HankWalker

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HankWalker

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  • 03.20.2017
  • Are robots a threat to engineers?
  • The question is whether productivity improvement rises faster than the number and complexity of engineering problems to be solved. If we were simply automating the design of chips that made with Rubylith masks, one person could pop out a digital chip design in hours. Instead vendors hear complaints that EDA tools have not kept pace with all of the engineering problems, especially verification. The job market for hardware engineers seems a little tighter, but that is due to consolidation, not automation. In computer science, the dream of automatic programming still eludes us, and improved productivity cannot handle increased demand.
  • 12.07.2016
  • The mythical software engineer
  • Many U.S. states offer a professional engineer license in software engineering. The exam is based on the SWEBOK - Software Engineering Body of Knowledge. The material covered in the exam is all the standard software engineering material that has been taught in school for the past several decades. A PE license in software engineering is not yet required, but just as with the evolution of PEs in civil engineering, I expect that a PE will eventually be required for software in safety-critical systems, such as self-driving cars.
  • 11.20.2016
  • Are we ready for fusion reactors in space?
  • The obvious question is whether self-sustaining magnetic confinement aneutronic fusion is possible. Some research says no. We do not have much research saying yes. That might only leave inertial confinement.
  • 10.11.2016
  • How one researcher cracked the iPhone 5c
  • Another issue is that police departments all over the US have encrypted phones and do not have the resources or expertise to decrypt them. The AWA is still in play if there is not a practical alternative.
  • 09.19.2016
  • Emoticons debut at Carnegie Mellon, September 19, 1982
  • Very soon after Scott's first email, CMU students, faculty and staff had produced a wide variation of emoticons, including complex ones such as Abraham Lincoln, and simple ones such as the winking emoticon. Pretty much every useful ASCII emoticon was identified in Fall 1982.
  • 08.21.2016
  • A unique energy improvement approach to solar-powered flight
  • For a 787-9 with 280 passengers cruising about 567 mph, getting about 100 mpg/passenger, that is power dissipation rate (energy content of the kerosene) of about 62.4 MW. Accounting for efficiency, it is roughly 20MW. If this is all supplied by solar panels at ~20% efficiency in the middle of the day (no night/dusk/dawn/cloudy flights), we need about 100,000 sq-m of panels. The wing area is 360.5 sq-m. The fuselage is about 300 sq-m top area. So maybe you can have 650 sq-m of panels, providing 0.65% of the power you need. Feel free to correct my analysis, but the power levels required for commercial flight are orders of magnitude higher than that provided by solar power. For the same reason we do not drive around in cars covered with solar panels.
  • 02.17.2016
  • How long do LEDs really last?
  • I think this comes down to component quality and derating. As with CTguy, I bought a first-generation Philips CFL for $20+ (maybe $40 in today's money). It ran all night on a pole light outside, through Pittsburgh winters. It was still going strong when I moved out of the house. I have many CFLs that are in downward glass enclosures. Cheap CFLs will die quickly in such high-heat environments. Good ones last. Probably the electrolytic caps. Then again, I have 3 Philips 60W clear incandescent lights in downward glass enclosures that have accumulated close to 10,000 hours. So maybe it is just Philips quality.