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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My numbers may be a little outdated today but that only means my cost projections are too low as well as the total market share.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.

Comment Re:Question About Voyager(s)... (Score 5, Interesting) 166

Not that anyone is probably interested but I worked in the group that made the radios that are in Voyager. I just missed working on those specific models but I worked on the next generation following those use on Voyager. Working there (Motorola GED) I worked close with NASA and was in the loop on all the programs, past and current that we were working on with NASA. What is really remarkable here is both Voyager probes have "failed" receivers on them. There was a problem with the capacitors that were used for the input loop bandwidth filters. These failed in such a manner as to cause the acquisition loop bandwidth to be a very narrow band instead of the intended wide band. NASA was able to recover using these radios by basically making an empirical model of each of the spacecraft. They did this when the spacecraft were relatively close to the earth and they could blast them with wideband signals to ensure acquisition. What they did with the model was to identify exactly how the on board xtals in the radio aged or varied with power and temp and then threw in compensation for age and doppler. With all of this data then then had a model that told them on such and such a date, the correct xmit frequency to use to put the carrier in the middle of the narrow band filter is X. They would dial it in, send it out and everything still worked. Actually a very clever fix for what would have been a disaster.

Comment Re:Autodesk (3ds Max) is not the real victim (Score 1) 361

No it is not disingenuous at all. I worked my way through college too. It's called a budget. Gee you need so much for tuition, so much for books, so much for R&B and so much for calculators, computers and software. Add that up and that is what you get the loan for or that is the number you save for. Your being disingenuous in saying you are willing to pay for food, tuition, and everything else BUT..... when it comes to software I'm just going to steal it because I can and I think it is too expensive. BS. You want to steal, steal. I don't care but don't give the BS you can't afford it when you are paying for everything else. Quit trying to justify your actions by saying it is too expensive.

Comment Re:Autodesk (3ds Max) is not the real victim (Score 1) 361

Do you think at all? Most schools require a computer these day. If I was pursing a degree in graphic arts or something of the like and it was truly what I wanted to pursue as a career, then I would spend the required $$ needed to get the training on the software required to do the job. Assuming you shell out 50K for your degree and your total software expense is 1k. That is 2% of your expenses are software. Sounds reasonable to me. Quit your bitchen and either pay for what you need or steal it. I don't care. Point is education is expensive. Try none. That's more expensive. There are significant alternatives to keep your costs down. I know most of my students use pirated software. I don' care but I do reinforce the fact that there are significant deals out there for students that they can take advantage of. Many of which, if you purchase the student version, you can still get a very large discount to upgrade to the commercial version once you graduate.

Comment Re:Autodesk (3ds Max) is not the real victim (Score 1) 361

Good for you!..... clearly you must buy all your software from where all of the software conforms to the UI as you think it should and is completely bug free. Good luck with that. I'm sure that kind of attitude will suit you very well in the workplace where you will have to use the software they want you to use, not what you think is perfect.

Comment Re:Autodesk (3ds Max) is not the real victim (Score 1) 361

You can get 3dsMAX, the full version, completely functional, for FREE. This is not warz or cracks. Autodesk gives students a 36 month free license on a significant portfolio of their software. It is the real deal. No watermarks. Sign up here:
You need to register and you must use a valid school email, ie, it ends in .edu.
I teach Maya at Phoenix College and encourage all my students to get this deal. It is truly amazing and you simply can't beat it. You can license the software on two machines so you can support your desktop and your laptop.

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Murphy's Law, that brash proletarian restatement of Godel's Theorem. -- Thomas Pynchon, "Gravity's Rainbow"