Author Topic: A rant about lack of support on open source software, or anything else actually  (Read 12318 times)

0 Members and 1 Guest are viewing this topic.

Online peter-hTopic starter

  • Super Contributor
  • ***
  • Posts: 3748
  • Country: gb
  • Doing electronics since the 1960s...
I have a very small business and have no real money to spend on R&D.

So I've had a guy working here Mondays (realistically, just the afternoon) doing various stuff like server IT. He also has embedded experience, in areas which supplement mine.

3-4 years ago we decided to develop a new product, which has an ethernet interface. TCP/IP etc was well above my pay grade (which is mostly embedded/comms/control) plus I had not done any C for about 10 years. So he started on it, Monday afternoons. Started with one ST dev kit, and after a year I did the PCB, which worked 1st time. Another year later I realised progress was minimal and it would take another 10 years, perhaps 100 years, to get anywhere (obviously, half a day a week means you forget much of what you did a week before) so I got stuck in, went up the steep learning curve, and have done most of what needs to be done. Crucially I know what I have done, and it is all 100% solid code (solid except for the simple http server used for config ;) ).

I quickly learnt that you end up working alone.

No support from ST (32F417). They have a forum which is full of desperate people, no ST presence (they are only a €14BN company, so they can't afford to support their products) and virtually no useful replies from anybody. Just one guy occassionally posts good stuff but only after he's told you that you are a complete moron. They do loads of videos which are barely legible (very poor English).

No support on LWIP. There is a mailing list which is dead. Vast amounts of bogus info posted everywhere.

No support on MbedTLS. There is a mailing list which is dead.

No support on FreeRTOS. There is a mailing list which is dead. Fortunately FR runs well.

No support on FatFS. There is a mailing list which is dead. Fortunately FF runs well.

There are also some forums for above (which are also dead).

Then there are many clickbait sites which copy stuff from other sites, in bulk, to get google hits.

93.7% of the internet :) is desperate people asking questions on the above and getting no answers, and sometimes getting duff answers. Then there is Github (almost everything gets lifted off Github, which you discover by googling on source code comments), and probably a similar % gets lifted from linux sourcecode if your target is 80x86.

There are some more general forums (notably this one) where you do get useful replies - if you pick the topic carefully.

The Monday guy spent literally years (of Monday afternoons) trawling the internet for bug fixes and patches for the above stuff. He won't post questions anywhere, which makes it a lot harder. But now his part is nearly finished. We have a good running board. We are tidying up the loose ends.

I have learnt a lot and now know how most of it hangs together. In 1-2 years I learnt basic C (still don't get pointers to pointers), LWIP, FreeRTOS, FatFS. A lot of 32F417 bare-metal. But it's been extremely stressful. Nobody to even ask about some bit of C syntax (except on Mondays).

And it is clear that there are many others in my position, trying to get info and eventually, after an absolutely vast amount of googling, eventually finding some tiny snippet of info which happens to solve their problem. Then onto the next problem, and more absolutely vast amount of googling. A few hours later, that bit is running.

How do other people manage?

If you are hourly paid then you don't need to care. Another 1000 page RM = bread on the table at home for another year. What is not to like? The company doesn't matter.

I have looked for people who can do specific portions on the product and found two. Both got boards sent and the Cube dev kit so they could develop properly. One worked out well and did two modules, fixed price. The 2nd I had to stop after he ran up a vast number of hours and went off on a complete tangent (I should have done that fixed price too but for some reason didn't). I paid him but cancelled a part of the project which he was going to do also (involving a server on the web, which he does a lot of). A 3rd chap, fixed price, wrote some code which due to me not doing a precise enough spec he wrote for one of the ST dev kits and I could not run any of it, but I was able to use some of the code. But I have been totally unsuccessful in finding anybody who can do the ETH end (ST ETH, LWIP, MbedTLS). I need someone who really understands that pipeline who can go over all the code, apply latest patches, etc. and be around long-term, and be generally contactable on days other than Mondays. Probably, there is nobody. Obviously only really good people want to work fixed-price :)

It's a really inefficient way to work.

And it was never like this in the past, when chips were simpler. I developed literally hundreds of products over 40 years, all working alone. Just did it from data books. No internet.

The problem is the new functionality. It is so massively more complex.
« Last Edit: August 09, 2022, 04:24:40 pm by peter-h »
Z80 Z180 Z280 Z8 S8 8031 8051 H8/300 H8/500 80x86 90S1200 32F417
 
The following users thanked this post: std, betocool

Offline Foxxz

  • Regular Contributor
  • *
  • Posts: 124
  • Country: us
Pretend the open source code doesn't exist. Then take the actions you would have taken had the code not existed.

I don't get where "support" is expected for any open source code.
 
The following users thanked this post: audiotubes

Offline pcprogrammer

  • Super Contributor
  • ***
  • Posts: 3914
  • Country: nl
I can feel your pain. :clap:

Yes the open source world is not to good on documentation and also technical documentation of manufacturers are not top shelf anymore. It takes effort and good insight to get things done. And indeed when one chooses the "wrong" topic to play with there is not a lot of help around. This forum is quite good and certainly helpful with lots of people with different skills.

Your ethernet quest is one I have on my playlist too, just for hobby because I don't do paid work anymore. But the playlist is long. |O

My venture at the moment is reverse engineering a FPGA design. Not easy either and not a lot of info to be found. But that is the challenge.

Success with your venture,

Regards,
Peter

Online peter-hTopic starter

  • Super Contributor
  • ***
  • Posts: 3748
  • Country: gb
  • Doing electronics since the 1960s...
Quote
Pretend the open source code doesn't exist. Then take the actions you would have taken had the code not existed.

Then, small electronics companies could not develop anything of the complexity needed today. The chinese would totally dominate, with 80x86 boxes running linux and Siemens etc would eat the rest, where people don't want to buy chinese junk, or it doesn't exist. Today they dominate almost totally ;) Market segments accessible to small companies are very narrow now.

Quote
I don't get where "support" is expected for any open source code.

Fair point. One would think somebody would have set up a forum with specific sections for specific OS software. Mailing lists are a 1980s/90s thing :)
« Last Edit: August 09, 2022, 04:31:46 pm by peter-h »
Z80 Z180 Z280 Z8 S8 8031 8051 H8/300 H8/500 80x86 90S1200 32F417
 

Offline Berni

  • Super Contributor
  • ***
  • Posts: 4997
  • Country: si
Support is boring work, nobody wants to do it.

The difference in the old days was that you would pay thousands of dollars to buy a library like a TCPIP stack. That price of the license also included some form of support. If you don't want to pay up then you had to develop it yourself, putting hundreds or thousands of man hours into it.

Over time some people did develop it themselves and offered it for free to the world. You already got the code for free, there is no obligation from them to provide support. Tho for some projects (like FreeRTOS) you can pay to get support.

Large chip manufacturers like ST also provide support trough there local offices, but you have to be a reasonably sized company for it to be worth there effort. They organize seminars where you get to talk to there engineers one on one (including free food at the hotel it takes place in). You can talk to the local sales office to get early engineering samples of new products..etc

I have used FatFS, FreeRTOS, LWIP... etc and they are awesome libraries with what they can do. Certainly some of the better examples of open source projects. But have i ever had a problem with them? Yep, plenty of problems where things didn't work. I just had to sit down and figure out exactly what is going on, but in a lot of cases it turned out to be partially my fault for not quite using the library in the way it was intended. A lot of the time i actually learned a fair bit in the process on how the library works. Modern chips have excellent in circuit debugging capability, so this helps hugely in tracking down bugs.

Open source libraries are not to be treated like a product that you just use. That's the point of it open source. You can look at the source and see how it works to find problems. Sometimes you might find an actual bug in it. In that case it is usually the fastest to fix the bug yourself and then send the code back to the project owner so that they can integrate the fix into the next version. This is my way of thanking them for providing me with the code that saved me from having to make it from scratch on my own.
 
The following users thanked this post: fourtytwo42, rhodges, tellurium

Offline paf

  • Regular Contributor
  • *
  • Posts: 91
Very different perspectives on your issues.

Money: If you have no money, but you have time, then Open Source is for you. You will spend a lot of time studying and you can read the source code. Without Open Source, you would need lots of money to have access to software.

Layering/Scaffolding: All the stuff you want to do is complex, so you should start by first learning C, then embedded with the STM32, then networking.

Complexity: Yes, look into the 32F417 data sheet, and try to think how to do what the 32F417 does with Z80s...   

The right tools: Why not use a Linux SBC board, where many things that you need are already done?

Debugging: When developing something, you need the knowledge/tools not only to develop it, but also to debug it. Are you familiar with ethernet tools like wireshark?   


It may seem I am "beating you", but I am also an "old guy". ;) ;)
 

Offline JPortici

  • Super Contributor
  • ***
  • Posts: 3475
  • Country: it
dead
which is why me and some other users tend to share our code snippets on the microchip forum.
Documentation is incomplete and find a solution?
Open a thread so that others spend less time searching for solutions, there are almost only pros and no cons:
- posting your code and the following discussion may result in others finding hidden bugs you didn't think about, improving overall quality
- seeing that you contribute may also lead others to contribute (but it's almost always wishful thinking)
- you have no idea on how many times it happened to me that i was searching for a problem and found my own threads and solutions from months earlier.. d'oh!
- depending on the community, ster some time community may not be dead anymore. But there are places that can't be saved (anything stackexchange for example)

I expect free support from the manufacturer, after all i am buying the silicon and filing compiler/library bugs for them that eventually get solved
And if expect free support from the community as i try to exchange information with information
 

Offline madires

  • Super Contributor
  • ***
  • Posts: 7868
  • Country: de
  • A qualified hobbyist ;)
In an idealistic world you would have wonderful documentation covering every possible aspect and forums with highly motivated users providing great support for open source. But we humans are so greedy, even demanding to get free support for free software to make money. >:D
 
The following users thanked this post: tellurium

Online peter-hTopic starter

  • Super Contributor
  • ***
  • Posts: 3748
  • Country: gb
  • Doing electronics since the 1960s...
I would definitely expect free support from the manufacturer. What they are doing is pretty incredible. They get away with it because they are all doing it.

Obviously nobody will support open source stuff for free but you could have a donation funded site (if it is actually good). I run a tech forum (not electronics related) which is donation funded and we get a few k a year. Scaling that up say 10x you have enough to pay some part-timers. But they would have to know their stuff. No adverts, but you could have adverts too. It would be an idea for EEVBLOG to set up these topics, perhaps? A lot of forums (with advertising) have paid moderators, after all. Those which have unpaid mods tend to end up being modded by weirdoes who hate people :)

Re "no money" I wouldn't say I have literally no money. But employing even one person on say 50k is extremely expensive.

I also didn't say "free support" :) There is the pretence of support (which is indeed free) but it is virtually useless.

I wonder if anyone here has gone the commercial route and paid a vendor for say a TCP/IP stack and an RTOS? What sort of numbers?
« Last Edit: August 09, 2022, 06:32:06 pm by peter-h »
Z80 Z180 Z280 Z8 S8 8031 8051 H8/300 H8/500 80x86 90S1200 32F417
 

Online DiTBho

  • Super Contributor
  • ***
  • Posts: 3962
  • Country: gb
I quickly learnt that you end up working alone.

Yup.
The opposite of courage is not cowardice, it is conformity. Even a dead fish can go with the flow
 

Offline voltsandjolts

  • Supporter
  • ****
  • Posts: 2324
  • Country: gb
They have a forum which is full of desperate people, no ST presence ...... Just one guy occassionally posts good stuff but only after he's told you that you are a complete moron.

Hehe, thanks for that line, made me LOL.

Regarding open stuff, someone on the forum here said "we can't afford the free stuff", which is often a very apt phrase. I wonder if shelling out on full Keil or Segger libraries would have got your project done in a fraction of the time, or would different problems crop up, who knows?  If the libraries from either of those vendors completely covered your requirements it would certainly be a big time saving over integrating various open stuff....and we'd likely have a lot less forum threads ;D (sorry, couldn't resist!)
 

Online nctnico

  • Super Contributor
  • ***
  • Posts: 27206
  • Country: nl
    • NCT Developments
They have a forum which is full of desperate people, no ST presence ...... Just one guy occassionally posts good stuff but only after he's told you that you are a complete moron.

Hehe, thanks for that line, made me LOL.

Regarding open stuff, someone on the forum here said "we can't afford the free stuff", which is often a very apt phrase. I wonder if shelling out on full Keil or Segger libraries would have got your project done in a fraction of the time, or would different problems crop up, who knows?  If the libraries from either of those vendors completely covered your requirements it would certainly be a big time saving over integrating various open stuff...
From what I've seen commercial libraries aren't without issues. Often the vendor oversells the production readiness and level of support while the buyer grossly overstates the number of units sold. As a developer you are left with a binary blob with unknown content you need to find workarounds for in order to get the project out of the door. With open source at least get the source so you can hack & fix showstoppers.

IOW: There is no perfect world.
There are small lies, big lies and then there is what is on the screen of your oscilloscope.
 
The following users thanked this post: peter-h, pcprogrammer

Online HwAoRrDk

  • Super Contributor
  • ***
  • Posts: 1527
  • Country: gb
My experience with paying for proprietary solutions from vendors - not in the embedded world, I should add - is that it tends to go one of two ways: a) everything is wonderful, the product is great and meets all your needs, well documented, easy to get going with; or, b) the vendor's product is actually utter shite, doesn't do everything it claims to do, is horribly documented (despite perhaps having a sheen of goodness or greatness of quantity), support is severely lacking in answers if you ever stray one millimetre from the beaten path, and you regret your decision (or are bitter that such a thing was forced on you) and wish you had gone with an open-source solution.

Sometimes there is even an inverse correlation between price and quality - the more you pay, the worse it gets.

C'est la vie.
 

Online peter-hTopic starter

  • Super Contributor
  • ***
  • Posts: 3748
  • Country: gb
  • Doing electronics since the 1960s...
Quote
I wonder if shelling out on full Keil or Segger libraries would have got your project done in a fraction of the time, or would different problems crop up, who knows?  If the libraries from either of those vendors completely covered your requirements it would certainly be a big time saving over integrating various open stuff....and we'd likely have a lot less forum threads

I have not seen much posted on these topics. Perhaps because the licensing is under NDA. If you get source, it definitely would be. For some mission critical stuff people use VxWorks and reportedly that is very expensive. One can dig up a load more e.g. https://www.lynx.com/embedded-systems-learning-center/most-popular-real-time-operating-systems-rtos. Some of the comments on support are not exactly flattering...

Quote
From what I've seen commercial libraries aren't without issues. Often the vendor oversells the production readiness and level of support while the buyer grossly overstates the number of units sold. As a developer you are left with a binary blob with unknown content you need to find workarounds for in order to get the project out of the door. With open source at least get the source so you can hack & fix showstoppers.

I think widely used OS code like LWIP / FreeRTOS can't have really obvious holes. MbedTLS, my feeling is a bit less so, if only because there is a lot less TLS in the embedded world (a lot of TLS type stuff is automatically done with 80x86 boards running linux - as many here have pointed out, while slagging off MbedTLS). And MbedTLS is huge - 150k of arm32 code, which is many times bigger than anything else. And given the lack of responses on their forum, there could be major holes there.

Quote
the more you pay, the worse it gets.

