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.
DAVID HARRISON
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

Sir:
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).
PAT KILLMER
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.
STEVE GOCH
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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