Support Aaron Swartz

July 22nd, 2011

Support Aaron Swartz by signing the on-line petition. Yet another abuse of copyright law.

I don’t know anybody who is fond of JSTOR. It’s a shame that here in the future, bodies of work built on a substantial amount of public funding can have such high barriers of access. I feel that barrier especially now that I’m out of academia; it’s very hard for me to do literature searches without paying an arm and a leg. Fact of the matter is that academics tend to be law-abiding citizens, but who makes the law, and is it right? Without asking questions or raising challenges, they are herded like sheep to be shorn. Kudos to Swartz for putting himself out there and taking the charge against the status quo.

Name That Ware July 2011

July 16th, 2011

The Ware for July 2011 is shown below. Click on the image for a much larger version.

It’s the summer of retro wares!

Also, if you haven’t read it yet, Phil Torrone wrote up a nice article about why every maker should learn chinese. I think his article is a nice juxtaposition to these cold-war relics. It puts into perspective how much the world has changed since the days of McCarthyism…

Winner, Name that Ware June 2011

July 16th, 2011

The ware for June 2011 is shown in context below.

“To make your good products better…” with a post mark of June 25, 1963 and addressed to Major Gilbert. Cave Johnson would be proud. This sales kit was mailed just two years after the introduction of commercial integrated circuits.

Neither the box nor the packaging reveal what the part is; this is just a generic sales kit to educate engineers about this fabulous new “solid circuit semiconductor networks” technology (“SCSN” doesn’t roll off the tongue nearly as nicely as “IC”, although perhaps that’s what the SN stands for in the TI part numbering scheme for small logic devices). This makes judging a bit difficult.

My best guess is that this is a series 51 RCTL type chip. My initial thought was that it’s a dual 3-input NAND/NOR gate (SN514), due to the symmetry and the pattern of three similar devices on each side, but some of the readers pointed out that the crossed internal wirebonds could be indicative of a flip flop. The internal wirebond pattern is curious; certainly, it’s not unreasonable with just one layer of metal and diffusion for routing to call for internal wirebonds to assist with power distribution routing. It could be the case that it’s a 6-input NAND/NOR gate (SN513), where the construction is based upon the same diffusion pattern as the 3-input NAND/NOR gate, and the internal wirebonds are used to tie the necessary nodes together to put the transistors in parallel between the two half-circuits (which would be a way to make two part numbers from a single chip). This is a rare ware which, at the conclusion of the contest, we still do not have a definitive answer as to its function or part number.

Exercising my full right to be arbitrary in judging, I declare f4eru as the winner, because I found the links provided to be very helpful and interesting while researching the answer, particularly the compilation of retro circuits made by NASA. Congrats, email me for your prize!

Name that Ware June 2011

June 22nd, 2011

The Ware for June 2011 is below.

This one should be tougher than last month’s ware.

Winner, Name that Ware May 2011

June 22nd, 2011

The Ware for May 2011 is an Intel SSDSA2CW300G3 300 GByte solid state drive.

Here’s the complete scans of the front and back of the PCB, since I have ’em:

I recently upgraded my trusty T61p laptop to a T520, and decided that I’d also drop in a pair of SSDs. The T520 is a great machine, btw. I have one 300 GB Intel SSD in the main slot, and a 128 GB Samsung SSD in the Ultrabay. My old T61p had a single 256 GB Samsung SSD, which replaced a Crucial SSD that failed within hours of installation.

After the false start with the Crucial SSD, I was wary of the reliability of these devices. Now, I’m pleased to say that after a year and a half of heavy use the Samsung still works well, although the write times have gotten quite bad. Hence, the dual-SSD setup: mostly static files go on the Intel SSD, and the Samsung SSD gets the big temp/scratch files, with the intention that it will be replaced every year without having to re-image the laptop.

This past month’s ware was an easy one to guess, but I can’t make all of ’em tough; there’s just too many smart readers out there. I’ll just go with the first responder as the winner, Ty_a. Congrats! email me for your prize.