Review: Prototype to Product

Steve Branam October 16, 2021

Prototype to Product: A Practical Guide for Getting to Market, by Alan Cohen, is a must-read for anyone involved in product development, whether in a technical, management, or executive role.

I was reminded of it by Cohen's recent episode on Embedded.fm, 388: Brains Generate EMF, which is worth listening to a couple times through, especially if you're interested in medical device development. And in fact his first episode there, 


Learning From Engineering Failures

Steve Branam July 29, 2021
Introduction

I'm an informal student of engineering failures. They guide a lot of my attitude and approach towards engineering.

This is rooted in two of my favorite quotes:

  • George Santayana: Those who do not remember the past are condemned to repeat it.
  • Louis Pasteur: Chance favors the prepared mind.

and leads to the ultimate advice I offer people:

  • Trust nothing, and verify.

(See My Guiding Principles As An Engineer for the full list...


Acceptance Tests vs. TDD

Steve Branam July 17, 2021
The Question

Our software book club at work is reading Michael Feathers' Working Effectively with Legacy Code. This is an outstanding book that's worth re-reading every few years.

This week, we went over Chapter 8, "How Do I Add a Feature", which covers Test-Driven Development (TDD). One of the discussion items that came up was writing tests in the Jira ticket for a story (Jira is a tool for managing stories, the planning unit for software...


My Guiding Principles As An Engineer

Steve Branam February 27, 2021

These are my guiding principles as an embedded systems software engineer, forged over 40 years of experience. They shape the way I work and approach problems, and maintain my attitude in the face of adversity.

You may find them useful as well, whether working as a developer, a manager, or an executive, alone or on a team, when things are going well, and when they aren't.

They're a combination of favorite quotes and my own bits of wisdom I've sprinkled...


Your Career Archive

Steve Branam December 30, 2020

Clive Maxfield and Adam Taylor recently published a series of blog posts about how to get and keep an engineering job, discussing preparation in high school through early career stages. I've just started a new job, and wanted to add some information on a particular aspect of changing jobs, the employment background check.

Over the past 10 years, I've changed jobs several times. Three of those jobs, including the most recent two, have required background checks as part of...


Review: Hands-On RTOS with Microcontrollers

Steve Branam September 20, 20202 comments

Full disclosure: I was given a free copy of this book for evaluation.

Hands-On RTOS with Microcontrollers: Building real-time embedded systems using FreeRTOS, STM32 MCUs, and SEGGER debug tools by Brian Amos is an outstanding book. It lives up to its name, extremely hands-on and practical, taking you from knowing nothing about RTOS's (Real-Time Operating Systems) up to building real multithreaded embedded system applications running on real hardware.

It uses the ST Micro


Review: Project Management for the Unofficial Project Manager

Steve Branam July 26, 2020

Software development projects are notorious for having problems. Late, over budget, not working properly, making people's lives miserable all around. Embedded systems add the further complication of hardware to that.

How many of us have lived through problematic projects? Hopefully some of them have at least been ultimately successful to make all the suffering worth it in the end, but there are plenty that haven't.

I don't consider myself a project manager, or a manager...


Absolute Beginner's Guide To Getting Started With Raspberry Pi

Steve Branam July 12, 2020

The Raspberry Pi is a great little computer for learning programming in general, as well as embedded systems. It runs a version of the Linux OS (Operating System) called Raspberry Pi OS (formerly called Raspbian, so you'll see that name a lot, including here), supporting multiple programming languages. It can be used as a full desktop computer.

But if you're an absolute beginner, the information can get overwhelming quickly. There are different versions of it, different software to run on...


So You Want To Be An Embedded Systems Developer

Steve Branam February 5, 20203 comments
Then listen now to what I say. Just get an electric guitar and take some time and learn how to play. Oh, wait, that's a song by the Byrds. But the strategy is the same. Get some information and tools and learn how to use them. No need to sell your soul to the company. (This post contains Amazon affiliate links and links to vendor websites.) The items I've listed below are sufficient to get you started on a career as an embedded systems developer. There are of course many additional...

Absolute Beginner's Guide To Getting Started With Raspberry Pi

Steve Branam July 12, 2020

The Raspberry Pi is a great little computer for learning programming in general, as well as embedded systems. It runs a version of the Linux OS (Operating System) called Raspberry Pi OS (formerly called Raspbian, so you'll see that name a lot, including here), supporting multiple programming languages. It can be used as a full desktop computer.

But if you're an absolute beginner, the information can get overwhelming quickly. There are different versions of it, different software to run on...


Examining The Stack For Fun And Profit

Steve Branam February 19, 20201 comment

Well, maybe not so much for profit, but certainly for fun. This is a wandering journey of exploration and discovery, learning a variety of interesting and useful things.

One of the concerns with an embedded system is how much memory it needs, known as the memory footprint. This consists of the persistent storage needed for the program (i.e. the flash memory or filesystem space that stores the executable image), and the volatile storage needed to hold the data while executing over long...


Review: Hands-On RTOS with Microcontrollers

Steve Branam September 20, 20202 comments

Full disclosure: I was given a free copy of this book for evaluation.

Hands-On RTOS with Microcontrollers: Building real-time embedded systems using FreeRTOS, STM32 MCUs, and SEGGER debug tools by Brian Amos is an outstanding book. It lives up to its name, extremely hands-on and practical, taking you from knowing nothing about RTOS's (Real-Time Operating Systems) up to building real multithreaded embedded system applications running on real hardware.

It uses the ST Micro


The Self-Directed Virtual Internship

Steve Branam May 3, 2020

A number of my LinkedIn connections are college and university students at the bachelor's, master's, and doctoral levels, from all over the world. The embedded systems community constantly amazes me.

One fallout they're experiencing from COVID19 is cancellation of summer internships. This is very unfortunate, because an internship represents maintaining educational momentum and preparing for launch of a career with a taste of the real working world, along with some financial...


Simple Automated Log Processing

Steve Branam April 25, 2020

Text log data offers a wealth of information from an embedded system. At least during prototyping and development phases, most systems have some kind of serial log output, or use semihosting methods to log to a serial output channel in a debugger. Then you can capture the logs to a file.

The problem is that they tend to accumulate large volumes of data. Logs can be many thousands of lines long, especially when you run long duration tests. Finding information and evaluating trends in the...


Some Advice For Working From Home

Steve Branam March 28, 20201 comment

The other day I posted a short video of my WFH setup (and here's a May 1st upgrade). Today I have some general advice for WFH for people who are new to it.

I've been doing it randomly for the past 5 years, usually just one or two days a week here and there. Now it's a full-time thing for the duration of the coronavirus. So some of this wanders afield a bit, settling in for the long haul.

Some of it is based on things I've built up over years. It's unreasonable to expect that...


Your Career Archive

Steve Branam December 30, 2020

Clive Maxfield and Adam Taylor recently published a series of blog posts about how to get and keep an engineering job, discussing preparation in high school through early career stages. I've just started a new job, and wanted to add some information on a particular aspect of changing jobs, the employment background check.

Over the past 10 years, I've changed jobs several times. Three of those jobs, including the most recent two, have required background checks as part of...


My Guiding Principles As An Engineer

Steve Branam February 27, 2021

These are my guiding principles as an embedded systems software engineer, forged over 40 years of experience. They shape the way I work and approach problems, and maintain my attitude in the face of adversity.

You may find them useful as well, whether working as a developer, a manager, or an executive, alone or on a team, when things are going well, and when they aren't.

They're a combination of favorite quotes and my own bits of wisdom I've sprinkled...