Adonis Diaries

Posts Tagged ‘engineering

Human Factors in Design

The term Design is all the rage.

Any professional in any field feels it imperative to add Design in the title.

Engineers, graphic professionals, photographers, dancers, environmentalists, climatologists, scientists… they all claim to be designers first.

And this is very refreshing.

Have you heard of this new field of Design Anthropology? https://adonis49.wordpress.com/2012/02/06/design-anthropology-why-are-there-designs-not-meant-for-human/

Dori Tunstall said in an interview with  Debbie Millman:

Design translate values into tangible experiences…Design can help make values such as equality, democracy, fairness, integration, connection…(values that we have lost to some extent), more tangible and express how we can use them to make the world a better place…”

Looks like Tunstall expanded the term design to overlap with the political realm of Congress jobs, law makers, political parties, election laws…

It is about time that everyone “think design” when undertaking any project or program

Anything we do is basically designed, explicitly or implicitly: Either we are generating products and programs for mankind, or it is mankind who is in charge of executing, controlling and managing what has been conceived.

So long as human are directly involved in using a product or a program, any design must explicitly study and research the safety, health, and mistakes that the operators and users will encounter.

Must as well that the design be as explicit in the attributes of health, safe usage, errors that might generate serious consequences, materially, mentally or physically.

Four decade ago, there was a field of study called Human Factors.

The term Human Factors was considered too general to be taken seriously in Engineering.

The implicit understanding was that “Of course, when an engineer designs anything, it is the human who is targeted….”

However, besides applying standards and mathematical formulas, engineers are the least concerned directly with the safety, health of users: The standards are supposed to take care of these superfluous attributes…

And who are the people concerned in setting standards?

Standards are arrived at in a consensus process between the politicians and the business people, and rarely the concerned users and consumers are invited to participate in the debate, except in later sessions when standards are already drafted…

And how explicitly experiments were designed to allow users to test, and give feedback to any kinds of standards, handed down from successive standard sets…?

Countless engineers and scientists are directly engaged in putting rovers on Mars and launching shuttles and… and the human in the project is taken for granted…

If you ask them whether they have human factors engineers in their teams, they don’t understand what you mean.

The project is supposed to be an engineering project, and “where the hell did you bring this human thing in the picture?”

Anything that is designed must consider the health, safety, and how a person from various ages, genders, and ethnic idiosyncracies might use the product or the program

Take all the time in design process. People are not supposed to be used as ginea pigs for any redesigned process… after countless lawsuits, pains, suffering…

This is a preliminary draft. Any input and replies?

Note: https://adonis49.wordpress.com/2008/10/04/whats-that-concept-of-human-factors-in-design/

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Convention Without Walls: ‘Digital Divide’ Overlooked by the live-streaming technology?

With a steady stream of blog posts, tweets, Facebook posts and YouTube videos, even the Republican party convention is live-streaming on YouTube.

The presidential campaigns have increasingly embraced the web as a way to speak directly to voters.

The Republican National Convention in Tampa, which is calling itself the “Convention Without Walls,” is releasing a mobile app and encouraging Facebook users to share their photos and videos.

The upcoming Democratic National Convention in Charlotte has planned similar digital outreach.

Yet, millions of Americans won’t be able to participate. They are blocked from experiencing much of the online world:  Simply, they don’t have access to high-speed Internet.

About one-third of Americans (100 million people) do not subscribe to broadband. This so-called “digital divide” will likely receive little, if any attention during the political conventions.

Gerry Smith in the HuffPost wrote:

“Bridging the technology gap fits squarely within the candidates’ platforms for reducing unemployment, increasing access to health care and education, and helping the country compete in a globalized economy, experts say.

Almost every aspect of today’s society — from looking for jobs to accessing online medicine and classrooms — now requires a broadband connection, and those without access are quickly being left behind.

“I feel like I’m at a disadvantage,” said James Brunswick, a 51-year-old Philadelphia resident who is looking for a job but can’t afford a computer.

There are different reasons why Americans are disconnected.

1. About 19 million people, mostly in rural areas, don’t have high-speed Internet because phone and cable companies don’t provide service to their location. I

2. Many low-income Americans can’t afford broadband subscriptions.

3. About 40% of adults with household incomes less than $20,000 have broadband at home, compared to 93 percent with household incomes greater than $75,000, according to the F.C.C.

4. A growing number of people who can’t afford computers or Internet service are turning to smartphones as a more affordable way to get online.

Experts warn that mobile devices — with their small screens, data caps and slower speeds — are no substitute for a computer with a high-speed connection.

