February 8, 2017
I entered the university shortly after Sir Isaac Newton and Gottfried Leibniz invented calculus. (OK, I’m not quite that old but you do get the picture.) At any rate, I’ve been a mechanical engineer for a lengthy period of time. If I had to do it all over again, I would choose Biomedical Engineering instead of mechanical engineering. Biomedical really fascinates me. The medical “hardware” and software available today is absolutely marvelous. As with most great technologies, it has been evolutionary instead of revolutionary. One such evolution has been the development of the dialysis pump to facilitate administrating insulin to patients suffering with diabetes.
On my way to exercise Monday, Wednesday and Friday, I pass three dialysis clinics. I am amazed that on some days the parking lots are, not only full, but cars are parked on the roads on either side of the buildings. Almost always, I see at least one ambulance parked in front of the clinic having delivered a patient to the facilities. In Chattanooga proper, there are nine (9) clinics and approximately 3,306 dialysis centers in the United States. These centers employ 127,671 individuals and bring in twenty-two billion dollars ($22B) in revenue. There is a four-point four percent (4.4%) growth rate on an annual basis. Truly, diabetes has reached epidemic proportions in our country.
Diabetes is not only one of the most common chronic diseases, it is also complex and difficult to treat. Insulin is often administered between meals to keep blood sugar within target range. This range is determined by the number of carbohydrates ingested. Four hundred (400) million adults worldwide suffer from diabetes with one and one-half million (1.5) deaths on an annual basis. It is no wonder that so many scientists, inventors, and pharmaceutical and medical device companies are turning their attention to improving insulin delivery devices. There are today several delivery options, as follows:
- Insulin Injection Aids
- Inhaled Insulin Devices
- External Pumps
- Implantable Pumps
Insulin pumps, especially the newer devices, have several advantages over traditional injection methods. These advantages make using pumps a preferable treatment option. In addition to eliminating the need for injections at work, at the gym, in restaurants and other settings, the pumps are highly adjustable thus allowing the patient to make precise changes based on exercise levels and types of food being consumed.
These delivery devices require: 1.) An insulin cartridge, 2.) A battery-operated pump, and 3.) Computer chips that allow the patient to control the dosage. A detailed list of components is given below. Most modern devices have a display window or graphical user interface (GUI) and selection keys to facilitate changes and administrating insulin. A typical pump is shown as follows:
Generally, insulin pumps consist of a reservoir, a microcontroller with battery, flexible catheter tubing, and a subcutaneous needle. When the first insulin pumps were created in the 1970-80’s, they were quite bulky (think 1980’s cell phone). In contrast, most pumps today are a little smaller than a pager. The controller and reservoir are usually housed together. Patients often will wear the pump on a belt clip or place it in a pocket as shown below. A basic interface lets the patient adjust the rate of insulin or select a pre-set. The insulins used are rapid acting, and the reservoir typically holds 200-300 units of insulin. The catheter is similar to most IV tubing (often smaller in diameter), and connects directly to the needle. Patients insert the needle into their abdominal wall, although the upper arm or thigh can be used. The needle infusion set can be attached via any number of adhesives, but tape can do in a pinch. The needle needs to be re-sited every 2-3 days.
As you can see from the above JPEG, the device itself can be clipped onto clothing and worn during the day for continued use.
The pump can help an individual patient more closely mimic the way a healthy pancreas functions. The pump, through a Continuous Subcutaneous Insulin Infusion (CSII), replaces the need for frequent injections by delivering precise doses of rapid-acting insulin 24 hours a day to closely match your body’s needs. Two definitions should be understood relative to insulin usage. These are as follows:
- Basal Rate: A programmed insulin rate made of small amounts of insulin delivered continuously mimics the basal insulin production by the pancreas for normal functions of the body (not including food). The programmed rate is determined by your healthcare professional based on your personal needs. This basal rate delivery can also be customized according to your specific daily needs. For example, it can be suspended or increased / decreased for a definite time frame: this is not possible with basal insulin injections.
- Bolus Dose: Additional insulin can be delivered “on demand” to match the food you are going to eat or to correct high blood sugar. Insulin pumps have bolus calculators that help you calculate your bolus amount based on settings that are pre-determined by your healthcare professional and again based on your special needs.
A modern insulin pump can accomplish both basal and bolus needs as the situation demands.
The benefits relative to traditional methods are as follows:
- Easier dosing: calculating insulin requirements can be a complex task with many different aspects to be considered. It is important that the device ensures accurate dosing by taking into account any insulin already in the body, the current glucose levels, carbohydrate intake and personal insulin settings.
- Greater flexibility: The pump must be capable of instant adjustment to allow for exercise, during illness or to deliver small boluses to cover meals and snacks. This can easily be done with a touch of a button with the more-modern devices. There should be a temporary basal rate option to proportionally reduce or increase the basal insulin rate, during exercise or illness, for example.
