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 At last – summer – or at least today is summer.
 
One of the things we do as a company is to try to get involved with universities and colleges. Partly, obviously, as we subscribe to the idea of hooking potential customers as early as possible. But mainly because we want to encourage students. A recent trip to Peterborough  was particularly interesting as, in addition to the electronics students I also spoke to a broader range of engineers and encouraged the idea that engineering is an important part of system development for both hardware and software.
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GDPR
There is a lot of fuss about GDPR.
Our position is that for the Newsletter we hold, on a third-party secure site, your name and email, which we use only for mailing you the newsletter. Every mailing has an opt-out option and once you have used this our mailing house will not permit us to re-instate you. We will assume full consent to continue to send you the Newsletter unless you specifically opt-out.

We only send out up to 10 newsletters a year. The problem is the spammers  send out many more a week and are not going to think about GDPR, neither will anyone who is based outside Europe.  So we suspect that you are going to find that you will loose several useful and legitimate newsletters from people whose renewal you missed  in the spam but will of course continue to get the mountains of   junk from those who have ignored it. Sadly I think GDPR will do more harm than good when it comes to email..
 
STOP PRESS I have just been sent this
"He's making a list
He's checking it twice
He's gonna find out who's naughty or nice
Santa Clause is in breach of article 4 of GDPR (EU) 2016/678
Not a bug but an error - again
A telephone company in America in 84 minutes blocked 111 million phone calls. The cause was a technician who was entering blacklisted numbers into a management interface. He entered an empty field which for come reason was treated a wild card and so killed all calls.
 
This write-up https://www.bleepingcomputer.com/news/software/software-bug-behind-biggest-telephony-outage-in-us-history/    constantly refers to the problem as a software bug.
 
For heaven's sake – it was a design error of a kind known since the very early days of using computers for accounting functions.
 
 The earliest I remember was in the 1960s when a utilities company issued an invoice for £0. 0s. 0p. The poor customer had to write a cheque for £0. 0s. 0p to satisfy the system.
 
This was around 50 years ago!
"Surgeons bury their mistakes, engineers learn from them, coders repeat them"
Obsolete embedded software engineers.
Jacob Beningo is normally a very sensible chap, so I read with interest his article: The Soon-to-Be-Extinct Embedded Software Engineer ( https://www.designnews.com/design-hardware-software/soon-be-extinct-embedded-software-engineer/39152617858743  )
 
His argument is that embedded systems are getting so complex that developing software for them will be done by people who will
 
"…know how to call an API to make the hardware do something, but they won't know why or how it does it. They'll hope that the APIs work as expected because they won't have the real-time debugging skills or the knowledge to dive into the registers and find a problem…"
 
This may be true – I hope not – but where I severely part company from Jacob is that he calls these people "software engineers". They are not engineers, but code monkeys.
Back-door entry
The Mirai botnet used CCTV cameras as platforms for launching Distributed Denial of Service (DDOS) attacks on systems around the world but did not have any effect on the owners of the cameras. According to Robert Hannigan, a former head of GCHQ, in an unrelated incident however, a bank was hacked through a CCTV camera.
 
He was speaking at a conference in London, where the headlines grabbed by Nicole Eagan, the CEO of Darktrace, a cyber-security consultancy, who reported that a casino had its database of high-rollers copied after hackers got into the network through the thermostat on an aquarium.
 
Once again, a design decision, or lack of one, has unforeseen circumstances. There is work going ahead on trying to get around this, for example Princeton University has launched IoT inspector, to look at exactly what a connected device is doing. In their announcement https://freedom-to-tinker.com/2018/04/23/announcing-iot-inspector-a-tool-to-study-smart-home-iot-device-behavior/  they also discuss some of he issues that they have already found. These include:
 
Many IoT Devices Lack Basic Encryption & Authentication
 
User Behavior Can Be Inferred from Encrypted IoT Device Traffic
 
Many IoT Devices Contact a Large and Diverse Set of Third Parties
 
Smart Home Device Traffic is Predictable, Facilitating Anomaly Detection
 ISO vs NSA in IoT
It has been reported ( https://www.theregister.co.uk/2018/04/25/nsa_iot_encryption/  ) that the ISO has rejected two encryption algorithms from the NSA as they may have contained back-doors to allow the US government to snoop on the users. The relevant web areas were full of comment and speculation about the attitude of the NSA to the ISO panel members when they were discussing Simon and Speck – standards designed specifically for communicating with IoT devices.
 
