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Archive for June 2011

Take a Video Tour of Apex Surplus Electronics

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Need surplus electronics?  Next time I travel to California I’m going to stop by to see this place for myself.
Definitely better than a hamfest, flea market, and better than e-bay.
Need a rocket?  They have that too.

This only thing I’ve seen that comes close to Apex is this guy’s  home –

Check out this episode of the EEVBlog  (Links to this vblog and others on the right side bar — > )

Check out the web site –

Written by frrl

June 30, 2011 at 3:03 am

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The Principal-Agency Problem

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The Agency Problem is all around us.  Can you recognize it?  What is the Principal-Agency Problem?

Here is a simple definition

A conflict arising when people (the agents) entrusted to look after the interests of others (the principals) use the authority or power for their own benefit instead.

It is a pervasive problem and exists in practically every organization whether a business, church, club, or government. Organizations try to solve it by instituting measures such as tough screening processes, incentives for good behavior and punishments for bad behavior, watchdog bodies, and so on but no organization can remedy it completely because the costs of doing so sooner or later outweigh the worth of the results. Also called principal-agent problem or principal-agency problem.

So, think of any context where owners (principals) are separated from managers.  The owners entrust the agents (managers, executives, politicians, etc) to act (be an agent) in the best interest of the principals.  It’s a perfect world.

What could possibly go wrong?

In Politics

From the news today… Rod Blagojevich is found guilty on 17 of 20 counts.  Rod will  be the fourth Illinois governor thrown in prison. Democrats Otto Kerner, Dan Walker and Republican George Ryan all found their way behind bars. Ryan is still serving time in federal prison.  Rod is about to join the club.

From the nywebtimes:

Reached by The Times, Roth added Blagojevich’s conviction is not enough for the harm he has caused to Illinois. “He has long been an embarrassment to our state,” said Roth. “We need more reforms to correct the problems he created, such as campaign financial caps, special elections and the ability to recall elected officials.”

U.S. Rep. Adam Kinzinger, R-Manteno, said in a media release, “Rod Blagojevich never seemed to understand the difference between serving the public and serving his personal self interests. The evidence presented and verdict confirms that he was found guilty of 17 of the 20 counts including wire fraud, attempted extortion and attempting to sell President Obama’s old Senate seat, but far worse, he abused and shattered public trust. The shame and national embarrassment Blagojevich cast onto our state has only created further financial bearing.”

So, what is the solution proposed above?  More reforms, more rules, more regulations.  Do you really think you can legislate ethics?  Such approaches treat the symptom and not the cause of poor ethical behavior.

The agency problem in the business world

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Written by frrl

June 28, 2011 at 4:05 am

Fire Bottles: The 1928 RCA Radiola 18 and the Tuned Radio Frequency Design

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 So, what are some of the historic events of 1928?

  • February 25 – Charles Jenkins Laboratories of Washington, D.C. becomes the first holder of a television license from the Federal Radio Commission.
  • March 21 – Charles Lindbergh is presented the Medal of Honor for his first trans– Atlantic flight. 
  • April 12–April 14 – The first ever east–west transatlantic aeroplane flight takes place from Dublin, Ireland, to Greenly Island, Canada, using German Junkers W33 Bremen.
  • June 17 – Aviator Amelia Earhart starts her attempt to become the first woman to successfully cross the Atlantic Ocean (she succeeds the next day). Wilmer Stultz was the pilot.
  • September 25 – Paul Galvin and his brother Joseph incorporate the Galvin Manufacturing Corporation (now known as Motorola).
  • September 11 – Kenmore’s WMAK station starts broadcasting in Buffalo, New York.
  • November 18 – Mickey Mouse appears in Steamboat Willie, the third Mickey Mouse cartoon released, but the first sound film.
  • December 21 – The U.S. Congress approves the construction of Boulder Dam, later renamed Hoover Dam.

Oh yes, and the RCA Corporation built and sold the RCA Radiola 18 Tuned Radio Frequency Receiver

Were you around in 1928?  Probably not.  But the antique radio I just acquired was there to hear it all.  You can just imagine a family, “watching the radio”, as they listened to the news of Charles Lindbergh, Amelia Earhart, Boulder Dam, and of course Mickey Mouse.  1928 was just a few years after the first radio broadcasts.  You an imagine that radio broadcasting was as exciting and full of possibilities as was the beginning of the public Internet in the mid 1990’s.

If you own one of these older radio’s you have at least three things.  First, you have a piece of history.  Second, you have an example of early radio receiver design that is not around any more.  And third, you have a usable radio that you can use everyday.  The AM broadcast spectrum has not changed much since 1928 so your vintage radio will still be able to receive the AM broadcast band as it exists today.

What people are willing to pay for these radio’s… well… depends on how much you value history.  There is a link below of a mint condition RCA Radiola 18 for sale for $450.  Lucky for me, I was able to get my fully restored and working RCA Radiola 18 and matching speaker for just $50.

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Written by frrl

June 23, 2011 at 2:00 am

Check it out – Electronics Engineering Video Blog

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Check out this blog –

David L. Jones is an electronics design engineer based in Sydney Australia.

In this blog he shares some of his 20 years experience in the electronics design industry in his unique non-scripted naturally overly enthusiastic and passionate style.

