Posts Tagged ‘education’

Introducing Barr Group

Wednesday, December 26th, 2012 Michael Barr

In the ten months since forming Barr Group, I have received many questions about the new company. As we enter the new year, I thought it a good time to use this blog post to answer the most frequently asked questions, such as:

  • What does Barr Group do?
  • Who are Barr Group’s clients?
  • How is Barr Group different than my former company?
  • Who is our CEO and what skills does he bring?
  • What is my role in Barr Group?

If I had to describe Barr Group ( in a single sentence, I would say that “Barr Group helps companies that design embedded systems make their products more reliable and more secure.” We do sell a few small items–such as the Embedded C Coding Standard book and Embedded Software Training in a Box kit–but our company is not really about our own products. Rather, we achieve our mission of improving embedded systems reliability and security by delivering business-to-business services of primarily three types: (1) consulting, (2) training, and (3) engineering.

Barr Group serves clients from small startups to well-known Fortune 100 companies that make embedded systems used in a wide range of industries. Representative clients include: Adtran, Medtronic, Renesas, TI, and Xerox. Barr Group’s staff has expertise and experience in the design of medical devices, industrial controls, consumer electronics, telecommunications, transportation equipment, smart grid technologies, and many other types of embedded systems.

Barr Group’s consulting services are sold to engineering managers, engineering directors, or vice presidents of engineering. Typical consulting engagements are short-duration/high-value projects aimed at answering strategically important questions related to embedded systems architecture and embedded software development processes. For example, in the area of architecture for reliability and security we offer services specifically in the following areas: system design review, software design review, system (re)architecture, software (re)architecture, source code review, cost reduction, reverse engineering, and security analysis. Of course, we often address more targeted issues as well, including embedded software development process improvements. Because we are unaffiliated with any processor, RTOS, or tool vendor, all of our advice is independent of any external influence; we aim only to find the best path forward for our clients, favoring alternatives that require only 20% of the effort to achieve 80% of the available benefits.

Barr Group’s training courses are designed to raise the quality of engineers and engineering teams and many of them include hands-on programming exercises. We teach these courses both privately and publicly. Private training is held at the client’s office and every engineer in attendance works for the client. By contrast, any individual or small group of engineers can purchase a ticket to our public training courses. Our Spring 2013 training calendar includes four week-long hands-on courses: Embedded Software Boot Camp (Maryland), Embedded Security Boot Camp (Silicon Valley), Embedded Android Boot Camp (Maryland), and Agile and Test-Driven Embedded Development (Florida).

Barr Group’s engineering design services include outsourced development of: electronics (including FPGA and PCB design); device drivers for operating systems such as MicroC/OS, VxWorks, Windows, Linux, Android, and others; embedded software; mechanical enclosures; and everything in between. In one representative project that was recently completed, a cross-functional team of talented Barr Group engineers worked together to perform all of the mechanical, electrical, software, reliability, and security engineering for a long-lived high voltage electrical switching system for deployment in a modern “smart grid” electrical distribution network.

In relation to my earlier company, which was founded in 1999, the principal difference in all of the above is Barr Group’s additional focus on embedded systems security, compared with reliability alone. Like Netrino, some members of our engineering staff also work as expert witnesses in complex technical litigation–with a range of cases involving allegations of product liability, patent infringement, and source code copyright infringement.

Finally, under the new leadership of seasoned technology executive (and fellow electrical engineer) Andrew Girson, Barr Group has added a suite of Engineer-Centric Market ResearchTM services, which assist IC makers, RTOS vendors, and other companies serving the embedded systems design community improve their products and marketing by better understanding the mind of the engineer. These services have been specifically enabled by the combination of Mr. Girson’s skills and expertise in strategic technical marketing with Barr Group’s extensive contacts in the embedded systems industry, including the over 20,000 Firmware Update newsletter subscribers.

My role in Barr Group is chief technology officer. The switch from my role as president of the old company to CTO of the new company has freed up considerably more of my time to work on engineering and expert witness projects. The extra time allows me to focus on sharing my technical expertise with as many clients as possible while also developing the other engineers who work individuals projects.

All in all, it has been great fun (if a lot of work) launching the new company this year. I look forward to another successful year for Barr Group in 2013. Please don’t hesitate to contact me or call us at (866) 653-6233 if we can be of assistance to your company. And happy new year!

Embedded Software Training in a Box

Friday, May 6th, 2011 Michael Barr

Embedded Software Training in a BoxI am beaming with pride. I think we have finally achieved the holy grail of firmware training: Embedded Software Training in a Box. Priced at just $599, the kit includes Everything-You-Need-to-Know-to-Develop-Quality-Reliable-Firmware-in-C, including software for real-time safety-critical systems such as medical devices.

In many ways, this product is the culmination of about the last fifteen years of my career. The knowledge and skills imparted in the kit are drawn from my varied experiences as:

This kit also–at long last–answers the question I’ve been receiving from around the world since I first started writing articles and books about embedded programming: “Where/How can I learn to be a great embedded programmer?” I believe the answer is now as easy as: “Embedded Software Boot Camp in a Box!”

