Monday, December 31, 2012

Redskins Beat Dallas 28-18 to be NFC East Champs!!

I attended the Redskins - Dallas NFC East Championship game last night with my youngest son Tim.  This was the final season game and it was the first time ever that it was a win or go home for the NFC East Championship between the Cowboys and the Redskins.  Tim dressed in classic RG III Redskins jersey and I dressed for warmth :-)    As I told Tim, you will tell your kids someday, "I was AT THE GAME!"  Julie and Tim will be going the Redskins vs. Seahawks Playoff Game on Sunday the 6th of January at 4:30 eastern. 

Above is the outside of FedEx Field before the 8:30pm, 25 degrees with a wind game between the Dallas Cowboys and the Washington Redskins.

Below is the sign congratulating the skins for winning the NFC East.   Alfred Morris ran smash mouth football and ran over the Cowboys for 200 yards and three touchdowns on 33 carries — all career highs for Big Al!

Friday, December 28, 2012

Great Manufacturing Book - Overall Equipment Effectiveness by Robert C. Hansen

I read a great manufacturing book over the holiday break:

Overall Equipment Effectiveness 

A powerful Production/Maintenance Tool 

for Increased Profits

by Robert C. Hansen

Thanks to John Ratray and Dave McPhail of Memex, I received a signed copy of Bob Hansen's fantastic book on OEE.  Memex have been tremendous supporters of MTConnect and we can not thank Dave, John and the whole Memex team enough for their support.

I first met Bob at IMTS 2012 and was very impressed.  We are very fortunate that Bob is giving a talk at [MC]2 2013 MTConnect: Connecting Manufacturing Conference.

Bob's book is rich with specific examples, as well as detailed discussions and formulas on how to quantify a plant's efficiency and effectiveness.

In the beginning Bob lays out the big picture:

"World-class manufacturing areas share two common characteristics.  They are data driven and they are led by synergistic multi-function leadership teams.  Accurately measuring and driving key success parameters contributes to higher productivity for both the area and the plant.  A method called Overall Equipment Effectiveness (OEE) can help you better understand how well a manufacturing area is performing, and identify what is limiting higher effectiveness."
I highlighted data driven and accurately measuring because that is exactly where MTConnect comes into play.

Bob writes:
"Measurement is a significant part of factory life.  Nearly every job involves measures and controls, if for no other reason that to evaluate good and bad product and work."
In another section of Bob's fantastic book he writes:
"Two of the most important steps in promoting RAM (Reliability Availability Maintainability) are collecting and analyzing data."
 This review can not do justice for how good this book really is.  I like how Bob wraps up his book in Chapter 10 discussing "The Success Riddle".
"Having good tools is one thing.  Being able to apply the right tool at the right time in the right place is another.  The success riddle is unique for each factory, as no two factories are alike."
This book is a must purchase for anyone in manufacturing!

Saturday, December 22, 2012

Great Example of Mazak's MTConnect Leadership

I was thrilled to hear that Mazak is having a conference called: “MTConnect: Downstream Applications to Increase Productivity and Competitiveness” and led by Neil Desrosiers.  Neil is the,Mazak applications engineer/developer and a real thought leader in manufacturing and in the MTConnect community, plus he is just a great guy.  The announcement lists the following points as the main agenda for the Jan. 30 at 2 p.m. ET webinar:
• How MTConnect exists to set the standard communication method for retrieving data from manufacturing equipment,
• How MTConnect works and what capabilities can be gained via the protocol,
• How Mazak makes it easy to implement the MTConnect standard,
• What an MTConnect-enabled facility looks like,
• Upcoming MTConnect advancements, including dynamic scheduling.
The site also states   "All it takes to participate is a computer, an Internet connection and a web browser. Registration for the webinar is now open at"

Wednesday, December 19, 2012

iPhone 5 versus Samsung Galaxy SIII - Why I Went With iPhone

Tim, my youngest son, both upgraded to the new iPhone 5 this past Saturday.  Tim went with the 32GB and I went with the 64GB. 

