For my family and I, having had health issues over the past eleven weeks, I’m not too sure I really want to know the future.  I just might freak out.  Someone might have to talk me off the ledge.  We all would love to know the future until we know it.  That’s when problems arise.  I got to thinking about this coming back from the Post Office this morning.  One major road in the Brainerd area of Chattanooga is Brainerd Road.  Sitting right there, next door to McDonalds is “Psychic Readings by Ms. Taylor”.   That “establishment” has been there for over forty years.  Never been in—never will go in but I do wonder what type of guarantee, if any, is given after a reading.  Who knows?

Now, the population of greater Chattanooga according to the 2104 census is 173,778 people. Not too small, not too big.  Just right in my opinion.  Do you know how many psychic readers there are in Chatta-boogie?  Take a look at the list below.

  • Psychic Center of Chattanooga
  • Psychic Readings by Ms. Taylor
  • Psychic Readings by Ms. Evette
  • Psychic Readings by Cecelia
  • Psychic Isabella
  • Psychic Readings by Gianna
  • Jackie Bradshaw Psychic Reader & Love Reuniting Expert
  • Keen – Psychics
  • Diane love specialist
  • Psychic Readings by Donna
  • Psychic Center
  • Medium
  • America’s #1 Love Psychic Jacqueline
  • Readings by Mrs. Fatima
  • AskNow
  • Psychic Source
  • psychic readings by Eva
  • Psychic Readings by Phone Call Now

That’s  one (1) psychic reader for every 9,654 people.  One good thing—not much waiting and most are open twenty-four (24) hours per day.  OK, with that being the case, I have copied the “list of services” one reader can give a client.  Please take a look, as follows:

Top 3 requested readings: Love/Relationship Reading (addresses all love matters questions/concerns), Psychic Reading (addresses the here and now, unfolding the future), Spiritual Reading (Connect with your spirit guides for an overall healing of the mind, body and spirit). SPECIALIST in relationship crisis, and reuniting lovers. Superior accuracy with 35 years’ experience. Any reading your choice $55.00. Born a naturally gifted psychic spiritualist, Psychic Cecelia offers readings on love, business, marriage, love affairs, relationship crisis, court matters and family discord. Any reading you choose to do will amaze you with the most accurate details of information, that will end your skepticism. Call now and allow my spirit guides to address all of your questions and concerns. You’ll find there is a better way to solve the matters that keep you awake at night. Are you struggling to find a path to inner peace, success or career choice? Do you have a love problem you cannot solve alone? With a wealth of experience and knowledge my psychic vibes allow me to touch base with my callers, and furthermore telepathically communicate with their spirit, and their particular situation. If you’re interested in an accurate psychic reading, then call today. All readings guaranteed private and confidential. Call now and receive the most in depth accurate reading on love, marriage, and business.

This is BIG—really big and with being the case, just imagine the aid Ms. Cecelia could give in addressing the following problems:

  • Peace in the Middle-East
  • Appointing a new FBI Director
  • National Debt
  • Student Loan Defaults
  • North Korea Mad Man Kim Jong-un
  • Trade Deficit
  • Overwhelming Drug Use in the United States
  • Environmental Issues; i.e. Global Warming

You get the picture.  Just think of what we are missing by NOT allowing Ms. Cecelia in on the solution to these burdensome problems.  Just blows my mind as to why the “FED” has not come to this conclusion before.  Then again, maybe I’m looking at this the wrong way.  As always, I welcome your comments.

FAST

November 19, 2016


If you keep up with my posts you know that I try to bring my wonderful readers STEM (science, technology, engineering and mathematics) news from all over the world.  The United States remains the global leader in technology, disruptive and otherwise but there are fascinating developments occurring in all parts of our small “blue dot”.

It has always been interesting to me the absolute need we have to find out where we come from.  One of the most successful web sites accessed today is Ancestry.com.  Americans are obsessed with genealogy and this desire has spawned a billion-dollar cottage industry. Alex Haley, author of the hugely popular 1976 book Roots, once said that black Americans needed their own version of Plymouth Rock, a genesis story that didn’t begin — or end — at slavery. His nine-hundred-page American family saga, which reached back to 18th century Gambia, certainly delivered on that. But it also shared with all Americans the emotional and intellectual rewards that can come with discovering the identity of our ancestors.