To help more people join the digital age, the Obama administration set aside $7.2 billion to deploy high-speed Internet to unserved and low-income areas. The Federal Communications Commission has overhauled its Lifeline program to provide discounted Internet service to families in need and has partnered with major cable providers to supply $10 Internet access to households with a child enrolled in the national school lunch program.

Again, experts say more must be done.

A few of the experts argue the next administration needs to regulate broadband providers to promote competition, which would give consumers more choices and lower prices for broadband service.

“We can throw subsidies at the problem all day, but it’s not going to close the digital divide unless we have a robust, competitive market that will lead to lower prices and more attractive services,” said Derek Turner, research director at the public-interest group Free Press.

There are other reasons why people don’t get online.

1. Some are not comfortable with the Internet, while others think the web is a waste of their time, surveys show.

2. And while the price of computers is falling, many low-income Americans still can’t afford them and must rely on public libraries to get online — a digital safety net that is starting to fray.

3. More than half of libraries say their Internet connections are not fast enough, and libraries nationwide are facing budget cuts that have forced them to close on weekends and evenings, according to the American Library Association.

“We are suffering from the perfect storm,” said Emily Sheketoff, the executive director of the American Library Association’s Washington office.

About 80% of schools and libraries receiving federal funding for Internet service say their connections “do not fully meet their needs,” according to an FCC report issued last week.

Stephanie Thomas is a history and government teacher at Broad Street High School in Shelby, Miss., a rural town of 2,000 people where nearly half of families live in poverty.

Thomas often wants to show her students online videos or conduct interactive lessons, but the school’s limited bandwidth makes that impossible.

“We have the Internet but it can be extremely slow,” Thomas said. “There are times where I’ve wanted to show YouTube videos and I spend half of the class period waiting for it to load.”

The FCC’s National Broadband Plan, which was released in 2010, offers a blueprint for helping more people join the digital age.

The plan suggests:

1. That the commission provide wireless spectrum to companies on the condition that they offer free or low-cost broadband service to low-income customers.

2. It recommends Congress provide more funding to teach low-income Americans how to use the Internet and help people with disabilities and Native Americans, who have especially low rates of broadband adoption, gain access to the web.

Turner said there is another reason why both presidential candidates should be concerned about the millions of Americans who are not online: They need their votes, and the Internet has become an increasingly popular platform for candidates to reach voters and voters to learn more about them.

“The Internet is rapidly becoming an indispensable tool for democratic participation,” Turner said. “And we need to be concerned that there is a social cost to those who can’t participate in that conversation.”

It is about time the old effective method of door-to-door connections be relaunched: When will the voters get to meet the candidate coordinators and relay their concerns face to face?

Nicholas Tesla: The genius Geek of all time

Do you know who invented or discovered most of modern time technology?

1. Alternative current AC

2. Radio transmission

3. Radar

4. X-Rays

5. Hydro-electric plant

6. Resonant frequency of the earth

7. Remote control

8. Neon lighting

9. Ball lightning

10. Earthquake measuring machine

11. Electric motor

12. Wireless communication…and much more?

Nicholas Tesla was born 100 years ago. He was a Serbian-American inventor.

He lived to be 86 and remained celibate. He was 6’6″ tall and mastered 8 languages.

Tesla survived on milk and Nabisco crackers… And died penniless while making Edisson reap the patents of his own inventions and being acclaimed as the inventor of the century…

Click on this comic for fascinating details: http://theoatmeal.com/comics/tesla

Atmospheric physics? Who is Toufic Hawaat?

For 50 years, scientists have been visiting the North and South Poles to study the atmosphere and matching their various models to data gathered painstakingly, under harsh climatic conditions…

Toufic Hawaat is one of these researches and physicists who spent 8 years in the Poles, three months at a stretch during the Poles summer seasons: The temperature drops to minus 122 in the winter and you’ll be stuck for an entire year there if the team makes the grave mistake of visiting the Poles in winter time.

The temperature in the South Pole in summer time is a mild minus 80 degrees Celsius, and the team members of researchers live within iced walls, and feed on biscuits tasting beef and pizza and canned food…

Toufic Hawaat is born in Lebanon in the town of Bte3bourat in the district of Koura.  He got his engineering degree from the University of Lebanon and resumed higher education in Paris, receiving his Ph.D on the physics of atmospheric constitution and phenomena…

For 6 years, Toufic worked for the French public CNF and had to travel to the North Pole in 1994 at the age of 25. He visited the North Pole 6 times and planted the Lebanese flag (the first time ever).

In 1998, Toufic met with an American research team from the University of Denver, doing the same kind of research. The US team offered Toufic the Green Card and dispatched him to the South Pole.