I hesitated going to the iPhone 5 because of the great things I read about the Samsung Galaxy SIII and Android being an open platform.  I also hesitated because of Mike Briggs post on, "8 Reasons Why I Hate My iPhone 5".   Having tremendous amount of respect for Mike, this caused me great pause.  I spoke to many individuals who switched from the iPhone to  Samsung Galaxy SIII .   Then Mike wrote a follow up post, titled "8 Reasons Why I Love My iPhone 5".  At first, I thought this was going to be a tongue-in-cheek type of post, but Mike has changed his point of view with some great points.

What really caused me to go to an iPhone 5 was all the benchmarks of the iPhone 5 versus the Samsung Galaxy SIII.   In every single benchmark the iPhone 5 was faster.  This is important to me as I tend to quickly check things on my iPhone and do not need the bigger screen that the Samsung has.   Having 130 iPhone apps was less of an issue, but not a non concern.

I have had it five days now and I am very impressed.  The quality is tremendous.  The battery life is very impressive.  Google put their maps back on iTunes which is a great thing.  Siri is better than I thought if you stick with the basics.  The best quote on the iPhone 5 was Tim the other night, "this is almost too fast" he said half jokingly.

Moving from an iPhone 4 running 6.0.1 to an iPhone 5 running 6.0.1 was painless.  I do encrypt my backups so that I do not have to re-enter any login/password information after I upgrade.  I nearly did a big FUBAR when I encrypted my iPhone backup (a different password than your phone of course) and nearly forgot which of my 8 "standard" haystacked passwords that I used.  That would have been a big D'OH, but I got it on my third attempt.  I was almost at capacity with my 32GB iPhone 4, so the total process was a few hours, but there were no problems.  

I picked up a nice bumper as well the Photive Hybrid iPhone 5 Bumper Case - Black. Designed for The New iPhone 5. Updated Lightning Port Cutout for $9.95.

Most interesting to me is the speed difference between LTE and WiFi as illustrated below:

 I run the full WPA-2 security here at home and that accounts for some of the slow speed.  I never thought in 2012 I would just turn off WiFi because it was slower on my phone.

I sold my iPhone 4s on Gazelle for $149.  I should have sold them last week when they were paying $165.   The sales almost paid for my iPhone 5 which was nice.

Monday, December 17, 2012

The MTConnect Challenge!!!

There is no better supporter of MTConnect than Ralph Resnick.  Ralph is the President of National Center for Defense Manufacturing and Machining (NCDMM) and on the MTConnect Board of Directors.  NCDMM has been a tremendous partner of MTConnect.  Ralph is a true thought leader and just a great guy as well.  I am extremely lucky to be able to be able to seek Ralph's advice on a number of topics.  I can not thank Ralph enough for everything that he does for not only MTConnect but manufacturing!

This MTConnect Challenge really proves how far MTConnect has come since 2007!

Below are some snippets from the NCDMM homepage discussing the MTConnect Challenge.

The MTConnect® Challenge is comprised of two main goals:
  1. To engage and stimulate a broader base of software and system architects to develop advanced enterprise, facility, and machine control applications based on, and extensions to, the MTConnect® standard to enable a more efficient and competitive domestic manufacturing infrastructure for the defense enterprise; and
  1. To create valuable tools and applications that can be easily adopted by manufacturing enterprises, especially the lower tier producers, to enhance their manufacturing capabilities and support Department of Defense (DoD) supply chain management goals.

The expectation is that the interoperability afforded by MTConnect® will enable a host of third-party solution providers to develop software and hardware products to make the entire manufacturing enterprise more productive. Although a limited number of applications utilizing MTConnect® have emerged, a comprehensive and wide spread initiative would go a long way in socializing and formalizing the potential impact of the MTConnect® standard on an extended manufacturing enterprise.