- More convenience: The device must offer additional convenience of a wirelessly connected blood glucose meter. This meter automatically sends blood glucose values to the pump, allowing more accurate calculations and to deliver insulin boluses discreetly.
These wonderful devices all result from technology and technological advances. Needs DO generate devices. I hope you enjoy this post and as always, I welcome your comments.
January 30, 2017
Certain portion of the information for this post come from the article entitled “How to Build Trump’s Controversial Wall” by Mr. Chris Wiltz. Chris is a writer for Design News Daily.
OK, President Donald Trump indicated during pre-nomination televised exercises that if elected President, he will authorize building a wall between Mexico and the United States AND get the Mexican government to pay for it. Now as President, he seems to be living up to fulfilling that somewhat lofty campaign promise. From an engineering standpoint, how do you do that?
A direct quote from President Trump: “We are in the middle of a crisis on our southern border: The unprecedented surge of illegal migrants from Central American is harming both Mexico and the United States,” Trump said in remarks reported by Reuters. “And I believe the steps we will take starting right now will improve the safety in both of our countries. … A nation without borders is not a nation.”
An analysis done by Politico estimates to do just that would total at least $5.1 billion US (not including annual maintenance costs). According to Politico: “Those estimates come from a 2009 report from the Government Accountability Office [GAO], which found that it costs an average of $3.9 million to build one mile of fencing. About 670 miles of fencing is already up along the 1,989-mile southern border, so finishing the fence that’s already there would cost about $5.1 billion.
But the actual cost is likely much higher, according to experts. The vast majority of the existing border fence is single-layer fencing near urban areas, which is considerably easier to build. Much of the remaining 1,300 miles runs through rough terrains and remote areas without roads, so it’s fair to assume the per-mile cost of finishing the fence would be on the higher end of the GAO’s estimates, which was $15.1 million per mile.”
This is obviously a huge amount of money and the time necessary appears to be years and not months or certainly weeks. The construction time of the Ming Wall was well over 2,000 years Many imperial dynasties and kingdoms built, rebuilt, and extended walls many times. This wall subsequently eroded due to environmental issues and the materials used. The latest imperial construction was performed by the Ming Dynasty (1368–1644), and the length was then over 6,000 kilometers (3,700 miles).
HOW WOULD WE DO IT:
In a September 2015 article for The National Memo , a structural engineer, writing under the pseudonym Ali F. Rhuzkan took on the challenge of mapping out the logistics of constructing Trump’s wall. I really do not know why Ali F. Rhuzkan was used but his article was very interesting.
Rhuzkan writes: “A successful border wall must be effective, cheap, and easily maintained. It should be built from readily available materials and should take advantage of the capabilities of the existing labor force. The wall should reach about five feet underground to deter tunneling, and should terminate about 20 feet above grade to deter climbing.”
A rendition of his design looks as follows:
According to Rhuzkah, assuming the wall would be constructed using pre-cast concrete (cast in a factory, then shipped to the construction site) building a wall to the necessary specifications to meet the President’s demands for a roughly 2,000-mile border wall would require about 12,600,000 cubic yards of concrete. “In other words, this wall would contain over three times the amount of concrete used to build the Hoover Dam,” Rhuzkah writes, “Such a wall would be greater in volume than all six pyramids of the Giza Necropolis … That quantity of concrete could pave a one-lane road from New York to Los Angeles, going the long way around the Earth…”
And this is just the concrete. One also has to factor in the amount of steel needed to reinforce such a structure – about 5 billion pounds by Rhuzkah’s estimation – as well as the labor, production, and shipping costs of all the pieces. Not to mention the wall would have to be built and regularly maintained by workers that would ideally be paid and not slaves.
If you need a visual of what such a wall would look like, a group of interns at Estudio 3.14 —a design firm based in Guadalajara, México have created a conceptual rendering that they’ve dubbed the Prison Wall . Estudio 3.14’s concept envisions a wall that crosses multiple terrains (hills, desert, a river, even the city of Tijuana) and also includes a built-in prison to detain those seeking to cross the border illegally, as well as a shopping mall and a viewpoint for tourists. By its renderings, the studio estimates the wall could employ up to 6 million people. As for why it’s pink, the studio said in a statement that, “Because the wall has to be beautiful, it has been inspired by Luis Barragán’s pink walls that are emblematic of Mexico.”
I have a twenty (20) foot ladder in my workshop downstairs. If I have one, the Mexican illegals probably can get one. Here are my conclusions:
- A twenty (20) foot wall is much too short. Forty or even fifty (50) in some places will be necessary.
- Five (5) foot depth is much much too shallow. I could tunnel under a five-foot depth. At least fifteen (15) in some places will be necessary.
- It would be wonderfully wise if someone could and would estimate the maintenance cost on an annual basis so we know what’s coming.
- It does not matter how high the wall; additional patrolling will be necessary by our Border Patrol. Please estimate the added costs for that.
- Please forget the government of Mexico paying for the wall. I WILL NOT HAPPEN. President Trump indicated he may assign added import taxes to pay for the wall. Those will be passed on to the American people. You know that.
