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We Are Losing our Abilities as Troubleshooters in the Same Way We Are Losing Our Leadership as Innovators

A recent breakdown of a friend’s vehicle made me really start thinking about America’s troubleshooting capabilities. It is a well-known fact that America is losing its leadership as innovators; however, our ability as troubleshooters is in jeopardy as well. Like innovation, this is due in part to foreign competition. As with the rest of the world, this is also due in part to the increase in technology in today’s products.

It’s no secret that as products gain intelligence, the ability for the average Joe to troubleshoot them gets more difficult. What was once solved with a voltage gauge, ammeter, continuity tester, and timing light is now left to software and logic that’s buried so deep, one can’t see beyond the many layers of technology between your view from the outside and the actual problem. Case in point is the breakdown I referred to at the opening of this blog.

The vehicle that broke down would turn over nicely and not fire. The mechanic inquired as to whether any abrupt bumps or contact with an object occurred. I knew what he was thinking. Perhaps the vehicle had killed the fuel pump due to a jarring motion. This is a safety feature that is built in so your fuel pump doesn’t keep pumping fuel in case you are in an accident and a fire occurs. Typically an accelerometer senses impact due to a rapid deceleration in the same manner deceleration triggers an air bag. You could hear the fuel pump working to a point where it primed when the key was turned to a run position. Therefore, I didn’t think the fuel safety shut off had been triggered.

Sure enough, the initial diagnosis came back as, “The ignition control module indicated a problem. It had to be replaced to see if the coil was bad.”

Really? So you just start with a basic code indication of the ignition control module, replace that, and then start looking down the line for further issues? Why not look at the components down the line instead of charging $150 for the module and $150 of labor to install it? Couldn’t about $300 in potentially useless troubleshooting be saved if the coil was tested for receiving a pulse and sparking accordingly? Even a quick continuity check might be a better solution. This is basic troubleshooting that has become a lost American skill.

You can see the problem here if you look. Today’s technicians are limited to the results on the diagnostic tool. They have lost the ability to think beyond that. The same goes for the parts people at most auto parts dealers. If the computer can’t find it, the part doesn’t exist? Really? That’s why I go beyond these keyboard cowboys to the grizzled old parts person who knows how to bird dog through the catalogs to get the part I need.

Another example of the dumbing down of troubleshooting recently occurred when I asked Walmart to check my fluids. Figuring it would take about twenty minutes I walked over to an adjacent fast food restaurant (if you can call it that) and ate. Upon returning, my vehicle was still on the rack because the mechanic didn’t have a square socket to loosen the plug on the transmission. I inquired as to whether he had an open end wrench or a crescent wrench. He replied with embarrassment that he had never encountered a square plug in this day in age of fasteners at or above hexagonal shapes. Now this guy looked like a cross between Goober and Gomer pile. In other words, he wasn’t the brightest crayon in the box. However, I blame his education more than his lack of intelligence. We are skipping the most basic troubleshooting skills and going right to the advanced technology and code reading evaluations in our automotive schools in addition to the mechanic shops.

Maybe I’ll open my own school with vintage machinery in order to once again instill the basics of mechanics in today’s youth. Then again maybe I’ll just require mechanics to learn the way I did. If you can’t fix it or rebuild it, you don’t drive. This meant a lot more when I was forty miles on in the desert four wheeling. I learned quickly that if I didn’t build it right in the driveway or perform the proper maintenance while all of my tools were close at hand, I didn’t stand a chance at fixing in in the field. Last I knew, cacti didn’t produce ignition parts and computer programs only provide a hint at what the problem might be. The real diagnosis is in the ability to troubleshoot.

22 comments on “We Are Losing our Abilities as Troubleshooters in the Same Way We Are Losing Our Leadership as Innovators

  1. mclaine
    August 17, 2016

    Being able to troubleshoot often requires a certain amount of experience. One of the reasons for many European companies to avoid purchasing high-tech products like FPGA boards from US companies is the fast turn-around of employees in those companies. If you require application support for a 2-year development project followed by a 10-year field support phase you must calculate at least 4 changes of the support engineer. Every change requires a training period for the new engineer on the product and on your specific application. At the end you are teaching the engineer his own product. We have experiened that several times.

