Saturday, April 16, 2011

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 April 16th, 2007 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."

UPDATE:  VA continues to be a backward state and allows the gun show loophole.   I also called into the Kojo Nnamdi Show when he had an anniversary show on the VT shooting.   If you go to the 11:52 mark, you can hear my statements and question that goes until the 13:14 mark.

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

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

The History of MTConnect

   Please note I wrote this for the IMTS-Insider   


                                 The History of MTConnect®

                                                                 April 13, 2011
As President and Chairman of the Board for the MTConnect® Institute, I get asked all the time: "How did MTConnect come about?" It is a story that I love telling and it clearly demonstrates why AMT is such an exceptional association.
In March 2006, AMT asked me to come up with a speaker from Sun Microsystems who also had knowledge of manufacturing to speak at AMT's Annual Meeting in Lake Las Vegas. I went through three such speakers over a six-month period as each one either left Sun on their own or had their position eliminated. After the third speaker left the company, I was out of candidates. I felt embarrassed for both Sun and myself that I let AMT down. When I apologized to John Byrd, AMT's President at that time, for not being able to deliver a Sun speaker, John suggested that I do the keynote. I was more than happy to do this, but I knew little about machine tools. John came up with a great suggestion: I could spend two days at IMTS 2006 with AMT's CTO and VP of Technology, Paul Warndorf, in preparation for the keynote. It was a brilliant idea and I jumped at it. Paul took me around to countless exhibitors to learn about the different technologies and ask questions about them.
After we finished the two days, I met with John and Paul where I made two observations and two suggestions.

My observations:
  1. Manufacturing does not have a manufacturing problem. Manufacturing has a computer science problem. The manufacturing industry was like the computer industry back in the mid-1980s. There were too many network protocols and the fight was to own the winning protocol. Back then it was very expensive and you had to place a bet on which network protocol was going to win. It could easily be an additional $700 to enable your PC to be networked in the enterprise. TCP/IP and ethernet eventually won the network battle. When this happened the number of computers networked grew by multitudes, as did the software that would take advantage of the ubiquitous networking. It was the classic story of a rising tide lifting all ships.
  2. Until you have an open and royalty-free way for these machine tools to speak to the rest of the world, nothing else really matters and manufacturing will just continue to struggle. The technologies are already out there today with XML, http and TCP/IP. There was no need to reinvent the wheel. A usable solution could be built on the de facto internet platform that already existed. Additionally, it was important to avoid the "country club approach" that had failed in the past in manufacturing and other industries — the kind where you charge for the protocol and you charge for each deployment.

The suggestions:
  1. You need an economic wake-up call on why it is important to have an open and royalty-free way for these machine tools to speak to the rest of the world.
  2. You need someone who has led a revolution or two, since this is what we are really talking about. They asked me who I suggested. I said the only person I would recommend would be Dr. David Patterson of the University of California at Berkeley (UCB). Dave Patterson is a computer pioneer and a true legend in the computer industry. Dave is one of the most recognizable names in computer science. I knew Dave because he was the advisor at UCB to Bill Joy. Bill was a co-founder at Sun and has been called "the Edison of the internet" by Fortune Magazine. Bill is a legendary programmer and system visionary. I also knew Dave from working with him when I was chairman of a futures conference in 2000.

John Byrd asked if I would reach out to Dave Patterson. Luckily, Dave agreed to work on the project provided I come out and brief him and that we work together on both presentations. I was thrilled to work with someone of Dave Patterson's stature. It was like being a high school basketball player and having Michael Jordan say he wants to work closely with you.
Dave and I worked very hard together to create two hour-long keynote speeches. Dave joked that if he knew how much time he was going to put into it, he might not have said yes to me. But our presentations were a huge success. Rick Kline of Gardner Communications came up to me afterwards and said that our presentations were two of the best that he had ever seen in manufacturing. It was great to see that we'd had such an impact.

Doug Woods was AMT's Chairman of the Board, leading AMT along with John Byrd. John and Doug suggested that AMT seriously consider our proposal for a common way for machine tools to speak using proven internet protocols. I told my wife that night that I felt great about what Dave Patterson and I had accomplished, but I was not convinced a manufacturing association had the courage to execute this plan to revolutionize manufacturing.
John and Doug proved me wrong. In November, just one month after the AMT Annual Meeting, a small group of us went to meet with Dave Patterson at UCB. Dave brought in Dr. Armando Fox from the Computer Science Department to help lead this effort, since Dave simply did not have the time. Paul Warndorf, AMT VP of Technology, brought in Dr. Dave Dornfeld of UCB's Mechanical Engineering Department to join the MTConnect team. Armando later brought in Will Sobel, who was an Assistant Professor at UCB. It was Will who did the real heavy lifting with MTConnect. It was Will who put countless hours leading the efforts to create the actual spec and writing the adapters, agents, demos and so many things for MTConnect. Will continues to do a lot of the heavy lifting today, but his time is also spent running his new company, System Insights. MTConnect would have never happened without Paul Warndorf's expertise, passion and guidance. Paul has been MTConnect's shepherd, conductor and guiding light.
I am very proud of the work I did with Dave Patterson to lay out the roadmap for MTConnect. That was the seed and I am extremely proud to have planted that very important seed. It was AMT that funded MTConnect. We used the working groups made up of industry experts, which was the exact same approach that Sun used to create Java. It worked for Java and it is working for MTConnect. We pulled together a diverse group of very smart people like Paul Warndorf, John Byrd, Doug Woods, Dr. Dave Dornfeld, Will Sobel, and Dr. Armando Fox and many others to create MTConnect working groups.
John Byrd has said that, "MTConnect will be more important in the 21st century for manufacturing than CNC was for manufacturing in the 20th century."  I could not agree more. MTConnect continues to grow at an incredible pace and I know John Byrd will be proven 100% correct.

Saturday, April 9, 2011

The Story of Linux: Commemorating 20 Years of the Linux Operating System

I remember ~20 years ago, a scientist at USGS loading up Linux on countless (ok about 50) 3 /1/2" floppies) and I thought, why are you screwing around with this?   I was wrong :-)

FREE MTConnect/Virtual Photons Electrons Polo Shirt - Three MTConnect Success Stories

 In order to prime the pump for success stories, my company,Virtual Photons Electrons, will
provide one FREE MTConnect/Virtual Photons Electrons polo shirt to anyone
who provides three documented MTConnect success stories. 
The shirt will be a
short sleeve polo shirt with the  MTConnect logo on the left chest area and Virtual Photons Electrons
on the right sleeve.  Yes, I am putting my money where my mouth is :-)

How do YOU get one of these GREAT shirts?

Send three MTConnect success stories to me:   (MTConnect members, you know how to reach me)

Include the following for each success story:

MTConnect Success Story Template
Company Name:
Customer email:
Date MTConnect Deployed:
Approximate number of systems MTConnect is deployed on:
                       (notice I am not saying exact amount if customer views this as proprietary)
Types of manufacturing equipment:
                       (notice I am not saying exact name of manufacturing equipment if customer views this as proprietary)
Type(s) of software deployed:
                       (notice I am not saying exact name of software if customer views this as proprietary)
The business and technical reasons WHY the customer went with MTConnect:
                       (a paragraph)

ROI from both a business and technical standpoint:
                       (a couple of paragraphs)
Permission from customer to use this information on under success stories.

More info is obviously better, but I am trying to balance our need for success stories
and customers need for some degree of privacy.   This is the NUMBER ONE REQUEST
we get at the MTConnect Institute - examples of MTConnect success stories.


--Dave Edstrom
President and Chairman of the Board
MTConnect Institute