- I hope it’s obvious that I do not know the complete answer to this one, but you have to give credit to President Trump. He is trying and, in my opinion, making progress is not waves.
As always, I welcome your comments.
January 28, 2017
The following information was taken from SPACE.com and NASA.
Until just recently I did not know there was a Hubble Constant. The term had never popped up on my radar. For this reason, I thought it might be noteworthy to discuss the meaning and the implications.
THE HUBBLE CONSTANT:
The Hubble Constant is the unit of measurement used to describe the expansion of the universe. The Hubble Constant (Ho) is one of the most important numbers in cosmology because it is needed to estimate the size and age of the universe. This long-sought number indicates the rate at which the universe is expanding, from the primordial “Big Bang.”
The Hubble Constant can be used to determine the intrinsic brightness and masses of stars in nearby galaxies, examine those same properties in more distant galaxies and galaxy clusters, deduce the amount of dark matter present in the universe, obtain the scale size of faraway galaxy clusters, and serve as a test for theoretical cosmological models. The Hubble Constant can be stated as a simple mathematical expression, Ho = v/d, where v is the galaxy’s radial outward velocity (in other words, motion along our line-of-sight), d is the galaxy’s distance from earth, and Ho is the current value of the Hubble Constant. However, obtaining a true value for Ho is very complicated. Astronomers need two measurements. First, spectroscopic observations reveal the galaxy’s redshift, indicating its radial velocity. The second measurement, the most difficult value to determine, is the galaxy’s precise distance from earth. Reliable “distance indicators,” such as variable stars and supernovae, must be found in galaxies. The value of Ho itself must be cautiously derived from a sample of galaxies that are far enough away that motions due to local gravitational influences are negligibly small.
The units of the Hubble Constant are “kilometers per second per megaparsec.” In other words, for each megaparsec of distance, the velocity of a distant object appears to increase by some value. (A megaparsec is 3.26 million light-years.) For example, if the Hubble Constant was determined to be 50 km/s/Mpc, a galaxy at 10 Mpc, would have a redshift corresponding to a radial velocity of 500 km/s.
The cosmos has been getting bigger since the Big Bang kick-started the growth about 13.82 billion years ago. The universe, in fact, is getting faster in its acceleration as it gets bigger. As of March 2013, NASA estimates the rate of expansion is about 70.4 kilometers per second per megaparsec. A megaparsec is a million parsecs, or about 3.3 million light-years, so this is almost unimaginably fast. Using data solely from NASA’s Wilkinson Microwave Anisotropy Probe (WMAP), the rate is slightly faster, at about 71 km/s per megaparsec.
The constant was first proposed by Edwin Hubble (whose name is also used for the Hubble Space Telescope). Hubble was an American astronomer who studied galaxies, particularly those that are far away from us. In 1929 — based on a realization from astronomer Harlow Shapley that galaxies appear to be moving away from the Milky Way — Hubble found that the farther these galaxies are from Earth, the faster they appear to be moving, according to NASA.
While scientists then understood the phenomenon to be galaxies moving away from each other, today astronomers know that what is actually being observed is the expansion of the universe. No matter where you are located in the cosmos, you would see the same phenomenon happening at the same speed.
Hubble’s initial calculations have been refined over the years, as more and more sensitive telescopes have been used to make the measurements. These include the Hubble Space Telescope (which examined a kind of variable star called Cepheid variables) and WMAP, which extrapolated based on measurements of the cosmic microwave background — a constant background temperature in the universe that is sometimes called the “afterglow” of the Big Bang.
THE BIG BANG:
The Big Bang theory is an effort to explain what happened at the very beginning of our universe. Discoveries in astronomy and physics have shown beyond a reasonable doubt that our universe did in fact have a beginning. Prior to that moment there was nothing; during and after that moment there was something: our universe. The big bang theory is an effort to explain what happened during and after that moment.
According to the standard theory, our universe sprang into existence as “singularity” around 13.7 billion years ago. What is a “singularity” and where does it come from? Well, to be honest, that answer is unknown. Astronomers simply don’t know for sure. Singularities are zones which defy our current understanding of physics. They are thought to exist at the core of “black holes.” Black holes are areas of intense gravitational pressure. The pressure is thought to be so intense that finite matter is actually squished into infinite density (a mathematical concept which truly boggles the mind). These zones of infinite density are called “singularities.” Our universe is thought to have begun as an infinitesimally small, infinitely hot, infinitely dense, something – a singularity. Where did it come from? We don’t know. Why did it appear? We don’t know.
After its initial appearance, it apparently inflated (the “Big Bang”), expanded and cooled, going from very, very small and very, very hot, to the size and temperature of our current universe. It continues to expand and cool to this day and we are inside of it: incredible creatures living on a unique planet, circling a beautiful star clustered together with several hundred billion other stars in a galaxy soaring through the cosmos, all of which is inside of an expanding universe that began as an infinitesimal singularity which appeared out of nowhere for reasons unknown. This is the Big Bang theory.
