Thursday, January 30, 2014

Dave Edstrom Joins Memex Automation as Chief Technology Officer and Purchases Equity Interest

This press release went out today at 4:01pm eastern today.  I highlighted some of the points below.  

I have to say, the last time I was this excited was when I went to work for Sun Microsystems in early 1987.  Please see the press release below on joining the incredible folks at Memex Automation.  

It was certainly nice to have this carried in the Wall Street Journal on this announcement.

01/30/14 -- Astrix Networks Inc., operating as Memex Automation ("Astrix" or the "Company") (TSX VENTURE: OEE), is pleased to announce that Dave Edstrom, recently past President and Chairman of the Board of the MTConnect Institute, has purchased an equity interest in the Company and has joined the senior management team as Chief Technology Officer.

Edstrom brings decades of software experience to Memex Automation and has been in a number of technology and leadership roles for a range of companies. Prior to his new role, he served for three and a half years as President and Chairman of the Board of the MTConnect Institute, where he was instrumental in the creation of the MTConnect standard.

In October 2006, while working at Sun Microsystems, Edstrom and Dr. David Patterson of the University of California at Berkeley (UCB), laid out the MTConnect vision at AMT -- The Association For Manufacturing Technology's Annual Meeting. Edstrom is also the author of the book "MTConnect: To Measure Is To Know" as well as a prolific writer of white papers, technical and business articles. Edstrom worked for Sun Microsystems for 23 years in a variety of leadership positions, including as Chief Technologist for Global Software, when he left to start his own company in 2010. Prior to Sun Microsystems, Edstrom held a number of positions including assembly language programmer, systems engineer, Principal Engineer, as well as in computer hardware and software sales. His career includes working with a broad range of software and hardware technologies for commercial and government markets with both direct sales and partners, and he retains his title of CEO/CTO at Virtual Photons Electrons, LLC., his consulting firm.

The Company is pleased to announce it has closed the first tranche of the private placement previously announced on January 15, 2014. Upon joining Memex Automation, Edstrom has purchased 1,114,500 units at a price of $0.14 each. Each unit is comprised of one common share in the capital of the Company (a "Common Share") and one warrant (a "Warrant"). Each Warrant entitles Mr. Edstrom to purchase one Common Share at a price of $0.145 per share at any time prior to 4:00 p.m. (Ontario time) on January 30, 2016. The securities are subject to a hold period, which will expire on May 31, 2014. The closing is subject to receipt of final approval from the TSX Venture Exchange.

Edstrom stated, "I have had the privilege of working with Memex Automation on a variety of efforts when I was the President and Chairman of the MTConnect Institute. I am absolutely convinced that this company is positioned to become the global leader in its vertical, helping manufacturers maximize utilization and gain productivity. I am thrilled to be joining the Memex Automation team as the Chief Technology Officer in an ownership position to drive technology, create new opportunities, and help it become a global power in manufacturing solutions."

 "I'm delighted Dave has joined our ownership and leadership team, as it enables him to continue to lead the global manufacturing sector out of the 20th Century and into the 21st Century with an MTConnect-based universal machine to machine (M2M) productivity solution," said Memex Automation's President & CEO, David McPhail. "This should signal to manufacturers globally that Memex Automation is doing things right -- that using MERLIN, our flagship product, they can connect their plants' points of production to their business intelligence tools in real-time while increasing production and income from operations by 10% or more."