     

  2. willddcatt
    August 17, 2016

    Long gone away old school abilities have died with their creators technical knowledge is now compartmentalised I was in the 4th grade elementary school my father showed me how to rebuild Plymouth V8 that was the beginning of knowledge that was shared not written down he was a WW2 Aviator and grew up on a farm was driving a school bus when he was in the 6th grade the technical knowledge of troubleshooting and now begun afterlife long abilities that are gone forever from the world of old school thinking we didn't need a computer to make something or rebuild something which is basic principles that have been depleted now in the general populace troubleshooting needs to start with technical abilities in our society in other words we need to fix the fixer

  3. willddcatt
    August 17, 2016

    Long gone away old school abilities have died with their creators technical knowledge is now compartmentalised I was in the 4th grade elementary school my father showed me how to rebuild Plymouth V8 that was the beginning of knowledge that was shared not written down he was a WW2 Aviator and grew up on a farm was driving a school bus when he was in the 6th grade the technical knowledge of troubleshooting and now begun afterlife long abilities that are gone forever from the world of old school thinking we didn't need a computer to make something or rebuild something which is basic principles that have been depleted now in the general populace troubleshooting needs to start with technical abilities in our society in other words we need to fix the fixer

  4. uberestimate
    August 17, 2016

    Yup! Because for Troubleshoot you have good experience to resolve the PC problems. 

     

  5. Effective-Technical-Writing dot com
    August 17, 2016

    Thank you for your feedback.  Schooling is one skill in troubleshooting as is the benefit of diagnostic software however nothing speaks for experience.  I came out of a top notch graduate program at a time when China was only allowing a certain amount of talent into the US.  The numbers I remember at the time were 1% went to high school, 1% of those went to college, 1% of those went to a Chinese graduate school, 1% of those went to the US to study.  In other words, I was competing with absolute geniuses.  Still, the lack of equipment in China meant that the practical skills were lacking.  For example, knowing that a 50 ohm impedance on the input of an impedance analyzer couldn't handle more than a certain amount of voltage was not second nature.  This resulted in blowing the front end out of the test equipment.  In the same manner, my engineering experience started with equations and not just sitting down at a bench and figuring it out; a skill which I always envied in Jim Williams.  The main point is that knowledge does not always equate to experience. 

    That being said, I want to address a recent experience where I sat down with an Italian national who had been an apprentice in Italy.  He described how it had really given him an insider's view of the reality of the job.  Having an experienced mentor was by far the best way to learn and gain experience.  In fact, I think a blog about mentorship in my past would be beneficial.  As usual, I would solicit input from others as this is a subject that would benefit from a variety of contributors.  In order to properly close this paragraph, I can see the disconnect between the European desire for stable, long term talent, and the US tendency that the only way to advance is to job jump.  I don't know if any US companies have ever done the math as to the overall cost for retraining and losing talent however I can bet that the bean counters think it's better to starve out talent at 2-3% increase per year and then hire younger when the experienced people hit the glass ceiling.  Seeing how the cost of living advances at higher percentages, the workers become worth less; or as management views it worthless.  Either way, turnover is encouraged.  Few people last 25 years these days and even if you do, you're always looking over your shoulder.  Many companies will say that their greatest asset is their people however practicing this principal has become a lost art.  As the experience bleeds away, so does the ability to troubleshoot and solve the problem quickly (which in the end, costs more time and expense). 

    My final input on this is that waiting five years for a third week of vacation is crazy.  The one reason my creativity has improved vastly is that I get to set my own schedule and focus when necessary.  The constant pressure and treadmill of corporate America are counterproductive.  I believe I have avoided many stress related illnesses by scheduling my own time and spreading relaxation throughout my week rather than a week off every 3-6 months.  I have also been able to spend time on my physical fitness and now have fully expanded lungs and three weeks shy of 55, I'm in the best shape of my life and challenging my soon to be 21 year old son to out-bench him on my birthday.  None of this would have occurred had I not taken control of my schedule and arranged it so that I was more productive and creative.  Sure a company must realize a return on investment for salary however that must equate to profit.  I am much more profitable due to creativity than I am due to following marching orders and writing reports about what I have done than just doing it.  I've proven that even if it's in avoiding medical bills that result from stress and confinement of creativity.  

