Friday, April 21, 2017

Water Math

The Next Episode of Billions?


"German police arrested a man on Friday suspected of detonating three bombs that targeted the Borussia Dortmund soccer team bus in the hope of sending the club’s shares plummeting and making a profit on an investment, prosecutors said.

In a statement, the federal chief prosecutor said the 28-year old man, a dual German and Russian national identified as Sergei V., had bought options on Borussia Dortmund’s stock before the attack.
The team bus was heading to the club’s stadium for a Champions League match against AS Monaco on April 11 when the explosions went off, wounding Spanish defender Marc Bartra and delaying the match by a day.

Prosecutors last week expressed doubts about the authenticity of three letters left at the site of the attack that suggested that Islamist militants had carried it out.

The prosecutor’s office said the suspect had bought 15,000 put options, or contracts giving him the right to sell Borussia Dortmund’s shares at a pre-determined price, on the day of the attack, using a consumer loan he had signed a week earlier."

Wednesday, April 19, 2017

Engineering a Great Business Plan

Graph of the Week


Facebook Looks at AR


"Facebook hopes to take further advantage of developing technologies such as Simultaneous Localisation and Mapping (SLAM) which allows the camera to plot out where an object is in the real world so AR can seems to be placed accurately in the ‘real world’. Additionally, Facebook are working on technology that allows the conversion 2D stills mages into 3D representations that can be modified with AR. The object recognition that will be introduced to the app means that the camera can ‘recognise’ the size, depth and location of the object so the object can be manipulated within the AR space."

The Death of Loyality

Roman Roads

Link to a great set of slides on Roman roads.

A Paragraph to Ponder


"The Singapore E-Center will be the Cincinnati-based company’s (NYSE: PG) first of its kind outside the U.S. and is designed to fuel end-to-end digital innovation across its supply chain management, e-analytics and e-business by expanding partnerships with local small-medium enterprises and startups and supporting their development of digital solutions."

Monday, April 17, 2017

Engineering Warmth

Climate Change Population Migration

From Nature Climate Change:

"Many sea-level rise (SLR) assessments focus on populations presently inhabiting vulnerable coastal communities1, 2, 3, but to date no studies have attempted to model the destinations of these potentially displaced persons. With millions of potential future migrants in heavily populated coastal communities, SLR scholarship focusing solely on coastal communities characterizes SLR as primarily a coastal issue, obscuring the potential impacts in landlocked communities created by SLR-induced displacement. Here I address this issue by merging projected populations at risk of SLR1 with migration systems simulations to project future destinations of SLR migrants in the United States. I find that unmitigated SLR is expected to reshape the US population distribution, potentially stressing landlocked areas unprepared to accommodate this wave of coastal migrants—even after accounting for potential adaptation. These results provide the first glimpse of how climate change will reshape future population distributions and establish a new foundation for modelling potential migration destinations from climate stressors in an era of global environmental change."

Saturday, April 15, 2017

A Paragraph to Ponder

From the Washington Post:

"Demand for flights to the United States has fallen in nearly every country since January, ­according to Hopper, a travel-booking app that analyzes more than 10 billion daily airfare price quotes to derive its data. Searches for U.S. flights from China and Iraq have dropped 40 percent since Trump’s inauguration, while demand in Ireland and New Zealand is down about 35 percent. (One exception: Russia, where searches for flights to the United States have surged 60 percent since January.)"

Clean Water Warrior Wins 2017 ENR Award of Excellence

Clean Water Warrior Wins 2017 ENR Award of Excellence: The inside story of how Virginia Tech Professor Marc Edwards helped propel the emergency of lead-tainted water in Flint, Michigan.

The Promise of Advanced Distribution

I Will be in Oslo in July

Saturday Fun With The Riddler

Self-Driving and Kalman Filters

Cell Phone Data and Predicting Pandemics

Introduction to the Peloton Platooning System

Graph of the Week

Two Laws for the 21st Century

Amara's Law states we tend to overestimate the effect of technology in the short run and underestimate the effect in the long run.

Sturgeon's Law states that ninety percent of everything is crap.

