2021-11-13
Automate debugging using GDB scripting

Recently I was working on a GStreamer plugin in Rust. The plugin basically rounds the corners of an incoming video, something akin to the border-radius property in CSS. Below is how it looks like when running on a video.

The GStreamer pipeline for the same:

gst-launch-1.0 filesrc location=~/Downloads/bunny.mp4 ! \
  decodebin ! videoconvert ! \
  roundedcorners border-radius-px=100 ! \
  videoconvert ! gtksink

This was my first time working on a video plugin in GStreamer. Had a lot to learn on how to use the BaseTransform class from GStreamer, among other things. Without getting into the GStreamer specific details here, I basically ran into a problem for which I needed to do some debugging for figuring out what was going on in the internals of GStreamer.

Now, while I never had problems using GDB from the command line, but, the way I was using it earlier was just not good enough. I would start the pipeline, then attach gdb to a running process, place breakpoints by manually typing out the whole thing and then start. For one off debugging sessions, where may be you just want to quickly inspect the backtrace from a crash or may be look into a deadlock condition where your code hung, this could be fine. However, when you have to repeat this multiple times, do a source code change, compile and then check again, it becomes frustrating.

Let's look at how we can make this easier.

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2021-08-02
Building a diverse team from the ground up

It's 2021, and while many things have changed for the better, they haven't changed enough, particularly in technology.

Right from the get-go, we knew we wanted to build a diverse company. Our founding team was balanced in gender terms. Our next hire was someone intimately familiar with the world we inhabited, and whom we knew through a Rust meetup that he organised.

We are determined to ensure that our hiring pipeline reflects the world we live in (rather than the world we work in). We've had a broad set of people vet our hiring page to ensure that the language is inclusive, and welcoming. We've reached out to folks we know and asked them to help us reach under-represented members in tech.

These are baby steps. We will continue doing our very best to build an inclusive, and welcoming space for everyone. We're acutely aware that gender is not the only axis of representation, and this is something we hope to address over time as well.

Here are some of the policies we've adopted to further our aim of building a diverse, and inclusive space. As we grow (slowly and sustainably), our intention is to continue to put progressive and employee-friendly policies in place.

Remote work

Offices are often designed around male-centric preferences. From the ergonomics of the workstation, to the temperature of the room, or the typical work schedule, professional spaces rarely account for differing priorities or perspectives. Remote work allows for more diverse participation.

Working hours

A full working week for us is 35 hours. We want to allow you the flexibility of scheduling your work day in a way that's most comfortable to you, while allowing for reasonable overlap with your team. We don't work weekends.

Conferences

We encourage and support both speaking at, and attending conferences, all over the world.

Taking nilenso's lead, we have adopted a no questions asked paid menstrual leave policy.

We currently operate with a flexible ("as needed") paid leave policy. We encourage people to regularly take time off. As we grow, we will likely introduce a more formal policy.

2021-07-22
Hello, world!

We started asymptotic 2½ years ago, and have been fortunate to have had a wild and busy ride so far. Nevertheless, it's probably high time we introduced ourselves! :-)

We are a small team of people who care about software freedom and take pride in their craft. Being tinkerers, we like working on low-level systems and are happiest when we're close to the metal.

We contribute to open source projects upstream, and help companies use them in products that are useful to people in the real world. This allows us to produce a virtuous cycle of improving the projects we maintain, while ensuring that they solve real world problems.

We want to live in a world where open source software is the default choice, and we aim to achieve that by making the projects we work on be the best option available.

Together, we're building a diverse, inclusive and sustainable company. This may mean choosing to be slow and deliberate while we grow. We're fine with that, because we believe that is the right path for us to achieve our goals while upholding the values we care about.

If you would like to join us on our journey, or would like to talk to us, please reach out!