• Content count

  • Joined

  • Last visited



  • Rank
    Senior Member

Contact Methods

  • Website URL

Profile Information

  • Gender
    Not Telling


  • Location
    Loveland Colorado
  1. Replaced by A.I. ?

    JAV, I'd like to ditto JHCC's request. On a semi-related note, I read about an interesting approach to the restaurant business. A commercial kitchen is set up in an industrial district where rent is cheap. The "restaurant" exists exclusively online as deliver-only. One individual kitchen might do the cooking for several online "restaurants" which allows them to cater to multiple cuisines in a single location. Any "restaurants" that prove to be unpopular can be quickly taken down and new ones can be launched quickly. Since there's no dining room wait staff, parking lot, etc, the startup costs are greatly reduced. By locating themselves in industrial parks, these kitchens can be positioned so their delivery radius covers more than one or two cities. Some of them set up the kitchen as a shared resource between different companies. For example, one company would make breakfast and cater corporate luncheons during the day, whereas the other company would only be "open" during lunch and dinner. They also multiplied their buying power with vendors because of how many "restaurants" were in a single location. I can definitely see how increasing quality, offering greater variety, and reducing cost for prepared food by bypassing the "bottleneck" of a "brick and mortar" restaurant could generate a boom. Especially as it'd be a strong counter-point to the "Baked here" nonsense that Frosty mentioned. It would be interesting to consider how things might change if this idea became more common. Eventually, the place you go to eat might actually be a third party to the client and the kitchen. Restaurateurs might even circle back to making the dining experience pleasant. The noise level at most of the "nice" places near me is way too high. I've had OSHA show up on construction sites throughout my career, yet I've never heard of OSHA citing a restaurant for noise. When I was in Vegas, I wasn't able to hear my wife shouting into my ear 50' away from the entrance to several restaurants.
  2. Replaced by A.I. ?

    Lots of good points. One thing to consider in all of this is that A.I. as it stands today isn't the point I was trying to make. I think A.I. represents a potentially viable workaround for Entrepreneurs to bypass intractable professionals. It requires significant investment and risk to early adopters, so it's going to be most worthwhile to replace professions that are especially costly and ineffective. As individuals the "point" of all of this isn't to make doom and gloom predictions. I really believe that successful people combined timing and opportunity. Right now, there's a business pattern where a markets are bottlenecked to allow a specific (and often connected) vocation to serve as a gatekeeper to economic progress. This isn't the traditional "middleman" who's connecting supply with demand, this is actual supplier professions that shifted from competition into a "corporatist" approach to business where things are standardized to create barriers to entry and replacement. They're not only in the way, there aren't any comparably skilled people who can help entrepreneurs get around them. If a worried Architect was reading this, there's a huge opportunity for them if they'd consider some changes. For starters, Architects could financially guarantee their performance as measured by total duration, quality standards delivered, and completed project cost. Every individual thing I listed is what the client thinks they're getting when they hire an Architect. I genuinely believe that any Architecture firm offering (and delivering) such a deal would utterly dominate their market. I also believe that it's only a matter of time before the AIA attempts to curtail that trend because it threatens their current purpose. Having said that, I think it's worth questioning whether the accepted "best practices" and the parties promoting them are actually aligned with the expectations of customers paying the bills. I suspect that more often than not, they're at the root of "gatekeeper" behavior. Corporatism has a huge target on it's back because entrepreneurs can (and will) spend less money building A.I. to permanently bypass them. There are a lot of professionals who behave as though achieving a certification entitles them to a lifetime of career stagnation without competition. Cleverly constructed obstacles to competition from other people will be the biggest incentive for entrepreneurs to invest in A.I. I think there's a clear choice, either compete fully and faithfully to be worthwhile to your customer, or see your entire profession get bypassed.
  3. Replaced by A.I. ?

