Category Archives: speaking

On this page:
  • Embedded talk
  • Public speaking and mentoring
  • Toast IT
  • Toastmasters is fun
  • Survived my first Toastmasters speech!
  • Presentation insights from science competitions

Embedded talk

Title page

Hello, everyone! I’m Sacha Chua, and I’m here to talk about embedded
system design from the developer’s point of view.
What _is_ embedded computing, anyway? It helps to define it in
contrast to personal computers, which we’re all familiar with.

PC/embedded system comparison

General use

Personal computers are intended for general use. They can run a wide
range of applications – games, business apps, that sort of thing.

Specific function

Embedded systems, on the other hand, are typically designed for a
single purpose. Think of a calculator, for example, or the logic in
vending machines. (Of course, some embedded systems are becoming more
general now, like personal digital assistants a).

OS, apps

Personal computers



On PCs, you can usually assume that someone

Different input/output

Easy to dev or change programs

Infrequently updated


User needs / expectations

Although crashes and data loss seem to be part of our everyday
computing experience, people expect embedded systems to be reliable.
Imagine an embedded system that crashes! What if your phone crashed
and had to be rebooted all the time? People expect features,
reliability, and all for a low price.

Tight space and memory constraints

Development tools

Development process

One of the things about embedded development is that the process is a
little bit longer. It’s not the usual edit, compile, run cycle. It’s
edit, compile, burn to flash, run.

Architectural quirks

And of course if you go into embedded development, you’ll probably
have to deal with different architectures. For example, you’ll learn
about the quirks of conditional ARM.

Why go into embedded dev’t?

It’s fun!

It’s challenging!

It’s useful!

How to get started

Courses on computer interfacing / hardware / digital logic


Internship / work / open source

What you need: software, hardware, patience

Public speaking and mentoring

Steve Pavlina wanted to become a professional speaker. He didn’t know much about the business side of speaking, but he found a mentor who helped him get the hang of things.


I love sharing ideas with people. I love bringing my enthusiasm and my
passion to a hall and infecting as many people as I can. I love
learning about presentation techniques and fascinating ideas. I love
getting people to think. Besides, speaking is a great way to get to
meet other fascinating people. I’ve made friends and learned about
opportunities at post-conference dinners.

I love attending workshops and conferences, even for things that I
don’t immediately need. My conference notes focus more on speakers’
delivery styles than actual technical content. My books aren’t about
programming in Java or writing HTML, but business and public speaking.

I love the challenge of providing value to a whole hall of people. As
a wet-behind-the-ears teacher, I’ve presented alternative teaching
techniques in front of veteran educators. I’ve talked about technology
in front of students and professionals. I’ve survived the scrutiny of
a college classroom.

I’ve had my bad days. Unresponsive audiences. Technical problems.
Lackluster content. All of those things just keep pushing me to learn
more, practice more, be better.

I’ve been giving presentations for four years. I’ve turned talks into
articles and blog posts into presentations. I want to learn more. I
want to entertain people the way
Dean Alfar made hundreds of people
laugh during the summit. I want to teach and inspire people
the way Zig Ziglar and other business speakers do.

I want to share what other people and I have learned. I want to talk
about education. Productivity. Technology. I want to raise questions.
I want to provoke thought and action.

I can learn by watching people at conferences. I can learn by
listening to audiobooks. I can learn by reading transcripts, artciles
and books. But if I could find someone to mentor me, who knows how
much faster I’ll learn and how much more value I can give right away?

Who are the best speakers you know? Would they be willing to mentor a
geek more than willing to swap technical knowhow for presentation

そのコンピュータは大変役にたった。 The computer was very useful.

Renan says:

there’s always the toastmaster’s club. there should be one in the
philippines; since you’re moving to canada, there should be one too.
find one that suites your needs. some are topical; for example, some
talk of nothing but politics, others are free-form and tackle whatever
topic the member brings in. i attended a couple of these, and it did
help. bucause of schedule conflict, though, i had to quit.

it toastmaster’s international ( is not for you,
there’s always the speech class. i have a friend who was a
communications major in college and he told me they had a class on
public speaking where each one of them give a speech on different
topics—-impromptu, extemporaneous, a eulogy, acceptance speech, etc.

of course, as you said, you can learn a lot by listening to people,
especially charismatic speakers, and learn about the psychology of it.

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Toast IT

Charo and the others have been telling me to join the Toastmasters for
the longest time. After sifting through a number of Toronto-based
groups, I finally settled on Toast I.T.,
which meets every Tuesday a few blocks away from school. I attended my
first meeting as a guest, and I had tons of fun.

For the table topics game, we had one minute to prepare and one minute
to present. Topics were randomly drawn from an envelope, and people
could pass if they wanted to. Everyone would vote, and the winner
would have the privilege of keeping the club trophy/mascot for the

Tonight’s topic: superpowers.

