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Embedded Muse 203 Copyright 2011 TGG February 5, 2011

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EDITOR: Jack Ganssle, jack@ganssle.com


- Editor's Notes
- Quotes and Thoughts
- Tools and Tips
- Advanced Degrees
- Jobs!
- Joke for the Week
- About The Embedded Muse

Editor's Notes

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 https://www.ganssle.com/onsite.htm .

I'll be offering a two-day version of this class in Brazil in March. There's more information here: http://www.temporealeventos.com.br/?area=123-projetando-sistemas-embarcados-com-jack-gannsle-no-brasil-aos-Programadores-e-engenheiros-desenvolvedores-lideres-que-atuam-em-projetos-de-sistemas-embarcados .


Quotes and Thoughts

"Every piece of knowledge must have a single, unambiguous, authoritative representation within a system." From The Pragmatic Programmer

Tools and Tips

The tool tips keep pouring in! Keep `em coming.

Bill Knight wrote: "One tool that I have found extremely useful in my work is the "LOGIC" logic analyzer made by Saleae <http://www.saleae.com>. It is a small, inexpensive, 8-channel device that can capture and continuously stream data with sample rates up to 24MHz to your Windows/Mac/Linux machine for display and analysis."


Advanced Degrees

The responses to my comments about advanced degrees keep coming in. For instance, Gary Stringham wrote: "Wow! You got quite the response to your Advanced Degrees discussion. What surprised me was the high rate of those who think that degrees aren't or shouldn't be necessary/required. How would those people feel if an un-degreed doctor were to perform open heart surgery on them? How would they feel if an un-degreed lawyer were to defend them in a big lawsuit?

"Moving into the embedded world, if you found out that an un-degreed programmer wrote the program for your pacemaker that had a bug and killed you, wouldn't you want to posthumously sue the company for killing you? What about an avionics programmer that included a bug that caused the plane to flip over and kill you? For safety-critical applications, I would think those companies would required degreed engineers to reduce their liability risk.

"While I agree that a degree is not a guarantee of competencee, it would bee a good decree that each worker bee in CS & EE have paid their fee and properlee obtained their degree."

And Charles Manning chimed in: "I got into embedded through computer science. At university I learned about databases, COBOL and such. All the embedded specific stuff is self taught.

"I first did a BS then went into the workforce. I then studied part time for a BSc Hons. I don't think USA has those - so think of a degree somewhere between a regular BS and MS. Once I had that in the bag I started thinking of doing an MS as if the progression to a PhD was just inevitable. I reflected a bit on how little I head learned studying for a BS Hons and how much I expected to get out of an MS. I was also somewhat disappointed at what courses were available relative to what I wanted to learn about.

"I figured I'd learn a lot more by devoting a fraction of that time to independent study. What's more I could use the time for moonlighting earning money and learning at the same time. Can't beat a deal like that!

"I have never regretted this approach. I think that it is far more meaningful today than when I went to university. Access to learning is far better now then it ever was before. People can learn a lot by joining up with an open source project or spending a less than a hundred bucks on some Ardunio kit or whatever."

"As far as judges are concerned anyone who has not done something like 10+ years of dedicated training, and then supervised training, then additional courses, like doctors. barristers, judges, and fully certified accounts is UNQUALIFIED. Remember the vast majority of law makers, started off as this group of professionals in most countries. Like the old joke about some African countries - we have two doctors in the country - one is the president, the other is the EXILED president.

"As to degree/advanced/Ph D, just look at the job ads. How many even on embedded muse, do not START with must be 'x degree', three sentences later comes experience. Why because the larger the organisation, the more layers of people who think all recruiting is the same (HR and managers), so they need a filter mechanism. Hence you end up with large companies sending the people who "don't know which end of a soldering iron to hold", to committees, outside bodies etc.. These are also the people who will spend a lot of effort getting their society accreditations (IEEE etc.), along with the other ineffectuals.

"Since running my own little outfit, I have NEVER been asked BEFORE doing any work, what my degree is in. Sometimes part way through a job I might be asked what degree I have, and the surprised looks I get are priceless.

"I have done work with Ph D's who never seem to specify the end point or when they want to go to market, I wonder if they have stopped writing papers and ever got out of the academic mindset.

"As mentioned in previous comments I also get involved with Secondary Education courses through SWMBO. One course she went on had some Prof of some computer science dept, going on about algorithms, and the algorithms should always be made simplest. Fine in principle, however there is a cost/time analysis that needs to be added to that as most of his examples were of things you would do ONCE and time of execution did not matter, any brute force that worked would be used in most business cases. just like anybody doing any form of continuous computation like comms, DSP and other systems, would always tune the most used path FIRST. Not worry about the one time startup sequence being 2 seconds, when what it is controlling connected too, takes 1 minute to become ready.

"It is horses for courses, most employers are short sighted, courts are their own separate universe and the rest of the world keeps going on sorting out the messes caused by a lot of these folks, often in their ivory towers."


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

Pete Hand wrote: "At my first job after leaving college, there was an engineer who was a bit of a poet. Just recently I came across one of his poems scribbled on a piece of notepaper. It's too good to lose, so I'm sending it to you to share with the wider community, if you feel so inclined. It will ring bells with many of us.

"This was written forty years ago, and I remember the author's name only as "Alan"."


A father's hand is all they need
To guide them through each enterprise,
For willing though they are, indeed,
They often act contrariwise
To what good practice specifies,
Which forces me to act severe -
Or management will victimize
Their lone efficient engineer.

Each day their palsied minds I feed
With simple forms of exercise,
Which true achievement helps to breed.
But always they must improvise,
And engineering vulgarize,
Until I fear for my career -
Though management must recognize
Their lone efficient engineer.

They take offence, and rarely heed,
And though I try to patronize,
They get impatient and secede
Because the way I dogmatize
Their wayward thinking terrifies.
But I stay on, and have no fear -
No management would criticize
Their lone efficient engineer.

And so I say, to summarize,
That in my field I have no peer,
And management should idolize
Their lone efficient engineer.

About The Embedded Muse

The Embedded Muse is a newsletter sent via email by Jack Ganssle. Send complaints, comments, and contributions to me at jack@ganssle.com.

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