The more you pay the longer the NDA will definitely be, so nobody is going to find out :)

In general, I think the OS software scene could be done a lot better than it is now. Most of the "support channels" are dead, and have been dead for years. A lot of google hits on fairly common issues dig up posts from say 2005. Then you go to that forum/list and find it has been dead for last 10 years. Well, lots of posts (so it has great SEO, because google loves long techy prose) but no answers. Look at http://elm-chan.org/fsw/ff/bd/ for one of many.

As a result, googling turns up 90%+ total junk. I am on ~3-4 lists myself so I get a reminder every day, of people out there working on similar projects and nobody getting any input. I suspect most people who were on those lists in the good old days have either left or have blacklisted them so they go into junk. You get the same with forums and you see it as admin.

Some fresh air is badly needed. But not yet another new forum. It takes too much work to get a forum going (I did it 10 years ago but I had a great address list of about 5k). EEVBLOG could do it.
« Last Edit: August 09, 2022, 09:32:18 pm by peter-h »
Z80 Z180 Z280 Z8 S8 8031 8051 H8/300 H8/500 80x86 90S1200 32F417
 

Online HwAoRrDk

  • Super Contributor
  • ***
  • Posts: 1527
  • Country: gb
I have heard it posited that the reason why some open-source community support sucks these days is because a lot of newer-generation users of these products are oblivious to, don't want to use, or don't expect to have to use more traditional forums of community support like mailing lists, forums, or IRC. They're expecting things like Discord, Slack, GitHub, Facebook, etc. So when these people end up using some open-source code from a decades-old project that is still on SourceForge, only has a mailing list, the primary project maintainers might hang out on some obscure IRC server once a week at random times, and only uses SVN for version control, then it's no surprise that they don't feel like getting involved in the community because it's all via means they're totally unfamiliar with. So therefore you get a dwindling or absent population in the community support channels that do exist.

There's something to be said in those cases for "get with the times, man!", but then again I've read a lot from people in the open-source community who hate that with every new project that's all "just hit me up on my Discord server" you lose public discoverability and permanence of record, because these channels are mostly invite-only, real-time, and have no (or limited-period) archiving.
« Last Edit: August 09, 2022, 09:36:36 pm by HwAoRrDk »
 
The following users thanked this post: KE5FX

Online SiliconWizard

  • Super Contributor
  • ***
  • Posts: 14665
  • Country: fr
Part of the problem is indeed the way "support" is spread out between many different media. Speaking of github, one funny thing is that it's supposed to have become the #1 place for open-source software, yet most of the "big" open-source projects such as Linux do NOT handle tickets/support/bug reports through github whatsoever - it's just basically used as a mirror. They still use mailing lists and such, but yes, people are now less and less used to using mailing lists. So many do not bother.

As to using open-source software in your own products: that's a decision that should not be taken lightly.

I've used open-source *tools* such as GCC extensively, but I've personally tried to limit the use of open-source *libraries* and otherwise code to the bare minimum possible.
One library I've used the most is actually libpng. It works well, it's stable, it's a "reference" implementation and I've never had any need for support or any problem with it. But that's almost an exception.
 
The following users thanked this post: DiTBho

Offline brucehoult

  • Super Contributor
  • ***
  • Posts: 4106
  • Country: nz
I've used open-source *tools* such as GCC extensively, but I've personally tried to limit the use of open-source *libraries* and otherwise code to the bare minimum possible.
One library I've used the most is actually libpng. It works well, it's stable, it's a "reference" implementation and I've never had any need for support or any problem with it. But that's almost an exception.

I don't know if I've used libpng. I know I've used libtiff. My most-used library might be zlib (which both of those depend on), or maybe even more likely Boehm GC (which I've helped enhance and port to new platforms).
 

Offline golden_labels

  • Super Contributor
  • ***
  • Posts: 1255
  • Country: pl
I will not comment on ST, as in this case it’s effectively a part of their commercial offer and the lack of support is simply poor practice from the company. Open or not, doesn’t matter in this case. Happens with many businesses and is indeed telling something about how they treat customers.

As a soft dev I can tell that documentation is poor everywhere. If you are only a consumer of libraries, you may experience sampling bias: you get good documentation from some commercial products, because the documentation is a part of the offer. It itself is a product directed towards you, the client. But for everything developed for internal needs or deployed as a dependency only: good luck having any docs. Exceptions are really rare. And even then the information is rarely adequate: written from the perspective of the author, not someone learning the tool. The reason you see it more in open projects is because with them you are always on the inside.

Support in FOSS is universally poor, but there is also hardly a way to solve that. Providing a service costs money. There are no people queueing up to donate either their time and mental health,(1) or money. A hint: healthy relations with the developers help a lot, just like they in business. If you are perceived as a contributing member of the community, you are likely to get even quite extensive support. Unlike when you are just another rando demanding their problems to be solved.

As for the rest, I have a feeling that I see once more the old pattern. I wonder how much more time is needed for people to understand that in FOSS:
  • “Free” stands for “free as in freedom, not free as in free beer.”
  • “Open” stands for the philosophical concept of openess and not merely being able to peek inside.
… and that donating something — software in this case — doesn’t bind the donor with obligations.

Understand that, finally. Some people create a project and they share their work. With some exceptions,(2) they don’t do it to promote it or offer a polished product. It’s made public, so others could benefit from it. But those “others” — that is YOU — are not customers. Your role is the same as the original authors: you join the community of people, who improve the work and now you are the producer. A company needs a feature: the company implements it. A company needs a bug fix or a particular optimization: the company applies it. A company wants a better documentation or support: the company provides those services. If a company can’t do it themselves, they hire other people to do the job. Just because you took something that was shared, doesn’t create a producer-customer relationship.


(1) Providing support is hitting you hard, if you really care.
(2) To name a few: Linux, Gtk, Blender, PHP and Python.
« Last Edit: August 10, 2022, 05:03:29 am by golden_labels »
People imagine AI as T1000. What we got so far is glorified T9.
 
The following users thanked this post: Wolfram, DC1MC, tellurium

Online peter-hTopic starter

  • Super Contributor
  • ***
  • Posts: 3748
  • Country: gb
  • Doing electronics since the 1960s...
Quote
They're expecting things like Discord, Slack, GitHub, Facebook

Yes; dilution is the big problem with social media. Starting on Compu$erve in early 1990s (where you were forced to post under the name on your credit card, so people had to be extremely careful because even then it was easy to find out your employer) and moving through Usenet (which was good but got killed by spam and needing special apps, but still has some somewhat productive newsgroups e.g. sci.electronics.design and comp.arch.embedded) I saw the explosion of www forums (everybody who could do PHP and what became MariaDB etc, set up a forum, or a dating site), then a decade or two later things moved to the "instant gratification" media like

Quote
They're expecting things like Discord, Slack, GitHub, Facebook

to which I would add Reddit, and for "even lower IQ net users", Twatter, Instagram and now TicToc :) Reddit has good SEO but the content is mostly junk; the structure was set up to maximise SEO and clickbait income. FB has ~nil SEO (is closed) and is useless even if you are inside it. Discord is just another forum package (which I looked at for a project; another ££££/day maintenance nightmare since it is written in Ruby which was fashionable 15 years ago, so maintenance is like COBOL66).

So, there is clearly a demand for something better and more focused.

One cannot help those looking for 20-byte easy to eat stuff. These people have come to dominate software sites and everybody ignores them. "I have a dev board xxx, wrote code to flash an LED, but it doesn't flash, help me". Everybody will continue to ignore them.

But one could do a better job for serious coders. The original people are still out there; when I post on the LWIP mailing list (100% unproductive, and I do ask quite specific clear questions) I get a private email from a "big name" guy telling me to basically not bother doing it this way, so I reply to him with detail, and never hear back. If a new forum with clear sections was set up (say here) then you would fairly easily get people to come over.
« Last Edit: August 10, 2022, 05:45:18 am by peter-h »
Z80 Z180 Z280 Z8 S8 8031 8051 H8/300 H8/500 80x86 90S1200 32F417
 

Offline brucehoult

  • Super Contributor
  • ***
  • Posts: 4106
  • Country: nz
Quote
They're expecting things like Discord, Slack, GitHub, Facebook

Yes; dilution is the big problem with social media. Starting on Compu$erve in early 1990s (where you were forced to post under the name on your credit card, so people had to be extremely careful because even then it was easy to find out your employer) and moving through Usenet

BIX was excellent from when I joined in 1986 until maybe the mid 90s. McGraw Hill eventually got bored and the software and data were passed to a group of the users and run privately for quite a bit longer as NLZ ("Noise Level Zero").

I didn't get on to usenet until 1989. It was better in some ways, with being full of academics. It was worse in some ways due to being full of ... academics.

Quote
to which I would add Reddit, and for "even lower IQ net users", Twatter, Instagram and now TicToc :) Reddit has good SEO but the content is mostly junk; the structure was set up to maximise SEO and clickbait income.

Some reddit groups are pretty good. I like to think we run /r/riscv pretty well. Most of the questions people ask are relatively basic, but I've been impressed at how highly technically knowledgable people pop up when a very technical question is asked.  I think r/asm is also not bad, and the level of homebrew electronics / homebrew CPU / retro computing content and discussion in /r/beneater is pretty amazing -- especially considering the host and only mod (until a couple of weeks ago) has been MIA for 10 months.
 
The following users thanked this post: tellurium

Online peter-hTopic starter

  • Super Contributor
  • ***
  • Posts: 3748
  • Country: gb
  • Doing electronics since the 1960s...
Quote
Some reddit groups are pretty good. I like to think we run /r/riscv pretty well. Most of the questions people ask are relatively basic, but I've been impressed at how highly technically knowledgable people pop up when a very technical question is asked.  I think r/asm is also not bad, and the level of homebrew electronics / homebrew CPU / retro computing content and discussion in /r/beneater is pretty amazing -- especially considering the host and only mod (until a couple of weeks ago) has been MIA for 10 months.

The archival value is poor though. Lots if chitchat but few deep contributions. Like FB really but open to SEO.

Z80 Z180 Z280 Z8 S8 8031 8051 H8/300 H8/500 80x86 90S1200 32F417
 

Offline brucehoult

  • Super Contributor
  • ***
  • Posts: 4106
  • Country: nz
Quote
Some reddit groups are pretty good. I like to think we run /r/riscv pretty well. Most of the questions people ask are relatively basic, but I've been impressed at how highly technically knowledgable people pop up when a very technical question is asked.  I think r/asm is also not bad, and the level of homebrew electronics / homebrew CPU / retro computing content and discussion in /r/beneater is pretty amazing -- especially considering the host and only mod (until a couple of weeks ago) has been MIA for 10 months.

The archival value is poor though. Lots if chitchat but few deep contributions. Like FB really but open to SEO.

I really can't agree with you there.

Very often someone posts a story that was already posted weeks or months before, or that is a follow-up to a story from a year or two previously e.g. someone announces a chip and then later ships it.

It seldom takes me more than a few seconds to find the previous post and add a link to it in a comment. Which the OP should have done, but that's laziness not difficulty.

 

Offline abquke

  • Regular Contributor
  • *
  • Posts: 128
  • Country: us
I have a very small business and have no real money to spend on R&D.

R&D is expensive. Almost no way around it.
 

Offline Siwastaja

  • Super Contributor
  • ***
  • Posts: 8243
  • Country: fi
Your key issue is having no experienced/capable people at all.

The guy working half of the Mondays does not count.

You need to work half-time (i.e., around 20 hours every week) bare absolute minimum, preferably full-time. Plus you need to know what you are doing.

One such person can be enough, but zero is not. Also trying to learn C from scratch while working on a large project, while trying to maintain a business, is also not workable, especially if you are not so young anymore. It might work when you are 25yo and energetic.

Yes, finding the right people is
A) difficult,
B) expensive.

There is no way around it. It's completely wrong expectations that "just using software libraries" would allow anyone to develop. It's not like that at all.

Experienced people know what libraries to use and when because they have used them (or similar) before.

Multiplexing time is problematic. I'm currently working on two totally different projects and it basically means one of them just stalls, me being unable to advance it even near the rate I would like to.
« Last Edit: August 10, 2022, 01:31:21 pm by Siwastaja »
 
The following users thanked this post: bookaboo, newbrain, tellurium

Online peter-hTopic starter

  • Super Contributor
  • ***
  • Posts: 3748
  • Country: gb
  • Doing electronics since the 1960s...
I will soon prove you wrong on several of your points :)

But you are right on others e.g.

Quote
You need to work half-time (i.e., around 20 hours every week) bare absolute minimum, preferably full-time.

is true to get something complex finished.

Actually

Quote
especially if you are not so young anymore

is quite funny. I was never very bright (nowhere near as bright as the sort of people I would have working for me) but I haven't got any more stupid at 65 compared to when I was 30, and I am happy with that :) There is nothing special about C (which I have used before) so long as you avoid esoteric stuff.

It is also obvious that the vast majority of people using libs like LWIP have little or no idea what they do internally. There is a POV on this and other forums that you should not get involved in say TCP/IP unless you can write your own stack, but that just isn't the real world.
« Last Edit: August 10, 2022, 01:46:31 pm by peter-h »
Z80 Z180 Z280 Z8 S8 8031 8051 H8/300 H8/500 80x86 90S1200 32F417
 

Offline Siwastaja

  • Super Contributor
  • ***
  • Posts: 8243
  • Country: fi
It is not about getting stupid, it's just that very young people (<30, maybe 35) tend to have some extra flexibility and energy to go through very long days, do many things at the same time, learn new things quickly, and still not burn themselves out. I'm close to 40 and already can see the best learning days are over. It doesn't mean I can't learn anymore at all, but it requires more time and concentration and is harder to do under stressful situation.
 
The following users thanked this post: tellurium

Offline Berni

  • Super Contributor
  • ***
  • Posts: 4997
  • Country: si
It is also obvious that the vast majority of people using libs like LWIP have little or no idea what they do internally. There is a POV on this and other forums that you should not get involved in say TCP/IP unless you can write your own stack, but that just isn't the real world.

I wouldn't say you need to know how actually write a TCPIP stack, but you should most definitely know how TCP/IP actually works under the hood. That way you better understand what the library actually needs from you to actually work. When something doesn't work you can use the knowledge of how TCP/IP works in order to track the problem down (even if you have no idea how the library actually implements that). This is why experience in the field is so important.

You can make the same comparison to a car mechanic. They don't actually need to know how the car works, as long as they know how to correctly remove a part and install a new part in there, then they know enough to do there job. In a lot of the cases they will actually make a good enough mechanic, most of the time they will be replacing brake pads, changing oil, replacing a light...etc But then every so often they will get a costumer with a weird issue where sometimes there front left wheel locks up and the computer is throwing weird error codes. The inexperiences mechanic will just start replacing things, the pads, the calipers, the ABS unit, the ABS computer...etc until the problem goes away. However the more experienced mechanic will know exactly how the braking system of a car works and will do some experiments on the car to locate the exact cause of the problem... that turns out to be a intermittent bad contact on the ABS computer, clean up that connector a bit, put it back together and problem fixed.

This is exactly what you get when you bite off too big of a software project as a beginner. It is all fine as long as you stay on the well documented path and everything works. But as soon as you hit any serious of a problem you are completely lost, trying  random things that don't seam to help at all, because you have no idea what is actually causing the problem.

