JimPinto.com - Connections for Growth & Success™
No. 62 : September 28, 2001

Keeping an eye on technology futures.
Business commentary - no hidden agendas.
New attitudes, no platitudes.
Stay e-tuned....

Contents :
  • Anti-terrorist technology - Biometrics moving ahead
  • Robots scour WTC wreckage
  • Rockwell upbeat: Networking the digital factory
  • Deutsche Bank Invensys report : Recovery or bust
  • Highlights of ISA EXPO 2001
  • Poem : How the Binch stole freedom
  • eFeedback
    • Invest in tech-stocks, or beer?
    • Invensys: Yurko exit-package calculation
    • Comments on the Honeywell IAC Saga

Anti-terrorist technology : Biometrics moving ahead

We reviewed Biometrics as a key anti-terrorist technology in our previous issue (JimPinto.com eNews Sept. 20 '01).

Because of its ease of integration with existing airport screening devices, Biometrics has now gained a lot of attention. Stocks of the few publicly traded biometrics companies have soared, while most of the stock market declined.

"Our phone systems have been jammed since last Tuesday" said Joseph Atick, the chairman and chief executive of Visionics, which markets FaceIt, a system that profiles individuals based on 80 facial structures like distance between the eyes, cheekbone formation and the width of the nose bridge. In addition to calls from investors, Visionics has been receiving about 100 calls a day from potential customers.

Biometrics systems identify travelers by fingerprints, the patterns in their retinas, their voices or other individual characteristics. Privacy concerns have slowed the development of such technology, but recent events have brought major impetus to new developments of this kind.

Equipment suppliers and the consultants who meld security devices into multimillion-dollar systems say airports may also install improved versions of other types of security products, including such widely used equipment as closed circuit television systems and X-ray machines.

Click NY Times - Exploring Technology to Protect Passengers

Click Visionics: Software tools for face detection & recognition

Robots scour WTC wreckage

Dozens of experimental search-and-rescue robots have been scouring the wreckage of the World Trade Center's collapsed twin towers.

At least two separate teams of robotics experts are at Ground Zero operating up to two dozen experimental robots, which are being used to probe the rubble and locate bodies. This is the first time robots have been used in a search-and-rescue operation.

Click WIRED NEWS: Robots scour WTC wreckage

Click Canadian Robotic systems search NYC rubble

Rockwell upbeat : Networking the digital factory

"Rockwell is power without the smokestack and silicon without the valley". This according to the September 2001 issue of The Huber-Mills Digital Power Report - the influential affiliate of technology prognosticator George Gilder.

Evidently new to the industrial automation business, and unaware of the current across-the-board decline, the Huber-Mills Report waxes eloquent about the PLC - the "computers that control machinery". They insist that the latest PLCs are as smart as PCs, and are multiplying much faster.

Huber-Mills recognizes that "industrial" spans everything from coal-mining to bio-tech, and that smart networking adds as much value to factory PLCs as it does to desk-top PCs. In the flowery language that is characteristic of George Gilder, they proclaim "the silicon office came first, the silicon factory comes next."

Huber-Mills highlights $4b Rockwell Automation as the key company that "is doing for the blue-collar digital world what Microsoft and Oracle did for white-collar digital in the 80's and 90's." They insist that Rockwell's competitors (they name Siemens, ABB, Schneider, Emerson and Honeywell) are still interested in the "old factory floor" while Rockwell is exploiting the new, digital factory.

Hey, during a time when most businesses are in the doldrums, and good news is sparse indeed, I am pleased that people as influential as Gilder and his associates are emphasizing the upbeat for Rockwell Automation. And, I'm delighted that I am still holding on to my Rockwell Automation (ROK) stock, plus the Rockwell Collins (COL) stock that came with the recent split.

Click Huber-Mills Digital Power Report

Invensys : Recovery or bust

A new report on Invensys has been published by Peter Reilly and others at Deutsche Bank, UK. It addresses various potential scenarios and concludes that Invensys will trade out of difficulties, but with the possibility of financial default.

