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Welcome to 2017, a year that promises to be, at the very least, unusual at the macro-level, with Brexit and Trump both making massive changes in the landscape in which we operate.
However we are still committed to helping you build the best possible embedded systems,  at the micro level, no matter what is happening elsewhere. 
In any case do keep a work-life balance and try to keep things in perspective.
PhaedruS SystemS
Our new year starts with a bang, as we have signed up to distribute the products from Berlin-based Razorcat. The best known of the tool set  is TESSY, the leading unit and integration test tool for embedded software, is regarded by many as the gold standard in embedded software testing tools. TESSY is certified to IEC 61508 and ISO 26262, and is being used in a large number of software projects across all branches of industry for the verification of safety-critical and high-quality software.
The Razorcat product portfolio also includes the Integrated Test Environment (ITE), Test Operator Platform (TOP) and Check Case Definition Language (CCDL) tools.
I have known TESSY for many years and am really pleased that we now have it in our portfolio. For more information, click through for more on Razorcat on our website 
Detect and avoid common RTOS bugs
Late last year Percepio founder Dr. Johan Kraft presented at Embedded Conference Scandinavia, "Common RTOS-related bugs – How to Avoid and Detect".
He covered RTOS basics, the motivations and challenges of using an RTOS, then dived into specific RTOS-related problems – their symptoms, how to avoid them and means for detecting such issues.
This is a must see presentation if you're using an RTOS in your firmware development.
You can download the slides or watch the presentation at
More on Percepio Tracealyzer on our web site: click here
Choosing an RTOS
Staying on the RTOS theme Colin Walls of Mentor Graphics (now – stunningly – part of a division of Siemens) has written two interesting pieces recently. One
 ( ) looked at why developers are reluctant to change from their existing RTOS. The other
It requires you to register before downloading) is a more extensive white paper and covers
1. Does the design need an operating system at all?
2. Why is a custom implementation rarely a wise choice?
3. RTOS or Linux?
4. How do you compare the performance of different RTOS products? Data sheets are not enough!
5. What about multicore? How does this impact your selection
Even if you are not thinking of changing your RTOS it is worth reading – you may even change your mind.
In which case we have some RTOS here
An IoT round-up
The last few weeks have seen an explosion of stories about the internet of things and related matters – many triggered by the Consumer Electronics Show (CES) in Las Vegas. There were two standouts.
Firstly the internet toaster: controlled by a smartphone app and linked by Bluetooth it remembers how you want your bread toasted
For an earlier look at the topic see something I posted around ten years ago
Alongside this was the internet hairbrush: "the world's first smart hairbrush that empowers you to track and improve hair health over time." From Kérastase and L'Oréal, "inside are microphones, motion and conductivity sensors, and wireless connectors" that "sync seamlessly to your smartphone to provide valuable insights that can help revolutionize the home beauty routine."  Clearly essential to life as we know it!
Finally, my favourite, was a twitter link to the "CES of Shit"  around twenty "Smart" products ranging from Wi-Fi and cellphone radiation proof underpants through a robot button pusher to an intelligent rubber ducky. At least the rubber ducky isn't voice controlled.
 The perils of voice control.
Everything is going voice controlled, but Amazon's Echo scored a couple of own goals.
Firstly in a story on a San Diego TV station about how a little girl bought a doll's house by accident whilst playing at home near the device.  The announcer said clearly "Alexa order me a dollhouse," which was enough for houses with TVs playing and Echo open for Alexa to do just that.
The Amazon device is set to buy (from amazon) on voice command by default. You have to manually turn it off.
Another story appeared on YouTube (  ) when a small child asked Alexa to "Play digger digger." Alexa responds with "Do you want to hear a station with porn…" and continues with a selection of search terms that are not safe for a newsletter or a child! Though if you have headphones the video is hilarious as much for the panicking parents as anything else.
Finally, Commitstrip sums up all our fears
Footnote: We had similar problems with voice activated televisions a year or to back and going back further anyone remember the furby toy from the 1990's? All had unintended security problems with voice activation. As with many things in embedded SW (this time IoT) we seem to be repeating history and errors.
Keyless entry
Again we run into unintended consequences with Tesla's keyless entry. You use your smartphone to send orders to Tesla to unlock the car and start the engine.
Now you would think this would be a Bluetooth or even Wi-Fi connection. No! A driver discovered the hard way that the connection is cellular, when he stopped in the desert two miles outside cell coverage and couldn't re-start his car. (  )
Back to the future
While it is easy to mock these developments (and it is fun as well) we should be careful what we say as there are some wonderful misjudgements in the history of technology. 33 of them are gathered at
Do you  have an interesting MSc or PhD project coming up?
If you are a student or supervisor with an interesting project coming up contact Phaedrus Systems as we like to help where we can.  Many of our suppliers have student versions or can supply  tools to interesting projects. It doesn't have to be out of this world. 
Email us at and let's see what we can do to help.
Shows and events: We are looking forward to embedded world this year. It is a little later than usual (14 - 16 March) so we will be in touch before then, but if you can pare the time it is a really valuable experience.  Closer to home is the 25th  SCSC Symposium, essential for anyone doing high integrity systems.  
Finally it is often noted by Ken Munro from in presentations on IoT security and clearly shown by our IoT items above that many of the security flaws are the same ones that were known about in the early 1980's when some of us were...  "experimenting" with dial up modems and home computers. Today with almost everything connected to everything else developers have a duty not to repeat the silly and trivial mistakes of the past.
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