That need not only deals with individual ancestry but the need to find out just how we got here.  What mechanism or mechanisms created our species?  In finding out, we look back—back in time to see the origins of our planet and our universe.  That effort was furthered by FAST.  Let’s take a look.

The world’s largest radio telescope, according to China’s official Xinhua News, began searching for signals from stars and galaxies and, perhaps, extraterrestrial life this past Sunday in a project demonstrating China’s rising ambitions in space and its pursuit of international scientific prestige.  “The ultimate goal of FAST is to discover the laws of the development of the universe,” Qian Lei, an associate researcher with the National Astronomical Observatories of the Chinese Academy of Sciences, told state broadcaster CCTV. “In theory, if there is civilization in outer space, the radio signal it sends will be similar to the signal we can receive when a pulsar (spinning neutron star) is approaching us,” Qian said.  Installation of the 4,450-panel structure, nicknamed Tianyan, or the Eye of Heaven, started in 2011 and was completed in July.  The Five-hundred-meter Aperture Spherical Telescope, or FAST, is named after its diameter, which, at five hundred meters (500), is 195 meters wider than the second-largest telescope of its kind, the Arecibo Observatory in Puerto Rico.   Xinhua News reports the telescope cost $180 million and came to past with eight hundred thousand (8,000) people being displaced from their homes.  This displacement created the necessary three-mile radius of radio silence around the facility. The facility itself will be used for “observation of pulsars as well as exploration of interstellar molecules and interstellar communication signals.”   FAST is built in the Dawodang depression in Guizhou Province. The natural landscape provides the perfect size and shape for the construction of the telescope. The ground also provides enough support for the gigantic telescope.  The porous soil forms an underground drainage system that protects the telescope. With only one town in the twelve (12) miles radius, the Dawodang depression is extremely isolated from magnetic disruptions. The remoteness of the location also protects the surrounding landscape from any damage.

Like radio telescopes in other parts of the world, FAST will study interstellar molecules related to how galaxies evolve. For example, this summer a team using data from the Very Large Array, a collection of radio antennas in the New Mexico desert, picked up what scientists describe as “faint radio emission from atomic hydrogen … in a galaxy nearly five (5) billion light-years from Earth.” In the paper describing their findings, the team writes that the “next generation of radio telescopes,” like FAST, will build on their findings about how gases behave in galaxies.

Digital photographs of the completed structure and construction may be seen below.  As you can see, it is monstrous.

fast-2

The initial construction represented a huge effort with detailed planning extending over a five year period of time.

initial-construction

construction

construction2

construction-3

CONCLUSIONS:

This structure proves that for people all over the world—we are searching.  Personally, I think this is truly healthy.  My only wish is, one discovered, that news is shared with all humanity.   As always, I welcome your comments.

ELECTRO-MECHANICAL TRANSDUCERS

September 25, 2016


 

The following post is taken from a paper written by this author regarding encoders.  The paper is published through http://www.PDHonline.org.

INTRODUCTION:

The use of motion sensors has become commonplace and increasingly important to motion control system designers in all sectors of manufacturing and medical endeavors.    Rapid advances in size, accuracy, resolution, and application of sensitive motion control sensor systems have quickly become more attractive to design engineers. The broad range of devices currently available can offer design engineers multiple solutions to their motion control needs.

Measurement and control often involve monitoring rotary and linear motion. Both are multi-stage processes with the first stage being the generation of an electrical signal to represent desired motion. When measurement is the objective, this signal is used to quantify the desired property (i.e., displacement, velocity, etc.).  The second stage is data translated into a readable format that can be understood by the end user. When control is the objective, the signal is used directly by the associated controller.

