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Eeek! 100 Captivating Columns and Counting

I have a friend called Bob (spelled the usual way and pronounced with a silent ‘q’). In fact, as fate would have it, I’ve been blessed with an abundance of Bobs (and that’s not something most people expect to hear themselves say on a daily basis).

In order to distinguish between members of this bodacious bunch of Bobs when I’m conversing with my wife (Gina the Gorgeous), I add a descriptor, such as “Carpenter Bob,” “Semiconductor Bob,” “Cyber Sleuth Bob,” “Marketing Wizard Bob,” “Bible Study Bob,” and “Sparkly Bob.”

The Bob who is highlighted in this column, Sparkly Bob, is about 72 years young. The origin of his appellation came about because — against Gina’s express commands — I added a load of sparkly glitter between the wrapping paper and the gift box for his Christmas present last year. It was unfortunate that Bob decided to open all of his presents at his lady friend’s house. Apparently, she’s still finding the sparkles in her carpet and sofa to this day. (Fortunately, she blames him, not me.)

Sparkly Bob, who has an office in the same building as your humble narrator, might also be referred to as “Computer Challenged Bob.” For example, against all of my counsel and advice, he will have no truck with directories (folders). Instead, he keeps all of his Word and PDF documents on his desktop to the extent that he was recently obliged to purchase a larger, higher-resolution monitor to accommodate them all!

By comparison, I’m a directory diva. I have to be because — including this column — I now have 54,937 files in my work folder (I just checked). In the case of my “Business Stuff/EEJournal” folder, for example, I have a sub-folder for each column, where the names of these sub-folders are along the lines of:

          YYYY-MM-DD nnnn Company/Topic Name 

The “nnnn” part is the number of the article, starting with 0001. Until recently, I’ve been publishing one column on EEJournal each Thursday (I just started posting an additional column — like this one — every second Tuesday).

It’s amazing how quickly the slippery sands of time slither and slide through the metaphorical hourglass. If you’d asked me yesterday how long I’ve been writing for EEJournal, I’d probably have replied, “About a year or so.” However, it just struck me that I breezed past the #0100 column number a couple of weeks ago, which means I’ve actually been penning these pieces for over two years. I think I average about 2,000 words per column, so that equates to 200,000 words (each one hand picked at the crack of dawn on the north side of the hill whilst the dew is still glistening on the little beauties). “Eeek Alors!” As my dear old friend Shears was prone to say before the fact that he was too close to the Chernobyl Nuclear Power Plant on Saturday 26 April 1986 eventually resulted in him being taken away from us in his prime.

I just took a stroll through my file folders looking at the titles of these little rascals, some of which made me smile in remembrance, while others caused me to think, “I wonder what I was waffling about in that one?” As a result, I thought I’d use this column to refresh our minds as to my first 100 offerings.

It might be that some of these pieces will call out to you as they did to me, such as Compellingly Cunning Embedded Code Coverage (#031), Meandering Musings on Metastability (#035), When Genetic Algorithms Meet Artificial Intelligence (#040), Pulling Yourself up by Your Bootstraps (#052), and Do Robot Dogs Dream of Cyborg Cats? (#060).

So, why not join me in a stroll down memory lane? I’d love to hear your comments regarding any of these columns that struck (and/or still strikes) a particular chord within you.

#001 The Artificial Intelligence Apocalypse (Part 1)

There’s a lot happening on the artificial intelligence front; Is It Time to Be Scared Yet?

#002 The Artificial Intelligence Apocalypse (Part 2)

When AI meets hyper reality, mediated reality, augmented reality, and deletive reality … is that when it’s time to be scared?

#003 The Artificial Intelligence Apocalypse (Part 3)

Is It Time to Be Scared Yet? (Here’s a clue — the answer is a resounding “Yes!”)

#004 What the FAQ is an Embedded System?

Strange as it may seem, the problem isn’t that we lack a definition, but rather that we have too many – many of which subtly or overtly contradict each other.

