Show of 10-02-2021

Tech Talk October 2, 2021

Email and Forum Questions

  • Email from Bob in Maryland: Dear Doc, and Andrew. In my continuing quest to attempt to support Doc in his efforts to put together this fantastic show, which are much appreciated, I thought I would direct his attention Morris Chang’s Last Speech. Chang is the founder and two-time CEO of TSMC, now 90-years-old and retired. All the best, your faithful listener, Bob in Maryland
  • Tech Talk Responds: I enjoyed listening to what Morris Chang has to say. He is founder of Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Corporation (TMSC), the worlds first semiconductor foundry. He is an interested person. I featured him first in 2008 and then again in 2018. However, given the current chip shortage, I thought it would be worthwhile featuring him again. Thanks for the link to his speech.
  • Email from Doug in Kilmarnock: Dear Tech Talk. I have been reading about the new Windows 11 and its requirement for a special security chip. I have a Windows laptop that I bought a few years ago. How can I check when I have this particular chip? Love the podcast. Doug in Kilmarnock, VA
  • Tech Talk Responds: Doug, you should be fine. Most PCs that have shipped in the last 5 years are capable of running Trusted Platform Module version 2.0 (TPM 2.0).
  • TPM 2.0 is required to run Windows 11, as an important building block for security-related features. TPM 2.0 is used in Windows 11 for a number of features, including Windows Hello for identity protection and BitLocker for data protection.
  • In some cases, PCs that are capable of running TPM 2.0 are not set up to do so. If you are considering upgrading to Windows 11, check to ensure TPM 2.0 is enabled on your device. Most retail PC motherboards used by people building their own PC, for example, ship with TPM turned off by default even though it is almost always available to be enabled.
  • To check if your PC is capable. Run Settings > Update & Security > Windows Security > Device Security. If you see an option for Security processor details under Security processor, select that and verify that your Specification version is 2.0. If it is less than 2.0, your device does not meet the Windows 11 requirements.
  • If you need to enable TPM, these settings are managed via the UEFI BIOS (PC firmware) and vary based on your device. You can access these settings by choosing: Settings > Update & Security > Recovery > Restart now. From the next screen, choose Troubleshoot > Advanced options > UEFI Firmware Settings > Restart to make the changes. These settings are sometimes contained in a sub-menu in the UEFI Firmware Settings. BTW, UEFI stands for Unified Extensible Firmware Interface.
  • Email from Tuc in Chantilly: Dear Doc and Andrew. I have decided to take your advice about replacing the hard drive in my computer with an SSD. I will be installing a 240GB SSD as the primary drive and leaving the 1TB hard drive installed in the computer as a secondary drive for extra storage. The problem is I’m pretty sure the SSD will be too small to hold all the programs I currently use. Will I be able to install some of them onto the hard drive even though the operating system (Windows 10) will be on the SSD? Tuc from Chantilly, VA
  • Tech Talk Responds: It should be no problem. While it’s true that many programs in times past insisted on being installed on the C: drive, you should be able to install virtually anything that’s new enough to run under Windows 10 on the secondary drive. Just be aware that you will have to actually reinstall any programs you’ll be moving to the hard drive from scratch since you won’t be able to simply copy the files over. To do that you’ll need to have either the installation discs or the downloaded installation files (whichever happen to apply) on hand after the new SSD has been installed. Good luck with new drive, Tuc
  • Email from Leslie in Oakton. Dear Tech Talk. I recently bought my first Windows computer after using nothing but Macs for years. I am left handed and I have found using the left and right mouse buttons to be very awkward. Someone told me that you can switch the functions of the mouse buttons in Windows so left-handed people can click the primary button with their index fingers. Can you tell me how to do that? Leslie in Oakton, VA
  • Tech Talk Responds: You can easily reverse the functions of the mouse buttons in Windows 10. Just follow the steps below:
    • Press the Windows+S key combination to open a search box.
    • Type the word mouse settings into the search box, then select Mouse settings from the list of search results.
    • Click Additional mouse options.
    • Check the box beside Switch primary and secondary buttons.
    • Click Apply and then click OK.
  • Email from Eric in Baltimore: Dear Doc and Andrew. Since I switched from Internet Explorer to Google Chrome I can’t read any RSS feeds. All I see is gibberish that looks like computer code. I really like Chrome, but I really need to be able to read RSS feeds, especially for the Tech Talk podcast. Is there any way to fix this? Thanks in advance. Eric in Baltimore
  • Tech Talk Responds: Google decided not to have Chrome support formatted viewing of RSS feeds by default, and there isn’t an entry in the settings menu for enabling RSS feeds. However, the Chrome team have provided an extension that will display your RSS feeds correctly. It is called RSS Subscription Extension (by Google).
  • Here’s how to install it:
  • I have been using Google’s “RSS Subscription Extension” for years and I’ve never had a problem with it. I believe it will solve your problem just fine.
  • Email from John in Richmond: Dear Doc and Andrew. I have been thinking of getting a new iPad mini. I have been reading something about jelly scolling on this devices. What is this? Should I wait to buy a new iPad? John in Richmond, VA
  • Tech Talk Responds: The term “jelly scrolling” is used to describe a display phenomena where one side of the display appears to lag slightly behind the other in motion. For example, while scrolling a web page the text on the left moves ever so slightly faster than the text on the right. This creates an uneven scrolling experience, hence the term jelly scrolling.
  • This is normal LCD behavior as a result of the way these types of displays refresh. Updates to what is displayed on the screen happen in a “wave” from one side of the screen to the other. Think of each refresh cycle as a fast scan of the screen, many of which are updating at 60Hz (or 60 times per second).
  • The way a display is implemented into a device can help mask the effect of jelly scrolling almost entirely. The display you are currently using to read this article probably exhibits jelly scrolling when used in a particular orientation.
  • The sixth-generation iPad mini, which exhibits jelly scrolling when used in its portrait orientation since the display controller is mounted along the panel’s horizontal axis. The iPad Pro 11-inch has its display controller mounted in the same position but because the ProMotion display refreshes at 120Hz, jelly scrolling is harder to spot. Don’t let jelly scrolling put you off buying an iPad.
  • Email from Azra in Fredericksburg: Dear Doc and Jim. I recently bought upgraded from an iPhone 7 to an iPhone 12 and love it. However, I do not like the notch at the top of the screen. Is there a way that I can hide this notch so it is not so annoying? Love the show. Azra in Fredericksburg.
  • Tech Talk Responds: You are not alone. Many users have grown to hate the notch. Fortunately there are two applications that create wallpaper with a black band at the top. This band is the same width as the notch and makes it seemingly disappear. The first is Notch Remover. It cost 99 cents and is quite easy to use. The second is Notcho. It is free. However, the wallpaper that it creates has a Notcho watermark. Wallpaper without a watermark costs $1.99. I have played around with both and prefer Notch Remover.

