Friday, April 30, 2010

Steve Jobs Thoughts On Flash

This is a very detailed and thoughtful explanation directly from Steve Jobs on why Apple does not support flash.

Below is a snippet from Jobs 1,700 word article.   IMHO, the most compelling reason is battery life:

Fourth, there’s battery life.

To achieve long battery life when playing video, mobile devices must decode the video in hardware; decoding it in software uses too much power. Many of the chips used in modern mobile devices contain a decoder called H.264 – an industry standard that is used in every Blu-ray DVD player and has been adopted by Apple, Google (YouTube), Vimeo, Netflix and many other companies.

Although Flash has recently added support for H.264, the video on almost all Flash websites currently requires an older generation decoder that is not implemented in mobile chips and must be run in software. The difference is striking: on an iPhone, for example, H.264 videos play for up to 10 hours, while videos decoded in software play for less than 5 hours before the battery is fully drained.

When websites re-encode their videos using H.264, they can offer them without using Flash at all. They play perfectly in browsers like Apple’s Safari and Google’s Chrome without any plugins whatsoever, and look great on iPhones, iPods and iPads.

Thursday, April 29, 2010

GNT: Generation of New Technology Website

Every day I get a google alert of anything going on with MTConnect.   Today I received one from an interesting web site called GNT: Generation of New Technology.

What came up today as new, was when Sun Microsystems officially joined the MTConnect Technical Advisory Group.  The article, which came out September 3rd, 2008, is the one that I wrote while I was the Global Chief Technologist for Sun Microsystems.  I am not sure why it came up as new today, unless the page that this article sits on was "touched" and google's crawler picked it up as new.  This article brings out some very important points that are worth repeating:

Interoperability from Design Studio to Shop Floor
MTConnect is an essential first step to connect these production islands and will open up new markets and opportunities for the manufacturing technology industry. Bringing unprecedented interoperability from design studio to shop floor, MTConnect helps enable third-party solution providers to develop software and hardware that make the entire manufacturing enterprise much more productive.
With MTConnect, the manufacturing technology industry can mirror the success of the information technology industry, where common, open industry standards are used to design hardware and software technology to enable different manufacturers products to work with each other.  Just as large compute farms are used to accurately model microprocessors today, MTConnect should help enable the vision of "art to part, first-time correct" by taking advantage of large compute clusters. 
There is an interesting article as well on Android called:

Andy Rubin: Android’s open nature is its strength

What is interesting about this to me and the logical tie in to this post about the importance of being open. is Andy Rubin is an Android Architect.  The article states:

For Andy Rubin, things are about to change, and it wont be long before open systems like Android will start to overtake closed versions like Apple’s system, for the simple reason "that it is a matter of numbers. When you have numerous OEM manufacturers in various product categories, then it is only a question of time."

Friday, April 23, 2010

Proprietary versus Open and Royalty Free Protocols

I have called the previous attempts for a standard mechanism for machine tools to communicate the "Country Club Approach To Protocols" where you have to "pay to join the MASTER PROPRIETARY Country Club and then you have to pay to play wherever and whenever you play golf."

Let me expand on the golf analogy.  I chose this sport because my parents live and die for golf.  As a child, I would always look forward to going to the mailbox to get the postcards they would send from their exotic vacations they would take around the globe to try out different golf courses.  When my sister and I were older, they allowed us to come along when we proved we could carry their bags for 18 holes.   I have wonderful memories of being a 125 pound 12 year old carrying around an 80 pound golf bag for 18 holes in 105 degree heat, but I digress :-)  Back to the golf analogy.

Below are the specifics of a PROPRIETARY PROTOCOL and following the golf analogy:
  • With a proprietary protocol they do not own just THE MASTER Country Club, they own ALL of golf.
  • The first step is that You have to PAY to join THE MASTER PROPRIETARY Protocol Country Club
  • You Pay Each Time You Play, WHEREVER  AND WHENEVER YOU PLAY!
  • It does not matter if you want to invest your own money to build your own Country Club or public golf course, you STILL HAVE TO PAY THE MASTER PROPRIETARY Protocol Country Club for the right to build a golf course and the MASTER Country Club determines the fees you must charge each golfer.
  • The MASTER PROPRIETARY proprietary protocol controls all aspects of the game, the country clubs, public golf courses, design of golf clubs, who can teach golf, etc....

