I've just made some changes to this website that I think have needed to be done for a while. It's just that I was too lazy before.

One of the things that I did was get rid of the stupid "Recent Posts" tab at the top. I also filled the top folder tabs with more meaningful topics to help navigate the site better. The "Most Popular Recent" tab arose because I noticed that the topics in the "Most Popular" tab never went away. Since they were there, they would just keep on getting clicked on and drive up their rankings. The Most Popular Recent will display the most popular posts within the past 30 days. That way, there's more of a churning of the topics. 

Other changes are that the front tab is a Zigbee News tab. There's more explanation for that down below. I also added a "Featured Articles" choice so that I can point people new to the site to articles that I think might be the most useful. My blog tends to build up a lot of clutter and I think it's hard to sift through it so I want to make it easy to find the posts that I think would be most helpful.   

Another important change I made was to the RSS. The main RSS feed (the one you're probably reading this on) stays the same, however I will start posting News to a separate Zigbee News feed . One of the things that irritated me before was that all of my News posts were cluttering up the front page and the RSS. I originally envisioned this blog to be more focused on instructional and development journal topics but the News posts ended up taking over. So now I will post the News topics to the Blog/News section and there will be a separate feed for it. That way, I can just post a shitload of News (actually I just did that) without cluttering up my main page. The News can be checked on the main page from the "Latest Zigbee News" tab if you're so inclined. It will display the titles of the latest eight posts in the News category.

Regarding the News, I don't want it to take up a lot of my time since I should be focused on writing the software. So I am now just posting links to Zigbee related news that passes by me without adding much commentary (except for the occasional witty, intellectual interjection, ie: dude, check this one out...). I don't feel like my commentary contributed much anyways. However I will probably be putting up more news posts since I heavily filtered the topics before due to the clutter and the lack of inspiration to write the commentary. This time, I'm more of a pass-through so the readers will have to filter the good Zigbee news from the trash. Get ready for the firehose!

That's about it. Hopefully, these changes make it easier to navigate the site and find things that may be helpful to you. 

I'm feeling good. It's been a while since I was able to say that. I've been hit with a cold lately that pretty much sapped all the energy out of me. During that time, I gave myself a brief respite from blogging and just focused on resting and writing software. The time off was good for me though because it gave me a chance to think about the site. I originally had three main goals for this site:

  1. Provide a journal of my efforts at writing a Zigbee protocol stack.
  2. Provide a place of instruction and information regarding Zigbee.
  3. Cover industry news.

It feels like recently, I've been covering a lot of news, but neglecting the first two goals which are the most important in regards to this site. I must say that the wireless sensor network industry has been pretty exciting lately. It feels like there's a new standard created almost every week. But I think I'm going to tone down the news coverage a bit and target it more towards news directly related to Zigbee. For general WSN industry news, you can't beat the WSN blog .

As for the other two, I'm going to start focusing on them more and try and generate posts similar to the Zigbee Chip Comparison Chart or tutorials on the inner workings of the spec. It's more in line with my original goals for how I wanted the site and hopefully, it will also free up more time for me to work on the software, which is the main goal. 

Anyways, if I cover the news too much, I start to feel like a marketing person. Ugh. 

One of my friends  commented that I always seemed to associate everything with dancing. It's true and it's probably because it had the biggest impact on my life. I draw a lot of parallels between the journey down my dance path and the road that I'm currently on with this software project. Maybe it'd be easier to understand if I explained a bit about my dance life.

When me and my friends started dancing, we originally focused on breakdancing because it was the flashiest of the dancing styles. It was the most impressive at the school dances and got the largest amount of attention. However as we progressed, we realized the limitations of our choice. Although it was high energy and acrobatic, it couldn't be used in a standard five minute performance. We would tire ourselves out too fast, it was hard to coordinate spinning on your head to music, it was hard to get other people to do it in sync with you, and people would just get bored if they saw it for a sustained period of time.