Beer and Boards at ESC Silicon Valley

Wednesday, April 6th, 2011 Michael Barr

It really looks like I’ve picked the wrong year to miss ESC Silicon Valley (due to a schedule conflict). (The last time I wasn’t at ESC, it was 1997 and White Zombie was still together. The first thing I’d really liked to have seen is Steve Wozniak‘s keynote speech. The second thing I’m really sad to miss is the just announced “Beer and Boards” party/giveaway.

Beer and Boards sounds really fun. Here’s how it works: Every “All Access” attendee will get to choose one of three free development kits to take home:

Once you select your preferred kit you will receive information on the time and place for the relevant Beer and Boards party, at which you will get to drink free beer at a special meet-and-greet with one of your kit’s designers to talk about your new kit and its capabilities. Three boards spread out over three days.

Nerds drinking beer! I love it. What will they think of next?

Before you register for this year’s ESC, be sure to check out my earlier post Save Big on Embedded Systems Conference Registration. Also, remember to use the promo code BARR20 to save an additional 20% off registration and be entered to win a free seat at a future Embedded Software Boot Camp or one of 20 free copies of the Embedded C Coding Standard.

Save Big on Embedded Systems Conference Registration

Monday, March 21st, 2011 Michael Barr

The big Embedded Systems Conference 2011 Silicon Valley show opens six weeks from today. This should have been my fourteenth consecutive year as a speaker, but I have an unfortunate calendar conflict that first week of May.

Judging from the speaker and course lineups, it looks like it’s going to be a really great ESC conference again this year. I strongly encourage you to go if you can. Here are five great reasons to register ASAP:

#1: IT’S CHEAPER THIS WEEK! – The current early registration pricing expires this Friday, March 25. Registering now will save you $400 off the onsite price of the All Access, 4-Day, and 3-Day Conference Passes or $200 off a 1-Day Pass. (Note there are also group discounts available.)

#2: USE PROMO CODE “BARR20” TO SAVE AN ADDITIONAL 20%! – During the registration process there is a place to enter a “Promo Code”. No matter what conference package you select, you will receive an additional 20% off the price if you use my special code “BARR20”. For the All Access Conference Pass that’s an additional $479 discount on top of the $400 above. Wow!

#3: GRAND PRIZE: FREE SEAT AT EMBEDDED SOFTWARE BOOT CAMP – Many people have told me that their company only has a set amount of budget for training and conferences per year and that the Embedded Systems Conference and Embedded Software Boot Camp have to compete for those funds. Well, now you can have your cake and eat it to. One lucky ESC conference attendee will be selected at random to also attend the Embedded Software Boot Camp for free (minimum $2,995 value). (To be entered to win, you must use the “BARR20” promo code when you register.)

#4: 20 RUNNER-UP PRIZES: EMBEDDED C CODING STANDARD BOOK – Twenty lucky ESC conference attendees will be selected at random to receive a print copy of the Embedded C Coding Standard book. (To be entered to win, you must use the “BARR20” promo code when you register.)

#5: THE CONFERENCE CONTENT – Use the ESC Schedule Builder to choose from hundreds of training sessions by dozens of expert speakers spread across 25 technical tracks. To this depth and breadth of topics this year are added the 6th Annual Multicore Expo and Texas Instrument’s Technology Day 2011 programs. Wow!

Embedded Software Boot Camp in a Box

Wednesday, December 15th, 2010 Michael Barr

Whether you are new to embedded software development in C or looking for ways to improve your skills, the Embedded Software Boot Camp in a Box will provide you the hands-on education you need. Exercises are based around an ARM processor board (shown below), the MicroC/OS-II real-time operating system, and the IAR Embedded Workbench compiler/debugger, all of which are included in the box.


Learn Embedded Programming on an ARM Processor

Netrino’s popular Embedded Software Boot Camp (see upcoming dates), on which this kit is based, is an intense in-person training experience that requires attendees to be able to check out of normal work and life routines for a week—sometimes also travelling a great distance. The Embedded Software Boot Camp in a Box is a way to learn the same skills at your own pace. You’ll do the same exercises and have access to the same materials, just won’t have a “drill instructor” or the clock to prod you.

Here’s how you’ll use the Embedded Software Boot Camp in a Box to learn embedded programming:

  • Read the 350 page “Field Manual” book, which contains the slides from the in-person Boot Camps, in order.
  • If you want to dig deeper, watch the video of Michael Barr‘s acclaimed “How to Prioritize RTOS Tasks and Why it Matters” lecture on DVD, or read the three books and numerous articles provided as PDFs on the USB drive.
  • As you read, you will come to slides titled “Exercise: …”. These slides mark the best points to attempt each exercise.
  • In all there are ten programming exercises: one to test your compiler/debugger/board setup; two concerning hardware interfacing in C; six concerning multithreaded programming with uC/OS-II; and one capstone project to build a scuba dive computer. These involve hardware interactions such as blinking LEDs, debouncing pushbuttons, reading A/D converters, working with programmable timer/counters, and generating audio tones via PWM signals.
  • Detailed instructions for each exercise can be found in the printed “Exercise Manual”.
  • Solutions for each of the exercises are provided on the USB drive.
  • After you finish with the included exercises, you’ll know your way around most of your ARM processor board and be ready to explore the rest of its hardware (RS-232, CAN, Ethernet, USB, etc.) on your own.

For more details or to order your kit now, browse on over to