Let's look at the difference at the MTConnect OPEN and ROYALTY FREE Golf Club:
  • It is FREE to join the MTConnect OPEN and ROYALTY FREE Golf Club.
  • You are free to play golf anywhere and at any time and there is NO FEE back to OPEN and ROYALTY Free Golf Club.
  • There are rules that are freely available for anyone to read and follow to make sure that the game of golf is consistent.  For example, you can not hit a golf ball with a baseball bat instead of a golf club.  
  • There is no FEE back to the MTConnect OPEN and ROYALTY Free Golf Club if you want to create your own golf course, your own golf clubs, golf bags, golf balls, etc.
    • There are agreed upon rules that are widely available so that golf balls are not self-powered for example :-)
  • If you create and build your own golf course, clubs, balls, etc., you are free to charge or not charge whatever you like.
Hopefully this golf analogy gives you a better idea on the differences between proprietary and open protocols.   The other analogy that I like is from Scott McNealy, Founder of Sun Microsystems.  Scott liked to say that "a proprietary protocol is like having a private company own the alphabet".   Imagine if you had to pay a fee for each time you used the letter "d" or "e" in any type of writing?  Or worse, imagine if the company that owned the alphabet would decide to get rid of the letters "d" and "e" so all of your books were no longer readable?  Sound familiar?   Open protocols almost always win and proprietary protocols almost always lose....

Sunday, April 18, 2010

MTConnect's Tipping Point - Priming The Pump

We are absolutely at a tipping point with MTConnect MTConnect is an open and royalty free standard that enables machine tools to speak in a common language.  As Doug Woods, President of AMT likes to say, "MTConnect allows different devices, common connection." The speed of MTConnect's creation is remarkable to say the least.  I have been involved in numerous standard efforts in my 31+ year career in computers and no standard has moved as quickly.  The obvious and logical reason for this was the incredible need for an open and royalty free standard in manufacturing.

While MTConnect's adoption rate has been amazing, we are at an inflection point where priming the MTConnect pump can take MTConnect to the next level.  I am going to discuss the specific next steps of what we must do in order for MTConnect to be truly ubiquitous.

Yesterday, Saturday April 17th, I discussed the current state of machine tool standards and how similar it is to the PC industry in the 1980s.

If you did not read yesterday's blog, please do.  The net of my blog yesterday is that we have seen this movie before in the computer industry in the 1980s when a new open and royalty free standard was on the verge of taking off.  We learned a lot back in the 1980s in terms of what is needed to really to kickoff innovation and reduce cost in an industry.   There are many lessons learned that I discussed yesterday. Today's blog is about applying those lessons learned to the machine tool industry in 2010.

It is impressive just how quickly and effectively the initial phases of MTConnect have been accomplished.  From my perspective, below are the phases of MTConnect:

  • Phase 1:  The Economic Wake Up Epiphany
    • Dave Edstrom did this at AMT's 2006 Annual Meeting
  • Phase 2:  The Industry Call To Action
    • Dr. Patterson did this at AMT's 2006 Annual Meeting
  • Phase 3:  The Funding and Commitment of an Open and Royalty Free Standard
    • AMT's Board of Directors made this commitment at AMT's 2006 Annual Meeting
  •  Phase 4: AMT Technology Issues Committee assisted in the creation of the MTConnect standard.
    • This started at UC Berkeley in January 2007.
    • The MTConnect Technical Advisory Group (MTAG) created the standard.
    • The first release of MTConnect came out in December 2008.
  • Phase 5: MTConnect Technical Advisory Group (MTCTAG) is established
  • Phase 6: The first release of MTConnect…
  • Phase 7:  Initial Customer Deployments of MTConnect
    • This phase has already started with some great early success stories.
  • Phase 8:  Mass Adoption of MTConnect
    • This is the tipping point and we are just entering this phase in April of 2010.
  • Phase 9:  Manufacturing Art to Part, Cradle to Grave Digital Life Cycle Integration
    • A number of the leading manufacturing, machine tool, software and industry leaders already are seeing many realistic possibilities in this phase.  The age old adage of you can not manage what you can not measure - is the DNA of any truly efficient system.  Integrating MTConnect into the enterprise will take time and cost out of the equation.
      • Larger manufacturing shops, that are using MTConnect, would also like to see their partners (which may be smaller machine shops) start using MTConnect as the open and royalty free mechanism to send data up the supply chain.  This becomes much easier with MTConnect.
      • As the smaller shops implement MTConnect monitoring capabilities, expose the process capability and and use statistics in their decision making that will be a catalyst in their ability to thrive in the market place.  The smaller shops that are not doing this will find it more difficult to meet every increasing quality and production time demands.
Just as priming a pump on a gasoline engine "gives" the engine some fuel before the starter is engaged to start the engine, we need to prime the MTConnect pump.  How do we prime the MTConnect pump?

