comment 0

Vision “Food Safety” In Brussels

Dear Readers,

In the year 2014/2015 the topic of the Vision project was „Food from Soil to Shelf“. The first Vision took place from 19th to 26th of October and was organized by the LG Brussels. The subtopic was „Food Safety“.

On the first evening we had a relaxed evening in a bar, but the next day the event started with a first presentation by Unilever, where we were taught a lot about their working on Food Safety. Later that day we had a presentation  from the european parliament, here we learned a lot about the legal background of Food Safety.

On the same night we had our international night, everybody brought some drinks, food and other stuff from their countries, so we could learn about culture from Germany, Norway, Spain, Russia, Greece or Poland.

Also, we had intersting lectures by e.g. Monsanto, that were very informative.

Really cool was also the visit of Lutosa, where we had the chance to see, how french fries are produced and in the end we could also try some of them.

Afterwards we had a brewery visit at the Busch Brewery. Their lightest beer had 7%, so the tour back was a little party.

We were also visiting the city of Ghent, where we had a boat tour and the fort of Namur. Last but not least we had a company visit at the Coda Cerva laboratories, where we were told a lot of interesting informations and facts about animal diseases and how they can be prevented.

I highly advise you all to apply for Vision events!

Christian Glies

You need Vision to see!

comment 0

3D Printing and Its Impact on Logistics

Will 3D printing revolutionize the world? It has that potential.
Will 3D printing eliminate all of our logistic problems? No, but it will have a significant impact on logistics. How will 3D printing affect the world of logistics?

• What Gets Moved

3D printing could lead to logistics shifting from moving finished products to moving the feed stocks used by 3D printers to make finished products. In short, we’ll have more local manufacturing but keep the long distance shipping of raw materials if and until the finished products made by 3D printers can be recycled.
Metal can still be recycled, thought the polymers used for 3D printing is still TBD. When these items have been printed, painted, machined, coated and otherwise finished, they may or may not be recyclable. If not, then logistics must add them to the waste disposal network.

• You Can’t Print Everything

The logistics of everything we can’t print doesn’t change at all. You may print a fancy bodice, new furniture and biodegradable plastic plates, but the strawberries still come from California, the crab from Alaska, the potatoes from Idaho and the natural gas or oil that runs the stove from North Dakota. Medical products and drugs still get moved by truck to the stores, hospitals and pharmacies. Even if 3D printing nearly revolutionizes manufacturing, food, fuel and raw materials for what cannot be printed like timber and steel still get moved by the traditional methods.
High tech electronics are far to complicated to be printed by 3D printing baring a cute little protective case. Thus your microchips, smart phones and laptop computers are still going to be manufactured in Silicon Valley or China and shipped to the United States as they are today.

• How Travel Changes

3D printing won’t affect the economics of moving product. It is still ten times cheaper (or more) to ship something by water than by land. 3D printing won’t eliminate labor costs and labor cost differentials. 3D printing could mean it is easier to make fantastical designs or customized medical supports like exo-skeletons for disabled toddlers, but it may be made in China due to their cheaper labor costs and low shipping costs.
Suppose we get local recycling of feedstock for 3D manufacturing going, so that shipping of high volumes of feedstock are not required across long distances. You could theoretically see fewer trips to the big box mart and more to the garage for the kids’ latest creation. However, people still average around 10% of their time travelling. If they don’t have to go to the store as often, they will travel to activities or visit friends more often. An ideal world of local replicators, so to speak, will mean much more local travel and less long distance travel for goods. But it will have little impact on personal decisions for long distance travel, much less local ones.

• The Rest of the Waste Flow

3D printers are not Star Trek replicators. They unfortunately can’t dematerialize your paper waste, human waste and everything else you want to get rid of into energy to run your appliances or create new items.
The waste handling for 3D printed products may or may not include the landfill. Construction waste is at this point unchanged, since 3D printed buildings today are more like plastic shells that still need to be filled in with pipes and electrical wiring. Most of what is ripped out is recycled somewhere like the Habitat for Humanity Restore, burned for energy or taken to the landfill as it already is today. The logistics of waste handling for sewers are unchanged.

comment 0

Top 10 System Administrator Truths – Updated

Evan Erwin back in 2005 wrote a block “Top Ten System Administrator Truths”. I’ve updated his list with a few caveats as well as notes as to which of his truths are now more universal than the examples he cited.

#1 – Users Lie, Even When You Have Tracking Tools in Place

Users may lie about having installed personal software like affirmational screen savers, music players or even patches they thought they found online to try to avoid calling you. And they will sometimes say they didn’t break the rules set forth by IT in order to stay out of trouble, even after clicking on the “I consent to monitoring” every day they log in.