Whether measurement or control is required, generation of the electrical signal to represent the motion is accomplished with transducers. The design and selection of a transducer is determined through the evaluation of application considerations.  An electrical transducer is a device capable of converting a physical quantity into a proportional electrical quantity such as voltage or electric current.  A transducer converts any quantity to be measured into usable electrical signal.  (Note that any device which is able convert one form of energy into another form is called as a transducer. For example, even a speaker can be called as a transducer as it converts electrical signal to pressure waves (sound).   An electrical transducer will convert a physical quantity to an electrical quantity.

There are several types of transducers as follows:

TYPES OF TRANSDUCERS:

  • Proximity Switches: Proximity switches open or close an electrical circuit when they make contact with or come within a certain distance of an object. They are most commonly used in manufacturing equipment, robotics, and security systems. There are four basic types: infrared, acoustic, capacitive, and inductive. These switches, probably the oldest of the control elements, are basically location sensing devices. They include true mechanical switches, photo sensors, magnetic pickups, pressure sensors, etc.  Proximity switches have historically been the primary location indicating device in control systems, but rarely used for measurement except in “go-no-go” gauging. Output is a discrete change in signal level, and these devices are easily interfaced with both custom controllers and computers. Response of mechanical switches is relatively slow. Precautions must be taken to ignore the multiple signals generated by contact bounce when these switches are monitored with control devices such as computers that are capable of rapid response
  • Potentiometers: A potentiometer is a manually adjustable electrical resistor that uses three terminals. In many electrical devices, potentiometers are what establish the levels of output. For example, in a loudspeaker, a potentiometer is used to adjust the volume. In a television set, computer monitor or light dimmer, it can be used to control the brightness of the screen or light bulb. Potentiometer outputs, from both rotary and linear devices, depend on the position of a sliding contact on a resistive element.   Normally operated as a voltage divider, output is analog, and analog to digital hardware is required for digital output applications. Potentiometers are often used to measure displacement as opposed to proximity switches whose chief function is control safety or limiting. Potentiometers are moderately accurate devices when properly calibrated, but are susceptible to degradation due to wear. Resolution may be limited, but is often adequate for many applications. Potentiometers are susceptible to many environmental constraints. Essentially mechanical contact devices, they must be protected from shock, vibration, and foreign matter contamination.
  • Analog Inductive Components: Inductive analogue distance sensors provide an output signal that is proportional to the distance between the trigger surface and the object. In many applications you also need to generate a switching signal at specific points along the output curve. These switching signals enable systems to recognize when a particular position (distance from a machine part) has been reached. In the past this required an additional external analogue switching amplifier. This component is no longer required. Inductive transducers are widely used devices for both rotary and linear applications. Similar to the trans-former, alternating current in one coil (primary) induces alternating current in an adjacent coil (secondary), the principle of operation is electromagnetic coupling between parallel conductors. Position can be deduced accurately with external electronics and output is sinusoidal.

There are many variations of inductive transducers. Some of the most common are synchros, resolvers, induction potentiometers, and linear variable differential transformers (LVDTs).

A true synchro resembles a three-phase motor, but produces an electrical output corresponding to the an-gular position of its shaft. The output is analog and its position can be interpreted from the relative volt-age, amplitude or phase. The synchros can be connected so that the output shaft assumes the same relative position as the input shaft.

  • Encoders: An encoderis a device, circuit, transducer, software program, algorithm or person that converts information from one format or code to another, for the purposes of standardization, speed or compressions. Encoders can be categorized into two broad types: contacting and non-contacting. The contacting type requires brushes or finger sensors that electrically transmit a signal to indicate a change in position. Non-contacting encoders rely on magnetic, capacitive or optical phenomena to sense the motion. Outputs can be either absolute, a digital coded word that indicates absolute position, or incremental, with repetitive pulses that are counted to accumulate total motion.

Rotary position sensing, either absolute or incremental, indicate the rotation of a shaft. The encoding disc is patterned with radial lines that are sensed as the input shaft is rotated. Mechanical packaging varies greatly depending on application requirements.

Linear position sensing depends upon a moving head whose motion is sensed along a linear track and a scale. Principles of operation and output types are similar for rotary devices. Mechanical packaging accommodates a wide spectrum of application requirements.

