Working with drupal 5.1 is easy

April 21st, 2007

RonFredericks.net Drupal 5.1 with Trackback support and Spam filter added

Ron Fredericks writes: This is just a note to point out to my readers that drupal is an easy content management system to use. Over time, ECI will be adding more of the drupal features to improve its community experience. Drupal includes multi-user blogging as well as forums and many other core and extended modules. You can see my new drupal personal site in action from here.
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Community Software Development for Embedded Devices

April 4th, 2007


HP-41CX mobile computer/calculator with community developed PPC ROM software applications and synthetic code library
Photo by Ron Fredericks using Canon EOS-10D 34mm fluorite lens, circular polarizer, 1.5s & f/22 @ ISO 100, on tripod, from Embedded Components’ HP lab collection.

Ron Fredericks writes: I envision the day when community software engineering projects are commonplace for embedded devices. Like the PPC ROM demonstrated back in 1981.

What follows is a review of the PPC ROM community development project – a first for smart mobile devices, then an offer to help others in moving this great body of open source professional tools to modern devices: comment on this post if you are interested in this project or in community development of software for embedded devices in general.

Wouldn’t it be nice to have powerful new applications built on top of our routers, digital recorders, HDTV’s; or even industrial process monitor and control systems, or lab instruments; hey how about our cars and public transport vehicles? No I don’t mean that you buy a new device or car with new applications pre-loaded by the device manufacturer and shipped with the soon to be obsolete device – I mean groups of experts organizing into communities with other experts to design, develop, test, document, package, and deliver new software solutions onto devices for their own members’ sales channels. Does this sound far fetched?

Community development around open-source software such as Java, the Linux operating system, or Mozilla’s Firefox web browser have emerged as reusable project management solutions to complex software engineering issues – See Asa Dotzler’s Job Morph: Herding Cats to see how Mozilla motivates workers who aren’t actually on the payroll.. So I know the engineering community is ready for a new challenge – one that has already been solved back in 1981 – one that affects the speed of technology reuse around the globe today.

Development for today's embedded/mobile devices has many similarities to the HP-41 personal programmable calculator
Photo by Ron Fredericks using the same settings as the previous photo, of his favorite mobile smart device.

So let me share with you a project I recently discovered. It’s embodied in a user’s manual published in 1981 by a community of engineers – no, not your typical product manual ticked out on a company payroll. The forward describes a first-of-its-kind effort behind this user manual, and the embedded software it documents. The author expresses his excitement in being part of the “first community developer” project for a smart mobile computing device and it is so similar to the smart devices we use today! Did I mention that Linux, or even community networks like web and email didn’t exist back then? How did they do it? Can we learn from their effort and apply this community project, or its method, for today’s embedded devices? I think the answer is yes – with a little help from the embedded operating system suppliers’ communities and some innovative hardware device manufacturers. The embedded operating system, software community project management, and smart device platforms have come to a wonderful cross-road that truly supports community software development as a ripe low-hanging opportunity for us today.

The forward to this 500 page user manual describes the struggle and accomplishment of 100 developers who formed their own community project to develop a “ROM” or read-only memory module they called a “PPC ROM” that plugs into an HP personal computer that is now 25 years obsolete called an HP-41. The “PPC” reference is to the names – Personal Programmable Calculator, or Personal Programmer’s Club, or Prolific and Productive Computing – as well as the PPC Calculator Journal that was the herald for the HP calculator’s developer community back in the day. Similar to the commonplace e’zines we read, or get spammed with today. But different because the taxonomy created by today’s almost endless stream of eBlasts, tagged content, blogs, forums, and RSS feeds by themselves don’t create an engineers’ sense of community. The spontaneous motivation to organize into a sense of community requires a mood that has only been created by a real person – a person that shifts a group of developers’ paradigm . Read the rest of this entry »

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Synergy with bloggers

December 18th, 2006

Long Tail of the News Curve

Ron Fredericks writes: In a previous post I talked about using a blog site as an influential place to communicate. Why is it influential? Primarily because an individual can self-publish their thoughts while linking to other posts and sites that are relevant. To take this concept one step further, the question comes up “How shall I motivate other bloggers to promote my story/initiative/whatever?” Clearly, if you can just get a whole bunch of influential bloggers to write about your story in a positive way, well then your message would be read and perhaps even accepted by many more people.

The problem is that individual bloggers don’t like to be told what to do with their blogging activity and time. I read an interesting post this morning on Stephen Walli’s “Once More unto the Breach” blog titled Blogging and Traditional Marketing that describes the situation exactly.

There may not be a single way to use bloggers to generate influence and create improved marketing exposure. However, Steve Rubel’s Micro Persuasion blog post titled How to Pitch Into the Long Tail News Curve describes how to work with bloggers more effectively:

  • Identify Leading Blog Influencers
  • Plant the Seed with the Bloggers
  • Hit the Mainstream Press
  • Regenerate the Story with Other Bloggers

But the answer was clearly explained by Stephen, take the time to build a relationship with a blogger before you ask them to help you create influence or build marketshare.

