Wednesday, December 29, 2010

The Importance of Off Site and Automatic Backups

The importance of having an off site backup was realized during this past week when my oldest son, John,  came home from VT and his Lenovo went dead.   John had his backup drive back at VT, but he has been using Carbonite for some time now and that saved him.  He could easily pull down any files that needed.   My middle son uses Carbonite and I do as well.  This is not an advertisement for Carbonite because there are a number of quality remote backup services out there.  I have had to use their support line once and I was impressed.    For Mac's, Time Machine works great.  But Time Machine only works great if you have the backup drive with you all the time.   This is why I tell my sons to ALWAYS have AT LEAST  two backups:

  1. Local backup
  2. Remote backup
Francis Ford Coppola lost 15 years of work when his computer AND backup drives were stolen by armed thieves.

I have Carbonite on my MacBook Pro and our our local iMac and we love it.  My middle son, Michael, has Carbonite on his MacBook Pro.

Update on Monday October 1st, 2012.  My youngest son Tim went to college this year and wanted a PC instead of a Mac.  I set him up with Carbonite.  I looked around for a Time Machine like backup for his PC.  Time Machine is great because you never have to actively tell it to backup - it does it automatically in the background much like Carbonite.  What we ended up going with was rebit and Tim is very happy with it.  I checked out a bunch of reviews and it is simple to use and just works.

A big question regarding Carbonite is around security.  Here is from Carbonite's website:

Safe and Secure

Rest easy knowing your files are encrypted and stored at one of our highly secure data centers.

Bank-Level Security

While still on your computer, your files are encrypted with 128-bit Blowfish encryption. Then, we transmit them to one of our state-of-the-art data centers using Secure Socket Layer (SSL) technology. That’s the same technology used in online banking and ecommerce transactions. So, the only one who sees your files, is you.
Here is a link to Carbonite's security white paper that provides further answers on there network and data storage security.

Update on 12/26/2012:  I noticed that Carbonite has a mobile app for the iPhone, Android and Blackberry.  With the computing and display power of smartphones these days, having the ability to pull down the presentation I forgot to pull off my notebook before I left for the meeting might be a nice capability to have.

As I like to remind my sons, computers are cheap and data is expensive.

Sunday, December 26, 2010

All Time Favorite Edstrom Christmas Ornament - Tim's Gingerbread Man

My youngest son, Tim, was four years old when he created the Christmas Gingerbread Man Ornament below.  He was at Sterling Community Center when the preschoolers were given a paper gingerbread man with a bunch of supplies.  The supplies were crayons, macaroni of various colors and miscellaneous pieces that could be used to attach to their gingerbread man.  Tim decided that only four pieces were necessary for his gingerbread man.    Tim's was the only gingerbread man that was deemed anatomically correct :-)  You can see where Tim signed his name right below the green bow tie.  Tim's Gingerbread Man always has the prime spot on our Christmas tree every year.

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Open Source Mistakes That Killed Sun Microsystems

I really enjoyed this article on Sun Microsystems in The Register. Below is a snippet:

"Is there, then, a teachable moment here? A moment that McNealy can impart to Ellison, given that McNealy is a career-long fan of marrying open source with commerce since he picked up BSD and ran with it in SunOS, and then teamed up with Unix's then-owner AT&T to sink SunOS into Unix System V Release 4 in 1990?

McNealy, after all, likes to boast how Sun donated an "enormous" amount of its R&D to the community, and he identifies Sun as the Red Hat of Berkeley Unix. Any lessons the old dog of open systems can teach the brash database king?

Sure, McNealy tells us: put your shareholders first.

Wait — what? That's the language of Ellison [10]!

"We probably got a little too aggressive near the end and probably open sourced too much and tried too hard to appease the community and tried too hard to share," McNealy said. "You gotta take care of your shareholders or you end up very vulnerable like we got. We were a wonderful acquisition — we got stolen for a song at the bottom of the Dow."

"That's the message," McNealy tells us. "You gotta strike a proper balance between sharing and building the community and then monetizing the work that you do... I think we got the donate part right, I don't think we got the monetize part right.'"
 I remember personally asking Scott when would Sun have a DB.  He agreed with me that we needed a DB to compete in the market place.  Below is his recent discussion on this topic from the same article at The Register:

History lessons

History might have been different had Sun open sourced Solaris sooner and delivered its own x86 servers rather than rely on a set of compromised Microsoft partners. It might also have been different had Sun ventured away from hardware sooner and into that other great moneyspinner, the database. Not having a database was Sun's "Achilles leg," McNealy said. "Oracle sucked an enormous amount of life blood out of [Sun] customers because we didn't have a database to compete."

Monday, December 20, 2010

Great Article on Additive Technology

theENGINEER has a great article on additive technology.

This is a long article that has a couple of videos of EOS Executives discussing their technologies.  Below is from theENGINEER:

"Able to build models of mind-boggling geometrical complexity from scratch, they dispense with tooling costs. Plus, there’s very little waste. While traditional ’subtractive’ manufacturing processes often remove up to 95 per cent of the raw material to arrive at a finished component, additive machines only use the material they need to make the part.

“This technology is almost as close to Nirvana as you’re ever going to get.” Prof Richard Hague, AMRG

But most compelling of all, Hague explained, is the almost limitless freedom the technology gives to designers. ’It frees you from the constraints of traditional manufacturing processes. It changes the kind of products you can make and the way you design things. You can make very, very complicated geometries. It’s almost as close to Nirvana as you’re ever going to get.’ Critically, this unprecedented design freedom enables the production of lightweight optimised components that are impossible to make with traditional techniques. Hague is effusive on the possibilities and potential of the technology, and in particular the UK’s expertise in the field. ’We talk a lot about new industry and new jobs, high-value manufacturing and advanced manufacturing - it fits any of those definitions,’ he said."

Sunday, December 19, 2010

Repeal of Don't Ask Don't Tell

About damn time....

It is FREAKING insane that we are kicking valuable service people out of military service because they HAPPEN to be gay.   As of May 26th, 2010 there have been 13,389 men and women officially discharged from the military who happen to be gay. 