OPERATIONAL CHARACTERISTICS OF TRANSDUCER TYPES:

The transducer that should be used in a given application depends on the performance requirements, environmental constraints, and other factors such as cost, space requirements, etc. Some of the more important design considerations are listed in Table One shown below.  Potentiometers, encoders, and inductive transducers are used for both measurement and control. The wide variety of these devices creates a considerable overlap in their application. The proximity switch is technically a measurement and control device but because of its limited two-stage output, it is not normally performance competitive with other devices. The following table will give some basic idea as to those considerations needing to be made prior to selecting a transducer type.

encoder-types

CONCLUSIONS:  As you might expect, a great deal of care is needed before specifying a transducer type. The table above is a very brief guideline as to those considerations necessary.  I certainly hope you enjoy this one.  The remainder of the course is a work in progress.

 

 

 

 

BEST EFFORTS

September 5, 2016


I think we can all agree the path to success in every venture, or adventure, is to give our best efforts.  Give it our all—110 percent. Leave it all on the field. Go more than the extra mile.  You get the picture.  One of the most powerful human emotions is regret.  When I attended the university, my machine design professor, Dr. Robert Maxwell would always tell us—“do the most important thing first, do not procrastinate—keep it moving.”  Get the big stuff out of the way and leave time to reevaluate so changes, if necessary, can be accomplished and still meet project time tables.

Sometimes we become comfortable with our job; things become mundane.  We seem to be on a plateau, a stagnant plateau with little enthusiasm for even coming to work.   Mike Lipkin, with the Environics Research Group has detailed six (6) stages of employment we all seem to go through.  He was directing his discussion to the engineering community but these stages apply to every profession.  Here we go:

  • BEGINNER—This is the “newbie”. The guy or gal just starting with a company.  They definitely have the highest level of motivation, drive, optimism, etc etc.  The beginner does NOT know what he does not know, consequently they may be given a task that is seemingly impossible.  One that an “old hand” is unwilling to tackle.  Beginners have a very poor sense relative to the odds against them.
  • BREAKTHROUGH—These individuals have been with the company long enough to find their way to the bathroom and may do very well. Successes are termed “beginner’s luck”.  It may be shear talent but often gets pinned as mere luck.
  • THE WALL—At this stage, generally with five or six years in, people become tired and overwhelmed with difficulties. Time constraints may seem very unrealistic.  Money allotted to accomplishing a task or project may be much too limited.  Team members may be unsuited to the task or seem to be unsuited.
  • CONSOLIDATION—At this phase in one’s career, people reset, review and re-engage. There have been successes but also failures.  This is where realism sets in relative to job assignments and company philosophy.
  • MASTRY—Experience, insights, and effectiveness become trademarks. You have a reputation for getting things accomplished even though there have been tough times.  Younger employees come to you for advice and answers.  This occurs around the seven (7) to ten (10) year period of your career.
  • Plateau—If we are not careful, this is where complacency occurs. We dream of the finish line; i.e. retirement.  We are not there yet but the light at the end of the tunnel is very appealing and we start to envision the day when we get the gold watch and a pat on the back.  This is a very dangerous time in an employee’s professional career.

OK—what do we do to eliminate the plateau of our career?  Here are my suggestions from fifty (50) plus years of working as an engineer.

  • KEEP LEARNING—Do not let the grass grow under your feet. Stay abreast of every-changing technology.  Today, more than ever, it is possible to learn by reading the literature, logging in to webinars, pod-casts, taking courses on-line.  You do NOT have to enroll in a structured university course to gain knowledge.  Continuously upgrade your skill set.
  • DEMONSTRATE YOUR VALUE AS AN EMPLOYEE—Speak up. Be unique by volunteering (yes I said volunteering) for the tough assignments.  The ones that take overtime and thought.  Never apply the “it’s not my job attitude”.
  • BE A CATALYST—Be that person who participates in problem solving. Someone said if you want to see the future—invent it.  You can do this with your company or team.  Bring energy to the table.
  • BE A TEACHER—That beginner would love to have your experience and some day will. Not now, but some day. Help him or her along that path to professional maturity.  People will notice how you treat the “new guy”.  You will become the “go-to” person not only for the new employee but the old hand who has hit that plateau.
  • COME EARLYSTAY LATE– I do not mean an eighty-hour week.  I just mean be ready when the bell rings.  Have that cup of coffee fifteen or twenty minutes before you are to be at your desk.  People notice.
  • COMPANY POLITICS— As best you can, stay away from company politics. That is a very tall order in today’s world but I fee essential to accomplishing a stress-free working day. This starts with not being a gossip.  My grandmother used to say—if you don’t have anything good to say about a person, say nothing at all.  Good advice.

