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What's our virtual firmware game plan?

Posted: 20 Jun 2013 ?? ?Print Version ?Bookmark and Share

Keywords:firmware? Social media? Troubleshooting? debugging? MCU?

Someone mentioned to me that the fastest typist wins. Hmm, ok but we're all bit-heads, right? We're all pretty fast with the keys, unless you're a hardware guy trying to write firmware and peck your way. Advantage firmware guy! OK maybe we have to slow things down a bit to allow the hardware guys to catch up ;).

Meet early and often
Issue 4: When dealing with critical issues or problems, the client or the team may not feel that you give it the sense of urgency it needs.

Game plan: Virtual meetings are now old hat. There are so many tools out there, it's ridiculous!

Issue 5: How the heck do you troubleshoot and debug remotely?
Game plan: Troubleshooting and remote debugging? No big thing! Gang, we're bit heads and I think we can figure this one out. Yes the bandwidth could be better but with screen sharing and a dedicated PC at the client site or even for the remote team, we can handle this. But what if we need to say make or break an electrical connection remotely? What if some physical action like plugging in something is necessary. All can be done simply from the dedicated PC either by remotely programming the MCU to toggle some control bits to turn on/off relays or by a pre-made control board with a USB connection that does the same thing. That and screen sharing to get you access to the IDE and the debugger, and you're done. Does this handle all cases? Can we be completely hands-free with ease? Not always but often.

Packing it in
Issue 6: What about things like defect tracking and revision control? Don't I need to be on site to tap into their tools?

Game plan: My favourite question: defect tracking and revision control. If the client or colleague is not using one of either, there are some awesome cloud-based tools that will setup your repository and allow you to use SVN or other tracking tools to make this a breeze. Usually they have integrated defect tracking to boot. If home base is using their own and if it's web based, you're done. If it's not, you may have to VPN into their system.

Channel your inner pack instinct
This prodigy called cloud computing is already revolutionizing the way we work, but no matter how remotely we work, we'll always need the human interactions. You can't take the human out of us. We are pack people. OK, maybe not all of us geekers (as my wife fondly calls us), but most of us are.

See you in the trenches!

About the author
Robert Scaccia is a firmware consultant and president of USA Firmware, LLC. He is very active with a large network of firmware consultants throughout the United States and Canada, is chair of the IEEE Cleveland Computer Society, and founded the largest regional, as well as international, firmware group on LinkedIn.

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