#005 5G Meets 50,000 Fans at Super Bowl 2025

What will happen in the future — say Superbowl 2025 — when the half-time show starts, and the 50,000-strong audience starts to stream everything to their friends back home using their super-duper 5G phones?

#006 To the Stars with Microchip’s New RT PolarFire FPGAs

The hot news on the street — if you live on a street where people build satellites and space probes for a hobby — is that those little scamps at Microchip have just announced their new radiation-tolerant (RT) PolarFire FPGA

#007 Achronix and BittWare Accelerate Your Socks Off!

I for one am jolly enthused by the Speedster 7t FPGAs from Achronix and the VectorPath S7t-VG6 PCIe hardware accelerator card from BittWare. 

#008 What the FAQ is the Edge vs. the Far Edge?

It seems that there’s quite a lot of confusion as to where The Fog and The Edge begin and end.

#009 What the FAQ are CPUs, MPUs, MCUs, and GPUs?

I’m sure you know what the terms CPU, MPU, MCU, and GPU stand for. I’d wager you think you know which functional blocks each of these terms embraces. But are you 100% certain? Would you bet on it?

#010 What the FAQ are ASICs, ASSPs, SoCs, SOMs, etc.? 

The combination of today’s ASIC/ASSP/SoC technologies with SiP, PiP, PoP, MCM, CoM, and SoM packaging/deployment techniques make the high-density, high-performance systems we know and love possible.

#011 How to Start a Startup (Part 1)

One of the topics a lot of engineers like to chat about is the idea of starting their own company, but how do you go about doing this?

#012 How to Start a Startup (Part 2)

You may have a great product or service, but all will be in vain unless you get the word out, which involves marketing and awareness building.

#013 How to Start a Startup (Part 3)

What might be “right” for one person or company may not work for another, but it certainly pays to at least ponder things before leaping headfirst into the fray with gusto and abandon.

#014 How to Start a Startup (Part 4)

More on websites, death by bullets, style guides, engineers and writing, using a copy editor, feedback from readers, and more…

#015 [Electronic] Ghosts of Christmas Past and Future

Around this time of the year, I pause to think just how much technology has changed since I was born.

#016 Not Your Grandmother’s Embedded Systems

The fact that we have just drifted into the year 2020, which means we are now 1/5th of the way through the 21st century, is giving me pause for thought about how fast technology is changing.

#017 Ultimate Guide to Switch Debounce (Part 1)

If you are a practicing engineer working with electronic systems, you will almost certainly have run into this problem. If you are new to the field, you can be assured that the delights of switch bounce are lurking out there waiting for an opportunity to bid you a cheery “Hello!” Be afraid; be very afraid.

#018 Ultimate Guide to Switch Debounce (Part 2)

There are so many switch debounce solutions it makes your head spin. On the bright side, some of these offerings actually work; on the downside, their working may be due to chance rather than design.

#019 Ultimate Guide to Switch Debounce (Part 3)

We have arrived at the point where the “rubber meets the road,” metaphorically speaking. This is where we start to consider various solutions to our bouncing switches.

#020 Ultimate Guide to Switch Debounce (Part 4)

Is using monostables to debounce switches a good idea? The short answer is “no,” while a slightly longer answer is “Heck no!” You could stop reading right now and wait for Part 5 of this miniseries, but if you insist…

#021 Ultimate Guide to Switch Debounce (Part 5)

In this column we look at SPDT toggle switches combined with latches, which many regard as being the crème de la crème of hardware debouncing solutions.

#022 Ultimate Guide to Switch Debounce (Part 6)

In this column, we peruse and ponder some specially designed integrated circuits (ICs) for debouncing switches.

#023 Ultimate Guide to Switch Debounce (Part 7)

In which we consider switch bounce and resets, and interrupts, and polling, and… well, all sorts of stuff, really.

