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As I am writing this – it looks as though spring has arrived at last. But since it is April in the English Midlands, tomorrow the weather could change dramatically. It has!  
 
Probably connected to the imminent school holidays in this area...
 
 
We have recovered from our visit to embedded world in Nuremberg (see below) and are looking forward to an interesting day on Thursday with the Safety Critical Systems Club meeting on New Thinking in Human Factors for Safety. There is more information at http://scsc.org.uk/e48 
 
As always the interaction and discussions around the presentations are as invaluable as the presentations themselves. Even if you watch a presentation on youtube (see  the new SCSC channel  )  you only get a part of the information and ideas from the day.
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Embedded World 2017
As always it was a pleasure meeting old friends in Nuremberg, and I learned about a number of exciting product introductions scheduled for later this year. Also we picked up the sort of gossip that you only ever get at a trade show. You had to be there...   This "gossip" can give you a 6 months head start on some things and I don't just mean products.
 
Two threads of conversation were security and the Internet of Things – sometimes both together. At last it seems that people are realising that anything that is connected (to anything) is a gateway to the rest of the internet. 
 
embedded world  (the Germans in, what is for them, decadent radicalism, always use a lower case e and w on what should be a capitalised proper noun)  was even bigger than ever with two larger halls replacing Hall 5.  It is one of the few events that is growing in the word and is the largest event of it's type in the world. 
 
Being later in the year the weather was great, but as we left each evening the man playing the barrel organ on the bridge to the station was no longer there.
Internet of Things
Elsewhere in the Internet of Things, Vint Cerf, who many regard as one of the founders of the real Internet, was worrying that "people building [IoT] devices will grab a piece of open source software or operating system and just jam it into the device and send it out into the wild without giving adequate thought and effort to securing the system and providing convenient user access to those devices."
 
One problem is checking the provenance and functionality of all this "free" code. With the rise of state sponsored cyber warfare, not to mention private enterprise criminal activities, you really need to test and prove any body of code you incorporate into your devices.  Open Source does not mean the all the worlds Good Guys have removed the bugs and fully tested it. It might in a perfect world but this world is far from perfect and even Bad guys wear white hats. Besides why does al this stuff need to be connected?
Internet of Things (2)
Vinte's worries were in some ways confirmed only a few days later by the news that a commercial dish washer from Miele for restaurants and bars, which was internet connected and had its own web server (Why for heaven's sake?) was effectively wide open to even relatively unsophisticated hackers.
 
Miele appears to have ignored contact from a researcher. I think the comment from the Register at https://www.theregister.co.uk/2017/03/26/miele_joins_internetofst_hall_of_shame/   sums it up "Appliance makers: stop trying to connect stuff to networks, you're no good at it."
 
The foot note in the article rings even more alarm bells. The machine affected are aimed at commercial and business premises not the average home.
HW vs. SW security – What Works Best for IoT Devices?
Icon Labs President Alan Grau selected to present at Embedded World Show Europe Tuesday March 14, Session 05,  4:30-5:00pm: Security II – Hacking & attacking  on Firewalls for embedded systems.  This is becoming a major topic on IoT systems.
 
We now have the slides for this. Let us know if you want to see them.  email click here 
Does your OS burn power?
Colin Walls, a technical guru at Mentor Graphics (Since last week – formally a part of Siemens) has been looking at how embedded systems power consumption can be influenced by the choice of operating system.
 
The vlog is at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=TA4-_dutUUg   One really interesting moment is an unexplained power spike with Linux, confirming, as Colin says, "Linux is not a real time operating system."  
 
He describes this as Linux doing its own thing. And Linux is not alone here, you are likely to get similar behaviour in OSX, Windows, Unix etc and, due to the size of these OS, you really have no idea what they are doing at any time - further proof that they are not suitable for real time applications. An RTOS is small enough that you can actually profile it and check the code, so that there are no unexpected or unexplained things happening   Percepio Tracealyzer  gives you a tool for that
  Are all programming languages based on C?
An interesting discussion and graphic on Quora https://www.quora.com/Are-all-programming-languages-based-on-C Of course its a silly question (as they often are on Quora), but the graphic in the answer by Christophe-Grosjean is well worth looking at.
 
It should probably be printed out and put on the wall of everywhere that teaches programming (the high res version is here )  
We mention power in this newsletter but an energy rating label (see right) really caught me by surprise.
 
It is on a Flybe Bombardier Q400 aircraft, which I boarded at Dusseldorf airport, on the way back from ew, and no it is NOT an April fool joke - as you can see on the Flybe web site
 
The Q400 aircraft has an "A" rating. I wonder how they calculate that compared to my (non internet-connected) washing machine?
 
This is something you might want to ponder over Easter - along with why do we need everything connected to everything?
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