Good software developers are hard to find and expensive. Code monkeys are easy to find but might end up being even more expensive in the long run as they never get the thing working.
 

Offline madires

  • Super Contributor
  • ***
  • Posts: 7868
  • Country: de
  • A qualified hobbyist ;)
You can make the same comparison to a car mechanic. They don't actually need to know how the car works, as long as they know how to correctly remove a part and install a new part in there, then they know enough to do there job.

Then you end up with mechanics replacing a lot of expensive parts without fixing the actual problem (called 'sinnloses Teiletauschen' in German). TCP/IP is a complex beast and there are many levels between to have something running to some extend and a well working stack. Either you enjoy a steep learning curve or you need to hire someone. As abquke said, R&D is expensive.
 

Offline BradC

  • Super Contributor
  • ***
  • Posts: 2108
  • Country: au
Fair point. One would think somebody would have set up a forum with specific sections for specific OS software. Mailing lists are a 1980s/90s thing :)

Mailing lists are an 80's/90's thing because nobody (and I mean nobody) has come up with anything better. The other reason mailing lists persist is because they help weed out the twonks who can only use a web browser, therefore you tend to get a focused response from the people that are actually capable of and willing to assisting you. The other thing that works well with mailing lists is the ability to archive, sort, prioritize and delegate without having to worry if the person who's attention you are trying to get has logged in sometime in the last decade.

Case in point, I've been chasing down a _very_ obscure bug in the Linux thunderbolt driver when using hardware that pretty much nobody else uses in this manner. Because the developer is accessible by E-mail, I've had a fantastic response at times over months when convenient to both of us. That's never going to work in a web context.

With rare exception web sites/archives are shit, whereas anyone can keep archives of mailing lists and the more, the merrier.
 
The following users thanked this post: freda

Online peter-hTopic starter

  • Super Contributor
  • ***
  • Posts: 3748
  • Country: gb
  • Doing electronics since the 1960s...
Quote
It is not about getting stupid, it's just that very young people (<30, maybe 35) tend to have some extra flexibility and energy to go through very long days, do many things at the same time, learn new things quickly, and still not burn themselves out. I'm close to 40 and already can see the best learning days are over. It doesn't mean I can't learn anymore at all, but it requires more time and concentration and is harder to do under stressful situation.

It depends on whether you work for someone else, or for yourself. If the former, then everybody I know has got sick of it (especially the server side programming treadmill) by 40. If the latter, then you can choose which niche you want to play in. I have always worked for myself, since I left univ. So I could always choose the challenges.

It's another discussion but working for yourself is probably the only reasonably accessible way to make decent money without killing yourself. It is generally impossible if working in a job.

The mistake I made, probably 15 years ago, was not going up the ETH learning curve then. That cost a lot of lost business. But even if I had, I would have just ended up doing then what I have been doing now. Just with different libs. Or paying somebody. Which CPU? Not sure; was the ARM32 32F4-like stuff around then? The curve is steep and will always be steep (unless you put in one of those ETH-serial modules which connect to a CPU UART). Well, you can't do everything... You have to choose a work-life balance, and I made that choice.

And it isn't just about developing a product. It is also about supporting it for years. You have to understand it sufficiently to be able to write the user manual.

I can work from 8am to 11pm, with some breaks for eating and mountain biking :)

Quote
I wouldn't say you need to know how actually write a TCPIP stack, but you should most definitely know how TCP/IP actually works under the hood. That way you better understand what the library actually needs from you to actually work. When something doesn't work you can use the knowledge of how TCP/IP works in order to track the problem down (even if you have no idea how the library actually implements that). This is why experience in the field is so important.

True to a degree (actually the bit you need to understand is the API principles, and this is where you get to poor LWIP documentation) but where will you learn this? Not by googling and reading hits on github :) Everybody had to learn somewhere.

Quote
Mailing lists are an 80's/90's thing because nobody (and I mean nobody) has come up with anything better. The other reason mailing lists persist is because they help weed out the twonks who can only use a web browser, therefore you tend to get a focused response from the people that are actually capable of and willing to assisting you. The other thing that works well with mailing lists is the ability to archive, sort, prioritize and delegate without having to worry if the person who's attention you are trying to get has logged in sometime in the last decade.

If www user == twonk, that reveals a lot :)

Anyway, a www forum, well organised, with an optional daily digest emailed, is the same thing as a mailing list, with an optional daily digest emailed. However the former allows discussion, which the latter doesn't (in any practical way).
« Last Edit: August 10, 2022, 03:25:26 pm by peter-h »
Z80 Z180 Z280 Z8 S8 8031 8051 H8/300 H8/500 80x86 90S1200 32F417
 

Online nctnico

  • Super Contributor
  • ***
  • Posts: 27206
  • Country: nl
    • NCT Developments
It is not about getting stupid, it's just that very young people (<30, maybe 35) tend to have some extra flexibility and energy to go through very long days, do many things at the same time, learn new things quickly, and still not burn themselves out. I'm close to 40 and already can see the best learning days are over. It doesn't mean I can't learn anymore at all, but it requires more time and concentration and is harder to do under stressful situation.
It sounds more like your brain got comfortable and never is challenged with new ideas. For one of my customers I work together on software with a guy who is well in his 80's and he is still sharp and able to deal with new things.
There are small lies, big lies and then there is what is on the screen of your oscilloscope.
 

Online nfmax

  • Super Contributor
  • ***
  • Posts: 1564
  • Country: gb
The problems I find with ageing (65) are too many other commitments, and lack of mental stamina. I run out of brain well before the end of the day
 

Offline rstofer

  • Super Contributor
  • ***
  • Posts: 9903
  • Country: us
When you select hardware, somewhere in the decision tree there should be a reference to known working software.
If brand A has a rep for not documenting hardware to a level that allows the ordinary programmer to use the chip, choose another brand.

mbed LPC1768 is an example where I wanted to use Berkeley Sockets to transfer a bunch of commands from the LPC1768 to a LaserJet acting as a server.  The Sockets interface is well understood and C code is all over the place.  lwIP is essentially hardware independent and easy to use.  The code to tie it all together is in the mbed network library and likely written by NXP although I never looked.  Everything I needed was handed to me on a platter.

When you pick a chip, choose wisely!  Unless you can find functional code, ready to copy and paste, walk away!
 
The following users thanked this post: nctnico, DiTBho, tellurium

Offline AndyBeez

  • Frequent Contributor
  • **
  • Posts: 856
  • Country: nu
Getting older just means you appreciate the priorities. What maters versus all the crap that don't. In a coding sense, I've seen 22 year olds wet themselves because of a new javascript framework update on Github. OMG WTF Awesome! I used to see similar 'nerf' behaviour at MS developer conferences in the 90s - which could be a complete jizfest. Why? In 10 years time you'll be learning your CV is already 15 years out of date, so just learn to deal with the now and the necessary.
 
The following users thanked this post: peter-h, 5U4GB

Online DiTBho

  • Super Contributor
  • ***
  • Posts: 3962
  • Country: gb
When you pick a chip, choose wisely!  Unless you can find functional code, ready to copy and paste, walk away!

That's what I think about two of the Olimex's Ethernet chips, but they are too much interesting (one is 32bit parallel bus), therefore I am willing to read the datasheets and implement all the low level from scratch, like I did, years ago, for the CS8900 when it was rare to find  something.

They same applies to Coldfire-v1 modules: mine have a built-in Ethernet module, but with ZERO C code, unless you pay.
The opposite of courage is not cowardice, it is conformity. Even a dead fish can go with the flow
 

Online T3sl4co1l

  • Super Contributor
  • ***
  • Posts: 21849
  • Country: us
  • Expert, Analog Electronics, PCB Layout, EMC
    • Seven Transistor Labs
Don't read this as an endorsement necessarily, but merely a choice of venue:

You might have better luck at StackOverflow, or the CS or EE stacks.

Stack is, I guess, a bit notorious for being strict about questions that must be well-formed and researched, and poorly formed, or ignorant, questions quickly tend to get downvoted and closed.  But it's also open, in that, you can find an answer for almost anything, with the right keywords; and if not, likely you can ask that question and earn a few fake internet points along the way (yay..).  Worst thing maybe, it turns out a repeat of existing question that you just didn't find the keywords for; which still answers your question, though it may not feel very satisfying that way.  But hey, if it works, right?

So, do your best, collect all relevant info you can, search for most every permutation of keywords you can think of, and hopefully your issue is unique and new, and others benefit from it.  If you find your solution in the process -- rather anticlimactic, I know; and perhaps it would be nice to tell others that might be searching for x/y/z keywords but they actually need t/u/v to find it as you finally did; but if nothing else, you can always comment on, or add answer to, the post you found (minus new-account limitations if applicable).

If nothing else, think of it this way: it's a formal, gating, rubber-duck experience.  As you collect your facts and thoughts, you might catch something you didn't before.

It's an unusual environment.  Whereas the traditional forum suffers from abject anarchy (inbetween the totalitarian mods/admins, when applicable..), Stack suffers from abject democracy.  Even comments can be upvoted, and questions and answers can be up or down voted.  Moderators are elected.  Conversations are discouraged (but generally tolerated).  Facts and references do generally get upvoted, but answers ultimately rise by consensus, not truth.  (Which is by necessity anyway, say on the less hard-science Stacks, but generally accepted as how we do science, too, for better or worse...)  It means the reader is never free of their personal responsibility for critical thought.  But such is democracy: it can only work when every individual is responsible with what power they possess.

Which is as free software is, after all.  You get what you paid for, and that amount is $0.  Maybe it's helpful, maybe plugging it into your system causes it to crash and burn.  Who knows.  Actively malicious code isn't common, at least (and maybe is fairly obvious in its function, or obfuscation?), and usually the worst thing that happens is you waste weeks on end, trying to make something work, that, it seems more and more likely each passing day, never was intended to work in the first place.

The cost of purchase has been replaced with the cost of critically evaluating the resources: Is this fork better than that fork? Who has the most up-to-date codebase?  Do I even want the latest version?  Or do I want that similar other project instead?  And there might not be any good answer to these, other than, try them all yourself.  Which is one thing already, when you just have to download and install a package, build it, and play around in the app; it's another thing entirely when you have to integrate it into an embedded system, with variable amounts of porting required.  Let alone the difficulty in testing, as you may not have easy hooks, debug, IO, etc. to test the various features as you would on a PC.

There is no good/easy solution to this, of course; it's just stuff you have to do.



As for ranting, my last couple notable experiences include:

- Was given a laptop with Debian on it. Does have a graphical shell. But seems you can do basically nothing through it, besides open xterm.  Not even an install-programs or configure-system dialog.  Is this supposed to be encouraging me to like the ecosystem? (No, as it turns out; Debian is shite. But when there's no one around to tell you that...)  Eventually ended when I tried to get a specific version tool on the system, which didn't exist in the distro servers, so, just patch in some other server right? Suddenly some deep C runtime thing updated from the new server and fuckin' bricked.  (Laptop isn't useless, it has W10 on it too.  It's... I'm not going to say it's "fine", but it's usable.)

- The above was after such time I realized, no, updating is not actually a universal good.  ESPECIALLY in open ecosystems.  You want bugfixes?  Fuck you, have a new API too.  Sometimes fixes are backported to other versions, sure, but where does it say so?  There's no universal "oh yeah we got this, this sub-version is cool to use" message anywhere.  It's a free-for-all.  You get what you pay for.  Well, case in point, I've been using MiKTeX 2.9 for years -- technically decades now, I suppose -- I thought it might be worthwhile to update to latest.  (I forget if there were incompatible packages coming through that motivated that, or purely out of "man, this really is getting old, it must be crusty, surely the new version is improved".)  As it turns out, the latest (at the time, 21.1 I think it was -- wow, what an increase in version numbering, my old stuff must be TRASH!*) runs slower if anything, and is strictly incompatible with one of the most powerful packages I use (tabu isn't updated anymore, and is incompatible with LaTeX3, the major change).  Not to mention, upgrading was hair-pulling.  I think I ended up uninstalling it twice and fresh installing MiKTeX and it finally mostly worked (had to change some paths in TeXMaker).

*Chrome and Firefox incrementing on practically a monthly basis, should've clued me in: version numbers are as meaningless as anything else in this field.

And the replacement for tabu (tabularray) -- while nice by itself (with rare exceptions -- is very much incompatible.  ALL my old documents that used tabu, must be ported over to use the new system.  Because I thought updates were the responsible thing to get.  Fuck me.

- I integrated freemodbus last month.  Which is technically the first network stack I've implemented on something, albeit a lightweight one.  Neat.  (Well, maybe except for GPIB, but that's not really organized as a stack, that was a flat adapter really.)  It was a bit of work (a few days worth), just to familiarize myself with the structure, and ponder a bit about how to handle the porting (platform-dependent stuff goes in a couple files, of which the fork I started from had some #defines already between related platforms, not sure if I should follow that, or, who cares?*), but the stack itself Just Works(TM).  Well, I did find two bugs, one by inspection, one by test, both rather minor, and already on the tracker (but not implemented in current branch).

*No one cares. It's free software, remember!

That it works by callback functions, is kind of annoying, from an embedded standpoint.  It could be streamlined a lot.  C++ for example would be able to realize (I think?) that these pointers/structs/whatever are all static through the program, so can be optimized down to straight calls; but this is C.  But most of the code runs from main() anyway, and the baud and poll rate are both low enough that, who cares, it's hardly anything.  So, it's fine as it is.

- Or stuff like compilers, or related toolchain stuff.  The latest often isn't the greatest, differences between avr-gcc 4/5 for example have been mentioned before.  avr-libc is out of date for the latest generation parts.  MCP has their own version but last I checked it wasn't available publicly (I had to ask for updated headers).  When I started with AVR-DA, it was juuuust early enough that free tool support wasn't quite there (pyupdi / pymcuprog was functional, albeit slow).  Since March or so, AVRDude has integrated it, and things feel pretty normal.  Granted, every new wrinkle that adds and modifies my toolchain(s), means one more step removed from "standard" AVR Studio workflow, and who knows how compatible those are (if anyone should need to build/modify my code, that is, which so far hasn't been much).

- On the other hand, I've had nothing but success with Doom ports, for example.  GZDoom and friends are... they've only ever been drop and play.  No library fuckery (appropriate version SDL is included).  No configuration (at least anything that you can't find in menus, and rarely anything that's not in your existing config file).  No installer.  Dump it in your Doom folder and go.  It performs well*, it's incredibly rich with features (software/GL renderer, visual tweaks, postprocessing..), and, I don't think I've ever had it crash or anything, that I can't attribute to bad add-ons or my own fault.

*The worst performance I've seen, is extremely rich scenery, like Elementalism (which I highly recommend, by the way, if you're much into FPS at all, let alone Doom as such; it's very much a modern creation!).  And even then, the performance isn't much worse than others, despite the age of my computer (I think most struggle to render the richest scenes at 60 FPS; I got down to 15 FPS or so, which, sucks, but is still very much playable: controls/behavior are still real time, just the rendering is delayed).  Needless to say, these are terrifically embarrassing rates for the number of actual triangles being rendered, but... it's a force-fit, having to render all that through Doom's BSP trees plus whatever hackery makes for sector-over-sector in these WADs (reference sectors? portals? I don't know; several tricks actually I think).  More that it's doable at all, given the limitations imposed by the engine, and is still playable.

Anyway, I'm sure I can think of others, but that's a good enough cross section to paint the picture.