MERLIN translates all protocols such as Fanuc Focas, OPC and MTConnect, an XML-based, open source, royalty free protocol into information that management, engineering and maintenance teams use to: Measure OEE in real-time, providing an objective voice of process from each point of production, fabrication and assembly Bucket "idle time" to its root cause and converts some of it back into production timeCapture and define quality issues by process step to define poor quality root causesDefine machining parameters, tolerances, conditions and production flow on a SKU basisOptimize machine states and conditions, to increase spindle time and asset utilizationIncrease production and thereby increase income from operations

About the company 

Operating under the trade name Memex Automation, Astrix Networks Inc. (TSX VENTURE: OEE) is the leader of the measurement of Overall Equipment Effectiveness (OEE). OEE is the measurement of plant-wide capacity utilization in real-time. MERLIN (Manufacturing Enterprise Real-time Lean Information Network) generates OEE enterprise-wide, machine by machine. Frost & Sullivan awarded MERLIN its 2013 Technology Innovation Leadership Award. Microsoft picked MERLIN to be its mid-market ERP machine connectivity solution. Mazak, North America's largest original equipment manufacturer of machine tools, purchased MERLIN to manage its plant and now offer it on their price list.

"Neither TSX Venture Exchange nor its Regulation Services Provider (as that term is defined in policies of the TSX Venture Exchange) accepts responsibility for the adequacy or accuracy of this release." Add to Digg Bookmark with Add to Newsvine For more information, please contact: Sales: John Rattray Vice-President Sales 905-635-0590 Email Contact Investors: Thomas Smeenk VP Business Development 905-536-3138 Email Contact Media: Leanne Rattray Marketing 905-635-1540 ext. 103 Email Contact Source: Memex Automation

Monday, January 27, 2014

Four Year Anniversary of Oracle Buying Sun Microsytems

Four years ago today was when Oracle officially purchased and took over Sun Microsystems.

While things worked out great for me and many others that received packages from Oracle, the same cannot be said for all previous Sun employees who went to Oracle. 

Let's see what the god of Java, James Gosling, thinks four years later in the NetworkWorld article where James Gosling looks back at the Mixed Fate of Sun Tech.

I thought this was interesting in the above NetworkWorld article by James on his baby Java:

"Gosling gives Oracle a B+ grade for its handling of Java: “They've really done surprisingly well with Java except for the ‘growing pains’ in figuring out how to deal with security issues.”

Analyst Michael Azoff, of Ovum, sees Java as being a healthy state of development despite client-side issues. “Oracle is investing in Java, and the upcoming generation releases (SE 8 and 9) involve significant re-architecting to evolve the language and platform.”

Unfortunately, James (and I would strongly agree) does not feel the same way about Solaris:

"Gosling sees Solaris as “totally dead” and says he converted his Solaris systems to Linux. “The license fees for Solaris are so high that it's crazy to think of trying to use it and the hardware offerings from Oracle make no sense.”  

Friday, January 24, 2014

Happy 30th Birthday Macintosh!

Today is the 30th birthday of the introduction of Apple's Macintosh.

These are the first words that the Mac spoke when the bag came off by Steve Jobs:

“Hello, I’m Macintosh. It sure is great to get out of that bag. Unaccustomed as I am to public speaking, I’d like to share with you a maxim I thought of the first time I met an IBM mainframe: Never trust a computer you  cannot lift..”

Below is the famous 1984 commercial shown at the Super Bowl:

Below is Apple's 30th anniversary video:

 Here is a nice article at Forbes on the anniversary by Connie Guglielmo, Forbes Staff 

As Ms. Guglielmo states in the article when she quotes Steve Jobs on state for the announcement:

“IBM wants it all and is aiming its guns on its last obstacle to industry control: Apple. Will Big Blue dominate the entire computer industry? The entire information age? Was George Orwell right about 1984?”

From the same article, a quote from Steve Jobs famous Standford commencement address is shared:

