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the beachWelcome to our bumper summer newsletter. We have seen July 4th in America and July 14th in France, university campuses are emptying and school holidays are fast approaching, so we have pulled together some summer reading for you. Something for you to read on the beach or in the garden. You are taking a break? It's good for you. Time to rest, recharge and get new ideas whilst doing something completely different.
PhaedruS SystemS
People
CFO asks CEO, "What happens if we invest in developing our people and then they leave us?"
CEO: "What happens if we don't, and they stay?"
 
Shadow People
Bruce Schneier publishes a regular newsletter – Cryptogram - on security and related matters. His June issue linked to this worrying piece he contributed to The Atlantic magazine. Eat your heart out Tom Clancey
 
Bruce is always worth reading. Visit his web site Schneier on Security at https://www.schneier.com/  We highly recommend this newsletter if you are involved in security, communications or ANYTHING that is connected to anything else -particularly by a network. Bruce cuts through the fog, FUD and fake news to look at the reality of the security situation.   
Small People
An 11 year old boy used a teddy bear and a Raspberry Pi to hack into other people's Bluetooth enabled phones at the One Conference in the Netherlands.
 
FBIApparently he has been hacking toys since he was 8. Following the German ban in February of Cayla, the talking doll ( http://www.reuters.com/article/us-germany-cyber-dolls-idUSKBN15W20Q )
 
The FBI is now aware that internet enabled toys are not always a good idea and has issued a warning to parents. https://www.ic3.gov/media/2017/170717.aspx   is worth reading for the list of possible issues that the G-men have identified.
Silly season
While on Raspberry Pi (see above) , July and August used to be called the silly season by news organisations: with no real news to report fluffy stories used to get more than their fair share of coverage. 2017 is certainly not lacking in serious news, but one bonkers story caught our eye.
 
On change.org someone has posted a petition to "Boycott Raspberry Pi Foundation" Why you may ask?
 
Because in two places on the website there are rainbows and the poster argues this means that "The Raspberry Pi Foundation is using its product to promote Gay/Lesbian/Transgender agenda even to minors." You can read the full rant at
 https://www.change.org/p/boycott-raspberry-pi-foundation   and it is worth scrolling down to read the comments.
 
Alternatively you can support raspberry Pi here  https://www.raspberrypi.org/   though some one is bound to start a petition about alternative lifestyles... :-)
EU safety
According to a paper written by the Computer Lab at Cambridge University for the European Commission Standardisation and Certification of the 'Internet of Things'
 http://www.cl.cam.ac.uk/~rja14/Papers/weis2017.pdf   looking at "what will happen to safety regulation once computers are embedded invisibly everywhere" the future is going to be very messy unless governments and standards bodies get a grip. Its a long read but well worth the effort if you are concerned about an environment that lets Caylas ( http://myfriendcayla.co.uk/cayla ) and similar toys into the world with no monitoring
 
Whilst this is an EU paper it should be remembered that even after Brexit the problems of connectivity and security will still remain.
HP machines
HP has had a torrid time recently. As well as the Intel ATM problem mentioned in the last newsletter (see  http://www8.hp.com/us/en/intelmanageabilityissue.html ) the company has also shipped an audio driver that acts to log keyboard actions, and stores them in a word-readable file. All the grimy details at
 
In both cases these features may be on other machines as well.
ARM and Windows 10
The Intel ATM problem will not be an issue if the trend to ARM based PC platforms takes off. HP, along with Asus and Lenovo are reported to be planning to ship machines powered by Qualcomm Snapdragon (an ARM based chip) before the end of the year. https://www.computing.co.uk/ctg/news/3011014/arm-powered-windows-10-pcs-coming-from-asus-lenovo-and-hp
 
You can, over the summer break, muse as to whether this a Good Thing or a Bad Thing. The consequences, intended or not, can be quite complex. 
Happy birthday µC/OS
Micrium's µC/OS is now 25 years old!
 
Jean Labrosse, the company's founder and original author of the operating system, has addressed some of the myths that have grown up around this kernel – the first ported to ARM architectures, including Cortex, and currently running happily on the Mars Curiosity Rover.
 