To think that we have men and women putting their lives on the line for the United States of America and we have some IDIOTS in congress who likely NEVER served in the military that believe these patriots should be kicked out is absolutely nuts.   Just one example of this is that we are losing Amercian soldiers lives because we are losing Mideast translators who, again, just happen to be gay.  John McCain's flip flop view on this is the ultimate example of what he will do in order to be elected...

As the popular t-shirts state, "You Don't Have To Be Straight To Shoot Straight."

Bob Gates and Admiral McMullen are exactly right in their views.

John McCain will be on the same side of history as those politicians who wanted to keep blacks out of the military.

Saturday, December 18, 2010

The Edstrom Annual Christmas Deer

Above is the deer that was in my next door neighbor, Rick Allen's trash about ten years ago.  I pulled it out of his trash and mounted it to my oldest son's 1994 Ford Taurus (below) before school and put the red duct tape on its nose since it was Christmas.  John did not think it was funny.  I thought it was hilarious :-)

That weekend I decided to build a deer around the head.  It has now been declared an Ashburn historical landmark.  It is not unusual to have 200 to 300 cars come by every hour from sundown to sunrise to look at the Edstrom deer during the Christmas holiday.  The neighbors have gone from complaining about that "damn deer" to "hey, when's the deer coming out Dave?"

Shocking! Fixed Noise Viewers Are MOST Misinformed!

This is absolutely shocking to me that regular viewers of Fixed Noise (Fox News) are the MOST misinformed of any viewer! :-)   Friends don't let friends watch Fixed Noise.   Parents should keep their kids away from Fixed Noise as well unless raising misinformed idiots is the mom or dad's goal.  If you have watch Fox News, watch Shepard Smith.  He seems to be at least close to fair and balanced.  Below is from World Public Opinion on the UMD report.

"Those who watched Fox News almost daily were significantly more likely than those who never watched it to believe that:

  • most economists estimate the stimulus caused job losses (12 points more likely), 
  • most economists have estimated the health care law will worsen the deficit (31 points), 
  • the economy is getting worse (26 points), 
  • most scientists do not agree that climate change is occurring (30 points), 
  • the stimulus legislation did not include any tax cuts (14 points), 
  • their own income taxes have gone up (14 points),
  • the auto bailout only occurred under Obama (13 points), 
  • when TARP came up for a vote most Republicans opposed it (12 points) 
  • and that it is not clear that Obama was born in the United States (31 points). 
The effect was also not simply a function of partisan bias, as people who voted Democratic and watched Fox News were also more likely to have such misinformation than those who did not watch it--though by a lesser margin than those who voted Republican."

So,  how does Fixed Noise react to this?  Fixed Noise attacks University of Maryland - ALL of UMD.   There you go Fox, attack the messenger who brings you the truth....

Thursday, December 16, 2010

Get The HELL Out of Afghanistan!

Richard Holbrooke's last dying words were:

“You’ve got to stop this war in Afghanistan.” 

The complete idiots in the Obama administration stated it was a joke.   It was not a joke.   Young solders are dying for no freaking reason whatsoever.  After ten years, what in the hell have we accomplished?   Not a damn thing.   Why are we still there?  

  1. Money.  Lots of people make lots of money off war.
  2. None of the Senators or Representatives kids are dying. 
  3. It is a good campaign sound bite for Republicans. 
It is no more complicated than those three reasons. 

Below is from Politics Daily:

"Sixty percent now believe the war hasn't been worth fighting "considering the costs to the United States versus the benefits to the United States," while 34 percent believe it has been. Forty-three percent say they "strongly" believe the war wasn't worth fighting, according to a Washington Post/ABC News poll conducted Dec. 9-12.

That compares to the Post/ABC News poll in July when 53 percent said the war wasn't worth fighting compared to 43 percent who said it was. The last time a majority believed in the war was in December 2009. "

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

God Bless Harry Exner

A great young man with tremendous potential who died much, much to early.  My sister flew back to Minnesota to represent the Edstrom's from Northern VA.  His Funeral is today.  Last night there were over 700 people who attended Harry's wake.  Our thoughts and prayers go out to all of Harry's family, friends and relatives.  Very, very sad....

Below is from the Red Wing Republican Eagle Newspaper.

Harry Raymond Exner, 19, of Red Wing, died Tuesday, Dec. 7, in Denver, Colo.

He was born on May 11, 1991, in Red Wing to Harry and Renae (Franklin) Exner. He graduated from Red Wing High School in 2009. He moved to Aurora, Colo., and attended Anthem College to pursue a degree in X-ray technology. He was a member of St. Paul’s Lutheran Church.

He enjoyed snowboarding, playing hockey, riding his dirt bike and motocross, competing in races the past three years. He lived life to the fullest. He was very adventurous and loved being surrounded by friends and family, including his second family in Colorado, his aunt Debbie and uncle Pat Cahill.
He is survived by his parents, Harry “Bob” and Renae; his two brothers, Jackson and Cole, all of Red Wing; maternal grandparents, Marvin and Marion Rohr of Cannon Falls, and paternal grandparents, Harry and Ruthe Exner of Red Wing; many aunts, uncles, and cousins.

He is preceded in death by his maternal grandfather, Ray Franklin; aunt and uncle, Pete and Patty Neidere, and aunt, Marcia Exner.

Memorial service will be 11 a.m. Wednesday, Dec. 15, at Church of St. Joseph with Reverend Kristin Schlauderaff officiating. Burial will be at a later date. Visitation will be from 4-8 p.m. Tuesday, Dec. 14, at the Church of St. Joseph and for one hour prior to the service. Memorials are preferred to the donor’s choice.

Funeral arrangements are by the Mahn Family Funeral Home, Bodelson-Mahn Chapel,

Ten Biggest Cloud Stories of 2010

This article on the ten biggest cloud stories of 2010 is definitely worth reading.

