Embedded Muse 148 Copyright 2007 TGG August 27, 2007
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EDITOR: Jack Ganssle, firstname.lastname@example.org
- Editorís Notes
- Secure Software
- Tools and Tips
- Joke for the Week
- About The Embedded Muse
Did you know it IS possible to create accurate schedules? Or that most projects consume 50% of the development time in debug and test, and that itís not hard to slash that number drastically? Or that we know how to manage the quantitative relationship between complexity and bugs? Learn this and far more at my Better Firmware Faster class, presented at your facility. See http://www.ganssle.com/classes.htm .
Iíll be speaking at the new Embedded Systems Conference in Bangalore, India in October, the always-fun East coast show in Boston in mid-September, and at Oredev in Malmo, Sweden in November. In addition, Omniscient International is sponsoring the class in Singapore and Malaysia in October (see http://omniscient-intl.com/).
Iím always peppered with email from companies looking for consultants. A lot of Muse subscribers are. Why not send me your profile so I can connect folks based on their services? Send your specialties and geographic region.
The sheer number of blogs is overwhelming. Itís hard to find any worth following. But Steve Leibsonís at http://www.edn.com/index.asp?layout=blog&blog_id=980000298 is always interesting. Heís also a big fan of the history of this industry, and serves as a docent at The Computer History Museum (http://www.computerhistory.org/ ) in Mountain View, CA. When he gave me a tour he told me that for most folks itís only an hour. But for us, figure on three. And what a tour it was. If youíre out there itís a must-see.
I enjoyed an article in the August 2007 issue of IEEE Computer. Les Hatton, noted software researcher wrote ďThe Chimera of Software Quality.Ē A particularly noteworthy excerpt: ďComputer Science regrettably operates in a largely measurement-free zone. Researchers do few experiments, and even fewer publish their results. Ö As a result, software development isnít an engineering industry, but a fashion industry populated by unquantifiable statements and driven by marketing needs. We are exhorted to develop using JavaBeans, OO, or UML because these technologies will supposedly fulfill our wildest dreams.Ē
Itís hardly novel to say software security is important. What hasnít gotten much mind-share is secure embedded software. We talk a lot about reliable designs but usually security takes a back seat. Yet so many of our creations are linked to the Internet, and are subject to all of those threats.
In fact, last week Forbes magazine had an article (http://www.forbes.com/security/2007/08/22/scada-hackers-infrastructure-tech-security-cx_ag_0822hack.html ) about hacking the SCADA systems that control all sorts of industrial processes, including nuclear power plants. These are all traditional embedded systems, some of quite of ancient heritage. Some are connected to the Internet.
A few companies, like Green Hills, are aggressively creating products positioned to deal with these threats, but they are in the minority. Clearly, secure embedded technology will become a huge issue in the next few years.
Rod Chapman of Praxis and SPARK fame sent me a link to a new report called Software Security Assurance (http://iac.dtic.mil/iatac/download/security.pdf ). Itís very long (396 pages) but is absolutely topical. Like all of these things itís wordy and full of acronym soup, but does make some interesting and important points. A lot is less useful, but everyone should read the section starting on page 170 about design principles for secure software. Thereís nothing startling there, but somehow these ideas continue to be neglected.
The table on pages 139-140 offers a great summary of what makes good requirements.
The report is really a compendium of pointers to other sources. I recommend at least a quick look at it.
Tools and Tips
Greg Bollendonk and I corresponded about his search for a SEC/DED EDAC algorithm. He found some useful resources: ďWe found a good reference for 32-bit SEC/DED EDAC (Hamming code) algorithms in Hacker's Delight by Henry S. Warren, Jr. (Addison-Wesley, 2003). This book contains a collection of programming tricks the author ran across over his career, and sells for $32.61 on Amazon. The author is a PhD in computer science and worked 40 years at IBM; it looks like he is currently working on the Blue Gene petaflop computer project.
ďLots of good stuff here - http://www.hackersdelight.org/
ďOf particular note is CRC and Hamming code algorithms -
ďThe Hamming code example (hamming.c) includes a test driver that generates a series of random 32-bit data words, corrupts them (or their parity bits) by altering 0, 1, or 2 bits, and checks the corrected value.Ē
Gene Glick sent this: ďRegarding free tools, are you aware of the gEda stuff? Although it's all Linux based, there's a ton of goodness there (schematic entry, spice, Verilog simulator, PCB layout, et. al). Support is via a very active mail list (btw, the list community contains people from a very large background, asking questions to just about anything will get an answer) Go check out www.geda.seul.org
ďI totally agree about LT Switcher Cad. I use it constantly. Yes, third party models integrate just fine - although you have to go beyond the GUI to make them work, sometimes - which requires at least a small underlying understanding of spice syntax. Also, I have found Mike E. to be very knowledgeable and quick to answer all questions about switcher cad.Ē
Joke for the Week
Bob Paddock sent this link to a good cartoon about compiling: http://xkcd.com/303/