Taking a brain break - Embedded.com

Taking a brain break

Are you finding that as your company downsizes, all that seems to be left is the bureaucracy, standing stark against the skyline, like the bleached bones of some ponderous giant frozen in place? Do you feel as if you're living in the kind of world depicted in Terry Gilliam's dark comedy Brazil?

Okay maybe it's not as bad as all that, but during these perilous times you are indeed fortunate if your company knows that you are its most valuable asset and continues to treat you as such.

Even if you work for the best of all possible companies, stress has got to be a significant factor in these days of longer hours and precious few raises. Although you may be happy to have a job at all, you're still likely to have a lot of stress to relieve. Do you occasionally call in sick in order to take a mental health day? This week's poll queries you on how many sick days you take when you might not actually be physically ill.

However many days you take, Jack Ganssle, who eschews the all-work-and-no-play philosophy, defends your time off. He argues the point that since you work with your minds, then you should take care of them as well as you do your bodies.

When your head is once again in the right place, Jack Crenshaw has some math for you. His Rosetta Stone equation leads to some useful predictive techniques, and in his latest offering, he lays out a predictive technique based on difference tables.

Stepping onto the Embedded Soapbox is a reader who offers his $0.02 on Extreme Programming. He's used it on embedded projects and has taught others to do so as well. In his opinion, using XP alone will not guarantee a good design. A good design comes from good people. However, it is a collaborative development technique that can result in really good designs when there are some good people on the team.

You'll find a new demo posted this week. The Kondra Systems Runtime Environment is a virtual machine and C runtime combination that offers pre-emptive threads, virtual filesystem support, floating-point emulation, dynamic linker/loader, and binary compatibility across all platforms in a 64k package. The included SDK sports both a command line and graphical source level debugger that can debug remote targets across a network connection. It's free for non-commercial use.

The last item I'll mention is a special report on 8- and 16-bit processors. Jack Ganssle (who seems to get no time off at all. No, wait, he lives on a boat. He's always on vacation) once again steps in to take a look at the latest 8- and 16-bitters and report on their impressive new feature sets. Accompanying it is a list of microcontroller suppliers, drawn from the Embedded.com Buyer's Guide.

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