I’m sure everyone has their own methodology for staying optimistic about their job.  Things you do on a daily basis to put fun back into an every-day eight or ten-hour profession.  I would love to get your comments on how you approach this in your working life.

EINSTEIN-ROSEN BRIDGE

June 8, 2016


There is a great deal of talk lately about a manned trip to Mars, the “red” planet.  Let’s take a very quick look at the task to get a feel for the complexity.

  • In theory, the closest distance from Earth to Mars would be when Mars is closest to the sun (perihelion) and Earth is farthest from the sun(aphelion). This would put the planets only 9 million miles(54.6 million kilometers). The two planets are farthest apart when they are both farthest from the sun, on opposite sides of the star. At this point, they can be 250 million miles (401 million km) apart. The average distance between the two planets is 140 million miles (225 million km). You would, obviously, launch when Earth and Mars are closest to each other or when they would be closest to each other.
  • Light travels at approximately 186,282 miles per second(299,792 km per second). Therefore, a light shining from the surface of Mars would take the following amount of time to reach Earth (or vice versa):
    • Closest approach: 182 seconds, or just over 3 minutes
    • Farthest approach: 1,342 seconds, or just over 22 minutes
    • On average: 751 seconds, or just over 12.5 minutes

If you could travel at the speed of light, it would be a quick trip indeed.

  • Here is a list of how long it took several historical missions to reach the red planet. Their launch dates are included for perspective.
    • Mariner 4, the first spacecraft to go to Mars (1964 flyby): 228 days
    • Mariner 6 (1969 flyby): 155 days
    • Mariner 7 (1969 flyby): 128 days
    • Mariner 9, the first spacecraft to orbit Mars (1971): 168 days
    • Viking 1, the first U.S. craft to land on Mars (1975): 304 days
    • Viking 2Orbiter/Lander (1975): 333 days
    • Mars Global Surveyor(1996): 308 days
    • Mars Pathfinder (1996): 212 days
    • Mars Odyssey(2001):  200 days
    • Mars Express Orbiter (2003): 201 days
    • Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter (2005): 210 days
    • Mars Science Laboratory(2011): 254 days
  • Like other space travels, zero gravity poses the biggest risk for human beings. Experts feel artificial gravity will be necessary for the crew whenever possible during the Mars mission.  The health hazards are both physical as well as psychological. Improper blood circulation, space sickness, weak immune system, back aches, muscle loss and radiation are some of the physical problems one will face. Psychological problems range from depression, interpersonal conflicts, anxiety, insomnia and even psychosis.
  • Dutch-based Mars One project is a ‘not for profit foundation that will establish a permanent human settlement on Mars in 2023′, aiming to add more crew to the human colony every two years subsequent. This year 40 people will be chosen for the project and four of these (two men and two women) is likely to be sent to send to Mars in September 2022, to land in April 2023. This means a journey of nearly 8 months to cover a distance of 56 mn kms. Now, this is the plan at this time. Only time will tell as to the actual delivery of those plans.
  • In spite of the risks of space travel, the Mars One founder said he is convinced of the viability of the project. However, some space travel experts have said the risks are far too high to carry out these manned missions to Mars, a distance that humans have never traveled.
    Radiation is a big concern. NASA does not allow their astronauts to expose themselves to radiation levels that could increase their risk of developing cancer by more than 3%.

 

OK, it’s a long way, but what if you could “slip the surely bonds of earth” and travel through a worm-hole that reduced you travel time to mere minutes if not seconds?  This might take an Einstein-Rosen Bridge.

