The Colin Walls Blog

This blog is a discussion of embedded software matters - news, comment, technical issues and ideas, along with other passing thoughts about anything that happens to be on my mind.

29 September, 2014

This week is the first, for me, of the major conferences in the embedded software space this Fall – the ARM TechCon. As usual, it takes place at the Santa Clara Convention Center in California. And, as usual, I will be attending.

The exhibition runs over two days: Wednesday and Thursday. I will be at the Mentor Graphics booth [#201] for most of the day on Thursday. So, if you want to stop by and say hello, you will be most welcome.

The conference continues on to Friday, when I have a paper at 2:30 entitled How to Measure RTOS Performance. If you are attending the event, do come along. If you want a copy of my slides or have any queries, please email.

A complete guide to the Mentor Graphics participation in ARM TechCon may be found here.

ARM are running an interesting activity at the show, in which sponsoring companies [like Mentor Graphics] have been invited to participate. A representative of each company will be provided with a FitBit movement tracker and real time logs of these people’s number of steps will be on display at the RAM booth. There are prizes for the most energetic. It seems that I was nominated to represent Mentor Graphics. Wish me luck!

ImageI will be reporting and commenting during ARM TechCon on the major social media channels [links on my blog homepage]. If you have any questions or comments, do get in touch.

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25 September, 2014

Today, I am continuing my “Six of The Best” series and looking at my six favorite cities. I am not really a “city person” – more of a “small town boy”. I much prefer to live in a more compact place, where I know people around around me, but have good transportation connections to the rest of the world. But I know that many folks – young people in particular – love to live amongst the bustle of a big city. But that is not for me.

However, I have traveled quite a lot – both business and leisure – and cities can be fun places to visit and, with some thought, I have favorites … Read the rest of this entry »


18 September, 2014

This is the first in an occasional series of postings with the title “Six of the Best”. This phrase is probably meaningless to many people outside of the UK and Australia and it is quite old fashioned here. It referred to the practice of punishing children with six lashes of a cane – a practice that is, hopefully, now consigned to history. However, I am not going to talk about corporal punishment.

This series is about my six favorite things in various categories. This time, it is apps on my iPad … Read the rest of this entry »

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16 September, 2014

I have written before about multicore systems – here for example – and looked at AMP vs SMP and various other aspects of the technology. As the use of multicore designs has become increasingly mainstream, the options and possible configurations available has increased drastically.

A particular facet is the incorporation of a hypervisor in an AMP system … Read the rest of this entry »

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8 September, 2014

In a recent post I mentioned that I have written a lot of articles over the years. I sometimes wonder how many, but it is certainly in the hundreds. Although historically they were in print, nowadays, most of my work appears online. A particular favorite outlet is a popular venue for embedded developers: embedded.com

I have cataloged and highlighted some more of my work … Read the rest of this entry »

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4 September, 2014

I like wine. There is at least one person in my life who might think I like it a bit too much, but I think that I will put that thought to one side. At the weekend, I can think of no better accompaniment to many meals than a splosh of something red in a glass. When I was much younger, I thought that it might be interesting to build up a wine cellar and develop some expertise in wine matters. However, over the years I have discovered that it is much simpler to just get wine when it is needed [but obviously keeping a couple of dozen bottles on hand to be sure] and I have never owned a house with a cellar. I have also managed to avoid becoming a wine expert; I know just enough to be able to select something off a shelf or a list with reasonable confidence. I had a friend, who developed such a fine wine palate that he found any wine under $100 a bottle undrinkable. As he was not a multi-millionaire, he could not afford to drink wine very often, which rather spoiled his pleasure. I have avoided this problem.

Apart from drinking the stuff, I am interested in some of the culture and rituals associated with wine … Read the rest of this entry »


1 September, 2014

As I mentioned on a previous occasion, I always welcome questions whenever I make a presentation, do a web seminar, write an article or blog post or whatever. Even very simple queries give me ideas for topics to discuss. I always take the view that, if one engineer poses a question, there are probably a bunch of guys who would also like the answer.

Once again, I am turning my attention to C++ … Read the rest of this entry »

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28 August, 2014

I like food. I am not a great enthusiast for restaurants, in general, but I do like to eat. I enjoy cooking and, at the time of writing, I am planning for a supper with friends on Friday evening – I think a French theme is in order. I watch very little TV and I am certainly not an avid viewer of cooking shows. However, a few times recently, I have been persuaded by other members of my family to watch The Great British Bake Off.

On one of these shows the other day, I learned something surprisingly interesting … Read the rest of this entry »


18 August, 2014

Although I enjoy writing articles and blogs and giving presentations – I am always hoping that I can impart some useful information and help engineers with their projects – the Q&A session after a presentation is often the moist interesting part. If I am doing a Web seminar, for example, I normally have a one hour slot; I try to talk for no more than 20-25 minutes, leaving plenty of time for Q&A. I find that so often it is the questions that trigger ideas for articles, blogs and further presentations. So, please keep them coming – comment here or email are always options.

I attended a recent Web seminar at which there were lots of interesting questions … Read the rest of this entry »

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14 August, 2014

As I write this, I am a week away from a short vacation [so there will be a temporary radio silence around here next week] and, somehow, this puts me into a philosophical mood – pondering the meaning of life and all that. I wrote a while ago about learning to swim – a journey which continues – and I have made plenty of progress, but I am still not quite where I want to be.

I have realized that progress is not always simple forward movement … Read the rest of this entry »


11 August, 2014

I have always liked writing. From an early age, I had an ambition to write a book. My first attempt, in my mid-teens, was a science fiction novel. It was not a success. I wrote about 100 pages and I may even still have the typescript. I remember being embarrassed last time I looked at it. One of the best days of my life was back in 1986, when a jiffy bag arrived in the mail containing a book with my name on the cover.

