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FPGA Journal Turns Three

Three years and over one-hundred-fifty editions ago, the first copy of FPGA Journal rolled off the virtual presses, coursing its way through the digital jungle to about a thousand unsuspecting initial subscribers. Our first feature article, “Making the Transition – FPGA Primer for ASIC Designers,” was well received, as were most of the ninety-one features and hundreds of news stories we ran that first year in 2003 and 2004. If you’ve never browsed our [archives] section – it can be quite entertaining.

During our first three years, we’ve charted the changes, analyzed the trends, reported on the revolutions, and even documented the dubiousness of the most mesmerizing time in the young history of the programmable logic industry. From the beginning, we set out to be an engineer’s publication, dedicated to the notion that engineering is an exciting, challenging, and rewarding occupation – believing that engineers are some of the most important contributors to our global society. We also understand that, even though we engineers tend to be technically minded, we don’t deserve to be bored to death by dull dry technical diatribes droning on like dumbed-down datasheets. With that in mind, we try to make FPGA Journal articles not just informative but also entertaining, introspective, and even funny on occasion.

Today, we’re probably the most widely read programmable logic publication on the planet (and up to 28% more insightful than competitive 90nm publications). There are apparently somewhere north of 50,000 of you out there reading our publication regularly, commenting on our comments, watching our webcasts, and clicking on our banner ads. (Since we’re kinda coin-operated and depend on our sponsors for advertising revenue, we appreciate that last part.) While we’re on the topic, FPGA Journal also passed the million dollar revenue mark this year. While that may sound like only one ASIC re-spin for most of you, it means a lot to us. Now, we can afford to replace our TRS-80s with newfangled laptops, we can equip ourselves with electric lighting and indoor plumbing, and we’ve added more staff to help us keep track of all the goings-on in the rapidly expanding FPGA universe.

During the last year, our family has grown in another way too. We’ve added a sibling. Our newest publication, “Embedded Technology Journal,” is turning one year old today. We’re overjoyed with its early success! (OK, are the parents listening? No? Good. Actually, we’re pretty annoyed with the whole “younger sibling” thing. You know how it is – one day you’re the star of the family, you get all the best toys, all the attention is on you. The next thing you know, little super-duper comes along and everybody’s all Gaa Gaa Gaa. Pretty soon, your baby book hasn’t been updated in awhile, nobody shows up for your soccer game, and little smarty-pants is walking around in the latest designer fashions while you try to squeeze your big clompers into last-year’s Keds. Ooops – they’re coming back. Act casual…)

In addition to the success of our sister publication, we’ve sprouted a host of new features including a job board, webcasts, and a suite of “Insider” publications to keep PR and advertising folks up to speed on what we’re doing behind the scenes. With more of you asking for alternative means to access our stuff, we’ve also added RSS feeds as another view into our content. Now you can reach us through the website, through our weekly Journal Update newsletters, through our RSS feeds, and even print off our handy pdf files to read on the plane. We’re also working on additional, even more edgy, distribution channels, but we don’t want our competitors listening in too soon – mum’s the word.

In the coming year, we have even more cool stuff coming your way. For one thing, we’ve decided to give you a voice. Not an artist-quality one, of course — you won’t be auditioning for the Metropolitan Opera, and you probably won’t be a contestant on next year’s “Rockstar” reality show, but a voice nonetheless. Instead of all those reader comments just coming to our mailbox for our own private amusement, we’ve decided to add an FPGA Journal FORUMS where you can sound off in public about our outrageous misinterpretation of market trends, where we’re oblivious to the obvious superiority of your company’s amazing product as we naively fall victim to the brazen overblown marketing hype of your closest competitor. FPGA Journal FORUMS will also have interesting opinion polls and a venue where you can ask those nagging technical questions about the HDL compiler that keeps giving an error even though your code is obviously correct and the customer support guy just keeps… oh, wait – I’m missing a semicolon. Nevermind.

On the topic of e-mail, we realize that e-mail is becoming an increasingly challenging medium with spam and counter-spam technologies springing up, sometimes faster than our small staff can ignore them. We put a high value our integrity as citizens and beneficiaries of the online community and make every effort not to send unwanted e-mail, while at the same time working to get you the information you’ve requested. Now you can subscribe to each of our e-mail components separately, so you can fine tune your participation. If you want the latest newsletters, but don’t want to participate in our occasional online surveys, for example, you can opt-in to our newsletter list and opt-out of our survey list. Of course, we don’t recommend that, because then you wouldn’t be able to use part of that voice we just gave you in the previous paragraph.

As a tester, we’ll try out some of that new polling technology right now, with an “article of the year” question. We’ve whittled down the articles this year to just the ones that have netted the most responses from readers. Now, it’s up to you to pick one – your favorite, and send the rest packing down the walk of shame. You’re probably thinking “Oh, I’ll just let everybody ELSE vote.” Well, think again! If you don’t vote, we may just take that as a sign of apathy about your newly awarded voice and revoke your FORUMS privileges altogether.

Also, we need to say this now – there are NO write-in votes. That means you can’t nominate “World’s Best FPGA Article – Up to 53% More Interesting.” It was from May 2005. Now, we’re like one of those bands that has a new album out, and we play a concert with our new stuff, and the audience loves it, but keeps yelling, “Play Stairway to Heaven,” and the band is totally sick of that song even though it was great, and… Oh, sorry, we got carried away there. Ahem, without further ado, here are the nominees. (Envelope please):

This Engineer Walks Into a Bar… Debunking the Nerd Myth – January 24, 2006

Go, Stop, Yield – Dude! Where’s my Chip? – March 28, 2006

What Do You Tell Them? – Explaining a Complex Career – March 14, 2006

Death of the Hardware Engineer – A Dirge for the Digital Designer – April 18, 2006

Innovation Big and Small – Chapter 1 – The Adventures of Chuck and Roger – April 25, 2006

Security Blanket – Protecting Your System in an Age of Paranoia – June 20, 2006

System-Level Sideshow – ESL Eases FPGA Design – July 11, 2006

DAC Previsited – Dawn of the Design Tool Decade – July 18, 2006

Forgotten Battles – Holes in the Engineering Fossil Record – August 15, 2006

You can vote for your choice by clicking here to go straight to the poll. (Yes, you’ll have to register first; that’s just the way it works.)

We’d also like to take this opportunity to thank our awesome staff for their stellar performance in our third year. Laura Domela, Shirley Rice, Kayla Kurucz, Amelia Dalton, Rosemary Maguire, and Amy Malagamba have all worked tirelessly to bring you the FPGA Journal you have today. Keep sending them trade-show trinkets and inviting them to the Denali party at DAC and they’ll probably keep FPGA Journal coming your way for years.

Lastly, we’d like to thank you, our audience, for our very existence. Without your interest and participation, we wouldn’t be here, and the world of FPGAs would probably be just a little bit more boring…

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