Friday, April 14, 2017

Planet of the Cows

Planet of the Cows: Cows and people are the large animals that most dominate the environment

Depleting Groundwater

Graph of the Day

The Anti-Uber Quote of the Day

From the HBO show Veep - - Uber users are ". . . a bunch of dumbass millennials too lazy to learn how to drive drunk."

Uber Economics

We Move You

Better Call Saul

From the New York Times:
"In an hour long news conference that touched on race, policing and airline manners, a lawyer for the passenger dragged off a United flight on Sunday listed his client’s injuries: a broken nose, a concussion, two knocked-out teeth and sinus problems that may require reconstructive surgery.
“For a long time, airlines, United in particular, have bullied us,” the lawyer, Thomas A. Demetrio, said Thursday in downtown Chicago.
“Are we going to just continue to be treated like cattle — bullied, rude treatment?” asked Mr. Demetrio, who placed the blame for his client’s injuries on a “culture of disrespect” at United Airlines and overly aggressive tactics from Chicago aviation police officers. He said a lawsuit was likely.
The video of Dr. David Dao, 69, of Kentucky, being bloodied as he was pulled off the flight in order to make room for four United employees has ignited conversation and outrage around the world. The three Chicago aviation police officers who removed Dr. Dao from the plane have been placed on administrative leave."

Thoughts on Speed Bumps

From Tyler Cowen:

"By its very design, a speed bump is a deliberate obstruction with maximum transparency as such. It is sending a message that the social goals of safety or neighborhood quiet are sufficiently important that it is worth slowing people’s progress when they travel. There are many regulations that try to make our lives safer, but most of them are hidden, with nontransparent costs, such as auto-safety regulations as applied through crash tests. A speed bump, in contrast, can work only if people notice it each time. So to the extent a society accepts speed bumps, it is visibly advertising the notion that limits to fast transportation — a symbol of progress — are acceptable in the name of safety and cozy locality."

Thursday, April 13, 2017

Bidders Shortlisted as Oroville Dam Work Schedule is Set

Bidders Shortlisted as Oroville Dam Work Schedule is Set: In a race to fix the damaged Oroville Dam’s main spillway by November, California Dept. of Water Resources, the operator of the country’s tallest dam, is going to bid with a 65%-complete design that breaks recovery efforts into three parts, with an ultimate goal of doubling the main spillway’s release

Artificial Intelligence and Engineering

Artificial Intelligence and Engineering

Monday, April 10, 2017

Thinking About the Future

Off to Texas Water 2017

A Paragraph to Ponder

From Arup Thoughts Column:

"The increasingly interconnectedness of today’s infrastructure networks poses additional risks to be overcome. In the event that a freak storm damages a key telecoms facility, the danger might be that the ensuing loss of connectivity creates cascading failures, such as suspending key systems at a local power plant or hospital. Hurricane Sandy in 2012 caused many such connected failures. It also damaged data centres relied on by media organisations like BuzzFeed and the Huffington Post. The issue of interconnected failures in vital aspects of our day-to-day infrastructure will require a ‘systems thinking’ response if climate change resilience is to be achieved."

Naturally Resilient Communities

Link to a guide to green infrastructure.

Sunday, April 9, 2017

The Post Fossil Fuel City Contest

Link to the contest.

The Importance of Engineering Resiliency this Century

From the New York Times:

"Prosperity will ultimately belong to cities and nations around the world that find ways to capitalize on strategies of resilience against the inevitable impact of climate change. Those cities will retool themselves for new technologies and global businesses whose employees, reflecting a growing worldwide generational shift, want to walk, ride bikes and take mass transit."

The Crowd & The Cloud

Map of the Week

Rising Waters and the Costs of Inaction

From the New York Times by Michael Kimmelman and Josh Haner - Rising China Waters Imperil a World of Progress:

"That’s a trillion-dollar question, according to the World Bank, which projected the potential cost of damage to coastal cities worldwide from rising seas to be somewhere near that figure. It estimates that China is already losing 1.4 percent of its annual G.D.P. to climate change. Last spring, residents in Guangzhou woke again to flooded streets after a furious downpour swept across the delta and drowned entire neighborhoods of the city. Local news media, once more, said that there had been nothing like it in years. And as usual, Chinese social media sites buzzed with posts of people trapped in flooded cars. One man, named Pang, became an overnight celebrity for catching a fish with his umbrella, then going home and making soup with the head and tail. “It was fresh and tender,” he told The Guangzhou Daily."

