Category: tech

New product released.  ThunderBlade V4.  It’s a external Thunderbolt 3 4x SSD.  With using 4 SSDs in RAID0 configuration and Thunderbolt 3 it should be one of the fastest consumer external hard solutions in the world.  It’s fanless thus requiring the large heatsink.  Those SSDs get really really hot and we had to go through 3 different designs in order to the thermal performance where it needed to be.  We actually had start thermal simulation order to get the final design.  It’s pretty expensive mainly because of the cost of SSDs.  It really for people needing really really fast storage like video editors.


EDA Software

circuitThere are a lot of EDA (Electronics Design Automation) software packages out there. This post briefly talks about what I consider the high end professional ones.  There are ton of zero cost or low cost but these are typically for hobbyists or very small companies (KiCad, Eagle, DesignSpark, etc..) which will not be covered.

I have used Alitum Designer the most, by far, having only used OrCad and Tango (old and no longer around) a little.  I have used Pads and Allego viewers a little.


OrCad + Allegro

From Cadance, a lot of engineers like OrCad (schematic) but dislike Allegro (layout).  Allegro is good at routing but has a very bad footprint builder and it hard to learn.  They tend to be very popular with larger companies and engineers who have been doing design for a while.  OrCad’s CIS system is well established at larger companies.

DxDesigner + PADS

From Mentor Graphics, a lot of engineers like Pads but dislike DxDesigner.  Pads is for layout, tends to easy to use and learn.  DxDesigner is for schematic entry and most dislike it… in fact I have not meet anyone who likes it.

Altium Designer

From Altium, many engineers like Altium Designer.  It is a unified package and tends to be popular for it’s lower price and new features.  It’s unique in that it was designed from the ground up to be both a schematic entry and layout tool. Engineers who use it like but but people coming from Pads/OrCad/Allegro generally look down on it. It has a perception of being not as “professional” as the older software.  It’s electrical to mechanical CAD features tend to stand out and be very advanced when compared to others.  The pricing for Altium Designer is much simpler than the others.

See the Wikipedia entry for further details.  Getting really good at a software package takes years of use thus learning a new software package is not easy task.

Engineering and Tech Jobs

dice tech jobs copyVery interesting data on technology jobs in the states done by Dice.  It has an interactive map showing average salaries and growth in certain cities. Check it out here.



Recently switched from Wells Fargo to Ally Bank.  Got tired of ME paying for a bank to borrow my money out to other people.  Ally Bank actual pays me money in the form of interest.  Every thing went fairly well.

Only two things are bugging me.

  1. The process to deposit checks takes for ever if using snail mail.  They do have a electronic method involving a scanner and a web based wizard, but it has only worked once.  They really really need to get a smart phone app.  Other banks have had this for years.  Welcome to 21st century!
  2. When you use bill pay the money is not subtracted from the source immediately.  It takes a few days for the transfer to complete and then it subtracted from the source (usually your checking account).  The problem with this is that you have to pull out a calculator to see how much you have available in your checking account.  This is a horrible HORRIBLE design, it should be instant.  It’s the god damn 21st!  I should not need a calculator  and a computer to know my balance.  I called to confirm this was by design and below is the transcript.

Welcome to Ally’s Live Chat. Thanks for joining us! A Customer Care Associate will be with you in a moment. You are number 1 in the queue. Thank you for waiting.
You are now chatting with ‘Sarah’
Sarah: Thank you for chatting with me today. How can I help you?
heath: When I pay a bill using bill pay the amount is not debited immediately from the source (usually my checking account). So when I go to look at the amount in the account it is artificially high; I have to go to bill pay page and look at the total payments and get a calculator and use it to find out how much I actually have in my account.
heath: is this by design?
Sarah: Hello, Heath.
Sarah: Yes, it is. It is setup for the customer to organize their own bill payee’s.
heath: so.. to find out how much money I have in my checking account I have to use a calculator and subtract the amount in my checking and the amount that the website shows me on the bill pay page?
Sarah: Yes. It will show up in Ally but not until the funds clear. You would want to keep up with the transactions as you go along.
heath: so I need to use a check book to keep track of a computer based transaction?
heath: you see the irony here.. don’t you
Sarah: That is correct. Remember, even though you are using the computer, it does not update instantly.
heath: haha, that’s insane
Sarah: Is there anything else I can help you with today?
heath: well I don’t think you can change that system, but thanks for the info
Sarah: You are welcome.
heath: this is going on the internet

If they don’t fix both of the problems soon I will be looking for a new bank.

Internet links

Below are several very useful links that I use a regular basis.  The first set are what I call finance tools, very useful stuff.

Mint –

BillGuard –

Bill Shrink –

Simplee –


FactCheck – learn the facts, a lot of poltical stuff, NEVER trust what a political (or Fox news) ways, ALLWAYS check your facts

Cell Phone Plans – get the bottom line on cell phones and prices (including all the “fees” they don’t tell you about)

Charity Navigator – learn what charities are best for particular needs

Slickdeals – find good deals on sales, mostly tech stuff