Number 5 and 7 were of particular interest:

5. The Feds Want A Slice Of The Cloud

The U.S. government has made it clear that cloud computing is in its sights, but the Obama administration wants a little more knowledge, security and standardization in the cloud before it goes full steam ahead.
In May, Federal CIO Vivek Kundra said that for the cloud to truly take hold, the feds must develop standards to avoid inefficiencies and security holes.
"What's important today is the [development of standards] in the area of security, interoperability and data portability" to ensure information is protected; clouds and the computer applications they support can work together; and content can be moved within and among different clouds without jeopardizing access to or integrity of the data, Kundra said.

7. Cloud A Cash Cow For made a big and early splash in the cloud computing market with the launch of its Elastic Compute Cloud (EC2) service four years ago. In that time, Amazon has added countless features and functions to its Amazon Web Services cloud offerings and has also continuallywhittled down the cost of those cloud services.
In July, a report surfaced estimating that Amazon could generate $500 million in cloud computing revenue in 2010and that cloud revenue could hit the $750 million mark in 2010. That same report, by UBS analysts Brian Pitz and Brian Fitzgerald estimated that come 2014 AWS cloud generate $2.5 billion for the online book store turned cloud computing kingpin.
Determining how much cash Amazon generates from its AWS offerings is difficult, so any insight into its possible dollar value is a pretty big deal, especially as Amazon keeps its cloud revenue relatively under wraps.

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Apache Resigns from JCP Executive Committee

The Apache Software Foundation (ASF) has resigned from the Java Community Process (JCP) Executive Committee. 

Oracle needs to stop burning bridges unless of course it wants to see it ownership in Java become worth less and less as fork will be the likely outcome.   A fork might be the best thing that could happen to Java at this point.

You should read the entire post above at Apache, but the net/net from the above post is below:

"The Apache Software Foundation concludes that that JCP is not an open specification process - that Java specifications are proprietary technology that must be licensed directly from the spec lead under whatever terms the spec lead chooses; that the commercial concerns of a single entity, Oracle, will continue to seriously interfere with and bias the transparent governance of the ecosystem;  that it is impossible to distribute independent implementations of JSRs under open source licenses such that users are protected from IP litigation by expert group members or the spec lead; and finally, the EC is unwilling or unable to assert the basic power of their role in the JCP governance process.

In short, the EC and the Java Community Process are neither.

To that end, our representative has informed the JCP's Program Management Office of our resignation, effective immediately.  As such, the ASF is removing all official representatives from any and all JSRs. In addition, we will refuse any renewal of our JCP membership and, of course, our EC position."

The truth here is that Sun Microsystems should have done this years ago when ASF sent the open letter to Jonathan Schwartz....

Monday, December 13, 2010

Great Night at Wizards vs. Knicks Game - Meeting NBA Legands

I have Wizards season tickets with my next door neighbor Peter Eelman.  We have two tickets in the 417 section which is upper deck and in the middle.  At less than $15 a game, we got quite a deal.  Friday night Julie and Tim were using the tickets.   I drove them down and was going to just buy a single ticket.  I went to the season ticket holder desk and asked what they could do for me.  They looked me up on their system and said, "how about an $80 seat, seven rows from the court behind the Knicks bench for $50?"  That was a no-brainer.

Below is the ticket and a photo of Walt "Clyde" Frazier speaking to the Wizards/Caps/Mystics owner Ted Leonsis.  They were six feet in front of me.     I wrote multiple book reports on Walt Frazier's classic book on living called "Rockin Steady" until I was told that Lake Braddock issued an official policy would no longer accept book reports on "Rockin Steady" from Dave Edstrom :-)

I went up to the mail level to get a beer and I see this table with names like - Bobby Dandridge, Kevin Porter,  Jack Marin, Kevin Grevey, Freddy "Mad Dog" Carter, Phil Walker,  and Michael Adams.  I asked if this was a pay for autograph session?  I was told, "no, just get in line, grab the autograph sheet and they will all sign for free."  I look over and see five people in line.  I became the sixth.  All of these legends walk by and sit down.  We had time to speak to each of them.  I told Freddy "Mad Dog" Carter that his nickname is one of my all time favorites.  Freddy told me, "and I was the FIRST Mad Dog!" with a big smile on his face.   I then met Bobby Dandridge and told him that I was at the game with my father when the Bullets beat the Sixers.  We had seats right behind the basket.  My dad and I ran onto the court yelling like fools.  I was even interviewed on TV.   My great TV interview was me yelling, "this is great, this is great!.  I told Bobby that I remembered that he was traded to the Bullets because Julius Erving said that Bobby Dandridge was the best defender against him.   When I said that, Freddy said to me, "Bobby NEVER stopped Julius!"  I then said to Freddy, "hey, Bobby got a ring that year and Julius did NOT"  Bobby looked at me and laughed and said, "that's right!"   It was super cool to meet these legends and have a chance to speak to them for awhile.  All the young folks (ok, anyone younger than 50 :-)   just walked by not having a clue how important these men were sitting at the table.

Below is a photo of the table:

From left to right at the autograph table is Phil Walker, Kevin Grevey,  Kevin Porter, Bobby Dandridge,  Freddy "Mad Dog" Carter, Michael Adams,, Garry Witts, and Jack Marin.

Below is a copy of the autographs I was able to get Friday night:

Sunday, December 12, 2010

Two New Important MTConnect Groups - Education, Marketing and Evangelism Group and Cloud Computing Group

Paul Warndorf announced this in the recent MTConnect Newsletter and I wanted to also wanted to announce this on my blog.  The Technical Advisory Group (TAG) met at DMG-Mori Seiki in Hoffman Estates, Illinois, on November 10th I announced the creation of two new important groups.   The first new MTConnect Group is:

Education, Marketing and Evangelism Group

We will work on the strategy we need to have in place to execute on the following:

  • Case Studies, Case Studies, Case Studies,
  • Educating Sales Folks,
  • Articles,
  • Blogs,
  • Developers Groups,
  • Podcasts,
  • Webinars,
  • Conferences,
  • Users Group, and
  • Funding MTConnect.”
The first new MTConnect Group is the:

Cloud Computing Group

This group will work on the strategy we need to have in order to enable:

  • Recruiting and working with cloud computing companies so they can provide the software services manufacturing software companies need to best take advantage of the cloud.  As we enable MTConnect on the factory floor, we are going to see an increasing need to have this data analyzed and integrated.  The cloud offers tremendous opportunities that we simply must take advantage of

If you are interested in participating in either of these groups, please contact me.