“Reed College at that time offered perhaps the best calligraphy instruction in the country. Throughout the campus every poster, every label on every drawer, was beautifully hand calligraphed. Because I had dropped out and didn’t have to take the normal classes, I decided to take a calligraphy class to learn how to do this. I learned about serif and san serif typefaces, about varying the amount of space between different letter combinations, about what makes great typography great. It was beautiful, historical, artistically subtle in a way that science can’t capture, and I found it fascinating. None of this had even a hope of any practical application in my life. But ten years later, when we were designing the first Macintosh computer, it all came back to me. And we designed it all into the Mac. It was the first computer with beautiful typography. If I had never dropped in on that single course in college, the Mac would have never had multiple typefaces or proportionally spaced fonts. And since Windows just copied the Mac, it’s likely that no personal computer would have them. If I had never dropped out, I would have never dropped in on this calligraphy class, and personal computers might not have the wonderful typography that they do. Of course it was impossible to connect the dots looking forward when I was in college. But it was very, very clear looking backwards ten years later.”
—  Steve Jobs, in a commencement speech at Stanford University, June 12, 2005

Sunday, January 19, 2014

Woz on the Jobs Movie

I thought this was a very interesting seven minute interview of Steve Wozniak on the Steve Jobs movie.

Saturday, January 18, 2014

Ashburn, VA - The Internet Ends HERE

When we are driving around Ashburn with friends, I like to point to all the Data Centers and specifically to the Data Center outside our neighborhood, The Regency, and say, "The Internet Ends Here".

Why can I make this statement?  An article in the Loudoun Times titled, "As data and communications head to Loudoun, a global tech hub emerges" makes this point very clearly (bold print and large print is my emphasis):

"Buddy Rizer, the county's director of economic development, pitches four game-changing assets:

-A collection of of more than 40 expansive data centers operated by the likes of Facebook, Microsoft and Amazon.

-An Internet infrastructure that carries as much as 70 percent of the world's Internet traffic.

-A tech-savvy, highly educated populace where 20 percent of the workers are specialists in data and communications.

-The emergence of Loudoun County as a technology epicenter, connected to the world by Dulles Airport and extended regionally by the planned Metro extension."

Let's say that one more time for emphasis:   "An Internet infrastructure that carries as much as 70 percent of the world's Internet traffic".  That is truly amazing!

Friday, January 17, 2014

Andy Bechtolscheim's Innovation Talk at Stanford University

Everyone at Sun Microsystems loved employee #1 Andreas V. Bechtolscheim.  Andy was Sun's hardware genius who created the first (and many thereafter)  Sun 1.    He was loved because he was both brilliant and the nicest guy you would ever meet in your whole life. I will tell you one quick Andy story.  It is the late 1980s and a group of us are waiting for Andy to come present.  The group was the SPARC Ambassadors and Andy was going to be presenting at Sun's long time offices in Mountain View. Andy was running a little late and quickly went by the receptionist where a few of us were standing.  The receptionist yelled, "sir, can I see your badge?"  Andy stopped in his track and came back and said, "oh, I am so sorry.  Here it is."   The receptionist said, "ok, go ahead".  I walked up to the receptionist and said, "this may or may not be any of my business, but did you notice his employee #?"  She replied "no."  I said, "it was #1 and he is Andy Bechtolscheim and a founder of the company where you are working.  I would go out to Sun's home page and memorize his face, Scott McNealy's face and Bill Joy's face.  Those are the three founders that are still here."  She smiled and said, "thanks, that's probably not a bad idea."

Just as an FYI, Sun was an acronym for Stanford University Network.  The word genius gets thrown around a lot these days.  Andy is a genius. Andy is probably the most famous Silicon Valley investor of all time as well.  He famously wrote the first check for $100,000 at dinner with Larry Page and Sergey Brin - Google's founders.

Luckily for me, I stumbled upon hour long presentation of Andy presenting at Stanford on the topic of innovation after accepting Stanford's Engineering Hero award.