  6. Effective-Technical-Writing dot com
    August 17, 2016

    Thank you for your feedback.  Schooling is one skill in troubleshooting as is the benefit of diagnostic software however nothing speaks for experience.  I came out of a top notch graduate program at a time when China was only allowing a certain amount of talent into the US.  The numbers I remember at the time were 1% went to high school, 1% of those went to college, 1% of those went to a Chinese graduate school, 1% of those went to the US to study.  In other words, I was competing with absolute geniuses.  Still, the lack of equipment in China meant that the practical skills were lacking.  For example, knowing that a 50 ohm impedance on the input of an impedance analyzer couldn't handle more than a certain amount of voltage was not second nature.  This resulted in blowing the front end out of the test equipment.  In the same manner, my engineering experience started with equations and not just sitting down at a bench and figuring it out; a skill which I always envied in Jim Williams.  The main point is that knowledge does not always equate to experience. 

    That being said, I want to address a recent experience where I sat down with an Italian national who had been an apprentice in Italy.  He described how it had really given him an insider's view of the reality of the job.  Having an experienced mentor was by far the best way to learn and gain experience.  In fact, I think a blog about mentorship in my past would be beneficial.  As usual, I would solicit input from others as this is a subject that would benefit from a variety of contributors.  In order to properly close this paragraph, I can see the disconnect between the European desire for stable, long term talent, and the US tendency that the only way to advance is to job jump.  I don't know if any US companies have ever done the math as to the overall cost for retraining and losing talent however I can bet that the bean counters think it's better to starve out talent at 2-3% increase per year and then hire younger when the experienced people hit the glass ceiling.  Seeing how the cost of living advances at higher percentages, the workers become worth less; or as management views it worthless.  Either way, turnover is encouraged.  Few people last 25 years these days and even if you do, you're always looking over your shoulder.  Many companies will say that their greatest asset is their people however practicing this principal has become a lost art.  As the experience bleeds away, so does the ability to troubleshoot and solve the problem quickly (which in the end, costs more time and expense). 

    My final input on this is that waiting five years for a third week of vacation is crazy.  The one reason my creativity has improved vastly is that I get to set my own schedule and focus when necessary.  The constant pressure and treadmill of corporate America are counterproductive.  I believe I have avoided many stress related illnesses by scheduling my own time and spreading relaxation throughout my week rather than a week off every 3-6 months.  I have also been able to spend time on my physical fitness and now have fully expanded lungs and three weeks shy of 55, I'm in the best shape of my life and challenging my soon to be 21 year old son to out-bench him on my birthday.  None of this would have occurred had I not taken control of my schedule and arranged it so that I was more productive and creative.  Sure a company must realize a return on investment for salary however that must equate to profit.  I am much more profitable due to creativity than I am due to following marching orders and writing reports about what I have done than just doing it.  I've proven that even if it's in avoiding medical bills that result from stress and confinement of creativity.  

  7. Paul Bryson
    August 17, 2016

     “It is a well-known fact that America is losing its leadership as innovators;”

    I would argue that this is neither “well known” nor a “fact”; but simply the opinion of the author – one that I do not share.

  8. Effective-Technical-Writing dot com
    August 17, 2016

    Google this about American leadership loss, “

    Jeff Daniels tells why America isn't the greatest country in the world.”

  9. KB6NU
    August 17, 2016

    Maybe we're also losing o(u)r abilty to find typos in headlines! 🙂

  10. Paul Bryson
    August 17, 2016

    Instead of an argument you make an appeal to authority, and it's the opinion of a fictional character in a TV show?

