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.

25 May, 2017

As in all walks of life, the high-tech world has its icons – key people who have been pivotal in getting us where we are today. It is easy to list some of the big names: Tim Berners-Lee, Bill Gates, Mark Zuckerberg, Steve Jobs … the list goes on. Then there is Marc Andreessen. Who? I hear you ask – as I did myself when I stumbled across an interview with him. It would appear that, without Mr. A, the world might be different from the way it is … Read the rest of this entry »

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22 May, 2017

I recently came across an excellent book: The Art of Readable Code by Dustin Boswell and Trevor Foucher. As soon as I heard about the book, I knew that it would interest me and ordered a copy without delay. For years, I have pushed the message that the #1 priority, when writing code, is readability; the authors and I are on the same wavelength. I am likely to be referring to this book again in this blog, as, on initial reading, although many things are already clear and familiar to me, I still have more to learn and to share … Read the rest of this entry »

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15 May, 2017

My latest video blog is now available. I am talking about the C keyword static and its different, rather confusing, meanings. You can see the video here or here:

Future video blogs will continue to look at topics of interest to embedded software developers. Suggestions for topics are always welcome via comment, email or social networking.

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11 May, 2017

I work from my home office – when I am not on an airplane going someplace – and the house is often empty. So I spend quite a lot of time alone. As I am an introvert by nature, that is mostly OK. I usually try to leave the house at some point, in order to interact with other members the Human race, and we have an active, evening social life, so the solitude is just part of the picture.

A side-effect of being alone is that I talk to myself … Read the rest of this entry »


8 May, 2017

My latest article on embedded.com has been published. This piece is the sixth installment of the RTOS Revealed series, which will continue to appear through 2017 and beyond. The series will cover every aspect of real time operating systems.

Nucleus SE – an introduction

In this article, I take an initial look at Nucleus SE which will be used as the example RTOS for the rest of the series … Read the rest of this entry »

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4 May, 2017

A while ago, my wife told me about a concept – a way of looking at the world – that she had come across. The concept provides a useful tool for evaluating decisions in many aspects of life. Over the last few weeks we have been using it to rationalize various aspects of our lives. The more that I consider and internalize the idea, the more applications I find for it … Read the rest of this entry »


1 May, 2017

This week I will be at the Embedded Systems Conference in Boston. Each year, there are a number of ESC events around the US – some are more permanent and successful than others. ESC Boston has been revived in recent years and I have been fortunate enough to have some papers accepted and have the opportunity to visit one of my favorite American cities. This year is no exception … Read the rest of this entry »

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27 April, 2017

Sometimes I niggle about the small things of life. At other times, I think big thoughts and ponder the meaning of Life, the Universe and Everything. On yet other occasions, I find myself thinking about nothing in particular and a sudden thought, insight or understanding comes out of nowhere. Just such an event occurred this week … Read the rest of this entry »


20 April, 2017

Notwithstanding all the politics, dogma and downright ignorance, it is clear to me that mankind’s attitude to energy production and consumption needs to change and to change fast. It hardly matters whether we directly caused climate change. This change is happening and it is only sensible to minimize any contribution we make to alterations in the climate… Read the rest of this entry »


13 April, 2017

I think that living with a chiming clock is beginning to have an effect on my brain. I have been giving [even] more thought to how a clock’s chime might be more usefully designed. I wrote before about a scheme that would make the chime a little easier to internalize/remember. I now think that I have an approach that would work even better … Read the rest of this entry »


10 April, 2017

My blog posts here mainly focus on technical issues and a I rarely pass comment on “business” matters. But, sometimes, there are events of such significance that comment is necessary. Some time ago, the plan for Mentor Graphics to be acquired by Siemens was unveiled. Over the months, all the necessary procedures have been effected and, last week, came the announcement that the acquisition had been completed.