THREE STEPS IN MEASURING THE HUBBLE CONSTANT:
The illustration below shows the three steps astronomers used to measure the universe’s expansion rate to an unprecedented accuracy, reducing the total uncertainty to 2.4 percent.
Astronomers made the measurements by streamlining and strengthening the construction of the cosmic distance ladder, which is used to measure accurate distances to galaxies near and far from Earth.
Beginning at left, astronomers use Hubble to measure the distances to a class of pulsating stars called Cepheid Variables, employing a basic tool of geometry called parallax. This is the same technique that surveyors use to measure distances on Earth. Once astronomers calibrate the Cepheids’ true brightness, they can use them as cosmic yardsticks to measure distances to galaxies much farther away than they can with the parallax technique. The rate at which Cepheids pulsate provides an additional fine-tuning to the true brightness, with slower pulses for brighter Cepheids. The astronomers compare the calibrated true brightness values with the stars’ apparent brightness, as seen from Earth, to determine accurate distances.
Once the Cepheids are calibrated, astronomers move beyond our Milky Way to nearby galaxies [shown at center]. They look for galaxies that contain Cepheid stars and another reliable yardstick, Type Ia supernovae, exploding stars that flare with the same amount of brightness. The astronomers use the Cepheids to measure the true brightness of the supernovae in each host galaxy. From these measurements, the astronomers determine the galaxies’ distances.
They then look for supernovae in galaxies located even farther away from Earth. Unlike Cepheids, Type Ia supernovae are brilliant enough to be seen from relatively longer distances. The astronomers compare the true and apparent brightness of distant supernovae to measure out to the distance where the expansion of the universe can be seen [shown at right]. They compare those distance measurements with how the light from the supernovae is stretched to longer wavelengths by the expansion of space. They use these two values to calculate how fast the universe expands with time, called the Hubble constant.
Now, that’s simple, isn’t it? OK, not really. It’s actually somewhat painstaking and as you can see extremely detailed. To our credit, the constant can be measured.
This is a rather, off the wall, post but one I certainly hope you can enjoy. Technology is a marvelous thing working to clarify and define where we come from and how we got there.
January 27, 2017
Two years ago, I wrote a post about THE universal language. Can you guess what language that is? Well, there are approximately six thousand-five hundred (6,500) spoken languages in the world today. However, approximately two thousand (2,000) of those languages have fewer than one thousand (1,000) speakers. The most popular language in the world is Mandarin Chinese. There are 1,213,000,000 people in the world speaking Mandarin. The following list will indicate the top ten (10) languages spoken.
- FRENCH: Number of speakers: 129 million
- MALAY-INDONESIAN: Number of speakers: 159 million
- PORTUGUESE: Number of speakers: 191 million
- BENGALI: Number of speakers: 211 million
- ARABIC: Number of speakers: 246 million
- RUSSIAN: Number of speakers: 277 million
- SPANISH: Number of speakers: 392 million
- HINDSTANI: Number of speakers: 497 million
- ENGLISH: Number of speakers: 508 million
- MANDARIN: Number of speakers: 1 billion+
An old-world language tree looks something like the following:
As you can see, language is very very complicated– but fascinating.
With this being the case, how on Earth could there be one UNIVERSAL language and what is it? MATHEMATICS is a language recognized and used by all people on our very small “blue dot”. I know this sounds very strange but that definitely is the case. So—do we celebrate accomplished mathematicians and if so how? YES, starting with the INTERNATIONAL MATHEMATICAL OLYMPAID (IM0) for pre-college. Let’s take a look.
The International Mathematical Olympiad (IMO) is the World Championship Mathematics Competition for High School students and is held annually in a different country. The first IMO was held in 1959 in Romania, with 7 countries participating. It has gradually expanded to over 100 countries from 5 continents. The IMO Advisory Board ensures that the competition takes place each year and that each host country observes the regulations and traditions of the IMO. The IMO Foundation is a charity which supports the IMO. The IMO Foundation website is the public face of the IMO. This is a particularly valuable resource for people who are not necessarily mathematical specialists, but who want to understand the International Mathematical Olympiad.
The symbol for the IMO is given below.
The International Mathematical Olympiad (IMO) is an annual six-problem mathematical Olympiad for pre-college students, and is the oldest of the International Science Olympiads. Please note the phrase pre-college, although almost all of the students taking the test are high school age. This is due to the questions being asked. The first IMO was held in Romania in 1959. It has since been held annually, except for 1980. Approximately one hundred (100) countries send teams of up to six students, plus one team leader, one deputy leader, and observers to the Olympiad.
The content ranges from extremely difficult algebra and pre-calculus problems to problems involving branches of mathematics not conventionally covered at school nor university level, These are such problems as projective and complex geometry, functional equations and well-grounded number theory, of which extensive knowledge of theorems is required. Calculus, though allowed in solutions, is never required, as there is a principle that anyone with a basic understanding of mathematics should understand the problems, even if the solutions require a great deal more knowledge. Supporters of this principle claim that this allows more universality and creates an incentive to find elegant, deceptively simple-looking problems which nevertheless require a certain level of ingenuity.
