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Tech Smorgasbord Archives - 23

RF Cafe University"Factoids," "Kirt's Cogitations," and "Tech Topics Smorgasbord" are all manifestations of my ranting on various subjects relevant (usually) to the overall RF Cafe theme. All may be accessed on these pages:

 1 | 2 | 3 | 4 | 5 | 6 | 7 | 8 | 9 | 10 | 11 | 12 | 13 | 14 | 15 | 16 | 17 | 18 | 19 | 20 | 21 | 22 | 23 | 24 | 25 | 26 | 27 | 28 | 29 | 30 | 31 | 32 | 33 | 34 | 35 | 36 | 37

Chicken/Egg Debate Finally Settled

(source: CNN)

RF Cafe Smorgasbord - The Chicken & Egg Debate ResolvedFinally, one of the major paradoxes of the physical world has been resolved. Wars have been fought, and civilizations have fallen over the debate (well, not really). Disney deserves the credit for convening a panel of experts to address the enigma as a promo for Chicken Little. The verdict: "The living organism inside the eggshell would have had the same DNA as the chicken it would develop into; therefore, the first living thing which we could say unequivocally was a member of the species would be this first egg. So, I would conclude that the egg came first." Settled.
It's Baaaaack...

(source: Popular Science)

RF Cafe Smorgasbord - Karma electric carIt is amazing how often a news story will report on some inane idea that most readers dismiss as folly and then just as enough time has passed to forget about it, the item reappears as a serious concept, ready to be codified in law. It has happened again, this time regarding electric cars not making enough noise for pedestrians to be adequately forewarned. Maybe the real motivation is the market potential for "Vroomtones" that are planned by some for customizing your announcement. If you think the obnoxious phone ring tones and morons with their car windows vibrating from 1000 W stereos are bad now, just wait until the streets are filled with DOT-mandated rolling boom boxes.
2009 Small Business

Hiring ↑ - Pay ↓

(source: eWeek)

The good news is that hiring by small businesses has picked up in the last few months. The bad news is that average pay has gone down. An optimist would say this is a good thing since more people are being employed and taken off unemployment. SurePayroll's research indicates a 2.9% growth in small business for the year, but also shows an 8.8% decrease in salaries. The pessimist would say this is a bad thing since it demonstrates a willingness of employers to exploit the dire situation of many people. The truth is probably somewhere in-between.

(source: RF Cafe)

surveillance camerasA while back, I reported on the government's use of vehicle tracking and monitoring systems for criminal prosecution and other nefarious activities. That was enough to scare you just a little. Now that the Government effectively owns the OnStar system via having a controlling (70%) interest in General Motors, think about whether you want the Fed having access to the time and place of every movement you make - even if you are not a criminal. You can be guaranteed that they will exploit the opportunity for electronic voyeurism. You will know things are bad when OnStar is standard equipment on every model shipped.

Considering Consulting?

(source: IEEE 2006 Survey)

Whether you have been the victim of the bad economy or are just tired of working at the same location every day, maybe now is a good time to finally try independent consulting.  A 2007 report is available for cheap. 

Years in Engineering % Years Consulting %
> 40 5 >20 16
31-40 33 10.1-20 26
21-30 37 3.1-10 41
11-20 21 <3 17
<10 3    
PE License % Hourly Billing Rate %
Yes 20 >200 $/hr 17
No 80 100-199 $/hr 56
    50-99 25
    <50 2


Tech Shrines for Geeks

(source: MSNBC)

RF Cafe Smorgasbord - The Geek Atlas places to visitThis is a report on some of the contents of a book titled "The Geek Atlas," which offers more than 100 places you can visit that are focused on topics of science and technology. Included are places like Bletchley Park in England, where the German's Enigma machine code was broken, the Early Television Museum in Ohio, and even Bill and Dave's famous garage where HP was born. I would recommend staying away from the Chernobyl Exclusion Zone in the Ukraine, though.
Frying Brains in 2009

(source: Environ. Working Group )

RF Cafe Smorgasbord - 2009 Cellphone Radiation LevelsThe Environmental Working Group has published their latest list of cell phone radiation levels. It is based on currently available phones. Here is a small sampling of popular RF Cafe Smorgasbord - 2009 Cellphone Radiation Levelsmodels. See the full list
Model Level W/kg
Kyocera Jax S1300 1.55
Motorola MOTO VU204 1.55
Motorola i335 1.53
Apple iPhone 3G 1.39
Nokia 5800 1.29
Blackberry Curve 8900 1.01
Palm Pre 0.92
Nokia 6301 0.87
Samsung SGH-t229 0.38
Motorola RAZR V8 0.36
Samsung Impression 0.35
Off the Grid

(source: IEEE Spectrum)

