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Pinto visit to Bangalore, India, February 2007Many people have written asking whether they had missed receiving eNews since the last issue: No. 224, 24 January 2007. Thank you for asking - I'm pleased to be missed
I have been on vacation for the entire month of February 07. I went to England to pick up my eldest brother, and we flew non-stop on British Airway from London to Bangalore, India. This is a daily flight, which flies back and forth - the 350-seat jumbo-jet is always packed to capacity.
My brother an I were making a return visit to my hometown, Bangalore, after a similar visit with our family in January 2006. I'm #7 in a family of 10 (see weblink below) all happily in good health. We spent most of the time in Bangalore, but spent a few days in Pune, about an hour away by air; interestingly, there was an excellent choice of several local airlines: SpiceJet, IndiGo, Kingfisher, Jet Airways, and others. I was impressed with the easy on-line bookings and excellent service. They compare well with Southwest, JetBlue or any other US airline.
Bangalore is hard to describe - the traffic is overwhelming, even though many streets have been converted to one-way. I have driven in London, Paris, New York, Singapore, Hong Kong, Shanghai, Tokyo and many other big cities of the world - but not in India. If you follow any rules, you'll crash. There is only one rule - don't hit anyone. Frankly, during my 3 weeks, I saw only 2 minor "accidents" - they simply dusted off and went on their way.
Yes, there are traffic lights. Everyone stops and many switch off their engines to conserve gas (petrol, about $ 7.00 a gallon). Thousands of tiny autorickshaws are everywhere, filling up every little space. When there are no traffic lights, turns into oncoming traffic are made boldly - if you're shy, the pressure behind you builds up to where you can't wait any longer. Strangely enough, no honking - just revving engines.
Beyond just family socializing, I did venture on one business visit - to Infosys, the software giant in Bangalore. The Pinto brothers were given the tour, starting with the same multi-media introduction that Tom Friedman witnessed before he was stimulated to write his best-seller, "The World is Flat".
I must tell you, I've visited the Microsoft and Google campuses in the US, but they hardly compare with the Infosys corporate HQ. The company now has 69,000 people, with about 12,000 in Bangalore and 15,000 in the training complex in nearby Mysore.
My article about the corporate culture of Infosys will be published this month (March 07) by Automation.com, as part of their Corporate Culture series.
Anyway, now that I'm back, JimPinto.com eNews should continue to be published "irreverently and irregularly". Thanks for staying in touch.
jammed airports, and power blackouts could hobble growth
ABB growing profitably and feisty againABB is back on the winning track, and has reported excellent results again. Profits for the fourth quarter nearly doubled, and the backlog looks strong. Revenues for 2006 reached $24.4B up 11%. Strong Q4 helped lift full-year bookings by 22%. For the year 2006, net profit was up 89% to $1.4B, and cash flow was positive to the tune of about $2B.
By the end of 2007, ABB could accumulate more than $4 billion in cash, putting it back in a strong acquisition mode. Forewarned by past acquisition mid-adventures, ABB is likely to preserve focus in the core automation business. Rockwell has been mentioned as a potential target, though current market cap stands at some $10B, a stretch for ABB. Let's see - who else is a possible target?
Top automation tech for 2007 - Pinto's PicksAfter several years of stagnation, the industrial automation market is growing again. During the coming year, several new products and technologies will begin to emerge. Here are my top picks for automation technologies that will make a difference in 2007.
Michael Crichton's new book - "Next"Michael Crichton started life as a medical student and went on to write "The Adromeda Strain" which became a SciFi classic. His "Jurassic Park" made another hit movie. He mixes science with the edge of reality to make his stories almost believable.
Crichton's book "State of Fear" provided a controversial view of global warming. His next book "PREY" told of the perils of Nanotechnology. Now his new thriller "NEXT" weaves genetic engineering into an incredible and almost believable story.
"NEXT" (published Nov. 2006) is the usual Crichton blend of fact and fiction in a story set in the near future. New twists and possibilities come alive with startling realism: a parrot that thinks, and acts like a tape-recorder to blackmail its owner and unmask villains; a chimpanzee with a mix of human DNA that is adopted and goes to school as a human child; a wild orangutan that swears in Dutch.
