Jack Ganssle, Editor of The Embedded Muse Jack Ganssle's Blog
RSS Feed 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 jack@ganssle.com. I'm an old-timer engineer who still finds the field endlessly fascinating (bio).

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On Discipline

October 7, 2019

What's the one thing we need to change in firmware teams? I'd argue it's discipline. Read the rest of this post.

Data Seems to Have No Value

August 14, 2019

Does data have any value? From the way people treat it, it seems all too often the answer is "no." Read the rest of this post.

Apollo 11 and Navigation

July 29, 2019

Did you know the astronauts used a sextant for navigation? Read the rest of this post.

Definitions Part 2

July 18, 2019

Yet more (fun) definitions of embedded terms. Read the rest of this post.


July 11, 2019

What does "int" mean? And how much fun can we have with some of these definitions? Read the rest of this post.

On Meta-Politics

July 2, 2019

Politics has become a cesspool. I feel we need to read widely, on both sides of the issues, and treat our opponents with kindness and respect. Read the rest of this post.

Millennials and Tools

June 19, 2019

According to various reports, many millennial dads don't have tools. How can they be masters of their universes when every repair means calling a contractor? Read the rest of this post.

Crappy Tech Journalism

June 11, 2019

Too many of the trade publications do a poor job of addressing their customers' needs. Cost cutting has been too extreme. Read the rest of this post.

Tech and Us

June 5, 2019

Consider texting while driving: is this an indication that our technology is exceeding our ability to manage it? Read the rest of this post.

On Cataracts

May 30, 2019

I recently underwent cataract surgery, which sounds creepy. It's not. Read the rest of this post.

Can AI Replace Firmware?

May 1, 2019

We tediously write code. Could training an AI engine replace coding? Read the rest of this post.

Customer non-Support

April 23, 2019

How to tick off your customer in one easy lesson. Read the rest of this post.

Learn to Code in 3 Weeks!

April 16, 2019

... and other scams. Firmware is much more than coding. Read the rest of this post.

We Shoot For The Moon

April 7, 2019

The new book We Shoot For The Moon is a worthwhile addition to the Apollo genre. Read the rest of this post.

On Expert Witness Work

March 26, 2019

What is it like doing expert work? Sometimes the conditions are far from ideal. Read the rest of this post.

Married to the Team

March 21, 2019

Working in an engineering team is a lot like marriage - or even polygamy, with the attendant ups and downs. Read the rest of this post.

Will We Ever Get Quantum Computers?

March 12, 2019

There's a tremendous amount of work going on in quantum computers. A new article suggests we may never get them to function in a useful way. Read the rest of this post.

Apollo 11, The Movie

March 4, 2019

The new movie Apollo 11 is awesome. Read the rest of this post.

Goto Considered Necessary

February 25, 2019

Edsger Dijkstra has recanted his "Goto Considered Harmful" paper. Read the rest of this post.

GPS Will Fail

February 14, 2019

In April, GPS will experience its own Y2K problem. Incredible. Read the rest of this post.

LIDAR in Cars - Really?

February 11, 2019

Pretty much all autonomous cars sport LIDAR. Is that really necessary? Read the rest of this post.

Why Did You Become an Engineer?

January 28, 2019

What sparked your interest in engineering? I liked to build things. To create things. Read the rest of this post.

On Software Process Improvement

January 21, 2018

Software Process Improvement (SPI) is the task of figuring out what a team does right, what needs to be improved, and then making specific suggestions to help the group generate better code, hopefully on a shorter schedule. My interest is exclusively embedded systems, so my SPI work has been on firmware... Read the rest of this post.

50 Years of Ham Radio

January 10, 2019

2019 marks my 50th year with a ham radio license. It has been a fun ride. Read the rest of this post.

Medical Device Lawsuits

January 4, 2018

Medical device lawsuits are increasing, in part due to firmware issues. Read the rest of this post.

A Retrospective on 2018

January 1, 2018

A get a lot of email from people who want to start a business. Here are The Ganssle Group's marketing figures for 2018, in the hopes they may give prospective entrepreneurs some aid. Read the rest of this post.

Remembering Circuit Theory

December 27, 2018

That college circuit theory class was filled with difficult problems that almost turned some of us off to electronics. Nearly half a century on, it is fun to revisit the ideas. Read the rest of this post.

R vs D

December 12, 2018

It is possible to schedule firmware development projects with reasonable accuracy. But you can't schedule research.

Read the rest of this post.

Engineer or Scientist?

November 28, 2018

Are you an engineer or a scientist? The average person conflates the two. Read the rest of this post.

A New, Low-Tech, Use for Computers

November 20, 2018

Yeah, we use computers to do spreadsheets, surf the web, provide embedded intelligence in all sorts of products. What's the next logical use for them? Read the rest of this post.

Voice of the Crystal

November 13, 2018

This is my review of Voice of the Crystal, and Instruments of Amplification - two books about building your own components. Including vacuum tubes and transistors. Read the rest of this post.

NASA's Lost Software Engineering Lessons

November 7, 2018

I came across a paper about lessons NASA learned in the Apollo program about building large software projects. Except they didn't. Read the rest of this post.

The Cost of Firmware - A Scary Story!

October 31, 2018

A Halloween tale of terror - the real cost of code. Read the rest of this post.

A Review of First Man, the Movie

October 15, 2018

First Man, the book, was wonderful. First Man, the movie, was a complete bust. Read the rest of this post.

A Review of The Overstory

October 8, 2018

The Overstory is a novel about nine individuals whose lives come together. It's probably the best book I've read in years. A full review is here.

What I Learned About Successful Consulting

September 25, 2018

After years working as an embedded consultant, I learned a lot of lessons. Not all are pretty. Read the rest of this post.

Low Power Mischief

September 17, 2018

A recent article in Embedded Systems Letters made some good points about low-power design, but missed the mark on what's needed, and what tools are already available. Read the rest of this post.

Thoughts on Firmware Seminars

September 12, 2018

After 21 years of teaching firmware seminars, I've learned a few lessons. Read the rest of this post.

On Evil

September 4, 2018

It sure seems that the Internet and cheap phone calls have flooded us with scams from what are frankly evil people. Read the rest of this post.

My Toothbrush has Modes

August 29, 2018

How much compute power do you really need in a lousy toothbrush? Read the rest of this post.

Review of SUNBURST and LUMINARY: An Apollo Memoir

August 22, 2018

Don Eyles' new book gives an in-depth look into the creation of the Lunar Module's software. A gem for Apollo geeks and software people; non-techies won't like it! Read the rest of this post.

Fun With Transmission Lines

August 16, 2018

Transmission lines are interesting, sometimes baffling, and fun to play with. Here's a way to make a step turn into a pulse with not a single transistor. Read the rest of this post.

On N-Version Programming

August 8, 2018

The conventional wisdom is that a very effective way to get higher-reliability software is to have independent teams develop two or more copies of the project from a common set of requirements. Some data suggests this isn't always true. Read the rest of this post.

On USB v. Bench Scopes

July 31, 2018

Over the years I've used a lot of different pieces of test equipment. These broadly fall into two categories: bench instruments (stand-alone with controls and displays) and USB devices. The latter generally have no knobs, buttons or displays, those functions relegated to an application running on a PC.

Which do you prefer? Read the rest of this post.

Why I Decided to Start a Blog

July 20, 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! Read the rest of this post.