#024 Ultimate Guide to Switch Debounce (Part 8)

This is the part where we introduce FPGA and software solutions to the switch bounce problem

#025 Ultimate Guide to Switch Debounce (Part 9)

In which our software solutions include shift registers, counters, and vertical counters! (The crowd gasps in awe.)

#026 Silicon to Satisfy the AIoT: xcore.ai

The more I think about it, the more I can envisage these new xcore.ai devices being deployed in almost everything. How about you? Do any interesting potential applications spring to mind that you would care to share?

#027 Sensors, Space Probes, and Wi-Fi Cybersecurity, Oh My!

If you are involved in designing specialist infrared camera systems, then the Oxygen RD0092 DROIC from Senseeker will make you squeal in delight.

#028 Introducing Girls to Engineering

I tell you. Nothing makes you feel that you are past your prime quite as much as being taught how to program by a 6-year-old.

#029 New DSP IP Makes Your Eyes Water

Roving bubbles of Wi-Fi protection — mesmerizing magnetic modular marble madness — dynamically configurable DSP awesomeness from CEVA

#030 Worried About Your SSD Data? Virtium Has You Covered!

In these days of data transience, evanescence, ephemerality, and insubstantiality, it gives me a warm glow inside to know that the little scamps at Virtium have us covered.

#031 Compellingly Cunning Embedded Code Coverage

I just heard about a new code coverage tool from Microchip Technology that’s targeted at embedded designs, that’s quick and easy to use, and that does things no other code coverage tool has done before.

#032 IOTech: Bridging the OT-IT Divide

When it comes to the edge of the Industrial IoT (IIoT), IOTech’s edgeXpert bridges the gap between the “thin” (Operational Technology) edge and “thick” (Information Technology) edge.

#033 Why, Hello FPGA and AI — How Nice to See You Together!

I was starting to fear I was no longer riding the crest of the wave with regard to things like AI, but that was before I saw the Hello FPGA Kit from Microchip Technology.

#034 Using MEMS to Thrash COVID-19

Leveraging MEMS technology in conjunction with biocompatible materials to develop novel biosensors, biotech companies are working on technologies that will deliver accurate COVID-19 test results in as little as 60 seconds. 

#035 Meandering Musings on Metastability

Metastability can occur when an asynchronous signal is accessed by a synchronous system like an MCU or FPGA. One of the funny things about metastability is how few MCU users are even aware it exists.

#036 You’re Not My Type!

Would it have killed the keepers of the C specification to simply and unequivocally state that: “Using the >> operator on a signed integer will perform an arithmetic shift”?

#037 Distributed On-Chip Temperature Sensors Improve Performance and Reliability

The guys and gals at Moortec specialize in providing on-chip monitoring, telemetry, and analytics solutions.

#038 TNG of DFT

The little scamps at Real Intent have announced Verix DFT, which is a multimode, full-chip capacity, DFT static sign-off tool.

#039 DSP Group Dives into the Hearables Market

If “the eyes are the window to the soul,” as the old saying goes, then the ears can provide a window to all sorts of other things.

#040 When Genetic Algorithms Meet Artificial Intelligence

Meet the first set of machine-learning tools that can automatically optimize camera architectures intended for computer vision applications. 

#041 Digital Twins Promote Predictive Maintenance

Did you know MATLAB has Deep Learning and Predictive Maintenance Toolboxes, or that Simulink has an add-on called Simscape you can use to create physics-based models?

#042 Introducing the World’s First Monolithic MEMS Speaker

I have seen the future of hearables. And it is MEMS. And it is good.

#043 Protecting Your Software from Cyberslime

How can you tell if someone counterfeits your software, perhaps inserting malware, and then distributes it as though it were a legitimate copy?

#044 I Just Created my First AI/ML App! (Part 1)

Eeek Alors! I just created my very first artificial intelligence (AI) / machine learning (ML) application… and it works!

