Tuesday, March 30, 2010
That's why it was fun to do a little reminiscing while creating my webinar. I roamed through a lot of my musty old code from years back. Sadly, I still remember programming over the years on a steadily improving array of equipment. I don't recall every line, but I do remember certain key lessons learned. For the reminder of those that should know better and the improvement for those who never knew, I tried to wrap up some of the most poignent best practices into my webinar.
My webinar's focus was on embedded programming, with good reason. Embedded is still an area where some of those older techniques are still useful. Yes, today there are better tools, compilers, frameworks, you name it. But you'll always have a few more limits and a little bit more constricted environment when programming an embedded device, no matter how powerful it is.
Case in point: I'm currently learning Objective-C for Mac/iPhone development. It's fun. It's been a while since I've had to completely bathe in a new environment, language, and paradigm, all in one. But most of the resources I've found are somewhat tedious. They cover details from a beginner programmer's standpoint. Instead of just telling me what's different, they insist on telling me everything and forcing me to wade through reams to get those little nuggets. Ugh. In this process, let me pass along a link to a very useful document, just in case you're a die-hard C++ programmer who wants to learn Objective-C and doesn't want to learn how to program from scratch. C++ and Objective-C are both object oriented dialects of C, but they're exceedingly different. (And thank you Pierre.)
What does learning Objective-C and the iPhone have to do with old-tyme embedded programmers? The iPhone has 32MB of RAM, but it doesn't support garbage collection, so you can't be lazy with your memory management. Not everything that Mac programmers have gotten used to will work on the iPhone. Because, it's (say it people) embedded. Maybe some of those old tricks will come in handy still after all...
Thursday, March 18, 2010
Description:First commercial microkernel OS
Inventor:Dan Dodge and Gordon Bell
Impact on civilization: Showed it was possible to have a multi-user, multi-tasking, multiprocessor OS with real-time performance running on a PC with only 64K of RAM. It and its successors (QNX2, QNX4, QNX Neutrino RTOS) spawned many uses in reliability-critical industries.
Visicalc introduced on PC in 1981
Description: First commercial spreadsheet
Inventor: Dan Bricklin and Bob Frankston
Impact on civilization: Made personal computers a serious business tool instead of a hobbyist orgame machine. Visicalc was first created in 1979, but it effectively launched the Personal Computing industry, by bringing IBM to the party in 1981.
I remember this pretty distinctly--my Dad bought Visicalc for the Atari 800. It made heavy use of the slash key for doing almost anything. It was pretty limited compared to Excel. At the time, it was amazing to see numbers magically recalculated all over the page when you changed one little thing. All done in 48K. If you're feeling nostalgic, you can run a real version of this on your Windows PC for old-tymers found on Dan Bricklin's website.
Description:Common PC OS
Promoter/Inventor:Bill Gates / Tim Paterson
Impact on civilization: Created a common architecture for software development, spawning an industry. And created the world’s wealthiest person. (As of Mar 10, 2010 due to Mr. Gates' generous philanthropy and the depressed state of the stock market he was bumped down to the second wealthiest.)
Tuesday, March 9, 2010
My days were filled with press interviews, conference presentations and talking to customers. My nights filled with scouring the schnitzel and sausage-filled menus for something, anything, green to eat. The Olympics wrapped up while I was in Germany, and I got to have all my Canadian colleagues give me a good natured razzing after the Canadian hockey team beat the US 3-2 in overtime. I guess I can finally admit that hockey is Canada's game and winning the silver is not bad! Congratulations Canada!
The year's show was a great one for QNX. There was lots of activity and interest in our Industrial developments--our Smart Energy reference design, our Building Automation demo, our Industrial protocol work with partners, and our real-time control demo. On the automotive side, we were showing our latest QNX CAR with all the extra ng Connect features. That same QNX technology went into the 2010 Audi A8 MultiMedia Infotainment system with full multimedia and Google Earth maps which had everyone drooling. More than one person told me "this is my next car," and I don't blame them!
The show is now all packed up and everybody is home recovering from jet lag. So I guess I'll see everyone next year!