Monday, April 11, 2011

well we had to ask...

Didn't we!

Insatiably curious souls that we are, we just had to ask.

I was just checking my email and noted that I had nothing since last week
from NMRANET NMRANETWG on Yahoo, so I checked, it seems to have disappeared...
Something happened?

at 7:57pm EST today, and the reply:

The sites have been closed.


I have corrected my group naming error in the text above, what I crossed out is exactly what I sent to Didrik Voss.

So what do we make of this? Is Didrik basically saying that NMRAnet is dead in his mind? I mean if the working group nos no group to work in what are we supposed to do? Or is he telling us not so subtly that we can all go play in our own sandbox because he has taken control of the NMRAnet sandbox for himself? Or is he merely trying to remove the evidence? Just as well a few full mailboxes of those groups exist around the place then isn't it! At least we haven't lots years of work. Despite the fact that all of the files in those groups are gone now.

Vale NMRAnet

As of today, April 11, 2011 (and no this is not a late April fools piece) the two currently active NMRAnet discussion group on Yahoo Groups have disappeared! No notice to any of the members. Not even a word to the moderators. One of the moderators went to check why there was no email coming from the list, and guess what he found.

It's actually just a continuation of what has been a pretty torrid history for groups talking about NMRA. Back in mid-2005 David Harris established a group called MRR-LCB - to discuss layout control bus ideas! That group remained active, albeit sometimes sporadically, until mid-2010. Some discussion was entered into on the old NMRA DCC working group, but after the Detroit convention in 2007 a group known as NMRANET-WG-TECH was formed and operated from September 2007 until June 2010 - just before the NMRA convention in Milwaukee in July. Out of a discussion at Milwaukee with two gentlemen who agreed to try and moderate the discussion a new list, NMRANET was established about July 28th 2010 and continued in use until April 6th 2011.

NMRANET-WG-TECH was still alive on Yahoo today as was NMRANET but another group which had a transient life for a few weeks back in the first half of 2010, NMRANET-Applications, and NMRANETWG have now disappeared altogether.

Seems that our friend, one of the VossBros, has been trying to destroy the evidence out there! Or maybe he has decided that only the brothers can agree on what THEY actually want, and so they will handle it all themselves now? Who knows?

Not us! We are just the working group members, interested model railroaders and the interested manufacturers, we obviously don't matter.

NMRAnet falters

Despite a lot of press indicating that the NMRA board actually approved an NMRAnet physical layer, the NMRA legal people and senior officers say they did not! The erroneously placed information is expected to be removed from the NMRA web site very shortly. In the meantime it has been confirmed that the NMRA Board has in fact issued an invitation for the working group to present to them in Sacramento in July.

I understand that a lot of email and phone contact has been had between the working group and the NMRA to clear up a number of issues. That is now possibly in hand and we can proceed in a more orderly fashion, we hope.

Monday, April 4, 2011

Who would have thought

That today Texas Instruments would announce that it proposes to acquire National Semiconductor. All of which led me to describe some of the history to a colleague:

TI was one of the first semiconductor companies, and is hugely well established, they acquired Burr-Brown (specialist analog house) some years back and more recently Luminary Micro - the first ARM-Cortex M3 implementor. TI is possibly the largest Digital Signal Processing chip maker and is also the originator of the DLP digital projector technology. Their ARM Cortex-A8 and A9 chips are used in cell phones and console products. Back in the 60's the integrated circuit was invented basically simultaneously by TI and Fairchild.

National was spawned by Sperry with a group of Sperry staff creating National in Danbury CT. In 1965 they acquired Molectro, and gained as employees Dave Talbot and Bob Widlar who were ex-Fairchild and possibly the leading IC designers of the era. In 1967 Chrlie Sporck was hired away form Fairchild and once again the bedevilled raltionship between Widlar and Sprock turned to fire. Then in 1968 National moved to Santa Clara and was well known for poaching staff from Fairchild. with designers like Bob Widlar they soon took the analog market by storm, they were a massive power house in discrete transistors (not power), CMOS logic and specialty chips including a number of early micros. In the end they swallowed up Fairchild (1987) and eventually spat it out again in 1997.

TI ranks 4th in the industry with 4.3% market share and about $30bn in revenue. National now ranks down there, with $1.42bn of revenues last year. The big thing is the massive consolidation of commodity semiconductors houses. In recent years TI and National have slugged it out in the commodity chip market, now we will have to wait and see what synergies work out and which product lines disappear. Two of the great names now rolled into one maybe!