Antarctica is 5 times as vast as the USA and snow is 9,000 meters thick, and it takes 38 hours to reach destination.

So far, Dr. Hawaat has published 48 peer-reviewed scientific articles and will deliver a speech at Rio 20+. The collected and analyzed data reveal a steady increase in natural calamities since 1972, and going worse by the year.

Toufic do visit his hometown in Lebanon, now and then, with his family (his wife is also from Lebanon), but he claims that the air and water in Lebanon are too polluted to reside here. He has no plans of settling in Lebanon…

Note: This post was inspired from an interview conducted by Pascal Azar to the Lebanese daily Al Nahar.

Natural energy regeneration: Sun plus water produce methane and oxygen

Oxygen and methane are the natural energies that combine to generate heat, power, water, and carbon dioxide, sort of clean energy resources…

There are several methods for generating “non-toxic” energy from photo-chemical reactions, to micro-organism photosynthesis using photo-bioreactors of algae and bacteria…

New technologies have demonstrated that it is possible to produce methane and oxygen just using sun rays and water…How it works?

Step 1: Liquid prisms containing water redirect sun rays to bundles of parallel rays.

Step 2: The parallel rays get concentrated and focused using Fresnel-type of lenses (the kinds used in phares)

Step 3:   The focused rays hit an “optofluid reactor” constituted of microscopic translucent (tranlucid) tubes. Water and CO2 are injected in the tubes..

Step 4. The tubes are covered with catalyst dioxide of titan that accelerate the chemical decomposition into methane and O2.

Scientific researcher Demetri Psaltis at Lausane Polytechnic School published this mechanism in the magazine “Nature Photonics”.

Microchips tubes increase chemical reactions by a thousand fold, but it is industrial production of these special micro tubes that may be a difficulty for industrial production of O2 and methane.  In any case, this was a problem for solar cells 20 years ago, and it has been resolved as government got involved and pored in the necessary funds.

The other hurdle is how to clean the million of micro-tubes as organic matters and bacteria will pollute the “reactors”?

In any case, Greek researchers are adding pieces of cheese and bad milk in industrial batteries to increase performance.

Note: You may access this piece electronically on http://www.courrierinternational.com. There is no lock on this article and you may visualize the schematics.

“A short history of nearly everything” by Bill Bryson

Eco-system

Thomas Midgley Junior was an engineer by training and he developed an interest in the industrial applications of chemistry.  With an instinct for the regrettable that was almost uncanny, Midgley invented chlorofluorocarbons CFC that is eating up our ozone layer in the stratosphere.

Midgley also applied tetraethyl lead that spread devastation to human health by killing millions from lead contamination and increasing the lead content in our bones and blood 650 times the normal dose.

Tetraethyl lead was used to significantly reduce the “juddering” condition known as engine knock.  GM, Du Pont and Standard Oil of New Jersey formed a joint enterprise called Ethyl Gasoline Corporation with a view to making as much tetraethyl lead as the world was willing to buy this new gasoline and introduced this product in 1923.

Lead can be found in all manner of consumer products; food came in cans sealed with lead solder, water was stored in lead-lined tanks, and lead arsenate was sprayed onto fruit as a pesticide and even as part of the composition of toothpaste tubes.

However, lead lasting danger came as an additive to motor fuel.

Clair Patterson turned his attention to the question of all the lead in the atmosphere and that about 90% of it appeared to come from car exhaust pipes.  He set about to comparing lead levels in the atmosphere now with the levels that existed before 1923.

His ingenious idea was to evaluate these levels from samples in the ice cores in places like Greenland. This notion became the foundation of ice cores studies, on which much modern climatological work is based.

Patterson found no lead in the atmosphere before 1923.  Ethyl Corporation counter-attacked by cutting off all research grants that Patterson received.  Although Patterson was the unquestionable America’s leading expert on atmospheric lead, the National Research Council panel excluded him in 1971.

Eventually, his efforts led to the introduction of the Clean Air Act of 1970 and to the removal from sale of all leaded petrol in the USA in 1986.  Lead levels in the blood of the Americans fell by 80% almost within a year; but since the atmosphere contains so much lead and cannot be eliminated and is for ever, we are to live with a new constitution of heavy lead concentration in our blood stream and our bones.

Lead in paint was also banned in 1993, 44 years after Europe has banned it.  Leaded gasoline is still being sold overseas.  Ironically, all the research on lead effects on health were funded by the Ethyl Corporation; one doctor spent 5 years taking samples of urine and faces instead of blood and bones where lead accumulate.

Refrigerators in the 1920s used dangerous gases and leaks killed more than a hundred in 1929 in a Cleveland hospital.  Thomas Midgley came to the rescue with a safe, stable, non-corrosive, and non-flammable gas called CFC.

