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JohnB’s Tech Bits

A lot of stories pass through my email in any given week. Here’s a collection of those bits that caught my attention, covering technology, engineering, science and social media. – JB

AWR, a developer of RF and Microwave modeling tools, was recently issued a patent for the automatic creation of vias in electrical circuit design. Will this be the start of via litigations?

The BBC seems to think that Twitter is the enemy. The British media giant has released a new version of its social media policies that instructs reports to file update to news editors first, instead of posting breaking news to Twitter.

Gigaom has acquired paidContent. Why should you care? It represents the growing change in the media market, one that Ed Sperling realized over 4 years ago when he started our first technology portal – System Level Design. Gigaom puts it this way: “What happens when the costs of reproduction and distribution go away? What happens when there is nothing unique about publishing anymore because users can do it for themselves?’

Does a degree in engineering or the hard sciences improve your odds at long term career success? Not necessarily, postulates Daniel Jelski, a professor of chemistry at SUNY New Paltz. He suggests that, “the answer is “non-tradable skills that can’t be computerized. At their most valuable these jobs depend on human-human interaction – empathy.” He believes that high-tech jobs won’t go way, but the will be commoditized in the global market.

Smaller cellular towers – think femto/micro/pico cell – are a growing market for multiple chip architectures. New NPD In-Stat ( research forecasts that there will be 160.3 million active small cells, and the retail value of small cell shipments will reach $14 billion by 2015.

Remember the opening scene of the original TRON movie when the circuits on a chip transformed into highways and streets of a city? Kevin Flynn, the protagonist in the story, called that city the Grid.

The Grid. A digital frontier. I tried to picture clusters of information as they moved through the computer. What did they look like? Ships? motorcycles? Were the circuits like freeways? I kept dreaming of a world I thought I’d never see. And then, one day, I got in.

 Now image a softer version of the grid with rolling hills, valleys and shoreline. Then you’ll appreciate this cool picture of a gallium antimonide semiconductor wafer surface after the metal layer was peel-off. The picture received an honorable mention in the 2011 Nikon Small World Photomicrophotography Competition.

Would you bet $100,000 that quantum computing is impossible? That’s what an MIT associate professor is doing in a contrarian move to challenge skeptics of quantum computing. At stake may be the entire notion of quantum mechanics, as this professor explains in the comment portion of this story.

Why are videos so popular with the younger generation? Could the architecture of the working memory of the brain be one reason? Can these arrangement be duplicated by on-chip memory system in silicon? While these questions are answered by this research, it does provide a basis for exploration.

Researchers from North Carolina State University have developed a new technique that allows graphics processing units (GPUs) and central processing units (CPUs) on a single chip to collaborate – boosting processor performance by an average of more than 20 percent.


2 Responses to “JohnB’s Tech Bits”

  1. Daniel Payne Says:


    The Gallium Anitmonide wafer photo reminded me of a Japanese wood carving print, tranquil mountains surrounded by a blue ocean.

  2. jblyler Says:

    It does! I wonder how much “smoothing” was done by the graphic algorithm. I’ll try to ping them to learn more about the process.

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