Sunday, December 16, 2012

CTMA, MTCTAG and CCAT Presentations in Connecticut

A week ago I was in Hartford, Connecticut giving a number of presentations.

 Above is the title slide for the MTConnect presentation I gave at the Connecticut Tooling & Machining Association (CTMA) on December 4th.

On December 5th and 6th we had and MTConnect Technical Advisory Group (MTCTAG) Meetings at the Connecticut Science Center which was extremely nice.  We had great conversations and many of us ended up at Steam City Brewing after the meetings :-)

On Friday the 7th, I gave a presentation on MTConnect at the Connecticut Center for Advance Technology (CCAT).  Special thanks to Tom Scotton of CCAT, Director of Modeling & Simulation Laboratory, for being a FANTASTIC host for both the MTCAG and the CCAT MTConnect event!

Saturday, December 15, 2012

Contest for the Best MTInsight Ideas!

MTInsight is having a contest for the next great idea!  Below is a graphic and a snippet from the contest page.  Please click on the graphics below to learn more!

Got a great idea for an MTApp on MTInsight?

It could be worth $5,000

Access to specific, relevant data is what can drive your business ahead of the competition. The goal of MTInsight is to offer you good data in a format that is easily digestible so you can use it to make decisions for your business. Now you have the opportunity to help develop the next great MTApp.

MTInsight is holding a contest to find the best ideas for new apps. As an added incentive, we've got some great cash prizes for our top three winners:

  • 1st place winner: $5,000
  • 2nd place winner: $3,000
  • 3rd place winner: $2,000 

Wednesday, December 12, 2012

Just The Facts, Ma'am

Dec 12, 2012
When the 2012 election is reviewed from a statistical standpoint, it will be recognized as the year Nate Silver beat Karl Rove. First, for those who worry that this is a political rant, I have voted Republican, Democrat and Independent in presidential elections since 1980. This is about the importance of data and not about politics.
Epistemology is the branch of philosophy concerned with the nature and scope of knowledge. Nate Silver is very famous as an innovative and brilliant statistician in baseball and poll predictions. Karl Rove needs no introduction. I met Karl Rove once on a flight from Colorado Springs to Washington, D.C. I could not have been more impressed with how smart and how nice he was.
If you were like me on election night, you flipped around from one channel to another to see what was being said. I like the statistical nature of the Electoral College predictions. All of the channels seemed to be basically in sync in terms of predicting states. If you happened to see what state go for a particular party, you could turn to a different station and likely see another station call it in a sway fashion. If you were watching Fox News like I happened to be at the time, you witnessed an interesting situation of Karl Rove questioning the number crunchers at Fox News assessment that president Obama had won Ohio. Mr. Rove said it was “early” and “premature” for Fox News to call Ohio for Obama. The anchor, Megyn Kelly, walked down to the experts and they calmly and rationally explained their math. These experts then were brought back to the set and explained the rational directly to Karl Rove. What came through was the importance of taking emotion out of data analysis.
Just in case you have never heard of Nate Silver, he first became famous as a statistician who used data and metrics to predict how baseball players and teams would perform in the future. In 2008, his FiveThirtyEight blog correctly predicted the way that 49 of 50 states would vote for president, and in 2012 he went 50 for 50. What is fascinating about Nate Silver is that he comes across as a very calm, smart statistician who takes the many polls that are out there and makes extremely accurate predictions. There is no emotion and it reminds me of the line from the classic show Dragnet: “Just the facts, ma’am.” Many articles have been written since the election where the basic theme was, “is punditry dead and has data analysis taken its place?” I will show my bias here in that I prefer data geeks to pundits of any party.
This is where I think of both MTInsight and MTConnect. Both MTInsight and MTConnect are all about providing “just the facts.” MTConnect is the open and royalty-free standard that provides “just the facts” coming from manufacturing equipment. This data typically ends up in shop floor monitoring dashboards first with integration into manufacturing systems the next logical step. MTInsight is the business intelligence tool that is a must-have to succeed in today's manufacturing world. MTInsight is entirely cloud-based and provides information on markets, benchmarking surveys, industry forecasts, your competitors, customers and supply chain. MTInsight provides the facts in a variety of formats to help manufacturing companies understand where they need to invest today and in the future.
What would Nate Silver think about MTInsight? I believe, if Nate Silver was in the manufacturing sector, he would be a subscriber to MTInsight. A statistician, who wants to understand data and not base decisions on emotion, would find MTInsight is critical to manufacturing success.
You can learn more about MTInsight at For questions, pricing, or to schedule a live demonstration, contact Mark Kennedy ( or 703-827-5220) or Kim Brown ( or 703-827-5223) to learn how you can improve your business with manufacturing business intelligence.
If the 2012 elections were the tipping point for data over pundits, then I believe 2013 will be the year where manufacturing business intelligence will reach a tipping point. All too often we hear why a manufacturing shop or plant does things a certain way and it is typically a statement such as, “that’s how dad and grandpa did it.” Think about the questions that Nate Silver might ask if he showed up at your plant, shop or company and wanted to improve productivity. What would Nate Silver want to know first? He would want the truth, no emotion and “just the facts.”

