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.

18 December, 2014

I am sure that most people, like me, enjoy doing Good Things – helping others in one way or another. I am not sure that such activity is true altruism, which would imply no reward, because the pleasure one can gain is immense and unique. However, I have often felt that I do not really make a difference in the world; maybe the odd person’s life is changed a little, but nothing particularly noteworthy. Once in a while I come across somebody who really does change lives. That is interesting when I read about it, but much more exciting when it is someone that I know in person.

Today, the person whom I have in mind is Martine. Her husband, Roger, is my wife’s mother’s cousin, so I can just about claim to be related! Martine and Roger live in Vancouver in Canada – a country I really must get around to visiting. I have met them quite a few times and enjoy their company. In numerical terms, they are not young people – they are in their 70s, but they are living examples of the philosophy that age is a state of mind and I find them quite inspiring. I would have said that before Martine’s latest venture, but now words almost fail me … Read the rest of this entry »

16 December, 2014

As embedded systems become even more ubiquitous and complex, there is an increasing concern about security. The term means different things to different people, but I am thinking of the requirement for systems to be less vulnerable to tampering. Security measures are aimed at preventing, deterring or delaying the work of a hacker, who is trying to change the functionality of the device in some way. This might be to extract data from it or change its operation. In any case, the goal is likely to be theft or malevolence of some kind.

If a system really needs to be bullet proof, industrial grade encryption is called for. This normally requires specific hardware support, which, whilst readily available, might be considered overkill for an application where such high security is not necessary. In such cases, there are other options … Read the rest of this entry »

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8 December, 2014

I am often asked where to get in-depth information about embedded software development. Commonly, the query comes from a student who thinks that it sounds like an interesting career option. Typically they ask how I got started, but, although I am willing to share my story, I am not at all sure that the details are still relevant – that was then, this is now. Maybe they are after advice on which college course to take; perhaps they want to know about helpful websites; but, more often than not, they are after a reading list. Which books should they read? … Read the rest of this entry »

4 December, 2014

Sometimes I have an idea for a product, technology or business, which I think is really compelling, but is outside of my area of expertise to progress. In some cases, the idea is fanciful and just makes for a good conversation topic; others actually have potential. The other day, inspiration hit me. I have a killer idea, but no real means to implement it. So, if you want to pick it up, go ahead. If you make a fortune, please remember that you heard it here first … Read the rest of this entry »

1 December, 2014

I am continuing my catch-up process of cataloging embedded software articles that I have had published on This time they cover the influence of software on power management, using a memory management unit, all about the C/C++ keyword static and the basics of multicore … Read the rest of this entry »

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27 November, 2014

If I am at an event where they are serving beer, I commonly make the joke that it is my favorite kind. People often question that statement and I have to explain that my favorite kind of beer is free beer. Everyone likes free stuff. But I am a firm believer in the TANSTAAFL principle – there is always a cost somewhere.

In the world of computer software, free stuff is definitely popular, but may not always be the best choice … Read the rest of this entry »

24 November, 2014

The Internet of Things [IoT] is a topic that appears in almost every news story or article in the world of embedded software right now. And it goes far beyond our immediate business – right across the electronics industry – as it is very much an encapsulation of hardware and software technologies. I wrote about IoT on this blog recently and someone suggested that I was rather dismissive of the whole IoT concept. That was not really the case – I am excited about IoT, but realistic at the same time … Read the rest of this entry »

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20 November, 2014

It is now four and a half years since I first got an iPad. With my first one, it was love at first swipe and I used the device for two years solid – all day, every day. The iPad 2 did not seem to offer enough to make me upgrade, but, the iPad 3 with significantly improved performance and the wonderful retina display won me over. My old iPad went to my mother-in-law (who never wanted computer, so we did not tell her that this is just what an iPad is!), who has been happily using it ever since … Read the rest of this entry »


6 November, 2014

Although I know that it is a very un-manly thing to say – a bit like not being a sports fan – but I am not very interested in cars. I regard them as (expensive) tin boxes for going from A to B. Too many people (mainly, but not exclusively, men) are overly influenced by the image of cars. They judge people by their choice and drive like it is a competitive sport. This is all wrong on so many levels. I guess that I need to get back to my knitting …

Contrary to these comments, cars have been on my mind just lately … Read the rest of this entry »

3 November, 2014

The Fall is a big time for conferences and this week will see me clocking up some more air miles as I visit two events in Europe.

The first conference is in Stockholm, Sweden – Embedded Conference Scandinavia [ECS]. I attended this lively event last year and on several previous occasions. This year, I have two presentations, both on Tuesday:

At 10:00: Self-testing in Embedded Systems

At 14:00: Dynamic Memory Allocation & Fragmentation in C & C++

These are both technical sessions of 30 minutes duration.

On Thursday, I will be at IP-SOC in Grenoble, France. As has become something of a tradition, I will lead the embedded software track with a keynote:

At 09:00: IoT and Embedded Software: No Change or All Change?

If you are attending either of these events, please stop by and say hello. If you would like a copy of any of my slides, please drop me an email.

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30 October, 2014

It is rather ironic. I am not very interested in video and TV. Although I do go to see the odd movie, I am much more interested in still photography. I have a very nice TV, which I enjoy when I do want to watch something. I just hope that my family can help me get value for money. I mostly regard YouTube as a waste of bandwidth – many videos have almost no useful visual content.

Yet, I seem to have a habit of getting involved in these things … Read the rest of this entry »


28 October, 2014

When I made the very first posting ┬áto this blog, more than five years ago, I made the observation that the world of embedded software is very fashion conscious. I certainly do not mean that embedded software developers are renowned for their dress sense! I am talking about the way that a particular technology is really “hot” at any one time … Read the rest of this entry »

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16 October, 2014

I am a big advocate of public transportation. Although I have a car, of course, and recognize the convenience of personal vehicles, I see them as a luxury that we can decreasingly afford. I needed to drive to another city yesterday and a I found all the traffic snarl-ups so demoralizing, stressful and just a waste of time. Unfortunately, my timing and that of the train service did not correspond.

So, I use trains a lot and buses when appropriate. However, there are often times when something more personalized is needed, so I take a taxi … Read the rest of this entry »


13 October, 2014

I have been thinking about embedded operating systems and how a developer chooses from the options available. My thoughts partly come from the presentation that I made at the ARM conference in Munich last week. But I am also interested in ARM’s announcements in this area at ARM TechCon the week before.

It seems to me that although it used to be very black and white, the rules are changing and shades of gray become apparent … Read the rest of this entry »

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6 October, 2014

Hot on the heals of ARM TechCon in California last week, I am off to another ARM-centric event on Thursday this week: the ARM Developers Conference in Munich, Germany. This timing was no coincidence. It was originally scheduled for early summer, but it was moved to take advantage of ARM’s announcements at TechCon.

I will be making a presentation titled “OS Selection for ARM-based Systems”. If you are not attending and want a copy of my slides, please email. As ARM announced a new OS, I wonder if there will be questions about that …

Incidentally, if you are attending, you might need to double check the location. When the event was first announced, the location was a hotel at the airport [as had been the case before]. However, when it was rescheduled it was also relocated to the Holiday Inn in Munich city center. I hope that nobody goes to the wrong venue!

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4 October, 2014

One, rather obvious phenomenon associated with getting older is that you know more dead people. It is also a phenomenon of the modern world. Although we do not have any more relatives and not that many more friends and acquaintances than our forebears, the media ensure that we are familiar with many, many more celebrities.

And, of course, celebrities end up dead eventually … Read the rest of this entry »

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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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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