Jio! #latestagecapitalism

Posted Leave a commentPosted in Mobile
‘Understand the chronology’
Reliance Jio gets a 5.7 investment from Facebook.
Reliance Jio builds a “clone” of Whatsapp.
In quotes because it even sends unsecured messages never mind end to end encryption.
This and that ridiculous zoom clone (Jio Meet) does a disservice to Indian innovation and technical abilities.
I did try out Jio Meet and if they wish to compete with the likes of Zoom or Microsoft Teams or Cisco Meet, they would withdraw both these products immediately and build actual unique features into it that make it suitable for use in India.

Altium Designer Experience

Posted Leave a commentPosted in PCB design
Our company switched to Altium Designer for our PCB design around 2015 We had used a mish mash of Eagle, Cadence Orcad and even some PADS. While all these tool kits have their own advantages for larger corporations having dedicated engineers doing every section of the PCB design process, they had significant drawbacks for quick low budget designs as I found during the evaluation process
    1. Dated interfaces: Why do “pro” engineering programs have to remind me of the 80’s? Everything is via secret shortcuts or command line scripts with little actual documentation.
    2. Schematic and Layout programs do not talk directly to each other : The programs for each step of the process are different. Often the same vendor sells 2-3 DIFFERENT competing programs instead of integrating their features into one.
    3. 3D tools for visualization and error checking: All board layout programs except Altium had no 3D visualization. The quickest way I would know I deviated from the mechanical design is if I actually did a 1:1 print and compared it to a 1:1 of the mechanical drawing. No export to STEP files. No import from STEP format.
    4. RF Impedance Matching : You’re totally on your own here. Make your calculations by hand and hope you accounted for every bend.
    5. Footprint Libraries: Out of date footprint availability leading to manual creation of practically every new package.
    6. Sync with distributor availability: With passive components this is a biiig issue. There are always equivalent parts and I would rather not know about this at the last minute.

The legacy providers like Cadence and Mentor seem to have their nose up in the air about this. They recommend this whole suite of tools that may be appropriate for larger companies that do not let their schematic designer even look at the layout of their board. But I prefer better control than that and more out of the tools I use.

Oneplus 5 and Android N packs quite a punch

Posted Leave a commentPosted in Uncategorized
It’s been a couple months of using my OnePlus 5 phone. For those of you that are unfamiliar with the brand, it’s a Chinese Company that is a subdivision of the company that makes Oppo phones among others.
I got mine with the code they handed out at the keynote speech.
They phone comes with a whopping 6GB Ram and the latest Snapdragon 835 SOC. It’s fast and responsive and quite an upgrade to my 3 year old HTC One M7.
I simply love the camera which visibly takes great pictures with both cameras. I have  actually taken great selfies with fireworks in the dark. Portrait mode and pro mode help you leave your heavy DSLR home.
They are getting a bit pricier but at 479 USD, they are a great bargains to the Samsung S8 and the iPhone although the S8 comes with a better display that is more suitable for VR applications.

Android N is a great upgrade as well but I see a few annoyances. The Hangouts app or in general the Google chat fiasco has moved me to whatsapp. I am still looking for a good car app. Android auto is still too slow for handsfree use on the road.
Waiting for Android O

Windows 10 Final Version Review

Posted Leave a commentPosted in Uncategorized

Now I am sure there have been countless reviews of this since the technical preview has been out for like a year.
However here is my take as someone who never used the technical previews.
I upgraded one computer from Windows 7 and the other from Windows 8.1
1. The upgrade was a breeze. It downloaded through windows update and let me schedule it. Then restarted a couple times over an hour and it was done.
2. I love that the charms toolbar is gone with the need to use it for switching off my PC. Grr #annoyance. The new actions center replaces it but you don’t need it to SWITCH OFF YOUR PC!

3. I like the new start button with the exception that I liked the search bar from windows 7 inside the start menu. I do not want that in the task bar where there is limited space. If you click on start you can’t search for a program anymore. You have to click on that or the cortana icon(magnifying glass) if you choose not to use a microsoft account) in order to search.

4. Like Windows 8.1 it is fast at bootup and responsive while running.

5. Microsoft Edge is definitely the no frills browser to check out. Watch out chrome! DO try out the write on the web feature.

6. Cortana: This pretty much brings the mobile to the PC notifications, reminders et all. It seems gimmicky for a PC or laptop but might be useful in tablet mode

7. Multiple Desktops: WHAT?? Did you not notice this?? Its Task view pane..say Add desktop. This feature has been in Linux for a decade atleast. I believe in OS X as well although I must say I like the idea of the rotating screen in 3d from OS X for this.

8. So far, the apps that worked with Windows 8.1 all work with Windows 10. I have had issues with Norton working. The support says just uninstall and reinstall it but I have not had that kind of luck. So just uninstalled it and went to windows defender temporarily.

9 Use the Microsoft Upgrade Assistant if you think there are critical applications that you need once you upgrade especially from Windows 7 and earlier.

