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This month's (December 2018) giveaway is a piece of junk. Or rather, a battered and beaten "historical artifact." It's a Philco oscilloscope from 1946. The manual, including schematic, is here. I picked it up on eBay a few years ago, and while it's kind of cool, have no real use for the thing. It powers up and displays a distorted waveform, usually, but is pretty much good for nothing other than as a desk ornament. I wrote about this here. (The thing is so old I'd be afraid to leave it plugged in while unattended). Enter the contest here.

By Jack Ganssle

Google Trends

Published 10/10/2007

Pablo Bleyer Kocik recently emailed an interesting note about Google Trends (, a tool I was not familiar with. It displays graphs showing the number of searches made on various keywords. The results are pretty interesting. Consider "embedded":

google trends

Or "FPGA":

google trends1


google trends

Do Google searches somehow mirror the society we live in? Can we monitor the flow of memes by searching the searches? Does the decline in searches on embedded topics reflect a slackening of interest in the subject? Could that decline be related to a maturing of the market? If so, one would expect rising interest in hot topics like "quantum computing":

google trends 3

. which looks almost quantized itself.

The "iTunes" meme continues to spread:

google trends4

Results for critically important topics like "Lindsey Lohan" spike at times, probably heavily correlated with rehab sessions:

google trends5

Britney Spears' star appears in decline, except when she implodes:

google trends6

I'm not discouraged that the public is far more concerned about celebrities than firmware. And it's totally appropriate that the products we create, the iTunes, iPhones, and Crackberries garner more user mind-share than their enabling technologies. After all, engineering is about building products that people want, need and use, and is not an end in itself.

But I sure wonder why searches for embedded, FPGA and firmware have been in such steady decline. Any ideas?