EINSTEIN-ROSEN BRIDGE (WORMHOLE):

A wormhole is a theoretical passage through space-time that could create shortcuts for long journeys across the universe. Wormholes are predicted by the theory of general relativity. But be wary: wormholes bring with them the dangers of sudden collapse, high radiation and dangerous contact with exotic matter.  In 1935, physicists Albert Einstein and Nathan Rosen used the theory of general relativity to propose the existence of “bridges” through space-time. These paths, called Einstein-Rosen bridges or wormholes, connect two different points in space-time, theoretically creating a shortcut that could reduce travel time and distance.  The JPEG below will give you some idea, graphically, as to the concept.

BRIDGE

Wormholes contain two mouths, with a throat connecting the two. The mouths would most likely be spheroidal. The throat might be a straight stretch, but it could also wind around, taking a longer path than a more conventional route might require.  Einstein’s theory of general relativity mathematically predicts the existence of wormholes, but none have been discovered to date. A negative mass wormhole might be spotted by the way its gravity affects light that passes by.  Certain solutions of general relativity allow for the existence of wormholes where the mouth of each is a black hole. However, a naturally occurring black hole, formed by the collapse of a dying star, does not by itself create a wormhole.

A HUGE problem with wormholes comes from stability. The predicted Einstein-Rosen wormholes would be useless for travel because they collapse quickly. But more recent research found that a wormhole containing “exotic” matter could stay open and unchanging for longer periods of time.  Exotic matter, which should not be confused with dark matter or antimatter, contains negative energy density and a large negative pressure. Such matter has only been seen in the behavior of certain vacuum states as part of quantum field theory.  If a wormhole contained sufficient exotic matter, whether naturally occurring or artificially added, it could theoretically be used as a method of sending information or travelers through space.

Wormholes may not only connect two separate regions within the universe, they could also connect two different universes. Similarly, some scientists have conjectured that if one mouth of a wormhole is moved in a specific manner, it could allow for time travel. However, British cosmologist Stephen Hawking has argued that such use is not possible.

CONCLUSION:

To get to Mars or any other planet or star system, we will have to do it the old fashion way, get in, light up, and fire the darn thing.  We have the navigational technology to accomplish this task, but do we really need to get there?  My first choice, let’s establish a working base on our moon.  We know we can do that. We have the technology—do we have the willpower to plan that event?   The Executive and Legislative branches of our Federal government are just about a visionary as a cold rock.  They are much much too busy getting reelected to bother with planning.  I think this has been demonstrated by our complete abdication of the manned space craft program.  All advancements in past decades have been for naught unless we get back in manned space.  Asking the Russians for a ride every time we need a lift to ISS is ridiculous.

As always, I welcome your comments: bobjengr@comcast.net

BREAD AND CIRCUSES

March 3, 2016


“Panem et Circensus”, literally “bread and circuses”, was the formula for the well-being of the population, and thus a political strategy. This formula offered a variety of pleasures such as: the distribution of food, public baths, gladiators, exotic animals, chariot races, sports competition, and theater representation. It was an efficient instrument in the hands of the Emperors to keep the population peaceful, and at the same time giving them the opportunity to voice themselves in these places of performance.

Does this sound familiar?  If you have read my postings over the past few years you know I concentrate strictly on all things STEM (science, technology, engineering and mathematics). Even though I just voted, I keep my political views to myself because that’s just not my focus. YOU are intelligent enough to listen to the candidates or game show contestants as the case may be, make up your mind, and VOTE.  You do NOT need my help in deciding who’s who in the zoo.

I am very disappointed with the considerable lack of substance on both sides of the aisle this time around.  Basically, at this crucial stage of the game, we are sending in the clowns.  It does not come as any surprise that the campaign for the Presidency of the Unites States has barely acknowledged many of the challenges we face, including industrial issues and the manpower needed to fill critical jobs within the industrial environment. Industry is desperately seeking talent and respite from regulations that literally choke invention and creativity.  The Institute for Supply Management released data that indicates a tough start to 2016.  Let’s take a very quick look.

