From Pringle Cans to Barbie Dolls -

From Pringle Cans to Barbie Dolls


Using a Pringle can antenna and piggybacking off a neighbor is the only way Robert X. Cringely can get Internet access from his remote Sonoma County address. At least that's what he told an Embedded Systems Conference audience in Chicago last summer. While the Pringle can approach to wireless connectivity has been around for some time, the concept of wireless freeloading has definitely arrived in the mainstream, as evidenced by this recent Doonesbury comic strip.

We have only just scratched the surface of wireless networking. A couple of weeks ago at the Motorola Smart Networks Developers Forum in New Orleans, Nicholas Negroponte claimed that he provides free wireless Internet access to 200 neighbors from his downtown Boston digs. But it gets better. He said that in the future, toys would be connected wirelessly to the Internet. Toys like Barbie dolls, for example. That, he said, would lead to ad hoc wireless networks constructed using Barbie doll routers. Let Loring Wirbel explain it to you in “A router in every Barbie.”

Travel and learn
On the off chance that you're one of those rare individuals who actually has a travel and training budget this year, the Embedded Systems Conference Boston is coming up November 18-21. Like the last couple of years, the venue is downtown at the Hynes Convention Center. And if Boston isn't your cup of tea, you can opt for Embedded Systems Conference Munich, taking place the week before in conjunction with Electronica, a show touted as the “world's leading trade fair for the electronics business.”

Welcome additions
Speaking of Europe, the electronic version of Embedded Systems Europe now lives on You can find the link on the left nav bar.

On the other side of the Atlantic, the August issue of Embedded Systems Programming has shipped and is posted on this site. If you're toying with the idea of using Linux in your next project, read “Embedded Linux and the Law” to find out about the legal ramifications of using it for the proprietary parts of your firmware.

Also new is “Failure is an Option” in which regular contributor Jack Ganssle wrestles with error-prone code and wonders when will we accept the fact that failure is normal and start being more rigorous in adding error-checking routines. The poll queries you on the quality of your code.

As if bulletproofing your code weren't enough of an issue, here's Bernie Cole pointing out that current network security strategy is probably outmoded. In “Replacing the Maginot Line Security Model,” Bernie suggests that most cyber security is based on the assumption that what we need to protect is inside the system perimeter, whereas in a net-centric computing environment there is no clear boundary between “in here” and “out there.”

Free lunch?
So that's what's new here. The best way to stay on top of changes on is to sign up for the free e-mail newsletter. I know, it's more clutter in your inbox, but, hey, it only goes out twice a month.

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