because obviously the answer is invariably "a pony and a cake and a million dollars and world peace." I've had much better success with "tell me about how things work today", which very quickly gets the conversation centered on pain points --- what is, from the user perspective, broken or otherwise less usable and friendly than it should be.

about a year ago
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Comparing the C++ Standard and Boost

blackcoot Re:Slam me all you like (333 comments)

The day you gave up using the wrong tools for the job on a MS platform was a happy one? What a surprise.

about a year and a half ago
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Comparing the C++ Standard and Boost

blackcoot Re:C-like C++ is the way to go (333 comments)

I just cannot embrace the mess C++ became anymore. Life is too short to learn C++. Basically I'm using "C with classes" today, without STL, Boost or any of these aberrations.

Out of curiosity, is this desire for self-inflicted misery part of a larger BDSM kinda deal or is it due to willful ignorance of standard practices and idioms that have been well entrenched in the C++ community for the better part of a decade now?

about a year and a half ago
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Ask Slashdot: How To React To Coworker Who Says My Code Is Bad?

blackcoot Re:Old problem (507 comments)

FWIW, I've found code reviews to be particularly effective in this situation as it forces everyone involved to explain themselves and argue on technical merits and helps frame the discussion in risk/benefit terms. It also shifts the tone so that there is an opportunity for a positive outcome for all: if the "kid" is right, you have an opportunity to learn and improve going forward. If the kid is wrong, he's going to get smacked down by the other engineers -- hopefully he's smart enough that he learns his lesson the first time.

about a year and a half ago
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Ask Slashdot: Do Coding Standards Make a Difference?

blackcoot The objective... (430 comments)

Is to achieve this: http://www.joelonsoftware.com/articles/Wrong.html -- make things that are wrong be more obviously wrong. Using discipline and coding standards is just one part of the appropriately paranoid developer's defensive programming toolkit.

about a year and a half ago
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Parent Questions Mandatory High School Chemistry

blackcoot Re:Last, first, mumble... (866 comments)

You seem to be confused. I did not imply that there is anything wrong (inherently or otherwise) with non-profit work, as a manager or in any other capacity. What I did imply is that in this particular case, "non-profit" is a euphemism for "unemployed".

about 2 years ago
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Parent Questions Mandatory High School Chemistry

blackcoot Re:Last, first, mumble... (866 comments)

Why do I feel an overwhelming desire to read "non-profit executive" as "unemployed douche bag with too much access to a thesaurus"?

about 2 years ago
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Ask Slashdot: Taming a Wild, One-Man Codebase?

blackcoot Git. (151 comments)

A great deal of the version wrangling you are facing is best done with a tool like Git.

The bigger problem (development discipline) is much harder to fix.

about 2 years ago
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Ask Slashdot: How To Best Setup a School Internet Filter?

blackcoot Simple (454 comments)

Until someone offers your boss a compelling case demonstrating the educational value of access to Facebook, you block all of it. The purpose of the computers is to be an aid to the school's educational mission.

about 2 years ago
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Ask Slashdot: A Cheap, DIY Home Security and Surveillance System?

blackcoot Re:Don't bother with motion cues for exterior (508 comments)

I do a lot of work with the Axis cameras, although almost always running my own algorithms on their video. They're nice hardware to work with, but I don't think their algorithms perform all that well (and if I'm not mistaken, they're another example of "ObjectVideo Inside", so it's not really their algorithms). Of course, designing better algorithms for the motion detection and what not is part of how I pay my bills, so YMMV.

more than 2 years ago
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Ask Slashdot: A Cheap, DIY Home Security and Surveillance System?

blackcoot Re:Don't bother with motion cues for exterior (508 comments)

"... then you're not doing it right" pretty much summarizes (to the best of my knowledge) state-of-the-art when handling exterior conditions with purely visual sensors, particularly when you're relying on crappy source video with no algorithm-in-the-loop auto-iris control (or worse: analog auto-iris) and god only knows how many layers of crappy A2D, D2A, quantization, etc. steps in between. You need other motion sensors that give you more reliable cues, but even with clever placement, you are always going to face a fundamental trade-off between probability of detect and probability of false alarm.

As for motion sensors + dogs, what is stopping them from aiming the detectors to have a deadzone that ends ~3-4ft off the ground?

more than 2 years ago
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Ask Slashdot: A Cheap, DIY Home Security and Surveillance System?

blackcoot Re:Don't bother with motion cues for exterior (508 comments)

Depends on lighting conditions but generally, yes. Which is least partially why I ended with the question that I did.

more than 2 years ago
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Ask Slashdot: A Cheap, DIY Home Security and Surveillance System?

blackcoot Don't bother with motion cues for exterior (508 comments)

You'll discover very quickly that using motion cues to trigger anything other than a light outside is either going to generate a bazillion false alarms or basically be so insensitive as to miss everything. In my opinion, your best bet is to setup two zones: the exterior zone and the interior zone. For the exterior zone, several fake cameras (really just camera-shaped pieces of plastic with a blinking light) plus a few otherwise indistinguishable real ones plus DVR can be had for pretty cheap (Costco, for instance, has kits as low as $250ish). You can use either the built-in motion detection or cue from an external unit (haven't done this myself but I expect it to be pretty straightforward based on how I've triggered similar systems in the past). Key piece: make sure that the storage ends up being put somewhere reasonably secure, away from the DVR and things that look like they're worth stealing.