I have been contemplating the significance of this acquisition to various parties … Read the rest of this entry »

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6 April, 2017

Age is just a number. That is what people tell me. That is true and I firmly believe that you are really as old as you feel. I had a birthday this week and it was a round number – I was born in 1957. However, there is no way that I feel 60; there must be some mistake. I am definitely more like 30.

Although 60 is just a number, it is a number with some significance … Read the rest of this entry »


3 April, 2017

My latest video blog is now available. I am talking about the use of a memory management unit [MMU] in an embedded system. You can see the video here or here:

Future video blogs will continue to look at topics of interest to embedded software developers. Suggestions for topics are always welcome via comment, email or social networking.

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30 March, 2017

A while ago, I wrote about the installation of a new clock in my house and mused on the subject of chimes. I am not sure that, in the modern world, chiming clocks have any significant practical value. In past times, the village church may have had the only clock in the entire community and it would have communicated the time conveniently to everyone in earshot.

Now the chime may be just aesthetic, but it does not mean that I cannot take an engineer’s perspective and try to make it better … Read the rest of this entry »


27 March, 2017

I recently wrote about an interesting C++ programming technique, that is particularly useful in some embedded applications. The idea was all about using an embedded block, with an object local to it, where the associated constructor and destructor were put to novel use. The application, that I illustrated, was protecting a critical section using the disabling of interrupts. Today, I would like to explore the technique a little further … Read the rest of this entry »

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23 March, 2017

Continuing my occasional “Six of the best” series of blogs, where I talk about my six favorite items in a particular category, I am pondering my favorite items of clothing. I am not particularly fashion conscious and do not have a vast selection of clothes, but I do have some firm favorites. For the most part I like to purchase quality items, which offer a long lifetime; I do not really approve of the trend towards cheap – almost throw-away – clothing.

I think that I will start at my feet and work up … Read the rest of this entry »


20 March, 2017

My latest article on embedded.com has been published. This piece is the sixth installment of the RTOS Revealed series, which will continue to appear through 2017 and beyond. The series will cover every aspect of real time operating systems.

Other RTOS services

In this article, I take a look at the additional facilities that and RTOS may offer beyond those introduced thus far … Read the rest of this entry »

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16 March, 2017

Financial planning and investing for the future are matters that we all understand are important. Some people are better than others at acting on this knowledge. For most of us, it is a bit of a shock when the future arrives. I used to say that the definition of being old is when pensions start to sound even remotely interesting. For me, it took an “external influence” in 1986 to give the matter some initial thought … Read the rest of this entry »


13 March, 2017

My latest video blog is now available. I am talking about the relationship between the choice of operating system and the power consumption of an embedded system. You can see the video here or here:

Future video blogs will continue to look at topics of interest to embedded software developers. Suggestions for topics are always welcome via comment, email or social networking.

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9 March, 2017

A few weeks ago, I wrote about my challenges with visiting the USA. In summary, I found that I was ineligible to travel using an ESTA and I needed to get a visa. This was annoying, as it resulted in the need to cancel a planned trip, but it did serve to make me think about the implications of international travel. So, I started the process of obtaining a visa. It is very topical right now to think about people gaining entry to countries [like the US] illegally. What is not discussed is how hard it can be to do legally … Read the rest of this entry »


6 March, 2017

Next week, Tuesday-Thursday 14-16 March is Embedded World in Nuremberg, Germany. This is the biggest event in the world of embedded systems. I have been to the show and conference most years over the last decade and this year is no exception. The event is a very large trade show, along with a technical conference. It is the conference where I usually find myself most occupied … Read the rest of this entry »

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2 March, 2017

When I was in my teens, living with my parents, we had a dog. His name was Monty [short for Montmorency]. We got him as a puppy and were told that his mother was a dachshund and this was borne out by his coloration. However, as he grew and grew, we concluded that his father was probably a donkey. 😃 I used to enjoy him at that time, even though I felt that it was always my job to give him exercise.

Somehow, the idea of owning a dog since then has never really taken root … Read the rest of this entry »


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