Posts Tagged ‘Twitter’

DAC Theme #1 - “The Rise of the EDA Bloggers”

Sunday, August 2nd, 2009

Harry Gries at Conversation Central

(Photo courtesy J.L. Gray

Last year, at the Design Automation Conference, there were only a couple dozen individuals who would have merited the title of EDA blogger. Of those, perhaps a dozen or so wrote regularly and had any appreciable audience. In order to nurture this fledgling group, JL Gray (with the help of John Ford, Sean Murphy, and yours truly) scrounged a free room after-hours in the back corner of the Anaheim Convention Center in which to hold the first ever EDA Bloggers Birds-of-a-Feather session. At this event, attended by both bloggers and traditional journalists, as John Ford put it, us bloggers got our collective butts sniffed by the top dog journalists.

My, how things have changed in just one year.

This year at DAC, us EDA bloggers (numbering 233 according to Sean Murphy) and other new media practitioners took center stage:

  • Bloggers were literally on stage at the Denali party as part of an EDA’s Next Top Blogger competition.
  • Bloggers were literally center stage at the exhibits, in the centrally located Synopsys booth, engaging in lively conversation regarding new media.
  • Atrenta held a Blogfest.
  • There was a Pavillion Panel dedicated to tweeting and blogging.
  • And most conspicuously, there was the 14-foot Twitter Tower streaming DAC related tweets.

Meanwhile, the traditional journalists who were still covering DAC seemed to fall into 2 camps. There were those who embraced the bloggers as part of the media and those that didn’t. Those that did, like Brian Fuller, could be found in many of the sessions and venues I mentioned above. Those that did not, could be found somewhere down the hall between North and South halls of Moscone in their own back corner room. I know this because I was given access to the press room this year and I did indeed find that room to be very valuable … I was able to print out my boarding pass on their printer.

Here’s my recap of the new media events:

I had mixed feelings regarding the Denali Top Blogger competition as I know others did as well. JL, Karen, and I all felt it was kind of silly, parading like beauty queens to be judged. Especially since blogging is such a collaborative, rather than competitive, medium. So often we reference and riff off of each other’s blog posts. Still, I think it was good recognition and publicity for blogging in EDA and one could not argue with the legitimacy of the blogger representatives, all first-hand experts in the areas that they cover. Oh, by the way, congratulations to Karen Bartleson for winning the award.

Conversation Central, hosted by Synopsys, was my highlight of DAC.  It was a little hard to find (they should have had a sign), located in a little frosted glass room on the left front corner of the Synopsys booth. But if you could find your way there, it was well worth the search. I’m a little biased since I hosted conversations there Monday - Wednesday on “Job Search: How Social Media Can Help Job Seekers & Employers”. The sessions were a combination of specific advice and lively discussions and debates. I was fortunate to have a recruiter show up one day and a hiring manager another day to add their unique perspectives. I think that that was the real power of this very intimate kitchen table style format. Everybody felt like they were allowed to and even encouraged to participate and add their views into the discussions. This is very different from a very formal style presentation and even panel discussions.

Unfortunately, I was not able to clone myself in order to attend all the sessions there, many of which I heard about afterwards from others or in online writeups. I did attend the session by Ron Ploof entitled “Objectivity is Overrated: Corporate Bloggers Aren’t Journalists, & Why They Shouldn’t Even Try”. Interestingly enough, no journalists showed up to the session. Still, it was a lively discussion, the key point being that bloggers don’t just talk the talk, they walk the walk, and therefore bring to the table a deeper understanding and experience with EDA and design than a journalist, even one that was previously a designer.

I also attended Rick Jamison’s session on “Competitors in Cyberspace: Why Be Friends?” which attracted several Cadence folks (Joe Hupcey, Adam Sherer, Bob Dwyer) and some Mentor folks. Although competitors for their respective companies, there was a sense of fraternity and a lot of the discussion concerned what is “fair play” with regards to blog posting and commenting. The consensus was that advocacy was acceptable and even expected from the partisans, as long as it could be backed up by fact and kept within the bounds of decorum (i.e. no personal attacks). EDA corporate bloggers have been very fair in this regards in contrast to some rather vitriolic “discussions” in other industries.

The Atrenta Blogfest sounded very interesting and I was very disappointed that I could not attend because it conflicted with my Conversation Central discussion. Mike Demler has a brief summary on his blog as does Daniel Nenni on his blog.

