Sunday, August 24, 2008

OK, Now that we know the Super Intelligent Shades of the Color Green are going to take over the world, lets get on with less important things... like testing.

I've been working on processes and metrics for developing test sets for quite a while now (a couple of years). I love doing technical work so it has been tough doing mainly documentation. I have worked on some test programs part time while working on the processes, so it hasn't been totally tortuous.

I believe there is always a process of one type or another in developing test stations. The problem is some times the process is the POOMA (Pull Out Of My A**) process or maybe the "wing it" process. But then there's the other end of the process universe. This is where the process makes it nearly impossible to do a small project. Then, in the middle, there's the agile process which is suppose to be the processes that allow tasks to be done quickly and with the ability to easily adapt to changes. It's still not a cure all.

Even people who say they have no process, have a process, it's just not as straight forward as most or even seems coherent.

After working on the processes for a while I know that one process does not fit all projects even though that's what we try to do. I was suppose to document the process we go through to build test stations. Each project has been unique in it's own way, with some process steps that aren't in the process and skipping other steps that are in the process. Some projects that try to follow the process finds that outside groups don't follow the process which makes our process fail. There's many reason's process fail.

If the processes aren't working (not that people just don't want to do it), they need to be adjusted , in real-time rather than going through the year long process change process.

The project leads, the one's actually have to make the process happen, have to be the ones to adjust the process as needed. They need the lead way to adjust it as needed. The Process police also need to understand a single written process is not a panacea, it won't cure all. The processes need to be adjusted.

While I've been working on the processes, this is the dilemma I've been dealing with, having processes that don't imped getting things done but satisfies the Process Police.

Saturday, August 23, 2008

Green gone wrong

There's a lot of talk about "Green" and Green Engineering. Everything in going Green...Green, Greener, Greenest. Somewhere out there I'm sure there are Engineering positions with the title "Green Engineer".

As we move into the future, there will be more and more Green Engineers. Scientists will go Green to give the Green Engineers more work to do. Of course, the Green Scientist will become smarter and more powerful. Until one day, the inevitable will happen; There will be a Green Mad Scientist. The Green Mad Scientist will then try to take over the world. The Green Mad Scientists will make Green Monsters that will terrorize humanity, but be good for the environment.

These Green Mad Scientists will start working with Green Artificial Intelligence. The Green Artificial Intelligence will develop more adaptable, more specific, and smarter shades of color Green.

These smart shades of the color Green will become smarter and smarter until, one day...there will be super intelligent shades of the color Green wanting to take over the world.

So beware of Green Engineering and the inevitable super intelligent shades of the color Green.

(With apologizes to Douglas Adams and Tthe Hitchhikers Guide to the Galaxy" and to the Super Intelligent shades of the color Blue. You're super intelligent, but not as super intelligent as the super intelligent shades of the color Green.)

Obligatory mention of NI, LabWindows CVI, Test Engineering, and even LabVIEW. I'll write about you all next week.

Friday, August 8, 2008

What I learned at NIWeek

While I could say what I learned about FPGAs or LabVIEW I know that's not the most important lesson I learned. On the last day of NIWeek Andrew Hargadon spoke on "Green Entrepreneurship" ...more or less. He really spoke on Innovation but he told NI he would speak on Green so he could get on the stage at NIWeek.

His talk made me think; It made me think about thinking, about using my brain, about getting things moving in an innovative way, not a new way, but a different, better way.

And that's what I like about National Instruments and NIWeek. Not that there's new products that are Smaller, Better, Faster than the older products. It's about innovation, taking things known, re-combining them, and making something better and getting it out there.

I'm not a LabVIEW fan, I may have said that before, but I am a fan of the innovation of LabVIEW. Dr. James Truchard, Jeff Kodosky, and Bill Nowlin combined the computer, programming, and graphics into LabVIEW, an innovative graphical programming product. It's more than just the Test, the Software, or the Hardware aspects of NI, it's the innovation.

To me, innovation is the whole point of NIWeek, the Innovative thoughts behind the new products. NIWeek inspires me to be innovative, combine old things into new, better things. It get's me thinking along different lines, about more than Test, Software, or Hardware, it's about what can be, about more.

The Experience of NIWeek and the products showcased are great. And it's a good way to get everyone together, to network, and focus on test. But, at least to me, it's much bigger than that. NI Week is like Disney world is to a child. Disney World makes kids imagine what could be. And that's me with NIWeek, I'm imagining what can be.

Now I need to move past the kid in me, and move the imagination to innovation. The next step.

Thursday, August 7, 2008

NI Week - Day 3

NIWeek 2009

First, the NI Week block party was great fun last night. The band was great, the food was great, and everyone there had fun. Whomever didn't go, missed out! A lot of the people wound up on 6th street after that. It was a great night!