The selection process differs by country, but it often consists of a series of tests which admit fewer students at each progressing test. Awards are given to approximately the top-scoring fifty percent (50%) of the individual contestants. Teams are not officially recognized—all scores are given only to individual contestants, but team scoring is unofficially compared more than individual scores. Contestants must be under the age of twenty (20) and must not be registered at any tertiary institution. Subject to these conditions, an individual may participate any number of times in the IMO.
SCORING AND FORMAT:
The examination consists of six problems. Each problem is worth seven points, so the maximum total score is forty-two (42) points. No calculators are allowed. The examination is held over two consecutive days; each day the contestants have four-and-a-half hours to solve three problems. The problems chosen are from various areas of secondary school mathematics, broadly classifiable as geometry, number theory, algebra, and combinatorics. They require no knowledge of higher mathematics such as calculus and analysis, and solutions are often short and elementary. However, they are usually disguised so as to make the solutions difficult. Prominently featured are algebraic inequalities, complex numbers, and construction-oriented geometrical problems, though in recent years the latter has not been as popular as before.
Each participating country, other than the host country, may submit suggested problems to a Problem Selection Committee provided by the host country, which reduces the submitted problems to a shortlist. The team leaders arrive at the IMO a few days in advance of the contestants and form the IMO Jury which is responsible for all the formal decisions relating to the contest, starting with selecting the six problems from the shortlist. The Jury aims to order the problems so that the order in increasing difficulty is Q1, Q4, Q2, Q5, Q3 and Q6. As the leaders know the problems in advance of the contestants, they are kept strictly separated and observed.
Each country’s marks are agreed between that country’s leader and deputy leader and coordinators provided by the host country (the leader of the team whose country submitted the problem in the case of the marks of the host country), subject to the decisions of the chief coordinator and ultimately a jury if any disputes cannot be resolved.
RECENT AND FUTURE IMOS:
The two-day event is truly global in nature with the following locations having been selected.
- The 51st IMO was held in Astana, Kazakhstan, July 2–15, 2010.
- The 52nd IMO ]was held in Amsterdam, Netherlands, July 13–24, 2011.
- The 53rd IMO was held in Mar del Plata, Argentina, July 4–16, 2012.
- The 54th IMO was held in Santa Marta, Colombia, July 18–28, 2013.
- The 55th IMO was held in Cape Town, South Africa, July 3–13, 2014.
- The 56th IMO was held in Chiang Mai, Thailandin 2015.
- The 57th IMO was held in Hong Kongin 2016.
- The 58th IMO will be held in Rio de Janeiro, Brazilin 2017.
- The 59th IMO will be held in Romaniain 2018.
- The 60th IMO will be held in UKin 2019.
- The 61st IMO will be held in Petersburg, Russiain 2020.
The only countries to have their entire team score perfectly in the IMO were the United States in 1994 (they were coached by Paul Zeitz); and Luxembourg, whose one-member team had a perfect score in 1981. The US’s success earned a mention in TIME Magazine. Hungary won IMO 1975 in an unorthodox way when none of the eight team members received a gold medal (five silver, three bronze). Second place team East Germany also did not have a single gold medal winner (four silver, four bronze).
The top 10 countries with the best all-time results are as follows:
I think a competition such as this is one of the best events sponsored because it gives recognition to those who excel within a specific discipline. After all, we have the Oscars, the Grammys, the People’s Choice Awards, the Country Music Awards. Pro Bowl, Super Bowl. Why not celebrate the talents of those around the world who “march to the beat of a different drummer”? Just a thought.
January 17, 2017
Forbes Magazine recently published what they consider to be the top ten (10) trends in technology. It’s a very interesting list and I could not argue with any item. The writer of the Forbes article is David W. Cearley. Mr. Cearley is the vice president and Gartner Fellow at Gartner. He specializes in analyzing emerging and strategic business and technology trends and explores how these trends shape the way individuals and companies derive value from technology. Let’s take a quick look.
- DEVICE MESH—This trend takes us far beyond our desktop PC, Tablet or even our cell phone. The trend encompasses the full range of endpoints with which humans might interact. In other words, just about anything you interact with could possibly be linked to the internet for instant access. This could mean individual devices interacting with each other in a fashion desired by user programming. Machine to machine, M2M.
- AMBIENT USER EXPERIENCE–All of our digital interactions can become synchronized into a continuous and ambient digital experience that preserves our experience across traditional boundaries of devices, time and space. The experience blends physical, virtual and electronic environments, and uses real-time contextual information as the ambient environment changes or as the user moves from one place to another.
- 3-D PRINTING MATERIALS—If you are not familiar with “additive manufacturing” you are really missing a fabulous technology. Right now, 3-D Printing is somewhat in its infancy but progress is not just weekly or monthly but daily. The range of materials that can be used for the printing process improves in a remarkable manner. You really need to look into this.