Late Wednesday, Michael Sanie hosted a DAC Pavillion Panel entitled “Tweet, Blog or News: How Do I Stay Current?” Panelists Ron Wilson (Practical Chip Design in EDN), John Busco (John’s Semi-Blog) and Sean Murphy (his blog) shared insights into the ways they use social media to stay current with events in the industry, avoid information overload, and separate fact from fiction. Ron Wilson commented that social networks are taking the place of the socialization that engineers used to get by attending conferences and the shared experience reading the same traditional media news. John Busco, the recognized first EDA blogger, shared how he keeps his private life and his job at NVidia separate from his blogging life. And Sean Murphy gave perspective on how blogging has grown within EDA and will continue to grow to his projection of 500 EDA bloggers in 2011.

Last, but not least, there was the Twitter Tower, located next to the Synopsys booth. Previous conferences, such as DVCon attempted to use hashtags (#DVCon) to aggregate conference related tweets. The success was limited, attracting perhaps a few dozen tweets at most. This time, Karen Bartleson had a better idea. Appeal to people’s vanity. The Twitter Tower displayed a realtime snapshot of all tweets containing “#46DAC“, the hashtag designated for the 46th DAC. If one stood in front of the tower and tweeted with this hastag, the tweet would show up within seconds on the tower. How cool is that? Sure it was a little gimmicky, but it made everyone who passed by aware of this new standard. As I write this, there have been over 1500 tweets using the #46DAC hashtag.

If you want to read more, Sean Murphy has done the not-so-glamorous but oh-so-valuable legwork of compiling a pretty comprehensive roundup of the DAC coverage by bloggers and traditional press. (Thanks Sean!)

harry the ASIC guy

Mentor Is Listening

Thursday, June 11th, 2009

My morning routine is pretty, well, routine.

Get up.  Wake the kids.

Check email.  Ask the kids to stop jumping on the couch.

Check Twitter. Tell the kids again to stop jumping on the couch.

Check my Google Reader. Glare at the kids with that “I’ve asked you for the last time” look.

You get the idea.

This Wednesday morning, somewhere in between conversations with my kids, walking the dog, and getting ready for work, I came across the following comment on a friend’s blog:

Ron, we are listening.

http://www.mentor.com/blogs

Ron Fuller
Web Manager, Mentor Graphics

For background, Ron Ploof is the guy who got the crazy idea almost 3 years ago that Synopsys should be doing something in this new world called social media. (Actually, I don’t think the term “social media” had even been coined back then). He evangelized this belief to the VP of Marketing at Synopsys and created for himself a job as Synopsys’ “New Media Evangelist” (actual title on his business card). He launched Synopsys’ first foray into social media, including podcasts, videos, and most prominently, blogs.

Synopsys’ success motivated Cadence to follow suit (something confided to me by Cadence’s former community manager). And it seems, according to the comment on Ron’s blog, it also motivated Mentor’s move into social media.

__________

I wanted to find out more about the Mentor blogs and I was able to set up some time to talk over lunch with Sonia Harrison at Mentor (see her sing at the Denali DAC party) . Sonia had helped me set up my previous interview with Paul Hofstadler and had extended me an invitation to attend the Mentor User2User conference (which, unfortunately, I could not attend). As it turns out, Sonia was the absolutely right person to talk to.

Even though I had only now become aware of Mentor blogs, Mentor had evidently coordinated their launch with the launch of their new website several months ago. Sonia was quite humble, but it seems that she was the driving force behind the blogs and Mentor’s presence in other social media like Twitter. She had been watching what was going on for some time, hesitant to jump in without a good plan, and now was the time.

According to Sonia, Mentor’s motivation for doing the blogs was to extend into a new media their “thought leadership” in the industry, to draw customers in to their website, and to exchange information with customers. Interestingly, Mentor did not hire an outside social media consultant or community manager like Cadence had. Rather, the project was homegrown. Sonia recruited various technical experts and others as bloggers. She developed “common sense” social media guidelines to make sure bloggers were informed of and played by social media rules (e.g. no sensitive or proprietary information, be polite, respect copyrights, give attribution).

