Two out of three ain’t bad

With all due apologies to Meatloaf for the title, I thought I’d pass along something that I’ve found useful over the years. Being a consultant, I regularly find myself in discussions with clients concerning new product development. Without fail, the following three topics are always high on the agenda: Features, reliability, bug rates etc. I tend to […]

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Why you really shouldn’t steal source code

As an embedded systems consultant, I spend a substantial part of my work time working on your typical embedded systems projects. However I also spend a significant amount of time working as an expert witness in legal proceedings. While the expert witness work is quite varied, one of the things I have noticed in the […]

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Simplify, then add lightness

As 2011 draws to a close I have reason to be thinking about things automotive. As part of my musings, I was reminded of the famous mantra espoused by the late Colin Chapman of Lotus Cars – ‘Simplify, then add lightness’. I have always liked this aphorism for its idea of ‘adding lightness’ rather than […]

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Consulting as a leading economic indicator – update #2

I have written before about consulting being a leading economic indicator. My hypothesis is that when companies need engineering help, but are unsure whether to take on employees, then they turn to consultants. Conversely when companies need to cut costs, the first to go are consultants and contractors. In short, consultants are the first to go in […]

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Evaluating embedded code

One of the interesting aspects of being an embedded systems consultant is that I get to look at a lot of code written by others. This can come about in a number of ways, but most commonly occurs when someone wants changes made to an existing code base and the original author(s) of the code […]

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So you want to be an independent contractor?

Today’s post is motivated by the events that happened yesterday in Austin, Texas. For my overseas visitors, a software engineer, Joe Stack, decided to fly his light aircraft into an office building that housed the regional offices of the IRS (the American tax office). He created tremendous damage and likely murdered at least one person, while killing […]

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Hardware costs versus development costs

Earlier this year I posted about how to solve the problem of PIC stack overflow. As part of that article I asked the question as to why does anybody use a PIC anyway when there are superior architectures such as the AVR available? Well, various people have linked to the posting and so I get a […]

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Consulting as a leading economic indicator – update #1

At the beginning of September in the wake of the dismal jobs report for EE’s posted by the IEEE, I wrote an article postulating that consulting is a leading economic indicator for our industry. I also promised an update around the end of September. The bottom line – it’s still very quiet. I’ve asked some fellow consultants […]

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The consultant’s dilemma

Today I’m going to talk about an interesting ethical dilemma that is faced by all engineers at various times in their careers but which consultants face much more frequently because of the nature of the work. The situation is as follows: A (potential) client has a new project that they wish to pursue and they […]

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Consulting as a leading economic indicator

The IEEE has a rather depressing news release out that claims that EE unemployment more than doubled last quarter to a record high 8.6%. The previous quarterly record was a mere 7% in Q1 2003. Interestingly the unemployment rate for all engineers was a mere 5.5% which suggests that EE’s are taking the brunt of engineering unemployment. […]

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