05272017Sat
Last updateFri, 26 May 2017 2pm

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The Future of Coal: Efficiency Over Politics?

The Future of Coal: Efficiency Over Politics?

Many changes in the power industry have ...

Valve World Americas Event Set for June 20-21

Valve World Americas Event Set for June 20-21

End users, distributors, EPC/AEC personn...

Water Hammer

Water Hammer

Water hammer is a shock wave transmitted...

Turning the Tables on Valve Corrosion

Turning the Tables on Valve Corrosion

Multiple valve manufacturers and users w...

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Industry Headlines

Emerson Acquires MYNAH Technologies

3 DAYS AGO

Emerson has completed the purchase of MYNAH Technologies, a long-time Emerson alliance partner. The addition of MYNAH will help support Emerson Automation Solutions and its Operational Certainty program. Terms of  the acquisition were not disclosed.

MYNAH software is currently in use at more than ...

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Roger Fix Named Chairman of Flowserve

4 DAYS AGO

In its most recent annual meeting, Flowserve announced that Bill Rusnack and Lynn Elsenhans have retired as members of the board of directors. Flowserve also announced that board member Roger Fix has been elected to replace Rusnack as chairman.

"Bill and Lynn provided years of distinguished service to ...

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Oil-Fired Plants Provide Small Amount of U.S. Electric Capacity, Generation

2 DAYS AGO

According to the U.S. Energy Information Administration , roughly 70% of petroleum-fired electric generating capacity that still exists today was constructed prior to 1980. Utility-scale generators that reported petroleum as their primary fuel comprised only 3% of total electric generating capacity at...

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ExxonMobil, SABIC Agree on Proposed Petrochemical Project

4 DAYS AGO

Affiliates of Exxon Mobil and SABIC (Saudi Basic Industries Corporation) signed an agreement to conduct a detailed study of the proposed Gulf Coast Growth Ventures project in Texas and begin planning for front-end engineering and design work. The agreement was signed during the Saudi-US CEO Forum in R...

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Kansas City Fed Manufacturing Survey Shows Expansion in May

1 DAY AGO

Tenth District manufacturing activity continued to expand at a moderate pace in May, and expectations for future activity increased strongly. Price indexes were mixed, but recorded little change overall. The month-over-month composite index was 8 in May, up from 7 in April but down from 20 in March.

Ac...

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Business Borrowing for Capital Investment Up 8% in April

2 DAYS AGO

The Equipment Leasing and Finance Association’s (ELFA) Monthly Leasing and Finance Index, which reports economic activity from 25 companies representing a cross section of the $1 trillion equipment finance sector, showed their overall new business volume for April was $7.9 billion, up 8% year-ov...

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Solving the Problems in Front of You

vmsum11_social_media

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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