The collapse in the Invensys share price creates a stark dilemma: at a price of 34p, the stock market appears to be assuming that Invensys is not financially viable. Shareholders face the possibility that the new CEO may restate historical profitability.

Three quarters of the Invensys enterprise value is now debt. The company’s debt and committed facilities give it sufficient headroom for maneuver for the time being. But, the worry is that it may breach its covenants for the year to March 2002, which might enable the lenders to impose a restructuring program including forced asset disposals or even force the company into liquidation.

For a copy of the complete Deutsche Bank report, contact Peter Reilly :

Highlights of ISA Expo 2001

The annual show of the Instrumentation, Systems & Automation Society (ISA) was held September 10 -12 in Houston, TX. This was preempted by a much bigger event - terrorist attacks in other American cities.

The slogan for this ISA conference was: "Too Big to Miss" with the graphic of those words looming over a skyline of high-rise buildings. Heather Angus, Editor of the Canadian magazine MANUFACTURING AUTOMATION, did not miss the irony. Read her descriptive and insightful comments and be glad you were not in Houston too, and fighting to find your way back home.

Click ISA EXPO 2001 - Heather Angus Commentary

Poem : How the Binch stole freedom

Rob Suggs is an author and illustrator who works with children at Children's Healthcare of Atlanta. He helps them through his art and story telling therapy. Rob Suggs wrote this poem to help explain the recent tragedies to children (and adults). It was adapted from the Dr. Seuss classic: "How the Grinch Stole Christmas".

Here are a couple of stanzas, to whet your appetite. If you'd like to see the complete poem, send me an email: Click jim@JimPinto.com

    The Binch cocked his ear as they woke from their sleeping,
    All set to enjoy their U-wailing and weeping,
    Instead he heard something that started quite low,
    And it built up quite slow, but it started to grow -
    And the Binch heard the most unpredictable thing
    And he couldn't believe it-they started to sing!
    He stared down at U-ville, not trusting his eyes,
    What he saw was a shocking, disgusting surprise!

    Every U down in U-ville, the tall and the small,
    Was singing! Without any towers at all!
    He HADN'T stopped U-Ville from singing! It sung!
    For down deep in the hearts of the old and the young,
    Those Twin Towers were standing, called Hope and called Pride,
    And you can't smash the towers we hold deep inside.
    So we circle the sites where our heroes did fall,
    With a hand in each hand of the tall and the small,
    And we mourn for our losses while knowing we'll cope,
    For we still have inside that U-Pride and U-Hope.


Commenting on the decline of tech-stocks, the irrepressible Willy Smith [numatico@racsa.co.cr] sent this from his hideaway in Costa Rica:

    "If you had purchased $1000 worth of Nortel Networks stock one year ago, it would now be worth $49. If you bought $1000 worth of Budweiser (the beer, not the stock, at $3.80 per six-pack) one year ago, drank all the beer, and traded in the cans for the nickel deposit, you would have $79. Those lucky Michigan residents who receive 10 cents per can would of course have $158. So, we can easily see that it is now better to drink beer in Michigan than to trade tech stocks."

Wondering endlessly about how Allen Yurko could possibly have earned his $ 7m exit package after he left Invensys in sorry shape, an Invensys employee (requesting anonymity) sent this whimsical calculation :

    "I have finally worked out how Yurko obtained $7 million dollars as a bonus. When I joined Foxboro in 2000 I was offered a share option at $2.652 per share, which valued Invensys at $14 Billion. Yurko's direction has seen the share value drop to (0.38 pounds 20/09/01) valuing the company at $2 Billion. Two divided into 14 = 7. Simple really!"

A Honeyweller (name withheld) wrote:
    "I am amazed that no one understands that you need a LEADER not a manager at the top. Can the talent pool of leaders who understand this business be so shallow that there is none left? It is apparent that there aren't any in Phoenix, AZ. Say what you may but Honeywell IAC has crashed since Ed Hurd and his team left Phoenix. Instead of giving Larry Bossidy another run, why don't they ask Ed Hurd to come out of retirement? That would at least provide some direction to this group of Keystone Kops that are in place now."

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