#045 I Just Created my First AI/ML App! (Part 2)

At the end of Part 1, we were left feasting our eyes on the physical portion of my first AI/ML-based system. In this column, we walk through the process of pulling everything together.

#046 Handling Radiation in SRAM-Based FPGAs (Part 1)

The effects of radiation are most acute in the case of FPGAs, which also have their configuration cells to contend with. Happily, a new fab process can dispel radiation-induced FPGA woes.

#047 Handling Radiation in SRAM-Based FPGAs (Part 2)

The effects of radiation are most acute in the case of FPGAs, which also have their configuration cells to contend with. Happily, a new fab process can dispel radiation-induced FPGA woes.

#048 Microchip’s New CoaXPress 2.0 Chips Speed Machine Vision

We are talking about serious amounts of video data over serious distances here — like 100 gigabits per second (Gbps) or more over 100 meters or more.

#049 Laser Imaging PCB Solder Masks is a Game Changer

Those clever folks at Limata have just introduced the ability to LDI the solder mask — all inks and colors — a feat no one else has previously managed.

#050 A Brave New World of Analog Artificial Neural Networks (AANNs)

A little bit of analog can go an awfully long way… if you know what you are doing.

#051 Eeek Alors! Radiation Hardened eFPGA IP

If I were planning on creating an ASIC/SoC, I would definitely consider including some of Menta’s eFPGA fabric in there, “Just in case.”

#052 Pulling Yourself up by Your Bootstraps

If you were to travel back in time to the early 20th century, would you be able to “invent” the computer and make your fortune?

#053 The JOYCE Project to Equip Machines with Human-Like Perception

The JOYCE project, which is going to be the first humanoid robot to be developed as a collaboration by the computer vision community.

#054 Feast Your Orbs on NVIDIA’s Jetson Nano 2GB Dev Kit

This bodacious beauty boasts a 128-core NVIDIA Maxwell graphics processing unit (GPU), a quad-core 64-bit ARM Cortex-A57 central processing unit (CPU), and 2 GB of 64-bit LPDDR4 25.6 GB/s memory.

#055 Flex Logix Joins the Race to the Inferencing Edge

The chaps and chapesses at Flex Logix have just thrown their corporate hat into the AI/ML ring with a suite of inferencing chips and boards.

#056 Create Awesome GUIs with Microchip’s Ensemble Graphics Toolkit

Microchip Technology’s Ensemble Graphics Toolkit is a no-cost, license-free, and royalty-free bodacious beauty designed to speed Linux GUI development.

#057 Create Free Silicon Chips Courtesy of Google, SkyWater, and Efabless

Efabless is managing an open source shuttle program sponsored by Google — the first shuttle will provide 40 project slots, free of charge, to any fully open-source design.

#058 Eos Embedded Perception Software Sees All

The Eos framework effectively turns computer vision systems into “computationally evolving” vision systems.

#059 Eeek! Biology-Gated-Transistor Sensors

Irrespective of the aspersions cast by the non-biological alien characters in Terry Bisson’s short story, “They’re Made Out of Meat,” I’m proud to be a carbon-based lifeform.

#060 Do Robot Dogs Dream of Cyborg Cats?

Were you wondering if anyone was in the process of using decentralized artificial intelligence (AI) to create a pack of robot dogs? If so, I can put your mind to rest by informing you that the answer to your question is a resounding “Yes!”

#061 Bosch HW + Cartesiam SW = Rapid Prototyping of AI on the Edge

In addition to being able to detect anomalies and spot trends, NanoEdge AI Studio now allows you to create a classification library.

#062 Spacing Out with Spin Memory

The folks at Spin Memory have been beavering away developing a highly differentiated STT-MRAM technology to replace flash, SRAM, and DRAM.

#063 Ultra-Low-Cost Flexible ICs Make Possible Trillions of Smart Objects

If you’ve ever wanted access to flexible chips that can be designed quickly and easily and cost a fraction of a penny, then you’re in luck. 