Saturday, December 11, 2010

Tim's Accident Avoidance School at Summit Point

I have taken all three of my sons to the Accident Avoidance School at Summit Point Motorsports Park.

Today,(December 11th, 2010)  I took Tim (my youngest son) and Steve Ferry brought his son Matt as well.  Steve and I learned of this course back in 2001.  I took my oldest son John to this (June 18th, 2005)  as well as my middle son Michael (April 6th, 2008).  I do this when my sons are in the junior year of high school after they have had 6 months of driving experience.

It was very cold, but that actually improved the course with the light snow and ice on the tracks.  The boys did great, learned a lot and got a tremendous amount of hands on driving time.  The course was $345 and is well worth it.  In addition, many insurance companies give discounts for attending these types of courses.
BSR’s specialized Accident Avoidance training included both classroom and lots of hands-on driving.

The key points out of the class are:
  • Look where you want the car to go.  The car will go where you eyes are looking.
  • Look where you want the car to go.  The car will go where you eyes are looking.
  • Look where you want the car to go.  The car will go where you eyes are looking.
  • The first three rules above are the key top accident avoidance as the BIGGEST mistake the people make is staring at the wreck in front of them, starting at the tree off on the side of the road, staring at the deer in the middle of the road.
  • You have three inputs:
    1. Steering
    2. Brakes
    3. accelerator
  • Of those three, the most important is the steering.  The biggest mistake people make is locking up the brakes and staring at the one thing they want to avoid.  Be gentle on the brakes, to keep road contact so you keep control and use steering to aim where you are looking (which is where you want the car to go).
  • When driving, you want to look as far down the road as you can.  Your peripheral vision is NOT just what is on your sides, but also what is in front of (between where your eyes are looking down the road and in front of the car.)
  • Keep your hands relaxed at 10 and 2 with your thumbs pointing up on the steering wheel.
  • When you adjust your legs, you should adjust with your foot on the brake pedal, not the accelerator.
  • Place your right foot directly in front of the brake pedal, keep your heel in front of the brake pedal as you rotate your right foot to use the accelerator. 
  • When you are braking, the objective is to be doing a threshold type of braking.  Threshold braking is very important to fully understand.  Below is from wikipedia on Threshold braking:

"Threshold braking or limit braking is a driving technique most commonly used in motor racing, but also practiced in road vehicles to slow a vehicle at the optimum rate using the brakes.

The technique involves the driver controlling the brake pedal (or lever) pressure to maximize the braking force developed by the tires. The optimal amount of braking force is developed at the point when the wheel just begins to slip. Braking beyond this point causes the tire to slide and the friction adhesion between the tire and driving surface is reduced. The aim of threshold braking is to keep the amount of tire slip at the optimal amount, the value that produces the maximum frictional, and thus braking force.

When wheels are slipping significantly (kinetic friction), the amount of friction available for braking is typically substantially less than when the wheels are not slipping (static friction), thereby reducing the braking force. Peak friction occurs between the static and dynamic endpoints, and this is the point that threshold braking tries to maintain.

Because available friction at a given moment depends on many factors including road surface material, temperature, tire rubber compound and wear, threshold braking is nearly impossible to consistently achieve during normal driving."
Below is Tim on his final graduation test lap.

Cloud Computing in Manufacturing

By Dave Edstrom
Director for the Office of Strategic Innovation
AMT – The Association For Manufacturing Technology

In 1984, John Gage and Bill Joy of Sun Microsystems were traveling on a train in China and discussing how the world of computing was changing. This conversation sparked John to make the comment, “The Network is the Computer.”   This became the title of his talk in China and became the tag line for Sun Microsystems. Back in the mid 80s, this phrase was misunderstood by anyone outside the world of computing.   Today, it’s the purest definition of cloud computing.   Unless you have been in the computer industry for a couple of decades, chances are that cloud computing is difficult to comprehend and very misunderstood.
What is cloud computing and why is it so misunderstood? Cloud computing is a broad, umbrella term for many different types of computing. If you ask 10 people what the term cloud computing means, you’re likely to get 11 different answers. Flickr, Gmail, Google, LinkedIn, Facebook, QuickBooks,, Carbonite and Farmville are just some examples of applications that run in the cloud.

Cloud computing has potential to be game-changing technology in manufacturing for everyone from small shops to extremely large manufacturing plants. The key is understanding the process, asking the right questions and making wise provider decisions.
This year the International Manufacturing Technology Show (IMTS) 2010 Emerging Technology Center featured a cloud computing section that was a big hit.
A typical conversation in the cloud computing area went like this:
When you Google something, do you know specifically what city the servers are located in when your search query is actually being run? For that matter, do you care?
The answers were usually something like, “I don't know and I don't care. I simply want my results to come back to me quickly.”
I would then ask, “Would you rather have a small nuclear power plant in your backyard that you owned and managed, or would you rather just pay for what you use from the electric company?”
The answer was, as expected, “I just want to pay for the electricity that I use and not worry about it”.
I would say, “That is exactly what cloud computing is all about at a high level. From a technical standpoint, what you are doing is using large server farms that someone else runs and maintains (loading new software, upgrades, patches, virus protection, etc.), you pay for exactly what you use and you simply get back the results that you want.”
Cloud computing is important for manufacturing because it allows companies to avoid the countless list of business and technical issues associated with running their own data centers and save money by only paying for the computing resources when they need it on a “pay-as-you-go” model.
The natural conclusion at this point is usually: “Oh, you mean like leasing versus buying a car?” Actually, that isn’t the correct analogy. It misses the primary benefits of cloud computing. To truly understand and appreciate the benefits of cloud computing, it is important to first understand the key building blocks — fast bandwidth, the web browser, and large server farms.
Fast bandwidth: Instead of moving the data equivalent to a paragraph per second during the dark days of dial-up, you can now move a book per second with broadband. With these huge communication pipes, the planet just got a whole lot smaller.

Web browser: Sometimes we forget just how ubiquitous the browser is for software applications for both home and office.

Large server farms: There are hundreds of thousands of computers that are heavily used during a couple months each year, but then just twiddle their processor bits the rest of the year. Amazon is the classic example. The company is very busy during November and December, selling books and goods, but the rest of the year the systems are lightly used. Someone at Amazon came up with the brilliant idea of selling time on those systems to offset the huge costs of running hundreds of thousands of computers.

With these three technical pillars of cloud computing in place, it allows software companies to offer their software on these large server farms as a “service.” In other words, users simply point their browser at the software in the cloud and off they go. You pay for what you use, when you use it.

Why are software companies rapidly moving more and more of their applications to cloud computing? Because customers are demanding it. Customers are tired of running their own “nuclear power plants.” Customers are tired of buying lots and lots of servers and then learning that these servers are only being used an industry average of 8 to 15 percent of the time. Customers are tired of all the patching, upgrading, malware, viruses and the plethora of issues that come along with running your own data center. If you are a small manufacturing shop, then this is incredibly important to you. It is very likely that either you or someone else in your small shop wears the hat of IT Manager. You do not have time to constantly worry about all of the patches, upgrades and system administration work – you just want to run your shop. is one of the best, and a classic example of cloud computing. Many credit with starting cloud computing by offering Customer Relationship Management (CRM) as a Software as a Service (SaaS). SaaS is one of the categories of cloud computing that most manufacturing companies would be interested in using. SaaS took SalesForce from a long and detailed list of what servers a customer would need to support a large CRM system on-site, to a simple and straightforward, "all you need is a browser and you have a CRM system." takes care of the rest. This is just one example of the dramatic differences between cloud computing and the standard method.
In addition to SaaS, there are two other categories of cloud computing. PaaS or Platform as a Service and IaaS or Infrastructure as a Service. I will discuss PaaS and Iaas later in this article.
The most important part of cloud computing is the elasticity of the cloud for businesses. Elasticity means the ability to scale up (add computers dynamically) and scale down according to business needs. For example, worries about having all the processing power and storage available for their customers. The beauty of cloud computing from a customer's viewpoint is: As you need more or less computing power or storage, it is simply turned on or off in the cloud.
Scalability applies to large, global manufacturing companies as well. Let's say a company is using software in the cloud for one of its manufacturing plants and the president says, “this is working out well, let's use this for all of our plants worldwide.” At this point the company just informs the cloud computing software company of this new need and the number of computers in the cloud will be made available as the new plants start using the software. In contrast, the traditional model would call for months of sizing exercises to determine how many new servers would be needed for each plant, a purchase and then configuring the software at each of these plants. With cloud technology, months are reduced to minutes to enable the other plants.

The image above is perhaps the best example of the importance of cloud computing in manufacturing today and that is the combination of MTConnect® and cloud computing. MTConnect® is an open and royalty-free protocol standard that allows manufacturing equipment to have a common language to exchange information. As machine tools start spitting out gigabytes of information per hour, does it make any sense to store all this information locally? Even if you are a large manufacturing plant, do you really want to invest in a lot of servers that will be antiques in less than four years? Wouldn't it make more sense to securely store this information in the cloud and use as many (or as few) processors to analyze this data as you need and pay only for what you use?
Like any technology, there is no free lunch. There are important checklist items to verify when selecting a company that has a cloud version of its software or a cloud provider that will be your development platform. At the top of this list is proper security. I encourage everyone considering cloud computing to read the University of California, Berkeley white paper Above the Clouds: A Berkeley View of Cloud Computing that was written by UC Berkeley's Reliable Adaptive Distributed Systems Laboratory. These are my top considerations from the paper:

  • Data Confidentiality and Audit-ability
  • Data Lock-In
  • Data Transfer Bottlenecks
  • Availability of service
  • Performance Unpredictability

The first two points deal with security. This is not because of some inherent security issue with cloud computing, but rather, my core belief that security is always job number one. The next question after I’m asked “what is cloud computing”, is usually, “is cloud computing secure?” My answer is, “do you do online banking?”

In other words, the level of security is totally dependent on the level of security the cloud provider has in place. Security is an end to end problem. Is your local system secure? Is your network secure? Is your data secure on your cloud provider? Whether you are a small manufacturing shop or a large, global manufacturer, ask clarifying questions to understand the security that is being provided. The first two questions are: Is my data secure at rest? Is my data secure in flight? You are asking whether your data is encrypted on their storage devices or as it is being moved from one point to another. If the answer is anything but an unequivocal yes, then raise the red flag. Start with these questions, but they are certainly not the only security questions.

Just because your data is secure, you will need to understand data portability. What I am referring to is answering the question, “how easy is it for me to get all my data out of the cloud?” This becomes quite important if the cloud computing company were to go out of business and take your data with it.

After you address security concerns, the next issue is the availability and performance of the cloud computing provider. You must have in writing the Service Level Agreement (SLA). The SLA is the percentage of uptime the cloud provider guarantees. If the cloud provider does not state a number in your contract, make sure that you will receive a credit for the time the provider was down. SLAs do not guarantee recouping the loss of business revenue for down time. So, you need to understand the specifics of your SLA and have a contingency plan in place for times the service is down. This is no different than how you operate your business when your own servers are down.

PaaS or Platform as a Service and IaaS or Infrastructure as a Service are two other considerations for manufacturers. PaaS and IaaS are for companies that are developing their own software. PaaS provides components that allow developers to combine these components or “mash up” to create new applications. IaaS provides the ability to create virtual machine images (VMI) and run these VMIs in the cloud. All software companies should absolutely be investigating SaaS, PaaS and IaaS.