Bot Disruption of the Day

Engineering Competition

Fake News But Real Money

From the New York Times Magazine today - This is Great Television: Inside the Strange Symbiosis Between the CNN President Jeff Zucker and Donald Trump by Jonathan Mahler:

"Last year, CNN's average daytime audience was up more than 50 percent, and its prime-time audience 70 percent.  The network earned nearly $1 billion; it was the most profitable year in CNN's history."

Engineering Puzzle Solvers

"Two intelligent, honest students are sitting together at lunch one day when their math teacher hands them each a card. “Your cards each have an integer on them,” the teacher tells them. “The product of the two numbers is either 12, 15 or 18. The first to correctly guess the number on the other’s card wins.”
The first student looks at her card and says, “I don’t know what your number is.”
The second student looks at her card and says, “I don’t know what your number is, either.”
The first student then says, “Now I know your number.”
What number is on the loser’s card?"


Thursday, April 6, 2017

The New Dynamics Shaping Engineering

From the current issue of the Economist:

"Parking spaces seem innocuous, just a couple of lines painted on asphalt. Multiplied and mismanaged, though, they can create traffic jams, worsen air pollution and force cities to sprawl. The cost and availability of parking affects people’s commuting habits more than the rapid buses and light-rail lines that cities are so keen to build (see article). Next to other worthy policies like congestion-charging and road-tolling, parking is also easy to change. The fast-growing metropolises of Africa and Asia, especially, need to get it right, before they repeat the West’s debilitating mistakes."

Wednesday, April 5, 2017

Civil Engineering for Shrinkage

Safer Cars Yet Higher Insurance Rates

From the WSJ:

"New cars loaded with high-tech crash-prevention gear are having a perverse effect on car-insurance costs: They are soaring.

Safety features such as autonomous braking and systems to prevent drivers from drifting out of their lanes are increasingly available on vehicles rolling off assembly lines. Auto companies and third-party researchers say these features help prevent crashes and are building blocks to self-driving cars. But progress comes with a price.

Enabling the safety tech are cameras, sensors, microprocessors and other hardware whose repair costs can be more than five times that of conventional parts. And the equipment is often located in bumpers, fenders and external mirrors—the very spots that tend to get hit in a crash. Insurance companies, unwilling to shoulder all the pain, are passing some of the cost off to buyers."

Era of the Engineer

Sunday, April 2, 2017

Consumer Neuroscience

Be Prepared to Stop Trailer

A Paragraph to Ponder

Image result for lithium element

From the current issue of Bloomberg Businessweek - Lithium Rush by Paul Tullis (the lightest metal on the periodic table and the stuff that powers all your electronics and maybe your car):

"Already, the four companies in 2015 provided 88 percent of the world's lithium can't keep up: Lithium contract prices have increased from $4,000 per metric ton in 2014 to as high as $20,000 today.  "From a lithium standpoint, we are pretty much sold out," Albemarle Chief Executive Officer Luke Kissam told investors on an earnings call last year."

Graph of the Week

Examples of How Companies are Managing AI

Leadership 101 - Don't Ignore the Obvious

Great observation from this blog post:
"For the last ten years, the low to mid-tier retailer Target has virtually ignored online shopping.  In fact, it continues to focus primarily on stores, very recently announcing a multi-billion dollar program to modernize 600 of its 1,800 locations and open more than 100 small format stores.  In recent years, they initiated an intensive online shopping effort, and are attempting to employ the Best Buy model of using stores as online distribution centers, but it’s late; Target is even behind Walmart.  Up until about 2 years ago, their bricks-and-mortar focus was serving them well.  More recently, things have gone downhill.  Specifically, Target stock is off 29% versus 12 months ago and is now below its stock price of 10 years ago.
There is no question that bricks-and-mortar retailers are suffering as fewer consumers are stepping foot into actual stores; more and more they are opting to shop online.  Department store sales in January fell 3.2% from a year earlier, continuing a downward trend for much of the past two years according to the U.S. Commerce Department.  Conversely, sales at non-store retailers, a category that includes online shopping and is dominated by, rose 12%.
Stepping back, the lesson is very clear.  Human beings are wired to sit back and enjoy any kind of success they achieve.  Success generates pride which can become a crippling mentality.  It often causes the individual to ignore the reality of what’s coming at them.  Target is simply the latest victim."

