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Back to Exacq

News, Technical, Work ·Friday August 21, 2015 @ 19:44 EDT (link)

A few weeks before leaving the startup I was at I had heard that the embedded manager at Exacq, where I worked previously (as manager of API and integration) was retiring. Since I'd been doing embedded development for about the past year and a half, and found it very much agreed with me, I entertained the idea of being able to return to Exacq to replace him when he left. While my time being paid for embedded development specifically consisted solely of said startup, I had a longtime interest in low-level development, compilers, drivers (some for pay), performance optimization, and so forth, and all the algorithms and data structures I could sling applied equally well to embedded systems. So I contacted my former director, we had a good talk over lunch, and started the process for me to come back. It was a bit nonspecific, because Exacq got acquired by a large company and the wheels can move slowly; and also due to company-wide restrictions special approvals had to be obtained and starting would be delayed although I'd at least be able to overlap some with the retiring manager so I could learn and transfer what I could from him.

In the intervening time, as can be seen, we took some trips and read some books. Start was supposed to originally be the beginning of August, but due to more of those large-company delays ended up being closer to the middle of the month. There were also some personnel shifts very close to when I started, somewhat like in API, and I may be able to hire another developer in the upcoming new fiscal year.

There was indeed quite a learning curve to become familiar with the various hardware, firmware, and tools "owned" by the embedded group; I think I got enough of a crash course to be where I can teach myself anything else I need. Developing products that connect to PCs (PCI or (internal and external) USB) is different from developing on more self-contained microcontrollers, although it also makes debugging easier. Our team is also responsible for managing builds, the build server and (usually quarterly) releases (we hope to trial continuous integration soon too). We also own "Edge": running the exacqVision server on (sufficiently powerful) cameras. There is plenty to do; my only complaint is that there's not a lot of pure development per se at the moment; but there's lots to learn and work on and the company is very open to new projects.