Volume 3, Number 16 Copyright 1998 TGG October 12, 1998

You may redistribute this newsletter for noncommercial purposes. For commercial use contact jack@ganssle.com.

EDITOR: Jack Ganssle, jack@ganssle.com

- Embedded Seminar in Boston
- Thought for the Week
- Embedded Overload, Take 2
- Free Technical Training
- About The Embedded Muse

Embedded Seminar in Boston

I’ll present the seminar "The Best Ideas for Developing Better Firmware Faster” in Boston on November 12. The focus is uniquely on embedded systems. I'll talk about ways to link the hardware and software, to identify and stamp out bugs, to manage risk, and to meet impossible deadlines.

Embedded Overload, Take 2

Last issue’s rant against poorly designed consumer embedded systems brought a number of replies. One of the more interesting ones came from Bob Blumenscheid of Grammar Engine, Inc. (a maker of ROM emulators):

Hi Jack,
I feel the same way when it sometimes takes all my knowledge of how my computer and office network works to get a document to print. My latest frustrating experience with a PC peripheral was with a "Talk with me Barbie (tm)", last year's big seller on remainder last weekend to make room for this year's toys. This Barbie has an IR sensor concealed in a locket in her neck. She can have girls' names, birthdays, personal info and other details from Barbie software downloaded via serial port to an IR port in a Barbie computer. She then makes personal comments when you press her button.

After putting in Barbie's batteries (4 button cells and a AAA in each thigh - Are all Dads embarrassed around naked Barbies?) I had the classic Windows experience: everything configured correctly, but nothing worked. Barbie would not download.

After an hour of checking baud rates and serial drivers, I discovered the problem was unclear documentation. If someone had just said to me: "Before downloading, place Barbie in IR receive mode by pressing and holding the button on her back" I'd have been in home territory. But I only got it working after replaying and listening closely about 15 times to the 5-step, spoken only .wav instructions on the CD-ROM.

So the good news is my daughter still thinks I'm a hero, and I'm available as a consultant if Mattel wants to know why embedded Barbie bombed. And for the first time, a woman has said to me "We have a problem - click on my help button."

Free Technical Training

Techonline - at http://www.tolu.com - offers a number of free training courses that may be of interest to y’all.

Currently they have the following online:
-Theory and Practice of Technical Standards
-Understanding Wireless Communications
-Overview of Digital Signal Processing
-xDSL: Digital Subscriber Lines Explained
-Analog Devices DSP Development Environment

Thought for the Week

You’ll find a very irreverent but amusing “The Ten Commandments for C Programmers” at: