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Blogging for Dummies

Blogging for Dummies
by Paul McLellan on 03-05-2015 at 7:00 am

 I am often asked how I became a blogger (or a journalist if you want to make it sound more professional). I think people assume that I planned it in some way but I never did. Life is what happens while you are making other plans. To see how unlikely it is, you need to know a bit of my background.

I have a PhD in computer science so I’m actually a total geek, not at all the obvious qualification for being a writer (although all PhDs have at least managed to write one extensive document, their thesis). I started my career as a programmer and then moved into management.

In a roundabout way I ended up as CEO of Compass for just under the last year of its existence. My big claim to fame was that having had 5 quarters of sequentially declining revenue I managed to produce 3 quarters of sequentially increasing revenue, which was enough to put together a roadshow and we ended up selling Compass to Avant!

I then went and ran engineering at Ambit and, when it was acquired by Cadence, I moved into marketing. I discovered that I was an unusual mixture, very technical but good at writing, and creating and giving presentations.

After some stints in system companies, I was a marketing consultant. One of my gigs was working a couple of days a week for a power-reduction EDA company called Envis. One day the board fired the CEO and they asked me to run the company, so I got my second CEO gig. The technology turned out not to be much good and I told the investors they should wind it up, but that didn’t fit their plans so I helped them bring in a new CEO (and he flew it into the ground).

But it was the start of 2008, the downturn was in full swing. There was no consulting business to be had. Big companies terminate all the consultants before they start layoffs. Startups terminate all their consultants since they realize they will not get any more cash for a long time. For over 6 months I was literally on unemployment, collecting my $1800/month from the state.

In the meantime I talked to Ron Wilson (then) at EDN and agreed to blog unpaid for them. I started the EDAgraffiti blog and for the best part of a year I produced a blog every weekday on EDA or something related. It turned out that being able to write reasonably well and having a strong technical background is a good combination. Also, a fairly rare one: there are many good writers and many good technologists but not many who are competent at both. The best of those blogs got put together in the EDAgraffiti book, that Wally Rhines told me was “the best book on EDA” although I pointed out that since it was the only book on EDA that was a pretty low bar. It is still available.


Dan Nenni was starting SemiWiki at that point. He asked me if I wanted to join and I agreed. One of the perks turned out to be that I am truly “press” and so get free passes to pretty much any conference/symposium I want to attend, provided I write about it, which makes it fairly easy to keep up with the industry. I still put out a blog pretty much every day, just like I did in EDAgraffiti days (actually more since I usually do one on Sunday for the weekend newletter too).

Also Read: CDN is Live in Silicon Valley!

So that is how I became a blogger/journalist. I cover everything from embedded software at the high level all the way down to lithography and process, along with everything in between. FinFETs, SADP, TSV, EUV, DSA, SMP, FPGA, mobile, mP, 10nm, HLS, UVM, RET, SP&R, DRC, iOS, FD-SOI. Find an acronym and I’ve probably covered it!

Buy the books: EDAgraffitior Fabless. Or read the blog…wait, you already are!


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