JimPinto.com - Connections for Growth & Success
No. 87 : June 3, 2002
Keeping an eye on technology futures.
Business commentary - no hidden agendas.
New attitudes, no platitudes.
- NEMS : Nanoscale sensors, actuators & machines
- Industrial Automation - More on Siemens
- Stephen Wolfram's book - mixed opinions
- AFI 100 best films of the past 100 years
- Camera - digital or film?
- Success causes non-competitiveness
- Spend more time with your kids
- Questions about human cloning
NEMS: Nano sensors, actuators & machines
In his keynote speech at the Spring 2002 Nanotech conference in NY,
former Speaker of the US House of Representatives Newt Gingrich
addressed the promises and peril of nanotechnology. Gingrich, also
Chairman of the NanoBusiness Alliance, pointed out that nanotechnology
can eliminate poverty and clean up the environmental messes left from
the technologies of the industrial age. On the other hand, it can also
create grave new dangers.
In this regular eNews, I keep stressing the point that Nanotech
(atomic scale processes) is on the horizon and rapidly approaching.
Nanoscale engineering is already translating science to practical
design and assembly. The latest issue (June 2002) of MIT Technology
Review focuses on Nanoprocesses.
NEMS (nano-electro-mechanical mechanical systems) are quickly becoming
practical, bringing ultra sensitive sensors and ultra strong actuators
that might replace damaged human tissue, or power tiny robots.
The holy grail of nanotechnology is self-assembly, which will soon be
an effective nano engineering tool. Self-assembly is nothing new:
biology does it all the time; in chemistry molecules team up to form
structures. Indeed, the concept of self-assembly grew out of attempts
to aggregate molecules spontaneously into specific configurations.
Now, nanotech self-assembly is attempting the same.
Stay tuned - Nanotech is one of those technologies that will
revolutionize this century!
Spring 2002 Nanotech Conference in NY
Nanomachines systems begin to flex their muscles
Self-Assembly : Devices that build themselves
Industrial automation - more on Siemens
After reading our coverage of USA Manager's view of Siemens
(eNews April 18, 2002) a former Siemens manager provided some
"I had the somewhat unique experience of being Siemens US employee,
at Siemens Energy & Automation, reporting directly to one of the
German divisions. My job was to global responsibility for the
business relationship between Siemens and one specific customer.
I got a very different perspective on Siemens.
I recently spoke to some Siemens and Moore managers (Moore was
bought by Siemens in early 2000). They report that things remain
highly unstable at Siemens Energy and Automation, USA.
"Siemens is a giant trading company. They have operations in over
150 countries around the world. Each of those country operations
is basically independent. Germany requires that each country remit
money on an annual basis, with the amount for the succeeding year
decided at the end of the previous year. As long as a country
operation sends in the required amount, Siemens Germany can do
very little to exert influence on how that country operates.
The one lever they do have is to send money to the country for use
in internal programs. So what you end up with in certain situations,
is Siemens Germany sending money to Country A, which doesn't use
all of it as intended, and Country A ends up sending back money that
originally came from Germany as a program incentive, as part of
its required contribution to Siemens Germany. In essence, Siemens
Germany gets its own money back.
"I had more than one upper level Siemens manager express the wish
that Siemens were an American company, so that the parent could
tell the child what to do.
"Because Siemens Germany is so successful in all of Europe, and
because there is so little contact between German management and
American customers, there is a complete lack of understanding as to
why Siemens isn't more successful in the US. I once had a Siemens
Germany sales person say that when they call on a customer in Europe,
they simply say "We're Siemens and here is our technology"; and the
customer responds with "Where do I place my order?" In America, the
customer's response to "We're Siemens!" is "So what?" And, Siemens
has no idea what to do with that response!
"In my opinion, the bottom line is that technology doesn't drive
business - relationships drive business. There is a long-standing
relationship between Siemens and the customer base in Europe that
does not exist for Rockwell, GE, etc. By the same token, that
relationship exists in America for the Americans, but not for
Siemens and the Japanese companies.
"Simply buying American companies doesn't assimilate the relationship
for Siemens. Instead, it adversely affects the relationship for the
acquired company because Siemens doesn't know how to adopt the
American culture and develop the American customer base."
The former Moore operation has been assimilated into various
Siemens business units with heavy workforce reductions. Anyone
who had DCS sales, marketing, development, and operations knowledge
is now gone. The APACS systems group was folded into a new unit
called Process Instrumentation Division with the mission to provide
systems solutions to the process industries (APACS, PCS7, PLC,
and Drives). Total confusion and mis-direction followed this
organization that was put in place in early 2001. Now SE&A has
disbanded the Process Instrumentation Division in a cost cutting move.
