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Comment Re:Another Arduino story... (Score 1) 56

Lattice sold their Brevia development board which has an instant on FPGA. It also has an I/O system that is remarkable. If there's a specification it can't do it's most likely obsolete. I've been able to use the free development software to hook it up to a 3.3v I/O source and record the digital signals. I bought it for 29.95. Unfortunately the 3.3v is hard wired and I've not checked if I can power the I/O with different voltages.

FWIW there is an atmega 168 FPGA core but I've not tried to make it work. It comes with Lattice's micro8 core as a demo.

You do realize that Xilinx, Altera and Actel also offer pretty cheap development/starter kits with FPGAs, I/O headers and some peripherals? And they work with the free (as in beer) tools supplied by the vendors? Digilent also make a series of low-cost FPGA kits.

Comment Re:Arduino deserves the popularity (Score 1) 56

Firstly, I don't see a huge attempt to reprogram every PLC or FPGA in existence. Secondly, much of said behavior is likely script kiddy level. It is now sexy to start talking about hacking at hardware type things, even if not much comes out of it.

Well, the obvious reason (well, obvious to me, anyway; I'm an EE who does FPGA design for a living) there are very few attempts to reprogram every FPGA in existence is because the FPGAs are always installed on an application-specific circuit board, with application-specific I/O and peripherals. Modifying some product to do something else is a non-starter, simply because of the rework involved.

Comment Re:Oh dear God I hope so. (Score 1) 351

Off topic and barely relevant to the improvement of driving safety.

If you want better driving safety, you want better driver training

I agree wholeheartedly with the need for better driver training.

However, the problems remain. For example, there's always going to be some jackass driving like a maniac, weaving in and out of traffic, trying to shave a minute off of his commute. The fact that he's a well-trained jackass is irrelevant if he cuts you off or runs a stoplight.

And no matter how well-trained a driver might be, one cannot discount the problems caused by lack of vehicle maintenance. Just yesterday, I was at a stoplight and I looked at passenger-side rear wheel of the monster truck to my left, and the tire was bald to the point of showing wires. (OK, a well-trained driver would be one who is smart enough to know not to drive on such dangerous tires -- but the argument always presented is, "I can't afford a replacement, and I need my car to get to work ..." The argument is bogus, of course ..)

I'd love to see much more stringent driver training. But between the lack of funding on all levels for such things, and the ridiculous idea that a 16-year-old kid is mature enough to drive a car, unfortunately it won't happen.

Speed limits actually hinder driving safety more often than they help.

Citation, please.

Comment Re:Agilent (Score 1) 514

Along those lines, you have the original AT+T, which included the famed Bell Labs, being split up, and I think that Alcatel ended up with Bell Labs, which was spun out again into Avago (or was that the old HP optoelectronics business?). And one of the Baby Bells that came out of the AT+T split morphed into Cingular, which bought whatever was being called AT+T at the time and then it renamed itself AT+T. It's all perception ....

Comment Re:Agilent (Score 2) 514

Thanks:

I was going to suggest the same thing, but I forgot the Agilent name

I am curious, when HP and Agilent split, did all of the real engineer end up migrating to Agilent?

All of the real engineering was in the Test and Measurement group, which was what became Agilent. The industrial-strength computing business (the big minis and such) stayed with HP, as did the printer business, but all of the innovative stuff that made HP great were part of the T+M business.

Comment Re:not just diy devices (Score 1) 380

It isn't just do-it-yourself gear that can arouse suspicion. My Zoom H4N digital recorder has elicited attention from the TSA. The two built-in mikes at the front apparently make it look a lot like a Taser on the scanner.

I routinely fly with a Pelican case full of microphones. Of course the case is decorated with the usual backstage-pass stickers and whatnot, and there's alway a roll or two of gaffer tape and printouts of stage plots and input lists in there.

The TSA people at PHX are always baffled. "What are these?" "They're microphones." "They don't look like any microphone I've ever seen!" Duh, you're not a professional sound engineer, so that's why you've never seen a Shure SM91 or Beta98 or a CAD E-100 or an EV 408. Sorry to burst your bubble, but not all microphones look like the shit you see on "Glee."

So they have to search the whole fucking case every time, open up every pouch, and swab each one, trying to prove that everything is safe. Then I have to re-pack it all, because I don't want anything to get wrecked.

