Framing It: 12.30.2019

Brian Benchoff
Dec 30, 2019 · 3 min read

Boeing CEO is out, the next rover on Mars is moving, a business card runs Linux, Sonos kills sea turtles, and a look inside China’s silicon fabs.

PCB Business Card Runs Linux

Image Credit: George Hilliard

Business cards made out of printed circuit boards are nothing new. We’ve seen them blink LEDs, and a few of them have nice, pretty OLED displays. Running Linux, though, is something else entirely. That’s what George Hilliard did.

  • The business card is based on an Allwinner F1C100s System on Chip. This is a fantastically inexpensive chip (just $1.42) that does in fact run Linux.
  • When you plug the card into a computer, a terminal pops up with all the relevant contact information. There’s also a roguelike game and a 2048 clone. Oh, there’s also a Python interpreter.
  • The total cost of the business card is under three dollars.

Inside the world’s second-best semiconductor fab

Speaking of China and semiconductors…

  • China (the big one on the mainland) is pushing for semiconductor self-sufficiency.
  • China has spent Billions of dollars to make high-tech manufacturing a reality in the last few decades with heavy investments in industries that have traditionally been a western-only endeavor (think aerospace and turbine blades).
  • The last step up the value chain is building single-digit nanometer silicon, a capability currently held only by Intel, TSMC, and Samsung.

Sonos bricks hardware in the name of sustainability

  • As reported on Twitter, the Sonos ‘recycling program’ is the most environmentally unfriendly idea imaginable.
  • Sonos devices have a ‘recycle mode’ that users can enable when getting rid of the devices. This ‘recycle mode’ simply bricks the device, disallowing any attempts at reuse.
  • Instead of enabling someone else to use a perfectly good Sonos speaker, the ‘recycle mode’ turns it into garbage. This is the opposite of sustainability, and only serves to sell more Sonos speakers.

Boeing CEO is out

The Boeing Starliner, in New Mexico. Image Credit: Bill Ingalls/AP/Getty Images
  • Boeing had promised an airworthiness certificate for the 737 Max by the end of 2019. That obviously hasn’t happened.
  • The best minds in the business have placed the blame of the 737 Max crisis squarely on the shoulders of Boeing management.
  • To compound the issue, Boeing’s Starliner, their attempt to bring people to the International Space Station, failed on its test mission.
  • The Starliner failure was apparently the last straw for the Boeing board. Now the CEO is out.

We’re going to Mars in a few months

The Mars 2020 rover. Image Credit: JPL
  • The Mars 2020 rover is currently being assembled at the Jet Propulsion Lab in Pasadena, California. It’s expected to launch this summer, but this week marked a new milestone: the rover is moving under its own power.
  • The 2020 rover is very similar to the Curiosity rover currently exploring Mount Sharp. This rover, however, will explore Jezero, a river delta that was once deep, deep underwater.

Brian Benchoff

Written by


Discussing the business of hardware and hardware manufacturing.

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