|Jack Ganssle's Blog
This is Jack's outlet for thoughts about designing and programming embedded systems. It's a complement to my bi-weekly newsletter The Embedded Muse. Contact me at email@example.com. I'm an old-timer engineer who still finds the field endlessly fascinating (bio).
For novel ideas about building embedded systems (both hardware and firmware), join the 35,000 engineers who subscribe to The Embedded Muse, a free biweekly newsletter. The Muse has no hype and no vendor PR. Click here to subscribe.
Why I decided to Start a Blog
July 22, 2018
In September it will be two years since I stopped writing a weekly column for embedded.com. Between that and my earlier monthly articles in Embedded Systems Design magazine I wrote over 1000 pieces about embedded systems. As of this writing 355 issues of my Embedded Muse newsletter have gone out. Then there are the six books I wrote or edited (plus one on sailing). You'd think I would have had enough of writing! And engineers are famously poor wordsmiths.
Twelve years of Catholic school instilled a deep loathing of writing. When the nuns weren't whacking rulers over our knuckles they beat English grammar into us. The Jesuits were even more demanding.
In college I wrote little other than equations and code.
Around 40 years ago life had gotten so interesting that I started a handwritten journal in spiral notebooks. I logged what was going on in the nascent embedded industry, love-life experiences (that part was incredibly sparse), life living in a VW microbus, and later living aboard a sailboat, and more. The notebooks chronicled my year-long sabbatical sailing down the East Coast.
A 1977 notebook entry. My penmanship has only gotten worse.
I still have those and recently framed a romantic note Marybeth, my wife (though we didn't get married till 24 years later), wrote in one of the notebooks.
Later, computer files replaced the notebooks.
In 1980 a buddy and I started a consulting business. Much to my surprise, writing was the game. Lots of it. Brochures, proposals, and more. Committing thoughts to a bit stream was fun. I started submitting pieces to electronics and sailing magazines. In 1989 Embedded Systems Programming (which morphed into Embedded Systems Design) asked me to write a monthly column. What a gas!
But deadline, especially a weekly deadline, got less appealing over time, so I stopped contributing columns. Ah - freedom! I had some time on my hands!
But the old brain never stops, and I continued logging interesting ideas that might be worth wrapping some words around. While I didn't miss deadline at all, something felt missing.
Hence this outlet. No deadline. I'll write when there's something worth addressing. Maybe once a week. Maybe once a month. We'll see.
I hope this outlet will be interesting and even useful to you. Feel free to contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Back to Jack's blog index page.
If you'd like to post a comment without logging in, click in the "Name" box under "Or sign up with Disqus" and click on "I'd rather post as a guest."
Recent blog postings:
- How Projects Get Out of Control - Think requirements churn is only for software?
- 2019's Most Important Lesson. The 737 Max disasters should teach us one lesson.
- On Retiring - It's not quite that time, but slowing down makes sense. For me.
- On Discipline - The one thing I think many teams need...
- Data Seems to Have No Value - At least, that's the way people treat it.
- Apollo 11 and Navigation - In 1969 the astronauts used a sextant. Some of us still do.
- Definitions Part 2 - More fun definitions of embedded systems terms.
- Definitions - A list of (funny) definitions of embedded systems terms.
- On Meta-Politics - Where has thoughtful discourse gone?
- Millennials and Tools - It seems that many millennials are unable to fix anything.
- Crappy Tech Journalism - The trade press is suffering from so much cost-cutting that it does a poor job of educating engineers.
- Tech and Us - I worry that our technology is more than our human nature can manage.
- On Cataracts - Cataract surgery isn't as awful as it sounds.
- Can AI Replace Firmware - A thought: instead of writing code, is the future training AIs?
- Customer non-Support - How to tick off your customers in one easy lesson.
- Learn to Code in 3 Weeks! - Firmware is not simply about coding.
- We Shoot For The Moon - a new and interesting book about the Apollo moon program.
- On Expert Witness Work - Expert work is fascinating but can be quite the hassle.
- Married To The Team - Working in a team is a lot like marriage.
- Will We Ever Get Quantum Computers - Despite the hype, some feel quantum computing may never be practical.
- Apollo 11, The Movie - A review of a great new movie.
- Goto Considered Necessary - Edsger Dijkstra recants on his seminal paper
- GPS Will Fail - In April GPS will have its own Y2K problem. Unbelievable.
- LIDAR in Cars - Really? - Maybe there are better ideas.
- Why Did You Become an Engineer? - This is the best career ever.
- Software Process Improvement for Firmware - What goes on in an SPI audit?
- 50 Years of Ham Radio - 2019 marks 50 years of ham radio for me.
- Medical Device Lawsuits - They're on the rise, and firmware is part of the problem.
- A retrospective on 2018 - My marketing data for 2018, including web traffic and TEM information.
- Remembering Circuit Theory - Electronics is fun, and reviewing a textbook is pretty interesting.
- R vs D - Too many of us conflate research and development
- Engineer or Scientist? - Which are you? John Q. Public has a hard time telling the difference.
- A New, Low-Tech, Use for Computers - I never would have imagined this use for computers.
- NASA's Lost Software Engineering Lessons - Lessons learned, lessons lost.
- The Cost of Firmware - A Scary Story! - A hallowean story to terrify.
- A Review of First Man, the Movie - The book was great. The movie? Nope.
- A Review of The Overstory - One of the most remarkable novels I've read in a long time.
- What I Learned About Successful Consulting - Lessons learned about successful consulting.
- Low Power Mischief - Ultra-low power systems are trickier to design than most realize.
- Thoughts on Firmware Seminars - Better Firmware Faster resonates with a lot of people.
- On Evil - The Internet has brought the worst out in many.
- My Toothbrush has Modes - What! A lousy toothbrush has a UI?
- Review of SUNBURST and LUMINARY: An Apollo Memoir - A good book about the LM's code.
- Fun With Transmission Lines - Generating a step with no electronics.
- On N-Version Programming - Can we improve reliability through redundancy? Maybe not.
- On USB v. Bench Scopes - USB scopes are nice, but I'll stick with bench models.