    And ironically, the speech you reference doesn't even mention innovation – which is the issue under discussion.

  11. David Ashton
    August 17, 2016

    A testament to your theory is the number of TVs that end up in landfill every year, when all they need is a couple of electroytics replaced in the power supply.  Laws mandating repairability would be good.

     

  12. David Ashton
    August 17, 2016

    The second and third posts in this thread have been posted twice.  Guys, it's easy to fix this.  If you're signed in, under your post will be an Edit/Delete link.  Click it and you get to edit your post.  At the bottom are an update button and a link “Delete this Message”.  Click that and the duplicate post will be deleted.  

  13. Effective-Technical-Writing dot com
    August 17, 2016

    Here's the proof.  The video I referenced earlier defines the root of the problem in the areas where the US no longer leads…..like patents.

     Google the Top US Patent receipients.  I can't post a link or the text and get past the filters.

  14. Effective-Technical-Writing dot com
    August 17, 2016

    2015[edit]

    1. IBM, headquartered in Armonk, New York
    2. Samsung Electronics Co., headquartered in Suwon, Korea
    3. Canon Kabushiki Kaisha, headquartered in Tokyo, Japan
    4. QUALCOMM INC.
    5. GOOGLE, INC.
    6. Toshiba Corporation, headquartered in Tokyo, Japan
    7. Sony Corporation, headquartered in Tokyo, Japan
    8. LG ELECTRONICS INC., headquartered in Seoul, Korea
    9. Intel Corporation, headquartered in Santa Clara, California
    10. Microsoft Corporation, headquartered in Redmond, Washington

    2014[edit]

    1. 7481 patents to IBM, headquartered in Armonk, New York
    2. 4936 patents to Samsung Electronics Co., headquartered in Suwon, Korea
    3. 4048 patents to Canon Kabushiki Kaisha, headquartered in Tokyo, Japan
    4. 3214 patents to Sony Corporation, headquartered in Tokyo, Japan
    5. 2829 patents to Microsoft Corporation, headquartered in Redmond, Washington
    6. 2586 patents to QUALCOMM INC.
    7. 2566 patents to GOOGLE, INC.
    8. 2537 patents to Toshiba Corporation, headquartered in Tokyo, Japan
    9. 2119 patents to LG ELECTRONICS INC., headquartered in Seoul, Korea
    10. 2079 patents to Matsushita Electric Industrial Co., Ltd., headquartered in Kadoma, Osaka, Japan

    2013[edit]

    1. 6788 patents to IBM, headquartered in Armonk, New York
    2. 4652 patents to Samsung Electronics Co., headquartered in Suwon, Korea
    3. 3820 patents to Canon Kabushiki Kaisha, headquartered in Tokyo, Japan
    4. 3073 patents to Sony Corporation, headquartered in Tokyo, Japan
    5. 2659 patents to Microsoft Corporation, headquartered in Redmond, Washington,
    6. 2582 patents to Matsushita Electric Industrial Co., Ltd., headquartered in Kadoma, Osaka, Japan
    7. 2365 patents to Toshiba Corporation, headquartered in Tokyo, Japan
    8. 2103 patents to QUALCOMM INC.
    9. 1945 patents to LG ELECTRONICS INC., headquartered in Seoul, Korea
    10. 1851 patents to GOOGLE, INC.

    2012[edit]

    1. 6478 patents to IBM, headquartered in Armonk, New York
    2. 5043 patents to Samsung Electronics Co., headquartered in Suwon, Korea
    3. 3173 patents to Canon Kabushiki Kaisha, headquartered in Tokyo, Japan
    4. 3017 patents to Sony Corporation, headquartered in Tokyo, Japan
    5. 2748 patents to Matsushita Electric Industrial Co., Ltd., headquartered in Kadoma, Osaka, Japan
    6. 2610 patents to Microsoft Corporation, headquartered in Redmond, Washington,
    7. 2415 patents to Toshiba Corporation, headquartered in Tokyo, Japan
    8. 1650 patents to General Electric Company, headquartered in Schenectady, New York
    9. 1617 patents to LG ELECTRONICS INC., headquartered in Seoul, Korea
    10. 1527 patents to Fujitsu Limited, headquartered in Tokyo

