devices of unecessary complexity

On Sun, 2 Nov 2014 09:17:42 -0500, "Jim Wilkins"


WAY too true. The good engineers (among other disciplines) don't have a stomach for the politics and bullshit that is involved, generally, in a management position. They know what they are good at - and prefer to stay with that.
Those who are not so good at what they do move up to something else.
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On Sunday, November 2, 2014 9:17:22 AM UTC-5, Jim Wilkins wrote:

>

> management, so the less qualified ones become the bosses. -jsw
But in reality, there always is another side to people moving up the corporate ladder that others rarely see. Supervisors know.
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robobass wrote:

iation safety engineering. He has such >an astoundingly poor understanding of >basic physics, mechanics, and >electricity that I don't understand how

Well in any event, fitting traditional credentials and keeping the correct connections *ON PAPER* is usually enough to get and keep a respected place in any profession.
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wrote: > I wasn't speaking incrementally, rather about the difference between

I kept up while the company was willing to pay for the CAD seat, and used the same program later at Segway. Advancing tech made more complex designs feasible, but didn't actually speed the small, simple ones because of the growing overhead of setup.
The older DOS version was easier to use because it wasn't as burdened with complex options.
This reflects mainly his inexperience with it, but it really is illogical and difficult to learn http://offlogic.wordpress.com/2009/08/12/why-does-mentor-graphics-suck-so-very-very-much/

It needs to be continuous under the signal path, like the shield around coax which carries the same current as the signal in the reverse direction. I learned to carefully account for ground return current paths in sensitive or high-speed circuits at the ATE company. Whether to use a continuous or single-point ground can be a difficult judgement call. The ATE company had separate grounds and rules for digital, analog and measurement. Only some of them helped when I was shunted by a reorg from computer logic into microwave digital radio without any training or previous experience and had to pick it up FAST.
The company sponsored a Ham Radio class taight by a Brit radar wizard retiree which helped considerably. He would describe some exotic property of the Ionosphere and then tell us which of the antennas on the lawn outside he had used to measure it.

They were clustered around the oscilloscope, asking me to explain what they were looking at on their own designs.

Lawsuits are an effective way to destroy a startup you can't compete with technically. I've dodged close involvement in several, once because I knew alternate commercial uses of of a circuit idea they claimed was proprietary, though not patented.

I gravitated toward Ph.Ds who wanted to and could create something, or they did toward me. The trouble was that they'd leave for other opportunities as soon as the project was complete. The more academic, less innovative ones stayed where they were secure, but sent me no lab work. -jsw
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On Fri, 26 Sep 2014 08:22:51 -0400, "Jim Wilkins"

I see.

Remember back when you could run a computer on a 17kb kernel and programs were a few kb themselves?

I found Adobe Illustrator to be extremely much that way. Why write illogical and tough-to-learn software? <deep sigh>

I hope you had help from current users/designers/techies.

Taight? Sounds more like a Scot. ;)

Oy, vay.

You were very lucky.

That doesn't sound like much fun.
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wrote: >>The older DOS version was easier to use because it wasn't as

I started with 256 -bytes- of RAM. http://www.jameco.com/Jameco/Products/ProdDS/42198.pdf
A sympathetic engineer gave me some vendor's samples of HM6116 2K x 8 static RAM so I could write a useable operating system, text editor and assembler. They are pin-compatible with 2716 UVPROMs but I changed things too much to want the code locked in a PROM. The EEPROM (flash) version was useful when I finally got one.
Before I added battery backup to the first 6116 I had to toggle in a 32-byte bootstrap loader from the minicomputer-style front panel switches, then run it to read a Teletype tape whose last act was to overwrite the Reset0 jump destination with its own entry point.
With battery-backed memory the machine would wake to whatever it was doing when turned off, like this XP one.

We were all advancing beyond our previous experience. That's the nature of R&D.

The ink is wearing off my laptop's external keyboard. I keep using it because it's narrow enough to fit the mouse pad along side it on the pull-out shelf.
-jsw
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On Fri, 26 Sep 2014 10:41:13 -0400, "Jim Wilkins"

OK, you win.

