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33714Re: [midatlanticretro] Changing topics

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  • Dave McGuire
    Dec 22, 2013
      ROFL!! Great stuff...thanks for the stories. :-) I'm gonna get a set
      of brass knuckles now. :-)

      -Dave

      On 12/22/2013 12:22 PM, Bob Applegate wrote:
      > To break up the discussion about Arduinos, here are three stories from my professional background, all about embedded development. While not vintage, they were interesting. And the Arduno topics are far less vintage than these...
      >
      >
      >
      > "Real Men Don't Write Device Drivers with Compilers"
      >
      > I had worked with a very good software guy at a company in the 80s. Hard-core assembly guy, like the rest of us. I definitely respected his opinion and he wrote really tight code that was well tested.
      >
      > In the early 90s I was a contractor and he was part of the company's staff I was working for. By that time there were solid C compilers and more and more code was written in high level languages without negative consequences. Memory was plentiful (sometimes a couple hundred K!) and the processors were big (16 bit) and fast (8+ MHz).
      >
      > We were having a hallway discussion about problems getting a driver for an odd piece of hardware running, and it seemed the fellow was writing a lot of assembly code to deal with segments, so I suggested switching to C since the compilers handled the segmentation problem nicely, and the company's RTOS (we wrote our own) had great support for the kinds of problems he was having. It got into a heated argument, to say the least! At one point the assembly language guy offered to "take it outside and settle this like men." I figured this was a good time to stick with assembly language, but the next driver he wrote was in C ;-)
      >
      >
      >
      >
      >
      > "I Wouldn't Want to be an Embedded Programmer"
      >
      > At another company, within the last decade, I was part of a decent sized embedded software team. Most of the engineers were writing high-level apps on various flavors of Unix while our group and the hardware group developed plug-in cards to interface with the outside world. The company's main product was the middleware that sat above the boards, but our boards generated a lot of revenue. The market was going more to IP based protocols, so eventually the board products would have been phased out, but the customers are in an industry where change is made very slowly.
      >
      > One day I was in the lunch break room drinking a soda when one of the Unix programmers came in. We got into a discussion about where our company's technology is going, and he finally said "I wouldn't want to be an embedded programmer. You guys are doomed."
      >
      > I thought it was an odd comment, then said "Funny, I was thinking I'd hate to be in your shoes. Look around this room... there's at least one embedded processor in each of the refridgerators, the microwave ovens, the thermostat, the TV, the TV remote, the remote entry system by the outside door, each of our cell phones, the motion sensor, and possibly more. I don't see a single Sun or Dell box here."
      >
      > He looked kind of annoyed and left the room.
      >
      >
      >
      >
      > "You Guys Are Programming a Mainframe! Why Are You Here?"
      >
      > A fellow embedded engineer and I went to one of the Embedded Systems Conferences in Boston in 2001, around the time we were finalizing design of a new series of boards our company was building. Lots of the talks were about much smaller processors where guys were trying to use bits to indicate multiple things, trying to squeeze a few extra bytes from their code, etc. At one of the lunchtime discussions we got talked with some guys who were in that situation. They finally asked us about our board, which had a big PowerPC processor, MBs of RAM, MBs of flash, a bit FPGA to do all the glue logic and fancy protocol work, etc. One of the guys finally said "You guys are programming a mainframe! What are you doing here?" and got up and moved to another table.
      >
      >
      >
      >
      >
      > Follow-on to the first story. The same engineer offered to take a hardware engineer "outside" over some hardware issue. The hardware guy pulled out a brass knuckle from his desk (he had all sorts of weird gag items), put it on, then walked out the back door. The software guy just stood there. After a minute or two the hardware guy opened the back door and yelled "are you coming out to discuss this or are you going to stop complaining about the hardware?" No more arguments but the two did calmly negotiate how to make the hardware easier for software to interface with.
      >
      > Bob
      >
      >
      >
      > ------------------------------------
      >
      > Yahoo Groups Links
      >
      >
      >


      --
      Dave McGuire, AK4HZ
      New Kensington, PA
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