Free Software - At What Price? -

Free Software — At What Price?

I'm a sucker for downloading software demos. And I'm a sucker for going on to buy a lot of the software I try out for free. What I hate are links that require you to give all of your vital statistics before letting you download demo software. maintains a list of links to demos of development tools and such that we think will be of interest to you. We try to limit the amount of information vendors try to squeeze out of you before they let you click their download button, but sometimes they try to sneak more questions in after their link has been posted. The purpose of having this page is to give you access to software that you may find potentially useful, not to qualify you as buyers. Let us know if you think any of the companies linked on the download page are trying to extract your life story before allowing you to download, and we'll wag our fingers at them.

Starting next month we're upping the frequency of the newsletter to twice a month. The newsletter reminds you when this site gets updated and gives you and idea about what you can find here.

The Embedded Systems Conference is a short two months off. It's scheduled for March 12 through 16 at San Francisco's Moscone Convention Center. The keynote speaker will be Nobel Prize winning physicist Murray Gell-Mann. It's not too early to register for the biggest embedded event of the year.

Those of you who plan to drive to San Francisco for this event (or any time, for that matter) can find parking information here, complete with rates and actual photos of parking lots and garages. If you don't want to try to park in the city, you can always leave the driving to BART or Caltrain.

Those of you who are flying are on your own.

This week Jack Ganssle says that he thinks that the younger generation cares more about how easy something is to use rather than how good it is. He cites low-resolution digital cameras and lo-fi MP3 players as examples of products in which convenience is paramount to quality. If you're involved in consumer product development, you can take the poll and let us know if what he says has any truth to it.

Microsoft recently introduced its CE.NET operating system. Bernie Cole gave you his take on it last week. This week he talks about the challenges Microsoft faces as it moves into the embedded OS business. He says it won't be easy for them.

The January issue of Embedded systems Programming is available here. Open source is featured in this issue, beginning with Bill Gatliff's article on newlib, a C runtime library for embedded software built using GNU tools. Only the first part of the article appears in the magazine. You can find the second part, which shows you how to integrate newlib into a multithreaded runtime environment that features Jean Labrosse's C/OS, here.

The open source information doesn't stop there. Next Anthony J. Massa tells you how to get eCOS up and running on your hardware in “eCos Porting Guide”.

Finally, Michael Barr gives his take on the open source phenomenon as it relates to embedded systems.

The January edition also features “Interfacing the User,” in which UI expert Niall Murphy investigates reasons why software engineers don't necessarily make good interface designers. He points out some common pitfalls that designers face.

You can also learn about low-power design in an article that offers practical techniques on key low power issues such as how to select a processor, I/O considerations, sleep/wake-up, and more.

In “Constant Objects and Constant Expressions,” Dan Saks informs us that there's more than one way to define symbolic constants in C and C++, and it helps to know what all of your choices are.

Jack Ganssle says that since software has become ubiquitous it creates creating risks at an alarming rate. He wonders if we're smart enough to manage all that code. Read about it in “As Good As It Gets.”

And last, “The Beginner's Corner” takes on the challenge of big endian vs. little endian addressing. All processors must be designated as either one or the other. And it doesn't have anything to do with Jonathan Swift or about which end of a soft-boiled egg to break.

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