Dave started out in hobby electronics over 30 years ago and since then has worked in such diverse areas as design engineering, production engineering, test engineering, electro-mechanical engineering, that wacky ISO quality stuff, field service, concept design, underwater acoustics, ceramic sensors, military sonar systems, red tape, endless paperwork trails, environmental testing, embedded firmware and software application design, PCB design (he’s CID certified), power distribution systems, ultra low noise and low power design, high speed digital design, telemetry systems, and too much other stuff he usually doesn’t talk about.

He has been published in various magazines including: Electronic Today International, Electronics Australia, Silicon Chip, Elektor, Everyday Practical Electronics (EPE), Make, and ReNew.

Few people know Dave is also a world renowned expert and author on Internet Dating, a qualified fitness instructor, geocacher, canyoner, and environmentalist.



Written by frrl

June 19, 2011 at 7:48 pm

Mac Envy – OSx86: Creating a Hackintosh

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So you want the Mac experience without buying a Mac.  Is that possible?

In a way the answer is yes, but really the answer is no.

There are two components of the Mac experience.  First, there is the Mac operating system.  The Mac OS, is OS X based on a derivative of UNIX (UNIX with a friendly face).  The second component is the Mac hardware.  That’s the iMac, the MacBook (Laptop), or the Mac-Mini. It’s the hardware platform.

If you haven’t noticed, the Mac (Apple) hardware is very expensive.  Take the cost of a Windows-based machine, double or triple it, and that is the price of the Mac near-equivalent.  For example, for a MacBook Pro with 17in screen and i7 processor you are going to have to shell out about $2,300.  The least costly Mac desktop is a Mac Mini at $664 with 2GB RAM.  Up that to a comfortable 8GB and we are at about $750.  Oh yes, for the Mac Mini, BYOKMM (Bring Your Own Keyboard, Mouse, and Monitor)

Can I run the Mac OS on my existing WinTel laptop or desktop?

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Written by frrl

June 19, 2011 at 1:53 am

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To be something or to do something

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I caught this from Roger Ailes, President of Fox News Channel

There is a big difference between those who want to be something and those who want to do something.  About 95 percent of America is made up of people who want to be something, and they cause all the problems that have to be solved by the 5 percent who want to do something.

You can learn a lot from reading someones resume – perhaps even your own.

Does the resume read like a laundry list of positions held and nothing more?  Or, does it include a record of measurable accomplishments and results?  This may be the difference between those people who want to be something ( a job title, a role, a position) versus those who want to do something (results).

Jack Welch sees the whole picture

Good business leaders create a vision, articulate the vision, passionately own the vision, and relentlessly drive it to completion.

The “relentlessly drive it to completion” as execution is the differentiator between those who “want to be” and those who “do”.  Next time you update your resume, keep this in mind.  Corporations hire and reward measurable result – not a series of previous job titles.  Focus on results in your resume and you could become the 5 percent that land the great jobs and continue to be employed even in the toughest economic times.

Written by frrl

June 16, 2011 at 5:04 am

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The risk of competency

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If you are a marketing person, executive, business owner, or entrepreneur  and you are not reading Seth Godin’s blog then you are missing out on a lot.

What is Competency?

Everyone knows what “competency” is – until you take the time to put some precision around the meaning.  Seth wrote about competency a while back.  The impetus was some construction work that was being done on his home.  Seth hired a competent architect and a competent contractor but didn’t get what he wanted.  So why couldn’t these competent people produce the results that Seth expected?  Simple answer, they were too competent in their work.  (Read Seth’s story at the end of this posting)

From Seth’s perspective, here is the upshot on competency.

1. Competent people can be a liability.  If competency is defined in terms of standard processes, repeatability, reliability, and predictable outcomes then competent people can become your worst nightmare.  Why?  Competent people resist change.  Competent people resist change because changing things takes away from exactly what competent people are known for – producing predictable outcomes in reliable, standard, and repeatable ways.  If there is a high rate of change then there is uncertainty and risk.  If there is uncertainty and risk then producing, reliable, standard outcomes is in jeopardy.

2. The confusion of speed and velocity.  To understand what Seth is getting at here you need to remember some high school physics.  Velocity is multi-dimensional.  That is, it has a component of direction and speed.  Speed, in the sense that Seth is using it lacks this dimensionality and rate of change of direction.  That being said, competent people confuse velocity with speed in that they simply “go fast” without adapting to changing circumstances.  Another way to understand “changing circumstances” is the idea of  marketplace innovation by competitors and changing consumer demand.  To compete you need speed as well as direction.  Competent people don’t like changing direction; it upsets the standard way of doing things repeated over and over again that has led to success in the past.

3. Lack of brute force “will to change” by competent people.  Again, another theme on change and the inability of  folks to deal with change; they lack the will to take the risk to embrace change that would make them and their company more successful.  It is easier and safer to continue to do things the way that has worked in the past.  But not having the will to adapt at the required rate of change will lead to failure.  (Think of Block Buster and Netflix or Borders Books and Amazon.  Block Buster and Borders were incumbents in the industry; they did things they way they always did things even  into the age of disruption caused by the Internet.  Amazon and Netflix seized the opportunity and took away their customers by embracing a change to the traditional bookseller and video rental business model.)

You can read an excerpt from Seth’s thoughts on Competency at the end of this posting

Here are a few things to think about when you read it.

Read the rest of this entry »

Written by frrl

June 12, 2011 at 8:55 am

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