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Cameras, License Plates, and You

So, there I was, fiddling around with networked cameras again, when I discovered that it’s really easy to read car license plates. So easy, in fact, that a lot of people are worried about the side effects. It’s another case where technology has outstripped public will.  

Cameras are really stupid, which you already knew. They have no idea what they’re looking at, and they have no concept of depth perception. … Read More → "Cameras, License Plates, and You"

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

I was brought up by my parents to have a suite of core values, including the fact that it was wrong to tell porky pies and that it would be despicable beyond words to pilfer, pinch, or purloin anything from anyone. Shortly after I graduated from university, soon after I moved to commence my first job at International Computers Limited (ICL) in Manchester, England, I was burgled. The callous swine took the only thing I owned that was worth anything — a brand-new rubber-handled hammer that I’d purchased out of my first pay-packet. … Read More → "Yay! Finally! A Way to Secure the Supply Chain!"

What Is Your Invention Worth?

How much can you charge for your product? 

Anything you want, right? You can set the price arbitrarily high or low, and let your customers decide if it’s reasonable. That’s how capitalism works. 

Well, yes, sort of… That’s how an idealized, textbook version of capitalism works, but that’s not how it’s implemented in practice. In modern industrialized societies, there are certain limits placed on how you price, market, and sell your products. For example, you can’t charge different … Read More → "What Is Your Invention Worth?"

Xilinx Back in the Cost-Optimized Game

If you’d asked me a year ago (or two, or three) what I thought about Xilinx’s cost-optimized device offering, I’d have told you that I firmly believed that the company had given up on the low-cost FPGA and programmable logic market, leaving it to other, more eager competitors like Lattice Semiconductor and Microsemi/Microchip. Intel (formerly Altera) had been maintaining parity with Xilinx on low-cost abandonment, with both companies offering the same basic devices they’ve had for several years, not really putting any marketing or visible engineering energy into that market, and … Read More → "Xilinx Back in the Cost-Optimized Game"

Patent Trolls and Unintended Consequences

Everything has unintended consequences. A small change to your software ripples downstream and creates new bugs. Changing a simple capacitor causes that regulator over there to fail. VPNs (virtual private networks) were originally created to allow access to your work computer while on the road but have since become the preferred way to sidestep copyright police or geo-shift your video streams. 

Nowhere are unintended consequences more consequential than in the patent system. Patents mostly work as intended, inasmuch as they … Read More → "Patent Trolls and Unintended Consequences"

Hardware IP Cuts Memory Size, Bandwidth, and Power

Memory. What’cha gonna do with it, amirite? It’s too slow, too expensive, it takes up too much space on your board, and the supply is more volatile than a honey badger on acid. But every system needs memory, and the more processors you have, the more memory you need. Too bad there isn’t a way to, y’know, somehow make half of those problems go away. 

Wish granted. A Gothenburg Sweden–based startup called Read More → "Hardware IP Cuts Memory Size, Bandwidth, and Power"

Wait, What? MIPS Becomes RISC-V

What a long, strange trip it’s been. MIPS Technologies no longer designs MIPS processors. Instead, it’s joined the RISC-V camp, abandoning its eponymous architecture for one that has strong historical and technical ties. The move apparently heralds the end of the road for MIPS as a CPU family, and a further (slight) diminution in the variety of processors available. It’s the final arc of an architecture. 

MIPS as a company has passed through a lot of hands, most recently as part of Read More → "Wait, What? MIPS Becomes RISC-V"

Mechatronics Meets No-Code Voice AI

I’m currently running around in ever-decreasing circles shouting, “Don’t Panic!” because I’m trying to spin too many plates and juggle too many balls and I was never trained to spin and can’t juggle. Hmmm, now that I come to think about it, that’s not strictly true because I once read a book on the art of juggling and — as a result — I can juggle nine fine china plates, but only for a very short period of time.

The term mechatronics refers to an interdisciplinary branch … Read More → "Mechatronics Meets No-Code Voice AI"

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