General Chat Thread, The King's Toaster in General; The King's Toaster Once upon a time, in a kingdom not far from here, a king summoned two of his ...
1. ## The King's Toaster

The King's Toaster

Once upon a time, in a kingdom not far from here, a king summoned two of his advisors for a test. He showed them both a shiny metal box with two slots in the top, a control knob and a lever.

"What do you think this is?"

One advisor, an engineer, answered first. "It is a toaster," he said.

The king asked, "How would you design an embedded computer for it?"

The engineer replied, "Using a four-bit microcontroller, I would write a simple program that reads the darkness knob and quantizes its position to one of 16 shades of darkness, from snow white to coal black. The program would use that darkness level as the index to a 16-element table of initial timer values. Then it would turn on the heating elements and start the timer with the initial value selected from the table. At the end of the time delay, it would turn off the heat and pop up the toast. Come back next week, and I'll show you a working prototype."

The second advisor, a computer scientist, immediately recognized the danger of such short-sighted thinking. He said, "Toasters don't just turn bread into toast, they are also used to warm frozen waffles. What you see before you is really a breakfast food cooker. As the subjects of your kingdom become more sophisticated, they will demand more capabilities. They will need a breakfast food cooker that can also cook sausage, fry bacon, and make scrambled eggs. A toaster that only makes toast will soon be obsolete. If we don't look to the future, we will have to completely redesign the toaster in just a few years.

With this in mind, we can formulate a more intelligent solution to the problem. First, create a class of breakfast foods. Specialize this class into subclasses: grains, pork and poultry. The specialization process should be repeated with grains divided into toast, muffins, pancakes and waffles; pork divided into sausage, links and bacon; and poultry divided into scrambled eggs, hard-boiled eggs, poached eggs, fried eggs, and various omelet classes.

The ham and cheese omelet class is worth special attention because it must inherit characteristics from the pork, dairy and poultry classes. Thus, we see that the problem cannot be properly solved without multiple inheritance. At run time, the program must create the proper object and send a message to the object that says, 'Cook yourself'. The semantics of this message depend, of course, on the kind of object, so they have a different meaning to a piece of toast than to scrambled eggs.

Reviewing the process so far, we see that the analysis phase has revealed that the primary requirement is to cook any kind of breakfast food. In the design phase, we have discovered some derived requirements. Specifically, we need an object-oriented language with multiple inheritance. Of course, users don't want the eggs to get cold while the bacon is frying, so concurrent processing is required, too.

We must not forget the user interface. The lever that lowers the food lacks versatility and the darkness knob is confusing. Users won't buy the product unless it has a user-friendly, graphical interface.

When the breakfast cooker is plugged in, users should see a cowboy boot on the screen. Users click on it and the message 'Booting UNIX v. 8.3' appears on the screen. (UNIX 8.3 should be out by the time the product gets to the market.) Users can pull down a menu and click on the foods they want to cook.

Having made the wise decision of specifying the software first in the design phase, all that remains is to pick an adequate hardware platform for the implementation phase. An Intel 80386 with 8MB of memory, a 30MB hard disk and a VGA monitor should be sufficient. If you select a multitasking, object oriented language that supports multiple inheritance and has a built-in GUI, writing the program will be a snap. (Imagine the difficulty we would have had if we had foolishly allowed a hardware-first design strategy to lock us into a four-bit microcontroller!)."

The king had the computer scientist thrown in the moat, and they all lived happily ever after.

3. ## Re: The King's Toaster

This reminds me of how during the space race the Americans spent millions of dollars developing a ballpoint pen that would work in zero gravity...

...the Russians took pencils.

4. ## Re: The King's Toaster

It would make a great comedy sketch I think.... [ In a nerdy type way ]

5. ## Re: The King's Toaster

I think the computer scientist had a good set of points there! Shame the king only wanted a dumbed down toaster. It could have been an interesting project :P

6. ## Re: The King's Toaster

Originally Posted by cadjs

This reminds me of how during the space race the Americans spent millions of dollars developing a ballpoint pen that would work in zero gravity...

...the Russians took pencils.
Urban Myth Alert

http://www.snopes.com/business/genius/spacepen.asp

7. ## Re: The King's Toaster

Originally Posted by localzuk
I think the computer scientist had a good set of points there! Shame the king only wanted a dumbed down toaster. It could have been an interesting project :P
he'd have had the cheap version, decieded what he wanted it to do then shouted at the tech when it didn't work as he imagined it would.

8. ## Re: The King's Toaster

Originally Posted by jcollings
I always thought this was just a joke!

9. ## Re: The King's Toaster

Now this is definitelt just a joke...I think...

Three computer professionals are in a car being driven down a switchback road in the Alps.
The driver suddenly announces the brakes have failed and after a monumental struggle stops the car on the edge of a precipice in a cloud of dust.
The three get out and look at the car.
The first is a systems manager who says "Let's walk down the road and get help"
The second is a hardware engineer who rolls up his sleeves and says "No let me get some tools and see what I can do"
The third is a software engineer who says "I think we should drive on and try to reproduce the fault..."

10. ## Re: The King's Toaster

A VGA Monitor on any cooking appliance is just STUPID.

11. ## Re: The King's Toaster

Originally Posted by Friez
A VGA Monitor on any cooking appliance is just STUPID.
What about LCD screens then?

12. ## Re: The King's Toaster

Originally Posted by Friez
A VGA Monitor on any cooking appliance is just STUPID.
yes it is

*hides fpga development board*

13. ## Re: The King's Toaster

A mechanic, an electrician and a Microsoft engineer are all travelling in a car.
The car breaks down.

The mechanic says "we should replace the distributer, that'll solve it"
The electrician says "we should replace the fuses, that'll solve it"
The microsoft engineer says "we should get out and get back in again, that'll solve it!"

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