People and products are once again being re-assigned.
The German parent business unit, Automation & Drives, has been
the most profitable unit within Siemens in the past, but global
profits have been halved so major cost cutting is required.
The President and CEO of SE&A, USA is rumored to be going
out by the end of the Siemens fiscal year, Sept. 30.
Unfortunately, in the industrial automation business, the sorry
Siemens saga is being played out in similar moves at Invensys,
Honeywell, Rockwell and ABB. It seems that only well-managed
Emerson is escaping the negative hits.
The JimPinto.com WEBLOG provides a channel for inputs, comments,
questions, answers on all of the issues discussed in the regular
eNews, and on the JimPinto.com website. Read all the latest 'chat',
or contribute your own comments.
Siemens - American Managers' viewpoint
Siemens news and views on the Siemens Weblog
weblogs on Rockwell, Honeywell, Invensys
Stephen Wolfram's book - mixed opinions
In his hefty book, A New Kind of Science Stephen Wolfram
explains that virtually everything - the patterns on seashells,
the ticks of financial markets, even the universe itself - is the
result of instructions as simple as a few rules in a software
program. He insists that unearthing all these rules could lead
to a new scientific renaissance.
Wolfram predicts that within a generation or two his new kind of
science will be taught in schools along with chemistry and math.
He says his theory may even supplant today's physics; because it
doesn't require calculus, it will attract smart researchers who
don't want to learn advanced math. He expects that, perhaps in
his lifetime, his name will be enshrined alongside those of Isaac
Newton, Charles Darwin, and Albert Einstein. The ego is off-putting
- but is he right?
Opinions are divided. Some scientists agree that Wolfram may be
blazing a trail. Gregory Chaitin, the Nobel prize-winning mathematical
theorist at IBM Research hails Wolfram's thesis as "revolutionary".
Richard Crandall, former chief scientist at NeXT Software, now at
the Reed College Center for Advanced Computation, calls Wolfram's
book "a masterpiece".
But others in the scientific community dismiss the book as a rehash
of Wolfram's breakthrough work in the 1980s on so-called cellular
automata. I must admit I myself am somewhat confused by the endless
display of cellular automata diagrams as examples (or evidence) of
how the complexity of the universe is structured. I am still trying
to find something really new.
What I am surprised about is the total lack of references relating
to any other prior scientific work. Wolfram seems to want his "new
science" to stand totally on its own, as something ultimately so
simple and self-evident that it needs no prior pillars to prop it up.
Business Week - Stephen Wolfram's Simple Science
Ray Kurzweil's review of Wolfram's book
Q&A with Stephen Wolfram
Wolfram's Book - review & buy at Amazon
The 100 best films of the past 100 years
When you got to the video store, how do you pick which movie(s) to
take home? Sure, you might pick a recent hit - but why not pick from
a list of the best movies of the past 100 years? First you can pick
the ones you've never seen. But, there are others you may have seen
already, but would like to see again. And hey, you can start a
In 1998 The American Film Institute in Los Angeles, CA. commemorated the
extraordinary first 100 years of American movies by making a
definitive selection of the 100 greatest American movies of all
time, as determined by more than 1,500 leaders from the American
The 400 Nominated Films were feature-length fictional movies produced
between 1912 and 1996, with the goal of developing a capsule of the
first 100 years of American cinema, across decades and across genres.
Note: These are primarily American films; British movies (like Gandhi)
and other non-American films have been excluded.
These films have left an indelible mark upon our lives and reflect the
defining moments of the last 100 years, giving us pieces of time that
we can never forget. They entertain, enchant, and inform - from the
earliest defining silent films of Hollywood to all the genre types
(comedies, westerns, etc.) and to the blockbusters and epics of today.
Here are the top-10:
This suggestion comes from my daughter Rosalie Pinto, who just
graduated from UC Berkeley (May 02) and is now enrolled in the Peter
Stark Producing program at the USC Cinema & Television graduate
school in Los Angeles. I expect she'll be producing one of the top
films of the next 100 years...
AFI - The 100 Greatest American Movies
- Citizen Kane - 1941
- Casablanca - 1942
- The Godfather - 1972
- Gone With the Wind - 1939
- Lawrence of Arabia - 1962
- The Wizard of Oz - 1939
- The Graduate - 1967
- On the Waterfront - 1954
- Schindler's List - 1993
- Singin' in the Rain - 1952
Look at the 400 nominated films
Camera - digital or film?