Or uh, perhaps too obviously, I'm using Chrome right now, or Firefox from time to time.  But Chrome in particular is very much a commercial product---it has literal employees working on it.  Such projects are highly exceptional in the FOSS ecosystem overall.  They're an example, sure, but very, very far from the rule.  So, not including in the above list for that reason.

Tim
Seven Transistor Labs, LLC
Electronic design, from concept to prototype.
Bringing a project to life?  Send me a message!
 

Offline mikeselectricstuff

  • Super Contributor
  • ***
  • Posts: 13804
  • Country: gb
    • Mike's Electric Stuff
The right tools: Why not use a Linux SBC board, where many things that you need are already done?

That in itself can be a collossal learning curve, and if/when something borks, you potentially need to dig through an awful lot of someone else's code. The flipside is that if it's a ready-made board,  even if only for prototyping, there are other identical boards out there and someone else may have found a solution to the issue you're seeing.

Quote
And it was never like this in the past, when chips were simpler. I developed literally hundreds of products over 40 years, all working alone. Just did it from data books. No internet.

The problem is the new functionality. It is so massively more complex.
This. Exactly.

It is not reasonable to expect free support from a manufacturer unless you are going to be buying significant numbers of parts, it just isn't worth their time - annoying but a reality these days.

Basically you either need to put in the time yourself, or pay someone who has already done so, either directly or by buying in modules/subsystems that are already proven. 

For example a few years ago I needed to implement a UDP client, and at the time knew pretty much zero about ethernet. Despite the processor I used having an ethernet MAC, I just used a Wiznet chip which handled it all & had it running in a couple of days.

 
Youtube channel:Taking wierd stuff apart. Very apart.
Mike's Electric Stuff: High voltage, vintage electronics etc.
Day Job: Mostly LEDs
 

Offline free_electron

  • Super Contributor
  • ***
  • Posts: 8518
  • Country: us
    • SiliconValleyGarage
Manufacturers used to have applications engineers. Guys that were salted and pickled and knew their products.
The "development boards they hand out today is the simplest possible thing , accompanied by a bunch of software they did not write ,nor understand , and one simple demo that does a simple thing.
Ask anything outside that box (or inside the 3rd party stuff provided) and it's crickets...  you have the source , use it. we don't know. We gave you a demo that's it.

We are having our lunch eaten by the chinese. They will take anything, throw a massive amount of work against it (because they can afford it), ship it, wart's and all , and the company will disappear after they milked the fat rich westerners for money.
Open source is stupid. stupid in the sense :you are giving away the technology. technology that is valuable. unscrupulous people will use it without "giving back to the community."

Companies are evolving to become farmers with their clients being the milkcows. SaaS , HaaS , Cloud computing , pay to play, apps and their updates are the prime examples. pay a monthly subscription.
Want GPS in the car ? pay ! , heated seats ? pay ! watch tv ? pay (public broadcasting used to be free)

i was telling my wife that furniture is next. Want to sit on your chair to eat lunch? Pay. A big screw will come out the middle so you can't sit on it. pay per hour . if you forget the subscription the chair will literally screw you. Next toilets : they will weigh your morning core dump and charge you per gram , notifying the doctor and pharmacist what pill to send because the color and consistency is off. Al wirelessly toyour phone. The application will be called BlueStool (instead of bluetooth)

There are places where you have to pay , depending on the size of your roof, for the rainwater you collect.... i can't control it : it's falling out of the sky ! yeah, but you are using it : pay. you are stealing revenue from the water company and the farmers cause that wate ris supposed to go in the ground to feed the aquifers the farms drill their wells in.

« Last Edit: August 10, 2022, 06:20:05 pm by free_electron »
Professional Electron Wrangler.
Any comments, or points of view expressed, are my own and not endorsed , induced or compensated by my employer(s).
 

Online peter-hTopic starter

  • Super Contributor
  • ***
  • Posts: 3748
  • Country: gb
  • Doing electronics since the 1960s...
Quote
It is not reasonable to expect free support from a manufacturer unless you are going to be buying significant numbers of parts, it just isn't worth their time - annoying but a reality these days.

Disagree totally. ST is a 14BN € company. They can't afford 1 or 2 engineers to deal with questions?
Z80 Z180 Z280 Z8 S8 8031 8051 H8/300 H8/500 80x86 90S1200 32F417
 

Online SiliconWizard

  • Super Contributor
  • ***
  • Posts: 14665
  • Country: fr
Quote
It is not reasonable to expect free support from a manufacturer unless you are going to be buying significant numbers of parts, it just isn't worth their time - annoying but a reality these days.

Disagree totally. ST is a 14BN € company. They can't afford 1 or 2 engineers to deal with questions?

Given the number of their customers, 1 or 2 would be like pissing in the sea while making the life of those engineers miserable.

It's unfortunate, but the semiconductor industry - except maybe for the very niche parts - is a high-volume business. You just can't serve low-volume customers with the same amount of support and keep being profitable. It doesn't work.

One thing to keep in mind as well - and you may be well aware of this as a company - is that the more tech support you give to customers, and the more likely it is to backfire at some point.
 
The following users thanked this post: Siwastaja, newbrain, tellurium, 5U4GB

Offline Siwastaja

  • Super Contributor
  • ***
  • Posts: 8243
  • Country: fi
And those who buy 10-20 chips often require the most attention.

People contact the manufacturers with questions that could be answered by just reading the documentation carefully. 99% of the questions are like that, caused by laziness.

The problem is, there is no way for manufacturers to filter true questions out of this noise.
 
The following users thanked this post: Berni, rsjsouza, tellurium, 5U4GB

Online SiliconWizard

  • Super Contributor
  • ***
  • Posts: 14665
  • Country: fr
One support model that can work - but I'm sure many don't like it - is to offer paid-for support.

If you're a big customer, then support may become free.
If you're a small one, then you'd have to pay a fee. To make it fair, and filter out laziness while still offering true support for customers running into a silicon bug or ill-documented feature, then I suggest the fee could be reduced down to zero if support determines that the customer indeed found a real bug, for instance. There could also be some kind of reward system, so that customers who helped find a bug or improve a product in any way would get free support tokens, or something like that. Add to this an easy way of open "tickets" and buying support (instead of having to go through hoops with the sales dept for instance), and you could have a winner. Just a thought.
« Last Edit: August 10, 2022, 07:18:48 pm by SiliconWizard »
 
The following users thanked this post: Siwastaja, tellurium, 5U4GB

Online nctnico

  • Super Contributor
  • ***
  • Posts: 27206
  • Country: nl
    • NCT Developments
Quote
It is not reasonable to expect free support from a manufacturer unless you are going to be buying significant numbers of parts, it just isn't worth their time - annoying but a reality these days.

Disagree totally. ST is a 14BN € company. They can't afford 1 or 2 engineers to deal with questions?

Given the number of their customers, 1 or 2 would be like pissing in the sea while making the life of those engineers miserable.
If I look at the support forums from NXP and NVidia, the number of support engineers is just that. 2 persons (maybe 3) that have some access to the software and hardware development team. In many cases their replies consist of pointing to documentation or existing threads but if you really have a new problem, the support people at NXP and NVidia are useful to get answers from.

So yes, 1 or 2 support engineers can make a lot of difference.
« Last Edit: August 10, 2022, 07:25:01 pm by nctnico »
There are small lies, big lies and then there is what is on the screen of your oscilloscope.
 

Online peter-hTopic starter

  • Super Contributor
  • ***
  • Posts: 3748
  • Country: gb
  • Doing electronics since the 1960s...
Quote
is that the more tech support you give to customers, and the more likely it is to backfire at some point.

Why?

Quote
but I'm sure many don't like it - is to offer paid-for support.

Paying for support tickets has 2 issues a: it carries a perception of greed b) people wil expect a decent service level

Quote
And those who buy 10-20 chips often require the most attention.

They might buy 10000 later... I have used that volume of CPUs in my little business, in years past.

Quote
You just can't serve low-volume customers with the same amount of support and keep being profitable. It doesn't work.

That's not how it works. Social media makes participation very easy. The cost is very low. I have seen it done well, and I have seen it done badly :) The main thing is that the company needs to be properly behind it, and give the front man access to real people inside.

Quote
So yes, 1 or 2 support engineers can make a lot of difference.

Exactly.

« Last Edit: August 10, 2022, 08:50:15 pm by peter-h »
Z80 Z180 Z280 Z8 S8 8031 8051 H8/300 H8/500 80x86 90S1200 32F417
 

Offline Berni

  • Super Contributor
  • ***
  • Posts: 4997
  • Country: si
They might buy 10000 later... I have used that volume of CPUs in my little business, in years past.

Yep at that point you will get much better support from them since you are a sizable costumer.

Problem is that for large chip manufacturers they have way too many people using the chips. To really answer any random person on the internet in a timely and high quality fashion would need a very large team of people that are actually knowledgeable with the products. They instead use the smart people in engineering.

For companies that have to provide support to the average joe (like a ISP) you will usually find a pyramid tier system on the phone. When calling technical support the first person you get on the line is usually some intern that only really knows to tell people to reboot there modem. When that is not the solution you get transferred up to a person who actually knows something, this is the guy that will send a tech if they identify a problem on your end. But if it is not a costumer side issue then you get your call promoted yet again up to the people who actually know how the ISPs network works and can solve the more serious problems. This way they can have the cheep intern students solve 90% of support calls by explaining to grandma how to reboot a modem over a lengthy 30 minute phone call.

But when it comes to support for very technical things like chips even the first tier has to know a lot to actually be of any use. While you indeed won't get grandma calling in to ask why her I2C peripheral is locking up when used by DMA, you will certainly get a lot of beginner engineers flooding in with problems that just stem from them not reading the datasheet correctly.To make things worse these tickets can waste a lot of time too due to the poor debugging skills of the client. They will often provide a short vague description of the problem, never list out what they already tried to do to solve it, then followed by them copy pasting a huge wall of code that contains all sorts of other crap in it (rather than a short concise test case for reproducing the problem) while the problem might even be in some other source file that they didn't copy paste.

Once you get to costumers that have already bought thousands of chips this makes a good filter that the costumer actually knows what they are doing. That way you support costumers that actually make you a profit while making sure you don't get nearly as many silly time wasting support tickets.

Is it fair that companies do this? Not really no. But they are a business after all, being nice to strangers on the internet doesn't directly put green numbers on there balance sheet.

However you will find companies put some effort into providing educational material towards academics. That way they can teach people how to use there MCUs instead.
 

Online peter-hTopic starter

  • Super Contributor
  • ***
  • Posts: 3748
  • Country: gb
  • Doing electronics since the 1960s...
Quote
Yep at that point you will get much better support from them since you are a sizable costumer.

Actually, you won't (IME).
Z80 Z180 Z280 Z8 S8 8031 8051 H8/300 H8/500 80x86 90S1200 32F417
 

Offline westfw

  • Super Contributor
  • ***
  • Posts: 4224
  • Country: us
Quote
Manufacturers used to have applications engineers. Guys that were salted and pickled and knew their products.
They'd talk to you if you were a big enough company, or if you happened to spark their interest for some reason and they weren't busy.

But in those days, your nominal 2-person company probably couldn't even buy chips.  :-(
I worked for a company that went from so small that vendors wouldn't want to talk to us, to so big that they'd happily lie to us about how wonderful their new chip was going to be (in hopes of being selected.)  Interesting times!

It helps SO much to have:
  • Several engineers with complementary knowledge.  And visions.
  • A community of people with similar interests.  There is a reason that not-very-great products like 8052-Basic, Parallax BASIC Stamp, and Arduino, have had "great success."  A lot of that is a hierarchy of people ranging from clueless beginners asking "can I do xxx?", and somewhat less clueless folks thinking about the answers, to near-experts figuring out how to MAKE it work.  Sometimes this is forums, sometimes mailing lists, sometimes ... something else.
  • Clue-full customers.   People who will do more than complain that "it doesn't work."
I ... don't know how to explain the general awfulness of vendor forums.  It's like ... you need to attract a certain percentage of beginners that ask the stupid questions that in fact lots of people were wondering about.  And you have to put up with them, and that the same stupid questions will get asked over and over again.   On a good forum (here, avrfreaks, PICList, Arduino forums, maybe the RPi Pico forums) you eventually build up a middle tier of people who aren't the vendor, who are nevertheless capable and willing to answer those questions.  (EAGLE used to do this - they had newgroups, and most of the "new free-version-user questions" got answered by other customers, rather than by the EAGLE people.)   I think too many vendor forums try to have a "customers ask questions, and one of our people will answer them; maybe" model, and it doesn't scale.
 
The following users thanked this post: tellurium

Online peter-hTopic starter

  • Super Contributor
  • ***
  • Posts: 3748
  • Country: gb
  • Doing electronics since the 1960s...
The reality has always been, since the earliest days of the internet (Compuserve, Usenet, etc) that manufacturers have been scared of social media.

And for good reason, with sites like Trustpilot often slagging them off.

I've been involved with running forum(s) and this has often puzzled me. They just have an institutional paranoia about getting involved. They don't seem to get that if they did it right, they would get a lot of business. On the one I run now, we have a rule that commercial posters can advertise their products if they participate generally in the forum, but 99% of the time I get every possible variation of advertising without contributing anything! OK; for chip support this would not be a good model because one really wants full time mfg presence, just answering questions and such. I absolutely do not buy that a 14BN company cannot afford this. They probably have a whole team monitoring social media and managing their SM profile, to optimise google hits (SEO is huge business now; even I pay £250/month) and to control negative stuff. 1 or 2 people did it well and one guy (just him working alone) was getting 50k/year of business from his forum postings!

The ST forum is a total joke, even when you allow for most questions being stupid. But even carefully formed specific questions do not normally get answers. There is no mfg presence.

Open source support is a separate thing and obviously more difficult because nobody is making money. Well, they might be. Look at the Magento online shop. Free, OS, and there are 10000 "Magento consultants" who make money out of setting it up for you and maintaining it. My huge mistake was to get the "Monday guy" to implement ours; it took him a year or two of Mondays. I should have just paid 10-20k to somebody. Now I pay per hour to a guy who set it up on a fresh virtual server (it used to run in-house - another crazy idea) and his costs work out at £100/month; often zero. A lot of online shops are going to Shopify and again an army of "consultants" exists around that (I wouldn't touch a "cloud based" shop, especially one hosted on the impossible to contact AWS, with a bargepole). Hence I am surprised that there isn't anybody making money out of integrating LWIP, FreeRTOS, MbedTLS, etc. Right now I would pay someone ~1k for some consultancy on these (go over the implementation, latest patches, etc) even though the current system runs solidly. But only experts can make money on a fixed price job; everybody else has to charge hourly ;) and then the customer tends to get ripped off. And of course such people would participate on specific forums for these, if they existed, which they don't, because the existing ones are all dead.

« Last Edit: August 11, 2022, 10:29:30 am by peter-h »
Z80 Z180 Z280 Z8 S8 8031 8051 H8/300 H8/500 80x86 90S1200 32F417
 

Online T3sl4co1l

  • Super Contributor
  • ***
  • Posts: 21849
  • Country: us
  • Expert, Analog Electronics, PCB Layout, EMC
    • Seven Transistor Labs
A community of people with similar interests.  There is a reason that not-very-great products like 8052-Basic, Parallax BASIC Stamp, and Arduino, have had "great success."