What are the three things you should be asking your software vendors about cloud computing and specifically SaaS?

  1. Do you have a cloud version of your software? If they do, you need to understand all the pricing options. You should also understand the ability to migrate from a cloud version to a standard software version in the future if you choose to.
  2. Security, security, security. You must understand all the issues here.
  3. Performance and availability. Get it in writing and understand the issues.

Cloud computing is a game changer and you should absolutely be investigating it whether you are a small manufacturing shop or a large, global manufacturer. If you are a software company in manufacturing, then you don’t have a minute to waste before investigating cloud computing because your customers will be demanding it and it is the logical next step in your product roadmap. But, as with any technology, you must be able to separate the quality cloud providers from the disreputable cloud providers.

Dave Edstrom is the director for the Office of Strategic Innovation, AMT – The Association For Manufacturing Technology. For more information on cloud computing, visit his blog at: Photons and Electrons

Friday, December 10, 2010

Republicans Block 9/11 Firefighters Healthcare Bill

Here is the link to the article below.

"WASHINGTON — Republican senators blocked Democratic legislation on Thursday that sought to provide medical care to rescue workers and others who became ill as a result of breathing in toxic fumes, dust and smoke at the site of the World Trade Center attack in 2001.


"Republicans have been raising concerns about how to pay for the $7.4 billion measure, while Democrats, led by Senator Kirsten E. Gillibrand of New York, have argued that there was a moral obligation to assist those who put their lives at risk during rescue and cleanup operations at ground zero."


Go watch the GREAT job Jon Stewart did dedicating an entire Daily Show to the First Responders and the Republicans who are blocking this bill.  It is heart breaking to watch these four heroes below discuss the health problems they have because of 9/11.

The Daily Show With Jon StewartMon - Thurs 11p / 10c
9/11 First Responders React to the Senate Filibuster
Daily Show Full EpisodesPolitical Humor & Satire Blog</a>The Daily Show on Facebook

I am sorry, there is politics and then there is just morally wrong BS political, posturing decisions and this is one of them....

Thursday, December 9, 2010

Redefining the Three D's in Manufacturing - IMTS Insider For December

This is an article I wrote for the IMTS Insider this month:

A statement made by John Engler, the president and CEO of the National Association of Manufacturers, keeps echoing in my mind. Mr. Engler, speaking at the Emerging Technology Center at IMTS 2010, said: “too often, people think of manufacturing as 3D – dark, dreary and depressing. How many of you recommended that your children should go into manufacturing?”

I think a lot about what Mr. Engler said that morning. After going on to discuss the exciting and cool aspects of manufacturing, Mr. Engler emphasized that the problem is the classic “perception is reality.” I could not agree more. I hear industry leaders in manufacturing bemoan the fact that there are very few young people who are entering manufacturing – even in today's economy. The question then becomes three-fold:

  • Can the “3D” perception of manufacturing change?
  • What is really needed to drive the change?
  • What specifically needs to happen for young people to think manufacturing is exciting, cool, pays well and has a very bright future?
  • Not easy questions, to be sure.

My personal opinion is that we are going to see a transition from Mr. Engler's 3D to a new 3D in manufacturing: Dynamic, Digital, and Disruptive
.   If you think that I am just coming up with marketing mumbo-jumbo, please keep reading. Let me be clear, it won't be marketing that will drive this change. It won't be President Obama visiting a manufacturing plant — although I am glad that the President is doing more for manufacturing than any president that I can remember.

Let's face it, if the United States had let the auto industry die out, it would have been a disaster for our country. A point the president also understands is the importance of the entire manufacturing process from design to distribution and the slippery slope that occurs when manufacturing leaves a country — so many other aspects of manufacturing eventually follow. The President’s emphasis on the entire art-to-part value chain seems to be a channeling of Doug Woods and AMT's Manufacturing Mandate. Driving down the price of additive technology, in the exact same fashion as the advent of the PC, will be the key. Let's take a look back to see the similarities to the PC industry.

I first started working in the computer industry in 1978. In the 1970s and early 1980s it was fascinating to witness the entire PC revolution unfold, from the introduction of the MITS Altair 8800 in 1975, Heathkit, Radio Shack's TRS-80, Apple-1, Commodore PET, the Atari and of course the establishment of the personal computer with the IBM PC on August 12, 1981. It is important to remember who had access to computers prior to the introduction of these small, reasonably priced units. Unless you or someone you knew was in the computer industry or you were attending college and majoring in data processing (that is what it was called before becoming known as computer science, or information technology), you had zero chance of ever getting your hands on a computer. The introduction of low-cost computing for the masses was the foundation for the greatest generation of intellectual property and wealth this planet has ever seen.

In Malcolm Gladwell's book Outliers, Gladwell states, "In fact, researchers have settled on what they believe is the magic number for true expertise: 10,000 hours." Gladwell brings up example after example of young people who had the gift of access to technology and the passion to use it as those who ended up being the leaders of the computer revolution. Being smart was not the sole requirement, but instead it was those with easy access to technology, the passion to learn and experiment, as well as just plain hard work that was the difference in those who changed the world. It took 10,000 hours before those individuals were true experts.

I believe there is a better than even chance we will witness history repeat itself, to a lesser degree, with manufacturing for the masses. Let's think about the similarities. Does the average person have the ability to actually manufacture something today? Not unless they are either in manufacturing or know someone who is. Yes, some schools provide basic machine tools, but it is not like those are easy to access for the masses.

Without question, the most exciting part of IMTS 2010 was the Emerging Technology Center. It was additive technology and the micro/nano technology that had everyone shaking their heads in amazement. The key will be additive technology and specifically 3D printers. The price of additive technology continues to drop.

A great example of the start of this revolution is Maker Faire. Maker Faire is put on by MAKE Magazine. From Wikipedia: “Make (or MAKE) is an American quarterly magazine focused on DIY (Do It Yourself) and/or DIWO (Do It With Others) projects involving computers, electronics, robotics, metalworking, woodworking and other disciplines. The magazine is marketed to people who enjoy "making" things and features complex projects which can often be completed with cheap materials, including household items.” Another site to check out is Thingiverse.   Thingiverse has a number of inexpensive additive technology devices and some interesting projects.