- INFORMATION OF EVERYTHING— Everything surrounding us in the digital mesh is producing, using and communicating with virtually unmeasurable amounts of information. Organizations must learn how to identify what information provides strategic value, how to access data from different sources, and explore how algorithms leverage Information of Everything to fuel new business designs. I’m sure by now you have heard of “big data”. Information of everything will provide mountains of data that must be sifted through so usable “stuff” results. This will continue to be an ever-increasing task for programmers.
- ADVANCED MACHINE LEARNING– Rise of the Machines. Machines talking to each other and learning from each other. (Maybe a little more frightening that it should be.) Advanced machine learning gives rise to a spectrum of smart machine implementations — including robots, autonomous vehicles, virtual personal assistants (VPAs) and smart advisors — that act in an autonomous (or at least semiautonomous) manner. This feeds into the ambient user experience in which an autonomous agent becomes the main user interface. Instead of interacting with menus, forms and buttons on a smartphone, the user speaks to an app, which is really an intelligent agent.
- ADAPTIVE SECURITY ARCHITECTURE— The complexities of digital business and the algorithmic economy, combined with an emerging “hacker industry,” significantly increase the threat surface for an organization. IT leaders must focus on detecting and responding to threats, as well as more traditional blocking and other measures to prevent attacks. I don’t know if you have ever had your identity stolen but it is NOT fun. Corrections are definitely time-consuming.
- ADVANCED SYSTEM ARCHITECTURE–The digital mesh and smart machines require intense computing architecture demands to make them viable for organizations. They’ll get this added boost from ultra-efficient-neuromorphic architectures. Systems built on graphics processing units (GPUs) and field-programmable gate-arrays (FPGAs) will function more like human brains that are particularly suited to be applied to deep learning and other pattern-matching algorithms that smart machines use. FPGA-based architecture will allow distribution with less power into the tiniest Internet of Things (IoT) endpoints, such as homes, cars, wristwatches and even human beings.
- Mesh App and Service Architecture—The mesh app and service architecture are what enable delivery of apps and services to the flexible and dynamic environment of the digital mesh. This architecture will serve users’ requirements as they vary over time. It brings together the many information sources, devices, apps, services and microservices into a flexible architecture in which apps extend across multiple endpoint devices and can coordinate with one another to produce a continuous digital experience.
- INTERNET OF THINGS (IoT) and ARCHITECTURE PLATFORMS– IoT platforms exist behind the mesh app and service architecture. The technologies and standards in the IoT platform form a base set of capabilities for communicating, controlling, managing and securing endpoints in the IoT. The platforms aggregate data from endpoints behind the scenes from an architectural and a technology standpoint to make the IoT a reality.
- Autonomous Agents and Things—Advanced machine learning gives rise to a spectrum of smart machine implementations — including robots, autonomous vehicles, virtual personal assistants (VPAs) and smart advisors — that act in an autonomous (or at least semiautonomous) manner. This feeds into the ambient user experience in which an autonomous agent becomes the main user interface. Instead of interacting with menus, forms and buttons on a smartphone, the user speaks to an app, which is really an intelligent agent.
CONCLUSIONS: You have certainly noticed by now that ALL of the trends, with the exception of 3-D Printing are rooted in Internet access and Internet protocols. We are headed towards a totally connected world in which our every move is traceable. Traceable unless we choose to fly under the radar.
January 7, 2017
One of the items on my bucket list has been to attend the Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas. (I probably need to put a rush on this one because the clock is ticking.) For 50 years, CES has been the launching pad for innovation and new technology. Much of this technology has changed the world. Held in Las Vegas every year, it is the world’s gathering place for all who thrive on the business of consumer technologies and where next-generation innovations are introduced to the commercial marketplace. The International Consumer Electronics Show (International CES) showcases more than 3,800 exhibiting companies, including manufacturers, developers and suppliers of consumer technology hardware, content, technology delivery systems and more; a conference program with more than three hundred (300) conference sessions and more than one-hundred and sixty-five thousand attendees from one hundred1 (50) countries. Because it is owned and produced by the Consumer Technology Association (CTA)™ — formerly the Consumer Electronics Association (CEA)® — the technology trade association representing the $287 billion U.S. consumer technology industry, and it attracts the world’s business leaders and pioneering thinkers to a forum where the industry’s most relevant issues are addressed. The range of products is immense as seen from the listing of product categories below.
