GM’s Closed Loop Set The Standards For The Industry


At the General Motors Power Train division, five casting plants pour a total of 26,000 blocks, 26,000 transmission cases, and 40,000 heads each day. The parts aren’t all the same. To make them quickly and accurately requires the most agile technologies available.

From Mike Edington’s perspective, GM accomplishes this by combining one of the world’s best privately owned global networks and home-grown mathematical wizardry with commercially available three-dimensional CAD software, LAN products, and client/server technologies. But Edington, the top IT executive for casting, could easily add a four- letter word to the formula: r-i-s-k–and the company’s willingness to continuously stalk the cutting edge of computer technology.

Now here’s what lies ahead: GM’s developing sensoring devices and special software that will allow it to collect data from each manufacturing cell, measure the performance of each tool or machine in the cell, and chart all of it on a computer in real time.

GM is also planning to replace its costly, …


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Is It Necessary To Hire Data Recovery Expert?

One of the things we haven’t really looked at lately is hard disk health. Let’s face it, we all have hard drives, and yet most of us don’t really have a plan in case they fail. And the issue is, of course, that they do. Every single day. When you least expect it. Which is exactly why I thought it was necessary to point this out to my readers. I’ve lost data before, and let me tell you, it’s a hard, hard thing.

Attempting to recover files that you have accidentally deleted may do further damage to your hard drive even if you have an idea how to go about it. You need to keep in mind that data loss may be due to a number of reasons and if you do not have a concrete solution to the problem, you might end up losing the files completely. This is why, instead of attempting a data recovery, why not hire …



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Rover’s Custom Order Process Revolutionized Car Manufacturing


It’s not the three-day car, but it’s pretty damn close.

While U.S. and Japanese auto manufacturers struggle to achieve that perennial benchmark of agility, a small, U.K.-based car manufacturer is driving off with the goods–the promise of delivering a custom-order vehicle to a customer within 14 days (including five days’ ground-transit time).

Here’s a surprise: For the Rover Group Ltd., perfecting the customer end–rather than optimizing the shop floor–has been the route to agility.

Rover (a subsidiary of BMW of Germany) is out to take the sleaze out of the car-buying experience. Its revolutionary new PC-based sales and order-entry system lets customers bypass the disagreeable haggling process in favor of an enlightened exchange with sales “consultants.” With the aid of full-motion car-demo videos and online options and pricing information, the sales consultants empower buyers to choose the right vehicle with the right options at the right price.

As of the end of this year, the PC sales data will …



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Manufacturers Stay Agile


No matter what you make, the concept of agility is driving your business. Better get used to the factory floor.

How do you move a 150M-BYTE file from the Unix-based engineering department to the PC LAN-based plant floor? Today, Harley-Davidson Co. does it 1 megabyte at a time. It takes about an hour over a T-1 line, says Larry Stair, manager of engineering systems at the Milwaukee-based $1.2 billion motorcycle maker.

That’s going to change because Harley is striving to be more agile.

The plant guys don’t have time to read blueprints. They need three-dimensional models–files up to 150M bytes–on their PC screens. They need the data to prepare bills of material, to program manufacturing machines, to send specs to tooling suppliers, and to monitor quality. In this blitz-paced world, every minute shaved off the time it takes to move product to market means the difference between life and strife.

Welcome to the Age of Agility, where rapidly changing …


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Stretching The Definition Of “Beta”


The race to incorporate the latest innovations and enhancements into Internet software programs has major Internet players and startups alike radically changing the meaning of the beta test.

Formerly a period of controlled testing, the beta has evolved into an open forum in which hundreds of thousands of users can gain access to beta code. The result: more rigorous testing and a new way to distribute software, say users and vendors.

Microsoft Corp., Netscape Communications Corp., SunSoft Inc., Progressive Networks Inc., and VocalTec Inc. are just a few Internet developers putting their unfinished wares on the Net.

While desktop applications, World Wide-Web browsers, and add- ons remain the primary beta wares freely available, Microsoft took the process to the next level last week when it made available for free over the Internet its first Internet Information Server.

Users are faced with the proverbial double-edged sword.

