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QAC-> EWB | Compiler Validation |  HIS-14 |  Mind your Language  | 
Estimation or guesswork? | MISRA-VHDL | More Language issues
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support inthe sunThis is our traditional, summer break newsletter. And, as is becoming traditional, I would urge you to take a break. It is amazing how even a few days away from the workbench or keyboard produces a better perspective on life and on the current project.
 
Having said that, Phaedrus Systems will be available for support throughout the summer, even if it is occasionally from a laptop in the sun!
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Linking static code analysis to compiler
QAC-> IAR EWBOur latest publication is an application note on how to link Programming Research's QA•C and IAR's Embedded Work Bench.
 
Setting up a link allows you to call QA•C easily and quickly. This allows frequent static analysis and MISRA checking (if you are working to MISRA guidelines) finding potential bugs early and reducing later testing and debugging
 
Compiler validation
Compiler validationAll C Compilers are not the same, and if you are using C for safety critical work, it is imperative that you know how it has implemented the language and be confident that the code it generates will run in the way the programmer intended on the target system. This year sees the 25th birthday of compiler validation.
 
Diary Date
HIS2014High Integrity Software is a conference that is an absolute must for anyone working in the area. On October 23rd in Bristol, as well as a host of good quality technical papers, it has a keynote by Martyn Thomas which on its own is almost certainly going to be worth the journey. We are exhibiting and chairing a session on: Languages and Technologies
 
Mind your language
What to words mean Writing about safety is not easy: words have to be chosen with care to ensure that only the intended message is conveyed. But safety engineers at General Motors appear to have been working with at least one hand tied behind their backs.
 
 As part of the judgement process over the $35 million fine for faulty ignition switches (which killed at least 13 people) the US National Highway Traffic Safety Administration has published internal documents on what words can and can't be used in reports.
 
Do not use Problem- instead use Issue, Condition, Matter Instead of Defect use "Does not perform to design" And the real show stopper - Don't use Safety, instead say "Has potential safety implications." This would be funny except it was this attitude of using language to cover up events resulted in 13 funerals.
 
All this was thrashed out in May, but just as this newsletter was being drafted, it appeared that GM had reported another major safety issue. When the company realised that the locks were dangerous they were re-designed but no attempt was made to take the faulty parts out of the spares chain. Just to compound the problem the new switches were given the same part number as the older part
 
See the Wall Street Journal for the 69 words you can't use at GM
Estimation or guess work
Seer Estimation Dan Galorath, the creator of SEER has produced a PowerPoint presentation, "Why Can't People Estimate?"
 
While it is geared to getting you to buy SEER (something I am very happy to help you with) the examples of problems in estimating anything are wonderful.
 
Did you know that between 2000 and 2009 in the US there is a correlation of 0.947091 between the per capita consumption of cheese and the number of people who died by becoming entangled with their bed sheets? You can read it here
MISRA-VHDL
No, there isn't one but I occasionally get asked. Just recently at the Device Developers Conference I was asked more than once. So….
 
Would anyone be interested in a MISRA-C-VHDL? More to the point would anyone actually join a working group to make one? The MISRA-C and C++ teams don't have the experience or the time. So if you want one you are going to have to do it yourselves.  email me at mailto::MISRA@phaedsys.com?subject=MISRA-VHDL
 
Or you could join the MISRA-C & C++ Group on linked in where MISRA-VHDL/Verilog is being discussed.
Another example of language
spagettie We all know what spaghetti code is, don't we? The clip linked to below is part of a promotional video for the law firm that won in the Toyota unintended acceleration case. It shows a complete misunderstanding of what the term means. See  9m 50 seconds in the Video here:  
 
 
You should keep this sort of thing in mind when making and recording decisions during a development project. Can you comfortably answer the question, "How can this be mis-interpreted, either through ignorance or through the deliberate act of an aggressive lawyer, in a court room in twenty years time?"
 
Incidentally the MISRA-C team was tempted to add a new rule "There shall be no pasta based code".

 
nearly christmasWell that's it. by the time you get the next newsletter the evenings will be drawing in and the children will have gone back to school. It will soon be Christmas! 

We have several events coming up in the Autumn and a few more useful app notes and documents for you to read over the Christmas break but  for now go and enjoy the summer, Take a break you have earned it!
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