Wow, Jameco! I haven't heard that name in damnear 40 years.

Grok that.

so my hand positions sometimes get one key off, making the resultant typing a real jumble.
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    [ ... ]

    My Altair 680B has 1024 bytes of RAM, and originally 256 bytes of eprom (the terrible 1702A).

    They're still around. I recently got a drawer set full of useful transistor mixes from them for not much at all.
    [ ... ]

    [ ... ]

    Oh -- no two-shot mulded keycaps then? Well -- still a couple of notches better than the keyboards on the first Commodore Pet computers. Chicklet keycaps with anodized aluminum overlays with the key marking in the anodizing, and thin films of transparent plastic -- Teflon, I think -- on top. Those quickly flaked off, and then the anodized markings wore off almost as quickly. :-)

    :-)
    You know -- the post office used to have people skilled at figuring out addresses typewritten with that Obie-Wan error.
    Enjoy,         DoN.
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wrote:

When I helped my buddy do PM on an old Baird Gamma Camera, it had a "computer" with 16 3-way toggles on it. The preload was switched in binary, then it could read the 14" hard drives. I tried to avoid learning too much about that thing, if you know what I mean.

I can imagine.

Yabbut, by that time, you'd have learned to touch-type, right? I'm sure glad I took typing in 9th grade. Lots of guys gave me grief about it, and I didn't think the old lady (30) teaching it was pretty (until 3 years later, when I realized that she was a total babe) After I got a computer, 20-odd years later, I thanked Crom that I had taken that class. It has served me well.

As well they should. Now they have trouble getting people who can even speak, read, and write simple English. Got Prep?
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    [ ... ]

    I had to deal with a Data General Nova, which required keying in a bootstrap loader (about 16 words, IIRC) which would then read a length of punched tape. After that, you could simply set the switches to a specific setting and it would load whatever (usually the BASIC interpreter) from cassette tape. No disks on this thing. And luckly, you only had to key in that bootstrap loader *once* (until something went wrong and overwrote all of memory) because it had core memory -- remembers things while power if off. There was a 32K semiconductor memory board and a 16K core memory, so it was important to have the core memory where the bootstrap loader lived. :-)
    [ ... ]

    If you did not already know how, it wouldn't help you. The rows of buttons were not staggered like on a normal keyboard. just a square grid of keys -- and each key had some special symbol on it (like a "heart" for print I think), so even if you could handle touch typing, that would not help you with the rest, unless you remembered where all the "special" symbols lived.

    I didn't take it in school, but a great aunt taught me when I was loaned an old, heavy, skeleton typewriter. She had a bunch of rubber caps, and a wall chart, and forced me to use that instead of looking at the keyboard.
    Boy has that served me well ovet the decades. :-)

    Yes -- we keep getting mail for someone at the same house number, but a few streets over. (Not too much recently, but for a while it was pretty bad.) And also things for the neighbor to either side of us.
    Enjoy,         DoN.
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wrote:

Yeah, bootstrap loader. I had forgotten the term. It may well have been a Nova that I tried to avoid working with. ;)

Nonetheless, if you had memorized -that- particular keyboard before the key markers had worn off, you wouldn't be in bad shape.

Ayup.

Makes one wonder if they might miss a vital piece of mail, like the notice of a lawsuit, which you'll lose if you don't respond, or the discovery of a large sum of money in a will by an unknown family member addressed to you...
I think we should disband the USPS and let known companies handle the mail from now on. I would likely be much more efficient (No mansions to buy for the Postmasters. Did you hear that scandal? No $1,000,000 ads during the farkin' Superbowl, etc.) and a helluva lot more reliable. Some of the postmen might be hired by the company, but most would be too damned stupid, inefficient, and set in their ways to be retained by an -aware- business. And it's not like we have an actual U.S. gov't entity delivering our mail now, is it? <g> Just imagine, junk mail senders having to pay full boat for the pounds of daily crap they inundate us with...
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Congressional_Post_Office_scandal
http://tinyurl.com/8qaf9xh junk mail
http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2013/12/12/dianne-feinstein-postal-service_n_4423045.html
http://www.judicialwatch.org/blog/2012/10/usps-execs-get-illegally-high-salaries-amid-11-6-bil-loss/
http://cagw.org/media/press-releases/scandal-postal-exec-caught-using-usps-budget-unseat-gop-senator
http://www.cnn.com/blogarchive/siu.blogs.cnn.com//2009/03/05/post-office-mansion/
And it goes on and on...
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On Monday, September 29, 2014 11:30:41 AM UTC-4, Larry Jaques wrote:

> I think
I disagree.

