From the editor's desk: Interesting people, politicians, and viruses

26 February 2020 News

In this edition, in the first of a new regular highlight in Dataweek, we go behind the scenes with Peet Smit, the founder and owner of Centurion Micro Electronics, a well-known specialist embedded and industrial computing supplier. I trust you will enjoy reading his story in ‘Personality pofile: Peet Smit’ as much as I did – in my experience, people in the engineering field almost always have interesting backgrounds or stories to tell, even if they often don’t realise it themselves. If you are willing to share some of your stories with our readers, or if you know of someone you’d like to ‘nominate’, please contact me at


The ‘coronavirus’, or COVID-19 as it’s become formally known, is understandably causing widespread concern, if not outright panic, around the world. Although centred mostly around the Asian region, the nature of our highly interconnected modern world means that a localised epidemic can become a pandemic before you know it.

Let us not forget that the true victims of this disease are actual human beings like ourselves, with more than 75 000 cases and more than 2000 deaths reported at the time of writing – hopefully those numbers won’t rise too much by the time you read this. Naturally, many industries have been affected by the virus outbreak, most obviously things like tourism.

The electronics industry is not immune either. Mobile World Congress 2020 in Barcelona, probably the biggest annual trade show dedicated primarily to the mobile communications industry, has officially been cancelled. I’ve noticed the dates of a few other trade shows being pushed back by a couple of months beyond the April window – I guess the general hope is someone will have come up with a cure by then.

Embedded World, scheduled to take place in Nuremberg, Germany, from 25 to 27 March, has seen some high-profile companies pull out at the last minute. These include, et al, Amazon (AWS), Avnet, including the subsidiaries Abacus, EBV and Farnell element 14, ARM, Cypress, Digi International, Digi-Key, EM Microelectronics, FTDI/Bridgetek, Future Electronics, Intel, Microchip, Micron, Mitsubishi Electric, NXP, Powerbrigde, Renesas, Rohm, Silicon Labs, STMicroelectronics, Swissbit, Telit, Winbond and Xilinx.

It’s affecting multinational suppliers of finished consumer products too: Apple is braced to take a hit to its financial forecast due to production problems at its Chinese manufacturer, Foxconn, due to the virus, while Samsung is expected to be the major beneficiary of Apple’s woes thanks to its manufacturing plants in Vietnam, which has remained relatively unaffected by COVID-19.


Personally I’m more a fan of the national budget speech that comes after the State of the Nation (SONA) address, so I’ve been avoiding spoilers about what happened at SONA as much as possible. What I have picked up is that there was some shenanigans and general hooliganism inside parliament to commemorate the occasion of this year’s SONA, with accusations of wife-beating to follow it up. Did we really need a special day to demonstrate the state of the nation so aptly?

Brett van den Bosch



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