So, do you still use your "old" film camera? Or, have you bought
one of the new, fancy digitals? If you did get a digital, how many
megapixels resolution? And how do you download all those pictures
you take to your computer? Serial link, USB or firewire? How do you
print the photos, to show them off? Do you put the prints in an album?
Or, do you simply keep them on your computer?
My wife was looking at all our old photos the other day, in albums
and in boxes and bundles, and she noticed that there was a big break
in the time sequence. Suddenly, about 5 years ago, there were no
more photos to be found. And then we realized - that was when I
started using my digital camera. All those hundred of pictures I
had taken were stored in my computer where I could find them
very easily - but no one else could.....
After we can back from our recent cruise, we wanted to make an
album - and so I had to print all the digital photos I had taken.
Well, first of all, apart from the endless amount of time it took me
to select and print all the good pictures, the relatively poor printer
resolution did not produce film-quality photos. So, do I go out to
buy a new high-res printer? And, have you discovered the price of
quality photo paper for your printer? I wondered why I hadn't simply
snapped some film and taken the rolls for 1-hour developing,
available almost anywhere. And I could have scanned the photos
that I wanted to send off as email.
Well, I then discovered that I could go to almost any 1-hour-photo
place, not only to get film developed, but to also get a CD with
digital versions of all the photos on that film - high resolution
images (file size about 5mB), low-res versions (to send email copies
to friends and family) and tiny thumbnails for my on-line catalog;
plus a convenient computer picture-viewer. Cost of the CD?
About $5. Now, why do I need my digital camera?
Hmmmm. I gotta think about this....
Shot for Shot: Digital vs. Film - Which Camera is right for You?
In the last eNews, Debbie Miller complained that poor upbringing
in the US was the cause of non-competitiveness. Mitch Carr
"Yes, there is a need for stronger moral fiber in the US.
But this is NOT the sole cause of our inability to compete
against cheaper labor.
On the other hand, Tony (&Linda) Carnovale
[TCarnovale@schneider.com.au] from Australia agreed with Debbie Miller:
"Third-world countries are simply not as expensive as the US.
The cause of our non-competitiveness is not that we have poor
morals, or lack focus on education; it is that we have succeeded!
"I live in an area with superb schools, where parents have more
disposable income. They dispose of a lot of this income into their
children's pockets. And the children buy as much instant gratification
as they can, because it is right there to be bought! Kids today don't
have to work all summer to buy their first calculator (like I did)
because it comes free with their subscription to Sports Illustrated.
"Our engineers demand high salaries because this country has a
very high overhead. Every street lamp, every paved road, every
shopping mall is overhead. Most third-world countries don't have
the overhead we have. And, when they come here, they are
overwhelmed at the profusion of goods!
"Being competitive has nothing to do with whether we go to church,
or whether parents are divorced. It has to do with the fact that
we have succeeded. We have a higher standard of living, a higher
overhead, and expect more. We are better off than we used to be
and that costs money!"
Australia is not much different than USA society; we have more or
less the same in practically every metric - except good beer and
Norm Helfgott [firstname.lastname@example.org] responded to the article
"Cloning cannot be stopped!":
We have three children under 4 years old and are struggling
with the question how best to bring our kids up with strong moral
and ethical values. Apart from the obvious essential of spending
more time with our children, I think the money normally spent on
expensive private schools and luxuries is better spent on regular
overseas travel with them."
"I do see practical applications for cloning - producing new vital
organs for replacement purposes (there is a tremendous shortage).
"But, the one towering issue is SURVIVAL! Picture this scenario:
Dr. Dungforbrains comes up with a brilliant idea: he clones a group
of unsurpassed warriors to do his bidding. They will do anything to
appease their creator; they will personally deliver nuclear weapons,
biological weapons, or other means of mass destruction that they
are instructed to deliver. Frightening concept? It is to me!"
It seems that "cloning" is not the only way to get humans to deliver
weapons - misguided religion appears to be 'brainwashing' humans
into doing just that!
On another point: many people responded with questions like this:
"If a clone commits a crime, who is responsible? What about
individual responsibility and freedom?"
I'd like to point out that cloning does NOT produce a duplicate;
it is simply an alternate method of human reproduction. For emphasis,
let me quote again from the previous issue of eNews:
"Human clones will NOT be what some people expect - replacement
duplicates. They will, like everyone else, be born as babies, each
genetically the same as its clonal parent, a new kind of identical
twin; but since each will be shaped by environmental influences,
each will develop uniquely."
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