We must make it easy for the small machine shop to embrace MTConnect.  

The first step is enlisting the help of MTConnect Technical Advisory Group (MTCTAG) members.  Let me list the three steps that are needed to make MTConnect easy to embrace for the small machine shop:

  • Provide free to very low cost MTConnect reference point adapters and agents for the most popular controllers:
    • Fanuc 11M
    • Mazak M32
    • Siemens 840D
        • Let's be specific on how we should do this.  
        • We need software developers, who are part of MTConnect, to work together to build Reference Ports for each of the three adapters and agents above.
        • What is a Reference Port?
          • A Reference Port is software that provides basic and fundamental capabilities.  This Reference Port is open source software.  A Reference Port can be thought of the building blocks for a company to either:
            • The first example would be to take the Reference Port and expand upon it to provide a commercially viable software.  This commercially viable software can be given away or sold.  This is a decision that the company will make depending on their business model.
            • The second example is the company would take the Reference Port and use it to understand the basic and fundamental tasks in which this Reference Port software is accomplishing.  This will help the company as they write their own software to accomplish the same required functionality as well as to expand the capabilities.  This commercially viable software can be given away or sold.  This is a decision that the company will make depending on their business model.
            • In the context of MTConnect, a Reference Port would not be accessed by customers, nor would a Reference Port be deployed by anyone.   Customers will demand support and they only mechanism to get support is from a company, not from the MTConnect Institute.   The MTConnect institute does not compete with its members.  This is an important differentiation from some of the other standards efforts.  Continue reading below for the real point for a Reference Port.
        • What is the real point of the Reference Port as it relates to the challenge of priming the MTConnect pump for small manufacturing shops?
          • The basic premise is to help the MTConnect machine tool builders, the software companies, and partners by providing a Reference Port that will shorten the time they need to work with and commercialize the three most popular controllers.    As we see an increasing number of adapters/agents for these most popular controllers hitting the market, the economics should follow other markets with the price of these adapters continuing to drop in price.
          • There clearly needs to be a culture shift in the pricing of adapters in the machine tool market.  Vendors who believe that the end game is to charge a lot for adapters and the installation of adapters are missing the big picture and harming the overall market.
          • Those companies who will win in the MTConnect market will realize that it will be the ability to tie together machine tools into the entire enterprise, to their partners, to their customers and the rest of the world.  Charging lots of money for adapters and adapter installation stifles the MTConnect market, but more importantly it stifles companies ability to make even more money by providing the connectivity and the value added services that customers are literally begging to see happen in the machine tool market place.
  • Provide free to very low cost software than can easily ingest MTConnect machine tool feeds:
    • The important point here is that MTConnect uses XML and HTTP which means it is extremely easy for software to support reading MTConnect data.
    • We need to increase the number of software companies who are MTCTAG members.
    • We need to look at the many cloud computing solutions that are coming out.
      • Let's be clear, this is not to take anything away from the software vendors who will be selling their solutions.  This is to prime the pump.
  • Increase the number of companies who can assist these small shops get started with MTConnect.
    •  We have Will Sobel's company, Systems Insights, that have been real thought leaders in MTConnect and installing MTConnect.
    •  We need more companies around the globe which have the ability to help small companies with MTConnect deployments.
    • We need more MTConnect workshops. 
    • We need an MTConnect Developers Forum.
    • We need an MTConnect Users Conference.
    • We need MTConnect Technical Advisory Group (MTCTAG) members to start bringing software developers from their respective companies to MTCTAG meetings.
Below is a graphic showing the three areas we need to start building up to support the smaller shops that are want to start to take advantage of MTConnect.  I like to think of this as a three legged stool where each leg has equal importance.

    How do we make this happen?

