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Friday, March 30, 2007

a little fine wordsmithing

I particularly liked this bit of editing I did that ended up in the datasheet for our new part. My edit describes more features, and helps make them more applicable to a user. It's a 50% increase in words, but I'd say it's a 100% feature increase, 100% information improvement, and 15% clarity improvement.
The result:

The built in, pipelined 8051 microcontroller, supported by the integrated development environment and source level debugging, provides enormous versatility. The 20Mhz clock rate, 16KB of code space, 8KB of SRAM, and MME integration library can handle sophisticated algorithms ported from Matlab or C. Three 16 bit timers and configurable GPIO ports can extend data buffering capability or tackle unforeseen issues. Woken by DRDY (data ready) interrupts from the VMC or ROC blocks, by its own timers, or from an external SPI/I2C command, the unit is only powered up when needed. If higher-order curve fitting and matrix/floating-point operations are unnecessary, the MCU never needs to be turned on at all.

The initial text:

An 8051 microcontroller (from CAST) is built-in and includes 16KB of FLASH memory, 20KB of SRAM, three 16 bit timers, and ~8 GPIO ports (actual number is TBD). The unit is only powered up upon request, as the state machines handle most transactions, however the MCU is necessary for higher-order curve fitting and matrix/floating-point operations. The MCU can be woken by DRDY (data ready) interrupts from the VMC or ROC.


Wednesday, March 28, 2007

Good stock icons for Vista

I've been searching around for good Vista style icons and they're hard to find.

I like the look of this company's icons, and more than that, they deliver them all in normal + disabled versiosn and in all sizes ranging from 256x256 down to 16x16. The real kicker is they have taken the time to make the 16x16 icons still representative of the idea rather than just downsizing the 256x256 image.

Professional Icons - Stock 3D Icons for Web & Software


Company: Huntech Consultants

Hardware/Software/ASIC consultant finding firm



Tuesday, March 27, 2007

accessing environment variables in qmake

Funny how the most common things seem to be the hardest to find information about on the information-super-highway.

I forgot how to reference environment variables in qmake, and don't have access to my super complicated build files from two lives ago.

The answer:



contains($$(USERDOMAIN), "")
#special processing


Friday, March 23, 2007

some of the best office art I've seen

Thursday, March 22, 2007

Open Sound Control: modern messaging protocol

The MAKE controller board supports this out of the box:

Introduction to OSC | OSC

We initially threw it away for simple struct passing over UDP, but it looks like it bears more looking into.


Interesting Company: Legend Silicon

Doing digital TV ICs, just received $40M from Intel

Legend Silicon


Wednesday, March 21, 2007

Interesting Company: SpaceX

If anyone needs software engineering, it's a company like this.

Space Exploration Technologies Corporation


Monday, March 19, 2007

cubicle evolution?

This new cubicle replacement from Herman Miller, those who cursed us with cubes in the first place, seems to address several of my big complaints about cubes:
* no door
* your back is to the portal
* you are cut off from co-workers, but easily accessed by passer's by
* sunlight is blocked by the partitions

Of course they have signed onto the awful My Xxx meme with its My Studio name. Pretty stupid name when it seems oriented to teamwork...

My Studio Environments by Herman Miller


Friday, March 16, 2007

visualization web services (almost)

Very cool web apps that technically could be services, though they're not packaged as such.

They are from the same minds that gave us one of my favorite visualizations Baby Name Voyager

One app analyzes word frequencies in free text and displays them with greater word size indicating greater frequency.

They also have something that makes network diagrams, maps of the world and the US, as well as more pedistrian bar charts, scatter plots

Many Eyes


Thursday, March 15, 2007

Interesting Company: OpenSilicon

End to end fabless semiconductor company.


The Rise of ``Worse is Better''

The Rise of ``Worse is Better'': "The lesson to be learned from this is that it is often undesirable to go for the right thing first. It is better to get half of the right thing available so that it spreads like a virus. Once people are hooked on it, take the time to improve it to 90% of the right thing."

I know I've read this article before, and when I stumbled across a reference to it I was surprised I hadn't blogged it before.


Pipes and Filters for the Internet

In this article Tim O'Reilly borders on a little too much visionary hubris for my taste, but it is nonetheless a good read about a Yahoo tool that is aiming to be the Unix shell of web services.

My favorite quote:

In The UNIX Programming Environment, Kernighan and Pike write that at the heart of the Unix philosophy "is the idea that the power of a system comes more from the relationships among programs than from the programs themselves."

O'Reilly Radar > Pipes and Filters for the Internet

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Wednesday, March 14, 2007

when good interfaces get complicated

My first though when I saw this was "My god, what did they do to a wonderfully simplistic interface?"

But then I thought about it more, and realized that this is probably a good interface for the 10 people in the world who have the opportunity, and training, to use it. It brings controls into their field of vision, and keeps their hands near the steering function while giving them access to other features that help them eek out the last bit of performance.

Steering wheel -

office acoustics

I'm campaigning to avoid getting cubes in our little 750 sq ft office with 5 people. I hate cubicles. I think they dampen the regular noise, and then you can really hear the phone conversations and irregular bodily functions of your co-workers.

Seems that there a million outfits that want to come in, do an analysis, then sell you a high dollar installation with emitters in your ceiling.

The only two off the shelf systems I could find:

$350 for a 500 sq ft space:
Speech Privacy Systems - Personal Sound Masking Solutions

$50 each (what they use in school counseling offices)
Marpac 980 Sound Screen

$400 solution from Merman Miller called babble, though it sounds like it might bug your office mates:(be sure to listen to the NPR piece which has sound clips)

If I were to have one installed by an acoustical contractor, this one looks pretty dang cool:


Tuesday, March 13, 2007

LCD GUI toolkit for deeply embedded systems ::: Empowering Embedded Systems

Hard to tell if Segger's emWin licences this library, or vice-versa, but it looks like everything you'd want in this sort of arena.

They even let you download the simulator to try it out on Windows.


thiner, cheaper, more reliable buttons

Here's an article for DIY capacitive buttons. It has some quality references to alternative and more commercialized solutions as well.


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Interesting Company: Synaptics

Monday, March 05, 2007


high content, low production values, blog with lots of chip company news.

analogZONE - The Independent Space for Analog Engineering