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Tech Smorgasbord Archives - 30

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

Geostationary Satellites...

What a Concept!

Extra-Terrestrial Relays, by Arthur C. Clarke - RF CafeAsk and ye shall receive... at least sometimes. Last week I posted a request for an article by science fiction writer Arthur C. Clarke, of 2001: A Space Odyssey fame, describing a geostationary satellite system that was published in the October 1945 edition of Wireless World magazine. Thanks to RF Cafe visitor Terry W., from the great state of Oklahoma, it is now available for everyone to enjoy. Clarke was not just a sci-fi writer, but also an educated visionary and card-carrying member of the British Interplanetary Society, who proposed many technological solutions to issues of his day. In this instance, the challenge was developing an efficient means to distribute TV signals across Europe and the world. Clarke's calculations for the necessary number of repeater towers proved that concept impractical, so he proposed using modified surplus German V2 rockets to launch Earth-orbiting "artificial satellites," powered by batteries or solar panels, to distribute signals globally. He calculated power densities, orbit altitudes and periods, S/N ratios, and antenna sizes. You will want to read this article; it only takes about 15-20 minutes.


Top 20 Defense Contractors

Defense Systems recently published their list of the top 20 defense contractors. Topping the lineup are the familiar stalwarts of the industry - Lockheed Martin, Raytheon, etc. Rankings are based on revenue, which by nature, is your tax dollars at work. Sure, it is a lot of money, but they are performing a vital service for the country, as opposed to the billion$ spent on social welfare programs that produce mainly votes for politicians that dole it out.

  Company Revenue
1 Lockheed Martin $10.9B
2 Northrop Grum. $8.2B
3 Boeing $5.1B
4 Gen. Dynamics $4.6B
5 Raytheon $4.1B
6 KBR $3.5B
7 L-3 Comms $3.3B
8 SAIC $3.3B
9 DynCorp Int'l. $2.4B
10 Hewlett Packard $2.3B
11 Booz Allen Ham. $2.3B
12 CACI Int'l $2.1B
13 Harris $2.0B
14 Computer Sci. $1.8B
15 ITT $1.8B
16 Fluor $1.7B
17 BAE Systems $1.4B
18 Dell $1.3B
19 ManTech Int'l $1.2B
20 United Tech. $1.1B

Toxic Air: Our Other

Import from China

RF Cafe Smorgasbord - Toxic Air: Our Other Import from ChinaYay for us. Our pollution production levels are way down compared to what they were in the middle of the last century. Seriously, things were getting really bad. Pittsburgh was considered such a hopeless mess that famed architect Frank Lloyd Wright, whose landmark Fallingwater home sat nearby, when asked what to do about Pittsburg's terrible pollution responded, "Abandon it." Lake Erie had been declared officially dead. Love Canal dominated headlines. Los Angeles air was (and still is, BTW) unbreathable. After huge public awareness campaigns. cleanup efforts, and stricter enforcement of pollution laws, the trend halted and has reversed. That is unquestionably good news.

The bad news is that as pollution control got better, companies found continuing manufacturing operations in the U.S. was unprofitable based on what people were willing to pay for their products. Steel, the literal <more>


The 10 Most Valuable


RF Cafe Trademark  (one of many)"The single largest source of intangible value in a company is its trademark," says David Haigh, founder of Brand Finance, a brand-valuation consultancy. Believe it or not, seemingly normal words can be trademarked, like "entrepreneur." Try using that one in your business name and you will be sued by the magazine that purports to champion entrepreneurs. Even common family names, if you are the first to do so, are trademark-able (think McDonald's and Sears). You will not be surprised to learn that Google is the most valuable trademark with an estimated value of $44B. Here is Forbes' (another trademarked family name) list for 2011.