The End of the UPS Delivery Person

American Affairs Journal

Link to a new journal.

What I Learned From the Sunday Paper

My notes from the Dallas Morning News today - -

  • Economic growth is a demanding master - the more you have, the more you need.  Can Texas continue to draw large number of job seekers?
  • Dallas has a shortage of policemen and firefighters, and is having problems recruiting trainees because of the cloud over the pension fund.
  • Declining manufacturing employment and share of GDP are hurting the U.S. - without manufacturing you start to lose your position in the global value chain.  Finance, real estate, and the service sector have a daunting challenge to make up the difference.
  • What about hydrogen fuel cell powered cars that get their hydrogen from gasoline?
  • The median price of a house the U.S. is $234,900.  The median in Texas is $249,900.
  • Our sleep challenged society costs the U.S. economy $411 billion in lost productivity per year.

Friday, March 31, 2017

The Real Bridges of Atlanta

Wednesday, March 29, 2017

Beyond the Wall

Rethinking Coffee's Water Footprint

From Daily Coffee News:

"More than 99% of coffee’s water footprint is the water for “growing the coffee plant,” according to the 2003 coffee study. The problems is that the WF methodology does not sufficiently recognize the basics of the water cycle (or hydrological cycle), and specifically the role of green water. WF mistakenly presumes that any water utilized by crops through evapotranspiration is “consumed,” in the same way that water is consumed when it’s pumped from aquifers.

This conceptual flaw becomes extremely important for rainfed systems (such as coffee) where virtually all the water used is green water. Technically, hydrologists would say that green water is utilized through evapotranspiration, but this is not the same as being consumed. The water vapor from coffee trees cycles through the hydrological cycle naturally, becoming precipitation once again someplace else, rather quickly.

Depending on context, the utilization and cycling of green water through a landscape often contributes very positively to ecosystem services, such as mitigating floods and runoff. By changing this one assumption in the WF methodology, the water footprint for coffee would be considerably reduced."

Nvidia wants AI to Get Out of the Cloud and Into a Camera, Drone, or Other Gadget Near You

Nvidia wants AI to Get Out of the Cloud and Into a Camera, Drone, or Other Gadget Near You: And they have a new piece of hardware—the Jetson TX2—that they hope everyone will use for this edge processing

Sunday, March 26, 2017

Burgess & Niple | OSBA Environment, Energy and Resources Law Seminar

Burgess & Niple | OSBA Environment, Energy and Resources Law Seminar: Burgess & Niple presents Practical Asset Management Plans at OSBA Environment, Energy and Resources Law Seminar

Re-Engineering Movie Making

From the Noahpinion blog:

"Meanwhile, it has never been cheaper to make a movie. I just bought a used camera for $1000. That camera, which can also shoot digital video, was one of the cameras used to film the IMAX movie Jerusalem, which won awards for its cinematography. One thousand dollars. And I bet if I had tried, I could have found the same model for cheaper. One of the top films at the 2015 Sundance Film Festival was shot on an iPhone.

Editing software is also cheap, and the price of high-quality computer graphics is falling relentlessly. This doesn't mean making a movie is cheap or easy, but it's a lot cheaper and easier than before. In 2014, the average independent film cost $750,000 to make. That's not peanuts, but for the price of one house in San Francisco you could make three indie films.

Moonlight, this year's Best Picture winner at the Oscars, was made for $1.5M and grossed $55M.