According to Sonia, “one of the more difficult things was to get people to commit to blogging regularly. Writing takes time, it’s almost a full time job.” Despite this additional work burden, Mentor has no plans to bring in professional journalists as bloggers like Richard Goering at Cadence. And it doesn’t seem they need to. Simon Favre received a blog of the week award from System Level Design a few weeks ago, so they are doing quite well on their own.

Sonia does not have any specific measurable goals (page views, subscribers, etc.), which I think is a mistake, especially when her upper management comes asking for evidence that these efforts are paying off. My friend Ron likes to tell me that social media is the most measurable media ever and it’s a shame not to use the data.

I started playing with the site later in the afternoon and noticed a few things. First, when I added a comment to one of the blogs without registering, it did not show up right away, nor did I get a message that the comment was being moderated. It did show up later in the day, but it would be nice to at least be told that it was “awaiting moderation”. Still better, why moderate or require registration at all? The likelihood of getting inappropriate comments from engineering professionals is very low, and they can always be removed if need be. Moderation of comments will also kill a hot topic in its tracks. I’ve personally had the experience of publishing a new blog post late at night and waking up to several comments, some addressing other comments. Had I moderated the blog, none of those comments would have even showed up until later in the day.

Second, there was no way to enter a URL or blog address when leaving a comment. It is pretty standard practice to have this feature to allow readers to “check out” the person leaving the comment. Hopefully thay can add this.

On the positive side, the most important feature of a blog is the content and the content looks very good, especially the PCB blogs. Also, there is apparently no internal review or censorship of blog posts, so bloggers have the freedom to write whatever they want, within the social media guidelines of course.

 __________

It’s been almost 3 years since Ron made his first pitch to his manager. Who would have thought that the Big 3 and many others would have adopted social media in such a short time. Meanwhile, my kids are still jumping on the couch.

GTG

harry the ASIC guy

5 Degrees Of Consultant Twiteration

Thursday, April 23rd, 2009

There is a consultant working with one of my clients with whom I’ve developed a good working relationship. Today he came by and asked me if I knew of someone to help on another project with a different client. The area of expertise, board design, was not one that I had a lot of contacts. So I decided to Twitter the opportunity:

13:20pm harrytheASICguy: Friend has short term need to design a board for cons elec startup in SoCal. Contact me if you r interested. Please retweet.

The post got retweeted 3 times (to my knowledge). At 7:55pm I got a reference to a board designer and hooked him up with my consultant buddy.

The request came from (1) the customer to (2) my buddy to (3) me to (4) another guy who recommended (5) the board designer. I don’t know the guy or if he’ll get the job or work out, but the speed with which a qualified candidate was identified was remarkable. Just slightly more than 4 1/2 hours. Of course, it would have been a lot less if I had more board design followers on Twitter, and that is the point.

Twitter, for all of its annoyances (and there are many), provides the fastest way to communicate to a large audience today. For identifying possible candidates to fill job opportunities, permanent or temporary, Twitter seems ideally suited.

So, if you are one of the unlucky ones to be looking for another job or another client, you need to get on Twitter. Here are 20 Tips to Twitter Job Search Success. Good luck.

harry the ASIC guy

What To Do With 1000 CPUs - The Answers

Wednesday, April 15th, 2009

I recall taking a course called The Counselor Salesperson when I was an AE at Synopsys. The course was very popular across the industry and was the basis for the book Win-Win Selling. It advocated a consultative approach to sales, one in which the salesperson tries to understand the customer’s problem first and provide a solution that he needs second. Sounds obvious, but how often do you encounter a salesperson who knows he has what you need and then tries to convince you that you have a problem?

One of the techniques in the process is called the “Magic Wand” wherein the salesperson asks the customer “What would it be like if …”. This open-ended type of question is designed to free the customer’s mind to imagine solutions that he’d otherwise not consider due to real or imagined constraints. That’s the type of question I asked last week when I asked: What would you do with 1000 CPU’s? And boy did it free your minds!

Before I go into the responses, you may be wondering what was my point in asking the question in the first place.  Well, not so surprisingly, I’m looking to understand better the possible applications of cloud computing to EDA and ASIC design. If a designer, design team, or company can affordably access a large number of CPUs for a short period of time, as needed, what would that mean? What would they be able to do with this magic wand that they would not even have thought of otherwise?

I received 8 separate responses, some of them dripping with humor, sarcasm, and even disdain. Good stuff! I’ve looked them over and noticed that they seem to fall into 4 groups, each of which highlights a different aspect or issue of this question.

