July 12, 2016
Insulation cut away to expose the +5V wire

Not All USB Cables Are Created Equal

Could you be wasting money on the next USB cable you buy? It’s possible. Maybe even probable. Recently I needed to monitor the current flow through a USB cable charging the battery in a USB device as part of a patent claim analysis. I used an oscilloscope with data-collection capabilities […]
April 30, 2014

Copyright Infringement of Software

Most people have a good understanding of what copyright protection means with regards to written words, such as a book or an article. Those same protections also apply to software source code. Suppose I write some software in C as follows: y = 0; for (i=1; i<=x; i++) y += […]
April 30, 2014

Patent Infringement of Software

Patents protect an invention. Unlike copyrights (see post on copyrights), one must apply for a patent by filing with the patent office. If the patent is granted, then the patent holder has exclusive rights to that invention. When an invention is submitted for a patent, it becomes public domain. Others […]
April 30, 2014

Trade Secret Misappropriation of Software

A trade secret is something that provides an advantage to the company that owns it. It could be formulas, software, even lists of names. A trade secret is not disclosed publicly (unlike a patent, see post on patents.) If a company wishes to mark something a trade secret, it must […]
April 15, 2014

3D vs. 2D Printing: Similarities in Technical Details

3D printing is the process of making an object out of some material, often plastic. 2D printing, or just simply, printing, is the process of putting an image on paper. They appear to be two different processes. Internally, however, the technical workings behind both types of printing have some strong […]
March 31, 2011

Football vs. Football

When I say “football,” what comes to your mind? If you live in the US, you are likely thinking of American football. If you live in Australia, you are likely thinking of Australian football. But for most of the world, the term football refers to association football which is also […]
February 28, 2011

Is Your Safety Net an Afterthought?

At a recent DesignCon, I attended the panel, “The Same Chip Killers Keep Delaying Your Schedules – What Are You Doing About It?” consisting of Ed Sperling (Moderator/System-Level Design), John Busco (NVIDIA), Ravi Damaraju (Juniper Networks), Ramon Macias (NetLogic Microsystems), Sunil Malkani (Broadcom), and Bernard Murphy (Atrenta Inc.) Two of […]
January 31, 2011

The Language Barrier

While living in Germany, I heard the following joke: Question: What do you call someone who speaks three languages? Answer: Trilingual. Q: What do you call someone who speaks two languages? A: Bilingual. Q: What do you call someone who speaks one languages? A: An American. If you were born […]
December 31, 2010

Don’t Change Bit Assignments

While working for HP’s LaserJet lab, a hardware engineer told me about a customizable IP that we had purchased to put in one of our LaserJet ASICs. Depending on the customization settings used when the IP was instantiated, some register bits became unneeded and therefore were not visible in the […]
November 5, 2010

Being a Green Programmer

Much of what I read about Green Design involves building the product with recycled or renewable materials and consumables, and making the product recyclable at the end of its life. Hardware engineers can contribute to the green effort by influencing how the product is made and what it is made […]