This harks back to the time, late 1980's, when the NSA adjusted the numbers in the S-boxes in the DES algorithm. All the conspiracies around were that NSA has weakened the system whereas years later it was revealed they had in fact strengthened it. https://arstechnica.com/information-technology/2013/09/the-nsas-work-to-make-crypto-worse-and-better/

This also goes to show that even with the source code 99.9999% of the population (including 100% of programmers) won't know if there is an algorithmic weakness even if they could spot a source code backdoor. Which is also unlikely.  
Societal concerns
The recently established ISO team working on Artificial Intelligence (ISO/IEC JTC1/SC42) has decided that it probably needs to look beyond just the technology and consider issues of broader societal concerns, such as algorithmic bias built into the assumptions of the system, designing human safety in AI algorithms, (Three Laws of Robotics?) and the possibility of AI eavesdropping and gathering information from datasets other than those intended by the designer. 
 
Unfortunately the document is "private circulation" because  it is an internal ISO admin document so I can't publish it here but at least some one is thinking about it.
 
This is not the first time I have heard mention of this sort of discussion. At a conference last year one of the speakers mentioned in a private discussion that several engineers working on autonomous vehicles had raised ethical issues on what systems should be developed as opposed to what could be done technically. .
Snowmobiles and petabytes
How do you shift very large amounts of data? Amazon's web services have found that for companies signing up to use their cloud services the most efficient way to get the initial upload is to drive a truck to their premises, set up a temporary, very high-speed network and suck the data across and then, at a server site, reverse the process.
 
The Snowmobile is heavily secured and can carry up to 100 petabytes of data. This story surfaced a few weeks ago in the Guardian https://www.theguardian.com/technology/2018/apr/24/the-two-pizza-rule-and-the-secret-of-amazons-success  and the official version is at  https://aws.amazon.com/snowmobile/
eXtremeDB for IoT
McObject has released eXtremeDB 8.0, which has been even more features for the IoT. eXtremeDB was aimed at "intelligent, connected devices" - what we now call IoT, and it has evolved alongside the growth of IoT and big data. Specific features in eXtremeDB 8.0 address shared data, large scale deployment, dropped connections, low bandwidth, IPv6 and has even stronger data security. Read more about eXtremeDB 8.0 on our website at ………………
 
Trace visualisation for Micrium µC/OS-II and using ITM
Percepio has launched Tracealyzer version 4.1 support for Micrium µC/OS-III, in addition to the already supported Amazon FreeRTOS and Keil RTX5. It has also introduced support for ARM's ITM (Instrumentation Trace Macrocell), available on many ARM Cortex M-based MCUs which provides very fast data streaming, without the need for an on-chip RAM buffer. More on this at https://percepio.com/2018/05/04/tracealyzer-streaming-over-arm-itm-using-ulinkpro-ulinkplus/  .
Errors vs bugs 2
As ever, Jack Ganssles Embedded Muse provides food for though. In the latest issue, two people defend the practice of shipping buggy code with the intention of shipping patches later. https://percepio.com/2018/05/04/tracealyzer-streaming-over-arm-itm-using-ulinkpro-ulinkplus/   What do you think?
Sophisticated code
If you don't know Quora, it is a wonderful forum ranging from severe stupidity, to some serious thought provoking stuff and can contribute severely to procrastination. A recent thread has been What is the most sophisticated piece of software/code ever written? And this answer is a great read https://www.quora.com/What-is-the-most-sophisticated-piece-of-software-code-ever-written/answer/John-Byrd-2  Thanks Philip
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