|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 firstname.lastname@example.org. I'm an old-timer engineer who still finds the field endlessly fascinating (bio).
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Non Compos Mentis
January 21, 2022
Thoughts on dementia. Read more.
A Solution to the Automotive Chip Shortage
October 4, 2021
Why use an MCU when a Core I7 will work almost as well? Read more.
The WIRECARE AC Circuit Tester
September 1, 2021
A review of the new WIRECARE tester. Read more.
Marvelous Magnetic Machines
April 16, 2021
A review of Pete Friedrichs' new book. Read more.
Over-Reliance on GPS
March 15, 2021
GPS is a great system, but it's vulnerable to bad actors. Read more.
Spies in Our Email
February 2, 2021
Even friendly emails are laced with nastiness. Read more.
A Canticle for Leibowitz
November 2, 2020
One of my favorite books is A Canticle for Leibowitz. Read more.
Is a Heart Rate of 72123 Beats Per Minute Possible?
August 19, 2020
An app gave a crazy reading for heart rate. Possible? Read the rest of the post.
Networking Did Not Start With The IoT!
July 29, 2020
Some marketing "genius" came up with the IoT, but... Read the rest of this post.
July 16, 2020
Does anyone remember in-circuit emulators? Read the rest of this post.
June 22, 2020
About my first (working!) computer, a 12-bitter. Read the rest of this post.
June 10, 2020
On The Death of Experise and what this means for engineering. Read the rest of this post.
May 26, 2020
Memory is tricky. Use checklists to be effective. Read the rest of this post.
Why Does Software Cost So Much?
May 20, 2020
An inquiry into a lingering question. Read the rest of this post.
Is the Future All Linux and Raspberry Pi?
May 13, 2020
Will we all be designing around canned boards and OSes? Read the rest of this post.
Will Coronavirus Spell the End of Open Offices?
May 5, 2020
Are open offices sustainable in the age of this pandemic? Read the rest of this post.
Problems in Ramping Up Ventilator Production
April 28, 2020
It's great that GM and others will be making these products. But there may be problems. Read the rest of this post.
Lessons From a Failure
April 10, 2020
You'd think a car wash would be reliable. Right? Maybe not. Read the rest of this post.
Life in the Time of Coronavirus
March 24, 2020
How are you faring in these times? Read the rest of this post.
March 5, 2020
A review of Nick Bostrom's book on AI. Read the rest of this post.
A Lack of Forethought
January 14, 2020
It's Y2K all over again, if you have an old GPS. Read the rest of this post.
How Projects Get Out of Control
November 15, 2019
Think changing requirements is a software-only problem? Think again. Read the rest of this post.
2019's Most Important Lesson
November 1, 2019
If there's one thing we need to learn from the 737 disaster, it's this. Read the rest of this post.
October 18, 2019
At 66 it's not quite time to retire... and yet... Read the rest of this post.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.