Nature as a development model?

Will Shipley: "The latter is the touchstone of great design: we must strive to make our programs require as little learning as possible on the user's part. Each little thing they have to learn about our program is another obstacle to them using it fully, another tiny chunk of enjoyment stripped from their experience." - I really like Will's take on heuristics. While we'd all rather have an algorithm solve the problem, like nature, we often find edge cases that fall outside the algorithm. I experience this each and every day at Pelco, where I work on our video viewing clients(A.K.A Decoding User Interfaces.) We just want the software to work for the guy watching the video so we have to do things to deal with different camera models, or deal with recorded video that changes recording quality mid-stream. Is it painful, why yes, yes it is, but the guy using the software doesn't have to know that. We just make it work.

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Windows 7 Graphics Performance

Engineering Windows 7: "Many have experienced scenarios where an application, or Windows itself, stops responding momentarily. This is type of a performance issue that can be impacted significantly by the performance of graphics in the PC. We categorize these as desktop responsiveness issues. Improving responsiveness, both in real terms and by avoiding non-responsive moments, is one of the key ways that performance is improved in the system. It is also hard to measure." - While I love my Mac, and wish I could write code for it daily, I make my living writing software for Windows and Linux. Windows 7 looks promising considering we have need to display live, and recorded, video from multiple sources, and do it quickly. In the security world folks demand, and expect, great performance. A 500 millisecond(1/2 a second) delay from the time the image is grabbed until it arrives at the display is TOO slow, now imagine having to do that for 16 streams simultaneously. Graphics performance is so important, even at the UI level, which is why these particular changes will be so welcome. For video we lean on the GPU, but the user interface relies on good old Windows GDI. Let's hope it works!

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Chris gets all Squirclely

Chris Roth: "It turns out that squircles are a sort of rounded square.You can read about the details on Wikipedia, but I'll summarize a squircle as a a 'circle to the fourth power'. Normally, you would describe a circle as being an x2+y2 kind of beast. A squircle would be what you get if you were to plot x4+y4." - For the mathematician in you. If you're not a math head check out Chris' notes for a little math lesson. Enjoy.

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New C++ performance weblog

Chris Cox [via John Nack]: "A few weeks ago, I sent the initial release out to select compiler vendors for review. I received responses from 3 of the major compiler vendors, and 2 compiler teams have already found and fixed a couple of bugs based on my code (Yea!)." - Nice new find, thanks John. Subscribed.

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Interviewing @ Google

Steve Yegge: "I've been meaning to write up some tips on interviewing at Google for a good long time now. I keep putting it off, though, because it's going to make you mad. Probably. For some statistical definition of "you", it's very likely to upset you." - This doesn't only apply to Google. When you come for an interview at Pelco you're going to get hit with all kinds of questions; algorithms, code, games. Be prepared. Steve's post is a great starting point for any tech interview.

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Red-Black Trees

Julian Bucknall: "After my few recent rants, I need to cleanse myself with some hardcore algorithms and data structures. That's what you're here for, right?" - These are the kinds of things I should be doing. If you need to wake up the algorithm side of your brain this should be a good starting point. I was just telling my wife the other day I don't geek out any more and go write code at the lower level. I've become a consumer of algorithms and data structures, not the implementer of them. I used to stay up 'til the wee hours of the morning working on stuff like this, now I've forgotten how to do it. I'm definitely getting old.

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About

Rob Fahrni has been a Software Developer for 20 years. He's developed DOS, Windows, Linux, iPhone, and Palm based applications in C, C++, Objective-C/Cocoa, C#/ASP.Net, and, yes, even BASIC...
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I work at Pelco. The opinions expressed here are my own, and neither Pelco nor any other party necessarily agrees with them.

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