Today, the state of this technology is in the equivalent to what was going on in the PC industry back in the mid 1970s. These technologies are viewed as cool stuff for the geeks who like to make DIY or DIWO. There are five pieces of the puzzle that are needed for this additive manufacturing revolution to come to fruition. Four of these are already happening to various degrees.

  • Free or inexpensive CAD/CAM software. We are already there.
  • Low-cost 3D printers. This is the key piece that is starting to happen today to various degrees.
  • Service Bureaus. The ability to easily send the CAD files to a local 3D printing service bureau that can make the part on a full production 3D printer. This is already happening today with Proto Cafe in Redwood City, Calif.
  • Large additive technology companies and machine tool companies that realize it is worth priming this pump because it serves their strategic interests.
  • Everything connected on the net. With MTConnect we are quickly adding manufacturing equipment to the enterprise. Manufacturing is the network.

A great example of why this is important at the professional level is in Greenville, S.C., with a company called ADEX Machining Technologies. 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. ADEX employees have made it very clear that, by wearing both hats, it gives them the satisfaction of both designing parts and then actually creating the part.   ADEX has a tremendous challenge in finding employees who can meet this new hybrid role.

Looking back at the PC revolution, we know the first phase was the ability to provide cheap computing to the masses and the second phase was when these low-cost systems were all networked. The PC revolution was Dynamic, Digital, and it was very Disruptive to the status quo. The entrepreneurs who developed software on PCs and then eventually started their own companies sparked a revolution. Who will be the Bill Gates, the Steve Jobs, and the Scott McNealys of manufacturing? I will bet that it will be those young people with access to technology, the passion to learn and experiment as well as those who are just plain hard workers who will end up changing the world of manufacturing from old 3D to new 3D — Dynamic, Digital and Disruptive. I can't wait.

Dave Edstrom
Director, The Office of Strategic Innovation
AMT - The Association For Manufacturing Technology

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

The Day The Music Died

Thirty years ago John Lennon was murdered.   For the baby boomers like me, December 8th, 1980 was the day the music died.  There would never a Beatles reunion and never be another John Lennon song or interview.   I mention interview because John Lennon had the courage and intelligence to speak on topics of the day.

Yoko Ono wrote yesterday in the New York Times:

"The most important gift we received from him was not words, but deeds. He believed in Truth, and had dared to speak up. We all knew that he upset certain powerful people with it. But that was John. He couldn’t have been any other way. If he were here now, I think he would still be shouting the truth. Without the truth, there would be no way to achieve world peace."

Of course John Lennon was a musical genius, but The Beatles also worked extremely hard.   In Malcolm Gladwell's book Outliers, Gladwell's premise is that it takes 10,000 hours of practice to become an expert in anything.  In the book, Gladwell discusses how The Beatles were invited to play in Hamburg, Germany in 1960 when they were still a struggling band.  What was unusual about Hamburg is that they had to play all night, eight hours straight, seven days a week, for weeks on end.   John Lennon, in an interview after the Beatles disbanded, talking about the band’s performances at Hamburg, said: “We got better and got more confidence.  We couldn’t help it with all the experience playing all night long. . . In Liverpool, we’d only ever done one-hour sessions, and we just used to do our best numbers, the same ones, at every one.   In Hamburg we had to play for eight hours, so we really had to find a new way of playing.”

Sunday, December 5, 2010

The Best/Worse Analysis Formula

Dr. Ben Carson (Dr. Don Long's protege at Johns Hopkins) looks at problems the same way my wife and I always have - a simple, but logical approach. 

  Below is from Ben Carson's book "Take The Risk":

The Best/Worse Analysis Formula

Whether it is deciding on career moves, knowing whether to accept speaking engagements, or discerning which cases to accept, I analyze the risk.

How do I analyze risks and arrive at a decision?

I use a formula that I designed called the Best/Worst Analysis (B/WA) formula. It is actually quite simple.

  • What is the best thing that can happen if I do this?
  • What is the worst thing that can happen if I do this?
  • What is the best thing that can happen if I don’t do it?
  • What is the worst thing that can happen if I don’t do it?

Saturday, December 4, 2010

Sun Old TImers Get Together -- C6 and C5

Above is John Meyer of IBM's red C6 with the IBM Power 8 processor tribute.  John used to be Sun's Mr. SPARC, so that was a big deal when IBM hired John away from Oracle.   Next to John's new Corvette  is my 98 C5 with the C5 and Spinal Tap reference.  Even though mine is 12 years older than John's, it still in pretty good shape :-)  We had a great get together this past Thursday at Gordon Biersch.  It is always fantastic to see all the Sun folks and find out how everyone is doing.  There will never, ever be another place to work like Sun Microsystems....

Cloud Computing Videos For Manufacturing

Below are three videos that will help those in manufacturing understand the basics of cloud computing.  These three videos were created at AMT - The Association For Manufacturing Technology.  These are very professional videos for one reason and one reason only - THE GREAT VIDEO EDITING WORK OF DIYANA HRZIC!
Cloud Computing Videos I, II and III

Cloud Computing Video I of III

Cloud Computing Video II of III

Cloud Computing Video III of III

Below are Cloud Computing Videos I, II and III

Friday, December 3, 2010

Tax Cuts - A Rising Tide Lifts All Yachts - Warren Buffet

Go watch This Week With Christane Amanpour when she speaks with Warren Buffett, Bill and Melinda Gates as well as Ted Turner.  That show is what sparked this blog post.

When I hear this nonsense about "trickle down economics" I go back to George H.W. Bush's statement to Ronald Reagan when he said that "trickle down economics" are "voodoo economics" and they are.  There is no Trickle Down Theory of Economics.  Period.   When I hear the Republicans talk about the need to pay for unemployment benefits but there is NO need to pay for the tax cuts for the ultra-rich it is crystal clear that they are either lying and/or stupid.  There are no other options - lying and/or stupid.  Do the math.  When you extend unemployment benefits to it goes right back into the economy.  When you give huge tax breaks to the rich, they keep it.  The myth of the rich pouring it back into the economy is exactly that - a myth.  CBO has also stated this in no uncertain terms as well.

