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A Tale to Make Your Blood Run Cold

For many of us in the Northern Hemisphere it is winter, so a good time to close the curtains, gather round the fire and tell stories that make the blood run cold and the hairs on the back of your neck rise in horror. And this is one such story.

It was a peaceful day in the international company’s computer operations centre until, at 13.07, the monitoring services detected that there were several simultaneous attempts to probe a non-existent workstation. Four minutes later, a VHDL server attempted to access a Google search. And, four minutes after that, … Read More → "A Tale to Make Your Blood Run Cold"

Postage-Stamp Linux

“If you have any trouble sounding condescending, find a Unix user to show you how it’s done.” – Scott Adams

There was a time when big operating systems ran on big iron. IBM, Data General, Burroughs, DEC, and other computer makers built big machines with big, blinking lights, and big price tags. They ran grown-up software and they supported multiuser operating systems. If you wanted a toy, you built a microcomputer. If you wanted a real machine for serious work, you bought a mainframe. Maybe a minicomputer, if it were for lesser tasks.

Read More → "Postage-Stamp Linux"

Broadcom, Qualcomm, and Call of (Fiduciary) Duty

We’re all in something like our fourth month of sitting and watching the slow motion drama of Broadcom’s attempted acquisition of Qualcomm. It seems everyone has an opinion on whether the merger would be a good thing or bad thing, and debate rages on as the fluid situation repeatedly escalates and then cools. At this point, it’s anybody’s guess whether the deal will happen. 

Oh, when we say “everyone,” what we really mean is financial experts trying to … Read More → "Broadcom, Qualcomm, and Call of (Fiduciary) Duty"

Policy and Regulations in the IoT World

Watching the tech industry over the last few decades, it’s easy to come to the conclusion that all of the inventions have come solely through the efforts of single-minded entrepreneurs determined to win, even if it means losing in the attempt. While lots of that has happened, this worldview, just like the notion that the Wild West was won solely by rugged individualists with no help from anyone, is over-romanticized.

In fact, while lots of specific ideas come and go like so many quantum fluctuations, there are efforts on various fronts to forge a strategy and … Read More → "Policy and Regulations in the IoT World"

It’s Alive!

“The more sand has escaped from the hourglass of our life, the clearer we should see through it.” –  Johann Paul Friedrich Richter

There’s a scene in the old Woody Allen movie, “Sleeper,” where a future time traveler discovers a cave with an ancient, dust-covered VW Beetle parked inside. He cautiously explores the strange artifact before opening the door and hesitantly settling in to the driver’s seat. He turns the key and… it starts.

Some primitive technologies are just too good to die. We still use QWERTY keyboards, even though they’re … Read More → "It’s Alive!"

Plunify – The Big FPGA Guns

Eyes scan the optimization options like a master pool player about to run the table against a hapless opponent. Solids and stripes form a map – a complex mathematical model where LUTs and connections melt away and a unique strategy emerges. Quick optimization to get the lay of the land, 7 ball in the side pocket, multiple runs for timing, park the cue ball left to set up for the 5 in the corner, check power and Fmax, defensive move behind the 8 ball. The physics of the situation evolve, and the expert plays them like an instrument.

Many of us … Read More → "Plunify – The Big FPGA Guns"

The Cat-and-Mouse World of Logic Camouflage

We all know that security (or at least talking about it) is all the rage, although most of that attention relates to software. But hardware too? Yes, hardware too. However, today, we’re not going to talk about hardware that’s providing security to something else; we want to talk about protecting the hardware itself as intellectual property (IP).

Reverse engineering by companies like Chipworks has been both boon and bane to the semiconductor world. Some companies are notoriously stingy with information about how … Read More → "The Cat-and-Mouse World of Logic Camouflage"

The Cloud Slaps Another Sinner

“Destiny means there are opportunities to turn right or left, but fate is a one-way street.” – Paulo Coelho

Arabs call it kismet. Westerners, fate. English-speakers talk about a coincidence. Buddhists refer to karma. And The Police called it Synchronicity II.

I think the universe is trying to tell us something.

Just last week I railed on the evils of products that require gratuitous Internet connections, thus rendering themselves useless if/when that connection fails. And a scant 28 days … Read More → "The Cloud Slaps Another Sinner"

Aaware of Wake Words

Few tech areas are hotter right now than smart speakers and smart home assistants, with Amazon Alexa, Google Assistant, Microsoft Cortana, and Apple Siri all tripping over each other to earn our trust as personal DJ, home shopper, lighting tech, news reporter, and research assistant. Devices ranging from the $50 Echo Dot and Google Home Mini up to $350-$400 Apple Home Pod and Google Home Max are coming into our living rooms, plugging in, connecting up, and… listening. 

They may be listening to … Read More → "Aaware of Wake Words"

Sound Off – No Wait, Sound On!

Today we’re going to talk sound. Two separate stories – one where we can enjoy sound, the other where sound can work for us.

You Sound Well!

Our first story comes from USound, originating in a discussion we had at last fall’s MEMS and Sensors Executive Congress. They’ve developed a small MEMS speaker that can give flat sound-pressure levels (SPLs) from 10 Hz to 16 kHz. That’s below the nominal 20-Hz bottom of the hearing range for humans, and just under the 20-kHz top of the range.

They say that … Read More → "Sound Off – No Wait, Sound On!"

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