#064 Say Hello to Deep Vision’s Polymorphic Dataflow Architecture

The ARA-1 outperforms Intel’s Movidius Myriad X and Google’s Edge TPU in terms of latency, which should make everyone sit up straight in their seats and start paying attention.

#065 Decapitating Malware with Content Disarm and Reconstruction (CDR) Technology

You can only imagine my disillusionment to discover that sandboxes fail to detect zero-day attacks, but Odix’s TrueCDR technology stands ready to defend.

#066 An AI Storm is Coming as Analog AI Surfaces in Sensors

The Mantis AI-in-Sensor (AIS) SoC requires only a lens and capacitor to become a self-contained “AI Smart Camera”

#067 Say what? When it Comes to Voice Control, The Future is Now!

The DBM10 from The DSP Group is a teeny-tiny AI/ML SoC that boasts an ultra-low-power neural network (NN) inference processor.

#068 Don’t Stand So Close to Me!

The folks at Arduino Pro have a physical distancing and contact tracing solution called Distiamo for deployment in factories, offices, and other facilities.

#069 SWA Stands for Stupendous, Wizard, and Awesome

Single wire aggregation (SWA) involves aggregating multiple low-bandwidth signals into a higher-bandwidth time division multiplexed (TDM) signal that requires only a single inter-board wire.

#070 Securing RISC-V-Based Systems

How do you go about securing your RISC-V-based designs and products as they wend their way through the supply chain?

#071 Securing Artificial Intelligence Before It Secures Us!

The folks at ETSI have plunged into the fray with regard to establishing the world’s first standardization initiative dedicated toward securing AI.

#072 Organic Printed Electronics for the 21st Century!

I was just talking with Dr. Florian Ullrich from InnovationLab, and he has opened my eyes to a whole new world of organic printed electronics possibilities and potentialities.

#073 Recreating Retro-Futuristic 21-Segment Victorian Displays

The original patent for this 21-segment display was filed 123 years ago in 1898 by George Lafayette Mason. 

#074 Mechatronics Meets No-Code Voice AI

The folks at Picovoice.ai describe their Picovoice Console and Picovoice Shepherd tools as “The first no-code platform for building voice interfaces on microcontrollers.”

#075 FPGA-Based Arduino Clones on Steroids

Those little rascals at Alorium have created a library of accelerator blocks (XBs) that you can use to boost the capabilities and performance of your FPGA-based Arduino.

#076 Yay! Finally! A Way to Secure the Supply Chain!

Today’s global supply chains are extremely distributed and highly complex. Here’s a novel way to secure them.

#077 Cyber-Security’s So-So Soup; Cyber-Resiliency Rocks!

You can have awesome cyber-security, but what do you do when it fails? What you need is cyber-resiliency! 

#078 Want to Learn AI? But Where to Go?

MathWorks has awesome artificial intelligence (AI) capabilities with regard to developing and deploying machine learning (ML), deep learning (DL), and reinforcement learning (RL) apps.

#079 ID for the IoT? We Need the IDoT!

We need some way to verify and validate the identity of things (IDoT), so Infineon’s OPTIGA Authenticate IDoT is a very welcome addition to the party.

#080 Predictive Maintenance Evaluation Kit for Smart Buildings

Predictive maintenance can lead to 70% fewer breakdowns and 25% lower maintenance costs, while the life of well-maintained equipment can be extended by 20%.

#081 High Entropy is the Foundation for High Security

In order to achieve “the bestest random ever,” as Pooh Bear might say, it’s necessary for a PUF to provide the maximum possible entropy

#082 Want to Learn Programming and Microcontrollers?

One of the things I’m often asked is the best way to learn how to write programs (software) and how to use microcontrollers (hardware).

#083 New Paradigms for Implementing, Monitoring, and Debugging Embedded Systems

Are you familiar with the Tracealyzer and DevAlert tools from Percepio? How about the Luos distributed (not exactly an) operating system from Luos?

