Back in December, I wrote a blog entry entitled "Perspective
on Power - 300 Designers and 20,000 Miles Later...". After the latest
leg of my travels last week, taking our EDA360 Tech on Tour Low Power Symposium
on the road to Taiwan and Japan, I intended to write an update to that blog
article. Clearly, the trip was overshadowed by
recent events in Japan.
The week started great -- I arrived at Taipei Airport on Sunday
evening and went to the Cadence office in Hsinchu Monday morning and met up
with my colleagues. The day was part customer visits and part preparation for
the seminar the following day. The low power seminar in Hsinchu on Tuesday was
very successful -- about 110 folks registered and over 100 actually attended. Customer
feedback was very good.
Wednesday was our travel day, leaving Taipei mid-morning and
arriving at Narita in the afternoon, making it to the hotel very close to the
Cadence office in Shin-Yokohama by early evening. Thursday was set aside for
preparation for Friday's seminar, and some local editor meetings.
On Friday 11th March, our low power symposium
started in the Innotech building in Shin-Yokohama at 10 a.m., and seemed to be
going well. At 2:46 p.m. local time, our seminar was about three-quarters
through, when it ended abruptly for reasons you must have been living under a
rock these past few days if you haven't heard.
It's strange -- as a long-time
Bay Area resident, I've experienced a few earthquakes, but when they first
start, it takes a little while to realize what's happening. My first thought
was to wonder who was kicking the back of my chair. Then, probably only a
second later, I realized what it was. As the room started to rock more and more
vigorously, everyone started to get up and evacuate. There were some announcements
in Japanese confirming that's exactly what we should be doing.
We were rocking
the whole time as we evacuated the building (we were only on the 2nd
floor) and continued rocking outside at ground level. The movement was like a
large ship on a rough sea -- we had guessed by now the quake was big, but also
fairly distant. The high-rise buildings were visibly moving. The initial series
lasted 2 to 3 minutes, and aftershocks were frequent and noticeable. After one
particularly strong aftershock, we looked up at the plate glass windows of the
Innotech building and decided to move away to find some open ground. I should
stress that there was no visible damage in our vicinity and no real panic --
it's incredible how buildings and people alike stood up to this quake -- although we
were by now hearing many emergency sirens.
In other blogs, I've written about cell phone technology
from the point of view of power management. Here's how cellphone technology
held up in this event -- there were no cellular voice channels available at all (that
continued through Saturday) and even SMS texting was unavailable. Data on 3G
phones worked, however. I made a mental note of that for my own family's
emergency plans back home.
I was already on the usgs.gov website finding out
where and how strong the quake was. At first, they pegged it at 7.9. That later
got increased to 8.8, then 8.9, and finally 9.0. One of my Cadence Japan
colleagues was now tuning into digital TV on his cellphone. We watched in
horror -- maybe 30 minutes after the main quake, maybe a little longer -- as live pictures
showed the first tsunami waves hit land and destroy everything in their path.
The whole experience has certainly put power in perspective
for me, and reminded me, and the world I guess, of Mother Nature's awesome
power. As I write, Japanese engineers are struggling to control one of the very
few man-made phenomena that may begin to rival that power. Let's all hope and
pray that the nuclear reactors are made safe without further incident. Japan
will need a lot of help and support to recover. Let me encourage anyone who's
reading to give what they can afford somewhere suitable like http://www.jrc.or.jp or www.american.redcross.org. Thanks.