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Analog Angle Article

Planet Analog FAQ: everything you need to know about the site, and its content and coverage

[Updated January 2009]
Planet Analog is a leading source of analog-related information for electronic design engineers. Here are some common questions (and answers) about Planet Analog .

The Basics

Q. What is Planet Analog ?

A. Planet Analog is the web site and associated print portion of the EE Times/TechOnline/Techinsights family, and is devoted to engineering issues of the analog world. It includes design articles, new products, and news of interest to the analog design engineer, spanning “dc to RF” (and includes power supplies).

We cover the five “pillars” of analog:

  • signal input/output (sensors and transducer, real world I/O)
  • power ICs and subsystems
  • interfacing (level shift, driver/receiver)
  • signal processing (op amps, filters, log amps, power sensing)
  • signal integrity

We look at the complete design cycle of modeling, design, and debug in these areas.

A glance at the Planet Analog web site (www.planetanalog.com) will show you recent specific topics and treatment.

Q. With everything going “digital”, isn't “analog” a dying technology?

A. Absolutely not. Analog itself is a gating and vital aspect of digital products, as the interface between the real world and the digital products, and for interconnecting and powering the components and products. Also, as the digital frequencies increase, they are in the analog domain with analog problems, due to the laws of physics. So the growth of digital drives analog, and vice versa.

Q. What's the relationship between print and online?

A. The web site accommodates more and longer material than print, of course. We select the most interesting and popular online items for print.

If an article is too long on the web to fit into the available print space, we do not edit it down to fit, as this would usually also delete valuable information. Instead, we run as much as we can in print (usually about half) and then direct the reader to the web site for the full article. That way, the print reader gets a substantial portion of the article along with a good sense of its value to him or her, yet does not feel teased or cheated by seeing just an abstract in print.

Q. What material is posted on the Planet Analog site? How often is it updated?

A. The home page of the site has sections for Technical Features, New Products, Industry News, and an Editor's Column. Typically, we post two new features each week, along with about 15 new products, 10-15 news items, and an editorial column. The web site is updated every day. We also use video clips from outside sources as well as internally sourced video, where it adds to the information and enhances the feature, product, or news item.

Q. How much material goes into the print version of Planet Analog ? What kind of material?

A. Planet Analog is a regular section of EETimes , a weekly print publication devoted exclusively to the electronic engineering community. It runs in every issue, and reaches all EETimes print readers. It typically runs as a two-to-four page section within EETimes .

Q. What drives traffic to the Planet Analog content?

A. Traffic comes in via a variety of ways: readers who come to the site directly, to EETimes' home page, via keyword search (EETimes , Google, Yahoo, etc), and by the weekly Planet Analog newsletter which highlights and summarizes the week's new postings.

Q. What is the Planet Analog newsletter?

A. The newsletter is a weekly email, sent free only to those who have asked for it. It highlights and summarizes the past week's content on the Planet Analog site, and also includes a short, up-front introduction. It is a regular and vital link between me, the site, and the audience.

Q. What do you know about an article's readership?

A. Through our Omniture data-capture and analysis tools, we can see quite a lot, in near real-time: page views per article, how readers arrived at the article, where they are coming from, how long they stayed, how many pages/articles they viewed, if they went to a “printable version” of the article, and much more. There is lots of useful data about reader interests and priorities we can see.

Q. What else does Planet Analog and TechOnline offer?

A. Through our TechOnline site, we offer many “white papers”, tutorials, and an ongoing webinar series (both “live” and on-demand).

Coverage and Contact

Q. How does Planet Analog cover new products?

A. New products are an important part of Planet Analog and our information for readers, who are genuinely interested in products that give them new options and specifications. I look at all the press releases and work with other editors to select products for EEProductCenter writeups, and also decide which items get posted at Planet Analog .

Q. What about phone briefings and visits?

I do new-product phone and face-to-face briefings when appropriate, and welcome visits from vendors. Be prepared for serious technical talk!

Q. What shows and events do you go to?

A. As you know, there are no trade shows that have a major or dominant “analog” focus. I do attend the Techinsights-sponsored Embedded Systems Conference (held twice annually) as well as other events that may have analog content or interest (for example, the annual meeting of the Association for the Advancement of Medical Instrumentation, (www.aami.org) because the products shown there had so much analog in them.

Q. Is there an editorial calendar?

A. No, there is no editorial calendar for either the print or web content. We do try to provide a balance among topics and treatments, but that is not formalized through a calendar.

Submitting Editorial Material

Q. Where do the technical articles come from?

A. Nearly all are contributed. Occasionally, we have a staff-written article.

Q. What sort of material are we looking for?

A. The range is broad, but here's a summary of the different types:

Design Ideas : these are short items in which the author describes a specific, focused problem and the circuit he/she designed to overcome it. Examples are: “Generate negative supply from positive source,” “Improve filter tolerance to component variations,” and “Improved op amp configuration interfaces to piezo transducer.” Typically, they are 500-800 words with one or two figures.

