Phone on Fire Newsletter, Issue 9
Friday, April 06th, 2007 | Author: lisaksimone


I am returning from the 2007 Embedded Systems Conference in San Jose and the official premiere of Phone on Fire! If you are in the field and have never been to an Embedded conference - you need to go. What a great collection of vendors, classes, and seminars! (Ed Note: I would include a static website for the conferences in general, but it changes every year. So, check out the Embedded Systems website, which always has great information including ALL the embedded systems conferences.)

In this newsletter -
- Highlights the Show,
- Phone on Fire Premiere,
- My Best Takeout Pizza Experience,
- Shameless Photos.

Highlights of the Show
We went to Al Gore’s keynote address - he explained how we as embedded systems engineers can bring about a positive change in the current decay of our environment by approaching the solution of problems differently. He told a great story of the first company to eliminate the use of ozone-causing CFC’s in the production of circuit boards. Management of this company confidently boasted - publicly - that they would be the first to achieve this goal, and were met by stunned engineers who admitted that they had no idea how to accomplish the task. No other solvent could remove the dirt from circuit boards safely. But one clever engineer questioned why the circuit boards even got dirty in the first place. - “If we can eliminate the dirt, then we don’t need to use CFCs to clean the boards.”

While this is a great story, his point was more that the existing infrastructure for any fields (e.g., combustion engines, power plants) is old technology, inefficient and wasteful. And rarely replaced due to cost, complexity, and politics. With embedded systems now invading everything, we ought to get rid of these inefficiencies as we design the next round of long-lived infrastructure. Stop reusing the same bad designs.

That story resonated with me for another reason as well - one of the mysteries in Phone on Fire is caused by a similar unsupported claim by management that the engineering team has to make good on. Thinking outside the box to debug management…

My other favorite part of Al Gore’s speech was his admission of how hard it was to rejoin the ranks of the Normal Person:

For 8 years I flew on Air Force 1. Now I have to stand in line and take my shoes off. … Tipper and I were driving and I looked in the rear view mirror and there was no motorcade behind us. We were all alone. Just a lone Taurus….You’ve heard of phantom limb pain?

The rest was his current global warming speech somewhat force fit into an embedded box, as expected.

We also got to see the big reveal of Ocean County Chopper’s Intel bike. They had a film crew there and they finished filming the episode in front of us. Paul Sr drove the bike on to the stage and revved it up - smoke and loud reverberations throughout the auditorium - really cool! High tech, security thumb ID ignition, LCD panel for the control panel AND rear view mirror - look for us on the Intel episode! I have some good video of the bike not starting several times (with Paul Jr fiddling and an annoyed Paul Sr) but it eventually fired back up.

Phone on Fire Premiere
My book signing started off rough - I couldn’t find the booth! Ack! They had swapped booths but we were still right outside the exhibit hall. After a bit of a slow start (and some initial short-lived depression on my part), we had some good waves of people crowding and at one point we actually had a (short) line of people wanting me to sign the book! (Okay, this isn’t Harry Potter…but actual people genetically unrelated to me milling around to meet me!)

The Elsevier folks told me that my book was the best seller of the day, and had sold more books than any other new book on the first day of a trade show! I also received word today that the book sold out on Wednesday, just half way through the show!

I spoke with many great folks who thought the idea of “CSI for Embedded Systems” was a great and novel idea. Since this is Elsevier’s first book of fiction, I had an interesting sales job overcoming the assumption that it was just a textbook about phones. Interesting - but I spent time with Al, the Marketing manager, and we are talking about specific marketing ideas.

Take Out Pizza - with an Excellent Topping!


So when my husband Al and I arrived back in NJ, it was late and we were tired, and we just wanted some pizza for dinner so we went to the local pizza shop to order a pie. While we waited, I remembered something my friend Dave told me at the show. He had gone to his local Barnes and Noble Bookstore and read good comments about the book from the information kiosk in the store.

So we walked around the block to our local B&N. I went to the kiosk and looked up my book, and I was so excited to see it listed that I took a picture of the display. (yeah yeah, new author and all…)

As I was trying to get a good shot that didn’t glare off the screen, Al noticed that the kiosk said a copy of the book was in the store. !?! Here? In an actual brick-and-mortar establishment? So we walked (well, I bounced) to the science and technology section and found it! Below you will find a very tired first author with the book on the shelf at Barnes and Noble!

So now the baby is born and on its way. If you happen to read it and have something nice to say, please visit Amazon and give a review. If you DON’T have anything nice to say, send me an email so I can fix it for book 2.

Until next time

About this Newsletter
This is an occasional newsletter with information about my newly released book, “If I Only Changed the Software, Why is the Phone on Fire? Embedded Debugging Methods Revealed: Technical Mysteries for Engineers.” Tell me to Take a Hike if you aren’t interested in the Newsletter. No Problem.