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Jack Ganssle, Editor of The Embedded Muse Jack Ganssle's Blog

This is Jack's
occasional outlet for thoughts about designing and programming embedded systems. It's a complement to my bi-weekly newsletter The Embedded Muse. Contact me at I'm an old-timer engineer who still finds the field endlessly fascinating (bio).

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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 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.