Sunday, December 9, 2012

Dave McPhail, President and CEO of Memex Automation, Discusses MTInsight

Dave McPhail, President and CEO of Memex Automation, is a great guy, a real thought leader and a tremendous contributor to MTConnect.

Dave and I were having a nice dinner in Hartford Connecticut when I asked him about his thoughts on the MTInsight IMTS 2012.

IMTS 2012 is the definition of a killer app as I write about here.

Listen to what Dave says about IMTS 2012 and the ROI it gives.

Saturday, December 1, 2012

Always Read The Play List - Worst Concert I Have EVER Been To

Last night I went with a couple of long time friends (Jeff and Dave) (friends since 1975) to see Neil Young and Crazy Horse at the Patriot Center. I have been a fan of CSN & Y and Neil Young since the early 1970s.  We had dinner at Hard Times and it is always great getting together with Jeff and Dave.


He started at 9pm and played until about 11:20.  He played 12 songs and according to (see below) it certainly appears that is the same order he played last night.

  1. Encore:
  2. Here's the problem.  He only played three of his most popular songs - The Needle and the Damage Done, Cinnamon Girl and Hey Hey, My My.  But, one could argue that these others were providing a different type of concert.  When he played those songs, the crowd went crazy with applause.  Yes, but HERE is the REAL PROBLEM, he turned these non-popular songs into disco (super long) version of the songs that would NOT END!!!!  One song went on for 15 minutes with mindless meandering that made Spinal Tap look like a military band.   People were getting up and walking out of the concert.

    There are lots of Neil Young fanboys out there stating, "well that is why he is BRILLIANT, he does NOT play his popular songs!"   Yeah, REAL freaking brilliant.  You will NEVER see me at another Neil Young concert.  


Saturday, November 24, 2012

The Who Quadrophenia - Live at Verizon Center

Julie and I went with long time friends Jeff and Laurie Stone to see The Who at the Verizon Center.  It was a GREAT time!

That is me with Simon Townsend before the concert.  Simon is Pete Townsend's brother.  Simon happen to be walking by The Who gift shop area when Jeff said, "hey, that's Simon Townsend over there".   I walked right up and said, "Simon, Dave Edstrom, great to see you again."  Simon said, "great to see you Dave".  I got this photo and his autograph.  Very cool!

Above is Simon Townsend's signature on my ticket for the Quadrophenia concert.

Zak Starkey (Ringo Starr's son)

Roger and Pete 

Below is Roger and Pete talking about their Teenage Cancer Trust work.  At the 42 minute mark they discuss their history.