    2011[edit]

    1. 6148 patents to IBM, headquartered in Armonk, New York
    2. 4968 patents to Samsung Electronics Co., headquartered in Suwon, Korea
    3. 2818 patents to Canon Kabushiki Kaisha, headquartered in Tokyo, Japan
    4. 2533 patents to Matsushita Electric Industrial Co., Ltd., headquartered in Kadoma, Osaka, Japan
    5. 2451 patents to Toshiba Corporation, headquartered in Tokyo, Japan
    6. 2309 patents to Microsoft Corporation, headquartered in Redmond, Washington,
    7. 2265 patents to Sony Corporation, headquartered in Tokyo, Japan
    8. 1525 patents to SEIKO EPSON CORPORATION
    9. 1455 patents to Hitachi, Ltd., headquartered in Tokyo
    10. 1444 patents to General Electric Company, headquartered in Schenectady, New York

    2010[edit]

    1. 5866 patents to IBM, headquartered in Armonk, New York
    2. 4518 patents to Samsung Electronics Co., headquartered in Suwon, Korea
    3. 3086 patents to Microsoft Corporation, headquartered in Redmond, Washington,
    4. 2551 patents to Canon Kabushiki Kaisha, headquartered in Tokyo, Japan
    5. 2443 patents to Matsushita Electric Industrial Co., Ltd., headquartered in Kadoma, Osaka, Japan
    6. 2212 patents to Toshiba Corporation, headquartered in Tokyo, Japan
    7. 2130 patents to Sony Corporation, headquartered in Tokyo, Japan
    8. 1652 patents to Intel Corporation, headquartered in Santa Clara, California
    9. 1488 patents to LG ELECTRONICS INC., headquartered in Seoul, Korea
    10. 1480 patents to Hewlett-Packard, headquartered in Palo Alto, California

    2009[edit]

    1. 4887 patents to IBM, headquartered in Armonk, New York
    2. 3592 patents to Samsung Electronics Co., headquartered in Daegu, Korea
    3. 2901 patents to Microsoft Corporation, headquartered in Redmond, Washington,
    4. 2200 patents to Canon Kabushiki Kaisha, headquartered in Tokyo, Japan
    5. 1759 patents to Matsushita Electric Industrial Co., Ltd., headquartered in Kadoma, Osaka, Japan
    6. 1669 patents to Toshiba Corporation, headquartered in Tokyo, Japan
    7. 1656 patents to Sony Corporation, headquartered in Tokyo, Japan
    8. 1534 patents to Intel Corporation, headquartered in Santa Clara, California
    9. 1328 patents to SEIKO EPSON CORPORATION
    10. 1269 patents to Hewlett-Packard, headquartered in Palo Alto, California

    2008[edit]

    1. 4169 patents to IBM, headquartered in Armonk, New York
    2. 3502 patents to Samsung Electronics Co., headquartered in Daegu, Korea
    3. 2107 patents to Canon Kabushiki Kaisha, headquartered in Tokyo, Japan
    4. 2026 patents to Microsoft Corporation
    5. 1772 patents to Intel Corporation, headquartered in Santa Clara, California
    6. 1575 patents to Toshiba Corporation, headquartered in Tokyo
    7. 1475 patents to Fujitsu Limited, headquartered in Tokyo
    8. 1469 patents to Matsushita Electric Industrial Co., Ltd., headquartered in Kadoma, Osaka, Japan
    9. 1461 patents to Sony Corporation
    10. 1422 patents to Hewlett-Packard, headquartered in Palo Alto, California

    2007[edit]

