March News

Crook Lawyers

 

 

Transparency, being upfront or just an unfortunate surname coincidence? This was a sign in Warwick spotted on one of our many McLaren Vale to Brisbane trips.

Counter Productive

On purchasing a new van and mentioning to the salesperson that the eventual home would be Queensland, we were told about having to pay stamp duty twice — once in South Australia and again in Queensland. It meant that we had to drive on a temporary licence, get a new address very quickly, change driver's licence, and a whole raft of other counter-productive schemes. It was almost as if the states are separate countries. Imagine having to change your driver's licence when moving interstate? What about if you return? Same exercise all over again. And the stamp duties are different in each state. The politicians certainly blow smoke out of their backsides when they say they are on the side of business. Certainly not the small businesses who don't send $3000 bottles of wine to state premiers.

However, the new van is very nice and will be fitted out for on-site work. We did a McLaren Vale to Brisbane return trip at the end of March. The van has a Queensland registration as a result, and the first load of furniture and equipment has a new home some 2000 plus kilometers away. The first staff member was also relocated, where she joins her favourite person, my wife.

Relocation of first staff member

Here she is — our ‘meet and greet’ lady, secretary, receptionist, security guard, OHS compliance officer, and a host of other job titles collected over four years (28 according to her). In the three photos below, on the left; all strapped up and ready to go. The van was picked up the day before, so this was a bit different to getting into the small car. Motion sickness tablets were taken two hours before, but still alert. She had to be helped into the seat, but that was a lot easier than getting her out again to go to the toilet on the trip. The height was a bit much for a cautious canine. In the middle photo; the motion sickness tablet has kicked in, and after seeing more kangaroo ‘dead life’ than wildlife, she decided that it was time for a nap. That evening, I was luckily enough to share a motel room with the secretary (with the wife's blessing as I was transporting one of her favourites). On a previous trip, the Acacia Motel in West Wyalong said I was welcome to bring the secretary on the next trip. She has her own bed and blankets, so still familiar territory. The next day was another 1000 plus kilometers and finally in her new office. She never did share her thoughts about the trip, but has no hesitation trying to get into the van (on a later trip).

Relocate secretary -- dog on road trip to Brisbane

Tales from the Woods

NXP and Freescale merger

We saw the announcement on NXP's website and from a regular NXP news letter. NXP and Freescale Announce $40 Billion Merger, dated 2nd Mar, 2015.

At the time, nothing appeared on Freescale's website, but later we received a Freescale email about the merger. The new company will be called NXP. Both were placed into huge debt by raiders who hived them off from parents — Motorola for Freescale, and Philips for NXP. They were almost $7 billion each in debt (as far as I can recall), but those fabs must be fairly dated by now, and guess that there is a bit of outsourcing to foundries. Reading the Wikipedia pages for both companies and their buyouts, it seems that NXP acquired Freescale. It will be interesting to see how the announced 64-bit ARM devices develop after the merger. For us, the K64 device had numerous faults, and resetting for debugging has been a problem for Freescale for many years, so we started to look elsewhere for the next microcontroller for future development work and eventual contracting. NXP had a code protection scheme that we could not figure out with other toolchains after we modified the trivial examples supplied with the LPC11C24 boards, so that was the end of the low-cost CAN evaluation.

For our small volumes, it pays to invest in more capable devices. An attraction for NXP was the CodeRed toolchain, which they provided for free — important to customers who only want to make minor modifications to our work without having to invest in the same toolchains. It will take a while to see how it all trickles down in the next year, particularly the PowerPC. CodeRed never made it possible for the Rowley CrossWorks toolchain to interface with the CodeRed debugger.

Cypress and Spansion merger completed

We received an email about the merger from Spansion. These companies have such exciting products, but we never managed to get any development work for the PSoC devices or the Fujitsu microcontrollers (with Spansion merger). On a search for the merger, the $5 billion deal also results in 1,600 layoffs. What happens to these people? Do they become competitors or create new startups, or do they simple whither away? That is a lot of talent to let go, and it must have taken a while to accumulate them.


Linux in the air?

At the end of February, I drove a car to Brisbane from Adelaide for my wife, as she only had a weekend between relocation. She does not like long road trips. Anyway, a few days later after getting a rental it was back to McLaren Vale. Shortly after takeoff, the screen showed a Linux boot screen. This was on an old Quantas 737, so it has been flying for a while. A bit dated compared to newer mobile devices and tablets, it managed a menu driven entertainment system.

Linux in the air

View out of Brisbane

Brisbane River out to sea

View out of the window shortly after takeoff from Brisbane Airport

Linux in the air

Another shot of the Brisbane coast near the airport.


Adelaide Hills

Adelaide Hills

The Adelaide Hills shortly before landing in Adelaide.

Adelaide Airport

Adelaide airport towards parking

View of Adelaide Airport terminal from the parking and pickup point.

Linux in the air

Adelaide Airport new parking facilities.