Safety Patrol

When I was in the sixth grade, I was a member of my school’s Safety Patrol. It was my responsibility to ensure that younger children got on and off the school bus safely. “Safeties” wear bright orange sashes and help other kids cross streets adjacent to their bus stops. This is just one measure in […]

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First, Do No Harm

Many of the folks I hang around with own digital watches. I have one myself. In addition to keeping fairly accurate time, mine features a stopwatch, a countdown timer, and a set of five alarms. A friend has a different watch from the same company—one that features a digital compass. To take a compass reading, […]

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Out of the Bottle

The genie is really out of the bottle this time. As first reported in Komsomolskaya Pravda newspaper and later by ABCNews.com, Russian engineer and entrepreneur Dmitri Zhurin recently invented a talking bottle cap. This is a bottle cap that looks like any other, but houses a tiny battery-powered embedded system that speaks to those gathered […]

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Obituaries

Ergo, Audrey. Entered into eternal cancellation on Wednesday, March 21, 2001. Much-ballyhooed simplifier of modern everyday life; beloved step-sister of Kerbango, also cancelled; preceded in cancellation by Netpliance’s i-opener; survived—so far anyway—by Compaq’s iPAQ, Honeywell’s WebPAD, and parent 3Com’s “core businesses.” In lieu of flowers, the developers request that memorial contributions be made to Nasdaq:COMS. Depressing isn’t it? […]

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Embedded Head Count

“Does anyone know how many embedded engineers there are in the U.S.?” That was the question posed in the comp.arch.embedded newsgroup last August. My first thought was “no, nobody really does.” But then I saw that another poster, a frequent contributor to the group, had already responded: “There are presently over 2.4 million ‘Embedded Engineers’ in the […]

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21st Century Blues

Let me be the first to properly welcome you to the 21st century and the new millenium. Just one short year ago, it seemed as though life as we know it (or at least computing as we know it) might grind to a halt on the false millennial-eve because of short-sighted engineering decisions made decades […]

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Open Source Embedded Software

Magazines like Embedded Systems Programming are founded on the ideal that the free flow of information between technological peers, even at competing organizations, benefits everyone. This is a view shared by the proponents of open source software. Whether it’s an operating system, a memory test suite, or simply a useful design paradigm, why should any one of us […]

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EE vs. CS: The Digital Divide

This fall, I’ve had the pleasure and privilege of teaching a course on operating system internals at my alma mater, the University of Maryland. In so doing, I’ve come to see that the current university-based system of training engineers to do embedded systems work is severely flawed. At most colleges and universities, the job of educating […]

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Embedded Ubiquity

By virtually all accounts, the future of computing lies in the overlapping space between the Internet and embedded computing. As embedded system developers, we find ourselves right in the middle of this crowded intersection. Without us, there could be neither people trading stocks from their cellphones today nor speculation about a tomorrow-world with hundreds or […]

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