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.

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 »


27 February, 2017

My latest article on embedded.com has been published. This piece is the fifth 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.

Inter-task communication and synchronization

In this article, I take a look at the various facilities that and RTOS may offer to accommodate communication between and synchronization of tasks… Read the rest of this entry »

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23 February, 2017

There has been much discussion in recent years, in most Western countries at least, about marriage – what it means and how it might be reformed. Gay marriage has been discussed endlessly. Very recently, the topical discussion in the UK has been about whether a heterosexual couple might enter into a civil union; a court concluded that they could not. As I see it, all the discussion has been taking place amid great, heart-felt emotions and has been held back by long-standing traditions. All of this has resulted in the muddled thinking that leads to headlines in the less reputable parts of the media.

IMHO, a simple analysis of what a marriage is all about yields logical answers and the possibility for all parties to be reconciled [though this last bit is a long shot] … Read the rest of this entry »


20 February, 2017

If your embedded application makes use of a real-time operating system [RTOS], like Nucleus, you will need to learn the API – the Application Program Interface. The API is a series of function calls that enable the application code to make use of the facilities provided by the RTOS. These facilities include control of tasks, timing, inter-task communication and synchronization and memory management. The number of available calls may run into hundreds, as a modern RTOS offers a wide range of functionality.

Although C is the most widely used language for programming embedded systems, many developers are keen to use C++. This opens up an alternative way to interface with an RTOS … Read the rest of this entry »

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16 February, 2017

As I get older, I find that I am increasingly susceptible to strong emotions. I think it started 30 years ago, when I first became a parent. Having children stretches your emotions in every direction. I think that emotions are like muscles: the more you exercise them, the more agile they become. I can be moved by so many things – both in real life and movies etc. When we go to a movie, I am often pleased that we watch it in the dark.

An odd thing is that, although sad events can move me, it is seeing acts of kindness that gets to me most of all … Read the rest of this entry »


9 February, 2017

What do you do when you see a rainbow? I will tell you what I do: I just stand and stare. I have no idea how many I have seen in my life – it must be many hundreds – but I still stop. If I am inside the house and observe that it is raining and the sun is shining [and the angle of the sun is low enough], I rush outside to see whether there is a rainbow. Of course, on a good day, I will also see a fainter secondary rainbow. Once or twice, I have seen the faintest hint of a tertiary too. Even though I know that all I am seeing is the physics of light displayed on a grand scale, I still find a rainbow awe inspiring.

Pondering rainbows has got me thinking about colours in general … Read the rest of this entry »


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