    Twisted, your points about the artistic aspects are well made. I've made something of an investigation into why Architects do what they do. They're among the least satisfied people in their careers of any profession. Their main complaint is that they spend the vast majority of their time in meetings about issues that have virtually nothing to do with aesthetics. Architects are typically hired to serve as the owners representative for the purposes of bidding, contract award, and construction oversight. I've looked at the Architecture course listings at Universities. There's no requirement for them to take courses that cover; Construction law, Accounting, Management, Scheduling, or Negotiations. It's reprehensible how completely unprepared these people are for the actual job. I don't believe it's common knowledge but the vast majority of construction projects are written using templates created by the American Institute of Architects (AIA). It's very noteworthy that the AIA has zero enforcement for design conventions or standards. This makes it hard to tell what is incompetence and what is just inconsistency. Beyond that, Architects assiduously avoid any liability for designs that exceed their clients budget. This wouldn't be much of an issue if even 25% of them could design a project that met their clients budget. Architects went from being gatekeepers for the clients and the builders, to a costly obstacle. It often takes Architects longer to develop plans than it does to physically build the project. Based on what crosses my desk, perhaps 30% of the "Final" plans make it through permit review without summary rejection. If all of that wasn't bad enough, they allow specialty vendors to write specifications, and generate details that are passed off as the Architects work. This inevitably limits competition, increases prices, and in the worst cases, feeds corruption. Circling back to your original point, I think artistic/aesthetic photo palates like pinterest could be used to determine the client's preferences as well as the local aesthetics that are likely to be approved by planning and zoning. It's not popular to point this out, but "thought leaders" in the Architecture profession have always been very vocal about how much they oppose designs incorporating function and conventionally attractive aesthetics. They're pretty similar to the "high fashion" clothing designers on that score. I've never seen anyone in real life who wore clothing like that, and I suspect that's half the point. In contrast, insane amounts of public money is spent building the architectural equivalent of a sweater with nine sleeves. Here in Denver, the city has become a laughingstock because of how ugly our architecture is. A local Architecture critic for Westworld named it "McCentury Modern". I like to explain it like this. Corners are to buildings what elbows are to bodies. "McCentury Modern" is what happens when the entire building is elbows. Even prominent local architects have written newspaper articles agreeing that it's hideous. Some go so far as to say that an aesthetic panel of judges needs to be implemented. My suggestion is less complicated. Require that all buildings have a publicly visible placard with the name and contact information for the Architect of Record, General Contractor, and Zoning official who signed off on it. If their work is good, they'll get repeat business. If not, they'll hear about what they could improve. "Till then "AI" is being used to describe machines that operate efficiently but in fact possess no intelligence." I can 100% agree with your assessment here, and still see it as a realistic replacement for what most Architects are currently doing.
  4. In the last week I've come across a couple of articles about how Artificial Intelligence (A.I.) programs replacing people. One was written by a stock market analyst who surprised me by admitting that the "best practices" in use today aren't particularly good at making accurate predictions in today's market. The author recommended that his colleagues switch to a well-known technique that he claims works better. He said they need to improve their predictions or they'll lose their jobs to A.I. programs. Initially I thought it was remarkable that the people doing a specific job were using practices that they know don't actually work. Then I got to thinking about Thomas Powers post about working at an ISO operation where following protocol is the primary objective no matter how counterproductive it may be. The other line of work I read about was Human Resources. Apparently the owner of a major international hotel chain is currently using A.I. to interview job applicants. This one kinda shocked me because I expected the A.I. would be used only for drudgery like reading resumes or doing background checks. The owner of the company said his H.R. people were not answering applicant questions in interviews which was leading to applicants giving up on a job at his company. Given that we're talking about an international hotel chain, I think it's reasonable to believe that there are lots of managers who could/should/would be expected to correct this obvious problem. With all that management in place, why spend more to develop a life-like A.I. program to interview applicants? That leads to a more important consideration. What if this hotel chain already has the "best" managers, and Human Resources personnel employing the very best of "Best Practices" for hiring new workers? It's probable that these HR and management professionals have lots of very professional and established reasons to explain their behavior. This implies their current work really is the best they will do. This means the A.I. isn't being programmed to mimic the work of people it's replacing. In this limited example, the A.I. is being programmed to be more courteous, respectful, and responsive than the people its replacing. This might be the cusp of something far more disruptive than just replacing repetitive-task workers with programs. Entire vocations could be replaced because they've drifted from their purpose. Like that financial analyst above, I suspect a lot of folks know how to be more useful and efficient in their work. This shifts the dynamic for job preservation considerably. Stagnant professionals can't rely on job complexity, or even "the human touch" to shelter them from competition with A.I. I was shocked to learn that there are already A.I. programs in development to replace therapists. The T.V. show "Frasier" was continually making light of psychiatrists struggling with relationships in their own lives. Looking at it from this perspective, it starts to take on a different meaning. Frasier embodied a combination of arrogance and risk-aversion. He was very proud of his intellectual and social abilities, yet he could never manage to apply himself honestly and sincerely to his pursuit until it was too late. I can see a whole lot of people in my professional life who follow a similar pattern. I doubt HR professionals thought their career would see competition from A.I. before the workers they oversee but that's what's happening. With all that said, which vocations do you think are next? I think it will be Architects.
  5. Protecting blade's finish

    I like that a lot!
  6. Good business versus "doing your job"