Thursday, January 16, 2014

MTInsight: Testing Award-winning Software

Note:  I wrote this article for the Jan 16, 2014 IMTS Insider
By: Dave Edstrom

MTInsight: Testing Award-winning Software

Software is increasingly important in manufacturing and is rapidly becoming the key differentiator in plants and shops. After 35 years in the software business, I have seen great successes and great failures in my career. The great failures had many similar attributes, such as “you built what the customer said they wanted, but not what the customer needed.” On the other hand, Apple famously stated that they would not have customer focus groups for that exact reason. Henry Ford once said that his customers told him they wanted “faster horses.”
We have all seen software that was designed for engineers that might have been functional, but was certainly not intuitive. This begs the obvious question – what makes great software? Having a great idea that addresses a clear market need is the first order of business. Creating software that is functional, intuitive, extremely reliable and fast is a must.
Since no one gets a second chance to make a first impression, how do you ensure that you have a great rollout of software? How to you avoid what happened to the Affordable Care Act, aka ObamaCare, with your software? I would argue that improper testing is the number one reason for failed software rollouts. Let’s look at an absolute software success to understand the importance and nature of software testing, as well as how to do it right.
MTInsight is an award-winning business intelligence tool that was created by AMT – The Association For Manufacturing Technology. As stated at, “MTInsight is the game changing business intelligence tool that your company must have to succeed in today's manufacturing world. MTInsight is based on three key elements: dynamic software, AMT's experience and analysis, and our unique data warehouse — all of the information AMT tracks on your markets, benchmarking surveys, industry forecasts, your competitors, customers and supply chain.” MTInsight has literally redefined the business intelligence (BI) market for manufacturing.
When designing software, there are always market pressures from internal and external customers. Internal customers are sales and marketing. It’s their job to create excitement and sell the software when it is available. They naturally want the new features out yesterday and they want it be 100% bug free. External customers are always requesting new features and want those to available as soon as possible too.
A Product Manager (PM) for the software product is the one who controls the three most important parts of software design – resources, features and schedule. Too often in my career I have seen the classic rookie mistake of junior PMs who, when faced with an unrealistic deadline that they should have never agreed to, make the decision to cut back on testing. I always like to ask them a question that puts it into proper perspective for them, “Would you rather be on time and buggy or a little late with a quality product?” I then suggest they ask their external customers, who pay for the software, if they would agree with the PM’s logic. Usually, I hear, “But you don’t understand, I am under a lot of pressure.” Then, I respond with one last question, “Do you think you will have more or less pressure on you if you are fired for delivering a buggy product?”
While there are countless tools available for testing software, there is absolutely no substitute for human testing. Certainly having automated testing tools is a must in any development shop, but having individuals, who are not the same software developers, test out the product can find show-stopping bugs that automated tools simply would miss. Here is a real life example. I worked for a company that had business software as one of its product lines. The software was what you would expect: General Ledger, Accounts Receivable, Accounts Payable, Payroll and Inventory Control. Those were the “big five,” as we liked to call them, for any business. This was during the late 1970s and early 1980s when the industry was converting from interpretive BASIC to compiled BASIC. With interpretive BASIC, the customer had access to the source code since the source code was what you literally ran. This had big plusses and minuses. The big advantage was that customers could modify the code quite easily. The big disadvantage was that the customer could modify the code quite easily. Imagine trying to do customer support when the customer could modify the code whenever they felt like it. Not a recipe for success. By going to compiled code, the software was the equivalent of a .exe file, it was faster and did not allow the customer to easily modify it. When this happened, the industry also changed how files were stored. Files were no longer stored as simple text files on tape or disk, but instead used databases with index files. This was much faster as well.
Everything sounds great, right? What could possibly be the fly in the ointment here? The problem was that we never thought of what might happen if the customer’s index file got clobbered. Yes, of course we always pushed good data processing (that was the term for information technology back in the 1970s) practices, such as backups, but what if the customer had a very old backup? What if the customer had no backup? Do you know what it is like to have a president of a construction company come into your business and tell you that, unless you can fix this payroll index file, his guys are not getting paid and they all know where you work and live? It was something that you would expect to see in the HBO show “The Sopranos.” My suggestion was that we go into a previous version of payroll, issue the checks as a one-time event, then rebuild the payroll database over the weekend. Afterward, I went back to the development team and said that we did not do real-life testing. Back in the 1970s and early 1980s, it was not unusual for the computer to literally be sitting on a desk in the corner of the shop. It was treated like a big calculator that just happened to have a screen. The testing was not doing the things the real-life users were doing, such as not doing backups and pulling out a floppy disk when it was still writing this week’s payroll data, completely blowing up the indices and rendering the database useless. What did we do? We put the backup program directly into our software and forced the users to backup. We created a program that could take a clobbered accounting database and rebuild it to where it was, as long as the disks could be read. We then tested the living daylights out of it to make sure we would not have any more conversations where you feared for your life. Trust me, being the person between a bunch of construction workers and their paychecks on a Friday night is not where you want to find yourself.
