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  • EEVblog #92 – Get your MIT Engineering Degree for FREE

    Posted on June 9th, 2010 EEVblog 50 comments

    Has electronics design information become a bit of a commodity? And how can you differentiate yourself?

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    • Mark

      I watch your vids for both entertainment and education. Some of the more technical topics have at times gone over my head but for the most part I love it.
      I also think that people don’t just watch the blog for it’s content. You are a very interesting personality that gives the show something that other “geek” blogs don’t have. You speak in a way that shows you are a regular guy and not some “MIT built a shrine to the Commodore 64″ guy.

    • DB

      I tend to play your videos when I am doing something else, like fixing dinner. I would not rely on your videos for gaining the in depth knowledge required to do serious electronics design. That only happens with serious study and application.

      However, like your switching regulator video, you occasionally say things that provide a little extra insight into some aspect of electronics design.

      Also just to put a plug in for my favorite lecture site, I think webcast.berkeley.edu has the most complete set of online lectures for electronics design going back several years. Going from freshman electronics all the way up to graduate level chip design.

      • Jay

        Hey, thanks for the link to the Berkeley course videos. I saw news a few years ago when they started with that by posting a few videos on YouTube, and it’s good to be reconnected. I’m checking out the course on Advanced Analog Integrated Circuits right now!

        Dave – about online info becoming a “commodity”, I say absolutely no way! Quite to the contrary, I think we are on the leading edge of something very huge, of which your video blog is a part. Already it is far easier for someone interested in electronics to get a start than it used to be. Imagine what it will be like when any 8 year-old kid can surf the net and at his/her leisure, watch the very best courses (from the best professors) out of all the schools on the planet! Someday maybe it will possible to graduate from a “meta university” by taking the courses online from whatever school (teacher) the students like the most.

        I think there is much room for more websites on electronics — better websites. It is true that Wikipedia has gobs of very dry information on components and other subjects, but there are few sites that really teach electronics in the way that say, The Art of Electronics does.

        I learned of your blog just recently, and spent perhaps just a little too much time looking through the whole list. I think that mostly, your posts have had good entertainment value, and some (like the one on switching power regulators) had good educational and motivational value. If you taking suggestions on how to expand your topics to be more than something people watch for entertainment or idle interest, I suggest you think of things you’ve learned through experience that aren’t generally covered in electronics books, courses, or in manufacturers’ data sheets or applications notes. As someone who has many years of professional experience, this is the one thing you have to offer that people cannot find elsewhere.

      • http://TALKINGELECTRONICS Colin Mitchell

        Please supply links to videos on the: webcast.berkeley.edu site.

        I only found XML files.

        Colin Mitchell

        TALKING ELECTRONICS

    • http://www.jessephelps.com Jesse

      I am just shy of having my MSEE and I have learned several things from you! They were things I could have learned and understood on my own but I would put the material in the category of “recreational learning.” I think that is really a primary area that people can differentiate themselves in and be successful.

      It’s a topic that you’re passionate about and have fun it and it’s material that isn’t pressing for me. It’s usually something “neat” that I wouldn’t have otherwise looked into unless I had a need for it.

      Most of the technical blogs I visit are like this (video or text).

    • Bearman

      I watch for both educational purposes and your Steve Irwin like attitude and enthusiasm about all the topics you discuss.

      You have a great way of simplifying the technology. I am impressed at some of the depth you go into some topics. ie: Your discussion of the LCR meter. You bring up topics like the calcualtions for determining inductance and capacitance base on phase shift of current and voltage measurements.

      Do you do some review of these topics before you discuss them or are you using this knowledge regularly in your daily work so it is all fresh on your mind?

      Your early experiences with electronics remind me of mine also. As a kid all things electrical in my experience at the time had 2 leads connected to them. Then in 1967 I got my first electronics experimentor kit from Radio Shack. It had transistors in it. What started my great love for electronics was that third wire on a transistor. Learning about that mysterious third lead was what sparked a life time of electronics tinkering.

      Keep up the good work.

      John

    • Brizzy Mike

      Hi Dave,
      I enjoy your vblog as entertainment and find them educational. Your thoroughness on the topic of each video is admirable.
      I’m a sparky and repair rather than design equipment and I definately feel empathy with you and your tell it like it is about crap design. I’ve gotten quite a few chuckles as well as the odd light bulb moment from your videos.
      Keep up the good work!