Yeah right. Let two competitors deliver each others mail to each other. Great idea. I wonder when the a single mistake might happen with that idea.
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"DoN. Nichols" wrote:

I scrapped a DG Nova around 1990 that had a 9-trck drive. I needed the pair of racks more than I needed the computer.
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Jim Wilkins wrote:

Some things are still better handled as analog. As a couple IC designers like to remind people, Digital is a subset of analog. That's why so many under educated designers run into layout problems on circuit boards. A DDS is quick, but very dirty. A PLL controlled VCO has some settling time, but can have very low phase noise. That is what was used to track deep space probes at micro watt (and lower) power levels. Even the front end in the SP based RCB2000, the front end was still analog, prior to the A/D conversion of the IF of the 50 to 90 MHz range.
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I was thrown into Digital Radio by a reorg and had to learn it quickly. I think I did well enough as none of my receiver circuit boards needed a second revision. -jsw
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Jim Wilkins wrote:

How complex? These were $80,000, and built as VXI style cards with a plasma display on the front panel. They could process any modulation, up to the then state of the art FQPSK. They also had the ability to remote control them with RS232, RS422, IEEE-488 or Ethernet. They ran embedded Windows CE from a 40 MB M-Disk solid state drive in a 28 pin package. They had an optional spectrum display, and a 70 MHz D/A output so the data could be fed into a tape drive, or digital data recorder.
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The most complex one I can mention was a satellite network simulator to evaluate vendor's tactical SATCOM terminal prototypes. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Milstar "The Electronic Systems Center at Hanscom AFB is responsible for the US Air Force portion of the terminal segment development and acquisition."
The Mitre offices were almost under the flight path, right off the end of Hanscom's main runway, fortunately the quieter downwind landing end.
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Jim Wilkins wrote:

We knew what our hardware could do, but not why people were lined up to buy millions of dollars worth before they were ready for market. Being software comntrolled, they could be customized over the internet.
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There isn't that much hardware difference between a digital radio and a digital sampling oscilloscope. We used oscilloscope flash A/D converters and exotic low-loss circuit board materials. Usually the radio mixes and downconverts with simple analog hardware to the Intermediate Frequency because only the modulation matters, but if you have the need and money you can capture the multi-GHz Radio Frequency directly, like a scope.
On the digital side I had already designed a multiport DRAM controller for the TMS320C30 DSP that was favored for digital radios, and really only had to learn more about active double balanced mixers and elliptical and SAW filters. A SAW is an acoustic filter, speaker > tuned pathway > microphone, that operates at 70MHz.
Now you can find do-anything Software Defined Radios cheap at ham flea markets. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Software-defined_radio "Most receivers use a variable-frequency oscillator, mixer, and filter to tune the desired signal to a common intermediate frequency or baseband, where it is then sampled by the analog-to-digital converter. However, in some applications it is not necessary to tune the signal to an intermediate frequency and the radio frequency signal is directly sampled by the analog-to-digital converter (after amplification)."
The NEAR ham fleamarket this past weekend was mostly rained out, but I did find a used (1% wear) Micron SSD for $40 and 750GB 100MB/S HD for $30 to speed up the dual-core "parts" laptop I bought there last spring for $25. It boots Win 7 in 20 seconds. Now I have to learn the secrets of properly setting up Solid State Drives.
-jsw
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Jim Wilkins wrote:

The cheap SDR radios work for some applications, but how many can do all the functions I described at the same time? How many have a $450 10 MHz frequency standard that can be tired to a local standard source? Can they do doppler offsets to follow a satellite as its speed changes? Can they process a 40 MHz wide video signal?
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