One of the true pleasures of my long career is work with great folks who really want to deliver world-class software. The MTInsight Team is such a group of very talented, hardworking and passionate individuals. The group is led by Steve Lesnewich, V.P. - MTInsight Group, and Julie Peppers, MTInsight Project Manager. When we test, the human functional testing is truly a team effort that involves a wide range of individuals in different groups. We have sales, marketing, communications, exhibitions, management, economists, statisticians, customers and sometimes the software developers. The reason I say “sometimes” the software developers is because we really want software developers to be addressing the issues and bugs found by the others first. Julie writes up the test plans that we follow and implement with a variety of user types and scenarios. We are pushing the standard and corner cases. We ask everyone to break the software. We ask them to try things that are completely illogical. We do this not out of disrespect for the customers, but out of total respect for the customers’ time. We don’t want customers to find a bug because they accidently did something they did not mean to. We have a very detailed plan where we track all tests, all bugs, and all fixes. We have extensive meetings to go over the testing and the results.
Having humans testing the software is great for functional testing, but sometimes humans get bored with doing the same test over and over again. This is where the automated testing tools are an absolute must. Human testing augments the automated functional testing. Regression testing and unit testing are very important in software. Regression testing is an automated test plan that will test and stress the parts of software that have not changed. Why test the parts of the software that have not changed? The law of unintended consequences can bite you every time with software. If I had a dollar for every time I heard a software developer say, “Well, it should not affect that part of the system,” and it absolutely did, I would be a very rich man. Think of regression testing as the “Hippocratic oath of software”, which is “first, do no harm”. The second key aspect is unit testing. Unit testing means exactly what it sound like, you are testing the smallest part of the software that can be separate from the other components of the system. Software developers typically write unit testing to ensure what they have developed is working as designed.
An area that PMs sometimes cut themselves short on it is scalability testing. Scalability testing answers the question that is sometimes referred to as the “Victoria’s Secret Super Bowl Problem.” The problem goes back to the 1999 Super Bowl where a 30-second Victoria’s Secret commercial drove over 1 million visitors to their website in an hour. They were not prepared and their website went down. The only way to test a million users is with an automated testing tool. There are many, many automated tools for testing. A popular open source automated testing tool is JMeter, which is both easy to use and extremely extensive. Essentially, you create your software test plan and then run it. When you run it, you can simulate doing a test and select the number of users. For example, you might want to run tests of a website with 10, 50, 100, 200, 500, 1,000 and 10,000 users to see where your system rolls over and dies. Depending on your expected workload, 10,000 users might be complete overkill. JMeter provides incredible amounts of data to analyze. On the webserver, you would also have monitoring software to see where the bottlenecks are occurring or where errors are rearing their ugly heads. Remote servers can be set up so the load can come from multiple servers in different geographies to more accurately simulate the expected load. JMeter is available at http://
One of the ObamaCare reports I heard on TV was that consultants, as far back as April of 2013, told the team running ObamaCare that they had not allocated enough time for testing. The political pressure was tremendous on these individuals to make the rollout date for ObamaCare. If it was a true statement that they cut testing, added requirements late in the game, then it would come as no surprise they blew the rollout. You never get a second chance to make a first impression. No one wants their software to prefaced with the phrase, “The first version was terrible, but I think they finally got it right.”
The way to ensure the opportunity for a positive rollout is to make sure there are no shortcuts in functional or scalability testing. As more and more manufacturing companies scale up their software development, executives should always ask one critical question of their software development team, “Does everyone feel that we have a comprehensive testing plan in place?” This gives anyone who feels shortcuts are being taken in the test plan the chance to speak up. Remember the words that MTInsight has written at the top of floor-to-ceiling whiteboard in the development area, “Fast, good or cheap. Pick any two, you can’t have all three.” Finally, if you want award-winning software, like MTInsight, then test, test, test and test again.

