Mastering Memory For Microcontrollers: Elecia White To Deliver Remoticon Keynote

I’m excited to share the news that Elecia White will deliver a keynote talk at the Hackaday Remoticon in just a few short weeks. Get your free ticket now!

Elecia is well-known throughout the embedded engineering world. She literally wrote the book on it — or at least a book on it, one I have had in my bedside table for reference for years: O’Reilly’s Making Embedded Systems: Design Patterns for Great Software. She hosts the weekly Embedded podcast which has published 390 episodes thus far. And of course Elecia is a principal embedded software engineer at Logical Elegance, Inc working on large autonomous off-road vehicles and deep sea science platforms.

Map of a mythical land used as a metaphor for microcontroller memory
Map metaphor used to help visualize microcontroller memory. [Source: embedded.fm]
For her keynote, Elecia plans to unwrap the secrets often overlooked in the memory map file generated when compiling a program for a microcontroller. Anyone who has written code for these mighty little chips has seen the .map files, but how many of us have dared to really dive in?

Elecia will use a nifty metaphor for turning the wall of text and numbers into a true map of the code. That metaphor makes the topic approachable for everyone with at least a rudimentary knowledge of how embedded systems work, and even the grizzliest veteran will walk away with tips that help when optimizing for RAM usage and/or code space, updating firmware (with or without a bootloader), and debugging difficult crash bugs.

This autumn is a busy time for Elecia. She’s been hard at work turning her book into a ten-part massive open online course (MOOC). Over the years she’s been a strong supporter of Hackaday, more than once as a judge for the Hackaday prize (here’s her tell-all following the final round judging of the 2014 Prize). She even took Hackaday on a tour of Xerox Parc.

Final Talk Announcements This Week and Next!

The Call for Proposals closed a few days ago. So far we’ve made two announcements about the accepted talks and we’ll make two more, this Thursday and next. But there’s no reason to wait. With Elecia White, Jeremy Fielding, and Keith Thorne presenting keynotes, and some superb social activities soon to be unveiled, this is an event not to be missed!

Remoticon is free to all, just head over and grab a ticket! If you want something tangible to remember the weekend by you can grab one of the $25 tickets that scores you a shirt, but either option gets you all the info you need to be at every virtual minute of the conference.

Embedded.fm Podcast Live From SuperCon

Everyone here at Hackaday is a big fan of Embedded.fm, the weekly podcast for people who love making gadgets, hosted by [Elecia White]. We’re honored that this week she has dedicating an entire episode to live interviews at the Hackaday SuperConference.

The set of seven interviews are with some of the people who were working the SuperCon. These were recorded on the second day of the conference, after the Hackaday Prize had been awarded. It was also the morning after [Sprite_TM] presented an amazing talk which almost everyone interviewed mentions (don’t worry, video of that talk is coming soon).

[Elecia] has a gift for interviewing and guides the conversation in many interesting directions: what the SuperCon is all about, background on the people who work on Hackaday, Supplyframe, and Parts.io, looks back at the 2015 Hackaday Prize, and what the future might bring.

If you’ve ever wanted a candid behind-the-scenes look at the events and initiatives that go on around here, this is it. It’s told from the perspective of people who love devoting way too much time to Hackaday. We think [Elecia] is counted among them.

Main Image: In true hacker fashion, [Elecia White] prepares to launch her LED throwie up to the second floor ductwork at the Hackaday SuperConference.

Crazy Whirlwind Pre-Hackaday Prize Launch Tour

The Hackaday Prize was about to launch but the date wasn’t public yet. I decided to do a pre-launch tour to visit a few places and to drop in on some of the Hackaday Prize Judges. It started in Chicagoland, looped through San Francisco for a hardware meetup and Hardware Con, then finished with visits to [Ben Krasnow’s] workshop, [Elecia White’s] studio, and the Evil Mad Scientist Laboratories.

The Prize is now running and it’s time for you to enter. Look at some of the awesome hacking going on at the places I visited and then submit your own idea to get your entry started. Join me after the break for all the details of the adventure.

Continue reading “Crazy Whirlwind Pre-Hackaday Prize Launch Tour”

Celebrating The Omnibus Launch

On Thursday night Hackaday hosted an event in San Francisco to commemorate the launch of the 2014 Hackaday Omnibus. Our first print edition, compiled to commemorate some of the finest original content which we published last year should begin shipping as early as today. To celebrate the occasion, we were graced by a full house of amazing guests. Is it lame to say some of the people I respect most in the world were there?

Lightning Talks

Whenever you get a lot of people together, a good rule of thumb is to seize the opportunity to have them speak about what they’re doing. It’s not a big “ask” either; 8-minutes on what you’re passionate about is pretty simple.