  • Production and raw materials inventories in manufacturing sector were all contracting.
  • The employment index was down 3.2 percent from the month of December.
  • The rate of expansion dropped twelve percent (12%) from November 2015
  • Capacity utilization was off twenty-six percent (26%).
  • New orders for equipment in the material handling sector dropped two percent (2%). Not that much but still a drop.
  • Future orders were down three percent (3%)
  • Exports were off thirty-five percent (35%)
  • Seventy percent (70%) of respondents in manufacturing organizations polled have greatly struggled to find acceptable talent to fill open jobs. This problem is epidemic in manufacturing companies.

These facts were the direct result of negligance on the part of our elected officials.

REGULATIONS:

Are you ready for this one?  2015 was a record-setting year for the Federal Register, according to numbers from the Competitive Enterprise Institute in Washington, D.C.

In 2015, daily publication of the federal government’s rules, proposed rules and notices amounted to 81,611 pages.  The graphic below will indicate the scope of the problem.

Federal Regulations

OK, how much added cost to industry and the public at large do Federal regulations costs? This year, 2015, the Wallstreet Journal cited The Competitive Enterprise Institute (CEI) claiming the annual cost of federal regulations is nearly $1.9 trillion.   This “works out to a staggering $14,976 per household per year”: Americans send $1.4 trillion to Washington each year in individual income taxes.  The report found that the federal bureaucracy—made up of 60 agencies, departments, and commissions—has 3,415 regulations in the process of being finalized, meaning that the number of regulations far surpasses the number of laws passed by Congress.

JOBS AND THE SKILLS GAP:

A recent report called “The Skills Gap in U.S. Manufacturing 2015 and Beyond” projects that, “Over the next decade, nearly three and a half million manufacturing jobs will likely need to be filled, and the skills gap is expected to result in 2 million of those jobs going unfilled.”  The urgency of the problem was described as far back as 1990 by the National Center on Education and the Economy, with its report, “The American Workforce – America’s Choice: High Skills or Low Wages”. Right now, American manufacturing companies cannot fill as many as 600,000 skilled positions—even as unemployment numbers hover at historic levels—according to a new survey from Deloitte and The Manufacturing Institute, Washington, D.C. In determining the numbers, a representative sample of 1,123 executives in the United States within manufacturing companies recently revealed that five percent (5%) of current manufacturing jobs are unfilled due to a lack of qualified candidates.  As we mentioned above, approximately seventy percent (70%) of manufacturers have a moderate to severe shortage of available, qualified workers,” said Craig Giffi, vice chairman and consumer and industrial products industry leader, Deloitte LLP. “Moreover, fifty-six percent (56%) anticipate the shortage to increase in the next three to five years”.  Emily DeRocco, president, The Manufacturing Institute, noted that “these unfilled jobs are mainly in the skilled production category—positions such as machinists, operators, craft workers, distributors, and technicians. Unfortunately, these jobs require the most training and are traditionally among the hardest manufacturing jobs to find existing talent to fill,” she said.

Have you heard about this during the recent debates?  I don’t think so.  Does anyone really expect any of the candidates to discuss these problems over the next months leading up to the November election?  I don’t think so.  It’s not glamorous! Too productive! Too important to our national well-being.  And the media—it’s all about ratings.  The best reality show in town is the race for the White House.  I have briefly touched on two issues we have; regulations and the skills-gap.  We could mention at least fifty more, both domestic and foreign in nature.  We need a work horse in the Oval Office and not a show horse and I don’t see one in sight.

OK, I’ve vented.  Now back to STEM subjects.  I’m over it.

COMMON E-MAIL MISTAKES

February 21, 2016


From McKinsey Global Institute and International Data Corporation, the following e-mail usage may be seen:

  • 28% of our workweek is spent reading and answering e-mail.
  • 650 hours per year is involved with reading and writing e-mail.
  • 13 hours per week, on average, is spent with e-mail

There is absolutely no doubt that e-mail communication has changed the manner in which business and personal correspondence is conducted.  In preparation for this post, I counted the e-mail sent and read over a two day period of time.  The results were mind-boggling– two hundred and four (204). I was, and remain, blown away.  I actually had no idea as to the number.  Now, I run an engineering consulting business and write posts such as this in my “spare time” but still, give me a break, two hundred and four.

