As I mentioned in my introductory blog post, about 6 months ago my house was, inexplicably, struck by lightning at 4 in the morning. Well, not directly struck as there was no physical damage to the structure, but close enough. We live in a large suburb, so we are not in the middle of nowhere. Our house is at the bottom of a hill, so we are not the highest location. There was no rhyme or reason that we could come up with as to why we were the "lucky" ones, and none of our neighbours experience any issues.
The house rocked with the impact, which woke everyone expect our 1 year old son, up. We heard an odd noise but could not find the source. Half an hour later we realized that our central vacuum, located in the garage, had turned on. We unplugged it but did not see any other signed of damage so tried to get some sleep. In the morning light things looked much different.
The first thing we noticed was the plastic plug covers to keep curious child fingers out of the sockets were black, right beside our son's bed. Some quick testing and a number of the plugs had burned out and were no longer working. Trying to check the internet for other things that could have been damaged we realized that the computer no longer powered up. Thankfully I had a laptop that was charging that still turned on. But no internet connection. Downstairs to the main hub and the router and cable modem displayed no lights. And then the laptop battery died and I realized that the power charger had been destroyed as well.
Wondering throughout the house we found dozens of different systems that were no more, from the garage door opener, Xbox 360, cable phone box, and more.
But why am I telling you all this? Because that was the beginning. Destroyed systems, and an insurance company that covered it, meant an excuse to go to BestBuy, and better yet, a chance to upgrade.
I will start with the first part of the digital home that I was able to finally get, and 802.11n wireless router. Yes, I am well aware that wireless routers have been around for quite a while, but despite detailed explanations about 128bit security algorithms, I had not been able to convince my wife. With the lightning strike I was able to catch her in a weak moment where she told me to get things up and running again and she didn't care how. Oh joy!
I picked up the LinkSys WRT-160 Ultra RangePlus Wireless N Home Router, along with a computer. It was a very simple matter to set up the wireless network using the included software, and still satisfied my wife's requirement that the main computer be connected to a hard line, as it includes four 10/100 Ethernet ports.
David Patterson, known for his pioneering research that led to RAID, clusters and more, is part of a team at UC Berkeley that recently made its RISC-V processor architecture an open source hardware offering. We talk with Patterson and one of his colleagues behind the effort about the opportunities they see, what new kinds of designs they hope to enable and what it means for today’s commercial processor giants such as Intel, ARM and Imagination Technologies.