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Comment: Re:PIC (Score 1) 138

by Matt_Bennett (#46964139) Attached to: A 32-bit Development System For $2

Microchip's ICD is awful? Well, it isn't JTAG (for most chips, but the PIC32 does support JTAG debugging), but the ICD hardware supports all PICs (8, 16, 32 bit) and is available at what appears to be competitive to Atmel's tools (Atmel as an example- their low-end programmer the AVRISP is about the same price at Digikey as the PICKIT3) You can spend more and get more capability no matter what. It seems to me that the debugger that people complain about the most is the one they use the most, no matter the architecture. An ICD is not an ICE- and it doesn't seem like a true ICE exists anymore since nobody was willing to pay the huge price for the development system- ICDs pretty much rely on hardware in the part itself. The cheap generic JTAG debuggers at sparkfun don't get stellar reviews. My experience is that debuggers are a lot like Camaros- everybody has one, and all of them are limited by the person in control.

Comment: Re:PIC (Score 2) 138

by Matt_Bennett (#46962067) Attached to: A 32-bit Development System For $2

Higher speed? The max speed on a 32 bit AVR is 66MHz, with 1.5 DMIP/MHz, the max speed on a PIC32MX is 80MHz at 1.65 DMIP/MHz. You can do development on Windows, Mac or Linux with MPLABX for every 8, 16, and 32MHz PIC in Microchip's stable. Microchip's 16 and 32 bit compilers are GCC based (but free versions are limited to -O1 optimization). The newest PIC32, the MZ, will do up to 200MHz.

If you prefer using AVR, great, but at least make your comparisons based on reality. The hard part of doing any development is not the core you're working on, but the code you put into it.

Comment: Re:seems like a back door (Score 2) 566

by Matt_Bennett (#46947991) Attached to: Let Spouses of H-1B Visa Holders Work In US, Says White House

This is anecdote, not data. The median wage for all approved H1B visas during FY2011 was $70,000, the median wage for in the category that includes engineers was $78,000, $72,000 for computer related (source data, www.uscis.gov). Companies like H1B holders, because, in terms of total cost, they are less expensive to employ than US citizens/green card holders/otherwise legal residents. Without H1B, more jobs would be offshored, we do get the benefit of the money the H1B holder being spent in the US.

Believe me, if they could find an American to do this job, they would have, and believe me, there's no one passing up $3-400,000 a year engineering positions at top flight companies. There really are jobs that need immigrant workers to fill, because there really are no Americans to do them.

You left out a very important part, after "there really are no Americans to do them" at a salary companies are willing to pay.

Comment: Re:That VGA cable it's using... (Score 1) 59

by Matt_Bennett (#46833411) Attached to: DIY Wearable Pi With Near-Eye Video Glasses

This doesn't use the VGA output from the Raspberry Pi- it uses the composite video output. 75 ohm coax isn't necessarily thin, but for short distances and the type of video they are talking about, even audio cables may be "good enough." As in "good enough" to get the resolution you would expect from composite video.

Comment: Re:What's the range of an EMP? (Score 1) 271

In Forstchen's book (and according to what I've read) it would take a minimum of well placed 3 nukes in the upper atmosphere to cover the continental US- basically line of sight. I believe it doesn't take a particularly big nuke.

A Faraday cage may protect your devices, but only if the cage is complete- any wires in or out could defeat the purpose and propagate the high field strength (at least high enough to do damage) inside the cage. Since the risetime of the signal is very, very fast, even a tiny crack in the cage would be enough to let in a damaging amount of energy.

Comment: Re:A faraday cage has to be grounded to earth. (Score 2) 202

by Matt_Bennett (#46538813) Attached to: Earth Barely Dodged Solar Blast In 2012

Oh my, AC has absolutely no idea about how electricity works.

Electricity always flows in a loop, every time, without exception, period. No loop, no current. No current, no energy. Sometimes the loop includes the capacitance of one disconnected piece of metal next to another, but that also limits the current, and therefore, energy. Sometimes the insulation breaks down, or the field is strong enough to cause an arc to jump the gap.

If welding on your vehicle caused a problem it is because you put the ground clamp in the wrong place, and current passed through something it shouldn't have, which could be because something you thought was a good ground wasn't. Battery connected or disconnected makes no difference.

Comment: Re:ZOMG a bad thing didn't happen! (Score 1) 202

by Matt_Bennett (#46538233) Attached to: Earth Barely Dodged Solar Blast In 2012

Yes, we can actually physically disconnect the transformers- that's what circuit breakers do- and pretty much, they're automated- given the warnings that the satellites give, I suspect that a Carrington event sized CME, at least for modern systems (like in the US) won't be a surprise and can be accommodated- maybe taking significant time to switch everything back on, but without major damage to the infrastructure.

Comment: Re:am i the only one (Score 1) 914

No, you're not the only one. As a punishment, this is simply torture, but I wonder how the mind really acts under this type of drug- how much more the great thinkers (think Einstein and his thought experiments) could have done. It would take a special kind of mind to actually take advantage of this, though.

Comment: Return to very old models? (Score 3, Interesting) 279

by Matt_Bennett (#46497767) Attached to: The Billionaires Privatizing American Science

This seems to be a return to some very old models of research- think Aristotle, Leonardo Da Vinci, where research was not government supported, but either the hobby of the very rich, or the very rich paying someone. I suppose that it could be considered as government supported, as the very rich *were* the government. The institutional government supporting research appears to be a 19th or 20th century change, and that is dominated by military motives.

The super rich have more money than they could possibly spend- why not let them spend that money in the way that they want? Be it driven by guilt or by the desire to make more money... I'd much rather them spend the money on science as opposed to spending their money on becoming part of the government (think Mitt Romney and Michael Bloomberg in the US and Silvio Berlusconi in Italy).

Comment: Re:Not the only state with this law (Score 0) 670

by Matt_Bennett (#45522457) Attached to: Driver Arrested In Ohio For Secret Car Compartment Full of Nothing

A hidden compartment in the car, is, essentially, security through obscurity. If someone knew enough that the supervisor had the receipts, they probably know enough to tear the car apart looking for the safe. What you get with the Brinks truck (or the big vault door at the bank) is a big showy way of saying that what I have is protected- which would draw in the folks that don't really know what they are looking for- think "Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade"

Comment: The most important thing is experience! (Score 2) 215

by Matt_Bennett (#45478757) Attached to: Ask Slashdot: What's On Your Hardware Lab Bench?

I think the primary thing being left out of all the lists is the knowledge gained by experience. If you don't have it, nothing will replace just doing it yourself. Good tools are nice- but face it- EVERY SINGLE PIECE OF TEST EQUIPMENT LIES. Or maybe just doesn't tell you everything. Experience helps in figuring out what really matters. A 100 MHz analog scope is nice, but useless when it comes to a parasitic 1GHz oscillation. A logic analyzer is great, but misses a lot if two outputs are in contention.

The tools I use depend on the job I'm doing. Debugging serial comms? I love my Saleae. Looking at a fast edge? DSA602A.

That said, here's some of my vital lab equipment:

Saleae Logic

Tektronix DSA602A

Temperature controlled soldering Iron

Stereo Microscope

Credit Card

ebay

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