Trademark Value
Google $44.3B
Microsoft $42.8B
Walmart $36.2B
IBM $36.2B
Vodafone $30.7B
Bank of America $30.6B
GE $30.5B
Apple $29.5B
Wells Fargo $28.9B
AT&T $28.9B
RF Cafe* Priceless
* OK, that's not on Forbes' list


Top 10 Thriving Industries

LinkedIn recently published a report on which industries thrived during the 2000-2010 decade. It compliments a list by IBIS World listing those that declined during the same period. VOIP tops the thriving list while wired telecom tops the dying list (although VOIP on cable is still wired). Eco consulting, insurance, and correctional facilities lead the growth list as well. Unfortunately, the need for additional prisons does not include having to lock up those responsible for the ruining of the economy. They still head the government.
  Growing Sector Growth
1 VOIP 194%
2 Internet Publish 25.2%
3 Wind Power 16.9%
4 E-Commerce 12.2%
5 Biotech 11%
6 Correctional Fac. 9.1%
7 Eco Consulting 7.7%
8 Insurance 6.9%
9 Video Games 6.2%
10 Solar Power 2.7%
  Dying Sector Decline
1 Wired Telecom 54.9%
3 Newspapers 35.9%
5 Media, Game Rent 35.7%

EE Life's 2011 Job

Satisfaction Survey

According to EE Life's latest poll, the divide between engineering and management is widening. Here are the major issues: Trust issues with management. Tend not to feel a part of a given company. Believe strongly that there are not sufficient career opportunities at their companies. Poll results:
  Trust Company Leadership
Agree 35%
Neutral 22%
Disagree 44%
    Trust Team Leadership
Agree 44%
Neutral 21%
Disagree 35%
  Management Honest w/Me
Agree 37%
Neutral 22%
Disagree 41%
  Mgt. Honest w/Each Other
Agree 31%
Neutral 30%
Disagree 38%
In all fairness, we really need to see the same survey taken from management's perspective of engineering. Sure, management has the advantage of control over engineers, but part of their responsibility is to balance company needs with personal needs. The battle is timeless. Engineering unions, anyone? Why should only hourly workers have them?


Patent Filings by Country 2010 - RF Cafe SmorgasbordYou might have noticed that I make a habit of posting headlines that report America's continuing decline as a technological and financial leader in the world. It is meant as a wake-up call to readers, not an expression of contentment. Our manufacturing and financial systems have been decimated, public schools teach the bad aspects of the country's past rather than focusing on the immense good we have done, and as of today America has no more manned space transportation system. Our government coddles the lazy while punishing producers. Its actions relentlessly discourage innovation from those who historically have delivered it, and focuses on making the perpetually useless feel good about themselves. The chart shown plots international patent filings by the U.S., China, Germany, Japan, and S. Korea. Guess who has the only curve trending downward? American universities (essentially gov't-run institutions due to controlling grants) are the only place we're leading in patent filings. Sucks to be us.


Δ Employment '01-'11

RF Cafe Smorgasbord - Here is a sobering - and enraging - chart of how employment in key sectors has changed in the last decade. The top chart is change in number of jobs; bottom chart is % change. Health care, educational services, and real estate are among the clear winners. The Biggest Loser? No surprise - Manufacturing. That's the pitifully lonely line heading in the wrong direction in the top chart. The manufacturing line covers everything from electronics to furniture to clothing to planes, trains, and automobiles. In one form or another, engineers and technicians have lost opportunity in every one of those industries. A look at thriving sectors - mostly services - reveals they are largely ones that have received government subsidization and policy support. You might conclude that our government has purposely damaged manufacturing since policies have hamstringed manufacturers by discouraging and/or penalizing cheap energy production, imposing crippling environmental restrictions, denying permits, and regulating small businesses to death.


