Our blog focuses on sharing our experience and knowledge across a wide range of technologies and industries including hardware and software design, audio, video, internet of things, mobile application and signal processing technologies.

Mike Perkins Irrational Optimism and Project Planning I read an article in the Wall Street Journal a couple of months ago that resonated strongly with me. Although the article deals with the problem of project planning for infrastructure projects, it’s really about irrational optimism. Why is it that infrastructure projects always cost more and take longer than expected? (As anyone reading this… View Article Details
Howdy Pierce Two Types of Technical In all the sturm und drang of bad economic news, Cardinal Peak is on a bit of a hiring spree. If you’re a talented engineer who is interested in embedded application development and lives in the Denver/Boulder area, please get in touch! We’re working on some very cool products that I hope to be able… View Article Details
Rolling CMOS Shutters and Curved Wiper Blades One time last winter I shot a photo with my camera phone out the windshield of my car and got a strange image with curved wiper blades: No, my wipers don’t look like this! I’ve been meaning to track down the reason why this happened. It is clear that cellphone cameras don’t usually use mechanical… View Article Details
Howdy Pierce I Want Smarter Competitors! We recently became aware of another contract engineering firm that had appropriated our Why Contract Engineering page for their own website. This other firm (and no, I’m not going to link to them) claims on their home page that they “operate in an honest, ethical and professional manner,” so I guess they’ve got that going… View Article Details
Howdy Pierce Did the Manhattan Transfer Use Auto-Tune? I recently came across an allegation on that got me thinking. The review in question is by Andrew Grobengieser, and it is critical of the Manhattan Transfer’s latest album, The Chick Corea Songbook. Grobengieser alleges: As a lifetime fan, I was unbelievably excited to hear of the release of a Chick Corea songbook. And… View Article Details
High School Prior Art Based on a Slashdot link, I read a blog post today about the Oracle/Google lawsuit over Java virtual machine patents. Among the list of software patents that Oracle has decided to sue Google with are two that I’m fairly certain that I wrote prior art for. This was in 1983 or 1984 while I was… View Article Details
Real-Time Ethernet A recent project for a customer was to implement a transport for a real-time signal processing application over Gigabit Ethernet (GbE). The project was especially interesting because our customer’s requirement was for extremely low latency: The transport needed to be able to send replies to incoming packets with a custom EtherType within 74.4 μsec. This… View Article Details
Mike Perkins If Only We Had Better Test Content… I just saw this news about research that says you notice compression artifacts less if you like the content of a particular video clip: Using four studies, Kortum, along with co-author Marc Sullivan of AT&T Labs, showed 100 study participants 180 movie clips encoded at nine different levels, from 550 kilobits per second up to… View Article Details
Creating Single-Frame Movies My camera (an Olympus SP-570UZ) allows me to optionally record a four-second audio clip with each photo I take. I haven’t used this feature much because I typically upload my photos to Flickr, and there’s been no good way to associate the audio with the video. Ideally, I would like an audio player to appear… View Article Details
Creating the Orton Effect in Gimp Recently I decided to learn how to write scripts in the Gimp image-editing program to automate certain tasks. The first task I wanted to automate was the Orton effect. This is an effect invented by Michael Orton in the 1990s, which consists of taking two copies of an image, one blurred, and one sharp, and… View Article Details
Mike Perkins The Basics of 3D Image Acquisition One of our clients is heavily involved in 3D video and has been for several years. However, several are just now starting to think about it because of the uptick of interest in the consumer electronics world. Enough questions have been posed to us recently that it seemed worthwhile to me to pull together a… View Article Details
Minimizing Development Costs on Low- to Mid-Volume Products My last post suggested ways to reduce parts costs in a low- to mid-volume product. This post explores ways to keep development costs low while still creating a cost-effective product. You can’t escape the fact that it takes money to create a low-cost product. It is estimated that the first version of the iPhone had… View Article Details
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