Over on the Embedded FM podcast, [Chris] and [Elecia] just released their interview with [Reinhard Keil] of compiler fame. [Reinhard] recounts the story of Keil’s growth and how it eventually became absorbed into Arm back in 2005. Along with his brother Günter, the two founded the company as Keil Software in the Americas, and Keil Elektronik in Europe. They initially made hardware products, but as the company grew, they became dissatisfied with the quality and even existence of professional firmware development tools of the day. Their focus gradually shifted to making a CP/M- and a PC-based development environment, and in 1988, they introduced the first C-compiler designed for the 8051 from the ground up.
Love it or hate it, the Arm Keil suite of µVision IDE and the MDK/Cx51 compiler have been around a long time and used by embedded developers in many industries. Although a free and restricted-use version is available, the license fees prevent most folks from getting very enthusiastic about it. Pricing aside, the µVision IDE has its critics: [Jay Carlson], who used every IDE under the sun a few years ago in his review of sub-one-dollar microcontrollers, opined that it was nothing more than a free editor you get with C51 or MDK-ARM. On the other hand, even [Jay] concedes is that every chip he tested was officially supported by Keil and worked out of the box. Another thing that is important to some users is being able to produce consistent binaries from old projects. This isn’t important for your one-off MQTT hot tub thermometer. But if you need to recompile firmware for a fifteen-year-old railroad signaling system that has multiple certifications and regulatory approvals, using the original compiler and library versions is a huge help.
[Reinhard] goes on to discuss various tools and systems being developed at Arm by his team, such as improvements and additions to the CMSIS suite, the transition of the online Mbed compiler to the new Keil Studio Cloud, and an Arm hardware virtualization tool for cloud-based CI verification. Lest you think everything at Arm is proprietary and expensive, he points out that Arm is a major contributor to the GCC project and the CMSIS components are open source. Even if you aren’t interested in Arm/Keil tools, do check out the interview — it’s quite interesting and touches on several topics of general interest to all firmware developers. Or if you prefer, read the interview when the transcript is completed.
Technical interviews are generally dreaded, just like every other interview. However, technical interviews include many elements that non-technical folks might find mystifying or even pointless, such as whiteboard problem solving, take-home assignments, design sessions, or even just straight brain teasers. [Erik McClure] went a bit off the beaten path and started using the factory builder game Factorio as a technical interview.
Many point to the intent behind the problems and tricky questions inherent in whiteboard coding exercises and assert that the focus is not to complete the problem, but rather to expose how a candidate thinks and problem solves. Factorio is all problem-solving as you work as a team to slowly scale up a humble production line to a massive factory, which makes it a good candidate for assessing these sorts of skills. We doubt that the fine developers who wrote the game ever imagined it being used as an interview.
In all likelihood, you probably won’t have a Factorio interview anytime soon as [Erik] estimated each interview would take between eight and twenty hours. But we love the idea of reimagining the interview from a tedious set of problems to solve to an evolving cooperative game. Of course, you can also read more about getting the experience necessary for a job and what companies are looking for in an interview.
A trailer for Factorio is after the break.
Continue reading “Playing The Interview Game”
In less than four days, the fifth Hackaday Superconference kicks off in Pasadena, California, and it’s shaping up to be a hoot. With a cavalcade of exciting workshops and talks on offer, hackers and makers are pouring in from across the globe for this celebration of software, firmware, and hardware.
Of course, the real gift of Supercon is the personalities which make up this awesome community. [Sam Zeloof] is one such luminary, well known for producing his very own silicon integrated circuits in his parent’s garage. Not content to keep this knowledge to himself, [Sam] gave an amazing talk at the 2018 Supercon on just what goes into creating your own silicon fab on a budget.
Our very own [Mike Szczys] caught up with [Sam] for an interview, discussing being inspired by the work of [Jeri Ellsworth], as well as the finer points of getting into lithography at home. [Sam] will be in attendance at the 2019 Superconference, of course. While he won’t be on the speaking circuit this year, his brother [Adam] will be presenting a talk called Thermodynamics for Electrical Engineers: Why Did My Board Melt (And How Can I Prevent It)?, which is sure to be a must-see.