Many of us continue to think of time as progressing linearly. Yet Ray Kurzweil and others suggest that accelerating technology will bring advances in the next 10 years equivalent to 100, perhaps even 1000 years. We're approaching the time when human sperm and eggs can be sold online, when our unborn babies can be tested for genetic maladies. Most of us are not prepared.
Michael Crichton gives us a glimpse into the not-too-distant future. His "NEXT" challenges our sense of reality and morality, mixing funny with frightening, sensitive with shocking. Clever, believable and scary. The future is closer than you think.
Iraq war fatalities - graphic evidenceIn 2004, I worked VERY hard to stop the re-election of GW Bush. I got a tremendous amount of feedback, positive and negative. After Bush won, I wrote emotionally in these editorial columns, "America deserves what it got". I'm sorry I wrote that.
America does NOT deserve what we are now getting: a President whose plummeting popularity ratings demonstrate complete lack of credibility; many consider him the worst President in history. His Secretary of Defense, the chief architect of an unpopular war, was forced to resign. His VP, whose chief-of-staff has been convicted of perjury, is pictured under a cloud on the latest cover of TIME. His former Secretary of State admits to being misled and bulldozed, while the current Secretary flies around the world practicing ineffective shuttle diplomacy.
This same President continues bull-headedly to insist on sending more US troops into the Iraqi death-trap, believing that God is on his side and history will prove him right. One wonders what his remaining 2 years in office will bring.
Under the pretext of anti-terrorism and the Patriot Act, the Bush administration continues to violate US and international laws and the Geneva Convention. There are enough grounds to impeach, but Congress flails ineffectively while America waits.
My old friend Dave Carlson [email@example.com] has become a strong anti-Iraq-war activist. He writes - extract from his "WHERE'S THE PROOF?" published in the NY Times, March 2007:
"My conclusion: Bush had absolutely no credible proof of WMD, and our Congress was negligent in not demanding same. Instead, the USA was hyped into another war (we hadn't even begun to finish the war in Afghanistan) by the administration's use of Fear (another 9/11, mushroom cloud, smoking gun), and Hype ('piece of cake', 'slam dunk', 'dancing in the streets', 'shock & awe', 'minimal casualties')."
When and how will this madness end?
eFeedbackThe inimitable Eoin Ó Riain [firstname.lastname@example.org] from Ireland pokes a little fun at the CONTROL Automation top-50 list:
"American's asking questions at press conferences also evoke this type of response, 'typical American'. Indeed most Americans have no idea what that phrase means. Their questions usually are very relevant, but are couched in a too-direct almost aggressive manner, which most Europeans find amusing.
"In Europe we handle things differently if not just as lethally! We try to make it as pleasant an experience as possible. We smile as we bury our knife in your back! :-)
"Seriously though, I think that the American (US I mean) mindset is flawed in that it has a basic misunderstanding of terms like 'international' or 'global' or 'worldwide'. In the US, 'international' means the world outside of America. Is Canada international?
"But, getting back to the CONTROL survey of the top 50. Their preamble admits that it has been getting harder and harder to produce a Process Automation Top Fifty for North America. As a 'global' survey, it falls at the first fence. You can look it up on the CONTROL website: 'controlglobal.com.' I just love irony. Don't you?"
"Lot of people are using cellphones outside the commercial world. Check out how Longwatch is using these gadgets for sending event clips (video alarms) to SCADA software, and to the cellphones of engineers and operators from remote sites. Now, sitting at home, without connecting to the office server, users can see on their personal cellphones and PDAs what is happening on remote sites, or on the plant floor. People can be quickly dispatched to remote sites to solve problems. New smart phones save costs and resources.
"Plant and factory people are now getting direct event clips in their PDAs/cellphones. Similarly many customers who are using Win911 software, acknowledging alarms from cell phones. It does not matter where you are, you're in touch.
"Many in industry are using non-industrial PDAs to access SCADA software displays and monitoring process variables with MS Terminal Server sessions on a PDA. In past, industry had no choice but to buy expensive industrial hand held terminals with range limitations. Now things are easy and cheap.
"One wonders how the future will materialize with all these wireless gadgets..."
"If so, does this mean that the US will become more and more dependent on the production of military goods for a 'healthy economy?' Of course weapons aren't just stockpiled, but are built to be used. Does that also mean the US will become more and more reliant on global conflict to support the only major manufacturing base left in the country?"
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