This is an interesting point, because it generalizes.

What makes cars great*?
What makes the American healthcare system great*? (or any other hot button political issue)
What makes sports great*?
In fact, applied theory right here for 'ya: what would be, very much not-great, about allowing unlimited doping in Olympic sports?

Anything truly "great", in a systemic sense, returns value at every level.  Cars get people around faster and cheaper than horses.  Cars sell gas.  Cars sell maintenance.  Cars sell.  Cars make roads.  They return value at every level, from the everyday person to the highest levels of auto and oil execs, and more.

*To be clear: whether that's "great" in a moral sense, or for a maximal number of people, etc.: that is, sadly, beside the point.  American healthcare illustrating this in perhaps sharpest relief among the examples here.  Systemic, as in, the whole thing simultaneously, accounting for all forces acting for and against the thing.  On the whole, it seems we're stuck with these, for better or for worse, at least before a great many other things change first -- that's why they stay entrenched, they're part of a big network of interdependencies.

The applied case, then: doping top-level athletes implies doping mid-level athletes.  And so on.  Legitimizing use at the highest level, at the very least encourages others to do it, and to simply get better at avoiding tests.  We could excuse the bodily self-abuse of top athletes, in search of ultimate human limits, sure; but it gets much harder to do, when you realize how much training goes into that, between however many people -- there must be a ready supply of competitors to choose from, that only the best are selected from.  And a supply of up-and-comers vying for those positions, and so on.  So it affects everyone from the lowest to the highest, and is altogether...just not a great idea.

Perhaps this is a more obvious example than the others, perhaps you've pondered this before; the point is to ponder just a bit further: it generalizes -- the pyramid structure is very much relevant to the present topic.

Arduino for example, you can dismiss it if you like, as some unprofessional hack-job -- but the fact remains, its presence affects professionals.  I've seen boards themselves on desks several times, and even if you aren't using the boards and libraries, you may benefit from all the code implementing or supporting it (like device drivers).  Personally, I've used, at least a display driver, which involved porting an Adafruit Arduino module to C (they're normally C++).

Or the Basic Stamp things.  They've been around for AGES.  I have Electronics Nows from the 90s (and, probably including that magazine's predecessor too, in the late 80s or whenever the thing was introduced?) plastered with their ads.  Be cynical if you like, about BASIC, or that product's capabilities, but clearly they weren't a losing proposition!  BASIC itself has served as an introductory programming language to millions (maybe billions even..?), problematic though it is with respect to more practical, or pure, computer science, as the case may be.  I... doubt many were buying Stamps in much quantity, but viewing them as a stepping stone to the wider embedded ecosystem(s) -- that which Arduino is bigger at today -- absolutely!

And Arduino, being as open and accessible as it is, has been ported to dozens of platforms.  You can have the full power (well, minus library cruft) of a Cortex M4+ (or more? I don't even know what the most powerful MCU is, supporting Arduino*..), or as little as an AVR.

*Well, probably something like rPi, though that'd be going through OS calls to set up peripherals, GPIOs, etc., not library drivers.  Hm, maybe it's not actually implemented on that, actually...

So, as for applying this to present circumstances -- IC manufacturers -- it doesn't matter, systemically, where that lead-in occurs.  It could involve free samples, or at least at-cost dev boards (as it has briefly in the past, like the uh, some of the LaunchPads were seriously marked down for a while, weren't they? Those were the days, huh..), and that's their economic "in"; and anywhere from unofficial/3rd party forums, to an army of engineers supporting their official forum (or these days, perhaps a Stack).  Heck, Arduino has proven you don't even need those first two -- just as long as the chip gets in there.  rPi is another example, come to think of it (with a more direct connection instead).

And then it leads all the way up to the highest levels, where seasoned engineers are choosing products based on familiarity and availability; familiarity which was won years ago in the lead-in phase, when they were at the bottom of the pyramid, and picked up whatever dev kits they did.

Well, with tight supplies as we have today, manufacturers are forced to prioritize.  They're going to drop the numerous, less profitable, little customers; eventually, that will cost them their positioning at the lowest tier of the pyramid, or indeed destabilize it (since most everyone is coming up short here).  But it will take much time for that to bite them.

Hm, I wonder what kind of time constant(s) relate to that, anyway?  Probably very distributed, since you've got everything from older people and slow learners (for whatever reasons; maybe they just can't spare the time to learn a new toolchain, that counts, too); to fast-learning geniuses, and current students.  The students that are slow-learning, or that turn into old people set in their ways, would seem to be the first to miss out on, well, whatever product lines are short in supply right now.  The fast learners, or the broadly experienced, won't take long to change between product lines / toolchains, or are already familiar with enough to get by.

Which is to paint a more nuanced picture: it's not just one pyramid, but a bunch of them clustered together: broad roots, with many peaks.  More like mountains, with the various PIC and AVR foothills, the ARM and x86 and etc. mountain ranges... A nimble engineer can scale whatever mountain they need to, while others might spend their whole lives climbing up, sometimes falling down, never quite reaching the peak.  (Which is... about as far as the "mountain" analogy need be stretched.  Not to imply, you know, the usual place that goes: the triumph of conquering that peak...  This is work, it's fine to spend, you know, your whole career maybe, somewhere up or down the slopes.  There isn't really a peak here, it's all slopes...)

Would also seem like -- if you can get your product out at all -- now would be a great time to flood those bottom tiers with products.  This could be a great opportunity for RISC-V, say?  Since there are, as yet, maybe not so many production applications for them (I would guess..?!), maybe they could raise production and gain new adopters.  Is there Arduino on any yet?  SBCs to rival the rPi's?

Tim
Seven Transistor Labs, LLC
Electronic design, from concept to prototype.
Bringing a project to life?  Send me a message!
 

Online SiliconWizard

  • Super Contributor
  • ***
  • Posts: 14665
  • Country: fr
The reality has always been, since the earliest days of the internet (Compuserve, Usenet, etc) that manufacturers have been scared of social media.

And for good reason, with sites like Trustpilot often slagging them off.

For good reason indeed. Typical social media for product support? Are you serious? :-DD
It's just a rabbit hole that can destroy your company in no time flat while bringing a lot of noise and very limited benefit for customers.
 

Online peter-hTopic starter

  • Super Contributor
  • ***
  • Posts: 3748
  • Country: gb
  • Doing electronics since the 1960s...
So, how would one stay in contact with customers?

Fax?

Customer input is the best (arguably the only, nowadays) form of market research.

If you listen only to your few huge OEM customers, you end up making only weird chips with weird features and not much general applicability. You will sell development tools for $20k (instead of the free Cube IDE for example) - like e.g. Nokia did if you wanted to develop apps with the highest access privilege - because every OEM can pay 20k without a thought.

Forums are a powerful channel but need to be used correctly. Most vendors use them incorrectly and then complain that they get mostly damage. No surprise!
Z80 Z180 Z280 Z8 S8 8031 8051 H8/300 H8/500 80x86 90S1200 32F417
 

Offline brucehoult

  • Super Contributor
  • ***
  • Posts: 4106
  • Country: nz
And Arduino, being as open and accessible as it is, has been ported to dozens of platforms.  You can have the full power (well, minus library cruft) of a Cortex M4+ (or more? I don't even know what the most powerful MCU is, supporting Arduino*..), or as little as an AVR.

Well, at least the Teensy 4.x, with 600 MHz Cortex M7 which is actually perfectly happy if you choose 960 MHz in the Arduino IDE. It's actually faster (single core) than a Raspberry Pi 2.

There is probably faster. See below.

Quote
*Well, probably something like rPi, though that'd be going through OS calls to set up peripherals, GPIOs, etc., not library drivers.  Hm, maybe it's not actually implemented on that, actually...

You could run bare-metal on a Pi ... except the boot process is highly not documented.

Quote
Would also seem like -- if you can get your product out at all -- now would be a great time to flood those bottom tiers with products.  This could be a great opportunity for RISC-V, say?  Since there are, as yet, maybe not so many production applications for them (I would guess..?!), maybe they could raise production and gain new adopters.  Is there Arduino on any yet?

The very first RISC-V chip and board ever offered for sale -- the HiFive1, in December 2016 -- came with support for the Arduino IDE.

A few days after mine finally arrived in Moscow I did this, using pure Arduino C++ code including the infamous digitalWrite() to implement a 1-bit DAC, toggling a GPIO (or not) once per µs.



That wasn't using all the SPI flash, so an hour later I did this:



Quote
SBCs to rival the rPi's?

Noting at the outset that other SBC manufacturers using ARM aren't able to match Pi prices...

RISC-V SBCs of approximately Pi 3 performance have been available for more than 4 years, though at higher (and steadily falling) prices.

I've tested some using a simple benchmark I originally wrote to compare Pi 3 and Odroid C2 and XU4 with x86 machines in 2016 (https://hoult.org/primes.txt)

An extract from the results:

Code: [Select]
11.190 sec Pi4 Cortex A72 @ 1.5 GHz T32          232 bytes  16.8 billion clocks
 11.445 sec Odroid XU4 A15 @ 2 GHz T32            204 bytes  22.9 billion clocks
 12.115 sec Pi4 Cortex A72 @ 1.5 GHz A64          300 bytes  18.2 billion clocks
 12.605 sec Pi4 Cortex A72 @ 1.5 GHz A32          300 bytes  18.9 billion clocks
 15.298 sec HiFive Unmatched RISC-V U74 @ 1.5 GHz 250 bytes  22.9 billion clocks
 19.500 sec Odroid C2 A53 @ 1.536 GHz A64         276 bytes  30.0 billion clocks
 23.940 sec Odroid C2 A53 @ 1.536 GHz T32         204 bytes  36.8 billion clocks
 27.196 sec Teensy 4.0 Cortex M7 @ 960 MHz        228 bytes  26.1 billion clocks
 27.480 sec HiFive Unleashed RISCV U54 @ 1.45 GHz 228 bytes  39.8 billion clocks
 30.420 sec Pi3 Cortex A53 @ 1.2 GHz T32          204 bytes  36.5 billion clocks
 36.652 sec Allwinner D1 C906 RV64 @ 1.008 GHz    224 bytes  36.9 billion clocks
 39.840 sec HiFive Unl RISCV U54 @ 1.0 GHz        228 bytes  39.8 billion clocks
 43.516 sec Teensy 4.0 Cortex M7 @ 600 MHz        228 bytes  26.1 billion clocks
 47.910 sec Pi2 Cortex A7 @ 900 MHz T32           204 bytes  42.1 billion clocks
112.163 sec HiFive1 RISCV E31 @ 320 MHz           178 bytes  35.9 billion clocks

Prices for the HiFive boards:


Dec 2016: $ 59 HiFive1

Mar 2018: $999 HiFive Unleashed (quad core, 8 GB RAM, SD card, gigE, UART .. and that's *it*)

May 2021: $665 HiFive Unmatched (quad core, 16 GB RAM, Mini ITX, PCIe, M.2)

In December 2021 the "VisionFive v1" came out in China for $180 with 8 GB RAM. It has the same U74 cores as the HiFive Unmatched, but only two of them.

Pine64 have pre-announced the Star64, with quad 1.5 GHz U74 cores. They say it will be the same physical form factor, and about the same performance, and price as their ARM-based Quartz64 RK3566 quad A55 board i.e. $60 with 4 GB, $80 with 8 GB. They say it should be shipping in a few months.

Within a couple of months we can expect to see demos of Intel's "Horse Creek" platform with SiFive P550 cores which should come in I think similar (or maybe better) as the RK3588 which has recently started to appear in ARM SBCs around $250. SiFive will release a board using this as the replacement for the HiFive Unmatched.

So that leapfrogs the Pi 4 level of board.
 
The following users thanked this post: T3sl4co1l

Offline westfw

  • Super Contributor
  • ***
  • Posts: 4224
  • Country: us
Quote
Arduino for example, you can dismiss it if you like, as some unprofessional hack-job -- but the fact remains, its presence affects professionals.
For example, prior to Arduino, I would have rated PICs (8bit PICs) and AVRs as "approximately similar" in the level of interest they received from hobbyists (both beginning and advanced) and probably educational settings.
Social-media wise, there was the PICList Mailing list, and there was the AVRFreaks forum.  Both were pretty good, with a number of helpful experts, and a lot of interesting material.  Not always perfect - regular complaints about condescending attitudes and "meanness", and people who left when their behavior was criticized - but ... very useful.
You could buy the more popular chips and some development boards from a relatively large swath of hobby vendors, and the less popular chips from Digikey or other "mid-tier" distributors.  They were reasonably priced.
The base software (ie an assemler) was free, and there was more powerful SW that you could buy.

Post-Arduino, the AVR has pulled way ahead.  PICList is practically empty, AVRFreaks is 30% Arduino questions, the Arduino forums get 100+ message/day.  Plus ancillary support from other vendors with their own forums (Adafruit, Sparkfun, etc), plus stackexchange and etc.


Quote
Typical social media for product support? Are you serious?
That depends on what you consider "social media."  Instagram, SnapChat, and TikTok?  You've got to be kidding.  Twitter and Facebook?  Probably not.  (although the Z80MBC2 group on FB has been pretty good.)  Standalone forums like Arduino, Adafruit, Sparkfun, AVRFreaks, EEVBlog, individual vendor forums?  Those can work really well; *I* consider them "social media."  Email lists?  ditto.
 

Offline westfw

  • Super Contributor
  • ***
  • Posts: 4224
  • Country: us
Quote
That's what I think about two of the Olimex's Ethernet chips
Did you mean WizNet?  I didn't think Olimex DID "chips."

Quote
Quote
Given the number of their customers, 1 or 2 would be like pissing in the sea while making the life of those engineers miserable.

If I look at the support forums from NXP and NVidia, the number of support engineers is just that. 2 persons (maybe 3) that have some access to the software and hardware development team. ...   1 or 2 support engineers can make a lot of difference.

2 or 3 people dedicated to servicing the forum can make a big difference, if they have sufficient experience.  2 or 3 applications engineers TOTAL (or "per region") seems to be more typical, and having them spread their attention amongst phone calls, email, in-person visits, and "social media" is a recipe for disaster.
And the companies that DO have separate people for social media seem to think that it's either a "marketing duty" or a job for beginners (who then graduate to the hands-on AE positions if they learn enough.)  More disaster.

I think the vendors ought to hand out "gifts" to those retired grumps who are on forums like here complaining "kids today don't know anything, but I can try to teach some of them, I guess."  I've gotten some occasional swag like that - it's very gratifying.  It'd be moreso if it were closer to the tax-related "gifting limit."  :-)  (yeah, I dunno what that would mean for the vendors' accounting.  "Gifts" are probably less attractive than "salaries", tax-wise, for the giver.)



Quote
The mistake I made, probably 15 years ago, was not going up the ETH learning curve then.  ... Which CPU? Not sure; was the ARM32 32F4-like stuff around then?

Let's see.  15 years ago.  2007. Pre-Arduino.
The first ARM Cortex M-3 was announced in 2006 - a Luminary Micro 20MHz CM3 with 8k flash and 2k RAM.
The Stellaris LM3S6432 microcontroller with built-in ethernet (including Phy!) (86k flash, 32k RAM) is probably more the sort of thing you would have wanted to use.  That looks like it came out in 2009.
You could have gotten the ENC28J60 Ethernet controller from Microchip - that looks like it came out in about 2006.