“It seems that wherever I turn, the software I am downloading is a beta product,” …


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Filtering News For Your Needs


The infoglut has led to information overload. Choosing the right technology can help sift through the deluge.

Daily newspapers, hourly newscasts, all-news TV, news ticklers, wire services. Information is everywhere, and your users want to read all about it to gain a competitive edge. But a funny thing has happened on the way to the knowledge forum: Instead of staying informed, workers are struggling to manage information overload.

That’s where news-filtering systems come in. These tools help users wade through the deluge, aggregating news feeds from hundreds of sources. The newest ones even custom-tailor information. The long-awaited era of the personal newspaper is here.

Traditionally, filtering systems have been installed as servers on internal client/server networks. This fall, vendors began unleashing versions for the World-Wide Web. There’s even one that beams multiple news feeds from a satellite to a DirecPC satellite delivery service stationed on a corporate WAN.

The market for agent-based filtering technologies is so promising that soon …




Methods That Help Patients With Panic Disorders


There are some stressful situations that cause us to feel anxious. But when these stressful situations are gone, we may calm down and continue with our lives. But some people simply can’t manage to pass through these situations normally. They often get panic attacks and the only thing they would like to know is how to control panic attacks. The solution is never far away when you have the best information.

Sometimes, the best solutions are the simple ones. So that’s the case here as well. A person who is faced with panic attack should focus on belly breathing. Understanding how to control breathing is actually the most important thing in such situations. When facing panic attacks, people usually breathe fast and low, instead of taking deep and slow breaths. Sometimes people hyperventilate and you can see them taking a brown paper bag which they use to solve their problem with breathing. But it is better to sit down …



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Open Source Tools Built The Web

Ironically, while open source is often associated with the Internet, many Web development managers remain uncertain about whether open source software can become a viable source for the tools they need to deliver their e-commerce projects on time.

However, open source has huge potential advantages when compared to traditional proprietary software models. The obvious advantage is that, with the software freely available to developers, open source is developed by, in effect, the world’s largest R&D teams. Improvements such as bug fixes and functionality extensions become available much faster–sometimes literally overnight–compared with traditional vendor models.

Another effect of the open source community is the ability to experiment in marginal areas or produce enhancements that do not have immediate, known commercial potential. Conventional ISV teams are rarely allowed to produce things that the customer isn’t asking for.

ostbtwFor instance, an integrated development environment (IDE) may provide the development and debugging environment. However, an IDE typically does not address design and analysis, configuration


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Working With The Guts Of PostScript

Lots of people fly in airplanes, but few understand how aviation works. That’s why many of us cling to erroneous ideas about flying, believing that air turbulence is dangerous, say, and can even cause an airplane to fall out of the sky. For these unfortunate travelers, ignorance is not bliss; it’s the cause of unnecessary anxiety.

PostScript is what makes desktop publishing fly–it’s the underlying structure on which many magazines, books, and newspapers are built. Sure, you can use QuarkXPress or Adobe InDesign without knowing anything about PostScript, just as you can fly without understanding the physics of lift. But knowing even a littie about PostScript can go a long way: it can help you predict what’s going to come out of your printer, saving you time and frustration. It can also help you troubleshoot problems. And with a smattering of PostScript, you can do a few tricks you may not have thought possible (see “Zap the Big White Box”).…


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Encoding The Tough Stuff

It turned out that this was the first subscriber whose name contained a character not representable in 7-bit ASCII. The character is one that I can type in my emacs text editor (using its insert-ascii function) as the integer 232 (hex E8), thusly: e. What you will see, in your browser, depends on the encoding that it’s using. For many of us, that encoding will be ISO-8859-1, and you will see the character whose Unicode number is 00E8, and whose name is LATIN SMALL LETTER E WITH GRAVE:

But if your encoding is set to ISO-8859-2, you will instead see the character whose Unicode number is 010D, and whose name is LATIN SMALL LETTER C WITH CARON:

wfThe Web form that accepted this ASCII 0xE8 character relayed it to a backend business system that happily stored it. But that backend system also communicated the character, by way of XML-RPC, to another system. And that system — specifically, its XML


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