• How important are reference designs?

    A recent white paper identified that while reference designs and application notes are essential to the design process, developers are reporting that finding reference materials is difficult. Are reference materials essential and what strategies help you find the materials you need?
  • Is hardware customization obsolete?

    Plug-in boards to customize your computer seem to be a disappearing option – especially with the rise of consumer-targeted mobile computing appliances. Will custom components find their way into open mobile systems, and if so, what would be the most important functions to support and how would they be best packaged?
  • Does adding an IP address change embedded designs?

    A recent report about malware suggests the number of IP-connect devices is exploding and the bulk of the growth is from embedded systems. Does adding an IP address to an embedded system change how we design and test them?
  • What should design reviews accomplish?

    I remember the lessons I learned while performing my first design review because it significantly shifted my view of what a design review is supposed to accomplish. What should be the primary accomplishment of a successful design review?
  • Is “automation addiction” a real problem?

    A recent article highlights that pilots sometimes "abdicate too much responsibility to automated systems." Is this a real problem or a symptom of system engineering that has not completely addressed all of the system requirements?
  • Is testing always essential?

    The recent audit of the Army’s ballistic armor inserts finds that testing was performed inconsistently, or in some cases, completely skipped. While no substantial claim has been filed that shows these inserts do not perform as required, the process for assuring their quality was definitely abridged. Is all testing always essential?
  • How does your company handle test failures?

    For some projects, the company knows that a series of failures might be unavoidable, but many projects are not able to justify a high level of stress testing and analysis. Is it appropriate to analyze test data less diligently and let potential anomalies slip through and be discovered later when you might not be on the project anymore? How does your company handle failures?
  • How much trial and error do you rely on in designs?

    The process of iterative trial and error has been used by numerous design teams to solve complex problems. Is this a mechanism that applies to a small set of problems or is it successfully used in more problem spaces than is first apparent?
  • What is driving lower data center energy use?

    The growth in energy usage by data centers over the past five years is significantly lower than the expected doubling. Is the economic crisis the major cause for this dip in growth or is efficiency improving faster than expected?
  • What tools do you use to program multiple processor cores?

    Developers have been designing and building multi-processor systems for decades. It seems that development tools that help designers analyze, specify, code, test, and maintain software targeting multi-processor systems are few and limited. What tools do you use when programming a multicore or multi-processor system?
  • Will flying cars start showing up on the road?

    People have been dreaming of flying cars for decades, and while such vehicles have been developed before, none have made it into production. The Terrafugia Transition just passed a significant milestone, and it looks like it might bring the flying car to the market. Is this just another dream that will fail, or could modern embedded system capabilities (along with composite materials and advanced engines) make the difference…

  • Will the Internet become obsolete?

    What would it take for you to give up the Internet for life? That question loses a lot of weight if/when the Internet becomes obsolete – but will it? Many technologies have come and gone. Will the Internet be any different?

  • What does the last Space Shuttle flight mean?

    The final Space Shuttle launch is fast approaching. The infrastructure that supports the space program is large and mostly hidden from the view of the public. How will the closing of the Space Shuttle program affect space services going forward?

  • What game(s) do you recommend?

    Games and puzzles can help teach concepts and strengthen a person’s thought patterns; however, there are literally thousands of games available. Sharing a game that you have found imparts value can help others to benefit from your experience. Do you have a game that you would recommend to embedded developers to help strengthen important thought patterns?
  • How is embedded debugging different?

    Despite having ten years of prior programming experience, my first embedded project demonstrated to me a whole new world of developing and debugging systems. Did your introduction to embedded systems teach you new insights? What warnings and encouragement would you offer to someone joining our community?

  • What techniques do you use to protect information?

    Public and high profile hacks are hitting the news on an almost daily basis. Do you have any favorite techniques that you have adopted to help you protect your private data stored on your own computer, mobile device, or network system? Are any of your techniques appropriate for use in an embedded design?
  • Are GNU tools good enough for embedded designs?

    The negative responses to the question about Eclipse-based tools surprised me, and this got me wondering about how developers feel about GNU-based development tools. Do you use GNU-based tools? When are they good enough and is there a type of design where the proprietary compilers become essential to use?
  • What is important when looking at a processor’s low power modes?

    Low power operation is an increasingly important capability of embedded processors, and many processors support multiple low power modes. When you are looking at a processor’s low power modes, what do you consider the important information that must be considered? What information beyond current draw do you consider?

  • Do you care if your development tools are Eclipse based?

    The open source Eclipse and Net Beans platforms have been adopted as the foundation for many embedded development tools. Does it matter to your design-in decision if a processor is supported by one of these platforms?
  • Is the cloud safe enough?

    The cloud and content streaming continue to grow as a connectivity mechanism for delivering applications and services. Given the recent security breaches of cloud and online services, is the cloud safe enough to bet your product or company on?
  • Do you use any custom or in-house development tools?

    The market for embedded software development tools is so wide and fragmented that it is difficult for a tools company to justify creating many tools that meet the unique needs of embedded systems. Are standard development tools meeting your needs or are you using custom or in-house development tools? What kind of custom tools are you using and what problems do they help you solve?
  • Is the job market for embedded developers improving?

    I keep hearing that embedded designs are up, but the tone has been one of hopeful optimism. Recently, it feels like the tone has changed and might reflect a possible reality. Are you noticing an improvement in the market for embedded developers?
  • How do you ensure full coverage for your design/spec reviews?

    I worked on a development specification with an approval list that was several dozen names long; however, it felt as if there was no one besides the author that had looked at the document as a whole and considered all of the requirements together as a system. What process do you use to ensure that the review process provides appropriate and full coverage of the design and specification documents?
  • Is design-by-committee ever the best way to do a design?

    A common expression to illustrate what design-by-committee means is “a camel is what you get when you design a horse by committee.” In essence, design-by-committee could be described as design-by-consensus.None of the design-by-committee projects that I am aware yielded excellent results. Is this a skewed perspective? Can design-by-committee ever deliver superior results?
  • Is bigger and better always better?

    The recent aircraft collision reminds me of some parallels and lessons I learned through failures on embedded projects. Adding bigger and better components can expose weaknesses in the current procedures to mitigate operator errors. Do you have any anecdotes of how using bigger and better components required changes to mitigate new types of operator errors?