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These items are an archive of past Topical Smorgasbord items that have appeared on the RF Cafe homepage. In keeping with the "cafe" genre, these tidbits of information are truly a smorgasbord of topics. They all pertain to topics that are related to the general engineering and science theme of RF Cafe.
Forbes' 2011 List
just published their annual list of the world's billionaires (1,140 of them).
It has not changed much at the top. Here are the high tech winners. Mexico's telecom magnate Carlos Slim
remains king of the hill with $74B, while Bill Gates plays second fiddle. Warren Buffet takes slot #3. #5 is
Oracle's Larry Ellison. Googles wonderboys share #24. Amazon's Jeff Bezos is #30. India's Wipro software guy
Azim Premji sits at #36. Michael Dell: #46; Steve Ballmer: #38. Facebook's Mark Zuckerberg ranks #52, but soon
he might drop to sharing somewhere around #150 if a lawsuit by alleged co-founder
Paul Ceglia is successful. Malaysia's telecom giant Ananda Krishnan owns slot #93. The
Wal-Mart Waltons occupy #10, 20, 21, and 22, 323, 409 (importing everything
from China is good business). Un-PC Alert: Bill and Warren have given away a lot of their wealth the
last couple years, which affected their rankings. Maybe Mr. Slim should offer some of his wealth to fellow
countrymen to return from their illegal residences in the U.S., then let us see how he fares.
2010-11 Best Colleges
America's 25 Fastest-
1 First Solar
2 Neutral Tandem
3 Riverbed Technology
5 Cavium Networks
7 Rackspace Hosting
16 Apple Computer
19 Red Hat
25 Dolby Laboratories
recently, I believed that given the extended depressed condition of the job market that employers were
sympathetic to the plight of its innocent victims (not all are innocent).
Surely a hiring manager or human resources staffer would not shun an otherwise qualified candidate simply
because he has not had any luck in securing a new position within a few months of having been laid off. That
is probably the way you see it too, right? Wrong. As it turns out, there is no mercy being shown. According to
articles widely available on business websites and magazines, the prevailing attitude is that this is an
employer's dream scenario because the market is flush with highly qualified prospects
here). This is not new; it happened as recently as the late 1980s / early 1990s. The difference
this time is that employers now are able to exploit people's willingness to expose everything about their
personal lives on social media websites like Facebook to vet for risky traits. Even without being "friended"
there are ways to dig into posted content for revealing facts about you. That has had a huge impact on many of
the unemployed's attempts to find new work. The situation is so dire that there are now services like
Socioclean available for helping to assimilate all
the locatable references to you on the Internet and help scrub the party animal or radical activist reputation
you have been so erstwhile proud of.
I have often said that some of the most capable and enthusiastic engineers and technicians - and even managers - I have worked with in my 30-something year electronics career have been amateur radio operators. They are the rare few who are able to combine a hobby passion with a profession that pays for the hobby... kind of like the airline pilot who flies model airplanes or the druggie who works at a pharmacy. Oh, wait, scratch that last example.
Here we see a video from Chevrolet where two engineers, one of them a Ham, took up the challenge to replace the AM/FM whip antenna originally planned for the 2011 Camaro convertible with a blended, inconspicuous antenna. Leaked photos of the prototype car showed the whip, which caused Camaro aficionados to descend upon Chevy requesting its removal. The flexible, folding rear window prevented an embedded solution as is the norm for many cars. The ultimate solution? Embed the antenna in the spoiler. <more>
year student technical paper and design contests are held as part of the MTT-S show. This year's categories
Student Paper Competition,
Competitions, and new this year a
Challenge. Eight separate circuit design areas are available for selection -
Optical-to-Microwave Converter, and
Innovative Modeling Techniques. Winning any of these competitions would be a shining star on anyone's
Applied Wave Research (AWR) will
be sweetening the deal by giving away fully-functional, one-year, personal-use licenses for
Microwave Office and
Visual System Simulator
to the top 3 winners / winning teams of the
High-Efficiency Power Amplifier and
Wideband Balun competitions. The value of each package will be worth as much as $10kUS... a nice bonus on
top of gaining celebrity status!