If President Obama caves in to the Republicans on extending the upper two percent George Bush Tax Cuts then he will be the George McFly of politicians (great article explaining why Obama already is George McFly).  Politifact does a great job showing how completely out to lunch some of the key Republicans are on this issue.  It is no surprise, because any party (not all, but most) that is anti-science (think evolution, global warming, gays in the military, ...), would surely be anti-economics as well.  However, I do think the Republicans are brilliant in their ability to get Obama to cave on important issues.  Obama has zero courage and the Republicans have little knowledge of sciences and even less desire to help the country as witnessed by the Republican Senate Leader Mitch McConnell's "one term Obama" mandate.  Congress's inability or desire to make hard decisions is why we stay in the crapper right now as a nation.  I better stop now and stick to the point of my post - which is economic theory.  Hopefully my long term friend, Steve Fritzinger, will post his comments on this as he is a real expert on economics among other topics.  Steve has a podcast on economics for the BBC which is fantastic.

Obama will end up being a one term President.  As the old saying goes, "dance with who brung ya".  Obama's total cowardice when dealing with the republicans is just unbelievable.  He caves before any fight.  If he was a poker player, he would fold BEFORE the other players bluff.   When I read the following in Mother Jones Magazine, that came out in this latest Wikileaks fiasco (BTW, the founder of Wikileaks should go to jail for this) it became crystal clear to me that any hope of Obama having the courage to lead this country is completely gone:

"In its first months in office, the Obama administration sought to protect Bush administration officials facing criminal investigation overseas for their involvement in establishing policies the that governed interrogations of detained terrorist suspects. A "confidential" April 17, 2009, cable sent from the US embassy in Madrid to the State Department—one of the 251,287 cables obtained by WikiLeaks—details how the Obama administration, working with Republicans, leaned on Spain to derail this potential prosecution.

The previous month, a Spanish human rights group called the Association for the Dignity of Spanish Prisoners had requested that Spain's National Court indict six former Bush officials for, as the cable describes it, "creating a legal framework that allegedly permitted torture." The six were former Attorney General Alberto Gonzales; David Addington, former chief of staff and legal adviser to Vice President Dick Cheney; William Haynes, the Pentagon's former general counsel; Douglas Feith, former undersecretary of defense for policy; Jay Bybee, former head of the Justice Department's Office of Legal Counsel; and John Yoo, a former official in the Office of Legal Counsel. The human rights group contended that Spain had a duty to open an investigation under the nation's "universal jurisdiction" law, which permits its legal system to prosecute overseas human rights crimes involving Spanish citizens and residents. Five Guantanamo detainees, the group maintained, fit that criteria."

It is a shame that Obama looked like such a tough leader in the campaign and has turned out to be such a wimp when dealing with the republicans.

We have gone from the worst president of all time in George W. Bush to someone who looks like the cowardly lion in the movie The Wizard of Oz.

BTW, I am not a Democrat or a Republican, I am a pro-science, pro-logic, pro-knowledge, Independent and I recommend everyone watch The Daily Show or The Colbert Report to get their news and stay away from Fixed Noise (Fox News - it is clear why Fox hosts want Bush tax cuts extended) and MSNBC.  You will be better informed and a happier carbon based unit as well :-)

I should go back to writing about technology, it does not raise my blood pressure :-)

Thursday, December 2, 2010

Great Control Design Article

Below are the first couple of paragraphs on a great article written by Jim Montague, Executive Editor for Control Design.

"Hey, Mr. Machine, how're you feeling today? Mr. COO wants to know. Seriously?

Well, it's about time.

Operators, engineers and managers always want to know how well their machines are running. When machines were simple and shops were small, this was pretty easy to do. However, as machines and their corporations and staffs grew larger and more complex, it became harder to stay aware of how an individual machine's operational health could affect its company's economic health. You know, the old right hand doesn't know what the left hand is doing. 

Still, many sophisticated devices have been developed and implemented to check on the health of machine and production lines, and as these increasingly software-based tools pushed for more and better operations, they also opened up new levels of proactive and predictive maintenance. Likewise, enterprise resource management (ERP) software and other business-level tools also have grown more sophisticated. However, the persistent problem is that both the production and business sides and their monitoring tools apparently still don't know how to talk to each other. "

The bold text above is where the real win with MTConnect will come into play.  It is not just the monitoring, it is the integration of machine tools with rest of the enterprise where we will see the phenomenal changes in manufacturing.

Mr. Montague brings out that point here:

"Despite the historical drawbacks and other new hurdles, some machine builders are finding ways to get machine performance data up to their business-level managers and clients. One of the newest ways to secure and distribute machine information is with the MTConnect ( standard that puts data from different types of equipment and applications into a standard format. Based on XML and HTTP, MTConnect fosters interoperability between machines, controls, equipment and software by employing a standard vocabulary to gather, publish and distribute machine tool data via Internet Protocol (IP) and Ethernet TCP/IP networking."

The rest of this great article is here....

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

MTConnect in the Market by Mark Albert

Mark Albert is the editor of Modern Machine Shop Magazine and wrote the most important article on MTConnect a year ago titled:  MTConnect Is For Real.   He wrote another great article titled, MTConnect in the Market.  Below is just a snippet from Mark's article:
"The developers of the standard, now operating as the MTConnect Institute, a not-for-profit, independent organization (, were careful to avoid restrictions that might hinder its adoption on a voluntary basis. For that matter, there is no restriction on how products “powered by MTConnect” can be made available to the marketplace. In fact, a number of suppliers and end users have chosen to share developments based on MTConnect for free. That’s because they think promoting the standard this way is in their best interest."
Mark Albert is one of the best writers in the business and it is always great when he writes about MTConnect.