    • The MTConnect Technical Advisory Group (MTCTAG):
      • Creates a MTConnect Fast Start Implementors Guide Group:
        • The new working group will also include software developers from MTCTAG companies.  This is very important that we infuse MTConnect with software developers to help write the guide.  Dave Edstrom will be the lead for this MTCTAG Working Group.  Paul Warndorf will be sending out the email to kick this effort off.
        • The Guide will address:
          1. Provide guidance on which legacy adapters should be MTConnect enabled, as well as which older machine tools might not make sense for MTConnect.
          2. Write reference Adapters and Agents for the most popular controllers.
          3. Provide Application Software Guidance.
          4. Assist in recruiting new ISVs.
          5. Assist in increasing the number of companies which have MTConnect expertise.
    This is the start of Phase 8 for priming the MTConnect pump.   This is very important for MTConnect to become the ubiquitous, open and royalty free standard that will truly revolutionize manufacturing.

    Saturday, April 17, 2010

    History Is Repeating Itself: 1985 PC Industry - 2010 Machine Tools

    Sometimes history repeats itself in different industries.   We are seeing history repeat itself in the 2010 machine tool industry following the same open standards path as we witnessed in the mid 1980s with the PC industry.  What I am referring to was the state of the computer industry prior to TCP/IP, Ethernet and NFS becoming standards for communication and information sharing.   We are seeing it again in 2010 in the Machine Tools industry.

    Back in the early 1980s, here is what you had to go through to get your PC networked:
    1. Decide on what network software you wanted to purchase:
      • Plan to spend $100 to $300 per PC
    2. Decide on what networking interface card (NIC) that you needed
      • Plan to spend $200 to $500 per PC
    3. Decide on what server file sharing and printer sharing software you needed:
      • Plan to spend at least $1,000
    4. If you also wanted to integrate other systems such as Macs, Wangs, Convergent Technology systems, DEC systems, HP, Data General, then plan on spending a LOT OF MONEY on different types of adapters, gateways, software and hardware.  Even then, it took a small army to make it all work....
      A small company with 60 employees would easily spend $50,000 on just networking software and network interface cards.  This, of course, does not include routers, cables and installation. Then,  after you locked in whether or not you were a "Novell shop", or a "Netware shop" or a "Banyan Vines shop", or "IBM Token Ring" or insert 1980s technology here shop".  You would also have to worry about providing a gateway to other protocols.  It was a mess!

      So what happened to change this mess?  Sun Microsystems created NFS which was an open and royalty free standard for file sharing.  Anyone could implement NFS!  NFS was (and is) a HUGE SUCCESS by any standard.   Did some companies sell NFS?  Yes.  Was it at the same ridiculous price that the proprietary vendors were selling their proprietary network software for in the market?  Absolutely not.   Did many companies simply roll networking into their software so they could sell higher value applications?  Absolutely!  The smart and innovative companies realized that the by providing a standard interface and open protocol they could move up (as well as down) the value chain by offering new choices for customers.

      Customers, of course, loved it.   The market expanded tremendously.  What about the vendors who sold their proprietary software and hardware?  Some of the smart companies realized that the value to customers was moving up the value chain as well as providing the best implementation of NFS.  The smart companies adjusted accordingly and did extremely well.  There were those companies, as there always are, who held onto their proprietary technologies, did not embrace change and went out of business.

      Think about the real value of any network.   There is a famous law in the computer industry called Metcalfe's Law.   Metcalfe's law states that the value of any network is proportional to the the number of users of the system  squared(n2).  Simply stated, the overall value of a network grows at a tremendous rate with each addition.   Here is an example that everyone can relate to today - the smart phone.  For those of you too young to remember, it used to be that the phone company was the only place you could buy your phones.   When the government opened that market up, how many individuals at ATT aka "Ma Bell" were glad to see this?  Do you think there very many ATT employees who were thrilled because there would be new innovative phones as well as new applications?  Probably not too many :-)   Who won?  Well, first customers won!   Second, innovative companies won!

      The good news today is that the government is not involved in dictating what the machine tool industry needs to do in terms of open and royalty free standards.  This desire for open and royalty free standards is coming first from customers and second from the machine tool industry itself.  The machine tool vendors includes both hardware and software vendors.