Sleep Less, Do More

RF Cafe Smorgasbord - People Who Need Little SleepYou have seen the commercials for products like 5 Hour Energy, Reload, and Screaming Energy, that promise that essential pick-me-up needed to start the day, continue the day, or finish the day, or all three. Mere mortals like the majority of us might need such assistance occasionally (I personally only use strong coffee). There is a small percentage of the world's population that does just fine - and in fact often excels - on just a handful of hours of sleep each night, aka the Sleepless Elite. According to research, only about 5% of people who claim to be members of the short sleepers club actually are. The other 95% either get by with the help of drugs (caffeine is a drug) or are chronically sleep deprived - I lived like that for decades. Winston Churchill, Jay Leno, Madonna (yep), Nikola Tesla, Florence Nightingale, Michelangelo, and Thomas Edison are a few of the most well-known short sleepers. While nappers often are Supergeniusextremely productive overachievers, I would rather be a well-rested, rich, supergenius.


Android Logo Trademark - RF CafeAndroid smartphone sales surged 888.8% in 2010 according to a Gartner report referenced by Beta News. Manufacturers shipped 67.2M Android smartphones last year, up from 6.8M in 2009. That works out to an average 184k Android smartphones sold per day. By comparison, Apple sold 46.6M for the year an average 127k iOS smartphones per day. The numbers are amazing. Overall, there were 1.6B smartphones sold. That number does not even seem possible given that there were approximately 6.9B people on Earth in 2010, meaning nearly ¼ of the population, including the young, the old, the rich, the destitute, the healthy, the infirm, the civilized and the uncivilized, bought a new smartphone. There must be a huge amount of them in warehouses.

Vendor x106
Nokia 461
Samsung 281
LG Electronics 114
RIM 47.5
Apple 46.6
Sony Ericsson 41.8
Motorola 38.6
ZTE 28.8
HTC 24.7
Huawei 23.8
Everybody Else 489
Total 1,597

Arthur C. Clarke

Wireless World Oct. 1945

RF Cafe Smorgasbord - Wireless World October 1945Amongst other things, futurist / author Arthur C. Clarke was one of the first - if not the first - to propose a geostationary communications satellite system. The concept appeared in print in the October 1945 edition of Wireless World magazine. An original copy of that edition just happens to have come up for auction on eBay; I have had a saved search for it set for a long time. The starting bid is £100 ($160). The seller is locating in the UK since, after all, Wireless World was a British publication. I would love to procure that magazine and scan and publish the Arthur C. Clarke article along with a few others. The problem is that the final price will probably be beyond my budgetary allowance. So, since I am letting everyone know about it, I would be eternally grateful if some richer-than-me person would win the auction and then magnanimously either donate or lend it to RF Cafe. Thousands of website visitors would love you for it as well. Seriously, we would actually love you. How about it?


Component Engineering Website

RF Cafe Smorgasbord - Component Engineering website by Douglas AlexanderBack in my days of working in the defense electronics industry, when COTS (commercial-off-the-shelf) was the plural of what you slept on in a tent, every component - screws, resistors, ICs, gaskets, knobs, PCBs, etc. - that went into a system required an accompanying specification document. One time while at Westinghouse (Oceanic Division, Annapolis, MD), we needed a video recording system for capturing images from a towed sonar array. Standard modus operandi for the era was to design and build a system from piece parts, but the schedule did not for allow that. Systems engineers instead chose to integrate a commercially available Beta recorder in the rack. A nightmare of testing and documentation ensued for the Component Engineers as they worked to qualify the unit. We even ended up replacing the manufacturer's markings (logo, S/N, P/N, etc.) with Westinghouse markings. Fortunately, a lot has changed, but Component Engineering is still a big part of the design cycle for industrial, commercial, aerospace, and defense products. Thanks to 30-year veteran Douglas Alexander's new website, Component Engineering, heretofore hard to find documents instructing on how to fill out required forms, qualification procedures, derating components, generating part number, and much more, are now available... with many more are in the queue to be written. Do your friends in the CE department a favor and send them this link!


Copper Mountain Technologies (VNA) - RF Cafe

Werbel Microwave (power dividers, couplers)

ConductRF Phased Matched RF Cables - RF Cafe