#2 – Email is the Lifeblood of Non-Techies Despite All the Articles Saying Don’t

Email is still the lifeblood of non-technical people, despite all the articles saying you should have face to face communications, phone calls and conferences instead. Even with a generation nearly raised on instant messaging, they can’t use that for much more than replacing over the wall conversations with a single peer, whereas email is still the standard for notices that a document has been updated, that tasks await their action to complete and reminders of events.

#3- Printers S#$& and In More Ways Than One

I’ve personally witnessed many “I can’t print” tickets that were blamed on the document management system that were actually network slowdowns due to denial of service attacks or sheer demand, hardware problems instead of software issues, devices not turned on, lack of toner, or a really big print job that was still loading.

#4 – Cleanliness is Godliness

The original version of this quote refers to clean work environments can save your hardware, such as lint from blankets or dust from a dirty workspace ruin servers and PC guts. This is true from a software side, too. Not having lots of apps or documents saved to the desktop saves you time when you try to find something. Not installing and downloading a lot of things prevents quite a few IT tickets from software conflicts to failed updates to “that app was actually malware”.

#5 – Backups are Crucial

Backups are still crucial. Backing up PCs to a server is much more common now. Backing up servers and personal computers to the cloud is more common, though Edward Snowden’s revelations mean that private cloud servers that the NSA can’t just review at will shall be more popular than Microsoft, Apple and other companies who have given the NSA access to not-hot copies of their production systems or where the NSA simply built themselves a back door.

#6 – Switches and Hubs (Usually) Die One Port At A Time

This hardware maximum remains true. The only change that comes to mind is the relative ease with which server blades can be replaced today, and the ability to set up mirrored servers and cloned virtual servers that make the repairs and part replacements easier.

#7 – No One Ever Got Fired For Buying Microsoft

Microsoft remains the 800 pound gorilla in the enterprise software market, in part due to its long term contracts and in part due to its universality due to its long term contracts. Linux and Unix servers are certainly more common and accepted now as a business standard. However, the diversity of Unix / Linux instantiations slows its adoption, and Unix/Linux desktops are still a long way from replacing the Windows PC. However, a Windows client delivered as a remote desktop hosted on a Linux or Unix server is plausible.

#8 – Politeness > Brevity

This is true, and only the range of applications has grown. Keep the error messages short enough for users to comprehend and be able to document in an error report. User work instructions should be one or two lines per step, never a full paragraph. If the whole user process is many pages long, perhaps you need to hire an Lean consultant, if not a better tech writer. One step installations and updates are ideal from a user’s perspective as long as it goes right most of the time. Automated tasks like backups and critical updates are ideal from the helpdesk’s perspective.

# 9 – Know Your Needs

The original version of this “Top 10 System Administrator Truths” was the advice to learn Linux and install it. A more universal version of this could be “don’t buy software you don’t need”. When you buy an enterprise software suite, don’t buy extra software or features you don’t need. Unfortunately, too many software suites are like the deluxe service package – getting the one extra you want requires getting ten extra items you don’t.
Another version of this truth is gathering accurate user requirements. What does your document management software need to do? It should ensure that access is only granted to those who should have access, provide access on demand with minimal delay and prevent unauthorized users from changing something. Workflow management is useful to the help desk, but workflow customization in general isn’t required. And if you want the ability to customize the workflow because the tool’s default workflow is too complex, maybe you need a different tool altogether.

comment 0

The Human Element of IT

What are some of the common scenarios where IT and the human element intersect? What do you do in these situations?

Scenario:

Bill was fired! Who is going to do X? He was the only one who knew how.

Solutions:

Require the person leaving the company to train their replacements in those few skills or procedures no one else is experienced. Document the process as the training takes place so that the information is available should others need it.

In the future, document all job tasks and processes so that they can be used by others in an online database. Try to have at least one backup for every job function or task, such as restarting servers or setting up users.

 

Scenario:

Jill has to go on medical leave. How do you handle her tasks for the interim?

Solutions:

Know how to delegate and/or reassign tasks in your task management system. And verify that delegates actually have the authority to perform those tasks, such as approve financial line items or promote drawings. Verify that they have accounts on all IT systems where these approvals or actions take place.

 

Scenario:

On-boarding of new talent takes forever, and we discover things they need access to weeks or even months later at the most inconvenient moment.

 

Solutions:

Create an online check list of everything new employees need, from accounts to access levels. For example, they need access to the HR system to input their time cards or access to the PDM system to search for drawings.

 

 

Scenario:

Boss announces the implementation will be delayed a month, and all vacation is cancelled until rollout. A key staffer says, “But I have non-refundable tickets.”

Solutions

Divide work where possible to avoid forcing someone to cancel a vacation. If that person is indispensable, delay the project two months. Avoid demanding that someone check email or respond to queries for two or three hours a day on vacation.

A final backup plan is enabling remote work for someone who was planning to be on PTO. However, making this demand dramatically increases the odds they will not be with the company for the next implementation.