    • dics

      Hi Dave,
      I live in Romania and I am involved in hobby electronics. I am not what you might call a specialist in electronic design, I don’t have a degree in electronics. I am following your blog ever since I have found it online a couple of months ago and I have to say the main reason to watch your movies is your attitude. It’s almost inspiring, makes me want to try to start my own video blog :-)
      You deliver industry information in an unique way, filtered through your own experience. Looking at your posts is like listening to my favorite radio station on the way to work hoping there might still be an interesting information I never heard of before but still enjoying every minute of the broadcast while waiting.
      Keep up the very good work ! Maybe you will start a trend in the industry.

    • http://thexmoschallenge.wordpress.com/ Berni

      Yeah your right its for the entertainment, i haven’t really learned that much from it. I guess the nutty attitude has to do a lot with it too, since id proabobly get bored with it if the blog was some guy sitting in front of the camera and talking like i’m listening to some old teacher that doesn’t give a shit for his job anymore.

      Also even if i dont like the topic of a certain blog i still find some interesting parts in every one of them.

      So keep it up Dave!

    • http://www.gryphongames.co.za Roelf P

      I agree on your thoughts about video. I have recently found myself watching more programming videos instead of reading a tutorial about a topic.

      I guess nowadays, if you are looking for electronic/programming information you are looking to solve a problem you have. The rest of the time you are reading about other projects or stealing ideas. So yes, mainly for entertainment (personally I love to watch videos about other peoples robots)

      Also have a look at http://academicearth.org/ and get your free degree in almost anything.

      PS I also remember the days where you read a tutorial in a text file and had schematics in ASCII.

    • FerdinandG

      The thing I find most interesting about your blogs are the tidbits of your experience.

      I studied computer engineering and now work as a hardware developer, but I’m lacking experience – not only in terms of factual knowledge but also on how the electronic engineering world works :-)

      Cheers

    • http://www.toddfun.com/ Todd Harrison

      Definitely for the Entertainment, but if I wasn’t also getting nice refreshers in electronics or learning about some cool tool or shit product design I wouldn’t watch.

    • Dan

      I watch for entertainment. You talk about a topic that interests me, and I love hearing industry stories. Some of your content is educational, you made switching regulators look much easier, and this is another reason to watch.

      You may know that lots of newbies are intimidated by electronics. Scared of frying parts, or just things they think will be too hard. I think you should do an article on the SPI bus…

    • Mark Zacharias

      Not just engineering and product design have become somewhat of a commodity; electronics repair has also. There’s all sorts of people hacking or attempting to repair their own gear based on what they find on Youtube or wherever. Some of it’s not too pretty…

    • SergeM

      I do it for both entertainment *AND* to learn things. Of course I don’t expect you to cover things that takes more than 10-15 minutes, but I really like things like your switched power supply description.

      … maybe one about input protection? You keep mentioning the ones you see in all the multimeters and power supply you take apart. And I am too newb to know what they are and what could be used.

      But yeah, entertainment comes first!

    • XSdB

      Dave, I have followed a similar path in electronics… I have bene into it since I was in single digit age, and I grew up on the magazines, and with databooks, and the like…

      I LOVE your blog! I watch it for several reasons.

      1)It’s about electronics design (something I have dreamed of doing for a living since I was a kid) (now I’m almost 40)

      2)You are a fantastically animated, and enthusiastic guy, and very fun to watch!

      3)Much like in one of your posts, you has stated that growing up, none of your friends were into electronics and mine weren’t/aren’t either. I live in a personal vacuum when it comes to the subject and it’s so very nice to see someone talking about the subject, as my whole life has mainly been information absorbed from books.

      Thank you for creating this blog, it is really something I enjoy in my life.

      -XSdB

    • Walter Sobchek

      Watching EEV Blog:

      I learn a LOT,
      I am very engaged, and
      I am very entertained.
      As a result, I end up learning _even more_!

      Don’t get bogged down by small-minded detractors. You offer very unique, insightful and compelling content. Keep up the great work, Dave! We appreciate all the effort that goes into making it possible.

