About Me

I am Rud Merriam, a software engineer/system analyst retired since 2006. Retirement wasn't voluntary. My job at HP was shipped to India. Being 58, it was challenging to find another position. Before the merger of the two, one of my duties at Compaq was as a representative to the Distributed Management Task Force (DMTF), a standardization effort focused on managing and monitoring computer systems. I was one of the few people in Houston knowledgeable in the area. Although the company I interviewed at was specifically looking for that capability, they thought I couldn't "keep up" with the pace of their startup. Shortly after that I said to my wife, "I'm either retired or unemployed. If the latter, I'll have supper on the table for you every night." She agreed I was retired.

Most of my career in software was with embedded systems. Some were on minicomputers like the time and attendance system, and others were on microcomputers or PCs. The first microcomputer system used the newly released Intel 8088. In that project, I also used Turbo Pascal on an IBM PC or original Compaq luggable to create a compiler for the code that ran on the 8088 board.

The next role was as a hands-on engineering manager creating a satellite communications system to monitor and control pipeline systems. This involved creating an STD bus-based system using an x86 processor board and a PC-based system for doing 24 /7 monitoring of the overall system.

Both these systems were successfully completed.

I went into consulting for a bit doing various micro-based projects and then went to Compaq. There I worked in the group that developed software to monitor large server farms.

Computer Languages

My first language is FORTRAN IV on an IBM 7044 and later a CDC 6400. Both were at SUNY/Buffalo as a student and full-time computer operators on the CDC system. While attending classes at SUNY/B, I was exposed to assembly, Pascal, Algol, Snobol, and Lisp.

I later used Intel's PL/M for 8088 development but switched to C for the satellite communications effort. I switched to C++ in 1990 when the Borland compiler was released for C++. Read most of the manual and worked with it while on vacation in Hawaii.


In the '90s, I wrote for the magazines Embedded Systems Programming, Computer Language Magazine, Programmer's Journal, and Windows Tech Journal.

Since then, I've written for Hackaday, focusing on using C++ in embedded systems like the Arduino and Raspberry Pi. Copies of those articles are on this site, also.

I have a blog, but it hasn't been updated recently. Some recent articles are on Medium and copied here, also.


For over a decade, I've been working on robots, building them, and writing software. One of the reasons I created this site was to discuss the 2013 NASA Sample Return Robot Centennial Challenge. I started working on the 2014 challenge, but a personal tragedy deflected me. My next effort was the 2016 NASA Space Robotics Challenge and the Space Robotics Challenge Two. In the former, I passed the qualifying round, but in the latter, the challenge highlighted my limitations, so I didn't even submit for the qualifying round.

Most recently I abandoned a robot construction effort because Sphero produced the RVR robot which did all I wanted, albeit a package a little smaller than I wanted. The RVR is controlled with a serial protocol that is somewhat defined by Sphero. A limitation for me is the code for controlling the RVR is in Python while I want to use C++. I've spent many months reverse engineering the protocol. This also led me to exploring features of the C++ standard changes since C++11.


I am also an Extra Class amateur radio operator (ham), but that has waned in recent years due to my age. My main activity was public service communications for incidents which included public service events (bike rides, marathons, and The Woodlands Ironman) and emergencies like Hurricane Harvey and Ike.