    Thomas, Thankfully ISO hasn't made it's way into my line of work. I have worked for companies like you've described. Many years ago I was leaving a position with an international QA firm in the Semiconductor industry. During my exit interview with HR the lady pulled out a list she'd made of customers and employees from all over the world who had emailed her to protest my leaving. She explained that she'd compared their positions and locations to mine, and noticed that most of them had no reason to know who I was. She asked me how I'd gotten to know these people. I explained that the official process and channels are too slow to make the project deadlines. So I went looking for people to help me, and in turn, I always did what I could to help them. Eventually this led to trading names of like-minded professionals. In most cases we never met, or even spoke on the phone. Nobody broke the rules, we all just connected the problem with someone who could/would solve it. She said, "Well that might explain the employees, but what about customers you've never worked with?". I had to laugh. "Well, our customers have similar problems. If I happened to know someone in the customers company who could help, I'd pass that information along. Sometimes it's better to contact an engineer in another country who'll answer, than to leave another unanswered message with a manager in the same building.
  7. Yesterday I had a couple of experiences where people were "just doing their job" in a way that was bad for business. The striking thing about these individuals was that they were very punctilious about pursuing their task. I have to admit, it really got under my skin. It's difficult for me to relate to someone would work so hard to do something that's bad for business. The individuals involved seem to believe their job is to do whatever the client and their plans tell them to, especially so when there are obvious conflicts. There's no consideration of what value the client would see in a given issue, or what risk (and cost) they're creating for their subcontractors. If their hands are tied, they figure they can't be held accountable so they constantly seek to have their hands bound. When that fails, they point to discrepancies in the design, delays in production and additional charges from the subcontractors as "proof' of their struggle. In practice, this approach infuriates clients who can't understand why the architect, engineer, contractor, and subcontractor are all incapable of building the simple project without delays and additional costs. It's a lot of work put into straining relationships, angering the client, delaying the project, reducing profitability, and wasting time. The kicker of all this is; that these individuals pride themselves on their diligence, integrity, and customer service. I've seen quite a few greenhorn entrepreneurs who take the same approach. It's like they assume that with a short list of good-sounding priorities to define their job, they can't fail. I think good business is based on delivering your end of the deal to stakeholders. As a professional, especially as an entrepreneur, that's the job. Everything else is supplementary and complimentary to that end. This extends to all stakeholders, including the client. Whenever I've worked with (or for) people who didn't understand this, there were problems.
  8. Calculating amperage draw?

    Steve, I very rarely have to figure this stuff out because commercial work tends to have a big engineering fudge-factor built in. Also, we rarely have a motor on it's own to hook up. If the motor has a fan blade on it, the fan housing will have a nameplate, and that's what we're basing everything on. It's good practice to go back to the basics. Surgo, Glad it helped. Straightforward DC calculations don't work quite the same in AC. With three phase power you need to factor the square root of 3 to get the correct VA. Wherever digital/logic stuff crosses over into work/horsepower, it's good to be wary about what you're being told. A good example of this is car audio amplifiers. A lot of them are marketed by their wattage. If you multiply the voltage (12V nominal) by the amplifiers fuse rating, you'll usually end up with a wattage number that's way lower than what they're advertising. The tricky bit is that digital power devices are marketed by their effective or peak output for a limited duty cycle. A fully charged capacitor can discharge very quickly which gives a "DC Offset" to the amplifier's output. If you think of it as a battery assisting the main supply for a short period of time, the effective output for that moment is significantly improved. For an instantaneous load like a drum beat, that might be fine. For a constant load, it's not so good. The difference between actual input power and claimed output power tends to be greatest on price-point items for the consumer market.
  9. Calculating amperage draw?

