Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Too Much Information?

I have decided that the internet is starting to make some aspects of my life harder.  I know I cannot be alone in this revelation.  Let me set it up.  Buying a car in 1990 involved talking to a car dealer, test driving different models and talking to friends and family.  Some people might even read a magazine article that conveyed one person's opinion.  Buying a car in 2010 involves all of those things to a certain extent, but now we have the internet.  And what is on the internet?  Thousands of blogs, articles, opinion pages, forums and reviews.  Instead of a few people's opinions, you can now access thousands of people’s opinions.  Now being the good consumer that you are, you want to do your research and make an informed decision.  But where the hell do you start? And how do you even know the information is good?  The worst part, there is always a bad review, which in turn makes you question the decision you were about to make.

All I know is that I spend countless hours researching any major purchase I'm about to make.  I mean, I love being informed, but can you have too much information?

Monday, August 30, 2010

The Lost Generation of Engineers

Computers are a wonderful invention.  They have streamlined everything from mathematical calculations to entertainment.  Some people wouldn't even know how to function in today's world without them.  But, I'd like to shed some light on something, a phenomenon that I am calling the Lost Generation of Engineers.  For the most part, I am referring to civil and mechanical engineers, though this is not exclusive to those disciplines.

First, some back ground, because believe it or not there are some people out there that do not even know what a civil or mechanical engineer does.  How about a list?  Civil engineers are responsible for: bridges, roadways, building, skyscrapers, waterways, railways and the foundations, drainage and earth work associated with any of those products.  Civil engineers were the first engineers (think irrigation canals for farming in Mesopotamia and the Great Pyramid of Giza) and the world would not be able to survive without them.  Mechanical engineers are responsible for: engines, machinery, vehicles, piping, HVAC, aviation, and the control systems that go along with those.  So now that we know what they do, what is the Lost Generation of Engineers?

Well, to design all of those wonderful, everyday systems and structures, there is a lot of math involved.  Lots of calculations, formulas, code books, and experiments got us to the point where engineers could design fantastic structures and machines that are safe and efficient.  Engineers have recently added a new tool to their arsenal of formulas and code books, computers.  The use of computers has drastically reduced the time it takes to make all of those design calculations.  Some programs even do the designs for the engineers; all that really needs to be done is input the geometry of what needs to be designed.  Wait, what?  Computer programs are designing the bridges that I cross every day on my way to work?  Well, yes and no.  

The engineer is still required to check the program's output.  But as time goes on, I believe more and more confidence will be put in the program for one simple reason; saved time.  This happens for a few reasons; the biggest one is cost cutting.  Especially now, in this economy, companies are hesitant to hire more employees.  Therefore, engineers must do what they can with the resources they have.  Now, I am in no way, shape, or form saying that inefficient designs are being produced.  In my opinion that is furthest from the truth.  What I am trying to illustrate is the beginning of a trend, a trend where the computer programs do the engineering, not the engineer.

This situation will eventually lead to my Lost Generation of Engineers theory.  One day, if this glimmer of a trend actually develops into a full blown trend, there will be a generation of engineers that doesn't actually know the theory and mechanics behind what they are designing.  They will just "plug and chug" so to speak.  Entering in the input and receiving the output.  All that is left is putting together a set of plans all the while not fully understanding what they are doing. 

How about another trend that will contribute to this theory?  The number of students entering Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math (STEM) programs or careers is dropping, well, at least in the USA.  China is actually doing the opposite.  The lack of interested people and the ease of computer programs will, in my opinion, be devastating to one of the most important professions in the history of mankind.

How do we solve the problem?  That is for another time.  

Saturday, August 28, 2010

A little help for Pakistan please

Here is another situation that has me a little upset:

Haiti Earthquake:
     People affected = 3-4 million
     Aid received = Billions of dollars
Pakistan Flood:
     People affected = 20 million
     Aid received = well, let's compare it to pouring a glass of water into the ocean...

Why?  Will someone please give me a good reason why we will not give Pakistan the same amount of love we gave Haiti?  And do not tell me that it is because Pakistan is corrupt.  The government of Haiti is just as bad, if not worse than that of Pakistan.  Do not tell me that we don't want to give money to terrorists.  There are innocent human beings dying because we think the country of Pakistan is nothing but terrorists.  We must get over the Islamic phobia here in America and elsewhere.

Please, consider helping out.  Check out www.guidestar.org for a list of organizations that are accepting donations.

Give the Muslims a break please

Listen world, just because someone is Muslim doesn't mean they are a terrorist.  This war between America and Islam is getting quite ridiculous.  It is as if Americans don't believe that Christians or Jews do anything wrong.  Believe it or not, Muslims are people too, shocker, I know.  What happened to the Golden Rule that we were all taught in third grade?  I will reiterate it here, just in case it has been forgotten: "Treat others the way you wish to be treated."  Now, does everyone follow that rule?  Of course not. That is why we need police officers and the like, but I'd like to think that I live in a world where most people still follow that rule.  And I'd also like to believe that following a certain religion does not preclude or exclude you from that rule.

That being said, can we please stop fighting over the building of a Mosque/Cultural Center in New York City?  I sincerely doubt that this is some kind of shrine that the Islamic faith wants to build to mark their victory over America.  I honestly believe that is probably one of the best things that can happen to this country right now.  We need some re-education.  We need to learn that all Muslims are not the reason for the horrific attacks and terrible loss of life that occurred on September 11th, 2001.  Radical, ignorant, terrorist fools were responsible.  Was Timothy McVeigh a Muslim? No, no he was not, but guess what?  He killed innocent people none-the-less.

Americans need to realize we are fighting terrorists who happen to be Muslims, not Muslims who happen to be terrorists.  Why punish millions of innocent Muslims for no reason, why don't we accept them, like we have in this country since its inception?

Thursday, August 26, 2010


So here it is, my opening post.  I am new at this whole writing thing so cut me some slack.  Hopefully I can get at least one post a week going, I don't want to set my goals to high to begin with.

There's going to be a good mix of topics on here until I figure out what I'm actually qualified to write about.  I do have a few things in mind so far and you can expect to see posts on them in the near future.  They include: Why isn't anyone helping out Pakistan? (it is completely unfair, they need the help, and bad); Why are the majority of Americans so afraid of the Muslim religion? Do they not think Christians or Jews do evil things too?; The fact that computers design a lot of civil and mechanical engineering related projects and whether or not that is ethical; I'd also like to share some secrets about my relationship with my girl friend, well, because I think couples can learn from them.

So you see, I have a very wide range of topics... let's see how it goes!