Get Out, by Jordan Peele, was made for $4.5M and has grossed over $140M so far.
As for distribution, this isn't nearly as big of a problem as you might think. With the rise of streaming, it's possible to create new video distribution channels (streaming services, or even entirely new business models people haven't thought of yet) much more easily than in decades past. Only a few can succeed, but those will succeed big.

Netflix and Amazon and Hulu are desperate for new content. TV is often a stepping stone to the movies, and is where all the quality is nowadays anyway.

And traditional channels for independent movies still exist - plenty of Hollywood directors and producers got their start from indie hits, and that will probably continue to be true."

Surviving and Thriving in the Digital World

Learn More | thevalueofwater

Learn More | thevalueofwater

Path to Driverless Transportation Rolls Through Data Collection, Analytics | Justmeans

Path to Driverless Transportation Rolls Through Data Collection, Analytics | Justmeans

Shoe Data

Saturday, March 25, 2017

The Bill Coming Due for Our Dams

From E&E News:
"Dams are considered "high hazard" if a failure would kill people. The number of those dams has grown to nearly 15,500 because of development and population growth below dams.
They are already failing. In the last two years, 80 failed in South Carolina alone due to heavy rains and a hurricane, causing millions of dollars in property damage.
"A lot of dams were built many years ago — in the '40s, '50s, '60s and even into the '70s," said Mark Ogden of the Association of State Dam Safety Officials. "They were built to the engineers' standards of the time. But a lot of those standards have changed and a lot of been learned about how dams perform."
The price tag for repairing and upgrading the nation's dams: $54 billion, Ogden's group estimates.
Climate change heightens dam risks, especially in California. The state has long had a boom-and-bust cycle of droughts followed by intense rain, as was illustrated by last month's flooding. Scientists warn that pattern will become more severe, with more precipitation falling as rain, rather than snow. That, plus rising temperatures melting the Sierra Nevada's snowpack more rapidly will intensify the strain on the state's 1,585 dams."

Message to West Virginia Coal Miners - - Think California

"Growers who can afford it have already begun raising worker pay well beyond minimum wage. Wages for crop production in California increased by 13% from 2010 to 2015, twice as fast as average pay in the state, according to a Los Angeles Times analysis of data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics.
Today, farmworkers in the state earn about $30,000 a year if they work full time — about half the overall average pay in California. Most work fewer hours.
Some farmers are even giving laborers benefits normally reserved for white-collar professionals, like 401(k) plans, health insurance, subsidized housing and profit-sharing bonuses. Full-timers at Silverado Farming, for example, get most of those sweeteners, plus 10 paid vacation days, eight paid holidays, and can earn their hourly rate to take English classes.
But the raises and new perks have not tempted native-born Americans to leave their day jobs for the fields. Nine in 10 agriculture workers in California are still foreign born, and more than half are undocumented, according to a federal survey."

I Am Here to Help You

Current CityIQ

From ZDNet:
"AT&T has signed a deal with GE to install its Current CityIQ sensors onto streetlights in various US cities, beginning with San Diego, Calif. The two corporations say smart street lighting will help cities monitor things like traffic patterns, parking, air quality, weather emergencies, and even gun violence on city streets.
As part of the agreement, GE plans to install Current's CityIQ sensor nodes on 3,200 street light poles across San Diego as the city upgrades 14,000 light fixtures to Current's Evolve LED luminaires. AT&T will act as the data carrier and provide "highly secure connectivity" for the San Diego deployment, according to a press release.
"Intelligent lighting plays a huge role in a smart city," said Chris Penrose, president of IoT solutions for AT&T. "Our collaboration with Current will enable us to use a city's existing lighting infrastructure to more securely connect sensor-enabled networks. This will put them on the path to becoming a smarter, more sustainable city."
David Graham, San Diego's chief deputy officer, said the current installation plans are only the beginning for the project, which could be expanded with another 3,000 sensor points later this year. The smart streetlights are just part of a $30 million upgrade to the city's lighting system, which could reduce San Diego's energy costs by up to $2.4 million annually."