    1. 3125 patents to IBM, headquartered in Armonk, New York, USA
    2. 2723 patents to Samsung Electronics Co., headquartered in Daegu, Korea
    3. 1983 patents to Canon Kabushiki Kaisha, headquartered in Tokyo, Japan
    4. 1910 patents to Matsushita Electric Industrial Co., Ltd., headquartered in Kadoma, Osaka, Japan
    5. 1864 patents to Intel Corporation, headquartered in Santa Clara, California
    6. 1637 patents to Microsoft Corporation
    7. 1519 patents to Toshiba Corporation, headquartered in Tokyo
    8. 1476 patents to Micron Technology, headquartered in Boise, Idaho
    9. 1466 patents to Hewlett-Packard, headquartered in Palo Alto, California
    10. 1455 patents to Sony Corporation

    2006[edit]

    1. 3621 patents to IBM, headquartered in Armonk, New York
    2. 2451 patents to Samsung Electronics Co., headquartered in Daegu, Korea
    3. 2366 patents to Canon Kabushiki Kaisha, headquartered in Tokyo, Japan
    4. 2229 patents to Matsushita Electric Industrial Co., Ltd., headquartered in Kadoma, Osaka, Japan
    5. 2099 patents to Hewlett-Packard, headquartered in Palo Alto, California
    6. 1959 patents to Intel Corporation, headquartered in Santa Clara, California
    7. 1771 patents to Sony Corporation
    8. 1732 patents to Hitachi, Ltd., headquartered in Tokyo
    9. 1672 patents to Toshiba Corporation, headquartered in Tokyo
    10. 1610 patents to Micron Technology, headquartered in Boise, Idaho, USA

    2005[edit]

    1. 2203 patents to IBM, headquartered in Armonk, New York, USA
    2. 1828 patents to Canon Kabushiki Kaisha, headquartered in Tokyo, Japan
    3. 1797 patents to Hewlett-Packard, headquartered in Palo Alto, California, USA
    4. 1688 patents to Matsushita Electric Industrial Co., Ltd., headquartered in Kadoma, Osaka, Japan
    5. 1641 patents to Samsung Electronics Co., headquartered in Daegu, Korea
    6. 1561 patents to Micron Technology, headquartered in Boise, Idaho
    7. 1549 patents to Intel Corporation, headquartered in Santa Clara, California
    8. 1271 patents to Hitachi, Ltd., headquartered in Tokyo
    9. 1258 patents to Toshiba Corporation, headquartered in Tokyo
    10. 1154 patents to Fujitsu Limited, headquartered in Tokyo

    2004[edit]

    1. 3248 patents to IBM
    2. 1934 patents to Matsushita Electric Industrial Co., Ltd.
    3. 1805 patents to Canon Kabushiki Kaisha
    4. 1775 patents to Hewlett-Packard
    5. 1760 patents to Micron Technology
    6. 1604 patents to Samsung Electronics Co.
    7. 1601 patents to Intel Corporation
    8. 1514 patents to Hitachi, Ltd.
    9. 1310 patents to Toshiba Corporation
    10. 1305 patents to Sony Corporation

    2003[edit]

    1. 3415 patents to IBM
    2. 1992 patents to Canon Kabushiki Kaisha
    3. 1893 patents to Hitachi, Ltd.
    4. 1786 patents to Matsushita Electric Industrial Co.
    5. 1759 patents to Hewlett-Packard
    6. 1707 patents to Micron Technology
    7. 1592 patents to Intel Corporation
    8. 1353 patents to Royal Philips Electronics
    9. 1313 patents to Samsung Electronics Co.
    10. 1311 patents to Sony Corporation

    2002[edit]

    1. 3288 patents to IBM
    2. 1893 patents to Canon Kabushiki Kaisha
    3. 1833 patents to Micron Technology
    4. 1821 patents to NEC Corporation
    5. 1601 patents to Hitachi, Ltd.
    6. 1544 patents to Matsushita Electric Industrial Co.
    7. 1434 patents to Sony Corporation
    8. 1416 patents to General Electric Company
    9. 1373 patents to Mitsubishi Denki K.K.
    10. 1328 patents to Samsung Electronics

    2001[edit]