A single kilo of chlorofluorocarbon can capture and annihilate 70,000 kilo of atmospheric ozone, which is no thicker than 2 millimeter around the stratosphere and whose benefit is to capture the dangerous cosmic rays.

CFC is also a great heat sponge 10,000 times more efficient than carbon dioxide responsible for the greenhouse effect of increasing atmospheric temperature.

CFC was banned in 1974 in the USA but 27 million kilo a year are still being introduced in the market in other forms of deodorant or hairspray for example.  CFC will not be banned in the third world countries until 2010.

The natural level of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere should be 280 parts per million but it has increased to 360 and is roughly rising 0.025% a year and might be around 560 by the end of the century.

The seas soak up tremendous volumes of carbon and safely locked it away.  Since the Sun is burning 25% more brightly than when the solar system was young, what keeps our Earth stable and cool?

It seems that there are trillions upon trillions of tiny marine organisms that capture carbon from the rain falls and use it to make tiny shells. These marine organisms lock the carbon and prevent it from re-evaporating into the atmosphere; otherwise, the greenhouse effect of warming the atmosphere would have done much damage long time ago. These tiny organisms fall to the bottom of the sea after they die, where they are compressed into limestone.

Volcanoes and the decay of plants return the carbon to the atmosphere at a rate of 200 billion tones a year and fall to the Earth in rain.  The cycle takes 500,000 years for a typical carbon atom.  Fortunately that most of the rain fall in oceans because 60% of the rain that fall on land is evaporated within a couple of days.

Human has disturbed this cycle after the heavy industrialization era and is lofting about 7 billion tones each year.

There is a critical threshold where the natural biosphere stops buffering us from the effects of our emissions and actually starts to amplify them.

Brace for worst case nuclear scenario. What is “Systemic degradation of work ethics in nuclear power plants”?

You are warned: Brace for worst case nuclear scenario.  The next catastrophe is within a year!

Japan has uncovered other problems, in yet another series of nuclear power plants; not the Fukushima plants that are no longer under control.  This is the tip of the iceberg:  Not the worst case scenario that is setting the world community in turmoil.  It is not also that earthquakes are spreading westward to Myanmar, India, Pakistan, Iran…countries with many nuclear power plants and not very well maintained.

What is hiding beneath the iceberg of catastrophe is the  “Systemic degradation of work ethics in nuclear power plants”.  Four decades ago, most of the civilian nuclear power plants were built, maintained, and controlled by governments.  Each plant had its own trained and professional personnel and experts.  The operators knew exactly the problems of the plants and kept accurate and frank diagnostic procedures.

The operators were taught to immediately bring up the problems, however minors they were, to the attentions of their superiors.  Frank discussions ensued.  Engineers and scientists were not as confident as they are sounding nowadays:  They were on a mission to learn as they progressed on the danger and modeling of nuclear power.  The operators were dedicated and stable in their jobs.

Two decades ago, hell broke loose:  Government owned nuclear power plants were  “privatized”.  The owners were supposed to infuse fresh investment into upgrading the plants.  It didn’t work that way.

The owner quickly started to give troubles to the dedicated professional operators and licensed them as soon as they insisted on the existence of a problem in the functioning of the plants.  The owner purpose was to make profit out of the existing life of a plant:  So long that electricity was produced, the less money spent on repairs and maintenance the better.

Incidents judged minors were ignored.  Accidents that had the potential of deteriorating were hushed.  Divulging of the exact number of incident and minor accidents were not reported.  Maintenance of nuclear plants were subcontracted, and maintenance periods were spaced out and shortened to saving money.

The contracting companies hired low-waged operators, constantly on the road, and not of the professional operators kinds.  These subcontracted operators did what they were told to do and left the premises without knowing exactly what were the real problems.  Many of them received heavy radiation and didn’t know their medium-term health conditions.

The owners of the plants subcontracted in order not bear any financial or legal liabilities.  As if any catastrophe hits, anyone will be left off the hook.  Most of the nuclear power plants in France have experienced many accidents; a few of them over 30 accidents each without being formally disseminated to public attentions.  Most nuclear plants in France, over 55 nuclear plants, are owned by private electrical companies that have degraded work ethics:  A chain reaction of nuclear catastrophes are expected to spread in France.

It is urgent that all government re-nationalize their nuclear power plants and pay off those rascals of private owners with profit generated.

It is urgent that several independent panels of expert, at the sold of the government, review the conditions of the plants and closing degraded and ol plants immediately.

It is urgent that each plant has its own dedicated and stable operators, at the sold of the government.


adonis49

adonis49

adonis49

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