Those all a bit tiny for a modern TCP/IP stack, IMO.  Wishful thinking on the silicon vendors' part.  The whole "IoT" thing is relatively new, driven by the drops in silicon pricing for "reasonable sized" processors and network connectivity.  Cisco apparently claims that IoT was "born" in 2008-2009; I'd guess that was about the time that "things" passed "technical curiosity" and became "possibly profit-generating product."  It certainly wasn't the case in the early days of networking, even if CMU did connect a vending machine to ARPANet back in 1982 (probably costing $1000+ in 1982 dollars.)
 
The following users thanked this post: tellurium

Online peter-hTopic starter

  • Super Contributor
  • ***
  • Posts: 3748
  • Country: gb
  • Doing electronics since the 1960s...
Quote
Let's see.  15 years ago.  2007. Pre-Arduino.
The first ARM Cortex M-3 was announced in 2006 - a Luminary Micro 20MHz CM3 with 8k flash and 2k RAM.
The Stellaris LM3S6432 microcontroller with built-in ethernet (including Phy!) (86k flash, 32k RAM) is probably more the sort of thing you would have wanted to use.  That looks like it came out in 2009.
You could have gotten the ENC28J60 Ethernet controller from Microchip - that looks like it came out in about 2006.

I think the only way back then was one of those modules. I don't recall the PNs but recall seeing some.

This stuff existed a long time ago. About 15 years ago I brought out a product based on a programmable protocol converter I was doing then (and still do) which did a sort of monitoring function, with capabilities to SMS a service engineer, different people at different times, etc. It used a Siemens TC35 modem. A stupid idea; should have been done with a self contained module. Siemens dropped the TC35, it became Cinterion, then they went pop and it became something else. It did SMS, GSM dial-up, GSM fax (yes that was implemented too, with fonts etc!) and email. The email was with SMTP so this thing must have had a partial TCP/IP stack. There was DNS. The interface to my system was via RS232, Hayes AT commands with nonstandard extensions. The CPU was probably an 8051 or similar. The TC35 is really old - 20 years? I recall looking at TCP/IP in the Z180 days, late 1980s, and it was about 64k of code, which made it hard (not impossible, with bank switching, especially in an RTOS). Almost nobody did it back then.

I am sure Olimex don't do "chips" - they might get some masked ROM CPUs "overprinted" :) I would never buy such a product. It is like the unusual LCDs, made by just one German company.

Anyway, digressing.

Quote
That depends on what you consider "social media."  Instagram, SnapChat, and TikTok?  You've got to be kidding.  Twitter and Facebook?  Probably not.  (although the Z80MBC2 group on FB has been pretty good.)  Standalone forums like Arduino, Adafruit, Sparkfun, AVRFreaks, EEVBlog, individual vendor forums?  Those can work really well; *I* consider them "social media."  Email lists?  ditto.

Yes, except mailing lists are really no good now. The ones I have been on seem totally dead. All of them. WWW forums is the way to go, because you get SEO, easy archive searches, a proper discussion capability. But it needs to be well set up and well run. Some forum software is utter garbage e.g. the ST forum https://community.st.com/ which is horrible. Only an idiot would have set up a tech forum which requires you to click on "view more" after a few posts. EEVBLOG (PHP-BB) is ok but needs a good setup and some paid admins doing constant patching because PHP-BB has been an easy hacking target.


Z80 Z180 Z280 Z8 S8 8031 8051 H8/300 H8/500 80x86 90S1200 32F417
 

Offline westfw

  • Super Contributor
  • ***
  • Posts: 4224
  • Country: us
Quote
I think the only way back then was one of those modules.
Yeah.  My EMail Archives say that the Lantronix X-Port, which was the earliest "single port serial server" that I can remember, dates back to at least 2003.  It looks like the WizNet W5100 existed in 2007 (but I don't know if normal people could actually GET one.)

Of course, there were a lot of vendors doing multi-port "terminal servers" that could be operated in reverse, or "milking machine" mode, dating back to mid 1980s.  Cost per port was a bit excessive, and by the mid 2000s they tended to be focused on many-port dial-in Internet Service (SLIP/PPP) and built-in 56k modems, rather than driving the price down on the "simpler" serial services.  Sigh.
 

Online peter-hTopic starter

  • Super Contributor
  • ***
  • Posts: 3748
  • Country: gb
  • Doing electronics since the 1960s...
I was reminded of this thread when writing this
https://www.eevblog.com/forum/programming/best-thread-safe-printf-and-why-does-printf-need-the-heap-for-f-etc/msg4357471/#msg4357471
OK, ST didn't supply the source code so you can't call it "open source" but it was still junk. And 99% of users will never find out. The stuff will just occassionally crash :)
Z80 Z180 Z280 Z8 S8 8031 8051 H8/300 H8/500 80x86 90S1200 32F417
 

Offline tellurium

  • Frequent Contributor
  • **
  • Posts: 267
  • Country: ua
i was telling my wife that furniture is next. Want to sit on your chair to eat lunch? Pay. A big screw will come out the middle so you can't sit on it. pay per hour . if you forget the subscription the chair will literally screw you. Next toilets : they will weigh your morning core dump and charge you per gram , notifying the doctor and pharmacist what pill to send because the color and consistency is off. Al wirelessly toyour phone. The application will be called BlueStool (instead of bluetooth)

IMO that is a reality long time now, with all these hidden taxes like VAT. Every time you pay, you get shaved off slightly (or not so slightly). And people will be creative in making you pay more often.

But hey, wasn't that the case centuries ago? When people paid taxes for every window (want sunlight in your hourse, pay!) ? For crossing a bridge? Or even on entering a neighbor town?
Open source embedded network library https://github.com/cesanta/mongoose
TCP/IP stack + TLS1.3 + HTTP/WebSocket/MQTT in a single file
 

Offline 5U4GB

  • Frequent Contributor
  • **
  • Posts: 420
  • Country: au
And those who buy 10-20 chips often require the most attention.

We've run into that, a customer that wanted support for something where they were essentially writing their code via our free-if-not-abused-too-much support system.  These guys were probably generating more support traffic than all other customers combined until the licensing guy told them they'd used up their free quota and would have to pay from now on.  Suddenly their developers became much more competent and didn't need a lot of support any more.
 

Offline westfw

  • Super Contributor
  • ***
  • Posts: 4224
  • Country: us
Quote
a customer that wanted support for something where they were essentially writing their code via our free-if-not-abused-too-much support system.
That's why vendors should be (and frequently are) so supportive of things like Arduino. Or the hobbyist market and/or forums with little company participation in general.   If you can get the "users" to support each other (for free!), everybody wins!

 

Online SiliconWizard

  • Super Contributor
  • ***
  • Posts: 14665
  • Country: fr
And those who buy 10-20 chips often require the most attention.

We've run into that, a customer that wanted support for something where they were essentially writing their code via our free-if-not-abused-too-much support system.  These guys were probably generating more support traffic than all other customers combined until the licensing guy told them they'd used up their free quota and would have to pay from now on.  Suddenly their developers became much more competent and didn't need a lot of support any more.

That's a well-known, and general issue in business in general.
Clients that generate the less revenue usually take the most time and effort.

But that's true outside of a business relationship as well to some extent. The less effort (not necessarily money) someone has to make to get something from you and the more they are likely to abuse.

 
The following users thanked this post: DiTBho

Online Nominal Animal

  • Super Contributor
  • ***
  • Posts: 6419
  • Country: fi
    • My home page and email address
And those who buy 10-20 chips often require the most attention.

We've run into that, a customer that wanted support for something where they were essentially writing their code via our free-if-not-abused-too-much support system.  These guys were probably generating more support traffic than all other customers combined until the licensing guy told them they'd used up their free quota and would have to pay from now on.  Suddenly their developers became much more competent and didn't need a lot of support any more.

That's a well-known, and general issue in business in general.
Or more broadly, just one facet of the Pareto principle.
 

Offline 5U4GB

  • Frequent Contributor
  • **
  • Posts: 420
  • Country: au
It's really quite variable, most of our clients are pretty good, ranging from frighteningly competent (a large well-known test equipment manufacturer) through to reasonably OK but maybe a bit out of their depth and in need of some advice, so these guys were really the exception.  Having said that our stuff is highly tuned towards making it easy to use/minimising our tech support load, so most of what comes in is intelligent questions where it's not a chore to answer them.
 

Online Nominal Animal

  • Super Contributor
  • ***
  • Posts: 6419
  • Country: fi
    • My home page and email address
It's really quite variable, most of our clients are pretty good, ranging from frighteningly competent (a large well-known test equipment manufacturer) through to reasonably OK but maybe a bit out of their depth and in need of some advice, so these guys were really the exception.  Having said that our stuff is highly tuned towards making it easy to use/minimising our tech support load, so most of what comes in is intelligent questions where it's not a chore to answer them.
Yeah, the 80%/20%, or one fifth, isn't precise at all, it's the idea how effort and results seem to correlate whenever humans are involved.

In your case, it just means that it is normal to have a small fraction of clients that consume a relatively large fraction of support resources.  It sounds like you monitored the issue and dealt with it effectively, and I do applaud that –– and I would even if I myself were that client.

My point is, such cases are to be expected because of humans, regardless of how good your documentation and non-human-interactive support is.
Those who are not aware of the Pareto effect, may think that because they have a few such users, their documentation etc. is insufficient; but it may just be human nature instead.  Similarly, those who only listen to clients who contact support, should remember that just because the clients ask for something, it may not be what they need or even want.

With regards to open source software, most people do not grok that the free/open refers to libre, not zero cost.  (I am not referring to OP here, but to humans using open source tools in general.)
Free/open source software definitely evolves in a market of sorts, and you don't get support –– or anything, really, except for a copy of the software itself –– for no cost.  It is just that typically, the cost is paid in time and effort by knowledgeable people, instead of money.  This means that to get support with LwIP, MbedTLS, etc., you need to have contacts with such people, and have some way of convincing them to help you.  Smallish sums of cash money are often considered more a nuisance than help, because the knowledgeable ones tend to already have well-paying jobs, and an exchange of money only makes things more complicated (especially the direct relationship, expectations, timetables –– contracts, really).  So, even if you do have a reasonable budget, it is definitely not straightforward at all.

The end result is that people like OP find it very difficult to obtain support, because we haven't yet discovered the business models that can bridge things here in a mutually beneficial manner.

In fact, based on what I know about the business side (used to run an IT company myself for a few years around the turn of the century; did well, but it burned me out mentally) and about the FOSS world, I suspect such business models have to be based on nonprofit model.  I do not like the direction companies like RedHat (owned by IBM) or Canonical (Ubuntu) are taking their development and support, but Linux Foundation, Apache Software Foundation, Free Software Foundation, and other nonprofits in this area seem to work.

I'm guessing what OP and others' really need, is a credible foundation-type nonprofit, that provides access to knowledgeable developers for support on basically any FOSS project; roving problem-solvers and bug-hunters, if you will.  You don't actually pay the developers directly, but support the foundation, which in turn supports the developers.  Since the developers do not work for the people asking for support, but for the foundation, there are ways to resolve the "not very competent client demanding excessive support" problem, which a direct relationship does not allow (except by dropping the client).
Problem is, the developers and learners who'd love to be part of that even part-time, and the business/admin people (with enough spine to not actually exploit the structure for their own personal financial benefit) who could run such an organization, just do not meet in the current world.

Or perhaps I am utterly wrong, as I sometimes am.  :-//
« Last Edit: May 27, 2023, 10:36:55 am by Nominal Animal »
 
The following users thanked this post: 5U4GB

Offline 5U4GB

  • Frequent Contributor
  • **
  • Posts: 420
  • Country: au
The end result is that people like OP find it very difficult to obtain support, because we haven't yet discovered the business models that can bridge things here in a mutually beneficial manner.

The freemium business model is good for this, free but minimal support vs. non-free but commercial support.  There are even specific licenses like Sleepycat for this, the user gets to choose either GPL and no cost or commercial but with support service.
 
The following users thanked this post: Nominal Animal

Offline madires

  • Super Contributor
  • ***
  • Posts: 7868
  • Country: de
  • A qualified hobbyist ;)
Several small and large companies are making their money by providing professional support for open source software, sometimes also offering an enhanced version (more features, etc). In many cases those companies were founded by the original authors of the open source software. It's not a new business model.
 
The following users thanked this post: Nominal Animal, 5U4GB

Online coppice

  • Super Contributor
  • ***
  • Posts: 8812
  • Country: gb
And those who buy 10-20 chips often require the most attention.

We've run into that, a customer that wanted support for something where they were essentially writing their code via our free-if-not-abused-too-much support system.  These guys were probably generating more support traffic than all other customers combined until the licensing guy told them they'd used up their free quota and would have to pay from now on.  Suddenly their developers became much more competent and didn't need a lot of support any more.
This is a complex issue. Most of those high support/low volume people are a major drag on resources. However, among them are often gems that help you sort out your own systems, so that support runs much more smoothly for your big money making customers. Especially since those low volume people are often the ones using the latest bells and whistles, where your own support processes have yet to mature.
 

Offline westfw

  • Super Contributor
  • ***
  • Posts: 4224
  • Country: us
Quote
those low volume people are often the ones using the latest bells and whistles
The people playing with the latest and greatest chips are pretty indistinguishable from hobbyists, unless the chip was targeted at a specific company/project.
 

Online Nominal Animal

  • Super Contributor
  • ***
  • Posts: 6419
  • Country: fi
    • My home page and email address
Several small and large companies are making their money by providing professional support for open source software, sometimes also offering an enhanced version (more features, etc). In many cases those companies were founded by the original authors of the open source software. It's not a new business model.
True; but I was talking about the case where the original authors do not want or cannot provide professional support.  It is actually quite rare for FOSS libraries' authors to do that.  When they can, it is obviously a good, working model.

We do have a lot of "roving" know-how that could do that kind of stuff, but do not want or cannot do (because of their contracts) such work as freelance, nor set up a company to do that.  Myself included.  I tend to do that sort of stuff just to help out a select few friends.  "Fixing" lwIP or MbedTLS is a long-term project, and would need a dedicated team; it's outside the scale of a few days' to fix a bug or missing feature...

Quote
those low volume people are often the ones using the latest bells and whistles
The people playing with the latest and greatest chips are pretty indistinguishable from hobbyists, unless the chip was targeted at a specific company/project.
And some of those will end up using their favourite chips in later mass-produced designs.  Early market capture via hobbyists and education, et cetera.

Of course, some != all.  Perhaps 80% of those are just hobbyists all the way, and only 20% serious designers somewhat later?  (Those numbers being just examples!) It makes calculating the actual cost/return ratio on hobbyist-type support for new chips very, very difficult.
 

Offline std

  • Contributor
  • Posts: 15
  • Country: 00
I quickly learnt that you end up working alone.
No support from ST (32F417). They have a forum which is full of desperate people, no ST presence (they are only a €14BN company, so they can't afford to support their products) and virtually no useful replies from anybody. Just one guy occassionally posts good stuff but only after he's told you that you are a complete moron. They do loads of videos which are barely legible (very poor English).
Hello Peter,
I remember one of your posts on the "ST community" forum, where you were rightly surprised by the ridiculous UART Receive functions
It was probably you, I remember Z80 well in the signature (with which I have a lot of connections, I wrote assembler for several years).