3D Printer In Action - Paul Warndorf, VP of Manufacturing Technology

This is a video I took of Paul Warndorf, VP of Manufacturing Technology, discussing 3D printing and in particular discussing what the 3D printer in AMT's world headquarters in McLean, VA.

Wednesday, November 21, 2012

138 Points In ONE Game By Jack Taylor of Grinnel

This is incredible that a Jack Taylor of Grinnel broke an almost 50 year old NCAA basketball record for scoring by getting 138 points in one game!  Are you freaking kidding me?  As this article at the San Jose Mercury News stated:

"Taylor made 27 of 71 3-point attempts, was 52 of 108 overall from the field and added seven free throws on 10 attempts while playing 36 minutes in Grinnell's 179-104 victory over Faith Baptist Bible on Tuesday night in Grinnell, Iowa."
Can you imagine the players from Faith Baptist Bible when they were asked how they did, "we scored 104 points."   The response would be, "oh, so you won?"  Then the response would be, "no, we lost by 75 points."

Sunday, November 18, 2012

The Network Is The Computer

Nov 16, 2012

-Dave Edstrom

Note: This was written for the November 14th, 2012 IMTS Insider

The phrase, “The Network Is The Computer”, was Sun Microsystems company tag line. Today, that phrase is obvious to anyone who has ever sat in front of a web browser; however, in 1984 that was the most prophetic statement anyone could have made to predict the future of computing. I worked at Sun from early 1987 through 2010 and this slogan proved to be the blueprint not only for Sun’s vision of computing, but the vision of computing for companies around the globe. It’s important to understand how and why this slogan came to be a landmark for an entire industry.

The history of this phrase goes back to a 1984 train ride in China that John Gage, Sun employee #21, creator of JavaOne, NetDay and Chief Researcher and Director of the Science Office and Bill Joy, Sun co-founder, Chief Scientist and known as the “Edison of the Internet”. How do I know this? I was fortunate enough to have a number of dinners with John and Bill. I remember asking Bill at a Sushi restaurant in Aspen, CO when I was there with two other Technical Directors and a Distinguished Engineer, how the phrase came about. Bill told the story that he and John were traveling on the train in China and they were going through John’s slides. John made the observation that importance of the network was growing at an exponential rate and he wanted to reflect that in the title of his upcoming talk. Initially, John said that “the network is the disk drive”, to which Bill, replied that the phrase did not capture his talk. John then came up with, “the network is the computer”, and that was used for the talk and became Sun’s famous tag line.

A few years later I was having dinner with John and a CTO from a local technology company in DC when I decided to ask John about the history of Sun’s tag line. John repeated what Bill said almost word for word.

It is very important to put that time period in perspective for those who were not in the industry back then. In 1984 computer networking was just starting to take shape with various non-compatible networks that completely lack of the characteristics that we take for granted today. In the 1980s and the early 1990s there were different topologies from ring, star, bus and net to the plethora of networks and protocols from AppleTalk, Banyan VINES, FDDI, SMB, MS-NET, Ethernet, Token Ring, DECnet, SNA, ARCnet, 802.3, SDLC, XNS, X.25, TCP/IP, ISDN, and ATM to name just a few. Networking computers together was complicated and expensive. A popular network was called SneakerNet. For those of you not old enough, SneakerNet was when you grabbed a floppy, wrote the file(s) needed to be transferred on it, and then carried it (SneakerNet) to the person’s PC that needed the file. The role of network engineer came out of this time period. There was no plug-n-play as we have today. There was no cloud computing. There were no smart phones. There were no iPads or tablets. AOL was considered a powerhouse in the early 1990s because they had literally banks of modems that you would dial into and hear the high pitch hand shake between your computer’s modem and AOL’s on the other end. 1984 was a very long time ago in the computer industry and for John Gage to have made that incredible insightful comment is absolutely amazing.

Digital Equipment Corporation (DEC), came out with a t-shirt that said, “The Network is the Network, The Computer is the Computer, Sorry For Any Confusion.” At Sun, we got a kick out of that t-shirt, but DEC really did miss the point.