- 3D Printing
- Augmented Reality
- Communications Infrastructure
- Computer Hardware/Software/Services
- Content Creation & Distribution
- Digital/Online Media
- Digital Imaging/Photography
- Electronic Gaming
- Fitness and Sports
- Health and Biotech
- Internet Services
- Personal Privacy & Cyber Security
- Smart Home
- Vehicle Technology
- Wireless Devices & Services
If we look at world-changing revolution and evolution coming from CES over the years, we may see the following advances in technology, most of which now commercialized:
- Videocassette Recorder (VCR), 1970
- Laserdisc Player, 1974
- Camcorder and Compact Disc Player, 1981
- Digital Audio Technology, 1990
- Compact Disc – Interactive, 1991
- Digital Satellite System (DSS), 1994
- Digital Versatile Disk (DVD), 1996
- High Definition Television (HDTV), 1998
- Hard-disc VCR (PVR), 1999
- Satellite Radio, 2000
- Microsoft Xbox and Plasma TV, 2001
- Home Media Server, 2002
- Blu-Ray DVD and HDTV PVR, 2003
- HD Radio, 2004
- IP TV, 2005
- Convergence of content and technology, 2007
- OLED TV, 2008
- 3D HDTV, 2009
- Tablets, Netbooks and Android Devices, 2010
- Connected TV, Smart Appliances, Android Honeycomb, Ford’s Electric Focus, Motorola Atrix, Microsoft Avatar Kinect, 2011
- Ultrabooks, 3D OLED, Android 4.0 Tablets, 2012
- Ultra HDTV, Flexible OLED, Driverless Car Technology, 2013
- 3D Printers, Sensor Technology, Curved UHD, Wearable Technologies, 2014
- 4K UHD, Virtual Reality, Unmanned Systems, 2015
Why don’t we do this, let’s now take a very brief look at several exhibits to get a feel for the products. Here we go.
Augmented Reality (AR):
Through specially designed hardware and software full of cameras, sensors, algorithms and more, your perception of reality can be instantly altered in context with your environment. Applications include sports scores showing on TV during a match, the path of trajectory overlaying an image, gaming, construction plans and more. VR (virtual reality) equipment is becoming extremely popular, not only with consumers, but with the Department of Defense, Department of Motor Vehicles, and companies venturing out to technology for training purposes.
The Cyber & Personal Security Marketplace will feature innovations ranging from smart wallets and safe payment apps to secure messaging and private Internet access. If you have never been hacked, you are one in a million. I really don’t think there are many people who have remained unaffected by digital fraud. One entire section of the CES is devoted to cyber security.
Enterprise solutions are integral for business. From analytics, consulting, integration and cyber security to e-commerce and mobile payment, the options are ever-evolving. As you well know, each year the number of online shoppers increases and will eventually outpace the number of shoppers visiting “brick-and-motor stores. Some feel this may see the demise of shopping centers altogether.
Self-Driving Autonomous Automobiles:
Some say if you are five years old or under you may never need a driver’s license. I personally think this is a little far-fetched but who knows. Self-driving automobiles are featured prominently at the CES.
Virtual Reality (VR):
Whether it will be the launch of the next wave of immersive multimedia for virtual reality systems and environments or gaming hardware, software and accessories designed for mobile, PCs or consoles, these exhibitors are sure to energize, empower and excite at CES 2017.
From electronic plug-ins to fashionable cases, speakers, headphones and exciting new games and applications, the product Marketplace will feature the latest third-party accessories and software for your Apple iPod®, iPhone® and iPad® devices.
Most 3D printers are used for building prototypes for the medical, aerospace, engineering and automotive industries. But with the advancement of the digital technology supporting it, these machines are moving toward more compact units with affordable price points for today’s consumer.
The Robotics Marketplace will showcase intelligent, autonomous machines that are changing the way we live at work, at school, at the doctor’s office and at home.
Healthcare and Wellness:
Digital health continues to grow at an astonishing pace, with innovative solutions for diagnosing, monitoring and treating illnesses, to advancements in health care delivery and smarter lifestyles.
In a world where an athlete’s success hinges on milliseconds or millimeters, high-performance improvement and feedback are critical.
I think it’s amazing and to our credit as a country that CES exists and presents, on an annual basis, designs and visions from the best and brightest. A great show-place for ideas the world over from established companies and companies who wish to make their mark on technology. Can’t wait to go—maybe next year. As always, I welcome your comments.
December 8, 2016
This Thanksgiving my family and I traveled to Dallas, Texas to visit our youngest son and his wife Sarah. Even though we are East Tennessee “ridge-runners” we love Dallas. It’s a great place to visit with “tons” of wonderful restaurants, museums, and other terrific things to do and see. If I may, let me recommend to you the following five visits that we consider “must see and do” experiences. We have visited each of the following sites and I can attest to experiences. Here we go:
- Dallas Arboretum and Gardens–The gardens are truly outstanding but bring your walking shoes.
- Dallas Cowboy Stadium—Seating 80,000 rabid fans, it sits prominently in Arlington, Texas
- Ross Perot Museum—Downtown Dallas
- Downtown Dallas Skyline—A wonderfully modern skyline with truly cutting-edge designs.
- Pecan Lodge Restaurant—Best ribs and brisket in Dallas and voted one of the best four in the world.
OK, I know there are many many others but if you have only two or three days you might consider these five. Dallas Cowboy Stadium is out of town but is a remarkable engineering and architectural feat—it is a must see. Put that one high on your list.