Term of the Week - Adaption Economy

From GreenBiz:

"The amount spent on climate adaptation and resilience is on the rise, researchers have found, with the so-called "adaptation economy" maintaining steady growth in many cities throughout the global recession.
In a new paper, published Monday in the journal Nature, scientists from University College London found the total worldwide spend on adaptation hit $316 billion in 2014-2015, despite that policy focus has been directed only towards climate adaptation efforts relatively recently.
However, while a multibillion dollar market opportunity sounds impressive, the study was quick to note the figure still only translates to less than half a percent of global GDP.
The researchers used government statistics to produce a figure that combines public and private sector spending across different areas of the world in an effort to give as complete an overview as possible of the "adaptation economy" — data which is not always readily available to businesses or policymakers.
It also focused on climate adaptation spending in 10 of the world's megacities, including London, New York, Beijing and Lagos, as a means of highlighting the particular risks and opportunities urban areas face as they attempt to strengthen their climate resilience."

Friday, March 24, 2017

Your Cash Flow Bracket - Amazon vs. Walmart

From Supply Chain Digest.

The Art of Taking Notes

From HBR.


Graph of the Week

The Future of the Great Lakes Region

From the abstract The Future of the Great Lakes Region by the Urban Institute:
The Great Lakes region—home to 50 million people in Illinois, Indiana, Michigan, Minnesota, Ohio, and Wisconsin—has become a fixture in our national political discourse. Many of the country’s social, economic, and political challenges are being played out here.
Despite a decade of job loss, demographic shifts, and falling household incomes, evidence suggests the area has strong foundations capable of sustaining future growth and prosperity. By building on these strengths, the Great Lakes region can rewrite its Rust Belt narrative as a story of resurgence.
Outlined below are key findings from the Urban Institute report The Future of the Great Lakes Region, which offers a glimpse into the region’s past and future challenges and promise. This report provides a comprehensive analysis of recent economic, demographic, and social trends in the region, coupled with projections on how those trends will play out between now and 2040.
Manufacturing collapse, but steady population and economic growth
  • From 2000 to 2010, manufacturing jobs in the region fell 35 percent, a loss of nearly 1.6 million jobs.
  • Overall, though, the region added 1.2 million jobs from 2000 to 2015. But the growth was mainly in low-wage jobs.
  • Sixteen percent of Great Lakes residents were ages 65 and older in 2015. From 1990 to 2015, the region’s white and native-born population was stable or declined, but African American, Hispanic, other non-white, and foreign-born populations grew rapidly. The region is still less diverse than other states were in 2000.
Gradual population growth and labor force stabilization
  • By 2040, the region is expected to grow by 3.2 million people. Births will outnumber deaths until around 2030.
  • Standing at 8 million today, the senior population will reach 13 million by 2040. Younger age groups will shrink over this period, however, because of out-migration and lower birth rates.
  • The labor force will shrink because of early retirement and out-migration of workers in their 30s and 40s, but young people will continue to enter the labor force.
  • Although fewer manufacturing jobs exist, remaining industries will still be a major source of employment and high wages.
Challenges and promise
  • From 2000 to 2010, median household incomes fell more dramatically in five of the six Great Lakes states than in the entire United States.
  • More workers will have associate’s and four-year college degrees, but this increase will be held back by disparities between African Americans and Hispanics on one hand and whites and Asians on the other.
  • In addition to racial and economic segregation, demographic change and economic stress have reduced the vitality of rural, suburban, and urban communities.
Toward future prosperity
To improve the quality of life and economic mobility for Great Lakes residents, decision makers should
  • Encourage young families with children to stay in the region to sustain population levels through more targeted investments;
  • Welcome and integrate immigrants and their children into the community;
  • Prepare young adults to enter the labor force; and
  • Ensure workforce development systems upgrade worker skills, because manufacturing will continue to be a major source of jobs and high-wage employment.