RF Cafe Smorgasbord - Segway Inventor Dean Kamen's private island in CTThis is all you need to be a multimillionaire without a hookup to the power grid - a few hundred deep-cycle lead-acid batteries, racks of servers for SCADA, high-tech solar panels, a wind turbine, LED lighting, and a private helicopter and boat for access to island. Now, I do not begrudge Segway designer Dean Kamen his toys, but calling it "green" is a bit of a stretch when considering the external resources needed to build and maintain the Nerd Island paradise for one man. Mr. Kaman is a prodigious inventor and owner of DEKA R&D Corporation
Classical Relativity

(source: Scientific American)

"In classical general relativity…" Does anything strike you as odd about that sentence I read in the October 2009 edition of Scientific American? Applying the adjective "classical" to a statement regarding general relativity implies the existence of a more modern version. It seems to relegate the "classical" version of relativity to the same standing as "classical" Newtonian physics. While most of the world slept, avant-garde physicists have been formulating (literally) strange new models of the universe based on observed behavior. Before being too quick to defend the honor of professor Einstein, remember that he was a staunch opponent of quantum mechanics, and dedicated the latter years of his life to disproving its validity. Nothing stays the same.
Rhonda 3D

(source: Rhonda Forever)

FR Cafe Smorgasbord - Rhonda 3D Free-Form Drawing SoftwareRhonda 3D free-form drawing software was originally developed half a decade ago, and then dropped off the scene. It has recently re-emerged with a video of it in use. The website says a team is being assembled to bring it to various platforms, including cellphones and PDAs (the line between the two devices is becoming less distinct). You can become a beta tester if doodling is your passion.
2009 Career and

Salary Survey

(source: T&M World)

Test & Measurement World just published the results of their 2009 Career and Salary Survey. Many charts are available for viewing, but here are some of the highlights. Keep in mind the audience is T&M engineers.
Category Highest
Age 45-54 (38%)
Gender Male (97%)
Education BS (47%)
Experience >30 yrs (27%)
Salary $60-80k (23%)
% Pay ↑ 0 (33%)
Highest Paid
 Job Software Test
 Industry Computer & SW
 Age 55-64 yrs
World's Fastest-Growing Companies in 2009

(source: Fortune)

Fortune magazine released their rankings for 2009. BlackBerry maker Research In Motion tops the list. They have been the darling of Canada for a long time... and for good reason. Congratulations to them.
Rank Company
2 Sigma Designs
3 Sohu.com
4 Ebix
5 DG FastChannel
11 Green Mt. Coffee Roasters
39 Apple
52 Amazon.com
57 FLIR Systems
59 Dolby Laboratories
68 Google
84 Garmin
There are 13 energy companies and 24 tech companies in the list.


(EHD) Cooling

(source: Tessera)

RF Cafe Tech Smorgasbord - ElectroHydroDynamic CoolingThere's a new sheriff in town for guarding against the heat villains. It's name is EHD Cooling. Tessera has developed a technology that generates ionized air and then creates a flow between electrodes set at different voltages. Its advertized advantages include no moving parts, no noise, very low profile, low expense, and long life. Another one I thought of might be lowering ESD risks by virtue of the ionized air picking up and removing accumulated charge on electronic devices. Cool idea, literally.
T&M World

2009 Salary Survey

(source: T&M World)

Test & Measurement World just published the results of their 2009 Career and Salary Survey. Many charts are available for viewing, but here are some of the highlights. Keep in mind the audience is T&M engineers. 
Salary %
> $150k 8
$120k to $150k 13
$100k to $120k 16
$80k to $100k 19
$60k to $80k 23
$40k to $60k 12
< $40k 9
High School Inventors

(source: Popular Science)

RF Cafe - Highschool InventorsHow many of us, given the opportunity, would turn back the hands of time and take a different path in life? I know I would. Philip Streich has spent his high school days inventing a solvent that isolates carbon nanotubes. Teen amateur astronomer Samantha Hopkins designed an aeroponic food chamber for future lunar and planetary colonists. I flew model airplanes and exploded M-80s underwater. The 8 high school kids featured here already have scholarships for college. I was lucky to graduate.
The Words of Politics

(source: CapitolWords.org)

RF Cafe Smorgasbord - Words politicians useNot many people accuse politicians of being particularly science savvy. Just as they are willing to vote for multi$B spending bills they have never read, politicians pass legislation based on often incorrect and/or biased information provided by special interest groups. The website CapitolWords.org allows one to search for how often specific words are entered into the Congressional Record. For instance, the above chart tracks FCC. The big September 2003 spike is the telemarketer "Do Not Call" rules era. Broadband, radio, visa, etc., produce results with identifiable peaks.
Windfreak Technologies Frequency Synthesizers - RF Cafe
Windfreak Technologies Frequency Synthesizers - RF Cafe

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