This may be a little off-the-wall, but I would like to take you to the last one on the list—The Pecan Lodge Restaurant. If you like smoked brisket, smoked ribs, smoked sausage AND all the sides that might go with each, you NEED to visit the Pecan. The Texas Monthly called it one of the best four (4) BBQ restaurants in the world. (Of course, they are a bit bias but it is a great experience.)
The owners tell us the following: “It all started when we ditched our corporate jobs and weekly travel that came with them so we could spend more time as a family. And, to be honest, we weren’t out to set the world on fire – just some mesquite wood, plus a little oak. But one mouthwatering bite of brisket led to another, and before we knew it, the juicy secret about Pecan Lodge was out. Folks began to serve us up heaping portions of praise, and soon after, lines started to form for what Texas Monthly called one of the Top 4 BBQ joints in the world.
It’s not easy work, but we love what we’re doing. And there are no shortcuts to doing it right. Our BBQ pit burns 24 hours a day, fueled by nothing but wood and passion. We grind and stuff our own sausage. And anything we can make from scratch, we make from scratch – from our Southern Fried Chicken to Aunt Polly’s banana pudding to our Mac n’ Cheese to the collard greens. Times change, and sometimes you have to roll with the punches. Our little stand at the Farmer’s Market had to make way for redevelopment, so we’ve now set up camp in the heart of Deep Ellum. You’ll find us where Main St. meets Pryor St., and good old-fashioned elbow grease meets smoked perfection”
Before we really get into a pictorial visit, let’s look at how they do it.
Texas Style Brisket by Pecan Lodge
- 1 1/2 cups paprika
• 3/4 cup sugar
• 3 tablespoons onion powder
• 3 tablespoons garlic salt
• 1 tablespoons celery salt
• 1 tablespoons black pepper
• 1 tablespoon lemon pepper
• 1 teaspoon mustard powder
• 1 teaspoon cayenne
• 1/2 teaspoon dried thyme
• 1 trim brisket, about 5 to 6 pounds
- Combine all the drying ingredients in a bowl and blend well.
2. Trim the brisket, leaving about 1/4-inch of fat.
3. Season the brisket with about 1/4-cup of the rub. (NOTE: You don’t want such a thick crust that the smoke won’t penetrate the meat. Let the brisket marinate overnight in the refrigerator.)
4. Preheat your grill to 250 degrees F using charcoal and hickory.
5. Using indirect heat, cook the brisket for 3 1/2 hours and flip. Cook another 3 1/2 hours, cooking for a total of 7 hours (about 1 1/2 hours per pound.) The brisket should cook to an internal temperature of 185 degrees F.
6. Rest for 10 minutes on a cutting board before slicing. Slice brisket against the grain
How long does it take to smoke a brisket? And at what temperature? Are there any tricks to creating the “bark” on the brisket?
The answer varies, depending on the weight and type of smoker you are working with. Most of our briskets cook between 15 and 18 hours. To get a nice bark, we use a generous layer of spice rub, which — blended with the fat insulating the brisket — leads to a nice, dark bark on the outer layer.
I hope you’ve got that and will be willing to give it a try. The Lodge is very willing to give you this recipe which I think is outstanding.
The Pecan Lodge opens at 11:00 A.M. each day. Parking is no problem at all with plenty of spaces in the back and sides of the building. As you walk towards the entrance you see two massive smokers. These smokers run seven days a week with each brisket taking eighteen hours (minimum) to cook. We were fortunate this day because the doors to the smoke house were open.
Since it was the Thanksgiving holiday, there were fifty or sixty people in line to pick up call-in orders. I can imagine turkey and brisket sitting on dining room tables across the Dallas area. NOTE: The pick-up line is separate from the line for indoor and outdoor seating. Don’t get in the wrong line.
We got there around 11:20 thinking we would be one of the first families in line. Please note we were at the back of the line you see below. Down the sidewalk and around the corner past the “bull” you see in the background. I stepped out to take this picture to indicate just how popular this place is.
Due to the number of people ordering and needing to be seated, the management requires each order to be submitted before individuals are seated. In other words, you can’t send a family member to save a seat while you are in line. They are really big on this one.
The two digital pictures below will give some indication as to the size of the indoor dining room. It’s big and notice not too many people are looking up—all looking down at their plates and going at it.
It would not be a BBQ “joint” without hats, shirts, belt buckles, etc etc. These are on display so you can choose and pay as you place your order.
Given below is the menu. It’s the only one you get. We all ordered one, two or three meats and one or two sides. This gave us variety to share with each other. Note the “Hot Mess” in the upper right of the menu. I did not order this but my son did and it is outstanding—hot but outstanding.
We were very lucky in that the day gave us seventy-five degree temperatures and plenty of great sunshine. We ate outside where there were eleven picnic tables—most of them full.
I know we have BBQ in east Tennessee and some of it is pretty good, but we do not have Texas brisket. Hope you enjoyed this post and can make the visit to the Pecan Lodge in big “D”.