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The Reluctant Road Warrior: The adventures of a Silicon Valley engineer in the U.S. and abroad Paperback – February 5, 2016
From the Inside Flap
You have a cell phone. You probably have a car and a computer. A credit card? You watch cable, satellite or streaming TV. You surf the web, listen to music, play video games and talk with, text or message people far away from where you live. One hundred years ago, virtually none of these things were possible. How did they come about? By magic?
The obvious answer is that someone built that stuff, but who? Even though most of that stuff comes out of Asia today, it was all invented in the U.S. and then migrated to Asia, where manufacturing (and life) is cheap.
Brilliant men and women with names like Shockley, Bardeen, Brattain, Noyce, Moore, Amdahl, Gates, Jobs, Vollum, Mees, Gifford, Lamarr, Healy and tens of thousands of others whose accomplishments might not have been great enough to get them a place in the history books, made the world better by their sweat, their perseverance and their work ethic.
All of these men and women helped build the world we have today, and if any one of them had not come through, it would have put us behind. Maybe a week, maybe a year, maybe an eternity. Shockley, Bardeen and Brattain invented the transistor. Without them, we might still be using vacuum tubes. The Hollywood actress Hedy Lamarr invented Spread Spectrum radio communications to create a jam-proof radio system to aid the war effort during WWII. Today Spread Spectrum is used in cell phones, Bluetooth, GPS, wireless internet, etcetera. Could we live without it? Not really. There are not enough frequencies in the radio spectrum for everyone to have his own personal radio channel. Lamarr's invention allows billions of people to talk at the same time using only a very narrow RF spectrum.
Nameless engineers did their part in bringing all this stuff to fruition. They got up in the morning, worked for 8, 10, 14, 18, sometimes 24 hours to write code, design hardware, collect data, fix stuff and do a thousand things that just needed to get done. When they couldn't take it anymore they would go home, try to unwind from these very draining activities, then get up the next morning and do it all again. I was one of those nameless engineers.
It was an exciting time. We didn't know we were building the future. We were just trying to pay the rent, keep the cars running, keep food in the stomachs of our spouse and children and save for the day when we could give it all up and rest before the slings and arrows of this hard life put us in the ground for good. Some never crossed that finish line. Many of the smartest and hardest working people I knew died before they could "slow down and live their life full measure."
I was a small part of this giant human machine. Now I ask you to follow me around the world and understand what thousands of us went through to make it all happen. We did it for ourselves, but like every other capitalist enterprise, you are the beneficiary.
About the Author
Dan P. Bullard has worked in electronics since 1976. He has traveled the world in an attempt to keep semiconductor devices flowing out of manufacturing facilities in the U.S., Asia and Europe. He has since given it all up to live on the Columbia River near Vancouver Washington where he enjoys doing as little as possible. Dan is an expert at electronics and Digital Signal Processing, and holds a patent in Smart Card/RFID testing. In 2015 Dan published a book on harmonic distortion entitled Distortion: The Cause Of Harmonics And The Lie Of THD. Dan has also been published in various electronic trade magazines as well as Houseboat Magazine. Dan has a YouTube channel that specializes in electronic topics and owns the domain danbullard.com where you can find many articles, tutorials, animations, and videos on electronic topics.
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Top customer reviews
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By Dan P. Bullard
San Bernardino, CA
A review by Jack Kettler
Having done a fair amount of business traveling, I thoroughly enjoyed this book.
First off, a little respecting Mr. Bullard's resume. Mr. Bullard has worked in the Automated Electronic Test business. He has written programs in C, C++, Pascal and other languages that test devices such as Op Amps, V/F convertors, MEMS accelerometers, PC Video chips (RAMDACs, Video Accelerators, etc), automotive chips and wireless devices like TV tuners. He has specialized in analog and mixed signal testing, memory tests, analog with laser trim and RF test as well as plain old digital test. Mr. Bullard is an award winning technical instructor for many years before doing programming. In addition, Mr. Bullard is a patented inventor.
Mr. Bullard's book while covering several technical issues remains easily readable to those not familiar with Silicon Valley technology. The book is informative on the global competition and network of high tech engineering companies. What makes this book uniquely special are the entertaining stories of travel, hotels, restaurants, good food, bad food, work colleagues, conflicts challenges and successes.
Mr. Bullard is semi-retired, enjoying life exploring the Columbia River in a houseboat. Mr. Bullard lives free, everyday. If you need a break from your normal reading schedule, do yourself a favor and enjoy this book.