Another Sign of Blade Runner 2049

Lightvert adFrom the BBC: 
"Passers-by on a London street were recently amazed to see a fleeting image of a pink tongue protruding from fruitily plump lips, seemingly suspended in mid-air.
It was the famous logo for the Rolling Stones and was part of an experiment by tech start-up Lightvert.
Its technology can produce images that appear to be 200m (656ft) high, but which only exist in the eye of the viewer for a fraction of a second.
So could we be on the verge of seeing giant digital ads in our cities, similar to those featured in the seminal 1982 sci-fi film Blade Runner?
Lightvert certainly hopes so.
Its tech, called Echo, works by employing a narrow - no more than 200mm - strip of reflective material fixed to the side of a building. A high-power projector mounted below or above the strip beams light off the reflector directly into the viewer's eye.
The image appears momentarily, exploiting what's called the "persistence of vision" effect - the way sparklers seem to leave a trail of light when you wave them around quickly."

Thursday, March 23, 2017

More Oil with Fewer Petroluem Engineers

From the New York Times:

"Indeed, computers now direct drill bits that were once directed manually. The wireless technology taking hold across the oil patch allows a handful of geoscientists and engineers to monitor the drilling and completion of multiple wells at a time — onshore or miles out to sea — and supervise immediate fixes when something goes wrong, all without leaving their desks. It is a world where rigs walk on their own legs and sensors on wells alert headquarters to a leak or loss of pressure, reducing the need for a technician to check. And despite all the lost workers, United States oil production is galloping upward, to nine million barrels a day from 8.6 million in September. Nationwide, with a bit more than one-third as many rigs operating as in 2014, production is not even down 10 percent from record levels. Some of the best wells here in the Permian Basin that three years ago required an oil price of over $60 a barrel for an operator to break even now need about $35, well below the current price of about $53..."

Hacking the Farm

From Motherboard:

"To avoid the draconian locks that John Deere puts on the tractors they buy, farmers throughout America's heartland have started hacking their equipment with firmware that's cracked in Eastern Europe and traded on invite-only, paid online forums.

Tractor hacking is growing increasingly popular because John Deere and other manufacturers have made it impossible to perform "unauthorized" repair on farm equipment, which farmers see as an attack on their sovereignty and quite possibly an existential threat to their livelihood if their tractor breaks at an inopportune time.

"When crunch time comes and we break down, chances are we don't have time to wait for a dealership employee to show up and fix it," Danny Kluthe, a hog farmer in Nebraska, told his state legislature earlier this month. "Most all the new equipment [requires] a download [to fix].""

No Sign of Stagnation

From Ad Age:

"The brewer and IPG Mediabrands today announced a new suite of connected home services called "Miller Lite On-Demand" that will allow consumers to stock their fridge using a voice-activated Amazon Alexa command, or by using a programmable button known as AWS IoT that is based on the Amazon Dash Button hardware. The delivery requests will be fulfilled within one hour by Drizly, an online alcohol ordering platform, according to the agency and brewer, which have partnered on an incubator program aimed at testing such technologies."

Wednesday, March 22, 2017

No Free Bridge

No free bridge: Why public–private partnerships or other ‘innovative’ financing of infrastructure will not save taxpayers money: Engaging the private sector in infrastructure procurement and management does not provide a fiscal free lunch. Substantial costs and risks must be taken into account to fairly compare the costs and benefits of public–private partnerships relative to traditional infrastructure financing and procurement.

Why Being an Engineering Project Manager is so Exhausting

Sunday, March 19, 2017

We Need More Engineering Professors Like This Guy

Link to Peterson's bio - - hiring professors, engineers and managers who are not members of the Complacent Class.
"Raised and toughened in the frigid wastelands of Northern Alberta, Jordan Peterson has flown a hammer-head roll in a carbon-fiber stunt plane, piloted a mahogany racing sailboat around Alcatraz Island, explored an Arizona meteorite crater with a group of astronauts, built a Native American Long-House on the upper floor of his Toronto home, and been inducted into the coastal Pacific Kwakwaka’wakw tribe.
He’s been a dishwasher, gas jockey, bartender, short-order cook, beekeeper, oil derrick bit re-tipper, plywood mill labourer and railway line worker. He’s taught mythology to lawyers, doctors and businessmen, consulted for the UN Secretary General’s High Level Panel on Sustainable Development, helped his clinical clients manage depression, obsessive-compulsive disorder, anxiety, and schizophrenia, served as an advisor to senior partners of major Canadian law firms, identified thousands of promising entrepreneurs on six different continents, and lectured extensively in North America and Europe.
With his students and colleagues, Dr Peterson has published more than a hundred scientific papers, transforming the modern understanding of personality, and revolutionized the psychology of religion with his now-classic book, Maps of Meaning: The Architecture of Belief. As a Harvard professor, he was nominated for the prestigious Levinson Teaching Prize, and is regarded by his current University of Toronto students as one of three truly life-changing teachers."