Today, the phrase is ingrained in everything that we do online. When you use an app on your iPhone or Android, do you know or even care where the data is stored? Not unless you are a geek you don’t. You simply want access to your data in a fast and reliable fashion.

On January 10th, 2006, I happened to be out at Sun's Headquarters in Menlo Park, CA when I heard about the Sun Founders Panel to be held the evening the next day at The Computer History Museum. Like any long time Sun employee or geek in general, I wanted to be there live. When I went there in the afternoon of the 11th, I was told there were no more tickets left. I asked the nice folks at The Computer History Museum what could I do in order to get in. They said that there would be a waiting list that they would start at 6:00pm taking names. I asked if I purchased a very nice Computer Museum polo shirt would I be #1 on the list. They smiled said, "I think we can do that." Luckily for me, I was one of the few on the waiting list who did get in that night.

It was a fantastic night that was hosted by John Gage with all four of Sun's founders there - Andy Bechtolsheim, Vinod Khosla, Scott McNealy and Bill Joy. I learned about Vaughn Pratt and the huge contributions that he made to Sun Microsystems. Vaughn designed the famous Sun logo, which features four interleaved copies of the word "sun"; it is an ambigram according to Wikipedia.
At the end of the evening, there was time for question and answer. I thought this was a great time to permanently capture the story of "The Network is the Computer". One of the reasons that I did this is I remember sitting in a meeting at Sun a few years back with some customers I knew very well when a marketing VP was trying to take credit for coming up with the phrase. Not being the shy introvert and not wanting to see customers get wrong information, I spoke up and said, “John Gage came up with the phrase with Bill Joy on a train trip in China in 1984. I know this because I personally asked both of them.” The marketing VP then backed down from his outlandish claim. I then went to the microphone and asked Bill and John to retell the story, which they did.
As you can probably tell by now, I am a bit of history buff when it comes to the computer industry. I believe how we got to a given point matters. I also believe that the computer industry is one of the best examples of where a rising tide really does lift all ships. When John made his famous statement it was not just a title for his talk in China, nor was simply the future tag line of Sun Microsystems, but it was really a call to action for an entire industry. By laying out the destination, John inspired thousands of engineers from around the globe to help build that vision.

In 2006, I was giving a keynote at AMT’s annual meeting in Lake Las Vegas, Nevada. This was the first of two keynotes that was the beginning of MTConnect. Dr. David Patterson of University of California Berkeley gave the second keynote laying out MTConnect. In my presentation borrowed Sun’s slogan and modified for a point I was making regarding the future of manufacturing. My slide title was, “The Network Is The Machine Tool.” I strongly believed that then and time has only reinforced my belief. Cloud computing and cloud storage is dramatically changing manufacturing. Look for a future IMTS Insider article from me titled, “The Network Is The Machine Tool”, where I will show why John Gage was right in 1984 and will be continued to be right today and specifically as it applies to manufacturing.

Sunday, November 11, 2012

Great 60 Minutes Episode on Manufacturing

Great 60 Minutes episode tonight (November 11, 2012) titled, Three million open jobs in U.S., but who's qualified?, on the importance of having the right technical skills needed in manufacturing in 2012.  Here is a quote from the article:
"Just in manufacturing, there are as many as 500,000 jobs that aren't being filled because employers say they can't find qualified workers."
I hear this all the time when I am either in the rust belt or talking to those who are looking for qualified employees in manufacturing.

Thanks - Veterans Day 2012

Thanks to my father John Kenneth Edstrom who did two tours of duty in Vietnam as an officer in the Air Force.  My father is also in the very unique category in that he was awarded TWO BRONZE STARS for the two tours of duty for his countless acts of bravery in his two years in Vietnam.  The Bronze Star Medal is a United States Armed Forces military decoration that may be awarded for bravery, acts of merit, or meritorious service.  

