Transforming the Family Business
You know that old Italian restaurant down the road a ways? Mamma – that’s what we called her; no one knew her actual name – ran that place for longer than anyone can remember. The recipes were secret. The books were… well, we don’t ask about the books. Money comes in, money goes out, shuddup and eat yer gnocchis, okay? Somehow, the bills got paid and the employees got paid and the customers kept coming.
And then something happened to Mamma. And the one person holding the whole thing together was no longer there to hold everything together. And now what happens? Folks know how to go on autopilot, so the plates of pasta keep coming, but sooner or later either Mamma’s secrets must all be unearthed or everyone simply has to find a new way. And that new way should learn from the challenges that arise when too much of the business is transacted inside the mind of one individual.
Standards, Challenges, and Dynamics of USB Type C
It slices, it dices, it juliennes, and it doesn't care which way you plug it in - it's USB type C. Coming soon to a consumer electronic design near you, this new interface is bound to take the electronics world by storm. Well, that might be overstating things a bit. USB type C may not be the electronics equivalent of sliced bread, and it may not revolutionize the world of CE, but it will be pretty darn cool to start using in our designs (and our everyday lives). This week we're taking a closer look at the design challenges surrounding USB type C and how you can get it up and running in your next design. My guest is Gervais Fong and we're discussing all of this... and the wonder of BBQ too.
A review of "Moore's Law: the Life of Gordon Moore"
More years ago than I want to think about, I expressed interest in a PR job at Intel. In a preliminary meeting, things were going well until I was asked how I dealt with confrontational situations. My reply, that I worked hard beforehand to make sure that the need for confrontation didn't arise, was clearly the wrong answer, and so - probably just as well - I never worked for Intel. After reading Moore's Law: the life of Gordon Moore, Silicon Valley's quiet revolutionary, I now know why this was an important question.
Gordon Moore is the only widely known name from the founding fathers of the silicon age. This is in the main because of Moore's Law, which is misunderstood and misquoted daily. And, unlike many of the others of the founding fathers, he is still alive and the company he founded is still a major (if not the major) player. So a biography of a living legend should be more than welcome.
Lost in the Security Labyrinth
No. Not another security article. Please, haven’t we all had enough? We’re afraid already. We are sick to death of the doomsday warnings about the number of glaring security holes in just about everything we touch and the inadequacy of our own security measures. We don’t want to be lectured again about how careless we’ve been. We don’t need to be pitched yet another snake-oil, safe-as-a-baby’s-bottom, can’t-survive-the-apocalypse-without-it, magic-button security solution - that costs only slightly more than the thing it’s protecting and probably makes it so hard to use that we’ll end up just giving up on the whole thing.
As an editor, I am pitched security stories constantly. It seems that new companies are starting up every single day with a mission to make money from our fear and paranoia. Yes, we could become the Henny Penny Technology Press, running around yelling about how the sky is falling and we’re all doomed. And yes, there are real security threats out there that require all of us - especially engineers - to take reasonable precautions. But our preoccupation with keeping the bad guys at bay may have gotten just a little out of hand, and it’s giving rise to an industry that’s possibly even less scrupulous than those it purports to defend us against.
Communicating with Customers is Tougher than it Sounds
People don’t read anymore. Actually, I’m not sure they ever did. Okay, I know - people do literally read words and stuff. They just don’t… y’know… read.
And this makes it hard for designers of electronics.
Most of us are familiar with the initialism RTFM: read the freakin’ manual. To get the full effect, you have to yell it, usually just after ending a conversation with a particularly frustrating idiot/user. “Why can’t people RTFM? It’s right there in black and white!”
Because nobody reads, that’s why.
Keys, Signatures, and Certificates
This was going to be an article about authentication. In putting it together, I realized that there are a number of fundamental concepts that can help the authentication discussion. Some of us tend to toss out words related to those concepts rather freely – and tentatively, perhaps, because if we were pushed hard, we’d have to admit that we don’t understand the details. And this is especially true in security, where those details tend to accrue only to a select few.
So if you’re a security whiz, what follows will all be familiar stuff. If you’ve dealt with browser security, it may also be familiar – because much of Internet of Things (IoT) security is based on existing technology, like TLS. But the IoT is bringing a lot of new folks into the game, and for them (or should I say, “us”), this stuff isn’t obvious.