Poetry and Pigeons - Embedded.com

Poetry and Pigeons

T.S. Eliot launches into his poem “The Wasteland” with the lines

April is the cruelest month, breeding
Lilacs out of the dead land,

With that kind of sober start, one would assume that Eliot would not be especially amused by April 1 shenanigans. The folks at Google are apparently a different kettle of fish, a conclusion based on the description of their pigeon-driven search technology. “Pigeons are surprisingly adept at making instant judgments when confronted with difficult choices, they tell us. “This makes them suitable for any job requiring accurate and authoritative decision-making under pressure.” I did not know that.

But the technology just keeps coming, which leads us to the overwhelming question, where do you draw the line between April 1 tomfoolery and reality when embedded technology makes all things possible? Here, for example, is a story about a beer glass that will conveniently send a signal to the bartender when it's empty. Finally an embedded technology I can lift my glass to, so to speak. Evidence suggests that Eliot may have been enough of a pub crawler to appreciate it as well.

Jack Ganssle suggests that embedded development is the cruelest profession, breeding managers and marketers out of burned out engineers. Okay, maybe I'm paraphrasing, but see for yourself in “Is This A Dead-end Career?”

He thinks that embedded systems development is a field dominated by youth, and that as engineers get older, they gravitate towards management, marketing, and (gasp) sales. You can prove him right or wrong by taking the poll and see what other developers think.

Now may not be the time to bail out of embedded systems development. We may be on the verge of a whole new era of peer-to-peer connectivity, says Bernie Cole. It is likely to have a profound impact on computing and will allow devices, no matter how dumb, to talk to each other and share resources in real time.

Bernie also stopped by the JavaOne Conference in San Francisco, looked around, and concluded that the development of Java enabled devices is building momentum. He takes a look at the changes and improvements in the Java language, the framework, and the hardware that are aiding the development process.

Speaking of April, the April issue of Embedded Systems Programming has been posted, no fooling. Here is an outline of its contents.

Jim Ledin describes a project that takes advantage of hardware-in-the-loop simulation in Simulation Takes Off with Hardware. He says that the benefit is that when it comes time for system integration, the software has been tested much more thoroughly than it would otherwise have been.

Niall Murphy continues his trip down memory leak lane, describing a modification to the allocator function to provide more information.

“USB Debug Tips,” by Jan Axelson says that the tools and techniques you choose and the design decisions you make can simplify the development and troubleshooting process in your USB Interface development project. Then she presents the options and how you can take advantage of them.

In “Reality Bites,” Michael Barr reminds us that ones and zeroes notwithstanding, the world is actually analog, where things don't work the same way twice.

Jack Crenshaw's treat this month is (drum roll, please) the“World's Best Root Finder.” You won't find a better root finder in the known universe, says Jack, apparently after having tried them all.

C and C++ compilers are not all created equal. How each one deals with unspecified, undefined, and implementation-defined behaviors is likely to differ. It's critical for you to understand how your compiler treats such behaviors to get the results you expect, says Dan Saks in “As Precise as Possible.”

After having questioned where older engineers go, Jack Ganssle is back to tell you about how to prepare for the next upturn in the market in “Don’t Sell Yourself Short.”

You may think that you have task priority nailed down, but priority inversions are difficult to anticipate. Beginner's Corner offers an introduction to priority inversions and a pair of techniques you can use to avoid them.

You'll find all this and much more in the April issue. But no T.S. Eliot.

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