Eclipse Summit 2009 – Short Talk Proposal

The planning for this year’s Eclipse Summit in Ludwigsburg, Germany is underway.
We’ve put in a submission for a short talk to present the work we did at Diamond Light Source. You can view the abstract here. The talk will focus on taking Eclipse into a new scientific domain, with the potential of forming the basis of an open source platform for synchrotron data acquisition. We envisage this would meet the criteria of getting people excited and engaged at the potential for Eclipse to conquer this new territory. Whether the committee agrees with this remains to be seen. The level of talks at Eclipse conferences and summits is always very high so it would be great to make the cut. However competition is stiff and at the time of writing there were 152 submissions to contend with. The talks will be chosen by August 25th, so we await the decision with bated breath…

Kichwa Coders at the Great Marlow School

Back in March, Kichwa Coders was invited to participate in a Buckinghamshire Education Business Partnership (BEBP) at the Great Marlow School.

Kichwa Coders was asked by BEBP if we could provide a mentor for an Enterprise Day. I volunteered to attend the 18th of March session for year 10 students (14-15 years old). The day focussed on a brief prepared by Urban Media looking to get input from the students on a new Family Entertainment Centre to be located in South Bucks.

An Enterprise Day is a day for the students to experiment with some real life business problems. The school or a company from the community puts forward a real life challenge to the students, and under the guidance of a group of mentors they come up with a solution and then present the results back to the mentors and their peers.

In the case of the Urban Media challenge, the class of approximately 200 year 10 students were divided up into teams of 8 students each. The teams had about 4 hours to read the brief, and complete a set of tasks before finally presenting their results to a couple of the other teams. The tasks were:

  • coming up with a name for the family entertainment centre,
  • create an advertising campaign which included 2 posters, a radio ad script and a storyboard for a TV ad,
  • develop two “zones” in the centre, a learning zone and a gaming zone, the result of which should be a diagram for the zone detailing the activities and look and feel of the zone
  • come up with the concept for two additional zones and provide the same material as above
  • create a presentation to explain to Urban Media, the mentors and fellow students what the team came up with.

As you can see, the students had a huge amount of work to do. I was mentoring three of the teams providing them with guidance and encouragement on these tasks. Some of the students really impressed me with the level of dedication to this task, clearly demonstrating a level of maturity ahead of their age. The result was that all the teams did a very good job, and even though I thought it was a very short time to complete so many tasks most of the teams did.

The Enterprise Days are very good days for everybody involved. The students have an opportunity to complete some real world experience, the mentors get invigorated by the unbounded energy of teenagers, and the sponsoring company gets invaluable ideas from brainstorming with so many people. I am really looking forward to next year’s round of BEBP Enterprise Days.

Debugging Embedded is Hard! – NMI Event

‘Debugging embedded is hard!’ was the sentiment behind the National Microelectronics Institute (NMI) event held at the ARM UK offices in Cambridge on the 24th of June 2008. The event was well attended, including representatives from Lauterbach, Mentor Graphics and Infineon.

The day featured a variety of presentations, all centred around the particular difficulties arising while debugging embedded systems, such as general lack of visibility and the real-time nature of the systems. The highlight of the presentations was the one given by Simon Davidmann of Imperas (and I’m not just saying that because I used to work for him). He gave an overview of Imperas’ Open Virtual Platforms (OVP). OVP presents an interesting solution to the problem of debugging by moving the issues into simulation space, therefore removing a lot of the restrictions normal embedded debugging suffers from. Couple that with the ability to deal with heterogeneous, multi-core systems and it will certainly be very interesting to see how the market responds to such technology, and how it adapts to fit the needs of system developers out there.

Otherwise, there were also commercial pitches from ARM and Lauterbach, each demonstrating their ‘latest and greatest’. With the ARM RealView demo, it was great to see it used Eclipse under the hood – your basic Eclipse + CDT install, with additional custom ARM functionality for things like profiling and trace functionality. Another endorsement of how CDT is really becoming the de facto standard for embedded C development. An unexpected bonus for me at the event was running into Mikhail Khodjaiants – one of the CDT developers working on the debug interface that I’d dealt a lot with before, but had never met face-to-face. It was nice to learn that he now actually works just down the road from me.