Embedded systems conference call for abstracts

October 13, 2012

About a year ago, I was getting ready to push the giant, red button that said GO for my Making Embedded Systems book. I thought that once I was done writing, it would be finished. Then I thought once the figures and tech reviews were done, the book would be ready to go.  Surely once we fixed all of my misplaced commas, it was done, right?

Not really. Then I started doing promotion. I did two webinars for O’Reilly. Those are a lot of work. I also looked around for other promotion to do: speaking at schools, talking to magazines about reviewing my book, being in the scary “out there” to meet people and market my book.

I also wanted to present at the embedded systems conference in the spring, I’d attended for many years but here was my opportunity to speak! By the time the GO button was pressed and I came up for air, I’d missed the conference deadlines. There was a slot for someone to talk about LEDs but what do I know about LEDs?

Turns out, enough to fake it. With the wonderful help from EE Rob Mitchell, I did a live demo on how to take some Christmas lights and make them run from an Arduino (similar to Deep Darc’s blog post). I showed how I could make lights to leave up all year as they changed colors based on day of the year. We went from boxed lights and uninstalled software to working things, showing the process of cutting wires and loading software. We even talked about productization paths, methods for getting from idea to market and how to look at costs.

We had more show than information but it was fun. And live demos are tricky things; the audience is there to see you succeed. But if you crash, burn, and light a fire on stage, well, that’s ok too.

Even though we were in the LED section of the conference, we got all-access badges which let us go to any session we wanted. And we got access to the break room. It doesn’t sound like much, but it was where all the other speakers hung out. And there was lunch, coffee, assorted snacks, tables, and chairs. At times, it felt like heaven.

One thing there wasn’t, though, was women. I think I saw two other women the whole time I hung out there. I was kind of disappointed not to meet any other embedded systems people who share my gender, if only because they’d be the only ones who’d really appreciate my light-up shoes project.

So, this year, I looked in early October for the call for abstracts. It appeared, they were all set. Eeek! How could I have missed it again?!? Ahh, no, it just hadn’t opened yet. I emailed the track chair for my LED session (feeling guilty as I never wrote her that article I’d promised). That led to me talking to one of the organizers, actually getting to pitch a few ideas that aren’t open yet, maybe getting to co-chair a track. Whee!

The call for abstracts is open now. Go on, submit an idea or two. I’m most excited about the case studies for debug and test and the one about getting to “Hello World” in under five minutes. (Hey! That is what I did last year!)

And if anyone wants to join a panel, loosely on sensors, well, drop me a line. I’m percolating on my own ideas but happy to listen if someone wants to chat about theirs.

Here is a prototype for a light-up animal.  Naw, this is a jelly fish from the Monterey Bay Aquarium. But if your idea for a talk is a quarter as cool as this jelly is, please submit it.