So, practical question - is their forum is right to ask any questions?  I mean did you ever get any help at all? Is there anything useful there or is their forum completely pointless, should I ignore it?

Quote
No support on LWIP. There is a mailing list which is dead. Vast amounts of bogus info posted everywhere.
No support on MbedTLS. There is a mailing list which is dead.
No support on FreeRTOS. There is a mailing list which is dead. Fortunately FR runs well.
No support on FatFS. There is a mailing list which is dead. Fortunately FF runs well.

How did you determine this? Did you ask questions after they didn’t answer you, or did you determine this by observation?

Quote
How do other people manage?

The main question is -
Did you manage to identify the fishing spots? Sites and people who are really useful in developing the things listed above.

Quote
And it was never like this in the past, when chips were simpler. I developed literally hundreds of products over 40 years, all working alone. Just did it from data books. No internet. The problem is the new functionality. It is so massively more complex.

When we worked earlier, we did not imagine that there was help and information out there somewhere. Therefore, we had to do everything mostly ourselves. The Internet is tempting and therefore you waste time trying to find some useful information. All the time is spent searching. But the catch is that there is 95-97% garbage. I noticed that I greatly reduced the loss of time when instead of Googling solutions to problems I began to sort them out myself. And I knew this and had always worked this way before, but the Internet corrupts, even after advising this to myself I periodically forget and again start resorting to a cheap way to solve problems...
« Last Edit: February 09, 2024, 09:46:04 pm by std »
 

Online DiTBho

  • Super Contributor
  • ***
  • Posts: 3962
  • Country: gb
When we worked earlier, we did not imagine that there was help and information out there somewhere.
Therefore, we had to do everything mostly ourselves. The Internet is tempting and therefore you waste time trying to find some useful information.

Precisely my opinion  :D
The opposite of courage is not cowardice, it is conformity. Even a dead fish can go with the flow
 
The following users thanked this post: std

Online SiliconWizard

  • Super Contributor
  • ***
  • Posts: 14665
  • Country: fr
True that the search for information online may waste a lot of time, but I think a secondary problem is that people's expectations have also changed due to this seemingly infinite resource: instead of just looking for some precise information to help them move forward, many people are now expecting others (and now "maybe", increasingly "AI", which is yet another potential issue of its own) to solve their problems entirely, instead of just getting some specific information and use it to solve the problem themselves. It's a very significant shift, and we're only beginning to see the consequences.
 
The following users thanked this post: std

Online magic

  • Super Contributor
  • ***
  • Posts: 6858
  • Country: pl
That's the pessimistic interpretation: people got lazier than they used to be, or maybe kids these days are lazier than we used to be.

But I think there is a more optimistic possibility: enough questions have been answered already, enough tutorials written and videos made, that those with any smarts and searching skill simply don't ask that many questions anymore, unless about something new or obscure. This increases the relative fraction of questions asked by the reminder of the population ;)
 

Online Nominal Animal

  • Super Contributor
  • ***
  • Posts: 6419
  • Country: fi
    • My home page and email address
But I think there is a more optimistic possibility: enough questions have been answered already, enough tutorials written and videos made, that those with any smarts and searching skill simply don't ask that many questions anymore
That isn't good, either, because nothing truly excellent has been discovered or invented in absolute isolation.  A single viewpoint just doesn't cut it, and hasn't cut it for a hundred years or more in any scientific field.  The flood of low-quality questions means it is harder and harder to have the kinds of discussions and ask the kind of questions that lead to truly better implementations and innovations, at least in public.  And that shrinks the circles that interact that way.

In programming, anything dealing with the reasons for choosing a particular solution mechanism –– algorithm or approach –– is a high-level high-usefulness question, well outside the general low-quality babble of "which library should I use" or "which button should I press".  Of course, anything giving new ideas, including how others set up their workflow and what kinds of tools they use, is useful, but of more personal than technical nature.

What I see happening is the loss of collaboration based on critical, honest, direct arguments and different viewpoints.  People actively avoid discussing things they are not comfortable with, or that they feel is outside the immediate problem at hand.  When told the solution to their current problem is to solve the original underlying problem in a different way, they get annoyed because that is undermining already done work and not useful to them.  Short-sightedness is king, as is chatting and immediate question-response chains, not thoughtful responses and critical discussion.  Many dislike email, because it is asynchronous, and leaves a record of the communication; that is not immediate nor social enough today.

:'(
 
The following users thanked this post: Siwastaja, 2N3055, Jacon, SiliconWizard, DiTBho, pcprogrammer

Online peter-hTopic starter

  • Super Contributor
  • ***
  • Posts: 3748
  • Country: gb
  • Doing electronics since the 1960s...
Quote
is their forum is right to ask any questions?  I mean did you ever get any help at all? Is there anything useful there or is their forum completely pointless, should I ignore it?

There are 2 or 3 people on the ST forum who know stuff, and the best of them is also here as "wek".

Quote
How did you determine this? Did you ask questions after they didn’t answer you, or did you determine this by observation?

It is obvious by observation, and by asking questions. What doesn't help is that LWIP etc are old projects and the people who were working on them have moved on. Also I suspect that anybody building "real" products with these libs is re-using code as much as they can. I will certainly re-use 99% of my code on any new product. Even if I don't use ETH I will leave the LWIP stuff in there and just not start that RTOS task.

Quote
Did you manage to identify the fishing spots? Sites and people who are really useful in developing the things listed above.

EEVBLOG is ok, the ST forum if you are desperate, and there are others e.g. stackexchange and this is a fairly rare example where someone took the trouble to post his solution
https://electronics.stackexchange.com/questions/350088/stm32f407-lan8720a-lwip-freertos-no-received-ethernet-frames

Quote
The Internet is tempting and therefore you waste time trying to find some useful information. All the time is spent searching. But the catch is that there is 95-97% garbage. I noticed that I greatly reduced the loss of time when instead of Googling solutions to problems I began to sort them out myself. And I knew this and had always worked this way before, but the Internet corrupts, even after advising this to myself I periodically forget and again start resorting to a cheap way to solve problems...

Maybe. I would not say 95-97% is garbage IF you use google in a smart way.

I could not have developed the product I worked on just by reading data sheets and such.

Quote
that those with any smarts and searching skill simply don't ask that many questions anymore, unless about something new or obscure

Yes I think that's right. The old Usenet still contains a load of good stuff. But I see that a huge factor is the commercial one. Companies are developing social media policies which seek to prevent their employees posting anything useful. So leeching dominates. People here have complained about me posting questions but I have also been posting answers (when I got something working) which is not that common.
« Last Edit: February 11, 2024, 07:55:37 am by peter-h »
Z80 Z180 Z280 Z8 S8 8031 8051 H8/300 H8/500 80x86 90S1200 32F417
 
The following users thanked this post: std

Offline pcprogrammer

  • Super Contributor
  • ***
  • Posts: 3914
  • Country: nl
True that the search for information online may waste a lot of time, but I think a secondary problem is that people's expectations have also changed due to this seemingly infinite resource: instead of just looking for some precise information to help them move forward, many people are now expecting others (and now "maybe", increasingly "AI", which is yet another potential issue of its own) to solve their problems entirely, instead of just getting some specific information and use it to solve the problem themselves. It's a very significant shift, and we're only beginning to see the consequences.

A bit of a problem is that one needs the ability to see the gems in between the garbage, and I fear many have lost that ability and therefore hope on finding complete solutions or want others to give it to them. Laziness might be part of the problem.

When looking for some specific type of integrated circuit it can be very overwhelming to see the sheer amount of valid data to choose from, and then it is up to managing your search parameters, which is a skill in it self. No idea if they do, but this is something that could be taught on schools.

Online DiTBho

  • Super Contributor
  • ***
  • Posts: 3962
  • Country: gb
But I think there is a more optimistic possibility: enough questions have been answered already, enough tutorials written and videos made, that those with any smarts and searching skill simply don't ask that many questions anymore
That isn't good, either, because nothing truly excellent has been discovered or invented in absolute isolation

Ania is trying to demonstrate how "brainstorming" is a direct competitor to the evolution of intelligence of a species, understood as the "species" ability to solve problems.

Her model works for
  • Homo sapiens
  • killer whales (would like to prove that they are much more intelligent than whales, given that they have developed group "hunting technology")
  • dolphins, which have even developed a language to coordinate their group "hunting technology"

Unfortunately it doesn't work with octopuses, which know how to solve kinematically complex problems; do they do it without thinking? ganglia of neural circuits? From the outside what we observe is that they solve very difficult kinematic problems for our robotic technology, but which are solitary animals and don't form groups.

Octopuses are even relatives of snails, which do not display the same intelligence. They are a mystery, so they are ignored at the moment as not as they are not in the mammals-class.

Anyway then there are forms of "parasitic problem-solving intelligence", where the resolution of problems is delegated to others or to other-things (chatGPT? ... )

oh, but when others means "other people in the team", doesn't sound it ... practically what managers do?
So, now I doubt "managers" are human beings of the same class as developers, not in the same basket, perhaps they are more "evolved" forms that minimize their energy consumption while maximizing profit!

Problem solving requires thinking, and thinking consumes a lot of energy.

And that's the point about parasitic problem-solving intelligence!

They must necessarily be an evolved form  :o :o :o
The opposite of courage is not cowardice, it is conformity. Even a dead fish can go with the flow
 

Offline pcprogrammer

  • Super Contributor
  • ***
  • Posts: 3914
  • Country: nl
But what happens when everybody evolves to being a manager.  |O

Offline 5U4GB

  • Frequent Contributor
  • **
  • Posts: 420
  • Country: au
But what happens when everybody evolves to being a manager.  |O

Some companies have means of avoiding squandering talent in this manner by promoting people into positions with management-level pay but that allow them to continue working as before, typically the role has some term like "scientist" or "distinguished" or something in it to explain the pay grade vs. the work they do.
 

Online SiliconWizard

  • Super Contributor
  • ***
  • Posts: 14665
  • Country: fr
But what happens when everybody evolves to being a manager.  |O

Some companies have means of avoiding squandering talent in this manner by promoting people into positions with management-level pay but that allow them to continue working as before, typically the role has some term like "scientist" or "distinguished" or something in it to explain the pay grade vs. the work they do.

Yes true.
Another kind of strategy is to promote someone to a management position to get rid of them eventually (that's when firing them would be difficult or could be risky). As a manager, the person will have less direct operational impact (if any depending on the position), and the company can thus move the person up to their point of provable incompetence, or uselessness, and then fire them at this point with some basis, or make their life so miserable that the person will just quit on their own.
 

Offline BreakingOhmsLaw

  • Frequent Contributor
  • **
  • Posts: 372
  • Country: de
  • Certified solder fume addict
They do loads of videos which are barely legible (very poor English).

If you think those are bad, try their webinars. I stopped attending those because they caused me physical pain.

People complain about Americans refusing to learn foreign languages, but trust me, the French take that cake, excuse me, gateau.
You can visit any country in the world, and people will appreciate if you at least do an effort to speak their language. Not so in France, oh no. And in particular, Paris. They will go out of their way to not understand you.
 

Online coppice

  • Super Contributor
  • ***
  • Posts: 8812
  • Country: gb
But what happens when everybody evolves to being a manager.  |O

Some companies have means of avoiding squandering talent in this manner by promoting people into positions with management-level pay but that allow them to continue working as before, typically the role has some term like "scientist" or "distinguished" or something in it to explain the pay grade vs. the work they do.
That kind of thing is fairly common, but a version which works well is much rarer. Its quite common for high calibre technical people to leave as they gain experience specifically because a system like that exist in their company, and the day to day working of it is so messed up they see no future there. I've also watched from a distance schemes that celebrate a tiny number of perceived high achievers, but dump on the larger pool of really good people who make up the bulk of the talent pool.

 

Online HwAoRrDk

  • Super Contributor
  • ***
  • Posts: 1527
  • Country: gb
If you think those are bad, try their webinars. I stopped attending those because they caused me physical pain.

People complain about Americans refusing to learn foreign languages, but trust me, the French take that cake, excuse me, gateau.

As someone who in a former job had to have regular conference calls with a French colleague, I feel ya. While his grammar and written English were perfectly fine, he made no effort whatsoever to get spoken pronunciation right, so was impossible to understand. These meeting calls must've taken twice as long as they otherwise would because of the need to keep asking him to repeat himself. I felt guilty at first, but after several weeks of this, I stopped caring. >:D
 

Online Nominal Animal

  • Super Contributor
  • ***
  • Posts: 6419
  • Country: fi
    • My home page and email address
While his grammar and written English were perfectly fine, he made no effort whatsoever to get spoken pronunciation right, so was impossible to understand.
My English pronunciation is sometimes impossible to understand too, because I speak too little English.  Rally English (Youtube Memesplained, all of Hydraulic Press Channel) is much easier to understand, just a bit funny and possibly unintentionally annoying; but when I lapse into the american/international/mixed English one absorbs from media, it becomes too muddled/mumbly/muddy to decipher, which is exactly why I stopped trying to follow that pronunciation/accent, and switched to clearer Rally English style pronunciation.  For example, my "can't" was impossible to distinguish from "can", so I switched to "cannot" with a sharp T at the end.  All for clarity.

The difference is, I do make an effort to fix each error, and try to learn from them.  To do that, I need to know how what I said sounded like, then what the correct pronunciation is.  Which can be strange/awkward, because I usually ask "What did I say?  How do you say it properly?"
Funnily enough, technical terms are almost always okay; it is the ordinary everyday words like "friend" ('free end') and "spouse" ('pause') and "store" ('sto:') and "can't" (can) and so on that tend to be the problem.  It is the same mechanism as is behind misheard song lyrics!

Sometimes it is not due to lack of effort, just ... languages and people being awkward.
« Last Edit: February 12, 2024, 10:47:50 pm by Nominal Animal »
 

Online HwAoRrDk

  • Super Contributor
  • ***
  • Posts: 1527
  • Country: gb
I say it was lack of effort because it was literally this guy's daily job to interact with a mostly English-speaking audience - he was a project manager at the Paris-region European data centre of the large American-based corporation we both worked for. While he probably spoke French to his direct colleagues in his own office, everyone else he would speak to within the company spoke English.
 
The following users thanked this post: Nominal Animal

Online peter-hTopic starter

  • Super Contributor
  • ***
  • Posts: 3748
  • Country: gb
  • Doing electronics since the 1960s...
Quote
the French take that cake

Quote
While his grammar and written English were perfectly fine, he made no effort whatsoever to get spoken pronunciation right, so was impossible to understand. These meeting calls must've taken twice as long as they otherwise would because of the need to keep asking him to repeat himself. I felt guilty at first, but after several weeks of this, I stopped caring

As a pilot, this is a hot topic. A colleague who lives and works in France, specialising in this field, advises me that this is basically deliberate. Today's French kids get a lot of social media exposure to English and speak it well, but are ridiculed if they don't speak it with the drawn-out accent which makes "French English" so hard for most English speakers around the world. France has a long standing policy to block the penetration of English into their language. Anyone who is say 30+ will have been heavily conditioned to do that. And in any unionised profession (another French thing) nobody can do anything about it.

It extends to components used. A friend who is a systems guy in the Airbus sphere tells me that many electronics engineers there cannot read English data sheets. This has led to decades of creation of "French semiconductors" etc so e.g. a 2N3055 (or the more modern version) will be created as a French part, called say 2N1234, with a French data sheet, and somebody is re-marking American made 2N3055s... I have dismantled various French avionics from years past and found them full of such parts. It's quite amusing actually.

