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 Skip the first item if you know what a slide rule is or you will get sucked in for hours!
 
If you read nothing else look at the item on medical devices. It is truly frightening. Though it's not just medical devices: A Cd writer on a "secure" PC was the method used to kick start wikileaks.
 
The rush to the Internet Of Things could be a connection too far. Come to the Device Developer Conference and discuss…
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Virtual Slide Rule
SLide RuleMany of you, like me, began our calculating lives using slide rules. Many probably still have on stowed away in the back of a desk drawer.
 
In the latest issue of The Embedded Muse from Gansle (Always a good read) was a link to a slide rule emulator web site.
 
Only click through if you have nothing urgent on your desk – don't say I haven't warned you!
Looking into the RTOS
PercepioDo you know exactly what is happening inside your RTOS at runtime?
 
A Swedish company, Percepio, has developed the family of highly visual diagnostics tools for embedded and Linux-based software that lets you look inside the runtime system in a new way.
 
There are more than 20 high-level views that complement a debugger's perspective. And you can now get the tools from Phaedrus Systems.
 
64 bit ARM RTOS
MicriumMicrium is one of the RTOS families that Tracealyzer supports. The company has recently announced versions of µC/OS-II and µC/OS-III for the ARM Cortex-A50 64 bit processors. Learn more about Micrium here.
Compiler timing
J-linkThe Embedded Muse again. Over the last few issues there has been a debate about compilers not providing timing information. E.g. "How long will this line of code take to execute?"
 
It has been pointed out that to do this would require the compiler to know a great deal about the execution environment, and even then the compiled code goes optimisation and translation, which could have a timing impact.
 
However many ARM based devices, and others, have very sophisticated trace facilities and using an ICE Emulator or debugger, or even a JTAG, like the J-Link from Segger gives you, admittedly later the real timing data, allowing you to go back to the source and look at tuning options. 
 
Developing Devices
 
Device DeveloperLater in the year we will be at the very tightly focused Device Developers' Conference
20th May- Bristol,
22nd May- Cambridge,
3rd June - Manchester (Cheadle),
5th June – Scotland (Uphall).
 
Here we will be exhibiting, running a coding challenge (First prize an iPad) and talking about more reliable software though requirements and also about MISRA C.
 
Even without us the free presentations and exhibitions are extremely valuable as a way to get up to date with some of the best of current thinking on embedded devices. The workshops are excellent value at only £75 for a half day. http://www.device-developer-conference.co.uk/embedded-systems-event-uk.html
 
Be Afraid, Be Very Afraid
Medical kitWired has a report of a two year study into medical equipment. The results are nothing less than frightening.
 
Equipment had hard-wired vendor-supplied passwords such as admin or 1234 or weak user passwords, or no passwords at all. This was equipment like drug infusion pumps, or provided access to patient records. Implanted defibrillators that are programmed using Bluetooth and are open to hacking to deliver un-needed shocks to a patient.
 
While some equipment was standalone, much is networked, and there is often no difficulty in accessing the network. The networked equipment included the surgical robots that are becoming increasingly popular.
 
While the study found no evidence of tampering, in many cases there was a complete lack of awareness of the issue in hospital administrators and the medical staff. http://www.wired.com/2014/04/hospital-equipment-vulnerable/
Hopefully we will talk to some of you at DDC before the next Newsletter goes out. Getting out of the office to a conference refreshes the mind. In many cases I have seen people find answers to problems after they stop for a coffee mid-morning. They answer just pops into their head. Or at least they see a new angle to try. Can't promise miracles but the change of environment (or the bacon and egg butties) seems to encourage new thoughts.  
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