Embedded Muse 192 Copyright 2010 TGG March 15, 2010
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EDITOR: Jack Ganssle, firstname.lastname@example.org
- Editor's Notes
- Quotes and Thoughts
- PIC32 Ethernet Giveaway
- Salary Survey Results
- VDC Annual Survey
- Tools and Tips
- Joke for the Week
- About The Embedded Muse
Are you happy with your bug rates? If not, what are you doing about it? Are you asked to do more with less? Deliver faster, with more features? What action are you taking to achieve those goals?
In fact it IS possible to accurately schedule a project, meet the deadline, and drastically reduce bugs. Learn how at my Better Firmware Faster class, presented at your facility. See http://www.ganssle.com/onsite.htm .
John Regehr has written an interesting paper about "volatile" in C: http://blog.regehr.org/archives/28 .
PIC32 Ethernet Giveaway
Microchip Technology has generously given us three of their PIC 32 Ethernet Starter Kits as giveaways. Microchip Technology's PIC32 Ethernet Starter Kit provides the easiest and lowest-cost method to experience 10/100 Ethernet development with the 32-bit PIC32 microcontrollers. Combined with Microchip's free TCP/IP software, your project will be running in no time. (The PIC32 also has an available CAN2.0b peripheral and USB host/device/OTG.) This Ethernet Starter Kit has the same form factor and expansion connector as other PIC32 Starter Kits. To watch a video demonstration of the PIC32 family featured in this kit, visit: www.microchip.com/get/401347994444444
To make this fun, submit a Haiku about embedded systems or firmware to email@example.com by the end of March. Our team of esteemed judges will pick three they deem the best, using a completely subjective analysis of "user experience". Those lucky winners will get the PIC32 kits. I'll publish the winning entries here.
Quotes and Thoughts
Rick Ilowite sent his original thought: "If it looks like a duck, walks like a duck, and quacks like a duck, it may still not actually be a duck. However, under the current context and within the practical realities under which we're operating, it is, for all intents and purposes, a duck."
Salary Survey Results
The results are in. Go to http://www.ganssle.com/salsurv2009-pg1.htm for the latest salary survey. Thanks to all of you who took the time to fill out the form, and to the many and insightful comments.
A quick summary of the results:
- We're aging.
- But mostly in the West; the developing world's
engineers are generally in their 20s and 30s.
- Though many, many respondents haven't gotten a raise in
in some time, on average engineers' wages are going up.
- Most engineers are unhappier with their careers than 3 years ago.
- Money DOES buy happiness... in some parts of the world.
For example, the highest paid engineers in India and Europe are
happier than those making less. The correlation is strongest in
- Despite all of the published doom and gloom, we're quite
optimistic about the future demand for engineers.
- Despite all of the optimism, a lot of engineers are unhappy,
unemployed, and would not recommend the career to their children.
There's also a short but interesting look at the Bureau of Labor Statistics job forecasts here: http://www.cccblog.org/2010/01/04/where-the-jobs-are/ . Bottom line: "computer" jobs (which is an awfully broad category) are expected to grow significantly in the US over the next decade.
Tools and Tips
Martin Jahn wrote: "As a faithful Muse reader, today I have to contribute a thought regarding your latest Tools&Tips on backup'ing.
"I have a similar backup scheme in place. But I'm currently not using a commercial backup software. Instead, I'm using hand-crafted scripts and at the heart is Microsoft's "robocopy" ("robust file copy for Windows") command-line tool, part of "Windows Server 2003 Resource Kit Tools" (rktools), which can be downloaded from Microsoft. This tool is definitely worth looking at, as a decent replacement for "copy", "xcopy" but also goes beyond (e.g. mirroring feature, as you use).
"Also, I'm using TrueCrypt (http://www.truecrypt.org/ ) - highly recommended - to create an encrypted, single file which hosts a fresh NTFS partition, which I use as my backup destination. This has some advantages: - no trouble with too long pathnames since destination paths will be exactly the same (as opposed to being copied into a subdir on an existing drive), - full backups in a single, archive-like file (but with more comfortable access to the contents via drive letter) comes handy, - encryption saves you from the nightmare if the portable backup drive gets into the wrong hands, - NTFS sparse file support lets you create large enough TrueCrypt partitions which can handle the growth of your data without having the encrypted file wasting unused space.
"The latter point raises a question to the readers: Has anyone found a decent tool which can copy very large NTFS sparse files (>100GB) while retaining the sparse attribute? The only sparse-aware tool I have found so far is the "Copy Stream example application" from Inv Softworks LLC, www.flexhex.com, which still works good for 80GB files but fails with imprecise "out of resources" error somewhere above.
"Another tool tip (not sure if it has been mentioned yet - it definitely deserves to be in the list): The most important of my can't-miss tools for over ten years is Christian Ghisler's "Total Commander" (www.ghisler.com). It's a fast file manager for Windows with numerous features built-in, well-suited for operating by key strokes, boosting productivity. An unlimited, fully-functioning evaluation version lets you try it without hurry and the registration price is very affordable (and includes updates forever)."
Adrian Alexandrov likes Termite: "There's one terminal I've been using for year or so. And it seems to be very handy: http://www.compuphase.com/software_termite.htm . It is a simple rs-232 terminal for windows (works with windows 7, too). Features worth mentioning are:
- different colouring of input and output data.
- autocompletion of previously-entered commands
- ability to forward data from one port to another so you can use it as a sniffer between 2 devices
- hex mode
- timestamps (which is especially useful for analysing logged data)
- supports non-standard baud rates like 31250 bps and 250,000 bps (never used it, but may be essential for some applications)
- it supports writing your own filters"
Let me know if you're hiring firmware or embedded designers. No recruiters please, and I reserve the right to edit ads to fit the format and intents of this newsletter. Please keep it to 100 words.
Joke for the Week
Thanks to Jeanne Petrangelo for this: The cause of Toyota's stuck as pedal: I wasn't surprised to hear it might be a firmware problem. What could possibly cause a rare and intermittent stuck gas pedal than.... a race condition?
[give it a minute if you didn't get it]
About The Embedded Muse
The Embedded Muse is a newsletter sent via email by Jack Ganssle. Send complaints, comments, and contributions to me at firstname.lastname@example.org.
The Embedded Muse is supported by The Ganssle Group, whose mission is to help embedded folks get better products to market faster. We offer seminars at your site offering hard-hitting ideas - and action - you can take now to improve firmware quality and decrease development time. Contact us at email@example.com for more information.