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Posted by: stak
Posted on: 2007-03-16 17:03:55

Swayed by the popular demand, I have decided to post again. So... life is good. Taking real-time and compilers at the same time makes life busy, but not so busy that I don't have time for other things.

Real-time is definitely the most fun course I've had in university. It's not nearly as much as work as I was led to believe it would be, mostly because the workload scales up to however much you want it to be. Getting the minimum requirements (basic kernel, train tracking/routing) wasn't overly difficult, and we didn't do a lot of the possible extensions like networking or paging or virtual memory. On Tuesday we had our train routing demo, which went pretty well. We are able to give the trains a destination and the trains go there! :) Except for a bug somewhere in our serial interrupt handler which causes random lockups, it's looking pretty good.

Our final project is going to have pots of gold randomly appearing on the train track display, and then the trains are going to go pick up the pots of gold. It's not too hard, and is almost what we have now. We just need to adjust our routing algorithm to take into account multiple trains sharing the track, and get graphics working (that's the time-consuming part now).

Overall, the course was a blast. We did the whole thing in straight C code, using no provided libraries (except for a couple of header files with a bunch of #defines). It was most awesome writing everything from scratch and owning the entire stack from the metal up to user applications.

Compilers has also been a lot of fun, although not as much as RT. There's more work involved in getting the baseline functionality done, and less room for extensions. Also, Ada (or our personalized subset of Ada/CS) is kind of a crappy language to be writing a compiler for - it's type system is quite convoluted and generally icky. Coding in Lisp has been fun, mostly. Although most of the theory in the course is common sense and/or stuff we've looked at before, actually writing a compiler is quite useful.

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