Guest Column: To Succeed With Drones, Keep it Simple

Guest Column: To Succeed With Drones, Keep it Simple: In our experience implementing UAV mapping operations for surveyors, civil engineers, public works departments, photogrammetrists and others, the most critical lesson we have learned is the importance of starting simply.

Seattle 360

Gadget Earth


Efficiency Adventures in My Doctor's Office

My trips to the doctor's office are typically a good time to observe and think about efficiency. Efficiency and scheduling in the context of our medical industry are always great topics as I wait in the waiting area and exam room.  Let's start with resource efficiency - - where resource in this context is the labor of my doctor.  She wants to utilize her time as efficiently as possible - - just like my employer in terms of my time.  Labor utilization is a key performance metric of the service sector - - from accounting to law to consulting. For more that 200 years, our form of capitalism has been built around the idea increasing the utilization of resources.

Let's make a guesstimate of my doctor's labor utilization.  Assume her office is open 10 hours per day and let's also assume she is in direct contact with her patients (i.e., the value adding portion of the medical process) for six hours per day.  Her labor utilization would be 60% - - 6/10.  This is her side of the efficiency coin.

Let's look at my efficiency story.  I don't care all that much about her labor efficiency - - my concern is what is known as flow efficiency.  Flow efficiency is the time it takes to process a "unit" through an organization.  In this case, I am the "unit" and the process is seeing my doctor.  In this particular case, my total process time was 60 minutes.  Most of this time is waiting and non-value adding activities. The time I spent with the doctor was 10 minutes.  So my flow efficiency was 17% - - 10/60.  We have one visit to the doctor, yet two different ways to examine efficiency and two very different results. One is an internal focus (i.e., resource efficiency) and the other is more about the customer experience (i.e., flow efficiency).  

In many respects, I cannot to be only one to think this, my visit to the doctor's office is a visit to the efficiency wasteland - - a process with low labor utilization and low flow efficiency.  If you look at the graph below, what the medical industry needs is movement upward and to the right.  Debates about medical insurance and drug prices are important, but let's also have a discussion about efficiency improvements.

Smartphones Are Revolutionizing Medicine

Smartphones Are Revolutionizing Medicine: Researchers say smartphone add-ons and applications are turning the smartphones into revolutionary medical tools.

Saturday, March 18, 2017

Intelligent Flying Machines (IFM)

Intelligent Flying Machines: An intelligent drone that can autonomously capture data at construction sites.

The Garage at Northwestern

Link to their student startup incubator.

Think About Joining a Learning Circle

Example of a self-directed learning group.

Agility Management

From a profile in the current issue of GQ - The Life Lesson's of Villanova's Jay Wright: the Anti-Coach - link.

"“We're not complex in what we do X-and-O-wise,” he tells me. “But we do spend a lot of time on how we react mentally to every situation.” The idea isn't to draw up lots of plays but instead to give his guys the confidence and the freedom to make plays. And here is where Wright's psychological approach feels unique. While just about every coach in America rallies his or her players with motivational verses or tries to summon an inner-dwelling Tony Robbins, Wright wants his players to feel as if they're in control on the floor, admonishing them to play with a “free mind.”"

Friday, March 17, 2017

Engineer Interview Tip - - Ask for a Joke

From a comment on Marginal Revolution - - Tyler Cowen was throwing out a question on what it means to be funny.  For your next interview of a graduating engineer, ask (1.) how would you go about estimating the number of gas stations in the U.S., and (2.) tell me a joke.

"I don’t know how to describe what makes something funny, but I do know that you have to be smart to be funny. We all grew up with people who got terrible grades in school but we knew they were very smart, often smarter than the grinders who got straight A’s, because they were hilarious (and the grinders were not)."