    • http://milwaukeemakerspace.org Royce

      Like many have already said, entertainment is the primary reason. However, education does come in second. As you’ve noticed, video is not an efficient method for delivering entire bodies of knowledge, but I do favor video for placing stake-in-the-ground knowledge.

      Take your rechargeable battery tutorial. The techniques for recharging batteries has long been something I sort of wanted to learn about but not badly enough to sit down in front of, and attempt to digest, a tome of textual information about the topic. When I came across your video however, I was delighted because I knew I’d learn at least something and that I’d be entertained at the same time. Once I’d watched it, it made me feel like the textual tome will be that much easier to digest when I do get around to experimenting with rechargers.

      So to me, the optimal educational use of the video is just what you do, give the viewer a baseline of knowledge that allows them to go out and collect more knowledge without feeling like they are starting from scratch.

    • shafri

      i want it the video is more toward education. EE theory, circuit, tool review, design etc… but in a fun way that u always did. make me/us laugh more… pls.

    • http://www.solidfluid.co.uk Andy

      For me it’s about the constant search a spark of inspiration. I’m not looking to learn something per-se, but if I do that’s great. The point is that if I need to know something I can find out, or in the limit, figure it out for myself.

      The nature of inspiration – What’s more important is listening to someone who’s got something to say. To me, it doesn’t matter, what’s said. It doesn’t even matter if the thing said is wrong. If it sparks an idea, that’s the key.

      A bad idea may even lead to a new good one.

      Maybe, if the material becomes repetitive, I’ll just tune out. The other thing I’d say is that video can mislead.

      Human failings – At a human level video satisfies our desire for enquiry. At a practical level it is limited in what it can deliver. Broadcasters may variously take advantage, or be frustrated, by this limitation.

      Self criticism – To be a good viewer, one must be mindful that all media is limited. As a broadcaster, if you take the advantage, the material becomes repetitive, and the good viewers fade away.

      Communication – The way I see this, is that if it was difficult to produce, it was probably worth producing. It doesn’t then matter if it’s video, text, blog, arrangement of runes… whatever.

      The divine arrangement – Heck, some people spend their lives looking at the stars. They only change on billion year time-scales. There’s hope for us all.

      Great blog BTW.

    • Jan-A

      There is indeed an abundance of EE information out there. But a lot of it is dumped down, known as “Instructables”, HOWTOs, “For Dummies”, or “Become an EE Wizard in 24 Hours”. Or it is very basic information, or copied a thousand times (how I hate those electronics blogs that just present other people’s work as their own). Or the information is piecemeal and there are still large gaps.

      I for one haven’t quit on reading textbooks. I am not even ashamed to buy used textbooks from the 1950th or 1960th and use information from those books in my work.

      And anyway, it takes two to tango. Regardless of the amount of information available, the information also needs to be understood by the receiver.

    • Scott

      Hi Dave –

      I’m a recent viewer of your blog and have really enjoyed it. I’m a hobbyist so I enjoy your insights on the professional and practical aspects of EE. Yes, there are many resources for electronics theory, but I haven’t found too many on actual practice. Your format is entertaining in nature and that adds value. Thanks for taking the time to produce these vids and sharing your experience!

      Scott

    • M. Camp

      Dave,
      I listen for both entertainment and education. Loved your capacitor blogs and when you test(Break) equipment.
      I am a novice with no EE background in the USA. I was stationed at Woomera as part of the USAF in the 90’s and miss God’s Country down under. If I couldn’t live in Texas, I’d move to Australia. All that to say I enjoy listening to you no matter what you are saying.
      It’s a bonus that you talk about my new found hobby.

      TA and Good on Ya,
      Mike

    • http://sparkylabs.co.uk Simon

      Your videos are a healthy mix of fun/entertainment, randomness and information delivered on the practical side. yea theory is great but often a practicale example speaks volumes. for exampe i happened randomly on your chopper op amp blog and it saved me much head banging over why my project was not working as expected, the combination of video blogging and the forum is very powerful and maybe even a few articles on the website here and there would not go a miss, of course nothing is more entertaining than feeding a multimeter 4000 V ;)

    • magicmushroom666

      I certainly watch for the entertainment, your enthusiasm for the blog and it being based around electronics really makes you interesting to listen to.

      But also I think your personality has a lot to do with it, I even enjoyed hearing your rant about your the Australian internet filters and ISPs I think it was? and other off topic vidoes!