Thanks to my cousin Chris Edstrom who has done two tours of duty in Iraq and two in Afghanistan.  Thanks to Dr. Harry Foxwell, Paul Warndorf and Brad Kirley for their service to our country.

History of Veterans Day as stated at

On the 11th hour of the 11th day of the 11th month of 1918 an armistice between Germany and the Allied nations came into effect. On November 11, 1919, Armistice Day was commemorated for the first time. In 1919, President Wilson proclaimed the day should be "filled with solemn pride in the heroism of those who died in the country’s service and with gratitude for the victory". There were plans for parades, public meetings and a brief suspension of business activities at 11am.

In 1926, the United States Congress officially recognized the end of World War I and declared that the anniversary of the armistice should be commemorated with prayer and thanksgiving. The Congress also requested that the president should "issue a proclamation calling upon the officials to display the flag of the United States on all Government buildings on November 11 and inviting the people of the United States to observe the day in schools and churches, or other suitable places, with appropriate ceremonies of friendly relations with all other peoples."

An Act (52 Stat. 351; 5 U. S. Code, Sec. 87a) was approved on May 13, 1938, which made November 11 in each year a legal holiday, known as Armistice Day. This day was originally intended to honor veterans of World War I. A few years later, World War II required the largest mobilization of service men in the history of the United States and the American forces fought in Korea. In 1954, the veterans service organizations urged Congress to change the word "Armistice" to "Veterans". Congress approved this change and on June 1, 1954, November 11 became a day to honor all American veterans, where ever and whenever they had served.

In 1968 the Uniforms Holiday Bill (Public Law 90-363 (82 Stat. 250)) made an attempt to move Veterans Day to the fourth Monday of October. The bill took effect in 1971. However, this caused a lot of confusion as many states disagreed with this decision and continued to hold Veterans Day activities on November 11. In 1975, President Gerald R. Ford signed Public Law 94-97 (89 Stat. 479), which stated that Veterans Day would again be observed on November 11 from 1978 onwards. Veterans Day is still observed on November 11.

Harry Foxwell always sends out a nice email to Sun employees (and I imagine others).  Two years ago, he asked the question: Do you know where your veterans are?

Tomb of the Unknowns at Arlington National Cemetery:
National World War II Memorial:
Marine Corps Memorial:
US Navy Memorial:
Air Force Memorial:
Korean War Veterans Memorial:
Vietnam Veterans Memorial:
Vietnam Women's Memorial:
Iraq Veterans Memorial:

Department of Veterans Affairs:

Tuesday, October 30, 2012

A Fresh Approach For Computer Security

The quote, “Everything should be made as simple as possible, but no simpler", of course, comes from Albert Einstein and is in a very interesting article, "Killing the Computer to Save It" in the New York Times by John Markoff.

This article is about Peter G. Neumann, an 80-year-old computer scientist at SRI International, who Markoff lists as the person who coined the term "Unics".  This is the first time I heard of this as this canonical story is that it was Brian Kernighan named it (in a humorous fashion) the Uniplexed Information and Computing System (UNICS) as a pun on MULTICS.   Neumann's statement, "complex systems break in complex ways” which could not be more accurate.  The article discusses the need for a fresh approach to computer security.

The article by John Markoff starts off with an interesting story earlier on in the article:
"As an applied-mathematics student at Harvard, Dr. Neumann had a two-hour breakfast with Einstein on Nov. 8, 1952. What the young math student took away was a deeply held philosophy of design that has remained with him for six decades and has been his governing principle of computing and computer security."
I could not agree more with the importance of taking a fresh look at computer architecture and computer security as the article points out below:
"The program includes two separate but related efforts: Crash, for Clean-Slate Design of Resilient Adaptive Secure Hosts; and MRC, for Mission-Oriented Resilient Clouds. The idea is to reconsider computing entirely, from the silicon wafers on which circuits are etched to the application programs run by users, as well as services that are placing more private and personal data in remote data centers.
Clean Slate is financing research to explore how to design computer systems that are less vulnerable to computer intruders and recover more readily once security is breached."
My oldest son John is in the computer profession as well with a BS and MS from VT.  I have given him (sometimes he even asked for :-) career advice over the years.   Something that I have told him and university/college students is the following, "you want to a job in computers?  Become a security expert or a performance god and you will always have a job."   The opportunities are endless because so are the challenges.  You can quote me on that last one :-)