It's the last day of NIWeek and I'm sad that it's over. I went to the last of the seminars, I always enjoy learning more. I will admit that my mind is getting tired. Or maybe it's from only getting about 5 hours sleep.

Today, I learned some about TestStand, more about FPGAs, and about DAQmx synchronization. I feel good about everything I learned, especially the FPGAs and DAQ information.

The new NI PXIe5673 is a very cool device since you can use it to generate a test GPS signal. We won't need the Spirent thing to generate a GPS tests anymore.

All in all, it was a great week. It was good to see the NI people that I know, especially Wendy and Santiago. It was good to see Luis was still working hard on CVI, keeping it better than LabVIEW.

But now it's good to be home, see the kids, and I look forward to sleeping in my own bed.

I can't wait until NI Week 2009. I'm planning on going even if it's just on an Expo Pass for a day. Remember, it's only 362 days away!

Wednesday, August 6, 2008

NIWeek - Day 2

Another day of Fun and Frolic at NIWeek. I'm getting a lot of good information again today, but it's not as good as yesterday because there's no CVI sessions. Somehow I'll survive no CVI today...I think.

The keynote started the morning off really well. My favorite news was that NI allows different OSs to run on separate cores. That means you can have RT running on one core and Windows running a User Interface on the other core.

After that it's all a blur of LabVIEW, FPGA, DAQmx, and some TestStand thrown in. There are a lot of really nice features in LabVIEW FPGA that make it really flexible and usable. I learned some about DAQmx data streaming and I got to hear the TestStand roadmap for the next couple of years.

I really beleive NI is doing a really good job of developing new and innovative products. But I think what NI does best is listening to their customers. They do VERY well at asking what the customer wants and showing the customer what is coming up and asking "Is this something you would use". Of course, half the time, we customers don't know what we would use until we actually get to use it.

"The futures so bright I've got to wear shades" to re-use lyrics from a song. NI should be wearing shades!

Tuesday, August 5, 2008

NIWeek - Day 1

What a great day! Keynote this morning was very good. CVI information was great! (see end of the blog) NI Rolled out LabVIEW 8.6 with cool new features that even I may use! The auto complete for LabVIEW VI's is nice and keeps you from mousing through the pallets. Of course you have to know the VIs name so those of us who know "Modulo" rather that "Quotient & Remainder" or with DAQmx where some name differences start around the 30th character may still have some trouble.

I went to a LabVIEW FPGA seminar and it's continuing to evolve and getting more and more powerful.

I went to a seminar on Intelligent control because AI is my hobby. It sounds as if LabVIEW may have some Intelligent control vi's coming out. More details to come.

Joel [Garner] and Travis [I-dont-know-his-last-name] put together a get together talking about new FPGA stuff. It's some good information.

But the highlight of my day was CVI. There was a lot of good CVI information between the CVI round table discussions at lunch, the using multi-core seminar, and the CVI Users group. Wendy [Logan] and Luis [Gomes] did a good job of talking about the future of CVI. They emphasized CVI will be around for a long time to come. But then again, most of us have heard that over and over. Plus they have some good, forward thinking plans for CVI. The only down side was the CVI demo, where they were destroying a CD, was flinging shrapnel and so they wouldn't run it live.

Also, you (yes you!) can sign up to get a beta copy of CVI 9.0 by going to Wendy only mentioned it at every slide and two or three on times on some slides.

CVI...Learn it...Love it...Live it!

OK, I'm tired and getting a bit little loopy.

Monday, August 4, 2008

NI Week - Day 0

Tonight was the first night of NI Week. Just the meet and greet and get to know the Expo floor. There was only one CVI display, but of course it was great. They were stress testing CD's by spinning them up until it disintegrates which, of course, is cool! It was Good to see Wendy (Logan) again, Queen of LabWindows CVI. She is energetic as always. And CVI is exciting as always.

It was also good to see Santiago Delgado, king of TestStand. He always amazes me. Tonight he was playing the guitar at a LabVIEW sound demo...and he was VERY good.

I did get to go to 6th Street, heard some good music and drank some beer. There were a lot of obvious NIWeek participants out tonight (Nerds). I'm excited about Tuesday, the first full day of NI least for me.

To everyone not here, your missing some good stuff!

Sunday, August 3, 2008

NI Week! Nerdvana

Nerdvana - State of total geekdom.

It's NI Week, I'm in Bastrop with a friend and I'll move over to Austin tomorrow. I'm very excited about the start of NIWeek, I will be in Nerdvana!

Most of my friends think this is nerdy, that I'm excited about going, and it may be. However, it's a great networking and learning opportunity. They go to their industry own conferences and networking opportunities, but "Market-vana" doesn't sound that good. Most of them are in sales and marketing and, to them, everything is a networking opportunity.

NIWeek is a time to live immerse myself in Test, Software, Hardware, and like minded people. A time to become one with Test, a time to reach...