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Showing posts from June, 2010

Starting with a blank …

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This morning I went to the local shopping center to have a duplicate door key cut. The process was simple; the shop assistant took my key and selected a similar one from an array of blanks hanging from a pegboard and then inserted both my door key and the blank in a cutting machine. Within seconds my unique door key had been duplicated, the blank “shaped” to meet my access needs!

I can remember as a child paying visits to locksmiths and how it took a long time to get a duplicate key made, as locksmith searched for a similar blank – the variety of locks in the marketplace all those years ago made the process difficult. Today, there doesn’t seem to be any fewer lock manufacturers, but the standardization that has taken place has reduced the time to produce a copy and kept the prices competitive – for less than $2.00 today, I walked away with a working duplicate key. Looking this morning at the shop assistant scanning the pegboard for the appropriate blank I couldn’t help noticing that …

Modernize? Evangelize!

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At this time of year I have always spent a week or so vacationing in Europe, and on a number of occasions, this has included memorable times out on yachts sailing the Mediterranean. There’s something very special about pulling into the small fishing ports that dot the coastlines from Spain to Greece. My own personal choice has always been the strip of coastline stretching from Cannes through Nice, France then Monte Carlo, and on down to Portofino, Italy. Of course squeezing in a few days at the film festival, and arranging is so that it’s back-to-back with a weekend of F1 racing in Monte Carlo, isn’t something to be missed. But for me, perhaps the one place everyone needs to find time to sail into is Portofino and the picture above is one that I shot during my last trip to the ancient fishing port!

When in this part of the world, it’s always very easy to forget about the routines of business and to just soak up the atmosphere. Listening to tour guides trying their best to excite you …

What’s in your garage?

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Over coffee with neighbors the other morning the discussion turned to innovation and to how ideas moved from just being sketches on napkins to becoming viable products. Our neighbor, Kevin, has seen several of his ideas turned into products and when he invited some of us to come and take a look at what he was currently developing, I jumped at the opportunity. Sure enough, inside his garage, there was a laboratory with prototypes and testing equipment of all types spread out along a number of benches. The picture above is of us gathered in his garage, sections of the roll-up garage door clearly visible.

In case this looks unimpressive, what he was developing, and had already taken to a prototype stage, proved to be pretty sophisticated. Kevin was working on a way to measure potential impurities that could find their way into the fuel onboard satellites, and where after reaching orbit, there’s very little opportunity to perform any maintenance. By using light, and measuring disruptions…