Thu, 12 Apr 2007


I'm also tired of hearing ATE pundits talk about "traditional instruments" in opposition to SI. The phrase is inappropriate. What tradition? Who's tradition? It brings to mind some kind of ceremonial process handed down from on high -- a memory stick with a read only text file that decrees "Let there always be VXI modules and ATLAS code".

The correct word to use in opposition to Synthetic is Natural. Talk about Natural Instruments as opposed to Synthetic. This phrasing makes sense as it focuses on the particular distinction being made. A synthetic is something that was synthesized out of generic components to be something specific. A natural is something a priori specific as a consequence of its essential nature.

The phrase "Natural Instrument" is a retronym. A retronym is a new name for something that had an old name made ambiguous because of advances in technology. Acoustic guitar, cloth diaper, and opaque aluminum are retronyms. Before there were synthetic instruments (and virtual instruments) we could just point at something and call it an 'instrument' with no qualification. Now we have to say 'Natural Instrument' when describing, say, a mercury bulb thermometer,' as opposed to a synthetic thermometer -- software for making temperature measurements by means of conditioning, digitizing, and processing the output of a sensor.

Posted Apr 12, 2007 at 19:47 UTC, 213 words,  [Permalink

Sat, 07 Apr 2007

The Proper Subset

Of late, various ATE industry pundits and marketeers have been yaaaakking about how the "software is the instrument" and pointing out how Virtual Instruments are a superset of Synthetic Instruments and how they knew this paradigm shift was coming all all along.

I do agree with them -- to a point.

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Posted Apr 07, 2007 at 16:00 UTC, 560 words,  [Permalink

Fri, 07 Apr 2006

The Fallacy of End User Software

Having disposed of the misconception that synthetic instruments are slow, let me knock down the mistaken idea that synthetic instruments lead to a "more significant software task for the end user or system integrator".

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Posted Apr 07, 2006 at 14:42 UTC, 613 words,  [Permalink

Wed, 22 Mar 2006

Synthetic Instruments are Not Slow

For some reason, people have been taking exception to the fact that synthetic instruments are the fastest possible instrument. I'm hearing objections to this point from several different directions.

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Posted Mar 22, 2006 at 00:35 UTC, 756 words,  [Permalink

Tue, 21 Mar 2006

A Synthetic Instrument Blaaaahg

I thought that I got all the pundit-baaabel and electric daydreams out of my system when I wrote Synthetic Instruments: Concepts and Applications. Apparently not. Somehow, I still feel the need to continue in this bombastic wool gathering enterprise. So be it. The world now has yet another blog.

My intent here is to post my ideas relative to the concept of Synthetic Instruments, as well as to comment on new developments in the field that I happen to see. It's hard for me to judge my own biases, but I hope my point of view is basically objective. I have no corporate god directing me to re-conceive their market legacy in a new way – as a golden fleece, for instance. Rather, I hope I'm a synthetic instrument and software-defined-widget idealist. If this view doesn't map well with the wolves in sheep's clothing that lurk in the ATE industry, my baaaad.

Posted Mar 21, 2006 at 21:38 UTC, 156 words,  [Permalink

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