      Here is another way to think about the economics of this situation today in the machine tool market.  The rising tide of MTConnect will lift all manufacturing companies except those that continue to hold onto the old and proprietary standards.  MTConnect is not evolutionary, it is revolutionary.   I have always said that the first step to make a revolution in manufacturing and to truly realize the "Holy Grail" of manufacturing, which is "Art To Part, First Time Correct", is a common open and royalty free standard for machine tools to speak to the manufacturing floor, the enterprise and to the Internet.   It will be at this point that true innovation will start and machine tool productivity really takes off.  You can not manage what you can not measure as Lord Kelvin once so eloquently stated.

      With MTConnect, we are on the verge of witnessing the same transition on manufacturing floors for machine tools as when the old, expensive proprietary adapters gave way to an open and royalty free standards!  We have seen this movie before in the computer industry.   As Scott McNealy, former CEO of Sun Microsystems, liked to say, "you can either be the windshield or the bug - it is better to be the windshield."  Embracing MTConnect allows you to be the window.  

      Tomorrow I will blog on the challenge of how to address the MTConnect Tipping Point and How To Prime The Market.

      Friday, April 16, 2010

      Tragedy at Virginia Tech

      Today is the anniversary of the tragedy at Virginia Tech.

      My thoughts and prayers go out to all the families, relatives and friends of those who lost their lives on April 16th, 2007 in this senseless tragedy.....

      The picture below was on the Collegiate Times in 2007 at VT:
      There is a permanent memorial at VT. The Collegiate Times has a nice article describing the memorial.
      My memories of last April 16th started with a phone call from my wife. Julie called and said, "just wanted to let you know that John is fine." At the time I was on my SunRay reading email while on a con call when she called my cellphone. She never calls me during theday since she is a school teacher. "Why would John not be be fine?" I asked. She asked me if I was watching TV or listening to the news. Of course I was not watching TV or listening to the news. She explained what was going on. I immediately interrupted the Sun folks on the con call and quickly said, "I had to get off the call, there was a shooting at my son's school."
      It was then that I turned on the TV and was shocked to see the peaceful and beautiful VT campus on the news. I started getting emails, phone calls from literally around the world checking on John. You sometimes forget in casual conversation that you mentioned something about your kids that your friends and colleagues remember. Every time a call came, I paused the DVR. I was getting the current updates from friend, colleagues\s and family all around the world via email and non stop phone calls. As the numbers kept rising, it became more and more surreal.
       My son John was working for the Collegiate Times during his freshman year.  He put together a very nice week long history of events starting on April 16th through April 23rd that shows what happened each day.
      I can not imagine the horror the students and faculty must have felt. There was an article in the post today by Nick Miroff, titled, "A Year Later, Virginia Tech Is Still Healing" is a well written article worth reading. As Miroff points out:
      "Virginia Tech students have learned to talk about it in shorthand, if they talk about it at all. This Story

      They do not use the words massacre, or shootings, or rampage. They call it "April 16th," and sometimes not even that. To say "four-sixteen" is enough. Everyone knows." 
      I have been back to VT many times since April 16th, 2007 both as a parent and working for Sun Microsystems where I have given talks and brought down Sun's thought leaders to speak at VT's ACM where my son John is President.  Each time, the first thing I do is visit the memorial
                Governor Kaine has did a good job demanding there was the VT Task Force.  Governor Kaine stated:
      "On April 16, 2007, Virginia Tech University suffered a terrible tragedy. Today, my thoughts and prayers are with the victims and their families and the entire Virginia Tech community.
      "In the year that has passed since that horrible day, we have grieved for those we lost and prayed for the comfort of their loved ones. We have rejoiced in the recovery of those who were injured. We have been inspired by the unfaltering hope and Hokie spirit of Virginia Tech. And we have renewed our commitment to do even more to learn lessons from that day and to make our campuses and communities safer.
      "As I think about the victims' families, I am at a loss for words to express what is in my heart. The courage and strength they have shown in the face of such tremendous, tragic loss is awe-inspiring. We have been inspired by the resilient Hokie spirit of Virginia Tech, both in Blacksburg and around the world. Since that tragic day last April, the unshakeable sense of unity and hope demonstrated by the Hokies has touched the lives of people around the world. Their focus on pulling together to support their school and each other in the days after the shooting, and their commitment to public service through the VT Engage program in the months that followed has moved us all.
      "We still have work to do. A continued commitment to improvement is the best tribute we can pay to those who lost so much. And as we move forward, we will continue to be inspired by those in the Hokie Nation."