“Rent Them Out”

Gabe Moretti had the best response along these lines, “(I’d) heat my house and pool while selling time to shivering engineers”. Jeremy Ralph of PDTi put some dollar value on the proposition, calculating that he could make $8.25M per month sub-licensing the licenses and CPUs. While Guarav Jalan pointed out that I’d need to also provide bandwidth to support this “pay-as-you-use” batch farm.

The opportunity is to aggregate users together to share hardware and software resources. If I buy a large quantity of hardware and software on a long-term basis at discounted rates, then I can rent it out on a shorter-term basis at higher rates and make money. The EDA company wins because they get a big sale at a low cost-of-sales. The customers win because they get access to tools on a pay-as-you-go basis at lower cost without a long-term commitment. And I win because I get to pocket the difference for taking the risk.

“Philanthropy”

One of the reasons that Karen Bartleson and I get along so well is that we’ve both been around the EDA industry for some time (we’ll leave it at that). As a result, we not only feel connected to the industry, but also some sense of responsibility to give back. Karen would train university student’s on designing SOCs. I’d train displaced workers on tools that can help them find a new job.

Even though this is not really a business model, I think it is still something that the EDA vendors should consider. Mentor is already very active in promoting it’s Displaced Worker Program. Autodesk and SolidWorks are giving away free licenses to the unemployed. This type of program should be universal. Using cloud computing resources is an easy way to make it happen without investing in lots of hardware.

(On a side note: PLEASE, PLEASE encourage anyone you know at Synopsys and Cadence to follow Mentor’s lead. Synopsys did this in 2001 and Cadence once had a “Retool-To-Work” program that was similar. I truly believe that both companies have that same sense of corporate responsibility as Mentor has, but for some reason they have not felt the urgency of the current situation. I am personally going to issue a daily challenge on Twitter to Synopsys and Cadence to follow suit until it happens. Please Retweet.)

“Do Nothing”

John Eaton pointed out that it is very difficult to use any additional capability offered as “pumpkinware” if you know it will evaporate within a month. It would take that long to set up a way to use it. And John McGehee stated that his client already has all the “beer, wine, and sangria” they can drink (New Yorkers - do you remember Beefsteak Charlie’s?), so he’d pass. John: Can you hook me up with your client :-) ?

Seriously,  it certainly requires some planning to to take advantage of this type of horsepower. You don’t just fire off more simulations or synthesis runs or place and route jobs without a plan. For design teams that might have access to this type of capability, it’s important to figure out ahead of time how you will use it and for how long you will need it. If you will be running more sims, which sims will they be? How will you randomize them? How will you target them to the most risky parts of the design?

Run Lots of Experiments”

Which brings us to Jeremy Ralph’s 2nd response. This one wins the prize as best response because it was well thought out and also addressed the intention of the magic wand question: what problem could you solve that you otherwise could not have solved? Jeremy would use the resources to explore many different candidate architectures for his IP (aka chiplet) and select the best one.

One of the key benefits of the cloud is that anyone can have affordable access to 1000 CPUs if they want it. If that is the case, what sorts of new approaches could be implemented by the EDA tools in addressing design challenges? Could we implement place and route on 1000 CPUs and have it finish in an hour on a 100M gate design? Could we partition formal verification problems into smaller problems and solve what was formerly the unsolvable? Could we run lots more simulations to find the one key bug that will kill our chip? The cloud opens up a whole new set of possibilities.

__________

I’ve learned a lot from your responses. Some were expected and some were not. That’s what’s fun about doing this type of research … finding the unexpected. I’ll definitely give it some thought.

harry the ASIC guy

Community Based Tweeting

Monday, March 9th, 2009

A few weeks ago, Seth Godin reminded us to be careful what you say online because Google never forgets.

Yesterday, Ron Ploof reminded us that we can “sift extraordinary insight out of ordinary” Twitter traffic if we know how to look.

So today, I thought I’d keep the ball rolling. I’d like to share with you an interesting Twitter thread concerning online communities for electronic design. It started last Friday and really heated up today. It’s amazing what you can find with a little effort :-)

(Note: I have reversed the usual “most-recent-first” ordering of Twitter Tweets to make this easier to read.)

