The century's only palindrome year is underway, and may it prove to be superior in all ways to last year. No flying cars yet, but amazingly, there is a new floating machine at San Francisco's Exploratorium.
Here are a few general announcements.
First, Stephen Hawking celebrates his 60th birthday on January 8.
Second, beginning next month the frequency of the Embedded.com newsletter will increase to twice a month. The newsletter lets you know what when Embedded.com gets updated and what you can find there.
And don't forget that the Embedded Systems Conference is fast approaching — March 12 through 16 at San Francisco's Moscone Convention Center. 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.
Now on to what's new on Embedded.com.
Firmware upgrades seem to be getting more common, thanks to the deployment of flash memory. Unfortunately, as code size increases, these upgrades are becoming necessary, says Jack Ganssle in “Firmware — It's Not So Firm Anymore.”. Be sure to take the poll that asks if you've ever been involved in a project that required a firmware recall.
Upgradeable firmware is not the only new trend in embedded systems. Web services are on their way as well. In “Will Microsoft Win The Embedded Code Quality Battle,” Bernie Cole offers a “richly textured” commentary on Microsoft's .NET strategy. The February issue of Embedded Systems Programming will feature an introduction to Web Services as well, but you'll have to wait for that one.
The January issue of Embedded systems Programming has just shipped and is also available right 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 for those of you just venturing into the perilous world of embedded systems development, “The Beginner's Corner” takes on the challenge of big endian vs. little endian data representations. 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. But if you want your code to run, you have to get it right.