09262016Mon
Last updateFri, 23 Sep 2016 2pm

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An Alternative Basics Education: Valve Ed Comes to You!

An Alternative Basics Education: Valve Ed Comes to You!

For the first time in the seven-year his...

Give Your Flow Meter a Happy Home

Give Your Flow Meter a Happy Home

Increased emphasis on the need to improv...

What’s in Store for the Construction Market?

What’s in Store for the Construction Market?

As was the case with many of the present...

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Industry Headlines

Pentair Valves & Controls Hosts Customer Appreciation Training Event

3 DAYS AGO
Pentair Valves & Controls Hosts Customer Appreciation Training Event

More than 200 representatives from Houston’s refinery, chemical and petrochemical industries joined Pentair Valves & Controls on Sept. 15 at its Pasadena, TX facility for a customer appreciation BBQ and training event . The presented seminars are a part of Valves & Controls’ Pentai...

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Mueller Water Products Recognized for Best Smart Water Solution

4 DAYS AGO

Mueller Water Products, Inc. received the 2016 Best Smart Water Solution award at the third annual Smart Water Summit in Palm Beach Gardens, FL. Mueller Water Products, who won this award for the second time, was recognized for smart technology solutions offered through its Mueller Co., Mueller System...

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Senate Overwhelmingly Passes Water Resources Development Act

3 DAYS AGO

The U.S. Senate recently passed the Water Resources Development Act (WRDA) of 2016 with a broad bipartisan vote of 95 to 3. This legislation not only authorizes critical U.S. Army Corps of Engineers projects that drive investment in navigation, flood management, and ecosystem restoration, it provides ...

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Alaska Railroad Prepares First U.S. Shipments of LNG

3 DAYS AGO

The Alaska Railroad (ARRC) will demonstrate its ability to safely transport liquefied natural gas (LNG) in intermodal LNG ISO containers from southcentral to interior Alaska during a month-long operational performance project in early fall 2016.

ARRC is the first railroad in the country to obtain permi...

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Manufacturing Growth Eases Again in September

2 DAYS AGO

At 51.4 in September, the seasonally adjusted Markit Flash U.S. Manufacturing Purchasing Managers’ Index (PMI) was down from 52.0 in August and pointed to the weakest improvement in overall business conditions since June. The latest PMI reading marked seven years of continuous growth across the ...

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Leading Economic Indicators Down Slightly in August

3 DAYS AGO

The Conference Board Leading Economic Index (LEI) for the U.S. declined 0.2% in August to 124.1, following a 0.5% increase in July, and a 0.2% increase in June.

“While the U.S. LEI declined in August, its trend still points to moderate economic growth in the months ahead,” said Ataman Ozy...

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Solving the Problems in Front of You

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Engineers are problem solvers and today, they have some pretty amazing tools to help them with that problem solving. Here’s an example from a recent trip.

I went to a station to refill a rental car with gas before returning it to the agency. As usual, I guessed the wrong side for the gas tank and had to circle around to put the car at the right angle to pump the gas. I couldn’t figure out where the latch to open the gas cap was located, and there was no owner’s manual in the glove box to help.

On my smart phone, I did a quick Google search by voice command using the car make, model and “gas tank door latch” as keywords. The results were an online forum with my answer: the door was latched magnetically and required a gentle push to open. This simple voice search saved me 5 to 10 minutes of hunting around for a non-existent latch and a lot of frustration.

These searches from our PCs, phones, tablets and other devices help us solve problems quickly and painlessly every day. Google and the other search engines, along with the right selection and number of keywords, often help us get an answer to a problem in front of us. Although it’s not foolproof, most times, these methods of finding what we need work great.


IN THE INBOX

For businesses, an important issue today with searching is that a lot of wisdom is trapped in email inboxes and “sent items” folders. Desktop indexing and search software such as the search built into PC operating systems or desktop search applications can find some information. But such tools don’t help us with the information that hasn’t reached our inboxes.

Different approaches ranging from content management systems to blogs, wikis, online collaboration and community software are being tried as search destinations with varying degrees of success. The key element to that success seems to be the number of people willing to participate in each approach and the community that naturally forms from this participation.

Metcalfe’s Law states that: “The value of a telecommunications network is proportional to the square of the number of connected users of the system (n2).” Robert Metcalfe, who is responsible for that principle, also offered this:

…a more insightful and, I think, important contribution to the conversation — that to understand the value of a social network we need to consider not just the number of users but also the affinity between the members of the network.

My take on this is that the fastest path to the information you need is to solve the problem in front of you. If a Google search or question posed to your immediate colleague does not yield a quick answer, you should try your social network. That is, provided you’ve built this network to sufficient size to realize the exponential effects described by Metcalfe’s Law.

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