 

Profiles in IT: Morris Chang

  • Morris Chang is best known as founder and former chairman and CEO of Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Company, the world’s largest silicon foundry.
  • Chang was born July 10, 1931, in Ningbo, Zhejiang. When he was young, he wanted to become a novelist or journalist. His father did not agree with the decision.
  • Chang’s family was forced to flee advancing armies during three different wars – the Sino-Japanese War, World War II and the civil war that followed.
  • In 1948, as China was in the height of the Chinese Civil War, a year before People’s Republic of China established, Chang moved to Hong Kong.
  • The next year he moved to the United States to attend Harvard University.
  • He transferred to the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and received his BS and MS degrees in mechanical engineering in 1952 and 1953, respectively.
  • He wanted to enroll in the PhD program, but failed the qualifying exam so he sought a job in industry. In 1955, Sylvania Semiconductor hired him to as an engineer.
  • In 1958, he moved to Texas Instruments, which was then rapidly expanding. After three years at TI, he rose to manager of the engineering section of the company.
  • His first big accomplishment happened three months after he joined TI. He tweaked the process and increased yield from near zero to 25-30 percent.
  • In 1961, TI sponsored his PhD at Stanford. In 1964, he received a PhD in EE.
  • During his career at TI, he rose to Group VP of TI’s semiconductor business.
  • He went from germanium transistors to silicon transistors to integrated circuits. He engineered the transition from bipolar to MOS integrated circuits.
  • Morris pioneered the then controversial idea of pricing semiconductors ahead of the cost curve, sacrificing early profits to gain market share and achieve manufacturing yields that would result in greater long-term profits.
  • His final role was in consumer electronics. He failed to grow the business and was put out to pasture. He is proud of the Speak and Spell product, but left without job.
  • In 1983, with TI’s consumer business struggling and Chang sidelined as head of quality and people effectiveness, he knew his path at TI no longer led to the executive suite. He decided to leave.
  • He had no real plans. Eventually, he had two offers he seriously considered—one from a venture capital firm and one from General Instrument,
  • In 1984, he became president and COO of General Instrument Corp, . He hoped to become CEO in a few years. However, he decided the company was not right for him.
  • In 1985, the government of Republic of China recruited him to become chairman and president of the Industrial Technology Research Institute (ITRI).
  • As head of a government-sponsored non-profit, he was in charge of promoting industrial and technological development in Taiwan.
  • Chang founded Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Company Limited in 1987. It was backed (48% Taiwan government, 28% Phillips, balance 13 Taiwan companies).
  • This was pure-play foundry idea. He felt it was his only option. Taiwan did not have chip design or marketing. Be banked on the rise of the fabless industry.
  • He knew that fabrication was the entry barrier for many new companies. TSMC became one of the world’s most profitable chipmakers.
  • Chang left ITRI in 1994 and became chairman of Vanguard International Semiconductor Corporation from 1994 to 2003 while still serving as chairman of TSMC. In 2005, he handed TSMC’s CEO position to Rick Tsai.
  • In June 2009, Chang returned to the position of TSMC’s CEO once again.
  • On June 5, 2018, Chang announced his retirement from TSMC. He is still fondly known as father of Taiwan’s chip industry.
  • His net worth is estimated to be $2.7B, as of October 2021.