What's funny is that the Boys from the 'Hood who man the stations at EWR see the case come up on the xray, and they always say, "ah, microphones! What band do you work for?" And I'm pretty sure that those guys would have no problem taking down any real terrorist who came through their security line.

Comment Re:cool: can you expand it? (Score 1) 70

re: Sharing schematics. I see what you were getting at, regarding building a system out of multiple boards designed using different EDA packages. The Good News is that you can get viewers for OrCAD, Altium Designer and PADS, so you don't need a license to install the full-up software just to view schematics or PCB artwork. The viewers are important, because the symbols on professional schematics include lots of metadata that are needed to actually build the board. There's a part number of some sort (either direct vendor part number or company-standard part number) used for the bill of materials, and of course a PCB footprint reference.

Interconnects between boards need to be defined fully and documented in some standard way.

What definitely doesn't happen is that Group A does a board in Altium Designer and passes the design files off to Group B who use OrCAD and want to import the design into that package. Such translations fail more often than not. There are library translation problems, database problems, all sorts of issues that make such translations problematic. If Group B really needs to work on the design in OrCAD, then need to make sure that their library has all of the symbols, all of the footprints, all of the other data to make it happen, and oftentimes it's easier to simply recapture the schematic in the other tool that to expect the translated schematic to generate a netlist that the translated PCB design won't choke on.

Anyways, my point is, I guess, that as long as the source files are available, as well as a viewer, then that's the best thing for schematic sharing when the friends' only need is to look at schematics and PCB artwork. If you need to actually modify the designs, you need the proper design software and probably the original library.

Comment Re:Profits (Score 1) 313

Actually, there are some hacks published on how to get Leopard onto "too slow" G4 machines. It has to do with making tweaks to the Open Firmware thing by setting variables to indicate the speed of the processor is high enough to install. It's not that complicated and it works... did it myself a few times.

Yeah, I did some looking around to see how to make it go, but honestly, the G4 tower and the eMac haven't been turned on in over a year, so there's no point. The G4 mini is in a corner, working well as a subversion server (using apache) and general home-network DNS and stuff.

If you have a 5 year old macbook pro for sale, let me know! You might have a buyer here.

Hah, thanks, but I think I'm going to keep it running until it literally breaks. I don't know if Lion brings anything special to the game that I'll miss on the laptop. Anyways, I don't have the two large for a new 17" MBP.

Comment Re:Profits (Score 1) 313

They also try to force upgrades by making their stuff "obsolete" too soon which angers Apple users a great deal so they can't push that too hard either.

I've run into this in a couple of cases ... Leopard won't install on my 400 MHz gray G4 tower because it's "too slow," and of course Snow Leopard is Intel only, so it's not on my G4 mini or eMac. And it looks like my Core Duo MacBook Pro won't get Lionized. But still -- that 400 MHz G4 (which still works) is from, when, 2000? The MacBook Pro is over five years old. So while they do deprecate old machines in this way, one could reasonably assume that a five-year-old laptop is probably due for replacement anyway.

I'm sure I could try and force a Windows 7 install on my Pentium 4 ThinkPad G40, but the performance will suck, if it works at all.

Comment Re:Profits (Score 1) 313

Apple are more interested in selling products with a short (2-3 year) upgrade cycle, and televisions certainly don't fall into that category. Where is the profit coming from? iTunes? Would it be worth it for iTunes alone?

Except that the loyal Apple customer tends to keep using a product long after Windows users have replaced their machines. I'm still using my 2006 Core Duo MacBoo Pro. It still works fine with Snow Leopard, although it could use more RAM and the FireWire port is all beat up. All of my Windows-using friends have bought three laptops in this five-year time period. I don't know how they do it, but their machines seem to break a lot.

Comment Re:I would love to have an Apple TV (Score 1) 313

dell sells the exact same monitor as the apple cinema display. i think it's a rebranded LG. dell also charges $900 or so.

Exactly. A friend asked me why the Apple monitor was so much more money than some random monitor she saw in an ad, and I did some simple research -- the Apple monitor resolution was significantly higher than the Samsung or whatever. And I came across that same 2560x1440 Dell monitor, which costs the same as the Apple monitor.

So once again, it's not that Apple is overpriced, it's just that they choose to not offer a lower-priced option.

And that 27" Cinema Display sure is nice.

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