    Steve, I'm working off table 430.250 full-load Current, Three phase Alternate-current motors because that's what he's trying to power. I suspect you were using the single phase motor table 430.248 as the values you quoted correspond perfectly. Choosing the 208V column of the 430.250 table, a 1.5 HP motor's going to draw 6.6 Amps. and 7.5 Amps for a 2 horse. There are VFD's available like this one which can take 120V single phase input and generate 3 phase variable voltage output. It's got significant efficiency losses. According to the data sheets on that drive, it looks like it could power up to a 1/2 horse 208 V 3 Phase motor while drawing 9.5 Amps at 115 Volts. Stepping up to a one horse 3 phase motor jumps the input current to 16.0 A which is exactly 80% of a 20A circuit. So near as I can tell, the answer to Surgo's question assuming the drive I've linked, working on a 15A 120V single phase circuit, is a 1/2 Horse 3 Phase motor running at 208 Volts. A more efficient drive might up the ante for you but it's worth pointing out that you're supposed to stay at roughly 80% of the branch circuit rating. At 15 Amps circuit capacity, you've got 12 Amps to work with which is a net 1,440VA to work with . At a perfectly efficient scenario, that limits your output current at 208V 3 phase to about 4 amps which correlates to a 3/4 Horse motor. If you used 100% of your 15A circuit, you'd bring your 208V 3 phase output current to 5 Amps which will get you up to 1 Horse. It bears mentioning that nothing is this efficient. The real advantage of a 120V input VFD isn't maximum horsepower, or torque, it's speed control. Another advantage of VFD's is that you can reverse the motor's rotation using the drive. Simplifying all of the above. Without upgrading your 15A 120V circuit you could power up to a 3/4 Horse single phase motor (assuming no load starting), or you could power up to a 1/2 horse 3 phase motor at 208V using a VFD. If speed control is important to you, go for the VFD and 3 phase motor, if durability and torque is important, go with the single phase. I hope that helps.
  10. I think this is particularly worth sharing
  11. Capital for start-up

    Twisted, I've never heard that phrase but it's funny. I think it's especially funny if you take a cynical view of advertisements. How often do you encounter an advertisement that just reeks of "manure"? Somebody's hard-earned money went into spreading fertilizer on pavement. It's not enough to just fling manure at everyone, you've got to land it on fertile ground. My extremely limited experience with modern "marketing people" taught me that they're big on spending for online advertising. When pressed for results, they'll generate charts and graphs from Google, Facebook, etc. showing you how wide they threw the fertilizer. There is no data on "conversion" which is when an advertisement reader becomes a client by making a purchase. Ask them how thick the fertilizer needs to be before you'll see green shoots and they'll tell you it "depends". On what? They'll tell you how one client spent for years before they saw a gain whereas another client's business took off after a single ad buy. With answers like that, what proves the advertising made a difference at all? While it's doubtlessly true that potential buyers need to know a company exists to be customers, I think there's a huge difference between marketing and advertising. I've yet to meet a "marketing" person who actually knew how to secure customers for their fee. Everything works on faith rather than fact. For all the hype about Artificial Intelligence and gains in social media, there's precious little benefit to the small entrepreneur. Facebook and Google will happily take your money to generate lots of charts and graphs about demographics and data points. They can't and won't guarantee that your advertising dollar will make any difference to your sales whatsoever. People are spending outrageous fortunes to generate better online statistics. Getting back to your original idea, I think there's a lot to recommend using your capital effectively. If the majority of your paying customers have a few social functions in common, it's a no-brainer to make sure you capitalize on the marketing opportunity. I know a very successful business owner who sponsors an annual charity event that constitutes about 80% of their advertising budget. Their competitors are hammering out radio ads annoying the morning commuters year round. Speaking for myself, there are some major advertisers I consciously avoid doing business with because of how much they annoy me. As a society I think there are too many situations where we replace difficult research with simplistic proxies. Nobody's willing to do the work to know how to measure efficacy because we've ceded this power to mindless trust in machines and institutions. Even a cheap toaster comes with a warranty to mitigate the buyers risk. Why is it reasonable to believe that marketers/advertisers are "gatekeepers" if they can't offer any guarantee to deliver paying customers? The brutal truth is that advertisers and marketers lose faith in their own process when they share the risk.
  12. Capital for start-up

    Frank, It's an interesting thought on the paradox many entrepreneurs face. I've seen quite a few entrepreneurs whose recipe for success involved a well-stoked fire fed with other people's money. I've seen a lot of talented, hard working, and well-funded people fail . When I compared them to dullards who seemed to just "fall into" success, I fell back on the old "life's not fair" line. Then one day, it dawned on me that a lot of failed entrepreneurs benefit from hindsight. I'm not saying that success requires failure, or struggle because that's obviously not true for everyone. I think that business success depends on timing and opportunity more than any other factors. Lots of small businesses are based around the craft, product, or services of the entrepreneur. There's a tendency to assume that "build it, and they will come", is a sound strategy to get steady revenue. This is partly due to the successful dullard who slaps up their shingle and the world clambers to buy from them. Getting to where you can see the opportunity is only half the solution. I live in a town where most of the restaurants aren't very good. I can see an opportunity for a restaurateur committed to good food. The problem is that on average, the folks in town haven't seen a pay raise in nearly a decade. Prices for everything have gone up, and as a result, lots of restaurants are closing. No amount of advertising, interior finishes, or incredibly good food could change the fact that people in my town can't afford to eat out. In contrast, the first entrepreneur to launch a good restaurant in better economic times, will be way ahead of their competitors.
  13. How helping an intern improved a company

