A year ago, I would occasionally ask folks in industry if they were seeing any improvements in their business. That was then. Now I'm long past asking about glimmers of better times ahead. At this point it'll take a lot to convince anyone that things are turning around.
Even though I don't ask any more, some people still offer their perspectives on business conditions, and the data at best is unclear. But from out of nowhere, one supplier to the embedded industry is cautiously optimistic because his customers are “not complaining as much as they used to.” I guess it's not terribly optimistic that the best news you hear is that customers aren't complaining so much, but hey, we'll take what we can get.
Sooner or later the turnaround will arrive, but that doesn't mean that everything will be roses. In “Toxic bosses” Jack Ganssle warns us that folks doing multiple jobs in these lean times may very well feel put upon if they are working long hours for less pay and fewer benefits. If they feel unappreciated, they are likely to head out the door as soon as the economy picks up and companies need them the most.
What's keeping you at your job right now? Check the results of the poll “How are you bound to your job” and see what other engineers are saying.
When business does pick up, there will be jobs aplenty. If you're just breaking in to embedded development, check out the Beginner's Corner, which pretty much covers the basics. This month you can learn about the JTAG standard, IEEE-1149.1. This standard, which has been around for over a decade, has not only become an increasingly important technology to achieve access to internal nodes for testing purposes, it also provides the basis for software tools to debug highly integrated systems.
In the meantime, I guess we'll all have to stock up on Top Ramen and hope for better times.