Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Thank goodness English is hard to master

I took a moment the other day to clean out my email spam folder and was amazed again at some of the crap that is out there and circulating. Frankly I pity the mums and dads, grandmas and grandpas who are still getting a handle on internet communications and are forced to wade through the mountains of spam content that spews from lowlife individuals trying to gain a dishonest buck.
No I don't want $US1,000,000 dollars deposited into my bank account from the estate of some poor soul who's only crime was to die in an African country that I've never heard of before and whose name I can't pronounce. I don't want to increase the size of my ... (and frankly I'm offended at the suggestion that I need any further augmentation), and I'm not in any way your acquaintance so don't address me as "Dear Friend".
But as good as my spam filter is, and as thankful as I am for it performing the job of raking through the rubbish that skates across the internet, I'm actually most thankful that English is a difficult language to master. It is that fact that provides us with the single biggest identifier of spam emails and allows us to differentiate them from their legitimate counterparts. Take this latest email as an example:

Dear Friend
I am Mr Ailudiko Razak working with Islamic Development Bank(ISDB)Ouagadougou Burkina Faso. I want to inquire from you if you can handle this transaction for mutual benefits/life opportunity for you and me.The transaction is about seeking your consent to present you as the next of kin/ beneficiary To our late customer over his fund US$25,Million dollars.
He died with his family during their vacation journey. I am waiting for your response for more details. The fund is going to be share at the ratio of 60/30.30% for you and 60% for i and my family which we are going to use for investment.and 10% for outstanding expenses.
Mr Ailudiko Razak

What self-respecting bank would ever communicate using such a poor command of the English language? Even if my spam filter had allowed this one to slip through the cracks, I'd have every opportunity to detect its stench simply from the malformed sentence structures and incorrect use of words.
So while the English language is the bastard child of centuries of conquerors arriving on the shores of the UK, it is now the greatest asset I have to protect me against cyber criminals.

Thursday, September 16, 2010

Altium Morfik acquisition

At last I can finally share with you some commentary about what has been rattling around the corridors here at Altium HQ for some time. We've just formally announced our intention to acquire Morfik and it's very exciting.

Picture this. You're an electronics designer and you've got a great idea for a new gadget. You've got all the skills necessary to design a PCB with some smarts in it and you can even program those smarts yourself. But then you come to adding some connectivity to the internet. You add an ethernet interface, update your smarts, and now you're ready to do the cloud stuff .... and you hit a brick wall. All that stuff about PHP and SQL and internet servers and SOAP and HTML and XML and Java and Ajax and ... It's a whole 'nother world!

So what do you do? As an electronics designer, you know about bits and bytes and if you were ever pushed on the point, you could probably even design the hardware for a web server. But when it comes to writing applications that exist in the cloud, where do you start?

Put simply, the Altium Morfik acquisition is all about giving you that starting point right out of the box. The philosophy is that pretty soon, every little device will need to be somehow connected to the cloud to maintain its relevance and appeal. And when it comes to designing those little neddies, you've got to start thinking about how and what you're going to connect it to. How will you pass data between your device and the cloud? Will it be via email posts, a simple Web server running inside the device, or will it be some other technique?

The cool thing about what Altium is up to is that pretty soon you won't need to worry about the implementation specifics of all that sort of stuff. Using Morfik's technology (which lets you write applications on a PC and deploy them into the cloud), and Altium's unified design strategy, you'll be able to co-develop new devices AND the cloud-based eco-systems that they plug into. So adding cloud connectivity and applications will be just as accessible to you as an electronics designer as it is to all those geeky CS dudes ;)

Hopefully it won't be long before I'll get to show you how this stuff works in practice with some real demos, but for the time being, I suggest you take a look at the videos on Morfik's website. We'll be adding more and more of this stuff under the Altium banner over time but take it from me, this is a state changer.

If you thought that Altium was a little out there as an EDA company, now we're off in the cloud!