Monday, October 29, 2012

Excellent Bosch CNC Course in Detroit

I attended the Bosch Rexroth CNC Course in Detroit on October 15th.  It was an excellent course that went through a variety of topics.  I was very fortunate to receive this course thanks to the great folks at Bosch Rexroth.  My investment was my time and my company (Virtual Photons Electrons) paid for all the expenses.  There is no substitute for sitting down and getting hands-on training.   As my grandfather Melvin Thompson told my father when he told him he was going to college at St. Olaf, "you don't learn how to milk a cow by reading a book."   I am convinced you can not truly learn anything without getting your hands dirty and doing it, however you need both - theory and practice.

Below is the setup that each attendee had for the hands-on course.  This was the first day of class so you can see a very simple ladder logic program that I was just starting to create.  From right to left on the photo below you see:
  •  The PC running the IndraWorks Engineering IDE (as well as other software, such as IndraWorks Operations, and other software including simulators), 
  • To the left of the screen is the CNC/PLC which in this case is an IndraControl L65 (which has an Intel Celeron M/1 GHz, 512MB RAM, 8MB SRAM, 1 GB Compact Flash, with SERCOS II, PROFIBUS, Ethernet, real-time ethernet - I/O including 8 digital input and 8 digital output with the power supply to drive it)
    • Think of this as the brain of the overall system
  • To the far left is the IndraDrive Cs which is the system that is also known as the motion controller.  These controls will drive/control manufacturing equipment (at a very low level) such as those motors or devices that one might find in a machine tool or a conveyor line (to name just two examples).

I was very impressed with the tools that Bosch Rexroth has created for it IndraWorks platform.   I was told by a number of Bosch Rexroth and non-Bosch Rexroth individuals that Bosch Rexroth have far and away the best tools compared to other vendors.  I was very impressed that Bosch Rexroth uses Wind River as their CNC OS as well as how they use WinStudio for the IDE.
The course covered a wide variety of topics:
·      CNC Overview - including Hardware and Software
·      Overview of Industrial PCs
·      Embedded HMIs
·      IndraWorks Operation MTX screens (libraries, F-keys, Op-keys, M-keys, user screens, logbook, communication, screen modification)
·      Parameters
·      IndraWorks Software including IndraWorks Engineering
·      MTX HMI  Screen containers and layout   - Virtual Control Panel ie VAM40
·      Machine status
·      NC-programming  (note that my long time friend (Neil P. Groundwater aka npg) will be thrilled to know that NC files are appended with the .npg  for Nc ProGram  - this is true :-)
·      Tool Management and System screens
·      Maintenance / troubleshooting screens  
·      Operation modes (demo explanation)
·      IndraWorks Operation (screens, modes PLC - IndraLogic multi-tasking (languages, tools and editors, libraries, etc.)
·      CNC<->PLC interface (global, channel, axis, spindle, local I/O, aux functions, perm. variables, def. perm. variables, System Data)
·      Profibus Fieldbus diagnostics and status
·      NC-program edit/run, etc.)
·      MTX memory map and file system
·      ProVi user diagnostics

·      NC-program (G-code, high-level CPL, multi- channel, offsets, variables, subroutines, etc. MTX <-> IndraDrive )
·      System boot and start
·      System Utilities
·      MTXcontrol –tool and function
·      Backup & Restore

·      MTX simulator software

Below are a number of photos I took showing the different types of implementations in the Bosch Rexroth demo area.