In general one is not allowed to talk about it. It is a super hot topic.
Z80 Z180 Z280 Z8 S8 8031 8051 H8/300 H8/500 80x86 90S1200 32F417
 
The following users thanked this post: Nominal Animal

Offline linux-works

  • Super Contributor
  • ***
  • Posts: 2000
  • Country: us
    • netstuff
back to original topic: there are commercial versions of freertos and lwip.  its under the 'safertos' banner.

I worked at a car company (previously) and did some lwip work for one of their ecus.  there was no one in the company to help tune this bastard of an ip stack and it has more defines than you can imagine it would ever need.  impossible to understand and tune.

I pushed my company to buy the supported version (which was also safety certified and MISRA compliant) but the company was a cheapskate and pushed the purchase down the road many years (when 'we need level 5 performance').  short sighted, too, since it will take you a while to get used to the supported ip stack code and get them to help you tune it.  by the time the product NEEDS that level of service, you'll have a few years of use under your belt.

the company said no.  china company that makes smart cars.  go figure.

Offline 5U4GB

  • Frequent Contributor
  • **
  • Posts: 420
  • Country: au
People complain about Americans refusing to learn foreign languages, but trust me, the French take that cake, excuse me, gateau.
You can visit any country in the world, and people will appreciate if you at least do an effort to speak their language. Not so in France, oh no. And in particular, Paris. They will go out of their way to not understand you.

That's Parisians specifically, even the rest of France complains about them, however given the masses of annoying tourists they're overrun with I have at least some sympathy with them.  The folks I interacted with in the south of France were really nice, tolerated my attempts at French and then responded in English, I'd go back there again in a heartbeat.
 

Offline pcprogrammer

  • Super Contributor
  • ***
  • Posts: 3914
  • Country: nl
People complain about Americans refusing to learn foreign languages, but trust me, the French take that cake, excuse me, gateau.
You can visit any country in the world, and people will appreciate if you at least do an effort to speak their language. Not so in France, oh no. And in particular, Paris. They will go out of their way to not understand you.

That's Parisians specifically, even the rest of France complains about them, however given the masses of annoying tourists they're overrun with I have at least some sympathy with them.  The folks I interacted with in the south of France were really nice, tolerated my attempts at French and then responded in English, I'd go back there again in a heartbeat.

True. Over here in the Correze people appreciate it very much when you at least try to speak French, but they hardly speak English though. Even though it is taught in school, they never use it and with the TV programs dubbed in French they don't get to hear it either.  Some will make an effort to speak less fast or use more comprehensible words, but English hardly.

Online peter-hTopic starter

  • Super Contributor
  • ***
  • Posts: 3748
  • Country: gb
  • Doing electronics since the 1960s...
Safertos is just Freertos but rewritten and "certified". Fortunately Freertos is quite easy to set up and build into your product. The defaults work fine.

LWIP is much much more complicated; you could spend man-months getting it to work reliably. Having lots of RAM helps because you need less understanding. LWIP really suffers from poor documentation, and no functioning forum(s). I believe this is due to it being some 16 years old so the original dev(s) moved on long ago. A big issue with LWIP is not LWIP itself but the low level input/output code for the particular chip; ST's code is junk.
Z80 Z180 Z280 Z8 S8 8031 8051 H8/300 H8/500 80x86 90S1200 32F417
 

Offline JPortici

  • Super Contributor
  • ***
  • Posts: 3475
  • Country: it
They do loads of videos which are barely legible (very poor English).

If you think those are bad, try their webinars. I stopped attending those because they caused me physical pain.

People complain about Americans refusing to learn foreign languages, but trust me, the French take that cake, excuse me, gateau.
You can visit any country in the world, and people will appreciate if you at least do an effort to speak their language. Not so in France, oh no. And in particular, Paris. They will go out of their way to not understand you.

they do understand you
we have some french clients that will refuse to use google translate when we ask them to, as none of us speak french. we reply to them in italian
same to our friends from tyrol

i concour with peter on this argument
« Last Edit: February 13, 2024, 10:33:42 am by JPortici »
 

Offline linux-works

  • Super Contributor
  • ***
  • Posts: 2000
  • Country: us
    • netstuff
there is a lot of legal cover if you buy safertos and stay within their boundaries.  its why companies buy and use it.  look up MISRA and tell me how long it would take to convert any free code base to be completely misra (or whatever air guys use for their stds) compliant.

its worth it.  you'd be nuts to roll your own if you are a big company and safety matters.

Online peter-hTopic starter

  • Super Contributor
  • ***
  • Posts: 3748
  • Country: gb
  • Doing electronics since the 1960s...
MISRA is just normal decent coding practices.

It (or Safertos) won't stop your company getting sued for product liability or customer factory downtime, and you won't be able to sue the next party either because they will fight it.

It is practically almost meaningless, although I can well understand why corporate users buy into it. But really you are buying integration assistance, which is what this thread was about to start with :)
Z80 Z180 Z280 Z8 S8 8031 8051 H8/300 H8/500 80x86 90S1200 32F417
 

Online coppice

  • Super Contributor
  • ***
  • Posts: 8812
  • Country: gb
MISRA is just normal decent coding practices.
MISRA is a mixed bag of good sense, and serious stupidity. I've had to turn quite a bit of clear simple code into a tortuous mess to avoid flagging from MISRA tools. Like most methodologies its more cult than good sense.
 
The following users thanked this post: Siwastaja

Online Nominal Animal

  • Super Contributor
  • ***
  • Posts: 6419
  • Country: fi
    • My home page and email address
Over here in the Correze people appreciate it very much when you at least try to speak French, but they hardly speak English though. Even though it is taught in school, they never use it and with the TV programs dubbed in French they don't get to hear it either.  Some will make an effort to speak less fast or use more comprehensible words, but English hardly.
Here in Finland, TV and movies are not dubbed, so the vast majority of Finns do understand English.  It is also taught in school.  Pronunciation is a different issue.

When someone refuses to speak English here, it is because they're deadly afraid you'll laugh at their accent or rally English.
 

Offline linux-works

  • Super Contributor
  • ***
  • Posts: 2000
  • Country: us
    • netstuff
this was the story given to us as to why to choose a supported already-misra os versus the free version.  the free version of the code would show so many diffs (due to misra and other things) that its not just a license issue, the code is really different (at a level).  and yes, there is a safety guarantee (when you go the whole route, with model based code creation and simulation and all that pointy clicky stuff that real engineers hate to have to use).  some companies are going autosar and follow all the rules; some follow some and some (like tesla) roll all their own (and it shows).  at any rate, with misra already setup, its days and weeks of NOT having to code all kinds of exceptions in the tools that we were using and the automation.  just easier to buy that already done.  and when making cars, you should not even think to quibble about small cost of this.

Offline linux-works

  • Super Contributor
  • ***
  • Posts: 2000
  • Country: us
    • netstuff
some places require a bit of red tape to be able to suppress this or that warning from the misra craziness.  a lot is over the top but if you now go and pick and choose, its now up to you to use good judgement and bet the farm on it.  a lot rides on that.  much better to buy solutions and spend you TIME on things that you add value to.  os's are already solved.  ip stacks, the same.  just buy it and yell at the vendor (and write a good contract) and spend your time on your true core business.
 
The following users thanked this post: JPortici

Offline pcprogrammer

  • Super Contributor
  • ***
  • Posts: 3914
  • Country: nl
Over here in the Correze people appreciate it very much when you at least try to speak French, but they hardly speak English though. Even though it is taught in school, they never use it and with the TV programs dubbed in French they don't get to hear it either.  Some will make an effort to speak less fast or use more comprehensible words, but English hardly.
Here in Finland, TV and movies are not dubbed, so the vast majority of Finns do understand English.  It is also taught in school.  Pronunciation is a different issue.

When someone refuses to speak English here, it is because they're deadly afraid you'll laugh at their accent or rally English.

 :-DD

The average Dutch person speaks English, but the accent will make your hair stand up straight. I'm an exception of course.  8)

p.s. I have met plenty of English people who praised my English, and not out of politeness. It is even so that I often know the English word for something and can't recall the Dutch one.  :palm:

French is a different cup of tea though.

Online DavidAlfa

  • Super Contributor
  • ***
  • Posts: 6025
  • Country: es
I undertand your frustation, but it's free software.
That guy still has a normal job to pay the rent, food, and needs free time for the family and other stuff, and it's up to them to chose how much time they dedicate.
Have you ever sent $10 - $20 to developer for the countless hours he sat developing the thing?

Most people doesn't, just use it and run away, it's free.
Submit issue if bug found. Fixed. OK, bye.
In expensive, highly profitable commercial products, this boils my blood off. If you use OSS, show some damn gratitude and give'em a small part of you big income.

Just an example: Years of maintaining/developing the STM32 soldering firmware, helping in the forums because lazy people doesn't RTFM...
I can see the traffic in Github, about 500-900 visits a day and 60-100 unique visitors.
Hey please fix this. Please add this, please help me.
I can count the entire donations with my two hands.
Want support? Sure!
« Last Edit: February 13, 2024, 09:21:17 pm by DavidAlfa »
Hantek DSO2x1x            Drive        FAQ          DON'T BUY HANTEK! (Aka HALF-MADE)
Stm32 Soldering FW      Forum      Github      Donate
 

Online Nominal Animal

  • Super Contributor
  • ***
  • Posts: 6419
  • Country: fi
    • My home page and email address
In expensive, highly profitable commercial products, this boils my blood off. If you use OSS, show some damn gratitude and give'em a small part of you big income.
It's even simpler, in my opinion: if you eat from a pond, make sure the life in it is sustainable; don't count on draining it yourself and moving on before anyone else notices.

Just an example: Years of maintaining/developing the STM32 soldering firmware, helping in the forums because lazy people doesn't RTFM...
I can see the traffic in Github, about 500-900 visits a day and 60-100 unique visitors.
Hey please fix this. Please add this, please help me.
I can count the entire donations with my two hands.
Want support? Sure!
Exactly.  And conversely, if you get the right people the monetary support they need, they can dominate an entire niche.

The problem is that companies and organizations that throw that kind of money around, simply don't have the technical ability or knowledge to pick well.  It is either done at a personal level, or via social interactions.  You never get funded because you're the best around; you only get funded if you get a people-person to promote your work and convince the money-bags it is the right thing to do.

And this is how we end up with something else than a meritocracy in the support of free/open source projects.

If it matters, it is the exact same thing in scientific research.  It is much easier to get funding for research already being done elsewhere, because those are proven popular, and thus low-risk to those who decide who and what gets funded.  The science itself does not matter that much anymore.  Even in industry, a single eccentric billionaire can revolutionize an entire industrial field, if they simply break out from that mold.
« Last Edit: February 13, 2024, 10:49:16 pm by Nominal Animal »
 

Online peter-hTopic starter

  • Super Contributor
  • ***
  • Posts: 3748
  • Country: gb
  • Doing electronics since the 1960s...
Quote
I can count the entire donations with my two hands.

I happily donate, and have done so.

I think it is a good model. I run a forum (not electronics but techy) which runs entirely on donations. It can be done.
Z80 Z180 Z280 Z8 S8 8031 8051 H8/300 H8/500 80x86 90S1200 32F417
 

Online SiliconWizard

  • Super Contributor
  • ***
  • Posts: 14665
  • Country: fr
In expensive, highly profitable commercial products, this boils my blood off. If you use OSS, show some damn gratitude and give'em a small part of you big income.
It's even simpler, in my opinion: if you eat from a pond, make sure the life in it is sustainable; don't count on draining it yourself and moving on before anyone else notices.

Just an example: Years of maintaining/developing the STM32 soldering firmware, helping in the forums because lazy people doesn't RTFM...
I can see the traffic in Github, about 500-900 visits a day and 60-100 unique visitors.
Hey please fix this. Please add this, please help me.
I can count the entire donations with my two hands.
Want support? Sure!
Exactly.  And conversely, if you get the right people the monetary support they need, they can dominate an entire niche.

The problem is that companies and organizations that throw that kind of money around, simply don't have the technical ability or knowledge to pick well.  It is either done at a personal level, or via social interactions.  You never get funded because you're the best around; you only get funded if you get a people-person to promote your work and convince the money-bags it is the right thing to do.

And this is how we end up with something else than a meritocracy in the support of free/open source projects.

If it matters, it is the exact same thing in scientific research.  It is much easier to get funding for research already being done elsewhere, because those are proven popular, and thus low-risk to those who decide who and what gets funded.  The science itself does not matter that much anymore.  Even in industry, a single eccentric billionaire can revolutionize an entire industrial field, if they simply break out from that mold.

Yes. Yes.

The root issue (I think I mentioned that before) is that we humans are an ultra-social species and, apart from exceptions, we need conformity to "fit in". Probably because conformity has helped the species as a whole to survive and build "consistent" cultures. Social animal species everywhere have shown that, beyond us, this appears to be a working model.

Great discoveries and breakthroughs have pretty much always come from people breaking the mold, even when obviously they have always built on previous knowledge. Still, to break through, at some point you need individuals that, at least momentarily, will get out of conformity and accept that.

And with the advent of new technologies, AI and so on, this conformity we still seem to need as much (if probably even more) as we did in the stone age is, IMHO, dragging us down and may eventually lead to our demise.
This "AI" we'll be increasingly relying on is essentially an hyper-extension of this conformity of our societies. It's going to build ultra-conformity.

Speaking of the state of scientific research, this has become a complete disaster. Not new. I started to notice the trend a good 15 years ago, but it's getting worse every year.

As to eccentric billionaires, yeah. Even if a small minority, I actually think there are many "eccentric" people out there, potentially able to break the mold.
But when they're not billionaires, they have to constantly take care of making just enough money to survive (the "rat race"), which, I think, is wasting their potential. Not that I have a solution to that.
 
The following users thanked this post: Nominal Animal

Online DiTBho

  • Super Contributor
  • ***
  • Posts: 3962
  • Country: gb
Speaking of the state of scientific research, this has become a complete disaster. Not new. I started to notice the trend a good 15 years ago, but it's getting worse every year.

Useless youtubers get 8K euro / month, providing nothing but bullshit videos, whereas serious researchers get less than 3K: fSck!
The same applies to the movie industry: we spend more money making science fiction movies about space travel than we actually invest in space research.

Are you surprised that in 2024 open source still means the above? To me, frankly Agent Smith from the Matrix movie is always right  :o :o :o

It is certain that in 100,000 years "homo sapiens" will no longer be the "only dominant specie" and will have to deal with a different "hominid"(2), otherwise, being so idiotic as we are, it is mathematically certain that we will become all extinct like dinos.

(1) Youtube and TikTok are definitively full of idiots, starting from those who wear an Apple Vision Pro headset and then film themself while driving a vehicle weighing over a ton.

(2) probably with the "ultra-sapiens", provided that we do not have to adapt to Mars' or Titan's climate, in case... the genetic engineering will give a big boost to species diversification.

Hope this will "patch" the current "bugs" with humans  :-//
The opposite of courage is not cowardice, it is conformity. Even a dead fish can go with the flow
 


Share me

Digg  Facebook  SlashDot  Delicious  Technorati  Twitter  Google  Yahoo
Smf