      I’d like to think i’ve learnt a few things too, not so much theory, but more like tricks of the trade picked up from a seasoned EE such as yourself! The sort of stuff you just can’t learn from tutorials or textbooks.

    • magicmushroom666

      Another point I forgot to make is that I really like the un-scripted style of the blogs, I think the information comes across in a similar way to having a conversation with someone about say the multimeter your testing, rather than watching a carefully planned out review which ends up being more like reading a boring manual and spec sheet!

    • Max

      I enjoy the unscripted style of the blogs. I visit the site at least once a day for new vids. I watch both for entertainment and the little bits of information. For example, the basic explanation on liner and ldo regulators vs switch mode was excellent! I would love to see more stuff like this :)
      Keep up the awesome! ~Max Houston,TX

    • eeMatt

      Dave,

      I watch your blog primarily in hopes of learning something new. I consider my interest to be 75% educational and 25% entrainment. You are correct in that watching your blog is an inefficient way to learn but I read enough at the university, work, and on the net already. Your blog is more of a supplement form of learning for me. I can relax on the couch or listen to you in the car and I learn things here and there.

      Personally, I do hope that you continue to have tutorial blogs like your capacitor tutorial every once and a while. Now that I think about it, I also like hearing about industry news too. That’s my 2 cents.

    • Michael Thompson

      I watch because you deliver tidbits of information in a fun and enthusiastic way.

      You often go way above my level of understanding in some of the deeper technical discussions where you pull out the white board, however you also more often than not end up bringing me along in the end because of the context, if you follow my meaning.

      You are also a crazy enthusiast, which I think many of us also are, so there is a connection there too. (pardon the pun)

      I myself don’t have any technical education, I’ve simply managed to stay near the stuff for long enough due to my own enthusiasm to pick up enough to be useful in the real world on some level.

      Watching this blog makes me pay attention and try to step up to the level of discourse.

      It also amuses me with high voltage and explosions.

      Pure win.

    • http://www.knackes.com Pixel_k

      Hi,

      I started to watch the videos for their educational value, (Rigol oscilloscope, multimeter comparison, the very interesting voltage regulator video) and came back for the entertaining value (frank and colourful speaks on electronics and design in general). My level of knowledge in electronics is quite basic, but, nonetheless, most of the time, I learn something interesting while having a few chuckles. Your contribution is priceless, thank you so much for your time Dave !

    • http://www.elproducts.com elproducts

      I watch for entertainment but end up learning a little as well.
      What amazes me is how much you reflect the same experiences I’ve had over the years and we’re on practically opposite sides of the earth (I’m in USA).

      Your review of the PICkit3 still cracks me up because I had ranted to people about the exact same complaints.

      I’ve written articles for Nuts & Volts Magazine and have gotten the same emails from people asking me to do their senior project design or similar.

      I’ve gone the books, articles and newsletter route to share my knowledge and experience from my website (www.elproducts.com) but your VBlog is making me consider a VBlog of my own.

      So overall, like many who’ve mentioned they grew up doing electronics in a vacuum as far as friends who like this stuff, I like having someone about the same age, with about the same experiences and the same outlook on the profession to listen to. I guess it makes me feel like I’m listening to a friend sitting next to me rather than watching a guy half way around the world I’ve actually never met.

    • Johan

      I come here to get my weekly rant dosage. If I do not get a good amount of Dave ranting I can’t function properly.

    • http://helpdesk.skc.edu/?q=node/6 Al Anderson

      Dave,

      I think that for me you help with that social aspect of the tech world that is not always available. In other words, it is good to hear someone talking about ee stuff in a human way, ie complaints, rants, excitement, etc. This is also what makes a good teacher, someone who humanizes the content. There is a physics prof at MIT who I really enjoyed watching and learning from because he was excited about physics. You make ee interesting because of your enthusiasm. I think of your blogs like the bullshitting around the “water-cooler” at work with the guy that knows his shit.

      Where I work, many solutions have come out of these “water-cooler” conversations. Often the conversations start in the hallway only to end up in the server room or a work lab trying something, or being shown something that may lead to a solution.

      I really enjoy and look forward to your blogs, keep on trucking!