      VT seems to have made the right changes. The VT Task Force seemed to not pull any punches when it came to how the University should have dealt with the events on the morning of April 16th, 2007. As the AP reported and I FULLY AGREE with Governor Kaine about purchasing firearms at gun shows. Virginia needs to get its act together.  This loophole is INSANE!

      "Gov. Timothy M. Kaine proposed mandated background checks yesterday for everyone who attempts to purchase firearms at gun shows - legislation that he called critical to helping prevent future tragedies like the shootings at Virginia Tech. Many families of those killed or injured in the April shootings have called on legislators to close Virginia’s so-called gun show loophole, which allows people to purchase firearms from unlicensed sellers at gun shows without having to submit to background checks. Under current Virginia law, only licensed dealers are required to run background checks on customers.
      “If by doing this, we can keep one family from having to go through what these families have suffered, it will be the best thing that the legislature will do this year,” Kaine said at Virginia State Police headquarters, surrounded by several of the victims’ families."

      Hopefully the healing will continue for those directly affected...

      Wednesday, April 14, 2010

      The New Hybrid CNC Programmer/Machinist

      The video highlights a company in Greenville, SC called ADEX Machining Technologies, LLC

      What is extremely impressive about ADEX is the new position they created. Traditionally, you have CNC programmers and machinists which are separate positions.   Adex has created a hybrid role where employees must be accomplished CNC programmers AND skilled machinists.  The CNN video interviews a number of Adex employees.  Each employee make it very clear that, by wearing both hats, it gives them the satisfaction of both designing parts and then actually creating the part.  

      One of the Adex founders made the statement that for each open position they had 100 applicants who applied.  They still had great difficulty finding qualified employees.   The reason is the need for the combined skill set.  As technologies such as MTConnect greatly improve machine tool efficiency, this new hybrid position will become the norm and not the exception.   It is very, very cool to see this rebirth of manufacturing.  As the video indicated, this might be exactly what manufacturing needs to bring the young, gamer generation into manufacturing 

      This is not your father's manufacturing industry anymore.  This really is the new face of blue collar workers.  Also, these new workers are making $50,000 to $80,000 in South Carolina.

      Monday, April 12, 2010

      Java god James Gosling Leaves Oracle

      I just read on the Sun Alumni alias that James Gosling left Oracle last week.
      James officially resigned on April 2nd.

      James stated on his blog:
      "As to why I left, it's difficult to answer: just about anything I could say that would be accurate and honest would do more harm than good," 

      Bill Joy once called James Gosling "the world's greatest living programmer", to which James quickly replied, "who is better dead? :-) "

      Words can not express what a HUGE LOSS this is for Java and for Oracle....

      Sunday, April 11, 2010

      Center Ice - 3rd Row Seats at the Caps Game

      I took my youngest son Tim to today's Caps game.  It was a great game that went into overtime and then a shootout.  We had third row center ice tickets.  Afterwards, we went to Ben's Chili.  Below are some photos of a fantastic day.

       That is Tim and me during warmups at the Caps game on Sunday April 11th, 2010.

      That is the GREAT 8 - Alex Ovechkin right in front of us.  I bought Tim an Alex Ovechkin jersey with Ovechkin's name in Russian on the back as a memento of the day.

        Tim outside Ben's Chili Bowl after a great late lunch.

      Announcing Virtual Photons Electrons, LLC

      Today, I am announcing the official creation of Virtual Photons Electrons, LLC.

      After Oracle officially took over Sun Microsystems,  Oracle and I went in our separate directions.  This happened on Friday January 29th, 2010.  The plan was for me to take off until fall 2010.   That plan changed two weeks later after having lunch with Doug Woods, the President for the Association of Manufacturing Technology (AMT).  Just like Vito Corleone in the movie The Godfather, Doug made me an offer I could not refuse :-)  After a week Doug and I agreed that AMT would create The Office of Strategic Innovation where I would be the Director and report directly to him as a consultant.   A few weeks after that I started part time consulting for AMT and currently I am full time.