The  article about the myths  is well worth reading as may misconceptions have appeared over the last 1/4 century. .  http://www.electronicdesign.com/embedded-revolution/11-myths-about-cos
 
For those of you who get to Embedded World in Nuremberg you can actually get to discuss RTOS with Jean who is normally on their stand.  !  
Is there a problem?
Kaspersky Labs, the Russian anti-virus company has been accused of working closely with Russian intelligence organisations https://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2017-07-11/kaspersky-lab-has-been-working-with-russian-intelligence
 
At the same time it emerged that Kaspersky tools are often, un announced,  inside embedded systems, and that US defence organisation ban Kaspersky. Perhaps it is all innocent but what if a Russian intelligence organisation pressured Kaspersky into including a backdoor into their next release?
 
Being paranoid one also has to ask what would be the result if any US anti-virus or security companies is asked to "help" their government's Intelligence services.
 
Of course we British play by the rules and would not even think of trying it.  
How to make a project fail
The Register reports that "40 per cent of IT projects in the UK are on course to fail, according to a survey of 182 project managers". http://www.theregister.co.uk/2017/07/03/onethird_of_projects_on_track_to_fail/
 
The managers blamed:
1. significant changes to the project brief (45 per cent)
2. unrealistic timeframes (41 per cent)
3. an incomplete understanding of the risks (48 per cent)
4. projects not resourced with the right people (42 per cent)
5. lack of a clearly defined goals (49 per cent)
6. overrun budgets (32 per cent).
 
Does this sound familiar? 1 and 5 are only too common in embedded projects and the remainder are not in the least unknown.   You might find our paper "Requirements are Required" useful as it goes into this is in a bit more detail http://www.safetycritical.info/library/presentations/Requirements-001.pdf.
Seeing [screens] clearly
Since the rise of the iPhone there has been a presumption that the user interface has to look good. Sadly many developers don't seek advice from those who know how good design works and as a result many interfaces look as though they were hacked out by a short sighted gorilla. (and that is probably unfair to gorillas.)
 
Monotype has been providing typefaces for over 100 years and have made a detailed study of type requirements for screen based user interface. You can read an introduction http://www.monotype.com/blog/articles/consumer-expectations-vs-product-design-constraints
 
When you have finished the article you may want to click on Q&A: Nadine Chahine talks about legibility and then click through to the webinar Designing for Split-Second Clarity. http://www.monotype.com/blog/articles/qa-nadine-chahine-talks-about-legibility/  The webinar link at the start  will absorb quite a bit of time, but will give you a better appreciation of the issues.  
 
One of the slides is a comparison of 6 Chinese fonts.  There isn't just one Chinese (or Arabic, Russian, Korean, Japanese, etc) font and choosing the correct one is every bit as difficult as choosing a Latin Font.
 
If you have any screens on your devices I recommend that your GUI team subscribes to the Monotype blog.
 
Can I upgrade you now?
A rant on The Register (it's a good source of thoughts but there is also a ton of irrelevant stuff) is based on the idea that at some point you should say "This software is done." and then leave it alone. https://www.theregister.co.uk/2017/06/20/software_is_never_done/
 
Microsoft is for ever pushing you to upgrade, as is Apple. And then there are other suppliers.
 
This has major ramifications with embedded products. If the OS is upgraded, will the application continue to work? (Possibly) Will the device certification remain valid? (Unlikely) Will later implementations be compatible with earlier versions? (Anyone's guess).
A couple of chuckles
To end with, a couple of cartoons, each with a message. Dilbert is ever a source of insight and this one has more truth than I think Scott Adams realised. www.dilbert.com/strip/2017-07-18
 
And this is a neat summary of several of the points we discussed earlier http://www.commitstrip.com/en/2017/06/19/security-too-expensive-try-a-hack/
 
IT Upgrade at Phaedrus Systems
The first week of August (31 July-4 August) tends to be quiet with most of you (or the managers who sign things) being on holiday. So we will be carrying out major IT upgrades, and will be off line most of the week. In theory it should be for only two days but you know how major IT overhauls go!

Therefore as the order processing and accounts systems will be off line Phaedrus Systems will effectively be on holiday for that week.  Though probably giving support from a laptop and mobile from the garden!
Well – have a good summer and do take time off to recharge the batteries for the inevitable battles ahead in the autumn.
 
Taking a break is important. We hope we have given you something to read on the beach (if you can get a signal to your phone/tablet/laptop)
 
As we have said, we will be closing down for a week in August. (Editors note – but Chris will still be responding to urgent emails!) and will have another newsletter.
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