The quest for the smallest

Posted Leave a commentPosted in Uncategorized
Quite unlike the email flooding my spam box, we engineers are on a quest to make the smallest molecule talk. Sure we’ve heard of Intel’s 6nm gate prototype transistor, but its not just the physical dimensions being broken using intricate material science, its the devices themselves.
What we see with the smart phones and the tablets is not new technology, but how the technology is packaged. Then there are scientific instruments themselves. What cost perhaps millions of dollars to buy and maintain today can be done with embedded controller based instruments.
The key to scaling down here with existing technology is to identify the application and design instruments to serve that application. In this process, it is possible to make products cost efficient for more applications and compact enough to include rugged environment protection. These previous lines have been written down in many a Embedded system textbook.
But the real news is that how even these instruments can push boundaries. Granted, we are unlikely to build a dark matter detector in a small box any time soon,(we sure will try) but thanks to IC designers and some tweaking, performance on several parameters including ultra low noise, stability and drift levels can also be obtained in space constrained and rugged environment conditions. We sure cannot “see” a single electron, but can find the next best thing: bunches of them. The market has today has opamps with noise down to a few femto amps, then there’s low cost 24 bit ADC chips. Of course there’s the materials where 200uf caps are available in 1206 ceramic packages.(I always have a twinge of regret for the Congolese when I recommend Tant caps not to mention the danger of placing them in reverse in prototype boards)
In short, its a good time to be an engineer to push the boundaries of what we know. I will defer to my physicist friends and colleagues to create new knowledge Universes.

So Surface turns into a tablet from a coffee table

Posted Leave a commentPosted in Uncategorized
I guess enough has been written about the Microsoft Surface tablet, but my real concern is what is happening to Windows, the OS that 90% of the world’s computers use. I am concerned that the metro interface if it is similar to what windows phones use will be unsuitable for mouse AND a touch screen. I found the windows mobile screens frankly too complex to handle. I have seen windows 7 computers with touch screen monitors at the microsoft store and clearly the traditional windows explorer interface is not touch friendly at all. Try drag and drop and you’ll find out how cumbersome it feels on large touch screens.
MS don’t mess this up. Windows 7 was just bringing back people. The system requirements stayed the same as Vista even after 2-3 years. Don’t throw them to the kerb again with expensive hardware upgrades.

Can someone turn on the cold please!

Posted Leave a commentPosted in Uncategorized
I know I know..its the most air conditioned city on the planet, but can someone call in the rain seeders please! And no Hurricanes are NOT counted! I know I’m supposed to be from a tropical place, but I’ve seen the flip side of the coin too. So go away humidity and the most awful smell that the whole metropolis reeks off. I’m boarding up my windows and blowing my money on a lil bit of the mountain air.
Its been quite the..what is From campus life to the dreary commuter and suburban life, every iota of mine refuses to accept reality knowing fully well my life hasn’t really changed all that much :p. I did the same ol’ things before and now. I guess there’s always the long weekends to live the old life.

A tryst with the oil city

Posted 2 CommentsPosted in Uncategorized
Its been nearly 4 months since I moved from Salt Lake City UT to Houston TX and its been quite the change. From a college town life to suburban living and a downtown job life, adjustment hasn’t come easy and I miss Salt Lake and all my friends. Houston is a quite different city from Salt Lake. From 0% to 90% humidity. From the soaring Wasatch front to the flat marshes and bayou. From traveling in efficient public transport to literally living in cars and large trucks! From grocery stores at walkable distances to stores many miles away. From a small city nestled in the mountains to the 4th largest city in the US.
There is obviously an upside to living in the 4th largest city. Choices for lunch at restaurants wouldn’t run out till the end of time(2012 is near enough! 😉 ) Access to family, climate closer to Indian temperatures etc etc. Yes, the blatant opulence of the ” most air-conditioned place on earth”(wikipedia) bugs me to no end, but I’ve decided to contribute to building more efficient products to reduce the burden this city places on the world.


Posted Leave a commentPosted in moving
I’m gonna be abrupt in this post and say I HATE MOVING! I never liked it before and I don’t like it now. Unfortunately, this time, like last time I have not been given even a compromise choice. And then you know the usual messups happen inspite of me having the most spartan footprint. Flight cancellations, shipping delays, setup delays etc etc. Hey, physics guys out there, get to work on that “Transporter” technology so that I can help you build it and I can use it to go anywhere I need to and get back to a fixed home by the evening.

Ok, is Cadence a tool?

Posted Leave a commentPosted in cad, chip, electronics, vlsi

Wow, that black background really was scary and so had to go! Lets stick to this parchment colour until I find something better. So lets set the ground rules all over again. This is a blog of a real person even if it sometimes strains belief. I am an electrical/electronics engineer who adores his ‘used to be little’ city of Hyderabad, India. But this ain’t no time to get homesick(wow, that sentence would so not be ok with my high school teachers)
I do what I do because of a goal of greater good. I don’t think of building technology as stretching of a rubber band, but actually tying another band to it to make it longer. (Yes, I live for clichés!) I use monotony in my life to create novelty for my satisfaction.
Its hard to get through the day without hearing about this thing that Cadence put out called EDA 360. Apparently they have built a new VLSI CAD design tool for chip design. But all I’ve gotten from their site is just that. They have a 32 page white paper that says absolutely nothing to me. Doesn’t compare with the tools I’ve already used nor helps me to find out what was the previous version like. Just a load of marketing. Just go to to find out how frustrated can electrical engineers get.