We later tried to increase our dance vocabulary by adding different styles.
If you follow open source or read slashdot, you may have heard that Hans Reiser, author of the ReiserFS file system, was convicted of first degree murder recently. In an article (that is in such bad taste that it's actually funny) , ZDNet author Jason Perlow, asks how Linux will find a replacement for ReiserFS, now that the author is an incarcerated murderer. I just think its hilarious that the first thing geeks will contemplate when a programmer is  found guilty for murder is how it will affect the software development status. Isn't that the project manager's job?
Man. Somebody actually put up an old performance of me and one of the guys from my crew . It was one of the last performances we did together. I was the guy in the bandana and he's the one with the dreadlocks. We got called to do the charity performance and brought in another group of female lockers we knew to perform with us. It was a rush job, where we got called at the last minute so only had about three rehearsals to get everything together including our own routine. My friend ended up getting a record contract in Taiwan later that year and eventually became part of the group called Machi. I was already working at the time, but did performances here and there. About a year after he left for Taiwan, I ended up quitting dancing altogether and moved to Japan.

April Fools Day is coming so I thought I would compile a list of pranks that the Zigbee Alliance can play on us.  

Top 10 April Fool Jokes that the Zigbee Alliance can play on us:

  • Hide yo momma jokes randomly in the spec and see if anyone finds them.
  • Zigbee 2006 will be obsoleted and only Zigbee Pro will be supported.
  • Announce a policy of annual Zigbee spec revisions with no backwards compatibility.
  • Microsoft will be joining the Zigbee specification committee.
  • Note: They authored the 8000 page OOXML spec, and are believed to be corrupting the vote currently going on to adopt it.
  • They announce a new layer with an additional multi-hundred page spec on top of the 500 page Zigbee spec and 300 page 802.15.4 spec.
  • They spent too much money at the last few open houses so the next one will be at the Motel 6 in Oakland.
  • motel 6
  • Announce an investigation into creating a new adult toy profile.
  • They make 802.15.4 beacon mode and guaranteed time slots a requirement for Zigbee compliance testing.
  • I become the official spokesperson for Zigbee.
Yes I realize there are only nine. My special number font only went up to nine.

Well, it was home to me for over two decades of my life, but I can't say I miss it much. My old hometown was in Irvine, CA in the US and I was suprised to see it make the news . Nothing too exciting usually goes on there...just your average suburbia life. Well, except for the one time they found out that the Florida Cocaine Queen lived there. However I did start noticing the last few times I went back that kids ten years younger than me were driving around BMWs and frantically talking on their fat phones (crackberries). And the guys I knew that used to sell drugs were now selling mortgages. But I guess I never put two and two together to see that it was so addicted to <gasp> subprime </gasp>. Well, at least when I go back to visit my parents, I won't feel like such a poor slob driving around my $9/day rental (Priceline).

Irvine Spectrum

Well, well, I feel much better now. The taxes are behind me, my wife's play program pamphlet that I had to work on is finished, and I took care of some other small errands that I needed to do. Other than that pesky job thing, I have a plethora of free time now, so I thought I would burn some of it by rambling on in my blog.

One of the interesting things about this blog is that it was originally just meant for me to archive my development progress on the software stack that I'm working on. From that, it somehow morphed into a news and information site. Probably my fault, since writing about Zigbee gossip is more interesting than writing about buffer handling. 

Well, that's beside the point, but I do thank the people that emailed me and expressed their appreciation, suggestions, and comments. One of the changes to the site is that there was a management shuffle and my dog is now the CEO . Any problems or disagreements with the content should be taken up with her. You can email either of us via the Contact button.

Some other things that I want to do in the future are:

