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Bench Talk for Design Engineers

Bench Talk

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Bench Talk for Design Engineers | The Official Blog of Mouser Electronics


Arden Henderson spent at least part of his life toolsmithing in dark, steam-powered workshops of software tool forges long gone, drenched in blood, sweat, and code under the glare of cathode ray tubes, striving for the perfect line of self-modifying software and the holy grail of all things codecraft: The perfectly rendered pixel. These days, when not working on his 1964 Flux Blend time machine (which he inadvertently wrecked before it was built after a particularly deep recursive loop), Mr. Henderson works in part-time castle elf and groundskeeper jobs, chatting with singularities spawned from code gone mad in vast labyrinths of vacuum tubes, patch cords, and electro-mechanical relays. Mr. Henderson earned a B.S.C.S. late in life at Texas A&M. Over the hundreds of years gone by before then and after, he has worked in various realms ranging from petrochemical wonderlands spread across the flat Gulf Coast saltgrass plains, as far as the eye can see, to silicon bastions deep in the heart of Central Texas.

Portable Power: Especially Useful on Pluto Arden Henderson
Imagine this. You have just parked your private space ship on Pluto, intrigued by all the recent NASA photos of the not-a-planet small wannabe-could-be-planet, and you realize your cell phone is on its last legs. Power-wise, that is. Not because you skipped the last two upgrades. What to do? For sure, here on Pluto, a zillion miles away from the sun, rigging up some sort of solar screen recharger thing is out of the question. Not that you can't do that and not because it wouldn't work (eventually) but because you need power fast. There are Pluto selfies to take and tweets to be tweeted.

Smart Cars Will Increase the Life Expectancy of Texters Arden Henderson
So, no doubt you've heard of the oncoming wave of self-driving driverless smart cars. Major manufacturers are already incorporating self-driving features into regular cars while others are starting off with automobiles designed up from the ground to be driverless.

Home Automation Adventures Part III: Common Sense Things To Reduce The Home Automation Attack Surface Arden Henderson
In this blog, we'll cover simple common sense best practice things that Bob and Alice can do to improve defenses and reduce risk. By the way, these are common sense best practices for all aspects of personal computing, cell phones, web, and internet.

Home Automation Adventures Part II: The Home Automation Attack Surface: Miles Wide and Wafer Thin Arden Henderson
Bob and Alice Smarts are very excited about their new home automation system. It is the very latest in the latest Information Technology consumer space, incorporating all of the Smarts' smart devices, tying everything together. They can adjust their thermostat from far away. They can view the security system's cams to check on the pets. The baby monitor comes in handy to check on Baby Smart, the newest of the Smart kids. The refrigerator keeps track of inventory and sends reminders. Their smoke detectors and home security system now work together, ready to notify at a moment's notice. All via smart phone. And on and on.

Home Automation Adventures Part I: When (Internet) Things Go Bump in the Night Arden Henderson
For Bob and Alice Smarts (not their real names) and their kids, such a world was not only hard to imagine, it was long-forgotten by Bob and Alice, and never known a'tall by their kids. The pre-internet, pre-web world -- if such a world ever existed -- would be a vast empty space. Boring. A wasteland. Such a world was no more real than the black-and-white, scratchy WWII news reels that Uncle Fred, flying in from St. Louis, tuned-in within thirty minutes of arriving if no football games were on at the moment. There is a room with a smart TV for that.

Older Forms of Communication are Alive and Well Arden Henderson
Communication workhorses in the industry have been around since the always-underestimated, industrious Neanderthals first used serial and parallel communications to wire up their caves for monitoring fire wood inventories and controlling cave fire pits while the Ice Age raged outside.

Domotic Wars Arden Henderson
Houses are getting smarter. Intelligent houses are called "domotics," a name created in 1984 by journalist Bruno Latour. Lots of smart interconnected things are now rapidly appearing in houses, and interconnected on the internet, the so-called Internet of Things. IPv6 will finally become routine as IPv4 runs out of IP addresses. (What? Your ISP doesn't provide IPv6 yet? Check out Hurricane Electric's IPv6 tunnelbroker site; reference below.)

Internet of Stuff Arden Henderson
The big buzzphrase today is The Internet of Things (IoT). Things that connect to the internet. Connected stuff. Lots of stuff. And the products that connect to the internet are rolling out at ever increasing rates. Connected cars, connected homes, connected things in homes, connected houses, connected wearables, connected stores for shopping, connected restaurants for dining, connected roads and bridges, and on and on. Hotel robots. Smart stuff. What stuff will be connected? The better question is what will not be connected. Rocks, for example. Wait, someone will market a rock monitor, connected to the internet by forest wifi. When a rock rolls in a forest, does it make a sound?

Hubble, Hubble, Toil and Bubble Arden Henderson
Back to Hubble (the space telescope). Twenty-five years later, we celebrate its birthday. The Hubble has been in operation so long it was serviced by space shuttles, a bunch of quaint space hardware that no longer flies and is parked rusting in museums these days.

Tools Bridge The Chasm Between Hardware and Software Arden Henderson
Suppose some hardware folks somewhere invent a machine made of hardware that does something when it carries out a series of instructions. The instructions will be in a language the machine understands. Instructions for the machine are written in the "machine language" of the hardware, sometimes called "machine code." The machine language is the final low-level language in the journey from high level language to low-level language, resulting in correct instructions that do something useful; it is the language the machine understands.

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