#084 Cloud-Based Genetic Algorithms and Computer Vision Applications

The evolutionary algorithm-powered Atlas Camera Optimization Suite from Algolux is now enabled in the cloud.

#085 Spectacular Spintronics (Mechanical Electronics)

I’m currently so excited I can hardly speak (I can barely even manage a squeak) because today saw the launch of the Spintronics Kickstarter!

#086 Aspinity’s Awesome Analog Artificial Neural Networks (AANNs)

The AnalogML Core can perform AI/ML-based inferencing in the analog domain while consuming only 25 microamps (µA) of power.

#087 Are We Ready for Human Brain-Scale AI?

High-end AI models will boast 100 trillion connections by 2023, which equates to human brain-scale AI.

#088 Modus Toolbox ML, TinyML, and the AIoT

Infineon’s ModusToolbox ML allows developers to take their trained artificial neural networks and optimize them and deploy them in embedded systems.

#089 Creating Tiny AI/ML-Equipped Systems to Run at the Extreme Edge

The folks at SensiML are on a mission to help embedded systems designers create AI/ML-equipped systems that run at the edge.

#090 The A, B, C of USB for Beginners

The purpose of this column is to make the USB-challenged a little more confident and/or dangerous.

#091 Accelerating C/C++ Without Tears or Tribulations

The folks at CacheQ have come up with a cunning solution that can take your regular single-threaded C/C++ code and compile it in such a way as to achieve multi-threaded acceleration.

#092 I See Zebus and Zebras Everywhere!

Zebra IP can be implemented in an FPGA’s programmable fabric and used to provide low-power, high-performance AI/ML inferencing.

#093 Got FPGA? Got Test!

The folks at Testonica have a cunning solution called Quick Instruments that automatically generates a test suite that runs in the FPGA on a PCB to self-test the PCB.

#094 If You Can’t Trust TrustInSoft, Who Can You Trust?

Formal verification was originally conceived with software in mind, but software developers rarely use it. All this may change with TrustInSoft.

#095 Metrology Maketh the Man (and Woman, and Silicon Chip)

Atonarp has just introduced its new Aston molecular sensor for semiconductor metrology that may be poised to take the chip fabrication process by storm.

#096 Dropping the Ball and Casting Aspersions

Who can say what discoveries and inventions would have been triggered had the wisdom of the ancients been accepted and employed?

#097 Is It Embedded ReRAM’s Time to Shine?

ReRAM is faster, cheaper, has more endurance, and is more tolerant to temperature, EMI, and radiation than PCM, MRAM, and Embedded Flash technologies — what’s not to love?

#098 Using USB4? Require ReTiming? Kandou Can-Do!

USB4 supports signals with such high speeds that they need a special form of conditioning called ReTiming. Fortunately, the folks at Kandou have us covered.

#099 Will Intel’s New Architectural Advances Define the Next Decade of Computing?

Intel announces architectural advances whose ramifications will reverberate down the years that are to come.

#100 Just Call Me an Indexing Fool

If a publisher creates the index for a book, I fear the task is either performed by a computer program that indexes everything exhaustively but ineffectively, or it’s handed over to a junior employee who lacks sufficient subject matter expertise to do the job justice.

Wowzers! Pulling all these together took a tad longer than I’d anticipated. So, what say you? Did any of these little rascals cry out “Read Me! Read Me!” as they passed before your orbs? If so, which ones?

One thought on “Eeek! 100 Captivating Columns and Counting”

  1. there are those of us who object in principle to the way info is organized and presented by the design of our infosphere….much like principled vax-refusers, we stand on our right to not chow down on what’s put before us and don’t engage farther than is necessary

    what’s wrong with this pitcher ? : 3 astronauts are standing there trying to swipe left to open the airlock
    nothing ?…the monkey-in-the-middle game that shows clearly who is who’s b-word is in good hands

    the brain-lively articles are appreciated, though

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