Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Traveling: Trains vs. Airplanes

Recent news about terrorist's attempt to bomb an airplane has revived our memories of 9/11 and tightened airline security measures around the world. In the last decade or so, traveling by air has evolved from an enjoyable experience into a hassle, and perhaps nearly torture in the last few days. It is now time for us to look for other options. High speed passenger railway is gaining momentum in Europe and East Asia. Some of them can travel over 300 km/hour, a nice alternative to air travel.

It is now time for the U.S. to consider improving or revamping the railway infrastructure. The current AmTrak system is no fun. A simple trip from Portland to San Jose takes 19 hours. This is even slower than driving, which takes around 12 hours. If we can really build an efficient, high speed, railway system, it can substantially improve our transportation system, save energy and be more friendly to our environment.

For more information:

Saturday, December 19, 2009

FMCAD 2009

Last month I attended Formal Methods in Computer-Aided Design (FMCAD) 2009.
The pictures from that conference is now available on the conference website:

See if you can figure out which photo has my image.

The conference proceedings is available on-line at IEEE Xplore.

Saturday, December 12, 2009

Friday, October 09, 2009

Nobel prizes and U.S. immigration

A recent article on the San Jose Mercury News takes an interesting look on the U.S. immigration debate from the perspective of recent Nobel prize winners.


4 out of 6 U.S. citizens who received Nobel prizes this year were born outside the United States. It is a vivid reminder on immigrants contributions to recent innovations that powers the U.S. economic growth.

Saturday, September 26, 2009

Electronic Design for the masses (on iPhone)

iWafer claims to be the first electronic design software on iPhone.
It is currently selling for $9.99 at the Apple iPhone App store.

Here is a demo video for iWafer:

Thursday, July 30, 2009

Startups: Only a few can survive

It is said that 99% of startups in silicon valley (or anywhere in hi-tech) are failures.

A recent survey of FPGA/PLD companies in the past few decades provides a graphical depiction.

Here is a history of FPGA/PLD startups from that article:


Saturday, July 18, 2009

Google Voice Widget

Google Voice, a technology acquired from GrandCentral, is now available to people in the US. You need an invitation to sign up, but if you remember the early days of GMail, such invitations are not so difficult to get.

One interesting feature is the Voice Widget, which allows you to put a link on your own website and let people call you from anywhere within the United States.

Friday, May 15, 2009

Phishing attacks through social networks

Do you use Facebook or other social networks? Do you have a number of friends on such network?

There are increasing reports of Phishing attacks on Facebook or other social networks.

This phenomenon does not sound well for social networks.

Wednesday, May 06, 2009

Creative Junk Mail? "Swine Flu Vaccine" spam

The swine flu, now also known as H1N1 type A virus, is capturing news headlines across the globe. As of this morning, 44 human deaths have been confirmed due to this virus. 42 of these deaths are in Mexico, the remaining 2 in the good neighbor, the United States.

The e-mail spammers and fraudsters have also jumped on this bandwagon, with junk mail entitled "swine flu vaccine" trying to catch peoples eyes.

The real swine flu vaccine is still under development. It will be available soon, but not now!!!

Sunday, May 03, 2009

Wolfram Alpha -- the Google Killer?

Wolfram Alpha claims to be an answer engine.

A search engine, like Google, returns a list of web links related to your search / query.
An answer engine, as prototyped by Wolfram Alpha, returns the "answers" to your query.
It is supposed to be better than Google.

Is it really going to live up to its hype? We will see.

Saturday, May 02, 2009

Electric car is about alternative (not green) energy

Electric (plug-in) cars will primarily draw their energy from the electric power grid, instead of gasoline. A recent article published at the IEEE Spectrum raises concerns that electric power grid may not be as "green" as we think.

However, we should remember that one big advantage of the electric car is about "alternative" energy. There are many ways that you can generate electricity: solar, wind, geothermal, nuclear, coal, etc. Some of them may or may not be eco-friendly. But at least people have a choice. If you like, you can replace old fashioned power generators with more environmentally friendly ones.

Going forward, green energy may not be the most important aspect of electric cars. A bigger factor that may determine their success (or failure) will be how economical they are compared to old-fashioned gasoline cars, and how much support can government (or the public sector) can help to accelerate their development.

Friday, March 20, 2009

IE 8 release has lots of problems

Have you tried the latest Internet Explorer 8.0 which was officially released yesterday?

If you have not, then please don't!!!

It's got lots of bugs. Many web pages that used to work on the IE 8 RC (release-candidate) version are not loadable by the IE 8 official release version.

Of course, such hiccups are expected. But under such market competitions, one would expect Microsoft to be smart and nimble with its execution. Again, I am disappointed.

Wednesday, March 11, 2009

Romantic Poetry Generator

Have you ever tried writing a romantic poem?
A 60-year-old computing machine specifically programmed to generate love poetry has been recreated in England: the Manchester Mark I.

Here is an example poem that it randomly generated:

M. U. C.

Saturday, March 07, 2009

Making Summer Longer -- A Bush Legacy

In the 2005, the United States Congress and then president George W. Bush enacted a law that makes the summer time (daylight savings time) longer. Instead of the first Sunday of April, the law stipulates that the second Sunday of March should be the start of DST, and pushed the end of the DST from the last Sunday of October to the first Sunday of November. So the official calender for summer time is extended by 4 to 5 weeks depending on the year.

Can you really make summer longer by changing the law? Many people still think the weather is quite cold right now, so perhaps the switch to daylight savings time this weekend seem premature. Like it or not, this is yet another Bush legacy that will have long lasting effects on America :-)

Sunday, March 01, 2009

Zeitgeist: conspiracy theory revisited

The movie Zietgeist has been largely ignored by the media. It seems to be one of those exaggerated movie on the liberal front.

The Globe and Mail criticize this movie as:

"[...] this stuff [...] it's all been thoroughly debunked for years. Evidently, debunking isn't the issue. [...] Nor can you cite the findings of the professional, journalistic, and academic consensus to someone who's decided that having credibility means being under the sway of shadowy forces. [...] for all the talk of skepticism, conspiracy counterculture is really an anti-intellectual, populist movement - much like Intelligent Design. For all their absurdity, conspiracy theorists try to drag everything back to the level of common sense. [...] Did the collapsing buildings on 9/11 look like they were being demolished? Then they must have been demolished. Did the 757 that hit the Pentagon's blast-proof walls fail to make a plane-shaped hole? Then it must have been something else. Are there unexplained quirks in the official story? Then it must be the work of a higher power. [...] Conspiracy theorists want to see [...] a malevolent design behind events. The notion that calamity might be the unintended consequence of subtler causes doesn't hold the same appeal. Evil, whatever its other uses, drives a great narrative. Complexity, not so much."

Anyway, if you still want to watch this FREE movie despite all the above warnings, take a look at the following:


Here is the original movie:

The addendum movie:

Sunday, January 11, 2009

On-line Crash Course on US economy

Worried about the economy? Where are we heading? What's in our future?

Chris Martenson presents an On-line Crash Course on the U.S. Economy on his website:


Take a look, and see if you agree or not.