    1. 3411 patents to IBM
    2. 1953 patents to NEC Corporation
    3. 1877 patents to Canon Kabushiki Kaisha
    4. 1643 patents to Micron Technology
    5. 1450 patents to Samsung Electronics
    6. 1440 patents to Matsushita Electric Industrial Co.
    7. 1363 patents to Sony Corporation
    8. 1271 patents to Hitachi, Ltd.
    9. 1184 patents to Mitsubishi Denki K.K
    10. 1166 patents to Fujitsu, headquartered in Tokyo

    2000[edit]

    1. 2886 patents to IBM
    2. 2021 patents to NEC Corporation
    3. 1890 patents to Canon Kabushiki Kaisha
    4. 1441 patents to Samsung Electronics
    5. 1411 patents to Lucent Technologies
    6. 1385 patents to Sony Corporation
    7. 1304 patents to Micron Technology
    8. 1232 patents to Toshiba
    9. 1196 patents to Motorola
    10. 1147 patents to Fujitsu

    1999[edit]

    1. 2756 patents to IBM
    2. 1842 patents to NEC Corporation
    3. 1795 patents to Canon Kabushiki Kaisha
    4. 1545 patents to Samsung Electronics
    5. 1410 patents to Sony Corporation
    6. 1200 patents to Toshiba
    7. 1192 patents to Fujitsu
    8. 1192 patents to Motorola
    9. 1152 patents to Lucent Technologies
    10. 1054 patents to Mitsubishi Denki K.K.

    1998[edit]

    1. 2657 patents to IBM
    2. 1928 patents to Canon Kabushiki Kaisha
    3. 1627 patents to NEC Corporation
    4. 1406 patents to Motorola
    5. 1316 patents to Sony Corporation
    6. 1304 patents to Samsung Electronics
    7. 1189 patents to Fujitsu
    8. 1170 patents to Toshiba
    9. 1124 patents to Eastman Kodak Co.
    10. 1094 patents to Hitachi, Ltd.

    1997[edit]

    1. 1724 patents to IBM
    2. 1381 patents to Canon Kabushiki Kaisha
    3. 1095 patents to NEC Corporation
    4. 1058 patents to Motorola
    5. 903 patents to Fujitsu
    6. 903 patents to Hitachi, Ltd.
    7. 892 patents to Mitsubishi Denki K.K
    8. 862 patents to Toshiba
    9. 859 patents to Sony Corporation
    10. 795 patents to Eastman Kodak Co.
  15. gael54
    August 18, 2016

    It is true that the leadership must be combined with other qualities for a project manager

  16. vbiancomano
    August 18, 2016

    There's an old saying that you can't throw money at education. Well, you can't throw technology at education, either. Technology can empower; it can also incapacitate, and the greatest leaders know when to push ahead and when to back off with technology. But capitalism is the businessman's prime mover, and so the odds are dwindling of coming across a consumer who knows where to find the dipstick to check oil levels (if indeed it's still provided) or how to change a tire.

    Also in short supply are school kids who know how to do basic addition and multiplication in their heads (i.e., without needing a calculator). The nation needs to change in many ways, and getting back to basics is fundamental to that change. But it's a long shot now because “turning back the clock” is considered politically incorrect—-and isn't a money maker.

  17. Effective-Technical-Writing dot com
    August 19, 2016

    Recently a young man of about 9 was riding in my Scout and requested to roll the window up.  It had never occurred to me that this particular generation was born into power windows as standard.  To them, a window crank is new.  Also, a woman I know said her kids are amazed at the rotary dial phone that is still functioning in her mother's home. 

  18. Navelpluis
    August 21, 2016

    Hi Scott,

    Thanks for this post and your time to compose your writing.

    I have to admit that the same situation is going on here in Europe. One bad reason I give you and a couple of positive ones that the situation is not that bad.