Wednesday, January 8, 2014

The Polar Vortex on January 7th, 2014 in Ashburn

When I got up yesterday at 4:57am, this is what I saw as the outside temperature in Ashburn, VA 4.1 degrees F.

Sunday, January 5, 2014

The Famous 1967 Ice Bowl Between the Green Bay Packers and the Dallas Cowboys

With the possibility of breaking the lowest temperature ever for an NFL game later this afternoon in Green Bay, it's worth checking out this great 13 minute video on the famous "Ice Bowl".

Thursday, January 2, 2014

Last Day as President and Chairman of the Board of the MTConnect Institute

As I look into new and exciting challenges in 2014 for my company, Virtual Photons Electrons and Dave Edstrom, I am reminded that today is my last official day President and Chairman of the MTConnect Institute.  Below is the email I sent out on October 26th, 2013 to the MTConnect Board of Directors:

Yesterday, I notified the MTConnect Institute's Board of Directors that my last day as President and Chairman of the Board of the MTConnect Institute will be January 2, 2014.  
I have greatly enjoyed my tenure and could not have asked or dreamed of having a better experience.  I would like to offer my sincere thanks to the MTConnect Technical Advisory Group members, the MTConnect Board of Directors, the many supporters of MTConnect and most importantly working with those manufacturers who have embraced MTConnect. I am very proud of what we all accomplished during my term by the entire MTConnect team.

It is very important for the MTConnect Institute that the President and Chairman of the Board have the time to take MTConnect to even greater heights.  My hope is that the next President and Chairman of the Board will have the support needed to work full time as this is what is absolutely needed to take MTConnect to the next level. 

Post January 2014, my company, Virtual Photons Electrons, will be very busy with other commitments, but will continue to track MTConnect.

Best Regards,


Dave Edstrom
President and Chairman of the Board  

 Below are a few highlights of my term as:

       [MC]2 2011
       This was our first MTConnect: Connecting Manufacturing Conference and it was a big success.
       [MC]2 2013
       Our second [MC]2 was another great success.  The foundation for doing successful MTConnect Conferences was validated and verified so the roadmap exists going forward.
       I put in over $52,000 of my own time that was “in kind” contribution so Virtual Photons Electrons (my company) became an MTConnect Institute Partner.
       I also gave away $6,000 worth of my book, MTConnect: To Measure Is To Know, to attendees and MTConnect members.
       Getting Started With MTConnect White Papers
       Connectivity Guide
       Shop Floor Monitoring, What’s In It For Me?
       Writing Client Applications
       MTConnect Challenge
       I had no involvement with this very cool effort, but it was certainly fun to watch all hard and creative work that went into this effort.
       MTConnect-OPC UA MoU and Companion Specification
       Tom Burke and I signed the agreement at IMTS 2010.
       MTConnect the Standard
       Thanks to Paul Warndorf, Will Sobel, John Turner and many others for driving new versions of our standard.
       I was very pleased to give away 200 copies of my book at the MTCTAG and [MC]2 2013 events.  I purposely priced the book at $9.99 for the electronic versions on Kindle, iTunes and Android to help get the word out on MTConnect.  The paperback version naturally would cost more, but I think it is fairly priced as well.  I do know that in a small way, the book has helped the MTConnect effort.  I thank the board again for allowing the use of the MTConnect logo in the title of my book.