      Thank you,

      Al, Montana, USA

    • Mike

      I found your blog while reading Hacked Gadgets. I was peeved at the time because Revision 3 had just dropped “systm” and I needed something to fill the void, and your show has.

      I watch for both the fun and education. I have you on at work while we fix stuff. My boss calls you the Steve Irwin of electronics and he means that in a good way.

      Keep up the great work.

      Mike.

    • Dave

      Got to be the product reviews.

      When you are on a budget it is great to find out what happens when you drop that multimeter of the bench or what happens if you actually give it the rated 1000VDC.

      Your blog had something to do with my RIGOL scope purchase as well. At uni it is techtronix all the way and I had a good hunt around before finding a cheaper brand that I though I could live with.

      Still need a cheap signal generator and DC dual rail power supply. Have not found good commercial forms of either of these and at this rate I will have to build both myself.

      Thanks again and keep the product reviews coming.

      Dave

    • Sherman

      Dave

      It’s great to have a personal Engineer on You Tube/EEV blog like yourself to complain about things our Engineers are afraid too gripe about. (playing these videos at work can be effective tool also) The rants you have, and the way you explain things has a way of teaching me what engineers do all day.

      How to work with cost seems to be one of the things I see over and over again.

      Only having an associates degree myself, I find Engineering technique to be in its own class of electronics, with a very distinct protocall.

      Most of the Techs I meet that are not getting their Bachelors Degree, Generally don’t fit in to the scope of Engineering departments.

      This is Due to our marxist superiors we have to work with every day, that keep us locked in a closet, and only appear to be concerned about their department and command, When they should be concerned about the credit rating of the units we repair,and the company name on the front of the product.

      I Have found educational sites online that provided me with review and better explanations that i had in school, and I use the sites frequently.

      But I’m pleased your doing these videos, It’s nice to see someone vent when no one else will and that’s entertaining enough for me to keep watching. The audits your performing on these meters just might improve the companies that make them, and I can benefit from that alone,when it comes time to buy a new one.

    • Arthur

      I watch it because I enjoy it. I wouldn’t mind it if it had more information about the industry, where it’s heading, what’s most relevant to learn, now and into the future, and how an engineering student can prepare themselves for work. Particularly because I live in Australia, I would like the blog to have more information about the local industry.

    • NeBan

      I do look forward to learning things watching your blog. I find it entertaining, but I enjoy the ‘oh, that’s how it works!’ moments the most.

    • http://www.hyakphoto.com JM

      90% or more I watch your blog for entertainment value. It’s oddly hard not to laugh at what, honestly, is approaching a multimeter fetish. [Electronics is a hobby for me, IRL I'm a photographer, we'll just skip over here me and lighting gear...]

      By and large I already know everything you are presenting… but I do think there is some advantage to getting information that is given from a personalized perspective. Encyclopedias, wikipedia, datasheets, etc give information but usually don’t have a personal influence that can actually be useful (or oddly detrimental). I enjoy that, too.

      Sometimes I learn something new, that’s fun.

    • Colin

      Hi Dave,

      I’m always interested to hear your opinions – I agree. But they’re well thought through and backed with lots of personal experience. I always learn something. I have a lifetime of work experience in electronics, but I always learn something from your videos.

      Electronics knowledge now a commodity? That’s an interesting concept. There might be lots of information on the web, but that’s not understanding. I’ve spent a few years teaching trade electronics – you can teach people to do tasks, but you can’t teach understanding. That comes from hard personal effort, releasing the smoke and it helps when other people share their personal understanding of things. That’s where you do a great job – sharing what you’ve learned.

      It’s a way of paying back the guys who shared their understandings with you (and me). No matter how busy I am, I always make time to answer “why” questions from less experienced electronics types.

      Dave, you’ve done lots of good work and I enjoy watching the video blog. It carries human understanding in a way that a page of text can’t. Whatever the blog evolves into, I’m sure you’ll keep it real and interesting.

      Your delivery style is truly your own, and it’s entertaining as well as informative. Modern life is remarkably safe and bland, you add some badly needed colour! Ignore critics, I think you’ve hit a nice balance between entertainment and information.

      Watch out, your name will soon be written near that of the demi-god of electronics, Bob Pease. Guru Dave! *laughs* Mate, you deserve the credit.

