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Archive for February, 2008

Wikipedia, Digg – Use with caution

Tuesday, February 26th, 2008

Have you ever looked over the definitions on Wikipedia? Aside from being inaccurate, some are obviously bias. That’s not surprising if you consider a recent study that found that “1 percent of Wikipedia users are responsible for about half of the site’s edits.” Also be careful with Digg – the content value meter, which is apparently controlled by a relatively small cadre of folks. Seems like the old 80-20 rule governs most of the web, not democracy. See Slate for the details: The Wisdom of the Chaperones: Digg, Wikipedia, and the myth of Web 2.0 democracy.

Be careful out there. The (Internet) servant is very quickly becoming the master.

Beam me up, Scotty! Well, on second thought…

Tuesday, February 19th, 2008

I’m tired of writing about the decline of the EDA media industry. It’s time for me to get back to my roots, i.e., the joy of engineering and dreaming of what might be. To help in that journey, here’s an odd little piece that I found on the McBru blog:

> 5 Awesome Sci-Fi Inventions (that would actually suck)!

While I don’t fully agree with the blogger’s – Keith Mclean from the staff of CRACKED – reasoning for why some of these inventions might “suck” in reality, the article is humorous. For example, the author describes modern jetpacks as “tanks of compressed gas that basically fart you into the air.” Flying with flair, so to speak.

Rocketeer jetpack

One of the blogger’s more controversial opinions is why teleporter technology will never work:

“A teleporter wouldn’t actually break down your atoms and then shoot those same atoms thousands of miles through the air; even if it were possible, there’d be no reason to do it. It would instead just grab Hydrogen and Oxygen atoms from out of the air and assemble you out of those (one Hydrogen atom is the same as another, after all).?

Essentially, he explains that teleporters would work more like fax machines, transmitting a signal that would be reproduced at the other end as a copy. In other words, the original would die! “Don’t beam me up Scotty! I’ll take a shuttle.” Guess McCoy had it right all along.

Why do I find this connection between science fiction and science/engineering so interesting? For one thing, it has proven to be a great way to discuss technology with the younger generation. If I have time later this week, I’ll post a presentation that I do every summer at Saturday Academy for high-school students, on the importance of Sci-Fi as inspiration for future engineers and scientists.

Teleporter

Publishing layoffs continue, thanks to the King’s Consort

Tuesday, February 19th, 2008

Last week the EDA community learned that well-known editor Michael Santarini and EiC Maury Wright were laid-off from EDN magazine (Reed publication). Rumor has it that Alan Robinson – EDN’s publisher – was also let go.

Looking beyond the ever shrinking EDA world, one sees the bigger picture: Report: Reed Elsevier planning to cut more than 1,000 jobs. This very brief story in BtoB states that “Reed Business Information plans to eliminate more than 1,000 jobs as part of a continuing efficiency drive…? These cuts will occur over the next two years. Although Reed Elsevier will present their annual results on Wednesday (2/20/08), it seems unclear whether these job cuts will be acknowledged.

As so many former editors and PR colleagues have noted, the publishing world is in a time of dramatic upheaval. They note that layoffs and market restructurings are to be expected. How will these turbulent times play out? The optimists among us suggest that content is still king and the only thing changing is the delivery mechanism of that content. But I wonder? If content is king, then delivery is the queen consort. My secret fear is that the king is exiting and the queen (delivery) will rule in his stead. [“Exit the King,? comes to mind, an oddly disturbing play.] Indeed, it’s hard not to feel that today’s readers seem more interested in delivery than content, in FaceBook than the printed book. Content providers – such as editors and journalists – may be the ones exiting the kingdom. For example, several former EDA editors and EiCs are now exiled (willingly, I agree) behind corporate walls, their skills no longer available to the free press. Others have had to change careers completely.

Hmmm…. perhaps my analogy is wrong. If delivery is the driving requirement, not content, then I should be quoting from Aldous Huxley’s “Brave New World.? But that thought it too depressing and I’ve already wandered too far a field for this blog …

Would the last editor who leaves EDA please turn out the lights?

Saturday, February 16th, 2008

Two more veteren EDA editors have been ushered out of the fold. My sympathies (or perhaps congratulations?) to Michael Santarini and EiC Maury Wright, formerly at EDN. Lou Covey’s “State of the Media” blog was the first to post this latest media layoff. Very discouraging. – JB

Most Under-rated Technologies

Friday, February 15th, 2008

I hate lists! The reason is simple; Lists remind me of all those trite bullet points that I see at the beginning, middle and end of every single &%# PowerPoint presentation that I’ve ever had the misfortune to experience.

Still, there is no denying the popularity of lists on the web. So reluctantly, I’ll enter the fray with my first list on the 5 most under-rated technologies of the last year:

  • Chip-package-board software, which promises to be a seamless and harmonious blending of both EDA and CAD tool markets. Not!
  • MEMs, thanks to the incorporation of cost effective embedded processors (good call, Pallab)
  • Advances in solar cell technologies, especially from recycled chip wafers.
  • Wireless anything
  • Finally, the most under-rated technology of all: pen and paper.

GooglePage – Google’s Spin on a HomePage

Monday, February 11th, 2008

Caution: Nothing of real interest here. I just need a place to record the URL before I forget:

http://john.blyler.googlepages.com/home