    I think you're right.
  14. Today I had a bid for a contractor I've done business with for the past seven years or so. Most of our past work with this contractor has been poorly managed, low profit, and generally disruptive to our ongoing projects. The "good" jobs were uniformly bid-shopped away from me, leaving a seemingly endless list of pointless and profitless projects to bid. So with that much bad history, the reasonable question is "why bid to them at all?". Two years ago this contractor hired an intern to help their estimator. This kid was very, very, green which naturally lead to him asking me lots of questions. While I understood that everyone has to start somewhere, it was particularly frustrating to be mired in long Q&A sessions with a know-nothing who worked for a terrible (sometimes) client. Instead of taking my frustrations out on him, I focused on trying to help him to become a better estimator. My thought was that I could help counteract the corrupt, incompetent, and lazy approach that his predecessors (and bosses) prefer. Over time I saw him applying his new skills to improve their odds of winning. In point of fact, his company went from approximately 95% cattle-call projects to roughly 60% negotiated deals where they are the only General Contractor (GC) bidding the job. Now I can't and won't claim that my helping an intern shifted the marketing dynamics of a GC in a couple of years. The intern (now estimator) did all the hard work which is very much to his credit. I think the single most transformative moment came about when I answered one of his "nag" calls a couple of years ago. GC's who don't cultivate significant subcontractor interest in their invitations to bid will often have an intern or a secretary call every subcontractor in the market and nag them to bid. It's my considered opinion that GC's who resort to nag calls are wasting subcontractors time. If the job is appealing, and a good GC is a likely winner, subs will go out of their way to send them a bid. With a five-year history of wasting my time, squandering my bids, and bid-shopping my best efforts, I had very little reason to be interested in this interns invitation to bid. After he'd said his spiel about how his firm was "really going after" this piddly project, I politely told him that I'd bid too much for too little work. I told him that I needed to prove to my boss that it was worth the expense to keep pricing their work. He was obviously frustrated to encounter my resistance so I reminded him that he could improve my odds by being more forthright about what's going on with these opportunities. I pointed out that his invitations to bid (ITB) never indicate how much competition he's facing. If he's one of 18 GC's chasing a stupidly large project, we'll have less interest than if he's the only GC pricing a small job. I also told him that "pretending" that budget/conceptual estimates would lead to contract award isn't fooling anyone. In the ensuing conversation, he opened up about his challenges. and aspirations. Since that conversation, our dynamic has completely changed. Now I can call him about an ITB and he'll tell me if it's a "keep the estimator busy" owner demand, versus a sure-shot project. There's less pressure to "loyalty bid" work we don't want. He's responsive and accountable about the budgetary stuff as well. He voluntarily restricted his ITB list on final drawings to those subs who bid the budgets. The information goes both ways, I often explain why we're cheaper on some jobs, and more expensive on others. His firm is still riddled with incompetent and dishonest people which makes bidding his work riskier than average. That being said, we're better informed about what we're getting into so we can price the work accordingly. As an interesting corollary to all of this, we've won a few of his negotiated projects at the higher risk prices. That suggests that my competitors view his firm with approximately the same level of risk. For example, today's bid was considerably higher because this low-end project will be run by their most incompetent and corrupt Project Manager. It will be interesting to see if he notices the connection between his firms risky staff and higher prices. Yesterday the intern told me that he'd been promoted to full-time estimator. He's come a very long way in the last two years. Thinking about his growth gives me hope for an industry that's crippled by greed and incompetence. In some ways I can see growth in myself as well. Three or four years ago, I might not have been able to put my anger with his firm (and what they represent) aside. It occurs to me now that a lot of terrible instruction in this industry is a product of anger, cynicism, and frustration. It's no secret that you get more of what you reward. I'm glad I helped him. I hope his successes improve those around him.
  15. Metal Benders

    streetcore Forging temperatures lets you get a ton of work done with limited tooling. It's incredibly empowering for a lot of reasons. Forging is one of few physical processes that can move the materials volume without always resorting to reductive (cutting) or additive (welding, riveting, brazing, gluing, bolting, etc.) processes. Pottery is the only other one that comes to mind. Task specific tools that can reliably and precisely bend, cut, punch, and shape large metal stock are very expensive. Thomas is right that you can scrounge together a working setup for very little. The brackets you're looking to make would be very doable for a beginner working with very limited tooling. If you started with a long enough bar of parent stock, you wouldn't even need tongs. To my eye, you'd need a forge, a hammer, an Anvil Shaped Object (ASO), a round punch, and a chisel. With the first three tools and a decent bar of tool steel, you could make the last two tools on your first day of forging.