One of my favorite web sites is Mindtools.com.  That media outlet provides a great service with several articles or “news you can use” each week.  One that really attracted me was the improper use of e-mail.  Those errors frequently made that produce problems for the reader and the sender.  Let’s take a look at the most egregious, at least in their opinion.

  • Using Improper Tone— Although these are not in order of severity, this one must be one of the most damaging. Who is your audience?  Who are you directing your e-mail to?  I would suspect the tone of your e-mail would be considerably different if it’s your boss as opposed to a peer or friend in the “cube farm”.  Senior management may not have time for the trivia you would use in communicating with a family member or a friend and you certainly would not use inflammatory rhetoric when addressing and informing someone up the line.
  • Hitting the “Reply All” Button—Consider the relevance of the e-mail. Generally, it is necessary to respond to the sender and not everyone on the senders list.  In doing so, you can drastically reduce the number of e-mail received each day.  You really do NOT have to tell the entire world. Now, if you are on a broadcast group and everyone needs to be included, you are perfectly correct in replying to all.
  • Writing Too Much—I plead guilty to this one and really have to watch myself. How much detail do you really need to impart?  Will a few words suffice?  Can a simple one-liner get the communication process taken care of?  Be concise but not wordy.
  • Forgetting Something so Resending Becomes Necessary—We have all done this; forgotten to attach an important document only to have the recipient of the e-mail indicate, with another e-mail, that you forgot to include the attachment. Been there, done that, got the “T” shirt.  I have also been guilty of sending an incorrect document. One I did not mean to send.  This makes it necessary to properly apply a file name that perfectly identifies the document.
  • Providing a Link That Does NOT Work—This is really frustrating if you are the recipient. You try, and try and try but nothing happens. You e-mail the sender back asking for help or another way to access the material.  Very time-consuming and counterproductive.  By the time you get the proper link, you just might be to put-out to give it a try.
  • E-Mailing the Wrong PersonThis one could be a career-ending event. BE CAREFUL.  Make absolutely sure the intended person gets his or her name in the correct block.  This also includes the copy block and the silent copy block.  This is BIG.
  • Too Emotional—When sending e-mail, do NOT wear your emotions on your sleeve—NEVER do this. A phone call or a visit is the way to go here.  Remember, e-mail is ever-lasting.  Long after the “rapture” your e-mail will exist.  Again, be careful.
  • Not Using “Delay Send” – I do not use delay send very much but scheduling the timing for an e-mail sent can be a very good practice when you are faced with a very hectic day. I definitely need, on a personal basis, to consider this one more often.
  • Using Vague Subject Lines—This can also be very frustrating if you are the reader. Be concise. Be distinct. Be exact. Do NOT make the recipient read the entire e-mail before he or she knows, or is required to guess,the subject.  This, in my opinion is certainly rude and time-consuming.
  • Not Reviewing Prior to Sending
    • Spell Check
    • Critique Your Grammar
    • Critique Your Punctuation
    • Do NOT Use Slang
    • Do NOT Use Abbreviations
    • No Bad Language
    • It’s an E-Mail NOT a Tweet
  • Sending Unnecessary E-Mails—If a visit or a phone call will do use them. An e-mail is NEVER a substitute for face-to-face communication. People like that.  It’s much friendlier and allows for questions to be asked and answered.
  • Avoid Sending When You Are Angered, Stressed or Too Tired—Just don’t do this. The importance of the communication will be lost if the message is send during periods of personal difficulty. (NOTE: Of course, this is baring medical or family issues.)  Never send an e-mail at night if it can wait until the next day.  No one likes to hear the “bing—bing” of an e-mail received at two in the morning.  Just don’t do this.
  • Many Companies Have an E-Mail Template—Use it.

 

I think these are excellent recommendations and ones I personally have violated over the past few years.  I will try harder and certainly hope you will do likewise if necessary.

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