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 What Would Joe Do?
Peggy Aycinena
Peggy Aycinena
Peggy Aycinena is a freelance journalist and Editor of EDA Confidential at She can be reached at peggy at aycinena dot com.

DAC: Look what the [cool] cats dragged in …

December 31st, 2013 by Peggy Aycinena

Kid you not, it’s only five months and a week until DAC comes around again. How can that be? Weren’t we just in Austin yesterday? Well, there you go. That darned sun keeps rising and setting, rising and setting, and now we’re slipping into the New Year and racing from there straight on to DAC. In San Francisco.

Wow, San Francisco? You mean that place where a single helping of French Toast served up at your customer breakfast will cost you $43, before tax and gratuity? That place where if you need just one small additional spot to light up your booth, it’s going to cost you a cool five grand to get it installed? You mean that place where hip young techies spend their nights and weekends, but spend their work weeks 40 miles south where they grind away pushing the envelope, so your mobile device can be cooler and cheaper and more beautiful? You mean San Francisco which, more than a place on the map, is a state of mind? One that has nothing to do with the state of mind that shows up for DAC.

Here’s an idea. Let’s change that. Let’s fix that state of mind. Why can’t DAC be so cool that those young techies will call in sick and stay in town on the days when DAC’s at Moscone next year? Why can’t design automation be so compelling that the generation that’s usually riding their big private commuter buses an hour south to work will show up instead at Moscone on June 1st, 2nd, 3rd, 4th, or 5th and beg to be let in, beg to be allowed to see what the future of hardware really is.

Oh yeah, I forgot. They’re not going to learn anything at DAC about the future of hardware; they’re going to learn about the past. About how we’ve always done things. About how you and you and you have been coming to DAC since gasoline was 53 cents a gallon and darn it all, this is your conference and you get to call the shots because that’s the way it’s always been.

Okay, have it your way. If you want to guarantee that the EDA industry simply retires out of existence, then do it the way it’s always been done. The thousands of young technologists riding their buses out of The City the same week DAC’s at Moscone won’t care. They don’t and won’t know what design automation is, that it’s a software industry, and that the hardware they’ve grown up with was built, in part, on the genius of the people who having been coming to DAC since those 53-cent days of yore, and before.

Those young techies won’t know and won’t care that the aging techno-hipsters wandering around Moscone five months and a week from now wrote the book on innovation way back when, developed creative solutions to esoteric problems, and fought each other tooth and nail til the vast majority were left lying on the road side bruised and battered and the few who prevailed marched forward, proud and full of their successes, and bought second homes in the Sierras and third homes somewhere along the boot of Italy. DAC became a reflection of the ascendency of the few over the many, and nobody seemed to know how to change it.

Hmm. A dark picture, but is it forever? Could DAC, and the industry it reflects, be done differently going forward? Can old dogs learn new tricks? What if every single aging, cool cat EDA hipster who plans to come to DAC in June also committed to inviting and hosting a young technologist to come to the conference as well? Oldsters helping Youngsters understand that DAC wants and needs to be, once again, a showcase for hot ideas and burning, restless intellects – emphasis on restless.

Really, if they could be there – those young, bus-born techies – wouldn’t they be astounded at the ideas, the challenges, the opportunities, the frontiers that await in design automation, the CAD-tool envelopes awaiting the necessary push to be moved out further in every direction? Call it end-of-year ramblings, I don’t really care. Nobody’s reading this anyway. After all, it’s the holidays and we’re all resting up for the New Year.

We’re resting up from last year’s labors, and for the hard work of getting ready for what’s going to unfold next year – specifically in five months and a week from now at Moscone Center. We’re resting up in preparation for DAC. Perhaps we should be revving up, but we’re resting up because that’s the way we’ve always done it.

It takes a lot of energy to maintain the status quo and darn it all, if we’ve got nothing else, we’ve certainly got that. Nobody likes surprises, particularly when the cats drag it in, and particularly at DAC.


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