07302016Sat
Last updateFri, 29 Jul 2016 2pm

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Basics of Elastomeric Seal Design

Basics of Elastomeric Seal Design

Engineers need critical design informati...

Wastewater Treatment

Wastewater Treatment

Society’s desire for a clean envir...

Controlling Our Water Systems, Part II

Controlling Our Water Systems, Part II

To better understand the actuators and c...

Controlling Our Water Systems

Controlling Our Water Systems

Actuators and controls are a critical pr...

The Weekly Report

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Industry Headlines

Pentair Reports Second Quarter 2016 Results

2 DAYS AGO

Pentair plc announced second quarter 2016 sales of $1.7B. Sales were up 4% compared to sales for the same period last year. Excluding the unfavorable impact of currency translation and the positive contribution from acquisitions, core sales declined 3% in the second quarter . Second quarter 2016 earni...

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ValvTechnologies Names Bryant Holt Industry Director, Fossil Power

3 DAYS AGO
ValvTechnologies Names Bryant Holt Industry Director, Fossil Power

ValvTechnologies, Inc. has appointed Bryant Holt as industry director for the company’s fossil power division. Holt will succeed George Stover, who has served in this role since 2014.

Based in Houston, Holt will have global management responsibility for ValvTechnologies’ fossil power group ...

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ExxonMobil Expanding Beaumont, TX Facility

2 DAYS AGO

ExxonMobil has plans to increase production of ultra-low sulfur fuels at its Beaumont, TX refinery by approximately 40,000 barrels per day, representing an investment of approximately $450 million.

Construction is scheduled during the second half of 2016 to install a selective cat naphtha hydrofining u...

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LNG’s Surge from Decade-Low Seen Fizzling as Supply Ramps Up

3 DAYS AGO

“LNG’s surge is running out of gas. Liquefied natural gas in Asia, which was in such over-supply that prices in Japan fell to a decade-low in April, has risen by almost half in the past three months as production outages stifled supply, demand rose in places like China and India and a co...

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Second Quarter GDP Grew Only 1.2% in Second Quarter

1 DAY AGO

Real GDP in the U.S. increased at an annual rate of 1.2% in the second quarter of 2016, according to the advance estimate released by the U.S. Department of Commerce. In the first quarter, real GDP increased 0.8%.

The increase in real GDP in the second quarter reflected positive contributions from cons...

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U.S. Durable Goods Orders Down 4% in June

3 DAYS AGO

New orders for manufactured durable goods in June decreased $9.3 billion or 4.0% to $219.8 billion, the U.S. Department of Commerce announced. This decrease , down two consecutive months, followed a 2.8% May decrease. Excluding transportation, new orders decreased 0.5%. Excluding defense, new orders d...

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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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