Reference:
Morgan Stanley: An Update from the Digital World: from Morse Code to blogs, 2004

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Online Lecture: Common Internet File System

December 6th, 2006

CIFS Embedded Device Block Diagram
Ron Fredericks writes: Recently I came across a reference to an article I wrote for ISA, sponsored by Visuality Systems, on Brian Mork’s Increa Technology Blog. The article presented the emerging use of the Common Internet File System (CIFS) for connecting industrial instruments from the plant floor to the engineering work stations and on into business operations.

Embedded Components, Inc. has a short [and free] online lecture introducing the CIFS protocol to the embedded device manufacturing community. The CIFS protocol is likely the most ubiquitous file sharing middleware used in the desktop and enterprise computer markets today. Wow! If its so common why haven’t I seen it? Its embedded so it just works in the background.

What is the CIFS standard?

What is the new event presented in this online lecture?

  • CIFS NQ is available for {many embedded and real-time operating systems such as VxWorks, Integrity, and threadX} now
  • Prior to CIFS NQ, there was no practical way for an embedded designer to take advantage of this very easy to use and very common desktop computer protocol

References:

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Dr. Buckholtz Offers His New eBook Titled GIST

December 4th, 2006

Sample GIST Image
Gain Impact,
Save Time

Ron Fredericks writes: Dr. Thomas Buckholtz offers his new book titled Gain Impact, Save Time (GIST) as a direct download from Embedded Components, Inc.’s web site. His public speeches are well regarded in Silicon Valley and around the world. A recent lecture titled Mentorship Unplugged: Innovate Incisively by Dr. Thomas J. Buckholtz was discussed on RainMakers LIVE!.

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Bloglines RSS Aggregator Widget 1.0

November 28th, 2006

Ron Fredericks writes: This is my first WordPress Widget development effort, or my first WordPress *anything* pretty much. However, I provide my best effort to offer a complete and useful widget following the guidlines published by WordPress and the spirit of quality. It is a widget following Atomattic’s Widget offering for managing our blog’s sidebar. It was inspired by a conversation with a friend of mine, Mukesh Lulla, co-founder of embedded security software provider TeamF1. Mukesh suggested that I might want to have a list of news and blog links that are relevant to my user base. This is the resulting widget I dreamed up. I hope you like it, but your comments and guidance are welcome either which way.

You can see Embedded Components’ blinesAgg widget in action on this blog’s sidebar with the title: Embedded Device Updates

Download Widget

You can download and extract the zipped blinesAgg.php version 1.0.2 widget from here: blinesAgg.zip

Features

The blinesAgg WordPress widget displays a list of selected news and blog RSS syndicated feeds as a list of links:

  • Links can be collected from a neat RSS service called Bloglines
  • Links are collected using the Bloglines search engine
  • You select the desired search words to search for links you think might be cool for those that read your blog
  • No user account on Bloglines is used, just their search engine
  • Any number of additional RSS feeds can be aggregated from extra sites to complete your list
  • Page access to RSS feeds can be cached using an embedded copy of lastRSS, by Vojtech Semecky, for efficient use of your web server

Once blinesAgg widget is installed, you can configure the widget using a simple web form:

  • Title
  • Number of links to display
  • Bloglines search parameters: search words to use, and search words to exclude
  • *List of other RSS feeds you would like to include in your list of aggregated links

*Because sometimes there may not be enough links found within your requested Bloglines search. Given some combinations of search and avoidance words, you may want to list extra RSS feeds to be used to fill out the remaining total number of links you would like to display. That’s why I added the extra feeds form entry. But, you may want to skip the Bloglines search feature and just use the extra feeds as your RSS aggregator.

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Engineers and Business Development

November 1st, 2006

My Shoes

What shoes do you wear? Business. Engineer. Something magical? It takes all three to develop a new embedded device… The dichotomy between the engineering community that builds product and management that funds production of product is where the magic lives. Ethical considerations seem to me to be the common ground between these two groups within the corporation. Build a good ethic within your organization so executives can fund the correct projects designed by professionals with the requirements clients genuinely desire using, safely.

One resource for learning how:
Rethinking Business Ethics
Rosenthal, Sandra B.; Buchholz, Rogene A.

– Ron Fredericks

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An Influential Place To Communicate

October 30th, 2006

Wet Leaf

Are you interested in increasing your influence in the embedded system’s marketplace? Are you looking for a place to self-publish your content and have it seen by lots of other professionals? Then this blog center may be just the place for you. Embedded Components, Inc. (ECI) recently integrated WordPress to drive this blog center. WordPress is full of features and offers a robust support community.

Do you know how to blog, pingback, digg, tag, link, feed, and reach into the “long tail of the curve”? No? No problem, we’ll teach and help you. Yes? Great, then you already know there is synergy in participation. That’s what our blog center is all about – increase your influence – lower your promotion and support costs. We’re already the experts in embedded blogging:

Now it’s our turn to help others!

If you are interested, then take the next steps: (1) comment on this initial post, and (2) as part of your comment, request a free author’s upgrade to be an active contributor.

This can be your team’s independent site to influence engineers, marketers, and enablers in the device manufacturing community. We offer this site as a free service to you, or you can sponsor a custom virtual community.

– Ron Fredericks

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Hello world!

October 25th, 2006

Let’s start blogging!