  • Add more comparisons. The chip comparison seemed to be well liked and I'm now thinking of adding some other ones that at least would interest me. Some examples are: Zigbee module comparisons (since not everybody wants to design a Zigbee board from scratch), wireless sensor protocol comparisons (since not every protocol is a good fit for every application), and an enhanced version of the Zigbee SoC comparison which focuses on the MCU since dev tools and MCU peripherals didn't get quite the attention they deserved in the last one.
  • A layer-by-layer Zigbee tutorial. There are a lot of tutorials out there that are quite good but paint broad strokes and leave a lot of the technical details out. I want to put together a tutorial that's less directed at the general public, and more towards the techie types that are actually doing an implementation.
  • Flash-based interactive tutorials. I've been studying flash recently because it's kind of cool. No I'm not going to put a Flash movie on the opening page. I've simply realized the limits of trying to explain something like the AODV routing algorithm with words. Even pictures can't do it justice because you need to see it in an action sequence to fully grasp how the mesh routing protocol works. Flash is probably the easiest way to implement something like this. Anyways, can't hurt to learn something new. By the way, do you know how many web technologies and programs you need to learn just to put together a simple site like this one? It's mind boggling!
That's basically it for my upcoming plans. Can't say for sure when I'll be able to finish them, but at least there's a place for them inside my littered brain. It's actually quite a lot considering I can only spend about 1-2 hours a day on the blog if I'm lucky. Of course this is all dependent on keeping the wife off my back during the 'me' time. Until then, sayonara.

I have to say that the Zigbee Alliance marketing machine is doing a pretty good job. I stumbled across a little known service offered by Google (at least little known to me) called Google Trends . It's pretty interesting. It shows the amount of search volume for a particular keyword over time and it can be used to infer the popularity of a term. Here's an image of the Google Trend for Wikipedia spanning from about 2003 until now.

Wikipedia on Google Trends

It pretty much makes sense. There wasn't a lot of action going on until about 2005 when Wikipedia started really taking off. People started generating content, which in turn increased the traffic to the site, which in turn inspired other people to contribute to the content.

Well, my point isn't to show you the popularity of Wikipedia. I actually did a search for Zigbee and found something quite interesting. If you look closely, you can see that the number of searches is relatively constant over time, with a slight decrease over the past two years. That's not very impressive. However if you take a look underneath the trend, there's a figure that's interesting. It shows the number of news references for Zigbee over time is increasing. It was fairly flat from 2003 to 2006 with a couple of spikes, probably corresponding to significant press releases. By the way, the square with the 'A' in it marks the time when the first Zigbee spec was released.

Zigbee on Google Trends

If you look at the trend from 2007, you can see that the news references get much busier. This means that Zigbee is showing up a lot more in the news. This could mean that the Zigbee Alliance is issuing more press releases, but normally, this has the effect of numbing the publications to the releases so that fewer get picked up. In my un-expert and un-professional opinion, this probably means that more companies are either releasing Zigbee products or are announcing that they will be adopting the technology in one form or another. I guess it could also mean that more companies are getting frustrated with it, but let's hope that's not the case. Hmmm...Not bad, Zigbee Alliance!

The trend pretty much follows in the footsteps of Bluetooth which formed the Bluetooth SIG in 1998 and didn't really catch on until about 2005 or 2006. I think it's about that time when I started noticing people seemingly talking to themselves with only a big-ass earbud in their ear and no wires hanging out. I also checked for Bluetooth on Google Trends, but unfortunately, it looks like their data only goes back to 2003. The search volume at that time was also fairly constant already, but if you look at the news references, it starts getting busier around 2006. Here's the chart:

I normally try to update my blog everyday. However I'm getting killed by the pollen levels in Tokyo . It feels like I'm getting hit by a mutant form of the common cold. I'm just going to curl up with a beer and watch Entourage on the internet.

The Wireless Sensor Networks Blog just posted an interesting link to an article at Popular Science . Microsoft unveiled a prototype sensor module reference design at Microsoft TechFest that they are currently using to monitor the temperature from their server hardware. I can only assume that it came from Microsoft's Networked Embedded Computing division at the Microsoft Research Labs. Well, I have nothing against Microsoft, and in fact, I enjoy using Windows (XP, not Vista). However the article does claim that the sensor modules are cheap, so I thought I would give a best guess-timate of how much the reference hardware bill of materials cost.

Luckily, the article provides an excellent clue when they said that they are using a TI transceiver that costs about $3. Well, that sounds exactly like the good ol' TI (Chipcon) CC2420. Why not the CC2520 you ask? Well, the CC2520 was just released recently (see my review of that chip ) and I am assuming that for them to make the PCB, write the software, create a nice plastic enclosure, and already have it running in their server rooms, the project must be more than a few months old. Hence, I am going with my initial assumption that they are using the CC2420.