Observations from the Faculty Lounge

  • Necessity is the mother of invention, as the old saying goes.
  • Morris Chang wasn’t trying to reinvent the semiconductor industry when he started TSMC.
  • He did it because government officials in Taiwan wanted him to start a semiconductor business, and with Taiwan weak in both design and marketing, he didn’t see any other way.
  • Chang had no idea that he was launching a technological revolution.
  • Suddenly, entrepreneurs could create semiconductor businesses around chips without the huge expenditure of cash and effort it takes to open a semiconductor fabrication facility; all they had to do was design a chip and then market it.
  • Thus was born the “fabless” semiconductor industry. A surprising number of today’s hottest high-tech companies got their start in TSMC’s factories—telecommunications pioneers Broadcom and Qualcomm, graphics powerhouses Nvidia and ATI, mobile device innovator Marvell, programmable logic creator Altera.
  • His success made TSMC a central element of the global chip logistics chain. This one fact created the conditions that have led to the current chip shortage.
  • Global automakers from the U.S. and Europe have put pressure on TSMC to give priority to their orders, forcing the chipmaker to negotiate with other clients to free up manufacturing capacity for auto chips.
  • TSMC has pledged to spend $100 billion on increasing production over the next few years to meet surging demand for semiconductors. The Covid-19 pandemic hastened the trend by popularizing electronics for remote work.
  • The company is on track to increase output of microcontrollers used in cars by about 60% this year compared with last.
  • The question is: Is this level of interdependence between countries good or bad?


 

Beethoven’s Tenth Symphony Completed with AI Software

  • The project was conceived in celebration of the famous composer’s 250th birthday
  • Artificial intelligence has completed Beethoven’s Tenth Symphony. A world premiere of the music will take place on October 9, 2021.
  • In 1817, the Royal Philharmonic Society in London commissioned Ludwig Von Beethoven to compose his Ninth and Tenth symphonies. He completed the Ninth Symphony, which concludes the fourth movement with the all too familiar “Ode to Joy” (below).
  • Due to declining health and his subsequent death in 1827, he never completed his Tenth Symphony. All that remains of that work is some scrawled musical sketches.
  • The Karajan Institute partnered with a group of scientists from AI startup Playform led by Ahmed Elgammal.
  • The team spent two years training an AI model using Beethoven’s complete works, the Tenth Symphony sketches he left behind, and what is known about his methods of composing music.
  • Computational music expert Mark Gotham led efforts to transcribe the centuries-old sketches and process Beethoven’s entire work to train machine learning algorithms.
  • Harvard musicologist Robert Levin, who had previously completed several musical compositions from Mozart and Bach, also helped on the project.
  • The human side of the project required intensive study of the Tenth Symphony sketches to determine what Beethoven’s intentions were for the piece.
  • Using the composer’s completed works as a template, they puzzled out which of Beethoven’s incomplete musical phrases belonged in which of the four movements of the symphony.
  • The AI’s task was to figure out how to fill in the gaps. It needed to take very short musical phrases of just a few notes and expand them into longer, more elaborate structures. It did this by learning how Beethoven built his Fifth Symphony on a simple four-note motif.