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Comment Of course every new industry that is on the cusp o (Score 1) 695

.... why I was just talking to my friends that work at DEC and Control Data. Ooops oh darn, yea, those companies got crushed by the PC market's rise to power

It's the nature of the beast. This won't be the last although it's arguably the most dramatic of the firsts. In the end it will be one of the better things that happen to crypto currencies as the weak and crooked will fall by the wayside but it's not for the feint of heart as things transition.

Comment As said this is not really new... (Score 5, Informative) 42

I use to work for a large semiconductor company that manufactures microcontrollers. (I won't say who but they really make very small micro chips) I got into hot water once as I was the geek they called into a meeting to explain to a customer just how secure their technology was and because the rom code was stored in EEPROM that all was safe and secure. Well, first, no one told me the issue that was bothering the customer and second, they just called me in cold and I was asked "Can someone reverse engineer the code that is stored in the device." Being Dilbert to a T I looked at the crowd and said, "Sure if you have enough money. Just decap the device, put it into a voltage contrast SEM and fire it up. You'll have nice pictures of bright and dark spots on the memory array and in no time you'll have the code". Customer went batshit. My boss gave me the look of death and I'm standing there saying "What?" "You asked me if it can be done" "I just told you how to do it. It's not cheap but it's possible".

These days this is probably a lot more difficult as many, not all, but many IC's are mounted in a package face down as they use bump technology to do both die attach and signal connections.

Comment I teach Maya at our local community college (Score 1) 150

There is no way I can get rid of the ceiling projector and the link to my laptop. There is an instructors desktop that is hooked to the projector also but I choose to use my own laptop as I have all of my lessons on that machine. I give demonstrations and tutorials all the time and work students questions live so they can see how I solved particular problems. I need to be able to show this to students. Now, we could get rid of the projector if there existed a way for me to privately share my screen with all of the tablets in the classroom all at the same time. Maybe something out there exist where I can do that but I'm not aware of it. Oh, and BTW, tablets are a LONG way away from being able to run Maya so for the immediate future at least, my particular need for a portable high end workstation is not going to go away either.

Comment This is not new.... (Score 5, Informative) 286

I worked in the Semiconductor industry from the mid 70's up to around 2003. In the startup phase all startups were sued by the big guns but there was always a method to the madness. You don't sue a company that has no money unless it is defensive. They would all sit back and wait until you started to get successful. They the suits come in and throw a stack of patents 3' high on the table and say "Today we are running a special, we want 1% per foot on your revenue or we will litigate each and every one of these along with a few hundred more we did not bring today and if you settle right now we will throw in a set of Ginsu Knives" Both companies end up settling for something and a cross license deal and life goes on. It is what it is. A lot of the patents are so basic you could not make a chip without violating them. TI has one around injection molded packages that you could not make a plastic package without violation. It's probably expired by now but I'm sure they have "refreshed" it 10 times over.

Comment Re:Apple is not a semiconductor company (Score 5, Informative) 226

Let me say a few words here as I worked in the semiconductor industry for over 28 years. So you fully understand just what it means to make a semiconductor foundry these days, here is a thought experiment for you I worked a few years back.

1) You want to build facility for manufacturing wigit.
2) That facility will cost you between 3b to 5b dollars.
3) In order to justify the ROI on that facility you need to take at least 5% total world wide market share for that wigit
4) You get to scrap your factory in 3 years.

My numbers may be a little outdated today but that only means my cost projections are too low as well as the total market share. From simply an accounting standpoint this is nuts. When I got into the business in the early 70's there were hundreds and hundreds of fabrication facilities. Every start-up had it's own fab. Today you can count the premier companies that have fabs on maybe 1 hand and the total number of significant players in the semiconductor market with their own fabs on both hands.

Intel deserves very high kudo's for what they have accomplished. The risk they take is enormous but they demonstrate time and time again what a manufacturing powerhouse they really are.

Comment ..But it ended up at WDC with Bill Mensch (Score 2) 301

The 6502 has had a very sorted past and changed hands many time. It ended up with Bill Mensch and the Western Design Center ( I worked with Bill when I was at VLSI Technology as we were fabricating the 65C816 for the Apple IICS. Let's just say it was "interesting" and leave it at that. Bill had his own idea what fabrication design rules "should be". Actually checking the design rules of the foundry you wanted to fabricate your parts at was a detail that was beneath him. Made for lots of "fun"........

Comment Being a supplier to Atari or Commodore sucked.... (Score 5, Interesting) 301

I can tell you unequivocally that being a supplier to both companies sucked big time. They never paid you. It got so bad that we (when I was a supplier to them) basically made any business with them COD because if you didn't you would never get your money. You may all love Jack but I couldn't stand doing business with them. Major PITA.

Comment Re:Ground vs Space (Score 3, Informative) 74

With the advances in both active (compensation for deformation of the mirror due to gravity and it's position) and adaptive (compensation of the mirror to negate the effects of atmospheric distortion) optics ground based telescopes can come close to if not equal what can be done in space. When you couple the fact that you can build much larger apertures on the ground for significant less money than what is launched into space I wonder why they are still fooling around with space based telescopes.

Hubble has a 2.4M mirror and cost about 1.5B at launch and over it's lifetime a total of about 6B when you figure in all of the shuttle trips for maintenance and the ground support costs. The 10M Keck telescopes cost 94M each when they were built. The James Webb telescope has become a CF of huge proportions with an estimated cost of close to 8.8B through 2018.

Don't get me totally wrong here. Some magnificent discoveries were made with Hubble along with Swift and Chandra. We do need some space based telescopes but the cost of space base instruments is enormous compared to ground based and there are significant advancements that are being made with sensors and other ground base instruments that are pushing the need for space base instruments further out of the picture.

Comment Re:Question About Voyager(s)... (Score 2) 166

There are probably only a very small number of people that know about this. Certainly the group of people I worked with at Motorola and the NASA engineers and techs associated with the program. Since NASA was able to come up with a fix to make everything work, I would guess it's probably not something they would want to publicize in general but I've always thought this was a very ingenious solution. The truth be known, there are probably stories like this on just about every mission they ever did. Stuff happens as they say. In the end, people can be very, very clever, especially when they have their backs against the wall. Problems like this are especially difficult as you can't just go hang a scope on something a million miles away. You have to first discover the problem and then, more difficult, given the only tools you have at hand and a spacecraft millions of miles away, come up with a solution that will solve your problem.

They (NASA) had done a few bone headed things too on programs I worked on but in general, they were right and bright more often than not. All of us screw the pooch some time or another but I look back on those days with a fond remembrance. I had radios I worked specifically on, on GRO, COBE, SME and the Hubble to mention a few. Interesting work and privileged to be a part of it.

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