      This was an easy decision as the most fun I have had in my career was working on MTConnect with Dr. Dave Patterson of UCB, along with the other UCB professors, Dr. Armando Fox, Will Sobel, Dr. Dave Dornfeld as well as with the CTO and VP of Technology for AMT - Paul Worndorf.  Doug Woods was the Chairman of the Board and John Byrd was the President of AMT when these two invested seven figures for the creation of MTConnect.  AMT has proven itself as a true thought leader among all associations.

      Virtual Photons Electrons, LLC was created with my wife, Julie H. Edstrom as the President and CFO with me as the CEO/CTO.  I thought I have worked for her for 26.5+ years of marriage, so I might as well make it official :-)

      Washington Nationals Opening Day

      On Monday April 5th, 2010 I was with Doug Woods, Peter Eelman and Pat McGibbon of AMT attending the opening day for the Washington Nationals baseball season.  It was incredible weather and President Obama threw out the first pitch.

      Above is President Obama wearing a Nats jacket, but a Chicago White Sox cap (note to the President, we get it, you are a White Sox fan, but putting it on during Nats Opening Day does not endear you to Nats fans) throwing out the first pitch.  I was glad that I was able to capture the ball in mid-flight (you see it below the sign in left field).  The pitch was high and thrown to the Nats superstar Ryan Zimmerman.  At least he did not bounce it to home plate :-)

      From right to left is me, Doug, Pat and Peter having a great time at the opener.  I forget who won :-)

      Friday, April 9, 2010

      The Bell System Technical Journal - UNIX Time Sharing System

      HUGE thanks to npg (Neil P. Groundwater)  for sending me an original copy of The Bell System Technical Journal This was the first document to detail the UNIX time sharing system.  This is dated July-August 1978.  Neil was the first user of UNIX outside the state of New Jersey. This is very cool - thanks npg!

      Tuesday, April 6, 2010

      A Big Loss For Internet Freedom Today.....

      Comcast won today against the FCC in a trial for net neutrality that could have very negative long term consequences.  The big pipe providers won and the Internet (and everyone who is not a big pipe provider - which is most of planet earth) LOST.

      There is a lot of nonsense out there about what net neutrality is and is not.   Here is the bottom line folks, net neutrality is the morale equivalent of equal rights of the Internet. 

      Without net neutrality, the big pipe providers can decide (via business contracts) that my particular stream of bits coming to me will be slower because I HAPPENED to select the "wrong" application or device.

      Here is a real world and accurate analogy - I purchase new Corvette.  When I get on I-95 heading north, I find out that my Corvette is throttled back to 40mph, but all the Kias are going 75mph.   When I call the Big Pipe Provider and ask "why I am only going 40mph, why are you throttling me back?"  The Big Pipe Provider then says, "Dave, we are not throttling you back, but we are allowing our business partner Kia to go 75mph and this is how we keep our highway prices cheap.  Why don't you sell your Corvette and buy a nice Kia so you can go 75mph?"

      I am NOT a fan of big government, but let's not forget who created the Internet and how incredibly successful it has been.    The Internet has been successful BECAUSE it has been based on open and royalty free protocols with neutrality built in by definition.  

      Dornfeld's Law

      I was discussing presentations in general with Dr. Dave Dornfeld of UCB.   Dave is the:
      • Professor of Mechanical Engineering; Director, Laboratory for Manufacturing and Sustainability at University of California
      In addition, Dave was one of the real drivers and leaders of MTConnect.  It was through Dave Patterson that I first met Dave Dornfeld when we were working on MTConnect.  Dave Dornfeld is one of the true thought leaders in the world on a number of topics.

      Dave made a very interesting statement regarding slicing through the data of any presentation.   What Dave basically said was, "anytime you see 40% in a presentation you should be suspect.  The presenter likely did not want to put in 50% because it would be viewed too high and 30% would be viewed as not being significant."

      I got a real chuckle out of that and said to Dave, "I think we need to call that "Dornfeld's Law".

      To officially state Dornfeld's Law (until Dave corrects me :-)  
       "The statistical veracity of any presentation can be quickly determined by examining both the frequency and relative contextual importance of the number 40% in the presenters representation of supporting data."


      Monday, April 5, 2010

      AMT/NCMS Manufacturing Technology Forum and "China Time"

      On Monday March 29th to Wednesday March 31st, AMT and NCMS hosted a great technology forum for their members in Nashville on the 59 acre Gaylord Opryland.   As stated on the NCMS events website, "The 2010 AMT/NCMS Manufacturing Technology Forum will highlight new initiatives addressing “Green in Manufacturing.” Guest speakers will discuss what is going on, what is needed and what you can expect in meeting new manufacturing requirements."

