On the one hand, I feel lucky to have been born where and when I was, which was in Sheffield, Yorkshire (God’s own county), England, in 1957. Due to my good fortune, I got to see the 1960s firsthand, albeit through the eyes of a young lad. …


Security gizmo provided by the NatWest Bank in the UK (Image source: Max Maxfield)

In Part 1 of this miniseries, I described the base level of my personal cybersecurity setup. In Part 2, we talked about virtual private networks (VPNs), including the fact that they still leave you exposed when you are connecting to the internet via a Wi-Fi network, even if you are in your office or at home. As part of this, we also considered the rather cunning technology from the folks at WifiWall.

In this column, I’d like to present a couple of interesting cybersecurity technologies that recently caught my eye, but first I’d like to give a shout-out to the…


Over the course of a short trip, my WifiWall Traveler detected 249 suspicious Wi-Fi networks (Image source: Max Maxfield)

In Part 1 of this miniseries, I mentioned that when I was young my mother always used to tell me that I was “special,” and that I foolishly took this to be a complement. However, by some strange quirk of fate, it turns out that she was right (how could I ever have doubted her?).

In that column, I also described my personal cybersecurity setup, leaving us on a “cliff-hanger” with regard to the use of virtual private networks (VPNs).

When you connect your computer to the internet from home, you do so via your internet service provider (ISP), which…


Working from home (Image source: Max Maxfield)

The coronavirus is turning all of our lives upside down. My family and friends in the UK have been on lock-down for a several weeks now. Here in Alabama, we just went into shelter-in-place mode a couple of days ago as I pen these words.

As a result, a lot of people who used to spend their days in an office environment are now working from home. The problem is that many of them are woefully ill-equipped with regard to managing cybersecurity in their homes.

We should also spare a thought for the poor corporate IT guys and gals. They’ve…


The Intel 8051 microcontroller unit (MCU) is an interesting beast from many different perspectives. Of course, the typical “person in the street” has never even heard of this component, even though — over the years — they’ve probably come into contact with multiple products and systems powered by this hard-working hero.

One thing I find fascinating about the 8051 is how this seminal component provides a demarcation line between younger developers (both hardware and software) who know next-to-nothing about this device, and older developers who “cut their teeth” on this bodacious beauty and who, on glimpsing the number “8051,” will…


I don’t know about you, but when I hear the name Rambus, I think of the company that was founded in 1990. I remember them leaping into the limelight with a fanfare of trumpets. Well, if the truth be told, it was with their 600 MHz interface technology, which addressed the memory bottleneck issues being faced by system designers of the time, but hearing their sumptuous specifications was the computer engineering equivalent of having one’s ears massaged by a magnificence of mellophones.

Rambus’s technology was based on a very high speed, chip-to-chip interface that was incorporated into dynamic random-access-memory (DRAM)…


Block diagram of the xcore.ai (Image source: XMOS.com)

Do you recall my column TinyML Packs a Punch from a couple of weeks ago? This introduced the concept of deploying artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning (ML) technologies on small, low-power processing engines like microcontrollers that are located at the extreme edge of the Internet — the point where the internet meets and greets the real world.

Well, since that column, it seems that rarely a day goes by without something related to TinyML passing before my eyes, such as the fact that Any Embedded Developer Can Create AI/ML Systems without actually having to know AI/MI. …


I have a theory that every engineer has his or her favorite fundamental design, component, or function. If we were to generalize by domain, then — in the case of analog engineers — I think most would opt for the op-amp (operational amplifier) as their component of choice.

When you implement a function like an amplifier using an individual transistor, the additional components you use to bias the transistor into its active region and to control the gain and feedback are typically shared, which means the various aspects of the circuit are intertwined. …


Design flow with NanoEdge AI Studio (Image source: Cartesiam.ai)

The Internet of Things (IoT) is getting more and more ubiquitous. These days, we are surrounded by IoT devices. The problem is that most of these devices are pretty “dumb” in the scheme of things. What we need to do is to give our devices some “smarts” in the form of artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning (ML) capabilities (see also What the FAQ are AI, ANNs, ML, DL, and DNNs?).

The Problem(s)

Let me give you an example. Suppose you are in charge of a factory that contains lots and lots of old machines, including motors, generators, pumps… you…


Image via Wikipedia Commons

I’ve been making “stuff” for as long as I can remember. Every now and then, something I make actually works, in which case it’s time to break out the party hats and perform a happy dance (not in public, of course, ever since… but let’s not go there).

I remember the 1970s and 1980s, when most of the people I knew were involved in building hobby projects in one form or another. Then came the 1990s, at which time it seemed that folks were giving up on making things. By the time we entered the 2000s, it appeared that the…

Clive "Max" Maxfield

Over the years, Max has designed everything from silicon chips to circuit boards and from brainwave amplifiers to Steampunk Prognostication Engines (don’t ask).

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