By their nature, these design ideas use specific components to demonstrate the idea, usually from the author's company. These design ideas are very problem/solution specific.

Longer features : these are full-length articles which provide in-depth take-away lessons of lasting value to the reader. They are usually 1800 to 2000 words with four figures, but they can be longer. The features fall into three categories:

Tutorials on fundamental, established topics of broad interest, such as “Selecting and applying op amps for low-noise applications,” “Basics of grounding in high-EMI environments” and “Driving white LEDs efficiently.” Even topics that have been discussed before are of interest, such as “A/D converter specs explained,” or “Understanding S-parameters in RF design.”

Tutorials on up-and-coming hot topics , as part of “continuing education” for the designer who may not be presently active in this area, but wants to keep up with design issues. Examples include “Designing LCD panel drivers for high-definition TV,” or “Understanding key A/D converter specs affecting software-defined radio”. These may use your devices or parts for illustrative examples, but they can't be mostly about your device or part. In other words, if the bulk of the article is about your product and its virtues, it's not a good fit for Planet Analog .

Technique and approach discussions , which focus on a design challenge and the approaches and tradeoffs involved. Examples would be “”Power and performance tradeoffs for high-resolution, high-speed analog channels,” or “Balancing frequency and efficiency in switching power-supply design,” or “Optimizing battery management.” There's the same caution here as above, for excessively “product-focused” stories: if the article is a thinly-disguised pitch for your product as the solution to this class of design challenge, it's not what we need.

Q. How do I submit an article?

A. The best way is to send me an outline or abstract. We'll let you know within a day or two if it is of interest. Sometimes, unfortunately, good articles are not of interest only because we have something similar in the queue or recently published. And if they are a better fit for one of our other sites, I'll let you know.

Q. What happens if the article with be longer than your suggested length? Is it still acceptable?

A. Our goal is to provide worthwhile information to the reader. If the article is longer but has good information, since we are not length-constricted on the web, we can run it. We have run articles as long 4000 words, with 20 figures.

For these longer articles, we may run it on the web in two or three parts over a week or two, both for production reasons and to not discourage readers (who seem to have a tolerance limit of about 2000 words maximum at a chunk).

Q. How long does it take for an accepted item to appear on the site?

A. As with so many things it life, “it depends.” Typical lead time is 6-8 weeks. But this can change, not only depending on how any items are already in the queue, but on our desire to provide a variety of topics and treatments. For example, if we have run a lot of features on op amps, a new feature on A/D converters would be especially nice to run. Or, if we have run a lot of RF-design stories, a feature on audio design would be a nice counterbalance.

Q. How should we submit the final manuscript?

A. Submit the text in regular Microsoft Word, in WSYWIG style, with superscripts, subscripts, special and Greek characters in normal, readable form. Please, don't submit as pdf format or page-layout style, it just makes extra work (on your part and ours) and leads to possible errors.

Q. What about writing style?

A. We'll edit everything for a consistent technical style and look-and-feel of subheads, figure numbers, captions, and so on. We try not to over-edit the author's words, unless there are real style, grammar, and related problems.

Q. What about graphics?

A. You can embed the figures (graphics) in the text for reading and review convenience, but please also submit them as separate, 300-dpi jpg or gif files. This ensures that the final article on the web will have quality, readable images. Any images used in print will either be re-drawn or used directly from the 300-dpi file, depending on production needs.

Q. What about style of schematics?

A. For the web site, we do not redraw schematics, as it's too time-consuming and error-prone. So we ask that you submit them in a regular, conventional engineering style. We don't have a hard-and-fast schematic style guide for the web images. If we think the style as submitted will not look OK to an engineer's eye, we'll let you know. For block diagrams, there is more latitude, due to the nature of the content and the lack of even informal standards for them.

Q. What about equations, and how should they be provided?

A. For simple equations (such as A = B × C), we will code them into HTML for the web site. For anything more than a simple equation, it's much better to provide it as a complete image in the text, or as a separate figure. That way, we can capture and post it exactly as submitted, without any chance of error or mistakes due to HTML coding issues. This saves us time, and avoids the errors that so often creep into equations.

Q. Will the author get to see and review the edited manuscript?

A. Generally not. If most cases, the edits we make are for basic English style and grammar, and to have a consistent look, feel, and style. None of these affect the author's message or content. If there are areas where the writing is unclear or ambiguous, we'll check back on those, of course. But we don't want to get into a write, edit, review, re-write, re-edit, re-review cycle; it serves little purpose, especially when some authors start to do re-writes of what they have written, they can't seem to say “it's done!”

Q. After an article is posted online, how long does it stay on the Planet Analog home page?

A. Typically, an article stays on the home page for a few weeks. But, of course, it lives “forever” on the site, and can be found using the search engine. It can also be found using Google or similar, as well.

Questions, or want to talk?

Q. Who do I ask if I have further questions, or discuss an idea, or a product?

A. Just contact me: Bill Schweber, Planet Analog Site Editor, bschweber@techinsights.com, 508-416-1148.

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