      Paul Warndorf was the host along with Richard Garmin of NCMS.  

      There  were a number of great speakers and below is a listing of some of the highlights that stuck with me:

      • Richard Garmin of NCMS got everyone's attention by starting off with the statement that there are some people who incorrectly view manufacturing as "dead, dumb and disappearing".    Rick set the stage for a very engaging and interactive three days.
      • Rick Garmin said by 2020 that 50% of all autos manufactured will have non combustion power trains.
      • Dr. Dave Dornfeld of UCB and Director of LMAS, discussed that technology evolutions will come in terms of wedges for machine tools and manufacturing that will increase efficiency and production.
      • Jeffrey Walker of DOE's Industrial Technologies Program discussed ISO 50001, the "Save Energy Now Toolbox" and a number of software tools such as MotorMaster+ for analyzing motor efficiency.
      • Jim Reeb of Caterpillar asked a very thought provoking question,"how do you hibernate a machine tool while maintaining thermal stability?"
      •  Dr. Christian Brecher, Professor Dr.-Ing. WZL RWTH Aachen, Germany, gave a very interesting talk and made the statement, "MTConnect is the perfect system."  Dr. Brecher also discussed the concept of the total digital factory.  I pointed out that until the machine tool vendors totally open up their systems, this will never be truly possible to achieve.
      • Dr. Tom Kurfess of CU-ICAR stated that "80% of the cars BMW makes in the US are exported." This was a very impressive statistic.  Dr. Kurfess also pointed out that when we see machine tools spitting out gigabytes of data per hour, the ability to store and analyze this data will be critical.  He also pointed out that it takes 3x the energy to build a car in the US versus Europe, but our power cost is 1/3 the price of Europe.   Imagine if we had Europe's efficiencies?
      • Dr. Kurfess also pointed out that a BMW diesel that is running in LA will have cleaner air coming out of the tail pipe than what went into the air box at the front of the car.  Amazing....  
      If there was one presentation that really got my attention it was on China's progress in R&D and manufacturing.  Here are some fascinating statistics:

      • The United States graduated 77,000 engineers in 2009.
        • China graduated 1.6 MILLION engineers in 2009.
      • In a five year time period, China went from having to import bullet trains from France, to designing, manufacturing and exporting their own bullet trains to other countries.  This absolutely blew me away.
        • The next day I heard on NPR the term the describes the above phenomenon as "China Time".   When and not if, "China Time" becomes the new Innovate-to-Product standard, then other countries will have to totally rethink how they compete in the global market place.
      The question for every company, not just machine tool vendors, will be, "how do you compete in "China Time"?

      In addition to the Technology Forum, we had multiple conference and committee meetings as well which were very productive.

      Sunday, April 4, 2010

      Even You - EVEN me?, huh.....

      Today is Easter and I had an interesting experience during communion at our church today.  

      I am at the front of the church, on my knees receiving communion with my family and other members of
      the congregation when former Bishop E. Harold Jansen of the Lutheran Church says to me,  'The body of Christ, that was given for you. The blood of Christ, that was shed for you" and then the Bishop looks at me at says "EVEN YOU."  I then said loud, "EVEN me, huh?"

      As we were leaving,  I made sure I was in Bishop Jansen's line so I could shake his hand and have a nice laugh with him, which we both did.

      Needless to say, this was a first at our church, I think :-)  So why did Bishop Jansen decide to point out that EVEN Dave Edstrom can get communion?  Well, first of all Bishop Jansen is a great man with a great sense of humor.  But, what prompted this is that a month ago he called my house looking for my dad.   He just says,  "is John there?"  I immediately recognize his voice and realize that he has dialed the wrong number, so I say "John Edstrom?  John is in jail and I am not sure when he is going to be out.  I can give him a message though the next time I visit him?"

      There is a three second silence on the other end and then I hear, "who is this?"    I then reply, "hi Bishop Jansen, this Dave and you dialed my house."   We then joke around for a little bit before he hung up and called my father.

      For some reason, it did not occur to me that there would be a payback on Easter :-)   Bishop Jansen is a great man and we are very lucky that he agrees to be part of our church.