The table topics master started the game going. His superpowers were
encyclopedic knowledge and lightning-fast computation, and he made us
laugh by pointing out all of the everyday things that such superpowers
would solve. At what point does buying a transit pass make more sense
than buying tickets individually? How much would you need to pay for
gas in order to get somewhere? How much would you have to pay in
taxes? I’m sure he was thinking on his feet, but he was thinking so
quickly that the words flowed as smoothly as in any well-prepared

The group was surprised when I chose to rise to the challenge of
public speaking. I guess most guests are terrified of speaking in
front of a crowd of strangers. My superpower was the ability to win
beauty contests. I wracked my brain for a good use for that and I
couldn’t find any, but here’s sorta what I came up with: (can’t
remember that clearly)

I’m five feet one-fourth inch tall—and that one-fourth inch is very
important, mind you. I have glasses and pimples. But it doesn’t
matter, because I’ve got a superpower. I can win any beauty contest I
want. (pause) Who’d have figured? I love using my superpower to make a
point… and it certainly helps me promote my projects!

Back in the Philippines, there was an IT pageant. A search for role
models. (pause) The application asked for, of all things, bust size,
waist and hip measurements. (pause and shrug) With my A-cup, my
waist—let’s not even talk about my hips—I could go right in there,
win the thing… and _then_ show them that it’s not how you look but
what you _do_ that counts.

Much fun. =)

There was a girl who could catch and control fire, a guy who could
produce gadgets from somewhere, an old man who said that a forcefield
would be incredibly useful for deflecting the slings and arrows of
outrageous fortunes—or rotten tomatoes and lettuces from other
Toastmasters on the occasion of a really bad speech…

Good stuff! I voted for the forcefield guy because he was funny. =)
The sergeant-at-arms was happy to announce that someone had won by a

… but not as happy as I was. ;) Well, that made my day. I can’t wait
to go to the next one!

私は父からコンピューターゲームがあたえられた。 I was given a computer game by my father.

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Toastmasters is fun

I attended another Toast I.T. meeting
today. The table topic set by Natasha was a bit of a stretch for me.
If I was in the elevator with the CEO of my company, what would I say?
Other people naturally brought up small talk examples from real-life
situations. You know me and small talk. I’m not going to disrupt the
silence by asking about the weather! Grasping at straws, I ended up
doing half of a conversation where I played an eager employee asking
for more responsibilities.

I have no idea why people thought that was the best table topics
speech. But hey, I love speaking, and I’ll do it at the drop of a
hat… <laugh>

My icebreaker speech is coming up next week. I’m going to have so much
fun preparing for it! =)

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Survived my first Toastmasters speech!

I survived the ice breaker!

I had drafted talks for all sorts of things: lifehacking, the
Philippines, even the weather. None of them seemed to fit. Then Pierre
Duez of IBM CAS suggested that I talk about pets. Come to think of it,
he may have been joking. Anyway, I told myself, it’s the ice breaker.
They don’t mind non-serious topics. They want to get to know who I am.

Right. I could get away with a story about my cat. I threw together
the talk in the corridor. I knew I could tell plenty of stories about
Neko, who’s quite a character. I picked a couple, came up with a nice
beginning and a nice ending, and went for the thing.

I had so much fun bringing a few laughs from my seasoned audience.
They weren’t belly laughs or anything, probably just
I-know-what-you’re-talking-about laughs. But that was good. I wasn’t
sure how reactive people were because the past few talks were mostly
serious, but it was fun.

It was my first time with a U-shaped arrangement. I don’t like having
anything between me and my audience. I stepped in front of the
lectern, but I didn’t know what to do about the hulking large
projector in the middle of the room. I ended up going in front of it,
which cut off eye contact with the people on the ends of the U. Doug
Vowles suggested that I move all the stuff out of the way next time. I
still have to figure out how to properly do blocking for U-style

I remember how the all-around stage we performed Junto al Pasig was an
interesting blocking challenge in grade 4. I should read up on
theatrical blocking for plays in the round, and maybe ask Tita Naty
and Mrs. Castillo as well…

I also need more lead-up to the punchline. I told them about ensuring
my cat’s safety in the household by telling my parents I’ll petition
my cat and my cat can petition them. ;) That went by too quickly
because I was already overtime. Hmm, must work on my timing.

I say “like” way too much. Must work on my filler words next time.

I also need to work on my resonance. (Err, must find out what they
mean by that, too. Yes, voice. But how?)

Whee… =D

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Presentation insights from science competitions

On presentation tips from a science fair competitor. Makes me wish I’d gotten into the science fair circuit!

I’ve given many presentations on topics like wearable computing,
embedded computing, Linux in education, and personal information
management. I used to think, “Oh no, they want me to talk about
wearable computing again?!” Then I realized that the more I talked
about something, the more comfortable I became with the topic, and the
more I could connect with a large audience. I started telling stories
and showing comics, and presenting became tons of fun.

I think I should hook up with a few other Toastmasters clubs so that I
can give the same speech to many different audiences. It’s good
practice for me, and a whole lot of fun.