      Oh, I enjoyed the SMD component tweezers episode – I was intrigued by the concept, and your review was excellent.

      Cheers, Colin

    • Mohamed

      Hey Dave,

      Interestingly enough I watch this show to learn. Now what I learn is not Electronics, but rather how to look at the insights from someone who works in the industry I am hopeful of entering in about a years time. You offer what the WiKi’s and MIT lectures don’t offer, industry experience. I really loved the career searching, and job searching video’s you’ve made earlier. I have heeded the advice of avoiding head-hunters/ middle men. I also like the jewels of wisdom dropped here and there across the video blogs.

      Industry experience, is what I come here for. I leave the educational stuff to the classroom and the forums. Especially folks here on the eevblog forums are very helpful.

      Also I think in terms of the availability of information now a days. Theire is just way too much, and is leading to confusion. Funny you mention the MIT courses, as I am working a double virtual degree from both MIT and Berkley by watching the video lectures, I wonder when Oxford will come online?

    • Evan Plaice

      If you get tired of the stupid questions coming in over email, just defer them to chiphacker.com. There’s no reason why, in this day and age, one professional should be charged with dealing with so many newbie questions. There are better ways now.

      If Stack Overflow (the site that Chiphacker and many other sites are cloned from) taught us one thing it’s that ‘none of us are as dumb as all of us’. Check it out, you’d be surprised at the wealth of knowledge that’s available in the relatively new community. Plus, if you ask a question, don’t be surprised to get a good answer within the first few minutes.

      cheers

    • http://www.vsrao.com Venkat Rao

      I watch the blog videos because they are educational but accessible unlike some of the MIT lectures.

    • http://www.qmata.ca Mat Hallam-Eames

      Hi David,
      Your video blogs are excellent educational value.
      Really appreciate your wealth of knowledge and your perspectives.

      Fascinated by your lab power supply example.
      Also your views concept protection and openness.

      Regards
      Mat Hallam-Eames

    • John

      Hi Dave
      The value of your videos is that for me they lead off to more indepth searches for detail on the interwebs. I find I do this with “dumbed down” technical – scientific TV programs. I know that som e poor researcher has done a thesis load of work, but TV cuts out all the “difficult” bits for the masses. The joy now is that you can often find the website attached to the program or the university behind the original research.
      Take the recent freefall from the edge of space – 90 seconds on tne TV news, but it took me 2 hours to read the website – fantastic.
      The only thing I would add to your vids is any relavent web links to go more “in depth”.
      Many thanks for all your doings – especially for showing the world the correct side of the road to drive on!
      Much cheer
      John Manchester, UK

    • steve

      Dave,
      I find that your videos are both educational and entertaining. I use your videos to learn from due to a small problem that many of us have and the visual breakdown of subjects make the learning proccess much easior to follow and associate. Please don’t underestimate the importane of visual association to any methods of learning.
      Thanks so much for all the time and effort you have put into your blogs because they are a great help to all of us “Techies”

      steve

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    • Roddy

      I watch to learn.
      Couldn’t put my finger on why I was addicted to your site at first, but now its apparent. Your delivery come across as a friend teaching you electronics; we know you. Most of my teachers kept their personal opinions to themselves; on the other hand you express your personal opinions in a logical stream, which is easier to follow than a prepaired analitical book gererated lesson. The idea is more important than the components that make it.

    • http://SonyKDL50R450A50Inchtv 65 Panasonic Viera Plasma TV

      Its like you read my thoughts! You seem to understand a lot approximately this, such as you wrote the book in it or something. I feel that you just could do with a few % to pressure the message home a little bit, but other than that, this is great blog. A great read. I’ll certainly be back.

    • roy douce

      On the internet you can get a concise article how something works.
      Wiki is one, and you can come away dazed and glassy eyed.
      Combining a fun, start off simple, get more complicated with that “I’m glad you asked “
      Way of presenting is a great way to learn. I am brushing up after a lapse of my love for electronics.

      Your videos are great and your enthusiasm say what you feel gave me a boot up the arse
      And back into my lost love for electronics.
      A visual showing how anything works is worth a million wiki words as humans are
      Hard wired for visual inputs so new info sinks in. So Dave don’t stop the eevblog
      It’s the best thing since sliced bread. I can say that cos I’m re-geeked and proud.