[Jonathan Foote] gave a talk on generating RGBY colors from Hue. The project is ongoing but explores the concept of mixing colors of light with one additional source added to traditional red, green, and blue. [Priya Kuber] recently moved to San Francisco. She recently concluded more than a year of standing up the Arduino office in India (relevant but unrelated video). Her talk covered the emerging maker/hacker hardware scene in India which is showing amazing growth. [Chris McCoy] demonstrated his Raver Rings which began a Kickstarter on the same day. [Elecia White] of embedded.fm spoke about the educational opportunities that podcasts and other delivery medium provide and the responsibility we all have to guide our continued learning. [Emile Petrone] talked about an upcoming feature for his site Tindie which will add manufacturer information and ratings to the mix. And rounding things out [Dave Grossman] gave a talk on his Virtual Carl project which used video footage of his grandfather, combined with a Raspberry Pi and peripherals to create a remembrance of the man in virtual form.

Demos

IMG_4602
[Ben Krasnow] shows off the chamber containing supercritical carbon dioxide.
During the rest of the evening there were a few spectacular demos going on. First, [Ben Krasnow] who is well known for his Applied Science series (among a million other accolades), brought at least two demos with him. The first was a pressure chamber made out of two massively thick discs of acrylic separated by a metal ring. Inside the void he had pumped and pressurized CO2. When the chamber is heated it, the contents become Supercritical Carbon Dioxide and the visual transition between liquid and gas disappears.

He also showed off a lens that can be focused electronically. This is not mechanical, there are zero moving parts. Instead a droplet of oil floating in water is the lens. A 75V, AC power supply pulls on the droplet, altering the meniscus to focus the lens. He didn’t fabricate the device from scratch, but the concept is completely new to us and quite interesting.

[Brian Benchoff] poses with Othermill hardware
[Brian Benchoff] poses with Othermill hardware
Othermill is located in the SF area. They produce a desktop milling machine which is spectacular at routing PCBs. The little wonder isn’t limited to that though. Above you can see [Brian] holding up a milled wooden plaque which has milled mother-of-pearl inlays. The table is also strewn with other examples in wax, metal, wood, and more.

Cocktail Hour

The rest of the evening was devoted to conversation on all topics. Get enough hardware geeks in one room and they’ll solve the world’s problems, right? That’s a conversation for another post.

Couldn’t make it to this one but still in the San Francisco area at least occasionally? We held this at the Supplyframe office. They host a ton of great events like the Hardware Developers Didactic Galactic.

[Thanks to Richard Hogben for the photos!]

Hackaday Prize Judge Elecia White Writes Tell-All Blog Post

The awarding of The Hackaday Prize is nearly upon us!  With just over a day left to go, Launch Judge Elecia White has decided to spill the beans and write a blog post about which of the five finalists she thinks should win. We don’t want to spoil the surprise… but what the heck, she wants them ALL to win.

ChipWhisperer because it brings high-end hardware security tools to the masses.

SatNOGS because it brings space to your back yard,

PortableSDR because of its great waterfall display,

ramanPi because come on, it’s a freaking spectrometer!

Open Source Science Tricorder because it uses sensors to help us see the science in the world around us.

Elecia knows how much time, effort, and passion went into these projects, and how each one embodies the open and connected spirit of The Hackaday Prize. Only one day remains before the big event in Munich, and the announcement of the winner.

Judge Spotlight: Elecia White

If you’re a fan of the Embedded podcast you know her voice well. If not, you need to check out the show! Of course we’re talking about [Elecia White], who spent her recent holiday answering our questions.

She’s an accomplished embedded systems engineer — she literally wrote the book on it. We’re delighted that [Elecia] agreed to lend us her skill and experience as a judge for The Hackaday Prize!


judge-spotlight-q5We find that embedded engineers come from all manner of backgrounds. Can you tell us a little bit about how you got into the field?

judge-spotlight-a5I majored in a combination of applied computer science and theoretical systems engineering: my classes were all about programming, C, Fourier, and control loops. I had no idea I’d built a major that would be perfect for low level embedded development.

After school, I went to Hewlett-Packard. I was in the network server division, monitoring servers, writing drivers, and getting ever closer to the hardware. I moved over to HP Labs’ BioScience division to do real embedded work, though I didn’t understand that at the time (yay for a hiring manager who did!). Once I made a motor move, well, it was all over for me. I loved having my software touch the physical world. Happily, the environment was great and the electrical engineers were very patient.


judge-spotlight-q5Do whimsical embedded challenges ever come to mind? For instance, do you ever flip on the TV and think to yourself: “some day I’m going to reprogram the uC and write something that works!”?

Continue reading “Judge Spotlight: Elecia White”