You really should be there, but alas tickets have been sold out for almost two months! Never fear, we’ll be livestreaming the event. Be sure to subscribe to Hackaday on Youtube to be notified when it all kicks off, around 10 AM Pacific Time on Saturday, November 16th. If you scored tickets and are heading to Supercon, we can’t wait to see you there — the badge hacking begins early Friday morning.
Be sure to check out Sam’s interview after the break!
Continue reading “Superconference Interview: Sam Zeloof”
It’s an exciting time of year for us, not because Christmas is on the horizon, instead for something far more exciting than that! The Hackaday Superconference is nearly upon us, our yearly gathering of the creme de la creme of the hardware hacking world for a fascinating program of lectures and other events. We can’t wait, and we hope you’re looking forward to it as much as we are.
A particularly stimulating part of the Supercon experience comes from the people you rub shoulders with as you attend, whether or not you will have seen their work on these pages they represent a huge and fascinating breadth of experience and skill. It’s the incidental conversations at events like this that are the most fertile, because from them comes inspiration that can feed all manner of things.
One of last year’s hits came from Carl Bugeja, when he gave a talk about his impressive work with using printed circuit boards to construct electric motors and magnetic actuators. We’ve seen the various iterations of his work evolving in these pages, and at last year’s event he also gave an interview to our own Elliot Williams, and we’re happy to bring you the resulting video after the break.
We’d love to be able to reveal a hidden stash of Supercon tickets, but sadly it’s all sold out. We can however direct you to the livestream of the event which begins at 10 am Pacific time on November 15th. Be sure to head on over to the Hackaday YouTube channel, and subscribe.
Meanwhile it’s worth pointing those lucky ticket holders to the Supercon ticketing page since we’ve added more tickets to the previously-sold-out workshops. Now, enjoy Carl’s interview, and we hope you’ll join us for Superconference whether you do so online or in person.
Continue reading “Superconference Interview: Carl Bugeja”
One of the biggest dreams anyone has is to make a living doing what they love. For all hackers, makers, and DIYers with a passion for embedded systems, it may make sense initially to pursue embedded systems design as a possible career, but without so much information on the types of qualifications or steps needed to actually secure a job offer, it may seem daunting to try and break into the field.
YouTuber [iAyan Pahwa] currently works as an embedded software engineer, having been in the field for two years, with prior experience as a hobbyist working with microcontrollers, motors, and programming in the embedded domain. In this video, embedded below, he provides his take on what you need to know to get yourself that first job.
Continue reading “How To Make A Living With Embedded Systems”
Scotty Allen has a YouTube blog called Strange Parts; maybe you’ve seen his super-popular video about building his own iPhone “from scratch”. It’s a great story, and it’s also a pretext for a slightly deeper dive into the electronics hardware manufacturing, assembly, and repair capital of the world: Shenzhen, China. After his talk at the 2017 Superconference, we got a chance to sit down with Scotty and ask about cellphones and his other travels. Check it out:
The Story of the Phone
Scotty was sitting around with friends, drinking in one of Shenzhen’s night markets, and talking about how bizarre some things seem to outsiders. There are people sitting on street corners, shucking cellphones like you’d shuck oysters, and harvesting the good parts inside. Electronics parts, new and used, don’t come from somewhere far away and there’s no mail-ordering. A ten-minute walk over to the markets will get you everything you need. The desire to explain some small part of this alternate reality to outsiders was what drove Scotty to dig into China’s cellphone ecosystem.
Continue reading “Scotty Allen Visits Strange Parts, Builds An IPhone”
Mike Ossmann and Dominic Spill have been at the forefront of the recent wave of software-defined radio (SDR) hacking. Mike is the hardware guy, and his radio designs helped bring Bluetooth and ISM-band to the masses. Dominic is the software guy who makes sure that all this gear is actually usable. The HackRF SDR is still one of the best cheap choices if you need an SDR that can transmit and receive.
So what are these two doing on stage giving a talk about IR communication? Can you really turn traffic lights green by blinking lights? And can you spoof a TV remote with a cardboard cutout, a bicycle wheel, and a sparkler? What does IR have to do with pirates, and why are these two dressed up as buccaneers? Watch our video interview and find out, or watch the full talk for all of the juicy details.
Continue reading “Mike Ossmann And Dominic Spill: IR, Pirates!”