Say Goodbye to America's
Space Shuttle Endeavour (named after the ship of British Lt. James Cook) lifts off for the last time tomorrow (April 29). Atlantis flies next month, marking the end of the USA's manned space flight vehicle program for the foreseeable future. Henceforth, we will be hitching rides on Chinese and Russian craft that still land in the desert using parachutes.
Here are some stats on the Shuttle program.
As with our oil drilling industry, politicians have chosen to trash our domestic space transportation industry and send that money to countries that yearn for our demise. We pass on cutting edge technology, lend money (which rarely gets repaid), and even pay for the privilege <more>4/28/2011
While reading through the Old Farmer's Almanac, I saw an article on units of measure. It included examples from nuclear physics like 1 barn = 10-28 m2 and 1 shed = 10-24. The BB (as in BB gun) is 0.18 in. Ø because it is between a size B and a BBB lead shot. A Garn is a level of space sickness adopted by NASA in honor of astronaut Jake Garn's infamous episode in 1985. If you will be back in a jiffy, you had better be fast, because 1 jiffy = 10 ms (1 cycle of a computer clock when it was coined). 1 beard-second = 10 nm, about how much facial hair grows in one second. A milliHelen [of Troy] is the amount of beauty needed to launch just one ship. Don't forget the Smoot unit of length, which I recently covered, which equals 5 feet, 7 inches. In 1957, Mad magazine issue #33 published an entirely new system "Potrzebie System of Weights and Measures," where, for instance, 1 potrzebie = the thickness of Mad issue #26. If you Google these units, there will likely be disagreement about some, but who really cares?
One Heck of An Issue
ten years I have been scanning all the major engineering magazines each month for content that I think will
particularly benefit RF Cafe visitors. You see links to those articles frequently in the homepage Recent
Additions list, plus they are
for later reference. While looking through the February 2011 edition of MicroWaves & RF
(anyone notice the new title style?) two things greatly impressed me.
First, nearly every article is worthy of linking to because of the relevance to everyday circuit and
systems designers. Second, many RF Cafe advertisers
have large ads for your edification. That goes for both
MicroWaves & RF and the
magazine insert. An interview with Analog Devices' Barrie Gilbert (of
Gilbert cell fame),
articles on Cellular Trends,
Understanding Dynamic Range,
Prevent PCB Problems in
ISM-Band Designs, and
VCSO Technology Silences Synthesizers are among the many that will keep you in rapt technical bliss. That
doesn't even include the plethora of great Defense Electronics articles. Don't be selfish -pass your
copy on to a fellow engineer... or at least leave it in Wally's "other" office.
A Cornucopia of SecretsWhen I heard about the helicopter that went down during the raid at the bin Laden compound, my first concern after the safety of the crew was that now a high technology aircraft would be available to the enemy for inspection. Even after learning that the craft was "blown in place," I was still worried that unless some high temperature incendiary material like white phosphorous was used prior to the explosion, the pieces remaining would be in-tack enough to glean useful info. My worst fears were confirmed with the release of photos by Reuters (always sure to post images that could harm the U.S.) showing not just this large section of the tail boom and rotor, but also smiling kids walking around with scrounged parts of airframe and electronics gear. As an engineer who spent many years tearing down other company's designs to figure out how they designed and implemented leading edge circuits (and also checking for patent infringements), I can tell you that a circuit or system does not have to be in full functioning order to yield critical information. Material samples are now available for the stealth skin composition, lamination and attachment methods, and facet angles. Super quite airfoil and blade shape data is <more>
UK's Best UFO Hoax
AWG FAQDo you ever find yourself using a common word or saying, and then suddenly realizing that you have no idea of its meaning or origin, even though you have used it often? Then, you ask if anyone else knows the etymology and all you get is deer-in-the-headlights stares. Try this one in the lab later today: How did the AWG (American Wire Gauge) system decide on wire sizes, and why are smaller wire sizes given larger numbers? Brown & Sharpe, a metrology tool company founded in the mid 1800s, standardized wire diameters. They decreed that No. 36 wire would have a diameter of 0.0050 inches, and No. 0000 ("4-ought") is 0.4600 inches in diameter. That leaves 40 wire sizes, with a diameter ratio between largest and smallest of 92. Therefore, the geometric formula that governs in-between wire sizes (in inches, for solid wire) is:
OK, so why do small wires have larger numbers? It is because smaller wire gauges need to be drawn through the forming die a larger number of times.