JL GrayjlgrayFiddling around with the Cadence online lab on Xuropa… Still don’t get the community part of Xuropa but the VNC demo is cool.9:52 PM Mar 6th from TweetDeck

loucoveyloucovey@jlgray do you get the community part of DVCon? How about DAC? Same thing w/o hotel rooms and sore feet.10:27 PM Mar 7th from twitterrific

JL Grayjlgray@loucovey Not sure there are enough folks on Xuropa to have a robust community. Why not just use Twitter/Facebook/Verif Guild/OVM World…about 14 hours ago from TweetDeck

JL Grayjlgray@loucovey What’s on Xuropa to motivate me to build YASN (Yet Another Social Network)?about 14 hours ago from TweetDeck

Paul Marriottpmarriott@jlgray Too many communities cause fragmentation. I only have time for a few “quality” areas. I can’t be in all places at all timesabout 14 hours ago from TweetDeck

Dave_59dave_59@pmarriott @jlgray I like Plaxo and LinkedIn tie-in to social networks. I can see where people are posting from one site. Needs more tie-insabout 13 hours ago from web

david lindltweeting@jlgray @loucovey don’t know if it’s xuropa or YASN, but I for one would like to see an independent online chip-design community evolve.about 12 hours ago from TweetDeck

Paul Marriottpmarriott@dltweeting It’s hard to have any chip-design community that’s truly independent. Everyone has some kind of axe …about 11 hours ago from web

david lindltweeting@pmarriott maybe independent is too strong. how about “balanced”? something like DAC, EDAC, or GSA could potentially pull it off.about 10 hours ago from TweetDeck

Paul Marriottpmarriott@dltweeting “Balanced” like USA Today editorials? Yuck. I want opinion, not PC mediocre rubbish. At least opinion spurs debateabout 10 hours ago from TweetDeck

david lindltweeting@pmarriott haha. not interested in PC rubbish either. balanced in that we get all perspectives. don’t need one view dominating convo.about 10 hours ago from TweetDeck

Tommy Kellytommykelly@pmarriott “PC mediocre rubbish”? SO get a Mac d00d. PC. Mac. Geddit? … OK, maybe not.about 10 hours ago from TweetDeck

Paul Marriottpmarriott@tommykelly Hope Steve Jobs is paying you commission Mr Macintoshabout 10 hours ago from TweetDeck

Tommy Kellytommykelly@pmarriott The Lord Steve (May He Live Forever) doesn’t need to pay his willing minions. We work for love (and shiny objects).about 9 hours ago from TweetDeck

JL Grayjlgray@dltweeting One could say there is a chip-design community building here which is controlled by no one!about 9 hours ago from TweetDeck

JL Grayjlgray@pmarriott If past history holds, in a couple of weeks, @tommykelly will be pushing the benefits of PCs with input from Lord Gates :-).about 9 hours ago from TweetDeck

david lindltweeting@jlgray yes, but discovering voices/people -> too tedious. content disaggregated -> hard to follow convos. hashtags antiquated.about 8 hours ago from TweetDeck

Paul Marriottpmarriott@jlgray @tommykelly maybe a PC with Lord Torvalds is the best solution. No Micro$oft, no problem :) about 8 hours ago from TweetDeck

david lindltweetinganyone ever try friendfeed?about 8 hours ago from TweetDeck

Tommy Kellytommykelly@dltweeting http://friendfeed.com/tommy… . Not completely sure yet what the point is, other than an excuse for more social notworking.about 8 hours ago from TweetDeck

david lindltweeting@tommykelly me neither, but they have a friendfeed “room” … can aggregate tweets, blogs, pics, linkedin updates, etc.about 8 hours ago from TweetDeck

John Fordjohn_m_ford@tommykelly: re: “social notworking” LOL!!about 7 hours ago from BeTwittered

david lindltweeting@john_m_ford @tommykelly hah! completely missed that! not working indeed!about 7 hours ago from TweetDeck

Mentor Graphicsmentor_graphicsMentor Graphics Community FAQ http://tinyurl.com/atl8b3 #Mentorabout 4 hours ago from web

James ColgansfojamesSocial Networks Presage Professional Network Growth? http://bit.ly/8v8nVabout 3 hours ago from TweetDeck

JL Grayjlgray@dltweeting But on the bright side, you get to channel William Shatner when writing short tweets!about 3 hours ago from TweetDeck