Robert Snyder


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's contributions
    • Car manufacturers still make cars with 4, 6, and 8 cylinder engines. I once owned a 3-cylinder Subaru Justy and loved it. I have heard of cars with 5 cylinder engines. The point is that when you're behind the wheel, you don't usually have to think about the number of cylinders. If the engine delivers the right balance of power and fuel economy for the task at hand, then as a driver you are satisfied. If I am programming in C, then to a large extent I don't really care whether the processor is 8, 16, or 32 bits wide. Indy cars use 4-cylinder engines. An 8-bit processor could be made to run at 300MHz.

    • Imagine that a huge solar event caused widespread damage to our electronic infrastructure. What kinds of chips and systems would still be working the next day? I suspect that the average 8-bit device is somewhat more radiation-tolerant than the average 32-bit device. If you set out to design a system that would survive an EMP, wouldn't it make sense to minimize the number of gates and memory cells while also using a larger geometry? The marketing folks woudl have a field day: "93 percent of 8-bit PIC chips survived the great solar storm of 2015 that fried over 60% of all 32-bit chips in consumer devices" I'm just asking, without any real knowledge of the subject. Can anyone confirm or refute this?

    • "If you want to build a ship, don't drum up the men to gather wood, divide the work and give orders. Instead, teach them to yearn for the vast and endless sea." Antoine de Saint Exupéry

    • I recently asked my optician about this. He said that there is already a product on the market that provides two distance settings. It uses a liquid crystal inside the lens and you have to tap the frames to change the setting. So it is basically a bifocal lens, except that the entire lens changes between two settings instead of an over/under arrangement. When a person looks at a near-field object, their eyes converge. Theoretically, it should be possible to mount a couple of tiny cameras in the frames to look at how the wearer's eyes are aimed. From this info an MCU could deduce the correct focusing distance. I would gladly pay $1K for auto-accomodating glasses.

    • I still have the Heathkit VTVM that I built as a youngster and it still works!

    • There will always be many dedicated-purpose applications where energy consumption and/or manufacturing costs are primary concerns. The trick is to achieve greater abstraction without making the final system more costly to manufacture or to operate. I suspect that real-time operating systems and C/C++ will gradually become less desirable for building dedicated-purpose embedded systems as software modeling and code generation tools mature. The mechanical engineering world has embraced solid modeling. Many people who once programmed CNC machines by hand using G-code are now generating that code automatically from solid models. Tweaking the generated code is sometimes necessary, but only because the code generators are not yet mature. Modeling an embedded system is not easy. But if we can figure out how to capture logic, data flow, and timing requirements in a model, we should be able to generate a single executable containing all of the functionality used in a dedicated embedded system. In this scenario there would be no need for operating systems and C/C++ code. The logic would be translated directly from the model to assembly/binary code. Again, I am speaking only of dedicated-purpose embedded systems that run a single application.