Since then, I have never really stopped writing … Read the rest of this entry »

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7 August, 2014

I do not do diets in the sense of weight loss programs. We all have a “diet” – the combination of foods that we eat – and I have always advocated as much variation as possible. Although I do eat things that are less good for me, I am conscious of what constitutes a healthy diet. I like to avoid food with additives, which can be challenging, as I wrote about a while back. When I was younger, I might have been described as “skinny”, but time has taken its toll and, although I am far from being fat, I could do with rearranging my weight a little.

I recently encountered the 5:2 diet … Read the rest of this entry »

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4 August, 2014

I started a couple of weeks ago, when I received an email from Sandeep Vasant from Ahmedabad University in India. For reasons that he has yet to reveal, he was having trouble with some code like this:

int a=10, b=20, c=0;
c = a++ + a++ + b++ + b++ + ++a + ++b;

He tried this with one compiler and the resulting values of a, b and c were 13, 23 and 96 respectively. He was satisfied with this result. Then he tried a different compiler, which yielded a final value for c of 98, which he found confusing.

I started looking into this, certain that the explanation was simple … Read the rest of this entry »

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31 July, 2014

Most of us are blessed with five fully functional senses, but I guess the two that most people consider critical are sight and hearing. Indeed it is a common discussion question: would you rather go blind or deaf? For me, the answer is simple: I would rather not lose either sense! I have always been interested in sight issues. I guess that is because I have less than 100% vision – I have worn glasses all my life. I have supported a couple of blindness-related charitable organizations [like the one that I mentioned here] – particularly in connection with my photography.

I know very few people with severe sight problems, but deafness seems to be far more common … Read the rest of this entry »


28 July, 2014

I often need to do a bit of programming – normally C or C++. I am not generally writing a real software application, as that is not my job, but I often need to produce chunks of code to illustrate a point in an article, presentation or blog post. This code can be anything from a single line to a few dozen. Obviously, all I need to do is create a text file for the code and build it using a suitable toolchain for execution on my PC or for inspection of the resulting assembly language output.

Recently, I was introduced to an interesting alternative … Read the rest of this entry »

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24 July, 2014

Some time ago, I wrote about my view on the future of music. In a nutshell, I was saying that live performance was what it was all about. Time has moved on and I have further thoughts on the topic. Also, over that time, e-books have become quite mainstream and I question where that technology is taking us.

It seems that David Bowie has been having the same kind of thoughts … Read the rest of this entry »

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21 July, 2014

Multicore continues to be a hot topic, as an ever-increasing number of embedded systems are designed with multiple CPUs – most commonly multiple cores on a chip. One of the challenges with understanding multicore is that the term actually covers a number of architectures and approaches to design. This is a topic that I have discussed somewhat before, but the increasing popularity of multicore and additional technology options make it a topic worth revisiting.

Figuring out the terminology is the first challenge … Read the rest of this entry »

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16 July, 2014

Words matter to all of us, as it is arguably our ability to communicate that enabled the human race to progress as far as we have. I am very much a words person. Even though I do photography, spoken/written communication is very important in my life, particularly professionally. One of my treasured possessions is a 2-volume Shorter Oxford English Dictionary, which I received as a gift nearly 30 years ago. I like word games. Scrabble is the benchmark; Bananagrams is a new favorite.

Although I work with words all day every day, there is still the potential for confusion, annoyance and surprise … Read the rest of this entry »


14 July, 2014

As I have talked about before, I am particularly interested in programming languages, with a strong focus on embedded, of course. So, I always take a look when I see a survey that looks at what developers are using and what the trends are. When I saw that the IEEE were publishing some results, they really had my attention.

However, all was not what it seems … Read the rest of this entry »

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10 July, 2014

_DSC0022I recall reading somewhere [please do not ask me where!] that, every day, more photographs are taken than were shot on the previous day. And this has been true since the dawn of photography as a popular activity, when Kodak’s slogan was “You Press the Button, We Do the rest” in 1888. With cameras getting cheaper and phones and tablets with camera facilities becoming ubiquitous, I guess this trend is set to continue. This begs a question: what do you do with all those images? In the past, it was common to make photo albums, which often became much valued keepsakes. Indeed, I recently wrote about the return of a lost family photo album.

With digital photography, there are numerous other possibilities … Read the rest of this entry »


7 July, 2014

I have made a number of recent postings focused on C++ issues, responding to a number of questions. I have a few more planned, but I was intending to give this topic a rest for a while. However, my eye was caught by one question, which I felt had some potential:

I learned that Objective C objects are not complete copies of the class object. In other words, only the data and certain static structures are independent for each instance of a class. The methods are kept in a central location for all objects to use. Is there any C++ implementation for embedded systems that use this feature?

This sounds simple, but this question raises quite a few issues … Read the rest of this entry »

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3 July, 2014

I recently had a spiritual experience. My daughter and I went to a Place of Worship one Sunday. We were welcomed by a young follower of The Faith – I would call him a disciple. He told us about his beliefs, listened to our doubts and answered our questions. We stood at the shrine while he explained how much better life would be if we followed The Faith. We were under no pressure or obligation to part with money, but, prior to our departure, I made a substantial payment.

We headed off to meet my wife for lunch, my daughter swinging a carrier bag containing her new MacBook … Read the rest of this entry »


Meet Colin Walls

I have over twenty-five years experience in the electronics industry, largely dedicated to embedded software. When not working, I enjoy photography, books and music. Learn more about me, including my go-to karaoke song and the best parts of being British.

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