Electronic Design

Bob's Mailbox

Dear Bob:
It did my heart good to read your column on logarithmic amplifiers (Electronic Design, June 14, p. 111). Long before I became computer-literate, my world was nonlinear analog functions. (Jolly good. That art is still valuable. /rap)

I suppose now that I mostly use a computer these days, I am still involved in nonlinear functions, although they do not require quite the flexibility of thought previously required. (May I recommend that THINKING is still a useful attribute to bring to the party? /rap)

My reason for composing this is to mention one of my treasures from the '60s, the Philbrick Applications Manual for Computing Amplifiers for Modeling, Measuring, Manipulating & Much Else. My current copy, second edition, has been with me since my first copy wore out sometime in mid-1967. Now and again I drag it out when someone claims a "breakthrough" and proceed to demonstrate that this breakthrough is over 30 years old. (Take good care of it. /rap)

The accompanying Philbrick application notes, The Lightning Empiricist, also added a word to my vocabulary—salient. Unfortunately, I do not have any of "The Lightning Empiricist" remaining. (We can fix this by the use of the photocopier—which is still an analog function, usually. /rap)

I am pleasantly surprised to re-read parts of the manual. Much of the surprise is a delight in the use of clear technical language. I miss that company and its standard of writing.
MIT Lincoln Laboratory
via e-mail

Read my books. They are not as SEVERE or DRY as George's writing. But I try to include some of his concepts—and enthusiasm (though bridled slightly). Please go to my web site, http://www.national.com/rap, and check on a few items: Trekking, Horrible, and Book. Also, http://www.transtronix.com is the site for my new book. If you have any kids or friends learning to drive, they need this book.—RAP

Your mailbox column in the May 31 issue regarding CPAs left out an important note. When shopping for a CPA, ask this question: "Are you IRS rated?" I interviewed several recommended CPAs and only one said yes. He said that he had been up against the IRS four times and won all four times. I signed with him and he has my retirement funds and income taxes "tweaked" well enough that I either have a refund or send in $50 to $200 for the dreaded April 15th. The price: some shopping and a yearly $200 fee. Salud! "Confusion to the enemy!" (to quote the movie Easy Rider).
via e-mail

Good man! Thanks.—RAP

Dear Bob:
The letters from Harry Gibbens Jr. (Electronic Design, May 31, p. 68) and Scott Baer (Electronic Design, April 19, p. 89) show just how much misinformation is out there. I just went through settling my mother-in-law's estate, so I also have been through it. First, the estate is liable for the inheritance tax, not the heirs. Second, the recipient receives the proceeds tax-free, so the comment about being put in a higher tax bracket is incorrect. Lastly, having an account "in trust for" is not the same thing as having it in a trust.
via e-mail

Hmmm...I gotta think about this. Thanks for writing.—RAP

All for now. / Comments invited!
RAP / Robert A. Pease / Engineer
[email protected]—or:

Mail Stop D2597A
National Semiconductor
P.O. Box 58090
Santa Clara, CA 95052-8090

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