    §1 Development Software

    What a piece of crap. Have you ever tried to start programming FPGA's? Your time in taming the tool v.s. your problem you want to solve is a 3:1. The bigger the FPGA, the larger the problems. These tools are not-at-all intuitive. And not to mention what would happen with bigger projects and one engineer leaves for the other to take over. I have seen this mentioned in the posts: Indeed a tremendous problem. But what about the tools themselves, the changes, and all the new (unknown) trouble they introduce? I guarantee you that a new brandname of FPGA's, with a 12 year old level explanatory, good intuitive software will take over the market at a lower level immediately. Just as Microchip did when they came out with the PIC16C54. Extremely simple spec, good ASM compiler and you always had the feeling that you have your code inside your pocket.

    §2 History

    Schools can use following links to create a combination of historic, mathematical and mechanical learning:

    Google: Cryptomuseum enigma   –> Coding machine during the war, all known variants!

    Google: nonstopsystems hellschreiber   –> The first fax machine during the war, wow !!

    It can be done, but teachers must be motivated for this. And let me tell you that you don't cure education problems with money: You only cure them with motivated teachers and the least least least management above them (consuming all the money 😉

     

  19. Victor Lorenzo
    August 21, 2016

    @Paul, I come from a small country where, by needs and own national character, many of us became DIY, innovators and troubleshooters. I made myself almost all of my first tools including the soldering gun, screw drivers, all sort of cutters, signal generator, signal tracer for repairing amplifiers and radios, and so on, with the exception of the multimeter (used my father's) and the pliers (also my father's).

    In past years I have seen how the number of “amazing” and innovative designs, products, applications and devices coming from U.S. companies and entepreneurs have declined. The european and russian DIY communities are now very active.

    It also share Scott's personal opinion.

    Maybe Scott could delve a little bit into this subject using statistics from crowd funding and other information sources.

  20. D Feucht
    August 22, 2016

    Scott,

    Your comments are right on target.

    Living in Belize, I have a choice of vehicles that does not exist in the U.S. – namely the Indian pick-up truck made by Mahindra. The timing in the four-cylinder diesel engine is all mechanical. The vehicle is priced at half that of a comparable Toyota.  I have had no trouible with it through the first 10,000 km, and people down here can fix it by thinking.

    Similarly, in electronics, I prefer open-source products for which adequate information is available to fix them. Provisions for field repair are low in priority nowadays as a design criterion. Board-level replacement has replaced component-level diagnosis and repair. The consequence is that cost of ownership has increased, despite any reduction in selling prices.

  21. Effective-Technical-Writing dot com
    August 23, 2016

    To me software is a whole entity in itself.  I bypassed it for the most part (although I did get a Computer Science minor).  I learn just enough to be dangerous and to get my task accomplished.  I remember Business Students having pages and pages of Cobolt program printouts spread across the floor looking for the one line of code that was causing the hang up.  This has improved somewhat with screens, especially split screens and multiple screens.  Still, if I couldn't physically put a probe on it then I didn't have a real feel for the road.  So what happened next?  The high level of integration buried the function internally where I couldn't probe it.  Sometimes ya just can't win. 

    Recently I had a glitch in my Scout where it was running poorly like it did when it had a bad plug wire.  I went all through the plug wires, cap, rotor, points, plugs, and performed a compression test.  Nothing was an indication however the compression is showing age.  I then looked down into the carburetor while the vehicle was running and sure enough, there was a drip, drip, drip coming into the driver's side venturi.  When I opened up the carburator, there was a restriction partially blocking the associated jet.  A blockage should have been restricting fuel instead of increasing it from a logical standpoint.  I removed the blockage and now it runs well however my gas mileage is way down.  Next on the list is to go back to a (Holley) #25 nozzle from a #31.  If that doesn't work, I'm going from size 51 jets to size 49.  I live at 8200 feet so I think I need to lean it down.  We'll see what the plugs and tailpipe look like after another tank of gas or two.

     

  22. Effective-Technical-Writing dot com
    August 23, 2016

    You might be interested in my July 26 blog on the EMP Pulse.  I would provide you with a link however they are filtered from responses here.  

    That blog was about how the pulse might take out sensitive electronics and leave only point based ignitions functioning.

    I hear there is a “one wire” Cummins diesel out there that only requires an ignition wire.  That might be the best solution for an uncomplicated upgrade.

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