For the interior zone, I'd use same trick(s) except this time you want to trigger off window opening / door opening sensors as well as motion sensors. The hard part will be to make sure you match up to consistently. I'd want a hysteresis threshold (after x seconds of consistent motion, send a snapshot, after an additional y seconds turn on the sirens).

All in all, it's pretty straight-forward but it's likely to be time consuming, which leads me to: are you sure that what you need is a security system to re-establish your sense of security?

more than 2 years ago
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Ask Slashdot: Post-Quantum Asymmetric Key Exchange?

blackcoot Easy... (262 comments)

SSH != crypto algorithm.

more than 2 years ago
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Indian Mathematician Takes Shot At Proving Riemann Hypothesis

blackcoot In other news, P=NP (160 comments)

I got bored this afternoon and did the proof a few different ways. Unfortunately, the details won't fit in this comment box.

more than 2 years ago
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Ask Slashdot: Can You Identify This UAV?

blackcoot have you considered a rc hobby kit? (232 comments)

they are surprisingly inexpensive ($500 plus some labor w/ analog video downlink). they are also likely to have been repaired quite frequently (that is if you're lucky and didn't leave a pile of kindle your last encounter with gravity).

on an unrelated note, it's fun to watch confirmation bias in the wild.

more than 2 years ago
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Should Younger Developers Be Paid More?

blackcoot Re:faced with the same situation (785 comments)

you missed my point.

yes, the market will ultimately dictate the value of a skill set; however, any organization that sends the message that experience and a demonstrated track record when it comes to building and improving core products is at least 23% less valuable than the flavor of the week, something is broken. alternately, you can see their decision as a wager that risking the morale of their organization so that some kid fresh out of college who claims to know X would, somehow, pay off. neither seems particularly wise to me.

more than 3 years ago

Submissions

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Advice / suggestions on Windows Build Environments

blackcoot blackcoot writes  |  more than 4 years ago

blackcoot (124938) writes "I find myself faced with the unenviable position of needing to port a lot of heritage C / C++ code developed using a mishmash of external and internal dependencies to Windows. The objectives of the port are:

1) Allow our Windows devs to work comfortably in Visual Studio (support for other IDEs is desirable but not a requirement)
2) Minimally painful support for the Platform SDK / Windows SDK
3) Minimally painful support for other SDKs (specifically, Boost and VXL)
4) Support cross platform development with the native tool kits. This can either be done in a qmake / automake style, where platform specific build files are automatically generated or fully integrated a la SCons
5) Allow building independent modules in an independent fashion so that we can cherry-pick dependencies

So here I am, I turning to the /. community: what has worked for you as a build system under Windows? What hasn't worked? What important lessons did you learn along the way?"
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Web services in C++?

blackcoot blackcoot writes  |  more than 5 years ago

blackcoot (124938) writes "I find myself between a rock and a hard place. On the one hand, I have fairly hard requirements on my new project to expose some capabilities through web services as an attempt to make it easier for us to integrate into a larger system. On the other hand, there is extreme resistance from management to use any language other than C++ because, well, a) that's what they grok, b) everyone in this project group is already fluent, c) switching to any other language would involve a spin-up time that they view as a major risk. We've been committed to Linux as a deployment platform, so unfortunately managed C++ with .Net is not an option.

I would like to quantify exactly how painful doing web services in C++ is going to be and what the pain differential versus using Java for infrastructure would be (feel free to substitute your language of choice if it runs under Linux, has good and cheap WS/SOA support, and the C/C++ bindings are easy to work with). Specifically, I would like to know:

1) Have any Slashdotters actually built web-services in C++ and, if so, what were your experiences? (I'm particularly interested in stateful services)
2) What toolkits did you use? Apache Axis2 C++ seems to be pretty much the only C++ WS package that I've been able to find other than an Intel package which seems to focus more on being a SOA bus from what I can tell.
3) For those who have built web services in both C++ and Java, could you compare / contrast the experience? I'm particularly interested in tool support, ease of administering development environments, and pitfalls.
4) Has anyone built Java web services using JNI under the hood? Any major gotchas I should know about?

Thanks!"
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blackcoot blackcoot writes  |  more than 7 years ago

blackcoot (124938) writes "I work at a small research and development firm that specializes in doing the sorts of things that lots of people only get to dream about — building autonomous robots. Because primary focus is autonomous robotic systems, we are almost always in need of people with backgrounds in control, machine perception, signal processing, and the other disciplines which are generally required to build and test these kinds of machines. We're not finding enough people with suitable backgrounds and as a result we're pretty understaffed. I was wondering if any folks out there had suggestions on strategies for dealing with recruiting people with fairly niche backgrounds."

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