Embedded Systems December 2000 Vol13_13

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BREAK POINTS shal-eholders' equity, too many CEOs will continue to fce l software is a nec- essary evil. They won 't understand the cost of quali ty, and will be too ready to say "it's just a software change." The price of software is not its valu e. Quicken costs less than $100, but is worth far more to Imuit and to me. [t's the cente r of my personal fin ancial planning, of day-to-day expense u-acking, and to understand- ing my own fin ancial position. Ditto fo r most a pplications I've bought. Millions of us amortize the real value of the product. Without Quicken, or the other apps we use daily, I'd suffer more than that $100 of loss. Mechanical designers balk at the -angc from collecting money and ship- ping a product to post-customer sup- port, fea ture enhancements, and host po rts, span a range of ope rati ons much ri che l- than just "cranking code," offering a high value-proposi- tion fo r customers. Ex-Lockh eed CEO Norman thousands of dollars CAD programs cost, yet spend most of their lives work- ing with AutoCAD or similar products. The cost is high, but the value higher. The business transactions be tween the designe r and CAD vendor, whi ch I Augustin e, in his wonderful book Augustine's Laws2 talks about how defense contractors were in a bind in the late '70s. They found themselves unable to add anything to fighter air- craft, because in creasing a plane 's weight mea ns decreasing pe rfor- mance. Busi ness req ui remen ts- increasing profi ts-meant that regard- less of the physics of flight they had to add fea tures. Despera te for something hideou Iy expen ive yet weightl ess, they found firmware. Today th e firmware costs of high performance ai rcraft nllls about half the total plane price. A success by any standard , except perhaps for tlle taxpayers. oftware is th e most expensive thing in the universe. This mantra teaches us several things. First, costly things have a value to tlleir producer. Just as books are protected by copy- Software is the most expensive thing in the universe. TIlis mantra teaches us several things. First, costly things have a value to their producer. Just as books are protected by copyright laws, it's reasonable to protect proprietary code. right laws, it's reasonable to protect proprieta ry code. "Vh y engage in the effort and cost to produce something of valu e, when tha t value will be denied to the creator? Just as patents give a competiLive edge to inve ntors, keeping some code proprietary will , in many business mode ls, give a leg up to the creator. The mantra also teaches us that writing code i the last thing we should ever do. It's cheape r to reuse code. It's smarter to buy, beg, or borrow a mod- ule than to code it our elves. And he re 's whe re I'm of two minds about the philosophy of free software, or open source, or any othe r similar model. As stated, I have no objection to companies keeping tlleir assets pri- vate. But we ' re tumbling into a soft- ware crisis whose dimensions few real- ize. Code costs too much, and is all too often of uch low quali ty that it's a mir- acle anything works. As the old saying goes, if architects made buildings the way programme rs create code, the first woodpecke r that came along would des troy civilization. Free software, or at least open source, holds some promise of reduc- ing costs and improving quality. Noble goals indeed. Tn my opinion, reuse of some sort is the only hope we have to grapple with quality and cost issues. Attention Engineers ... Keil Software C51 is the leading C compiler development suite for the 8051 family of microcontrollers. The features in Version 6 help you write and test your embedded applications faster. Call us to get the latest CD-ROM and FREE evaluation tools. Keil C51 Benefits • IJVision2 IDE & debugger speed software development and application testing • Web-based updates keep your tools current • Training at our facility or yours shortens the learning curve • Answers to over 1,000 questions are available around the clock on our web site Keil Software, Inc. 1501 10th Street, Suite 110 Plano, TX 75074 Toll-Free ... ..... ... 800-348-8051 Phone ........ ....... 972-312-1107 FAX ... ... ...... .... .. . 972-312-1159 Embedded Systems Programming DECEMBER 2000 189 Upgrade Today ... New Features in V6 • 32-bit programs work with Windows 95/98/NT/2000 and support long file names • Three new optimizer levels help shrink program size up to 25% • Integrated source browser • Complete device database sets all compiler, assembler, and linker options for you • Kernel-aware debugging

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